Life is too short for boring socks. If you’re stuck in a monochromatic nightmare of white, black, gray, and the occasional brown sock, it’s time to add some color to your ankle game. One of the best ways to do this is with green socks.
Green is a versatile color. We could be talking olives, pine forests, emeralds, coke bottles, electric neon signs, the color of money … There's a shade of green for every occasion and every mood.
Let’s dive into the ins and outs of green socks, including the meaning of the color, who should wear what green when, how to choose the right green sock, and the do’s and don’ts of colorful sockery. Green socks, this is your moment!
Pondering green socks today? Maybe you don’t need to get too deep about the choice, but it can’t hurt to know what green means to society at large.
Green is one of the most abundant colors in nature, as well as the most dazzling. Found in limitless shades of foliage due to the chlorophyll in leaves, since early recorded history green has symbolized:
In the modern era, green has become associated with money, due to the coloration of US dollar currency bills. Perhaps as a corollary, it sometimes represents greed and jealousy—”He was green with envy.”
Green is a “cool” color (as opposed to warm reds and oranges), thought to be relaxing and soothing. Seeing the color green is also thought to subconsciously make us more thirsty, as Starbucks probably spent millions of dollars in market research to discover.
What Else Could Green Socks Mean?
You don’t need any excuses to wear green socks. If you love ‘em, rock ‘em! But if you want your green socks to match the occasion, here are some reasons to bust them out with extra purpose.
Green is the primary or secondary color of many national flags. You could wear your green socks to show pride of heritage for:
If your national flag has more than one color in addition to green, get extra prideful with mismatched socks in your country color!
The list above is partial. There are many more!
That said, Ireland deserves special mention. We all associate green with Irland—leprechauns, the luck of the Irish, four-leaf clovers, etc. However, the historic national color of Ireland was Royal Blue. The Order of St. Patrick actually had blue as its official color.
If you have ever been to Ireland, though, you can’t have missed the rich emerald greens of the countryside, perfectly preserved by the Irish climate.
Much of this is due to the brilliant-green clover grass, which blankets the Irish heath. We all know “four-leaf clovers” are supposed to be lucky, but the historical St. Patrick actually used the more-abundant three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to the Gaelic inhabitants of 17th-century Ireland. Green became associated with Irish Catholic heritage.
If you cleave to this proud heritage, green socks are a great way to show it. You might even try green-and-orange stripes. The orange in the Irish flag represents Ireland’s protestant heritage (exemplified by the protestant king William of Orange). The white field between them represents peace between the religions.
Even if you aren’t Irish, you’ve probably embraced some St. Patrick’s day revelry. On March 17, Irish people the world over celebrate their patron saint by throwing wild parties and parades.
You may know that you’re supposed to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green; otherwise you risk getting pinched.
Even if green isn’t your go-to color, a strategic pair of green socks can help you survive the day un-pinched. You might even fool some overzealous green-seekers and win the right to pinch them back!
Argyle socks were born in medieval Scotland to give Highlanders a chance to match their stockings to their kilts. A kilt’s tartan carried deep significance for the clan that wore it.
Argyle socks are still popular. If you have highland heritage, you might bust out green Argyles to celebrate your lineage in Clan:
You can show your Alma Mater some love—as a student, alum, or at a game—by sporting the school colors on your socks. Universities and colleges that prominently feature green in their branding include:
Interestingly, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish do not wear green—they wear gold and navy blue, like their ancient Gaelic namesake.
If you have been sorted into Slytherin House, what better way to flaunt it on the Quidditch Pitch than with striped green socks? Notable Slytherins include Severus Snape, Horace Slughorn, and Albus Potter … as well as a few more infamous members like Tom Riddle, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Lucius Malfoy.
If your favorite team sports green jerseys, you had best come correct with your green socks or risk a smackdown in the bleachers. Popular green teams include:
Who can wear green socks and look good in them? The short answer is “anyone” … but it actually depends on your skin tone.
While no two skin tones are exactly alike, they can be grouped into three broad categories:
People with darker hair, brown or hazel eyes, and dark or olive skin tend to have warmer undertones to their skin. They tan rather than burning in the sun, and the veins visible beneath their skin look more green than they do blueif you concentrate on them.
Green is a cooler color. If a person with a warmer skin tone wears too much green, the contrast might become distracting. If you want to rock green socks with a warmer skin tone, consider a “warmer” green shade like olive.
This doesn’t mean brighter green socks can’t work for people with warm undertones—they just have to balance the pop of cool color with more warm or neutral offsets in the rest of the wardrobe.
People with lighter skin and hair, as well as green or blue eyes, tend to have cooler undertones to their skin. They tend to burn in the sun instead of tanning, and a close look at the veins visible beneath their skin look more blue than green.
Since green is a cooler color, people with cooler skin tones have much more flexibility when wearing green. Even bright emerald, neon, or bottle greens won’t overwhelm your skin tone if you play your cards right. People with cooler skin tones have far more leeway with their green socks.
People with neutral skin tones don’t fit neatly into either box, so it can be hard to describe their skin traits. The skin might burn or tan in the sun; the veins might look blue or green under the skin.
People with neutral skin tones tend to look good in any shade of green. Consider a striking color like jade or emerald in your socks for extra impact that only you can get away with, you lucky neutral-skinner you.
People tend to be conservative about their workplace attire—especially if their workplace specifies a conservative or professional dress code (which is why most people opt for black and white socks).
“Conservative” and professional, however, don’t have to mean “dull.” Socks are a great place to have a good time with your wardrobe, express personality, and show yourself as detail-oriented and put-together.
If you wear a tie and jacket to work every day, for example, you could match your socks to a green tie and possibly also a pocket square. Upper management looking for go-getters will notice this attention to detail.
If your workplace attire tends to be monochromatic in whites, blacks, and grays, your socks might be exactly the right place to introduce some color. They won’t distract around the conference table, but they will attract just the right attention at the water cooler.
Green is also a versatile color. Neon-electric green might clash with a staid, restrained office environment, but olive or forest green might blend right in.
You can even incorporate more bright greens into your workplace sock repertoire if you choose a traditional and widely-accepted pattern like solid color socks, striped socks or adult socks. Your green dream can be muted by other colors in the pattern, expressing personality without upsetting the fragile balance of your office culture.
If you work in a creative or outside-the-box office or industry, none of these rules apply. If you work in a casual or artsy environment, rock the green socks or those boss-lookin’ polka dots socks in any shade with pride.
If you are considering green socks for a job interview, check ahead for the workplace attire of the company in question. Once you find out if it’s conservative or freewheeling, professional or artsy, dress accordingly.
In general, you won’t be hurt in an interview by innocuous socks … but you won’t be helped. Socks inappropriate to the dress code might actually hurt your chances, because the hiring manager might have trouble imagining you fitting in with the office culture.
That said, if you can stay appropriate, noteworthy socks can actually help you. For conservative offices, take the tip of matching your tie, socks, and pocket square—green, the color of money. The hiring manager will likely admire the moxie and initiative.
One time you should definitely consider wearing green socks to a wedding is if the wedding has green as a theme color. Each wedding typically has two (or more) theme colors. Expect the bridesmaids’ dresses, as well as the groomsmen’s ties, boutonnieres, and vests, to match that color scheme. By aligning your own socks and tie with the wedding theme color, you’re giving the bride and groom a psychic vote of confidence that you are rooting for their union.
If you are one of the groomsmen, you may actually be assigned green socks if they match the wedding color scheme. If no matching socks were assigned, you might take the initiative and suggest matching green socks so the groom’s team looks extra sharp! The bridesmaids will definitely notice.
Keep in mind the attire of the wedding. The color of your socks doesn’t matter if they are appropriate to the dress code. If the wedding calls for formal or semi-formal attire, make sure your green socks are dressy enough to match the occasion.
If the attire is “black tie” or “white tie,” green socks won’t cut it. The only appropriate socks to pair with a tuxedo are solid black hosiery.
On the other hand, if the wedding is Scottish-themed with green tartan on the kilt, pairing green Argyle socks with that kilt is the way to go!
Once you have determined which green sock is right for you, the sky's the limit in terms of pairings. Many people think a colorful sock is limiting, but in truth colorful socks are actually freeing, unlocking dozens of fashion-forward options when you stock your wardrobe with a few key items.
Here are some outfits you can pair with green socks …
If you are wearing any combination of black, white, grey, beige, or some other monochromatic palette, a brilliant pop of green at the ankles will draw serious attention. It’s an audacious choice, but hard to mess up.
Kick the monochrome up a notch by pairing your green socks with a similar green tone of tie, pocket square, watch strap, and so on. Tying together the details heightens the impact of an already-powerful outfit like a suit.
If you pair a green sport coat or shirt with bluejeans and brown shoes, green socks will add intentional flair to the ensemble.
If you pair green socks with green pants or shoes, it might be “too much” green. One option to make it work is to make sure that your garments contrast—light green socks with dark green shoes, dark green socks with light bottle green trousers, etc.
You can pair your green socks with warm colors like pink or orange if they don’t contrast too much. In other words, pair bold green with bold orange; pastel green with pastel pink.
You can also pair green socks with like tones of cool colors—bottle green with sky blue or pastel purple, for example.
Rules of clashing patterns apply no matter the color. Outside of generic faux-pas, here’s what to watch out for with your green socks.
Usually you want some contrast between the pants and the shoes. Otherwise it looks confusing and overly-matched.
If it’s St. Patrick's Day and/or you want to make a devil-may-care statement, feel free to dress in green from head-to-toe. In polite company, however, you will look too much like a leprechaun.
You never want to pair red shoes with green socks. You will end up looking like the Wicked Witch of the East … especially if you choose striped green socks.
Colorful socks make great gifts, because they are something the recipient might not think to get for themselves. This is especially true with higher-quality cotton or merino wool socks.
We recommend giving a gift of one special pair of socks, rather than a set of several pairs. This adds to the impact of the gift.
Pay attention to the recipient’s skin tone, making sure to get socks that will flatter the receiver. You might also consider the person’s alma mater, favorite sports team, and other associations when making your selection.
If your wardrobe is lacking color, socks are the perfect place to inject some pizzazz. Socks don’t draw undue attention to themselves, but they do get noticed, usually by exactly the people you want to do so.
Green, in particular, is rich in heritage. It is associated with St. Patrick’s Day and numerous schools, countries, and causes. Green socks make a fantastic addition to anyone’s wardrobe.
Even better, you can build more wardrobes than you ever imagined with green socks—monochrome, multicolored, and everything in between. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your wardrobe, pairing your green socks with partners you never thought possible. The luck of the Irish might strike you with an outfit worth its weight in gold.