Socks vs. Pants: How to Make Them Work Together

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There are rules for wearing pants with which you are probably familiar, such as, “No White Pants After Labor Day”. There are sock rules too like “No Holes. Ever” and “No Socks with Sandals”. These rules are pretty familiar and should be ones you know and always keep in mind when getting dressed.

What about the rules pertaining to how to wear pants and socks together though? Socks start where your pants end and the two clothing items need to work in harmony to give you a stylish, cohesive look. This is why it is important to keep a few points in mind when thinking about how your socks and pants will play off of each other. Here is how to make your pants and socks work together.

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When to match socks and pants 

If you are worried about how to make your socks and pants work together, there is a simple rule of thumb to follow that will ensure you always look good. That is: match the color of your socks to the color of your pants. This concept is easy to remember and simple to follow. It will work almost all the time to make sure your socks and pants are working as one.

There is an easy, beginner way to do this as well as a more advanced way. The beginner way is to get a few different pairs of solid colored socks and wear the ones that correspond to the color of your pants. Chances are you have a limited number of pants colors, so this should not be too hard. Now, you just wear black socks with your black pants, gray with gray, khaki with khaki, and so on.

The slightly more advanced version of this is to buy socks that include multiple colors, for example striped socks or argyle socks. To make this work you need to make sure at least one color in your socks’ pattern matches your pants but the other colors will be a nice accent to your outfit. Bonus points if these secondary colors match your shirt, jacket or tie. It is a great way to stick to this rule while introducing more colors to your repertoire.

There are two downsides to this rule, though. First, it is very basic. While wearing the same color for your pants and socks will work, it is usually not very exciting. As mentioned, it is a beginner sock rule. Second, it works most of the time but not all of the time. The exception to the rule is that if you have loud-colored pants, matching your socks might be a little too much. For example, red socks with red pants will be a LOT of red.

When to NOT match socks and pants 

Once you have started to understand how to pair socks and pants to create a fantastic overall look, it is time to move on to the more advanced stages of socks and pants pairings. Sometimes, the best looks will come from not matching your socks and your pants.

One way to do this is to add a pop of color to an otherwise understated or monochrome look. If you are wearing a simple grey suit with a white shirt and black tie, adding a pop of color in the form of green socks is a perfect way to take your outfit from nice and stylish to truly memorable.  

There are also some more untraditional color combinations that work very well together and will create a very fashionable, modern look. You have to be bold in order to pull off some of these but if you do, your outfit will be the epitome of trendy style. Brown and teal, purple and navy blue, and blue and olive are all examples of these funky combos.

The downside here is pretty obvious. If you wear colors that don’t match in a traditional sense you can look like you are not put together or like you do not know what you are doing from a fashion perspective. In the end, fashion favors the bold! So, if you are up for it, give it a shot and see what happens!

How to gauge sock length

One more way to make sure your socks and pants are working together as they should is to make sure your sock length is appropriate for your pant length. One situation you definitely do not want to have is one where you see skin between your pants and socks. This defeats the purpose of both the pants and the socks! There is a simple test you can do to make sure the pair works in any situation.

Before we discuss the test though, there is one related rule about socks you need to follow. One of the major rules of socks governing how your pants and socks work together is, “Do Not Wear Droopy Socks”. When wearing pants, you should pull your socks up as high or almost as high as they can go. If the elastic is shot on your socks and one or both of them droop and slide down, it is time to get rid of – or better yet repurpose – those socks and get a new pair.

Once you are sure your elastic is good to go, a simple test will help you determine the appropriate sock length. Once you have your pants and socks on, sit down with both feet firmly on the floor. Your pant legs will ride up but you should still not see skin. Then, cross your legs in the style you are most comfortable and make sure that all you see still is socks and pants. After this test, you are either good to go or you need to find a longer pair of socks.

One last note of sock length; like everything else, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Showing skin between pants and socks can be a very stylish look, especially in the summertime. Just be aware that this is a very advanced look and you need to have your whole look on point to pull it off.

Your socks and pants are not two independent entities. They are separate pieces of your outfit but they need to work together in harmony to produce a great look. Following these simple tips, your pants and socks will be a fashion marriage made in heaven.