The Best No Show Socks For Men (Budget, High-End, and an Alternative)

by   |  in Casual Style

The no show sock should be the official mascot of summer. It’s somewhat of a ritualistic process, having to pack away my thick, wool, calf-length socks, and pull out my collection of no shows. So if you’re looking for the best no show socks for men, I think you’re gonna like these picks.

The no show socks are a warm-weather staple. If you ever wanted to pull off the sockless look, you’re going to need a few pairs of no shows. They act like regular socks do, keeping your feet dry and out of contact with your shoes’ insoles, so you don’t get a serious case of Swamp Foot in 90-degree heat.

Wearing leather shoes (loafers, boat shoes, or driving shoes) with shorts and regular white athletic socks—even the low-cut version—just doesn’t work aesthetically. Don’t even try it.

Going completely sockless doesn’t work either. Sweating profusely in your shoes is no fun. It ruins the shoes, and in most cases, doesn’t smell very pleasant.

In this article, I’m going to list a few versions I’ve worn and tested. They’ve seemed to hold up the best based on my criteria (which I’ll get to in a second) and I’d confidently recommend them.

What works well for me may not work so well for you. Everyone’s feet, shoes, and sweat levels are different, so keep that in mind.

I’d recommend trying a few of these brands to see what you like best. My job is to point you to versions that worked well for me so you’re not shopping blind, and so you have a few recommendations to try first.

The bottom line, up front: I’ve tested over 10 brands of no-show socks, and I can’t find one that stays on your foot 100% of the time.

The more “no show” a sock is, the less likely it is to actually stay on your foot.

The more secure a no-show sock is on your foot (e.g. doesn’t slip off your heel), the smaller the opening is (meaning it’s knit higher), and the less likely it is to work with the lower vamp, lower cut loafers.

If you’re looking for alternatives for your lowest cut shoes, keep reading.

By the way, I put together a quick video of my top favorite no show socks for men.

 

These are my recommendations

Back To Top

This article is beefy! If you just want my no show sock recommendations without having to read through the entire thing, here they are:

Best all-around budget option

The low-cut sock from Uniqlo is my favorite all-around option, and so happens to be one of the better-priced options as well. I’ve been using these consistently the past five years and they never let me down.

They’re true no-shows, hidden underneath my loafers, and rarely, if ever, do I incur any heel slippage. Of course your mileage may vary, but definitely give these a try if you haven’t already.

Uniqlo Back Pile Low-Cut Socks
$4.90

No-show design makes it looks like you are not wearing any socks. Non-slip heels ensure a better fit.

Check Latest Price

Best Higher-End No Show Sock

Similar to Uniqlo’s model, the Falke is a true no show model, and in my testing, stayed on the heel most consistently. The brand was founded in the late 1800s as a knitting mill (still family owned, by the way) and today is known for producing fine men’s hosiery.

FALKE Invisible Step Socks
$13.10

Ideal for light, elegant summer shoes. Guaranteed to be non-slip thanks to its anti-slip system at the heel, and invisible due to its innovative knitting technology.

SHOP AMAZON SHOP MR. PORTER
09/21/2021 05:35 pm GMT

Best Non-No Show Sock

To be honest, I use my absorbent insoles the most often, especially with loafers, boat shoes, and driving shoes. They’re the easiest to keep in place, in that I never, ever have to deal with any kind of heel slippage.

Editor’s note: I used to recommend insoles from a brand called HappyStep. I’ve since replaced them (see notes at bottom of post) with an updated version from Pedag. These seem to hold up much better.

The HappyStep versions start to harden / crack after a while. I couldn’t tell if it’s due to lack of use two out of the four seasons, or simply drying out, or something else.

I simply insert these on top of the insole of my shoe, and throw my shoes on. That’s it! They absorb any moisture like a regular sock, and you can throw them in the wash like regular socks, too.

If you’re excessively sweaty and you need the full coverage a sock can provide, these may not fit the bill for you. Regardless, I suggest you give them a shot. I’ve been using some form of absorbent insoles for the past 6-7 years and they’re a game changer for me.

Benefits of No Show Socks

Back To Top

In case they’re not completely obvious, here are some benefits of using no show socks when going for that sockless look.

You get the sockless look without the swamp foot. Sweaty feet + leather shoes feel gross. White athletic socks + leather shoes look gross. no show socks help solve both these issues.

These socks grip your heel. Literally. There are little rubber grips on the socks’ heels so they don’t slide off into your shoe when you walk. Sometimes it still happens, but for the most part, this holds up well.

Comes in great patterns and colors! When I first wrote this article in 2013, no show socks were hard to find. Most men’s no show socks resembled women’s stockings. Not cool. Nowadays you can find awesome no show socks in all colors and patterns just like regular calf-length socks.

Testing No Show Socks: The Criteria

Back To Top

I have a few criteria when trying out these no shows.

1.) Softness, comfort, lastingness: How soft are they? How comfortable are they in my shoes and when I’m walking around or climbing stairs? Do they last a long time, or is it obvious that they won’t last (maybe the fabric is worn down easily, or the elastic stretched and didn’t bounce back)?

2.) Heel Grip: Most, if not all, no show socks have a bit of grip at the heel. Manufacturers add in this rubberized strip (they make them in different shapes) to help the socks stay on your feet. How well do they work? Do the socks stay on or are they constantly slipping off my heel?

3.) Versatility: How many different pairs of shoes can I wear with these socks? True no shows work not just with low-cut sneakers, but low-vamp loafers as well. Some no show socks are only wearable with low-cut sneakers, but are not invisible when worn with loafers.

4.) Anything else that stands out: How much are they? Do they come in a 2- or 3-pack? Are there any details that make them visually or functionally different from other no shows?

The newest no show socks I tested

Back To Top

These are the latest no show socks I tried out:

Uniqlo Back Pile Low-Cut Socks
$4.90

No-show design makes it looks like you are not wearing any socks. Non-slip heels ensure a better fit.

Check Latest Price
FALKE Invisible Step Socks
$13.10

Ideal for light, elegant summer shoes. Guaranteed to be non-slip thanks to its anti-slip system at the heel, and invisible due to its innovative knitting technology.

SHOP AMAZON SHOP MR. PORTER
09/21/2021 05:35 pm GMT

Let’s go through all of them individually and you can see how each one fared.

Uniqlo Low-Cut Socks

heel grip on uniqlo no show sock
These No Show Socks Can be found At Uniqlo

softness, comfort, lastingness

These socks feel nice.

They’re soft and cushy, luscious and NOT crunchy, which cheap cotton socks can feel like sometimes.

I still wear my Uniqlo no shows I bought last year and the year before, and they’ve held up well. They are showing a few signs of wear, which is common with things you wear over and over, like socks.

heel grip

There are grip strips at the heel, stacked vertically about 1.5″ long, and they taper down (get shorter) the further down the heel you go.

versatility

I find them to be versatile, meaning you can wear them with most low-vamp shoes (loafers, driving shoes, shoes that don’t have less coverage at the top of the foot compared to, say, your typical low-top sneaker).

This will ultimately depend on your loafer. I can wear these with all my low-vamp shoes except one pair of loafers.

anything else that stands out

I bought a few new pairs for this summer and Uniqlo has several new styles, like this rough striped black and grey pair you see in the photo above.

I find these to be the best budget option!

Uniqlo Back Pile Low-Cut Socks
$4.90

No-show design makes it looks like you are not wearing any socks. Non-slip heels ensure a better fit.

Check Latest Price

Falke Step Invisible Cotton Blend Socks

falke no show socks next to box
heel grip of falke no show socks
man with one shoe on, one shoe off, with no show socks from falke
Available via amazon or Mr. Porter

softness, comfort, lastingness

The package says these socks from Falke are made from 98% cotton, 2% elastane. They have a slight “hosiery” vibe (meaning it’s not a thick cotton sock), which can be a good or bad depending on your preference and the shoes you’re wearing.

They’re comfortable because they’re thin, but I wonder how they’ll hold up under multiple uses over a span of a few months.

heel grip

There are three rows of diamond-shaped heel grip, and after walking around in them, they seem to stay on well.

versatility

These are cut low, a true no show. They’re good for low-vamp loafers and you can wear them with sneakers if needed… although if you have a few pairs of no show socks, I’d save these for when you really need them (i.e. when you wear loafers).

anything else that stands out

The Falke socks have the best cut out of this whole batch. I like that it’s a true no show. Some may not like how thin these are, but I think I prefer it, especially for loafers and other shoes that may be a bit tight when wearing thicker cotton socks.

FALKE Invisible Step Socks
$13.10

Ideal for light, elegant summer shoes. Guaranteed to be non-slip thanks to its anti-slip system at the heel, and invisible due to its innovative knitting technology.

SHOP AMAZON SHOP MR. PORTER
09/21/2021 05:35 pm GMT

Sheec SoleHugger Active No Show Socks

sheec best no show socks for men in package
no show sock heel grip
man with one shoe on, one shoe off, with no show socks
man with one shoe on, one shoe off, with no show socks
Sheec Available via Amazon

softness, comfort, lastingness

These are the first pair I’ve tried in this batch that feel like regular cotton socks that happen to be lower-cut. They’re very soft (like most brand new cotton socks are) and comfortable. I imagine they’ll hold up well, mostly because they’re a bit thicker and remind me of the “no show” cotton athletic socks I wear to the gym every day.

heel grip

The Sheec no show socks have a crosshatch grip on the heel. There isn’t as much rubber as with other models, so I’m hoping they stay on easily.

There’s also this thick (but flat) ribbing around the opening of the sock that should help to grip the foot and keep the sock in place.

versatility

This sock isn’t cut as low as the Falke model. They come up a bit high on the top and sides of the foot. I can see the socks when I’m wearing low-vamp shoes so I wouldn’t consider this a true no show, but they’ll work great for low-cut sneakers (like Jack Purcells).

anything else that stands out

On Amazon, there are many different options: 2-pack, 3-pack, and lots of different colors. I went with black (most of my socks are black, gray, or navy).

They’re really affordable, soft, and comfortable. They closely resemble a no show athletic sock (like Hanes or something that you’d buy from Target) but they’re not as thick.

The ribbing around the opening is a nice touch. I feel it helps to keep the socks on your feet, but I wish they were lower cut so I can wear them with loafers and other shoes with a low vamp.

Smartwool Men’s No Show Socks

smartwool no show socks in package
smart wool heel grip
man with one shoe on, one shoe off, with no show socks
Smartwool No Show Socks via Amazon

softness, comfort, lastingness

I’m surprised at how unimpressed I was by this pair of socks from Smartwool. I’ve owned other pairs (thicker calf-length versions) in the past, but the presentation and construction of these weren’t that great.

The material itself was soft, but the two things that bugged me most were the toe seam and the ribbing around the opening. The toe seam is pretty girthy and you can feel it at the top of your toes. The ribbing was also a bit thick, and I’m uncertain how comfortable both would be long-term.

heel grip

There was a small (relative to the other models I tried) rectangular strip on the heel. I imagine these easily slip off, based on my experience with no show socks.

versatility

If these were true no shows, I might be willing to overlook some of those shortcomings I mentioned. Unfortunately, they come up pretty high on the top and sides of the foot. So I wouldn’t call these true no shows; you can see the socks when wearing them with loafers. I’m sure they’d work well with sneakers.

anything else that stands out

These are made from a wool blend: 63% wool, 36% nylon, 1% elastane. The great thing about wool (or wool blend) socks is that they repel moisture really well compared to cotton, which tends to hold on to sweat.

Construction was the sloppiest among all the brands I’ve tried, which is strange, because like I mentioned, I’ve seen and tried other socks from Smartwool and they’ve always looked good.

Stomper Joe No Show Socks

best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
heel grip - best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
versatility - best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
StomperJoe No Show Socks via Amazon

softness, comfort, lastingness

I’ve heard good things about this brand, so I was excited to give them a shot. Out of the package, I’d say they’re pretty soft and comfortable when wearing.

They’re similar to the Sheec brand; thicker, though not as thick as cotton athletic socks.

heel grip

The Stomper Joes have a wide oval grip on the heel with lots of coverage, so they stay on pretty well.

versatility

Definitely not a true no show. These socks came up the highest on the sides and top of foot in comparison to all the socks I tried. I can see them when wearing low-vamp shoes, but they’d work well with low-cut sneakers.

anything else that stands out

They’re super affordable and the cheapest pair I’ve tried. Not sure what that says about durability, but I guess you could always buy more if they don’t last as long as you’d expect.

They’d be fine if you’re looking for low-cut socks for your sneakers or boat shoes, but they’re not truly invisible when wearing low vamp loafers.

Zederna Original Cedar Wood Insoles (the wildcard)

best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
versatility - best no show socks for men - effortlessgent
Zederna Cedar Insoles via Amazon

softness, comfort, lastingness

These aren’t actual no show socks, they’re insoles, which is why I’m considering it a wildcard. They’re very unintrusive, and how comfortable you find them depends on the shoe. If you need socks to prevent your toes from rubbing the top or sides of the shoe, this wouldn’t be a good option.

I imagine they would last a while if you take care of them. They’re prone to cracking since they’re made from a thin piece of cedar (with a thin cotton backing on the bottom).

heel grip

No heel grip because it’s an insole that you slip inside your shoe.

versatility

Super versatile, and completely invisible when wearing loafers, boat shoes, or anything with a low vamp.

anything else that stands out

These cedar insoles from Zederna are something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. After spending a few months with them, I totally cosign. I wear them sockless, and any sweat gets absorbed (dispersed?) by the cedar, and I assume the cotton backing also helps to absorb.

I’m also not a huge foot sweater, so if you are, these may not work for you.

These insoles are a great option for people who don’t want to deal with no show sock slippage, which in my experience is unavoidable no matter what brand you choose. Also, you don’t have to wash them; they’re naturally absorbent and odorless.

An alternative to no show socks

Back To Top

With all the scientific advancements made in no show sock technology the past 5 years (ha! just kidding, that’s not a thing), they still have one huge flaw: They don’t always stay on.

The rubber heel grip doesn’t always work, and you have to dig your finger in your shoe to pull the heel back on. It’s annoying as hell. Sometimes, I’m lucky, but for the most part, many of them tend to slip off within minutes of walking out the door.

This may depend on the type of shoe as well. A looser loafer = more potential for sock slippage, vs. a laced brogue that’s secure on your foot.

To completely avoid all that, I recommend trying insoles! Here are two I love.

Insole #1: Zederna Cedar Insoles

best no show socks for men - effortlessgent

I mentioned these a few times in the sections above, but they’re the newest insole I’ve added to my wardrobe and they’re a game-changer.

Why are they great?

  • They’re thin, so you can wear them even in your snug shoes. It’s like going completely sockless, except you’re not.
  • You don’t have to worry about heel slippage like you do with no show socks. They stay in place.
  • They do a good job absorbing sweat, assuming you don’t sweat profusely (I don’t, so I don’t know what it would be like for someone who does).

What’s not so great?

  • They’re thin, so you don’t get cushy padding like you do with socks. If your shoe has a soft insole, this might not matter as much.
  • If you sweat a lot, these may not provide enough absorption for you.
  • They can bend and crack; they’re literally made of a thin piece of cedar, so you have to be careful when taking your shoes off.

I love these insoles. They’re practically invisible, which makes them a winner for me. I wear them mostly with loafers in the summertime, but they’re great any time you want to go sockless.

Insole #2: Pedag Pure Terry Cotton Insole

I’ve been wearing different versions of insoles for a few years now, and I still swear by them. Again, YMMV (your mileage may vary); I say give them a shot and see for yourself.

Why are they great?

  • They’re absorbent, more than the cedar insoles, so for you heavier sweaters, this might be a better choice.
  • You can throw them in the laundry with your other clothes, and either lay them flat to dry, or throw them in the dryer (they might curl up though, but they flatten as you wear them).
  • No heel slippage like with no show socks.

What’s not so great?

  • They’re a bit thick, so it may be tight in some of your shoes (but they’re great if you have loafers that are somewhat loose).
  • They can feel “slippery”. Not sure if that’s the right word, but they feel like socks at the bottom of your feet, yet they’re insoles, so you slip around on them inside your shoe (might just take a bit of getting used to).
  • Some people complain about the scent of the absorption material at the bottom. I never noticed this with my pairs though.
  • They curl up if you wash and dry them, and they may shrink. This can be avoided if you just lay them flat to dry.

I definitely recommend giving these two insoles a shot if you’ve ever found no show socks irritating because of heel slippage.

I still wear no show socks regularly, but most of the time, I throw these insoles in my loafers and I skip out the door (clearly not worrying about sock heel slippage, which can happen when you skip). The more I use these insoles, the harder it is to go back.

I still recommend these no show socks today

Back To Top

Did you know I first published this article in 2013? Back then, no show socks for men were tough to come by. Most of them were made from nylon, like the footies shoe stores handed out when you wanted to try on shoes but didn’t have socks.

In 2015, I added these to the list of no show socks I recommend. I have a few pairs of these in my rotation still, and I’ve worn these the longest (yes, even now in 2021):

Uniqlo Back Pile Low-Cut Socks
$4.90

No-show design makes it looks like you are not wearing any socks. Non-slip heels ensure a better fit.

Check Latest Price
FALKE Invisible Step Socks
$13.10

Ideal for light, elegant summer shoes. Guaranteed to be non-slip thanks to its anti-slip system at the heel, and invisible due to its innovative knitting technology.

SHOP AMAZON SHOP MR. PORTER
09/21/2021 05:35 pm GMT

What’s your favorite pair?

Back To Top

Have you stumbled upon any other great no show socks? Are they truly invisible when you put on your shoes? And have you tried any of the pairs I mentioned in this article?

If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter. You can also find join other readers on Effortless Gent’s Facebook page, or DM me on Instagram!