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How to Wear Socks with Shorts

Learn how and when to wear socks with shorts plus how best to style these looks. Socks have fashion rules and you will need to learn them to look good while wearing shorts this spring and summer.

A boy jumping on the trampoline wearing a pair of blue shorts and socks.

Let’s take the title one question at a time. Wearing socks with shorts violated a major fashion rule in the “old days” when shorts first became a fashion item which has not actually been that long ago.

Developed in 1880 as a part of the military uniform of the Gurkha soldiers, shorts provided a suitable attire choice for those serving in areas where the climate features included extremely hot temperatures. The fashion item now de rigueur did not take off in popularity though until the 1940s.

Until recently, you could not viably wear socks with shorts. The increase in popularity of shorts as part of men’s wear, specifically men’s work suits, has created a need to develop a way for suitably, fashionably wearing socks with shorts.

Table of Contents

The answer for guys

Two teen guys wearing shorts and socks with their outfits.

No-show socks make the best choice for wearing shorts. The second choice to this option is to wear socks that only show a little above the ankle in a solid color matching the shorts or a print or plaid that includes the color of the shorts. Coordinating the colors pulls together your look.

The current trend of wearing trouser socks with shorts only applies to wearing a summer suit that features short pants. This men’s wear look only sort of works. While acceptable, it does not look good.

Only wear athletic socks with sneakers or cross-trainers. They do not go with other types of shoes. Save your white socks to wear with white sneakers. When you wear colored sneakers, match your socks to the sneaker color. Avoid wearing solid black socks with shorts, too. Save them for your suits with pants. This only works if you wear ankle socks or no-shows that are black with black shoes.

When wearing Vans or other slip-on canvas-type shoes, use no-show socks or wear no socks. If you go with the latter choice, use a foot powder or spray to keep your shoes from developing foot sweat stink.

The answer for girls

This is a close look at a woman wearing shot shorts with her long socks and skates.

Regarding women’s looks, like the guys, you do not wear socks with sandals. This rule stands forever.

Knee-high socks with walking shorts remain acceptable, yet more fashionable options exist. No-show socks let you show off your legs plus they look better with the dressier shoes typically worn with this type of shorts. Ankle socks or bobby socks look good with penny loafers or other slip-on trouser shoes. Use no socks or no-show socks with dress flats when wearing walking shorts.

Use ankle-skimming socks with any tennis sneakers or crew socks. White socks with white sneakers. You can wear colorful socks with white sneakers but should avoid white socks with any color shoes except white. You need to match. So, you can wear a patterned black and white sock with either white or black shoes, but no solid white socks, especially not those that are mid-calf height with black or red or blue sneakers or any other option.

Should you wear socks with shorts?

This is a close look at a man wearing khaki shorts, socks and sandals.

Ideally, no. It throws off the fashionable line of the shorts and the legs in them. For this reason, no-show socks have gained popularity. Designers cut these socks to hid completely beneath the shoe. Nothing peeks out but the material creates the important sweat barrier between shoe and foot.

You can create the same barrier between your feet and your shoes by using a foot powder or an absorbent liner that adheres to the bottom of the shoe.

While you might see them as an accessory, socks above the ankle height reduce the perceived length of your legs. Tall people, this causes no problem since they typically have long legs. If you have shorter legs though, pairing socks with your shorts makes your legs look even shorter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we answer specific questions regarding socks with shorts. This essential accessory item can be worn effectively with socks but it takes an artful hand. Read on to learn the artful wearing of the no show sock, knee high sock, and novelty sock.

How do you know what color socks to wear?

Choose a pair of socks that matches the color of your shorts. Match your belt and shoes to the socks. If you wear patterned or plaid shorts, choose the accent color of pattern or plaid for your socks/shoes/belt.

This coordinates your ensemble. You might also choose a signature color as singer/songwriter Donny Osmond did. Osmond became known for always wearing purple socks when his sister Marie constantly mentioned it on their 1970s TV show, “The Donny and Marie Show”.

Where can you purchase cool socks that look good with many outfits?

Shop fine department stores like Nordstrom, Belk’s, Macy’s, etc. carry a large selection of casual and dress socks to match every outfit. You will find both socks for men and women. You can shop online or in person.

What are invisible socks?

Typically, invisible socks refer to a no-show sock that your shoe hides. It can also refer to a sock of nude color that matches your skin tone. These still only come in ankle height or no-show. Ideally,

How can you style socks?

When you wear knee-high to mid-calf height socks, you may want to change them up a bit. You can roll down or fold down the material to create a different look. Check the look in the mirror before you leave.

Rolling instead of folding the socks can create a look that throws off the outfit. Fold them down by about two inches to create a cuff. You might fold them twice to achieve the look of bobby socks from socks that actually are much longer.

You can uncuff a pair that is typically cuffed and pull them up to full height for a different look.

Are there seasonal sock looks?

Yes and no. Pastel socks hit the runways in spring to match the Easter egg type colors typical to fashion during that time of year. You can wear neutral color socks such as khaki at all times of the year. Neutral colors go with nearly any outfit.

Are there sock looks to avoid at all costs?

In the 1970s, people wore tube socks with shorts. This looked horrid and still does. Avoid this look. Tube socks belong in the gym. You can wear them with sneakers and shorts while you lift. Also, as mentioned, never wear socks with sandals. 

How do you make your legs look good in shorts?

Men, unless you swim or cycle, avoid shaving your legs. Women, shave your legs no matter what. Both genders should moisturize their legs and feet multiple times each day.

Before you wear sandals, pumice your feet. If you have an athlete’s foot, treat it before wearing flip-flops or sandals. Use a foot and heel cream to get your feet into nice shape before showing them off.

Always wear sunscreen. You should apply it about 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.

What fabrics do designers make socks from?

You can have your pick of fabrics. You can find socks made from cotton, linen, silk, polyester, modal, bamboo, wool, cashmere, and much more. They come in prints, solids, plaids, and argyles.

References:

My Society Socks: How to Wear Socks with Shorts

Coul Style: 5 Tips to Wearing Socks with Shorts

Thread: How to: Wear Socks with Shorts