Anyone with a sartorial eye will have noted that the people of London are increasingly going about their business wearing sandals combined with socks. This somewhat divisive look still has the ability, in 2019, to baffle some. I recently noted an Instagram post from a fashion shoot featuring a male model sporting the look in question with comments including the vomit emoji. Harsh.
On a recent shoot with a singer, I proposed a pair of suede slides. He nodded in agreement and went to take his socks off. I stopped him. Even my dad recently asked me: “Is it really OK to wear socks with sandals?” I found this particularly amusing, given that my grandad loved the combo, with a pair of slacks, shirt and tie. Quite Prada.
Mrs Prada, of course, is the beacon of such brilliantly questionable pairings and has never shied away from socks with sandals, whether for men or women. The same is true at Gucci under the artfully chaotic direction of
Alessandro Michele. His spring/summer show featured a male model in spike-studded flat sandals and mint-green ribbed socks. Fendi’s men’s runway, meanwhile, featured 31 examples of this styling affectation, including a witty sock that spelled out Fendi across the model’s toes.
For some, like the stylist Lucinda Chambers — who used to style Marni shows and now has her own label, Colville — the sock with a sandal/heel has always been on point. Last summer, Beckham, Bieber and Kanye all decked themselves out in a pool-slide with socks — Mr West did it with a suit, while the other two favoured a pair of shorts to make the point.
This latter approach is still happening around east London — with the Easter heatwave bringing sock-and-sandal wearers out in their droves. The trend is winning for several reasons. First, if you’ve invested more than £60 on a pair of Off-White socks then you might want to show off as much of them as is physically possible, no?
Second, it removes the need for pedicure frequency, and is perfect if you’ve managed not to make it to the day spa in time for a sudden heatwave. Third, if you hate your feet you can still air them during heat spells without constantly analysing that toe that irritates you because it’s a bit wonky. And there is more: teaming a sock with a new sandal is easily the best way to breakin a pair, especially if you’re opting for something in leather.
Sandal choices have broadened, particularly for men who have not always been first to leap on the naked-foot look. Teva and Birkenstock are still the easiest entry point in terms of style and price. Teva’s popularity among a more fashionable crowd has seen the brand introduce chunkier, techie styles and they currently have a new offering with Aztec-style patterns. Meanwhile,
Birkenstock’s Rick Owens collaboration — naturally more expensive than its main line — has included styles for men that have sold out fast.
Next up for Birkenstock: Marie-Louise Sciò, head of artistic direction at the Il Pellicano hotel in Tuscany, has reimagined a handful of styles for both genders, including raffia and satin versions. Japanese brand Suicoke is another great option, with offerings in jolly colours. See also Marni, whose collection this season features styles that come with colour-block designs and/or fringeing.
And what about the socks? The bulk of the mega-brands now offer a variation on a designer sock situation — some logoed, some branded, some with graphic patterns. Though I favour something ribbed: Uniqlo, Pantherella, Arket or Falke all do these well. A special shout out to the Pantherella Fair Isle style for its artsy take. Think Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh.
Whatever happens, if you show you’ve sided with the socky-sandal brigade, unless you have a pair of Prada platforms from spring/summer 2013, don’t go with a thong. That’s right, flip-flop wearers. You’ve been warned. Again.
Simon Chilvers is Men’s Style director of Matchesfashion.com
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