Got style? Got cold feet? I hear you! It’s a conundrum I didn’t take seriously until I moved to Ohio a year and a half ago. But stylish women with cold ankles and feet want to know how to wear socks without “lowering the score” of their outfit. Me included! So I’ve done a little research, a lot of thinking and a bit of experimentation, and I think I’ve come up with some tips to help us kick the socks-in-winter issue to the curb. Let’s learn how to wear socks stylishly this winter.
Before we start the style tips, let’s just clear the air on a couple of things.
First of all, at our ages we’ve been around the city block enough times to be able to put our feet down on a few things. I don’t eat sushi, thank you very much. I’m 56 years old, and I’ve decided that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to jump out of a plane, ride a motorcycle or wear fishnet hose either. So as we brooch the subject of wearing socks fashionably, let’s understand that you absolutely can wear your socks differently if you so choose. You do you. Own it and feel comfortable with your choices.
Second, let’s remember that this is a style blog. So we’re talking style here. If you want to wear your socks otherwise purely for warmth, that’s fine. But it’s not necessarily stylish. And we’re talking style here today.
Choose the Right Shoes
The first fashion cue we need to take if we want to wear socks stylishly in the winter is that we must choose the right shoes. No, not all shoes look fashionable with socks. A stylish woman has to come to terms with that.
In my research I noticed that I never once saw someone wearing socks with ballet flats and calling it stylish. On the other hand, I frequently saw fashion photos of women wearing more menswear inspired footwear with socks. So shoes such as loafers, brogues and Derbies and Oxfords are great choices if you want to wear socks.
(Obviously you can wear socks with boots. But in this post we’re talking about socks with shoes and socks that show.)
Brogues are shoes and boots defined by a low heel and multiple leather piece uppers which feature perforations called “broguing” and serrations. Oxfords are lace-up shoes with closed lacing, while Derbies, their more casual cousin, feature open lacing. Your husband, like mine, probably has at least one of these in his closet. And of course, most of us are familiar with loafers, which I’m showing in this post…because I don’t have the others. But obviously I’m not encouraging you to wear men’s shoes, just menswear inspired. There’s a big difference.
Besides boots that have a shaft that fits under my pants, I only wear socks with my penny loafers and tassel loafers. So that’s what you’ll see here. But I think any of the looks I’m sharing today would also work with other menswear inspired shoes. Look for more shoe options in the shopping widget at the bottom of the post.
Again, if your goal is style, I wouldn’t wear socks with ballet slippers, pointy toe flats or any open toe shoe. Yes, you may see some model-types doing this or you may see younger women pull it off. But I think that “throw caution to the wind” kind of style leap requires a “cool factor” that at least I do not have.
Consider your Pants Options
I found that exposed socks look great with pants that are cropped, ankle length or cuffed or rolled up a bit. I’ve also discovered that exposed socks look more on trend with looser fitting leg openings as opposed to skinny jeans.
I think this silhouette works best because it keeps the ankle looking thinner. Socks can add bulk. So by wearing a looser fitting pants leg, you create some contrast and space, and your ankles look leaner.
Wear Your Socks Like Accessories
You might assume that you should wear socks that match your pants…always. I used to think that. But as I scoured the Internet for fashionable images of women wearing socks, I discovered that nothing could be further from the truth.
So how’s a gal to know when she should wear socks that match her pants? This is perhaps the biggest fashion cue I’m offering in this post, and I think it’s the most profound tip that will help you bridge comfort and warmth with style.
Makes sense? I know this is a big leap for a lot of us. And it may feel risky at first. But I am thoroughly enjoying putting together outfits with socks now that I’ve been freed up to add a splash of color…or white!
I think a little of the pure white in my socks got lost in the processing of this photo. Trust me, these are dazzling white socks, chosen intentionally to contrast starkly with my black trousers and black patent loafers.
Check it Out! I’ve created a Pinterest Board with all the images I found when researching for this post. Check it out. You’ll see that the vast majority are outfits in which the socks are treated like accessories instead of undergarments. In most every case they’re wearing contrasting socks to add color or interest.
3 Ways to Accessorize with Socks
Here are three fun and stylish ways to accessorize with your visible socks. Before I give you the style formulas however, I do have one more tip. In order not to add bulk (especially important for those of us with thicker ankles), consider wearing thinner trouser or crew socks that cling nicely to the ankle and foot. These may not add as much warmth as thicker socks, but that’s probably when you should opt for boots or pants that will keep your ankles unexposed anyhow.
#1 – Wear White Socks!
Have a little fun with your socks and go white. This is a stark contrast to an otherwise all black outfit of course. But you could do the same with jeans and a solid sweater or sweatshirt.
Here’s another similar look in a mirror selfie. Here I did choose off white socks to coordinate with the off white sweater I’m wearing, but the contrast is the same.
And that leads to my second style formula for accessorizing your outfit with socks.
#2 – Bookend Your Look by Repeating the Color at the Top
I did this above with ivory socks to match my ivory sweater. But let’s see how I also bookended another look. Below I bookended the outfit by wearing a rose colored sweater and socks in a similar hue (another option). I wore my Paul Green python print loafers, which are 44% off at Nordstrom Rack.
I’ll have to illustrate further with a few mirror selfies. We ran out of time taking photos the other day when we got called to go see a house (we’re house-hunting!). But I want you to see that these formulas work with other outfits, too.
In the photo below I’m wearing my brown pintuck pants from Athleta bookended with this blue crewneck sweater and baby blue socks. (By the way, Athleta calls this sweater “voyage grey,” but it definitely reads light blue to me.)
Here’s a close up view of the socks and loafers.
And you absolutely can bookend a look with coordinating socks when you wear jeans, too. I just didn’t get any photos of that. Maybe I’ll add them later. I’ll definitely shoot a look with jeans soon. Meanwhile, let’s move on to the third style formula.
#3 – Add a Surprising Splash of Color
Whether you add a bold splash of red, as I did in the outfit I wore last week, or a more subtle swath of gold or green, you’ll definitely be making a style statement with this formula. Here’s the actual outfit I wore Thursday evening. It made me so happy!
What about print socks? Honestly, I didn’t see many print socks at all when scouring the Internet for inspiration. I suggest keeping all the flowers and puppy dogs and rainbows out of view. But if you want to wear something besides a solid, I think something like these tie-dye socks can work. Again, mine are no longer available (I purchased them in Nordstrom), but these are similar. Other prints that might wear stylishly would include stripes or animal print.
Since the quality of the photo is so poor, let me explain that the tie-dye socks are light to dark blues and greens. So I think they coordinate well with the blue jeans and blue sweater, while adding a little whimsy. But they still look on trend. Whereas socks with flowers and kittens and hearts can look a little silly on a grown woman. Look, I have those, too. But I wear them at home or under boots.
Below I’ve taken two shots so you can see the difference between wearing colored socks and wearing socks that match your pants or jeans. Do the matching socks work? Yeah, they’re okay. But to me the navy socks look Iike I’m trying to hide them. Whereas the red socks look like I’ve made an intentional style choice. And remember, intentionality computes as “pulled together” and chic.
So I would definitely choose to wear the look on the right over the one on the left. It’s more fashion forward and looks intentional and confident. Again, I think the key is wearing your visible socks as fashion accessories rather than undergarments. On the left, I did extend the legs of the jeans so that the sock isn’t showing as much. But on the right I wanted my red socks to be seen even more, so I cuffed these boyfriend jeans a little.
Remember bottom line, you do you. But if you really want to look stylish wearing socks this winter, I encourage you to keep the tips I’ve shared in mind and to try one of the three style formulas I outlined here.
Well, I feel like I really stepped out on a limb with this post. I know I may have gone in a different direction from what some of my readers would feel more comfortable with. But as I said, this is a style blog. If my suggestions don’t resonate with you, toss them. And if these tips won’t keep your feet or ankles warm enough, do what works for you. But if style is what you’re after, I think wearing your socks as an accessory is key.
I’ve created shopping widgets with socks and shoes that I’ve mentioned in today’s post. These links as well as the links above in the copy and captions are affiliate links. If you shop through them, I potentially earn a commission on your purchases, but at no added cost to you. Thank you for supporting the work I do here by shopping my links. I appreciate you.
Shoes to Wear with Socks (or without)
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Blessed for My Day
Ninety-nine percent of what we worry about happening never happens. Well, I just made those percentages up. But wouldn’t you agree that most of what we fret over never materializes? Why, then, do we spend so much time assuming the worst, planning for the “inevitable,” working through worst case scenarios and losing sleep over imagined problems? I think much of our woeful anxiety is a defense mechanism, preparing ourselves for the worst so that we can better handle the not so bad.
But a better plan yet would be to trust in the character of the God who loves us. We don’t have to be eternal optimists or look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Instead we can thoughtfully and faithfully put our trust in a God who cares for His children, provides everything we need, consistently treats us tenderly and has the power to override any harm that threatens to derail His plans for us. Let’s trust that God can and will indeed “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” ~ Genesis 48:11