Socks can make or break an outfit. They can mark you as sartorially savvy or as an amateur. The purpose of this guide is to help you to choose the right dress socks, so that you can wear your suits confidently. Suggestions herein range from conservative to fashion-forward.

The Basics of Choosing Socks to Wear With a Suit

Match the dressiness level of your socks to your outfit. Always wear dress socks with a suit. Save the athletic socks, even if they are black, for the gym. Some people prefer to wear over-the-calf socks because they stay up better than mid-calf socks. However, mid-calf socks are what’s most commonly available in stores; it’s also in good taste to wear them. 

The Conservative Approach to Matching Socks to a Suit

The most fail-safe, basic approach to matching socks to a suit is this rule: dark socks go with dark trousers. Match the tone of the sock to the trousers. For example, wear a dark brown sock with a dark brown pant. (Do not wear a light brown or mid-tone brown sock with it.) If you do not have socks that match your trousers, the second option is to match your socks to your shoes. It will, at least, not break up the line of your outfit.  

The Creative Approach to Matching Socks to a Suit

If you prefer a more fashion-forward approach, coordinate your socks with your outfit — tie their colors into one element of your outfit, like your trousers, tie, shirt, or shoes . Your socks will become the element that pulls your whole outfit together. The following list enumerates your options for creative socks, from the most conservative choices to the most daring: