From reality TV to cheap Chinese food, some stuff is just so bad that it’s good. This principle is very relevant to the avant-garde of the fashion world. Fashion innovators like to take a faux pas and turn it on its head, to adopt a taboo and intentionally flaunt it as something different and interesting. We saw this happen with the denim-on-denim trend of the summer, a fresh perspective on the traditionally condemned “denim tuxedo,” and we are seeing it once again this fall in an unexpected and often overlooked garment: the sock. Even someone with the most cursory knowledge of fashion would cite wearing socks with open-toed shoes or pumps as perhaps the most egregious infraction of the rules of style. It could even be argued that for years, the sock in general was on the outs; socks were to be of the low-cut, no-show variety, never to poke out of a little sneaker or shoe. But now all that has changed. It is the sock’s time to shine and it is making itself known in the most rebellious of ways: peeking through strappy heels, popping up over booties and playfully grazing knees.
Whether knee-highs, thigh-highs or anklets, the overtly visible sock paired with an unexpected shoe is everywhere. We have seen this look grace the feet of edgy style icons like Chloë Sevigny, Alexa Chung and Sarah Jessica Parker. It was all over the fall 2010 runways, most notably from Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey, Thakoon, Karen Walker and Rag & Bone.
So how is the trend worn to make it work? First and foremost, the shoe choice is crucial. Often the sock is put under a chunky-ish, strapped/cutout pair of heels or a bootie in order to allow for the right sock-to-shoe ratio. Too little sock and people will start to question whether you are making an intentional fashion statement or you misguidedly opted for a little extra warmth under your pumps.
A second key point is the matter of height. With knee-highs and thigh-highs, this is pretty self-explanatory. However, in the case of the anklet sock, it is important that the sock be scrunched or cuffed so as not to hit more than an inch or two above the anklebone, which would only serve to shorten the leg line.
The color and print of the sock is also of utmost importance; it should not be bright, zany, or wildly patterned, or else risk looking clownish. The runway shows stuck to solid socks in a more subdued color palette or a tone in the same family as the color of the shoe itself, with grey and black at the forefront. In fact, many bloggers have likened the look of a black sock worn with a black-heeled shoe to the visual effect of a sleek little boot.
Finally, this trend assumes that a bit of skin will show for the right combination of quirky and sexy. Thus, it should be worn with a fall skirt, dress or even cold-weather woolen shorts. In this sense, it can be used as an exciting and fun alternative to tights.
Searching for a pair to give this trend a try? Check out Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, where you will find the variety to your liking. Or you can take a look at the options some leading women’s hosiery lines have to offer, like Calvin Klein, Falke and Hue. You will not be disappointed. Happy hosiery hunting!