Our Blog

The Different Sock Heights

In the custom tailoring world, details matter. We measure to the 1/8″ and spend more time than most obsessing over minute details like stitching colors and buttons. While lots has been written on how to wear bright socks, today we’d like to talk about the different sock heights.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that we proudly carry what Esquire has called “The Best Dress Socks In The World,” VK Nagrani. We were saddened last month when we heard that the VK Nagrani was going out of business, a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We took the opportunity to stock up on socks (and t-shirts, underwear, and more) since there will be no further production.

We encourage you to contact us if you’d like to come in and take a look – we have every height of sock mentioned below.

What Are The Different Heights For Socks?

dress socks matching pants henry davidsenNot all socks are created equal, and one of the main differentiators between categories is how high they come up on the leg. Below, we’ll talk about these different heights and why you might choose one over the other. We’ll go from the top down, so to speak.

Over-The-Calf (OTC)

Over-the-calf socks (sometimes abbreviated to “OTC”) are named in a self-explanatory way. They’re more or less knee-high – that is, they reach over the calf. OTC socks tend to do a better job of staying in place than others. The curve of the calf muscle itself is a big help in keeping the socks where they belong.

The OTC socks we carry at the shop – VK Nagrani – are exceptional for many reasons: great designs, high-quality materials, and a sense that they’re caressing your calves. Crucially, they don’t fall down.

When To Wear Them

Widely considered to be the dressiest style of socks, the benefit of over-the-calf styles is that they ensure that the wearer will not expose his bare leg when seated and/or crossing his legs. As you can imagine, this is an unwelcome distraction in just about any professional situation.


colorful socks for men in a storeMoving down one level, we get to mid-calf socks, also referred to as “crew length.” We typically use the term “mid-calf” to avoid any confusion with crew socks, which tend to be white athletic socks you may have worn in elementary school. Socks of this height tend to come up to just below the curve of the calf.

When To Wear Them

When they’re appropriately paired in terms of color and material, mid-calf socks can be perfectly appropriate with a suit if you’re mindful about keeping your shins hidden. They truly shine, however, with business casual and weekend wear. Put these on with some twill pants, custom jeans, or corduroys to enhance your casual look. If you need a guide for pairing socks to outfits, you can find it here.


young man skateboarding wearing shortsThe name is somewhat self-explanatory – ankle socks hit just at or below your ankle, still higher than no-show socks (more on those below). These socks are typically in the “athletic” category, in terms of both thickness and how the look with an outfit.

When To Wear Them

Ankle-height socks are a great pick for athletic sneakers, which are best left to athletic endeavors. They’re a fine option for lounging around the house too, and we wouldn’t judge any WFH’ers taking a few Zoom meetings wearing a pair of these, either.


light blue suede tassel loafer shoesThe no-sock look has been back in style for a good ten years at this point. There are two ways to achieve this look:

  1. Wear your shoes without socks.
  2. Wear no-show socks – our preferred method.

Why do we prefer socks to no socks? Some guys are fine going sockless in their shoes, but it can ruin the insoles if you aren’t meticulous about shoe care. The risk of your feet and shoes smelling terrible at the end of the day is also much higher when you forgo socks altogether.

When To Wear Them

No-show socks are so named because they aren’t visible when you put your shoes on. Geared to warm weather wear, no-show socks are great with loafers like driving shoes and moccasins. They’re a must-have if you wear these shoes with shorts in the summer time as well.

The sockless suit look can work in the summer time too, so don’t be afraid to try these socks with your dressier shoes, too.


Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to get started. We look forward to hearing from you, but in the meantime, enjoy these other image and style articles:


Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for our mailing list of updates.