Long Socks and Loafer Liners for Men (Back to the Sixties)
Strangely out of all forms of socks, only the ugly and uncomfortable have become the most common types of socks people wear. In this hub I won't be discussing socks for sportive activities as that's a whole different story, so don't worry, there is no revolution needed for your jogging or tennis outfit. On the other hand, when it comes to socks we wear to our suits, jeans, trousers or shorts, there is room of improvement in most wardrobes.
When and why wear "loafer liners"
It seems like most men are wearing the same black calf-high socks the whole year around, whereas it would be a lot more clever to invest in few different types of socks. My favorite kind of socks are low cut socks you wear in warm weather to trousers or jeans together with shoes (classic leather shoes or moccassins but also with sneakers). Low cuts are even lower than ankle socks covering just the contour of the feet, they have rubber band over the heel so they don't slip inside shoes when walking and they should cover more of toes than same kind of socks for women. Because the part of our feet susceptible to perspiration are covered they do perfectly their job in terms of comfort and hygiene.
But most importantly, their contribution to elegant summer look is enormous - as it looks like you are wearing no socks, people see that you dress lightly, there's this certain care-free (and bohemian careless) feel to it that's just perfect for the summer. Even better, as we don't see the socks there's less mixing and matching to do - you can wear whatever you want and most probably you'll look great.
Unfortunately, in recent years women have quite successfully monopolized this kind of socks and we find them less and less often at men's stores. Luckily, for their shape they really are unisex, so you could also buy the women's low cut socks, if you find your size. I have found all my low cut socks at H&M which carries those for men. It's better to try to find the men's version as for women the fabrics used might not feel comfortable for a man.
Because there really isn't one specific name for this kind of socks you could use different keywords when buying online: low cut socks, loafer liners, socquettes or protège-pieds.
It's a shame a guy has to go through all this trouble to find low cut socks as originally they were designed for men to be worn in the shoes during summer - they date at least from the sixties and back then a woman wasn't allowed to show bare skin. So while women were always wearing pantyhose or stockings, men could let the summer breeze to their bare ankles. Now the tables have turned and men seem to be having a Victorian attitude concerning their ankles, some even insisting on wearing socks with sandals...
I won't rant any longer on socks+sandals, the internet is already full of that, but here's one more thing to avoid: ankle socks. Unless you are doing sport, there really is no point in wearing them. You can still see them so they are not hidden and they don't fill the role of hidden socks as low cut socks do. If your socks are visible already, go for the full length but by full length I don't mean calf-high socks. Let me explain.
The perfect sock for colder weather
Second kind of socks a man should be wearing are long socks, that rise to the knee. I guess it's fine to continue wearing calf length socks if you don't mind bending over many times a day to adjust the socks, but believe me, once you have worn long socks, it's a revolution. They stay perfectly the whole day long, there's never a need to adjust them and contrarily to what you could believe, they're far from being too hot - especially when instead of thick cotton you prioritize thin wool (sometimes called cold wool) or some modern fabric as bamboo viscose or even silk - which lets the skin breathe.
They are an essential part of formal wear as your bare skin will never show - something that's quite important when wearing a suit, especially with the current fashion of slim and short trousers. As also The Sartorialist noted in his blog, the only downside we could mention is the fact that with some trousers, especially tight fitting ones, they could make the trousers grimp to the socks and make a very specific fold just under the knees - but honestly, that's more of a fashion statement than undesired side effect.
What is important when choosing socks, is that for most outfits, they shouldn't dominate the look. That's why we choose the colour of socks according to trousers (never to be matched with shoes). Other than that, everything goes. I must admit right away that sometimes I like to wear socks that are highly visible, for example red socks to be worn with jeans and black shoes. It's OK to break the rules a bit if you know what you are doing and especially in wintertime when everybody seems to be wearing only black and navy blue, it's great to bring some colour to the generally sad landscape.
If you decide to wear socks that people notice, think of them as the necktie for the feet. They still have to be matched with trousers, just as a necktie has to go with the suit and shirt. You can go for colour harmony or use it as a contrasting slash of colour. But remember one thing, what really counts is your comfort. Socks are part of underwear, and people or the society don't really have a say.