When to Wear White Socks

Converse with White Socks

Even though your local department store will sell large bins full of white socks at low prices, it doesn’t mean they are right for every occasion. While to many people the type of socks you wear isn’t overly important, it can actually make or break your outfit.

Therefore, we’ve outlined when you can wear white socks, and when it’s also not appropriate too. 

When You Can Wear White Socks

White socks are not the most attractive option, especially given that there are so many bold, bright and stylish options that suit all occasions so much better. However, every now and again, an opportunity may arise where you can pull white socks from the depths of your drawers and give them a long-awaited outing. 


If you partake in any sports, then white socks are entirely okay. They work well with most tracksuit pants or shorts and are often the right fabric to wear inside hot shoes as well. Both mid-calf and ankle white socks are fine for sports events and activities.

However, given that most sports games require you to wear your team’s colors, the calling for white socks is no longer as urgent as it once was.

lacrosse action

Argyle Clothing

If you’re looking for an exception to the “no white socks” rule, then argyle clothing is it. Argyle clothing is any attire that features diamond patterns with layers and overlapping motifs.

The diamonds can be intercrossing, overlapping, on solid lines, or an individual design. Given how busy the design can be, the only relief to the eye can be stark white contrasting socks.

However, not any white socks will do. You should opt for thin, quaint just-above-the-ankle socks that are light cotton and as far from tube socks as you can get.

At Home

Every once in a while, we all like to lounge around in our homes wearing clothing that’s comfortable rather than a fashion statement. When your entire outfit is one that you wouldn’t be seen dead in public in, then it’s okay to don the white socks – or even mismatching socks – and settle in for a day of watching TV.

Most socks on the market are, of course, white, so at some stage in your life, you’re going to succumb to the pressure and buy a bulk pack of discount socks. While your wearing opportunities might be limited, wearing them around the home can be given the big green tick.

When You Can’t Wear White Socks

Just as you may have suspected, there are going to be just as many occasions where white socks aren’t suitable. They might be the most affordable option, but it doesn’t mean they will draw attention to your outfit in the most positive way. Here are a couple of the many occasions where white socks may be a less desirable option.

Any Formal Occasion Where You’ll Be Sitting Down

One of the most annoying things about pressed or pleated pants, or even dress pants, is how they ride up your legs when you’re sitting down. If you find yourself conducting a meeting with a client, or you’re in a situation where you need to sit down in front of someone, you may want to consider your sock choice. 

You may have spent a long time thinking about what shirt, tie, and pants to wear, but spend a little longer and factor your socks into the decision as well. As soon as you sit down, you will find that those white, bobbly socks will be on show for everyone to see. You'll be much better off wearing a pair of fun men's dress socks.

Due to their stark coloring, all eyes will be drawn to them like a solar eclipse. It will become all the more glaringly obvious as well if your choice of pants is navy or black. To avoid this, why not look into buying yourself some patterned socks?

Lifted Socks

With Casual Shorts

On a beautiful sunny day, it always feels like a good idea to put shorts on and head for a meander around town. However, given that sandals are often not the comfiest of footwear, many people instead opt for sneakers or something similar.

If you then match those sneakers with white socks, you are committing a mortal sin. Wearing bright white socks along with shorts is a big fashion no-no, and all eyes will be on your ensemble.

What Can You Wear Instead?

To solve the white sock debacle, have a look at all your different pant options in your wardrobe or drawers. If you’re in business, you’ll probably find that the majority of your clothing consists of blue, gray, black, and more natural hues such as khaki. Take note of this as you head out shopping!

There is a time and a place to wear white socks, and it’s typically not very often. If you’re not taking part in sports, you’re not at home, and you’re not wearing Argyle, then consider replenishing your sock drawer with socks that naturally blend in with your pants, opposed to contrasting against them. 

Cheat Sheet: When to Wear White Socks

Do wear them when

  • Playing sports
  • Wearing argyle 
  • Staying at home

Do not wear them when

  • Wearing formal attire (especially if you'll be sitting down)
  • Wearing Casual shorts


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