One of those most annoying fashion trends of the last three or four years is the “no socks and high waters” look. Yes, nothing more appealing than a man showing a lovely few inches of bony, pale ankle. Major Victorian scandal going on here… At first, this was one of those things you only saw in fashion spreads or among the painfully courant, but in the last few years it has trickled down to everyday use, so even middle management clods put a lock on their sock drawer after April 1.
I suppose the appeal is that it conveys a certain breezy jauntiness: “I’ve got no socks to hold me down, to make me fret, or make me frown.” The idea being that even if one is stepping through dog shit and broken bottles in Bushwick (er, “East Williamsburg”), one still looks as though they are 10 seconds away from wading in the surf off Montauk (Or in the case the gentleman below, about to frolic barefoot on the playing fields of Eton).
Perhaps there is some snob appeal as well, as you can’t do a lot of walking with no socks on without blisters popping up and you certainly can’t do anything remotely physical. So, basically this look is only suitable for sitting on your ass all day, either at one’s desk or preferably at an outdoor cafe with one’s legs crossed (in either a European or American manner) for maximum ankle cleavage. One way or another, not wearing socks marks you as a sophisticated man of leisure. It’s sort of similar to how it was fashionable to be bone pale up until the 20th century, as it showed that one didn’t have to work in the fields all day (now, of course the opposite is true, it shows that unlike the other drones in your office, you can afford a tanning salon or a Jet Blue flight to Fort Lauderdale).
Fashion of course spreads virally, and that is one of the reasons this look annoys me so much. Nobody just wakes up and decides independently that they want to roll their pants up 4 inches and throw all their socks away. They buy fashion magazines and copy from them slavishly, whether it looks good or not.
This is not chic, it looks like you woke up 45 minutes late with a hangover and couldn’t be bothered to find socks. Thom Browne may see it as the ideal male silhouette, but I just don’t get it. Taking a decent suit and capping it off by going sockless is like putting ranch dressing on filet mignon.
Unlike, say a pocket square, socks have a very concrete, functional purpose. They keep your shoes from smelling. If you want your 200 dollar wingtips to smell like Kevin McHale‘s jockstrap after a double overtime game at the old Garden, that’s your business, but it seems a little stupid to me.
Now that this trend has gone on for a few years, I predict it will get even worse this year as it trickles down further. In case you are wondering, the rule of thumb on this is simple. Look at your feet. Ask yourself: Am I wearing shoes that John F. Kennedy would wear while steering his sailboat? If the answer is no, put on some goddamn socks! Second question: look at your surroundings. Are you within 100 feet of the ocean? If the answer is no, make sure the cuffs of your pants touch your shoes (or at least come close!).