We all know that socks are a staple of any man’s wardrobe. However, for the majority of us, socks are merely seen as just that: a staple that serves only for the benefit of practicality and function.
With this mindset, socks are cast aside as an entirely missed opportunity at evoking a keen sense of style. As stylish gents, we’re quick to pay close attention to details like ties and pocket squares, but many of us forget to extend that same attention to detail when it comes to what’s underneath our shoes. Gentlemen, we implore you to think about your socks in a whole new light, and give these accessories the attention they sorely deserve.
Socks are without a doubt an easy and, frankly, awesome way to add subtle boldness, personality, and panache to your day-to-day. With all the shapes, styles, materials, and patterns available these days, there’s a world of opportunity out there.
We’re here to point you in the right direction, so you can kick up (literally) your sock game. Read on for info about sock styles and sock guidelines to choose the right pair to complete any look.
Whether they’re covered in polka dots, lobsters, American flags, superheroes, bulldogs, sailboats or robots, crazy socks have a number of hidden benefits.
In a world where conformity often reigns supreme, it takes a bold individual to throw on a pair of socks covered in arbitrary neon colors and proudly exhibit them in public.
People who wear crazy socks are rebellious and expressive. Wacky sock wearers are leading a subtle revolution against uniforms and propriety. They refuse to let social standards dictate what adorns their feet, and other people, who aren’t audacious enough to wear dragon-patterned socks, respect them for it.
Throughout history, there are myriad examples of fashion serving subversive purposes, some more dramatic than others. In Scotland, for example, tartan has a long history as a symbol of rebellion. During the 18th century, there were revolts against the British crown in the Scottish Highlands, known as the Jacobite Uprisings. At the time, people often wore tartan to signify they sympathized with the rebellion, the Guardian highlights. Tartan became so associated with the uprisings that after the rebels were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Culloden, the British crown made it illegal to wear it with the 1746 Dress Act. Consequently, Scots couldn’t legally wear kilts until the act was repealed in 1782.
While wearing crazy socks isn’t nearly as subversive or political, it’s still a jab at the status quo and an expression of individuality. What you wear says a lot about your personality, and as Quartz contends, crazy socks help emanate a more vivacious, innovative and intriguing image, particularly at work: Colorful or character socks show playfulness and make a great icebreaker or way to connect with others …
Another possible advantage of wearing fanciful socks and other unexpected attire: You build a brand as ‘the gutsy guy’ or a creative type and over time, it may give you more room to bend or break rules. This makes a lot of sense, as research shows our clothing choices often dictate the ways others view and treat us. While it would be nice to live in a world where people didn’t immediately judge one another off appearances, that’s simply not the case at the moment. More importantly, what we wear also impacts the way we feel about ourselves, or our self-perception.
I have been an investment banker for over 35 years and I am focused on the retail and fashion industries. Throughout the decades, when I’ve gone to meetings I’ve worn a suit and tie. No matter what, regardless of whether the fashion is skinny ties or fat ties, wearing a tie was de rigeur. Looking like a banker involved wearing a tie. I thought that without a tie my head would fall off.
Until now. Two months ago I stopped wearing a tie and I haven’t regretted it for a moment. For the six months prior to that, the tie felt wrong. It was no longer a sign of being the grownup in the room. Something had happened to neckties and what they mean, but what?
Three years ago my firm represented a company for sale called TheTieBar.com. The Company designed all its own ties and sold them online only, direct to consumers. At the time, ties were having a moment and we sold TheTieBar.com for a super high price. Three years ago, you could go to a party and see a young man wearing shorts, a woven shirt and a tie. But since then, the necktie’s fortunes have moved in another direction.
What is it that feels so wrong about wearing a necktie now? The answer is: consumer attitudes. It’s not really about the tie, it’s about how consumers feel about themselves. It’s not that the fashion has changed, it’s that the culture has changed. The necktie isn’t a symbol of authority, stability and knowledge as it was in the past. It’s a symbol of subservience. Most people now expect that a person with a tie has a job where they say things like, “you can find that in aisle five” or “your car will be right up.” And you don’t consider people with ties sources of authority anymore.
What does the necktie symbolize? Conformity, commercialism, mass production. Those are the opposite of values that consumers now want. Today consumers want artisanal products, personalized for them, not mass produced in China. They want things that are produced locally and ethically. They want their things to give them a feeling of belonging, to be authentic to the consumer’s lifestyle. They want their clothes to reflect how they feel about themselves and their place in the world. In that schema, the tie is just the wrong message. Unlike other garments, it’s not about the color or fabrication, the whole thing is just wrong now. Ties for professionals are off-message, they say the wrong thing about the wearer.
Will anything replace the necktie?
Yes. Socks. Socks are the new neckties, the place where a man can, on a pretty risk-free basis, express his individuality. And the socks business is on fire. There is enormous growth in socks because consumers need to stock up to replace their all-black collections with something more thoughtful, interesting and fun. And buyers of companies are paying high multiples for successful sock companies. Will that last? Most likely, it will move like most trends towards something else in three years’ time.
It’s very unusual for a garment to represent values that are rejected by the culture and become obsolete. But most garments have a function and aren’t only symbolic or decorative the way the tie has been for a long time. Will the necktie return? It’s hard to foresee a time when that will happen. Until consumers impute a different meaning to neckties, or until their production and presentation changes in some unforeseen way, the necktie is not likely to make a big comeback. So until then, knot not, let your open shirt help you recall the power of consumers and let all men’s necks breathe free.