High-fashion trends often feel like the reprise of some aesthetic you found profoundly uncool 11 years ago (think: sweat suits, overalls, chunky sneakers). And perhaps chief among today’s underdog sartorial movements is none other than the coupling of socks and sandals. Whomst among us could’ve guessed?
Following decades worth of peds and no-show ankle socks, it would seem that the sock as a pivotal accessory is finally having its moment. In fact, right now, you might even argue that the staple garment is as central to any well-constructed outfit recipe as, say, a top. Whether you’re sporting a school girl-inspired sock-and-Mary-Janes ensemble, or you’re going full-on “scumbro” with crew socks and some hotel pool slides, your socks can certainly make or break any intended aesthetic. Practical features (namely: warmth) are merely an added bonus.
That’s why we’re partnering with tried-and-true sock brand Smartwool to give you all the intel you’ll need to sport the trendiest sock-forward looks right now.
The Combo: Ribbed Socks & Loafers
The Look: Adolescent Prep School Student
Classic menswear has always been a closet staple: Oxford button-downs, wide-legged trousers, loud academia-adjacent blazers. And the beloved sock-loafer combo, which may skew more boy than man, feels equal parts youthful, polished, and practical. It says “school boy” with a sophisticated twist. Test it out yourself with a classic, simple ribbed sock and a chunky, old-fashioned loafer like this leather pair from Vagabond.
Smartwool Walk Light Ankle Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Vagabond Alex W Loafer, $, available at Vagabond
The Combo: Wool Socks & Hiking Boots
The Look: Gorpcore
In the realm of athleisure, we’ve certainly seen a spike in the “outdoorsy” subgenre: gorpcore. So this winter, bust out your zip-off pants and your densest Smartwool socks and let the world know that you have, indeed, considered hiking. Plus, practically speaking, your feet will certainly be glad for the added warmth — just make sure your socks are visible above your Danner hiking boots at all times.
Oh, and if you’re in the market for a whole host of gorp-core sock items, spend some time with the Smartwool Sock Finder tool. We assure you, it won’t let you down.
Smartwool Women’s Everyday Popcorn Snowflake Pattern Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
The Combo: Athletic Socks & Slides
The Look: Reformed Frat Bro
It’s probably fair to assume that you’ve encountered several hundred frat bros sporting socks with Adidas slides. But Greek life aside, the “lazy, with intention” trend is on the rise. And with the arrival of winter, we’re certainly encouraging a sock that’ll warm your feet even when your outfit simply demands an open-toed shoe.
Smartwool Women’s Everyday Cable Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Adidas Adilette Slide Sandals, $, available at Kohl’s
The Combo: Classic Crew Socks & Chunky Sneakers
The Look: Orthopedist-Meets-Influencer
While chunky, orthopedic-style sneakers — which we once associated with foot surgery — have truly become a casual staple of high fashion, they’re nothing without an equally pragmatic, unsexy crew sock to match.
Smartwool Athletic Targeted Cushion Stripe Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Fila Electrove 2 Sneaker, $, available at Revolve
The Combo: Textured Socks & Heeled Sandals
The Look: Elevated Vacation Dad
The ultimate fashion faux pas made cool: a delicate sandal paired with a folded crew sock. While the OG trend may hark back to bulky practical “walking sandals” reminiscent of parents parading their children around Disneyland, we like a more refined MNZ-style sandal — with a heel, if possible — and an equally dainty sock to match.
Smartwool Women’s Everyday Texture Ankle Boot Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Maryam Nassir Zadeh Una Sandal, $, available at Maryam Nassir Zadeh
The Combo: Sweater Socks & Blundstones
The Look: Liberal Arts College RA
If you’re not ready to take on the full hiking boot look, opt for a more “liberal arts college” shoe like the classic Blundstone Chelsea boot. Designed for casual hiking — you know, just in case you happen to find yourself unwittingly in the woods — the shoes are equally prominent in sceney bars and upscale restaurants. And it goes without saying that a good wide-ankle, chunky boot ought to be complemented by a pair of dense, holiday sweater-inspired socks like this version.
Smartwool Women’s Everyday Popcorn Polka Dot Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Blundstone Vegan Blundstone Chelsea Boot, $, available at Blundstone
The Combo: Striped Socks & Ballet Flats
The Look: Lolita-Chic
Sure, this one can skew a bit Lolita, but Mary Janes and ballet flats with a folded over ankle sock have made waves amongst fashion influencers in recent months. We’d recommend a structured sock that won’t slouch — like this reliable pair from Smartwool — to off-set the delicacy of the shoes themselves.
Smartwool Women’s Heritage Striped Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Loeffler Randall Leonie Ballet Flats, $, available at Bloomingdale’s
The Combo: Bright Bobby Socks & Tennis Shoes
The Look: “Played Tennis Once”
“Bobby sock” is a phrase that once referred to the ankle-encasing socks typically worn with white recreational sneakers. And being that “tennis star” is among this season’s most popular aesthetics — pleated skirts, sweater vests, headbands — it certainly makes sense that you’d couple your classic courtside shoe with a pair of highly visible ankle-grazing socks.
Smartwool Women’s Everyday Color Block Cable Crew Socks, $, available at Smartwool
Nike Nike Court Royale 2, $, available at Nike
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