Hey gents,

I’m gonna keep it short and sweet this week with this little gym-inspired tip.

Don’t be afraid to show those ankles.

There, I said it. Let’s stop wearing these sad excuses for socks, and start putting on the real deal, something called a “no-show sock”.

First thing’s first, make sure you’re only wearing cotton athletic socks with casual sneakers, or when you’re actually working out or being athletic. We’ve discussed this already, as I’m sure you remember.

If you’re over the age of 12, the no-show sock is the only athletic sock you should consider. No arguing!

And no, not ankle socks, not mid-calf socks. If you’re gonna get all 80s with the striped calf-length tube socks, fine, but you better be so hip you can actually pull that off. And please, no slouch socks. (Had to be said… just in case.)

Don’t be fooled by the socks that are marketed as “ankle socks”. What you really want is a sock that hits below the ankle bone, so it’s mostly hidden by the shoe. Ankle socks cover the ankles, which are still too high.

Just look at the above image. The two on the left with the green checks? Those are no-shows. The two on the right, with the Xs? Ankle socks.

“lolwut, why does it matter?”

It’s a matter of aesthetics. Sneakers with no-show socks just look better, plain and simple. Sometimes you don’t need a sartorially-inspired reason.

Seriously, bro?

You don’t want floppy sock garters bunching around your ankles, and even those “ankle socks” that cover the ankle bone look terrible. Just trust me and pick up a couple pairs of no-show socks. This should get you started.

Are they slipping down over your heel when you walk? Either pull them up higher so when you slip your shoe on, the sock naturally slides into place, or find another brand. I’ve noticed some brands just don’t have supportive enough elastic in their socks.

Additional tip that I condone

Like the sockless look with your brogues, but hate the idea of sweating and stinking up your good leather shoes? Black no-show socks can work. You may have to wear them a bit lower, and they may peek out a bit, but that’s okay. That’s certainly more acceptable than a guy wearing footies.

Something I DO NOT condone

Speaking of footies (this shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation), I’ve heard of guys using women’s footies because they don’t want socks to show when wearing boat shoes.

It works, in theory, but what IF you had to take your shoes off in public? Just… what if.

Don’t wear them. If you can’t handle sockless, then don’t do it at all.

There you go, gents. My quick tip for the week.

Busy behind the scenes

Apologies if I haven’t been publishing as much or answering emails as quickly as I usually do. I’ve been working on some delicious stuff behind the scenes and there just isn’t enough time in the day.

I know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I’m adding the final touches on the first EG manual, tentatively titled “The Effortless Guide to Graduating Your Style”. This will be a useful resource for guys looking to build their wardrobe from the ground up. Together we’ll assess your current wardrobe, figure out what needs to go and what’s worth keeping, and then help you slowly add classic, quality pieces meant to last years.

This guide is perfect for any man looking for a solid wardrobe foundation, but especially helpful to newly-minted college grads and dudes entering the job market, even guys who are in the middle of a career transition and hoping to polish their appearance in addition to their résumés.

If this sounds like you, make sure to sign up for updates, as I’ll be making this available to those on the EG list first (and at a special price). Sign up for updates by clicking here (and don’t worry, I hate SPAM in my inbox as much as you, so I won’t waste your time).

K (the gf) and I have also been hard at work on the new Fifth&Brannan collection. If you’re new to EG (welcome to the large wave of readers that have signed up lately), I co-founded a men’s clothing label with the girlfriend, called Fifth&Brannan. There have been some delays on the manufacturing / production end, but we’re gently nudging them along so we can finally release.

First up will be our new line of shirting, followed up by made-to-order chinos and trouser denim in the coming weeks, and also a new selection of ties, and possibly even a bow tie.

We’re super proud of this collection, and we’d love for you to own a 5&B piece. Stay on top of all the release dates by joining the 5&B fam. How do you join, you ask? Just click right here.

Busy busy. Until next time!

 

 

photo credit (top to bottom): amazon.com, riggertrainlad via flickr, zappos.com

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PUBLISHED February 2, 2012


Barron is a Lean Wardrobe Advocate and Founding Editor of Effortless Gent. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr.



  • Juan

    How about wearing loafer socks like these with your brogues or boat shoes: http://www.jcrew.com/mens_category/accessories/socks/PRDOVR~43017/43017.jsp

    • Those are footies bro. Don’t do it (even though J.Crew sells it… shame on them).

  • From a practical standpoint, how does this work out? Say you’re wearing shorts and loafers – show the ankles. Makes sense.

    I hate wearing, say, plaid shorts with my Brooks running shoes because I think the combo, especially with white socks up my calves, looks horrendous. Is there a way to wear those shoes with shorts outside of athletic activity? Doesn’t seem like it.

    Wearing PF Flyers with shorts and out of sight socks sounds like a winner, but I would usually go with sandals.

    (I’m dreaming of summer from here in Wisconsin.)

    • By sandals, do you mean flip flops? Like those things people wear at the beach? I wouldn’t wear any toe-revealing footwear unless I’m within walking distance to a body of water.

      If you’re wearing shorts with shoes and don’t like the look of socks like me, just go sockless.
      Anyway, I don’t see a question in your comment, but I think we’re on the same wavelength, save for the sandals part. 🙂

  • Love these tips. And totally agree with the no show sock being the only athletic sock to even consider wearing.

    • Thanks for reading Ryan

  • Anonymous

    Hello Barron

    I admit, your honor. I am guilty of having worn dress (!) socks after work with training shoes to go to the gym.
    I know that looked horrible, but I only cared about my protein shakes n my muscles at the time, so a little faux pas while out of my suit didn’t matter much to me.
    Today, I’d rather wear flip flops, and the latter is a very trendy item on my island, believe it or not. And quite expensive.
    Digressing here.

    I only want to say that mid calf socks do not fit training shoes. You are right about that.
    And about going sock less: men should remember that this daring step allows them to take off their shoes when they feel the need to. Wear feet deodorant, and take care of them so that their nudity (lol) does not offend any lady who’s just had a pedicure.
    This is my little contribution, but just remember, all of you, sock less or not, use plenty of deodorant for the feet. You have it in the form of talcum, cream, and spray. Be over zealous and give the world a chance to see your feet.

    • If you live on an island are in walking distance to a body of water, I’m okay with flip flops. City dwellers, however, should find an alternate.

      And yeah, if you’re going sockless and are more apt to sweating, foot powder is a good idea. Or just wear no-show socks.

  • Anonymous

    Ps: unless you are my friend Percy who happens to look good in everything, you need to know that boat shoes are intended for setting foot onboard ships or yachts – this type of transportation. That’s what i learnt from my style studies 23 years ago.
    It’s hard to pull that when you are away from the marina.
    It’s a mistake to wear boat shoes if you are not wearing clothes that fit perfectly. Baggy pants or sweat pants are forbidden, for example.
    Work hard hard at figuring what’s right for you if you love those boat shoes.

    • I disagree. I wear boat shoes all the time, whether or not I’m on a boat. They’re a good alternative to sneakers, and are a little higher on the scale of formality. Plus they come in practically every color nowadays. I even wear them with socks in the winter months (yup).

      Again, it’s about knowing the rules (boat shoes = only onboard boats) and consciously breaking them (wearing them whenever and wherever I want) to create one’s own style.

      And sweats and baggy pants? That’s not even a viable option, no matter the footwear.

      • Anonymous

        Make no mistake: I used to be a big fan of boat shoes in the early 90s. Living on an island, back then there were all kind of designs n colours. Then something went wrong as I realized I should not be wearing these to work.
        A lot of people still do today.
        I prefer loafers n richelieus.
        N I like breaking rules too. That’s how I created my own style.

        Unluckily, we don’t find good quality boat shoes anymore. I still fantasize about wearing the right pair with the right blue jeans someday.
        Just need an idea for an alternative to the jacket. I already have some cool ideas

        Cheers, man!

  • I agree athletic socks should be the only socks you should wear ONLY if you’re not actually playing a sport.  No shows definitely for casual sneaks, but if you’re playing ball use ankle socks.  The hi-tops should cover them, and no shows are too much trouble if they do end up rolling down when you’re already laced up.  Winning (or at least playing comfortably) is its own style.

    • Yeah I can see what you mean. They tend to slip off if you’re running around a lot, like when playing ball. If you’re just at the gym lifting or something, I think no-shows work fine (especially with cross trainers or minimal training shoes). High tops do hide the ankle socks, so that would work.  Or go old school and wear the knee-high socks like a G.

  • What’s wrong with footies?

    • Really? They’re lady-like, that’s what’s wrong with them.

      • Mocc socks wouldn’t be considered footies would they?

        • To me, yes. If you ask me, I’d do no-show athletic socks, or go sockless. I just think mocc socks, footies, whatever, look more appropriate on ladies than dudes.

          If you, the reader, are pro-footies for dudes, go for it. I just prefer going sockless if I’m that worried about my socks showing.

      • I feel like the least manly thing of all would be to be concerned over looking ladylike. The point of footies is that nobody sees them. XD I don’t own any… just nitpicking.

      • marty

        No way, the right ones are built for men, from performance fibers (like work out clothes) and the lady’s really appreciate that they keep your feet (and shoes) from smelling as they would if you go sockless.

  • TJ

    I understand your feelings towards the “footies”, and I used to feel the same way, but recently I’ve had a change of heart. I have straight up ruined boat shoes, driving mocs and penny loafers over the years by going sock less in the summer. I don’t consider myself a profuse sweater, but shoes take an incredible wear and tear when it’s just your feet in there sweating during the hot and humid summer months. I’m under the opinion now that if I’m going to spend a good chunk of money on a nice pair of any of the types of shoes mentioned above, I want them to last as long as possible. I agree they are lady like, and it would be embarrassing if I had to take them off in public, but unfortunately I don’t see a way around it at this point. 

    • If there’s no other alternative (foot powder, surgery to stop sweating so much), then footies it is. I mean, it comes down to utility, and clearly for some, footies are necessary. Aesthetically though, I just hate them. Then again, I don’t sweat as much, so if you’re like me you can probably avoid them. But, if you have the tendency to get more moist, then maybe that’s the only option.

  • corz
  • Corey

    I agree with everything on this website except for one caveat to this article. I believe that calf-length cotton socks are an acceptable workout sock. I am an avid basketball player, soccer, and tennis player, and all three of these sports are trending towards an attractive sleek calf-length sock.

    Otherwise, I completely agree. I have just purchased the style guide, and now, unfortunately, I can see how abysmal men’s style is all around me.

    • Corey

      ***avid basketball, soccer, and tennis player,

  • Scott

    Totally agree about no-show, but cotton gets wet and stays wet. Not the wisest choice for exercise and probably the worst choice for running. That said, there’s plenty of good brands that specialize in merino wool socks for fitness purposes.

  • James

    “Either pull them up higher so when you slip your shoe on, the sock naturally slides into place, or find another brand.”

    This doesn’t make any sense. If you pull them up higher, then that defeats the purpose of having a “no show” sock. And most of the time, those no show socks are so low that you can’t pull them up any higher. Regardless, they slip down when I walk. It’s a real pain. I’ve bought three different pairs; Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Joe Boxer and they all slip off in my show when walking. And I pull pull and pull them up and they still slide down at some point when walking.

    Sorry, but I surrender and will go with low cut socks. They’re higher than no show socks, but lower than ankle socks. Those work A LOT better for me and don’t slip off like no shows do. Sorry if my pretty little ankles can’t be fully exposed, but my feet rejects the no show socks. I tried.

    • Marty

      Try the brand Foot Zen. They really do stay up and are invisible inside the shoe. Available in Black or Nude. http://www.footzen.us

      • Marty

        And, I forgot to mention that they are seamless.

  • Ken

    With athletic sneakers like this (http://www.runshops.com/media/import/Free-Run5.0-W033%20(2).jpg) is a smidgen of sock okay (low cut)? Or is no show still better? I don’t want to people to think I’m wearing no sock at all…

    • Ken

      Link doesn’t seem to be working, but free run 5.0…

  • Marty

    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wear cotton socks. Especially when working out! It’s a sure fire way to get blisters.