What You're Saying to the World with Your Socks

If you think no one notices your socks—and therefore they don’t contribute to the impression you make—think again.

We get it. Your socks are far away from your eyes and your mouth. If you wear long pants, they’re mostly covered up. Your feet may spend most of the day hidden beneath a desk. Who’s going to pay attention to the socks you wear?

But people do notice them! Tucked into your shoes, they may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for you, but the people you encounter throughout your day have a different view of you. People notice your shoes, and if you walk at all, they will catch slivers of your socks. Your sock selection will become even more visible if you sit down and your pants ride up.

Not only will people notice your socks, but they will make judgments about you based on your socks. Socks communicate a lot of personality, whether you intend them to or not. This is especially true of people you really want to make a good impression on, like supervisors or potential dates.

The good news is that knowledge is power. Now that you know your socks color peoples’ impression of you, you can be intentional about your sock selection. You can even pick the perfect pair of socks to give as a gift, coded to the recipient’s personality.

Your sartorial fate is in your hands! Here’s what you’re saying to the world with your socks.

Worn-Out Socks

If you wear socks with holes, faded colors, or blown-out elastic, you’re communicating to the world that you just don’t care, and not in that dashing, devil-may-care way either. Not appropriate for the workplace, nightlife, a wedding, anywhere. You may not get kicked out, but you won’t get any respect.

You’re better than this. No Cold Feet has tons of fun, affordable sock options for you to choose from. There’s no excuse for bad socks.

Plain Black Socks

Plain black socks are a safe, conservative choice to pair with most business and dressy casual attire. Wearing black socks with your upscale outfits shows, if nothing else, that you know it’s not proper to wear white socks with a suit.

Black socks do say that you don’t tend to step out of line or think outside the box. You play it safe and don’t cut corners. If you want to be seen as creative or bold, plain black socks won’t do the job.

There’s also a range of black socks to consider. Black socks that are visibly coarse may get ignored, but shiny black dress socks might pop a little bit.

Another thing plain black socks might tell the world is that you tend to lose your socks, which means it’s helpful for you to have identical socks to pair orphans with. Maybe you should take better care of your things or maybe you have other things on your mind than colorful socks.

Plain Brown Socks

Black socks don’t actually go with everything. If you wear a brown or earth-toned outfit, plain brown socks show that you know how to dress appropriately and color-match.

Brown is a pretty drab color, however. Brown socks are for people who want to fade into the background. If you want to stand out, you have better options than plain brown socks.

Plain White Socks

Plain white socks are sporty and athletic. Wearing white socks shows that you are ready to hit the trail, gym, court, or field. They pair well with sneakers and casual shorts.

If you wear white socks with your dressy clothes, however, especially the darker tones of many workplace outfits, you broadcast to the world that you only own white socks, that you don’t want to have to differentiate between work socks, going-out socks, and gym socks. Not only is it a fashion faux-pas, it shows that you’re not really trying.

You might be tempted by sheer white dress socks, but these socks have more in common with “hosiery,” only really appropriate for “white tie” ultra-formal.

Colored Socks

Colored socks in all their forms—solids, patterns, and novelty socks—show that you have confidence. You are willing to let your personality hang out. You have something to say and are willing to commit to a statement.

It helps if you know how to color-match and have a good sense of balance. You’re usually safe picking colors that complement the rest of your outfit — cool tones with cool colors like blue or green—but contrast can make a feisty impression too—orange socks with bright blue trousers, for example.

Make sure the color of your socks does not exactly match the color and tone of your pants and/or shoes. That creates a muddled look. You can pair bottle-green socks with olive-green trousers, for example, but not olive-green socks with olive-green trousers.

Don’t forget to consider your skin tone as well, pairing cooler socks with cooler skin tones and warmer socks with warmer skin tones.

Block-Patterned Socks

As we get into the patterns, we start to encounter bolder and bolder statements. Patterned socks are sure to get noticed, and they make a distinctive impression based on the pattern you choose.

Blocked or checkered patterns are orderly. Perfect for the office, they show that you have an organized and structured way of doing things. Your desk is probably spotless, with everything in its place. You’re probably management material.

Striped Socks

Striped socks come in many flavors—vertical, horizontal, wide, fine, monochromatic, technicolor rainbow, candy cane, barber pole, and more. You can look like anything from a savvy, conservative businessman to a clown with your striped socks. Here are some stripes to consider:

  • Two-Toned Knee-High Candy Stripes: Rugby fan, collegiate, possible graduate of Hogwarts
  • Vertical Pinstripes: Future corporate shark, ready to swing up the corporate ladder by hook or by crook
  • Multicolored Horizontal Pencil Stripes: Wild and crazy guy. A great way to bring contrasting colors into your outfit — splashes of warm and cool tones for a cool-toned outfit, for example.

Polka Dot Socks

Like the cap of a Super Mario mushroom, you are whimsical and crazy. You’re still appropriate for work, but no one will mistake you for boring and conservative.

Monochromatic polka dots are decent office attire. Multicolored polka dots are pushing it. But hey, maybe you’re the kind of guy that pushes boundaries. Great for creatives and people who know how to not take themselves too seriously.

Argyle Socks

The classic Argyle pattern sprang from medieval Scotland as a complement to the tartan kilt and has been adopted as the official sock of the Scottish national sport, golf. If you sport this pattern of colored, interlocking diamonds, you might be declaring your allegiance to the game of golf, or proudly declaring your Scottish heritage (bonus points if you find Argyle socks that match the colors of your clan tartan).

Even if you’re not a golfer or a Scot, Argyle socks show that you’re classy and a little old-school, able to dress down and get serious, but you also have a fun side and know how to cut loose.

Superhero Socks

You might not be the hero the city, but you’re the hero it needs! Superhero socks are almost as popular as the movies at this point. Which sock you choose could make any number of statements to the world.

  • Superman: You stand above the pack and above reproach, selflessly committed to the betterment of the human race.
  • Batman: Brooding and dark, you live by a code that helps you cope with the demons of your past that haunt you.
  • Iron Man: Brilliant and slightly arrogant, you’re a solutions guy who plays by his own rules.
  • Captain America: A beacon of hope in a dark world, you know that it’s not worth winning if you don’t stand for something.
  • Wonder Woman: You bring justice to the oppressed and will not be underestimated.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Passion and rage boil beneath the surface. People wouldn’t like you when you’re angry.

Hidden Socks

Are you wearing socks or aren’t you? If you want to present the sockless look, people may wonder if you’re a little rough around the edges. Catching a glimpse of appropriately-colored ankle socks, however, will tell people that you do care about your stinky feet and can be trusted with nice things.

Novelty Socks

From bumblebees to elephants to electric guitars to pickles to beer steins, there’s no limit to the goofy statements you can make with your sock patterns. You can advertise your hobbies, a favorite food, favorite animal, and more by choosing a whimsical novelty sock. It might fly in more creative workplaces.

It definitely shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously—which, depending on the audience, could be good or bad. Don’t forget about color-matching when you consider novelty socks.

Marijuana Socks

If it’s always 4:20 at your pad, feel free to rock the ganja leaf on your socks. No question, though—everyone will assume you are a stoner and not to be taken seriously. Not appropriate for the workplace. Pairs perfectly with a bathrobe, slippers, and ten-day stubble, though.

Funny Socks

If you wear jokes on your socks, you’re definitely the class clown and love the attention. You could do this with The Office-vintage “That’s What She Said” socks, “Suck it Up, Buttercup” socks, or socks that say on the soles “If you can read this, bring me some wine.” You’re willing to be goofy and show the room a good time.

Branded Socks

If you wear corporate logos on your socks—Nike, Adidas, Campbell’s Soup—it could break two ways:

  1. You’re a corporate shill who loves advertising his/her brand loyalty.
  2. You’re a hipster and wear brands ironically.

Which way it goes depends largely on the rest of your outfit.

Mismatched Socks

Mismatched socks usually read as a mistake—like you’re careless, or you forgot it was laundry day and this is all you were left with.

However, if the socks are in the same pattern family (stripes, polka dots, block patterns), it can communicate that you are a free spirit who doesn’t play by the rules. Only appropriate for the most creative of workplaces. If your office is business-casual or higher, go for the match.

No Socks

Choosing not to wear socks with shoes that typically require socks shows that you’re edgy and possibly a little bit dangerous. Maybe you’re a beach bum, in tune with the rhythms of the ocean. Certainly you’re an unpredictable guy, possibly not to be messed with. After all, you might practice capoeira and have a deadly roundhouse kick.

No socks may fly in creative offices or nightclubs. Pro tip: make sure to spray or dust the insoles of your shoes with foot powder to stave off shoe odors from fungus and bacteria.


Now that you know what your socks communicate to the world, you’re ready to express yourself to the fullest through your footwear. You can even start building up your sock collection so you can express different moods and facets of your personality, depending on the venue and the company you will encounter!

As you build a distinctive collection of socks, it may be time to take extra care to keep from losing them. Here are some tips to keep your socks from becoming orphans …

  • Wash your socks in a laundry bag to keep them together.
  • Roll one sock into the other to keep them close.
  • onsider investing in laundry-safe sock clips.

Kick your wardrobe up a notch and let your socks do the talking!

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