Four Socks for Summer

For much of the year, I rely on navy wool over-the-calf socks. As many readers will know, I favor over-the-calfs because they stay up on your leg, thus ensuring your bare calves won’t be exposed when you sit down. I also find navy is a slightly more interesting color than black, and can be successfully paired with almost any kind of trouser.

In the summer months, however, long wool socks can wear a bit too warm, so I turn to other options. The first are still navy over-the-calfs, but instead of wool, I’ve come to really appreciate the highly breathable cotton ones sold by Dapper Classics. They sent me a few pairs for free last year and I’m really pleased with how well they’ve held up. Like with many high-end socks, however, I’ve found that solid colors hold up much better than patterns. For whatever reason, high end patterned socks seem to fuzz up and fall apart more easily in the wash. Still, their solid navy is made with a very durable, breathable weave, and you can feel the air whiff by when you put these on and wiggle your feet.

Another popular option is no-show socks, which Jesse has written about before. They’re essentially a short cotton sock that allows you get the look of being sockless without actually having to be so. In addition to the ones Jesse named, 2(x)ist also just released a collection of no-show socks. I have no experience with them, though I’m told they have a rubber grip at the heel that helps prevent slippage. Jesse also reviewed the Mocc Socks he named in his original article, and liked them.

I tried no-show socks a couple of years ago and sadly found they just didn’t work for me. Mine had rubber grips as well, but they still kept slipping off. So I’ve turned to terry cloth insoles from Aldos, which you can slip into your shoes whenever you want to go sockless. If your feet get sweaty easily, sprinkle in a little Gold Bond powder to keep them cool and dry. 

Finally, summer being what it is, I like to wear sneakers a bit more often on the weekends. Dress socks are a bit weird with sneakers, so I pair mine with more casual cotton socks. Like Jesse, mine are from Lands’ End and Uniqlo. I’ve found the ones from Lands’ End hold up a bit better, though I like Uniqlo’s designs (mine are these in grey). Get whichever ones you like best, though I recommend staying away from the white ones. Those just look too much like athletic tube socks, which in my opinion, should be worn only when you’re exercising.  

Q and Answer: How Can I Keep My Feet Comfortable Without Socks?
Andrew asks: I’ve been going sockless this summer, mostly with loafers, boat shoes, and plimsolls, and every time I come home, I take off my shoes and see blisters on my feet. I don’t want to wear no show socks. Do you have any solutions?
Some people recommend toughening it out and just developing callouses, but I think that’s bad advice. Who wants thick, ugly callouses on their feet? My suggestion is to go with terry cloth insoles, which I wrote about in my "Guide to Going Sockless" article back in the beginning of this summer. I use Aldo for mine, but there are other makers. You can order them off their website, but since Aldo has a store in almost every major city, you’re probably already close by one and can save on shipping. They cost about $7. 
You can get by on just having one pair, but if you don’t wear socks often, maybe it would be good to go with two and rotate through them. The top side is a soft terry cloth, which kind of rubs off a bit when you first get it, but they’re fine after a few wears. The underside is latex, so that it doesn’t slip in your shoe. You’ll want to wash them every so often, but not put them in the dryer, otherwise you’ll ruin the latex. 
If you have particularly sweaty feet, sprinkle some Gold Bond powder in there, and you’ll help your feet stay cool and dry while they’re in your shoes.  

Q and Answer: How Can I Keep My Feet Comfortable Without Socks?

Andrew asks: I’ve been going sockless this summer, mostly with loafers, boat shoes, and plimsolls, and every time I come home, I take off my shoes and see blisters on my feet. I don’t want to wear no show socks. Do you have any solutions?

Some people recommend toughening it out and just developing callouses, but I think that’s bad advice. Who wants thick, ugly callouses on their feet? My suggestion is to go with terry cloth insoles, which I wrote about in my "Guide to Going Sockless" article back in the beginning of this summer. I use Aldo for mine, but there are other makers. You can order them off their website, but since Aldo has a store in almost every major city, you’re probably already close by one and can save on shipping. They cost about $7. 

You can get by on just having one pair, but if you don’t wear socks often, maybe it would be good to go with two and rotate through them. The top side is a soft terry cloth, which kind of rubs off a bit when you first get it, but they’re fine after a few wears. The underside is latex, so that it doesn’t slip in your shoe. You’ll want to wash them every so often, but not put them in the dryer, otherwise you’ll ruin the latex. 

If you have particularly sweaty feet, sprinkle some Gold Bond powder in there, and you’ll help your feet stay cool and dry while they’re in your shoes.  

Guide to Going Sockless

With Esquire and Brooks Brothers’ recent tweets, the menswear Twittersphere has been buzzing over whether it’s too early to forgo socks. It all depends on where you live of course, but we’ll all be there within a month. So I thought I’d put together a little guide on how to go sockless; it’s not as simple as you may think. Here are some tips:

1. Make sure you do the basics: Use cedar shoe trees and don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day. These are things you should already be doing, but they’re especially important if you’re not wearing socks. Sweat will soak into the leather of your shoes, and if you don’t give them time to dry out, you’ll not only wear down the leather faster, but you’ll also stink up your feet more.

2. Use powders, terry cloth insoles, or no show socks: Unless you’re one of the few people whose feet don’t sweat, you need to put something in your shoes. 

  • Powders: The first option are powders, of which Gold Bond is the most recommended. Sprinkle a little bit in and it’ll help absorb moisture and keep your feet cool. 
  • Terry cloth insoles: You can also consider terry cloth insoles, which are basically just like socks. They absorb sweat and can be thrown into the wash, which is a huge upside. My favorites are by Aldo and KiwiOdor Eaters also had some; they have baking soda and activated charcoal in them, but I don’t know how they hold up in the wash. They also only come in one size, unlike Aldo and Kiwi’s, so you may have to cut them down. I personally recommend just getting Aldo and Kiwi and then sprinkling in some Gold Bond if you have particularly sweaty feet. 
  • No show socks: Lastly, there are no show socks. Jesse wrote all about them here. Very little more can be said. 

3. Wash your feet: The reason why your shoes stink when you don’t wear socks is because a bacteria called brevibacterium eats the dead skin that sloughs off your feet. The smell is from the gas they expel after they’ve “eaten” (ie bacteria fart). Thus, get to the source: scrub your feet with anti-bacterial soap when you’re in the shower. Use a terry cloth for this; the material and texture of the cloth will help buff away the dead skin. Be sure to get the areas between the toes, and you’ll leave less for the bacteria to feed on. 

4. Know when you can go sockless: Never wear socks with shorts. Always wear socks in an office or business environment. Also know what types of shoes go best with a sockless look: boat shoes, loafers, mocassins, bucks, bluchers, chukkas, and anything made from canvas. Basically anything besides oxfords can be worn sockless. 

5. Know how to get rid of odors: If your shoes are made out of canvas, you can wash them in the washer, stuff them with newspaper, and let them dry in the sun. You can also use Odor Eaters’ Sneaker Spray, which helps kill some of the bacteria. Lastly, you can try what denimheads have been doing for years - putting things in Ziploc bags and sticking them in the freezer overnight. The cold temperature will kill off all the bacteria, which in turn will eliminate the smell they emit. Just be sure to tell me when you do, so that I make a note to never to eat at your house. 

(photo credits: Scott Schuman, Fred Castleberry, Teruyoshi Hayashida, and some others that I unfortunately don’t have credit notes for)