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Bright Bold Socks

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The bright bold sock has been a popular thread in menswear for at least fifteen years. Offered in a range of wild colors and the loudest patterns you can imagine, the bold sock is still here, but is it beginning to exit the mainstream? 

In this blog post, we’d like to discuss some general sock guidelines, whether or not you should wear bold socks, and how to wear them if you choose to.

How To Wear Socks – Bright, Bold, & Otherwise

luxury wool socks for men

Though one of the simplest items in our wardrobes, anecdotal evidence tells us that lots of men could make better choices with their socks, or at least pay more attention. The golden rule of socks is that they should roughly match the color of your pants. If you live by this rule, you will always be correctly dressed, and this is what we suggest for just about any business situation or sartorially conservative event – think funerals or black tie affairs.

Of course, this is not always acceptable to adventurous dressers. Men who enjoy playing with color or pattern might not want to match the blue in their trousers, but rather the green in their pocket square. How do you do this with your own style as opposed to looking like a fashion follower? While we’re at it, should we even be wearing bold socks anymore, or has that moment in fashion passed?

Should You Wear Bold Socks? Pros & Cons

grey socks with gray trousersTo answer this question right up front: Maybe. It depends. Let’s dive a bit deeper and look at some pros and cons of bold socks:


  • Adds color and/or pattern to an outfit
  • Relatively inexpensive way to accessorize
  • Allows wearer’s personality to shine through when well-executed
  • If you’re getting married, bold socks are a great groomsmen’s gift


  • Trendy – runs the risk of looking “overplayed”
  • Not versatile – bold colors and patterns are more difficult to coordinate with other parts of an outfit
  • The look is very “young.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a novelty aspect to bold socks that lots of men gravitate away from as they age
  • Challenging for novices – men who haven’t mastered color and pattern can do more harm to themselves than good with bold socks

So, should you wear bold socks or not? We’ll offer a guarded yes, with the following conditions:

  • Choose socks whose color scheme involves your pant color. We do not suggest wearing canary yellow socks with, say, a dark navy suit. But if you can find a navy sock with yellow accents (or vice-versa), your look will be more thoughtful.
  • Coordinate the socks with something in your outfit other than pants. Fire engine red socks with grey pants aren’t the end of the world, but the look is much smarter and more cohesive if there’s a similar red in your tie, pocket square, or lapel pin. The same goes for pattern. If you’re wearing a solid suit and shirt with a striped tie, bold socks will work particularly well if the colors are harmonious and if the socks are striped. The stripes don’t have to be the same style or proportion – so long as there’s a variation on a theme, you’re good.
  • Be judicious about when you wear them. Avoid bold socks for conservative purposes like job interviews, big meetings, funerals and/or religious functions, etc. On the other hand, if you’re headed out to grab drinks with friends, feel free to go bold.
  • Try a neat/allover pattern in shades close to those of your pants. Our hosiery vendors have been moving in this direction in the past year or two, and we’re huge fans. With a “neat” pattern (a term borrowed from tiemaking that refers to a tiny, repetitious “all over” pattern) in tasteful colors, you can get the pattern- and color-coordination points without running the risk of having clown ankles. 

In Conclusion

There’s no reason that a bold sock can’t work in most men’s wardrobes, we just need to be selective about how and when we wear them. 

During the COVID shutdown, we are still working remotely and are happy to answer any questions about your wardrobe. Call us at 215-253-5905 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to start the conversation.

We strongly encourage you to take a look at Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign and donate if you can.

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