How To Choose The Right Dress Socks

Are you still wearing your gym socks with your bespoke suit? When you’re out sock shopping (yes it is a thing) do you just grab the multipack of darkish-colored socks that are the cheapest? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then it’s time to take stock of your hosiery arrangements and invest in some proper dress socks.

What Material Should You Choose?

It’s a common misconception that socks are primarily worn to keep your toes toasty when in actual fact their main purpose is to soak up moisture. We’re not talking about puddles here; we’re talking sweat. And the type of material you choose has a huge bearing on how well your socks pull all that moisture away from your trotters before allowing it to evaporate.


Most of us associate good old cotton with quality, and some consider it the best material for many types of clothing, but it’s not ideal for socks. You see as highly absorbent fabric cotton will soak up all that excess moisture, but it’s not so good at releasing it. A wet cotton sock will in all likelihood stay a wet sock throughout the day making that all-important afternoon client meeting an uncomfortable affair.


Once winter rolls around choosing woolen socks is a no-brainer. But did you know that those luxuriously comfy wooly socks are also good at keeping you cool? Wool allows plenty of air to get through the fibers allowing sweat to evaporate quickly. The downside? They’re often too bulky to wear with your suit and often fail to give you that sleek look.


Can it be true that man-made fibers are useful for something other than football shirts? As it turns out, those synthetic materials that we’re usually warned to steer well clear of are great for the evaporation of moisture. But unfortunately, they’re not all that comfortable.

So what should you do when cotton is too absorbent, wool too bulky, and synthetics are not that comfortable? The simple solution is to find dress socks that combine either cotton or wool with synthetic fiber. And with no two men having the same feet you’ll have to experiment with different blends to see which suits you best.

How Long Should They Be?

These days we are quite relaxed in our attitude towards casual clothing and an inch or two of a hairy calf on the show isn’t such a big deal. However, in tailoring circles, those that know best have decreed that even a glimpse of skin below the knee is tantamount to sartorial sacrilege.

Those socks must come at least halfway up your calf but take care not to be too trusting of clothing labels. There are some less than worthy manufacturers that make what they consider calf-length socks that barely cover your ankles. A trip to the tailor or a reputable sock shop is always your safest bet.

What Colors Are Acceptable?

For many a generation, the black dress sock has been the go-to sock to wear with any formal suit. But with the style choices available to us today, following your dad’s advice of buying black, black, and then some more black isn’t quite fitting.

The old rule of thumb that you should match the sock to the shoe still holds up well but a more common practice these days is to match the sock to the pants. Grey with grey, black with black, and so on. Both of these guidelines will see you sail through any formal situation with the minimum of attention drawn to your ankles.

For those of the more adventurous ilk, you can contrast your formal socks with your pants, but choose colors carefully. We’d advise matching with another shade found in your outfit so as not to look too eye-catching, the last thing you want is for your socks to take over the look altogether.