Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: White Socks

Hi! We're The Lambrettas and we like white socks and sneakers!
Yes, I used to wear white socks with suits. Worse yet, I used to wear white tube socks with my clothes. It was never a 'style' thing on my part... I just didn't give socks a second thought. I've learned my ways since then.

I've always seen the wearing of white socks with suits as more of a Mod Revival/2-Tone kind of thing. I don't know how it started, but if you look at photos from that period, white socks are everywhere. What's worse is the white socks with short pants/trousers! Why would you want to show off white socks in what might otherwise be a nice outfit?

Imagine a guy struttin' down the street in a sharp tie, well-tailored suit, white socks, and well-shined shoes. It's like watching a great horror movie on VHS that warps during the twist ending before returning to normal during the credits. (For those who remember VHS.) It's like getting lost in your favorite soul 45 only to have it skip over the beginning of the fade-out. It's like... well, you get the picture. White socks are like The Nothing in The NeverEnding Story: no imagination.

Well, I implore you to learn from the mistakes I made as a 17-year-old Modnik, especially when it comes to white socks and highwaters. As the British say, always remember to


  1. I love your posts, Carlos!

  2. The point WAS to show off the white socks, not an oversight as you propose. It most likely stems from the 2-tone world but it was definitely a calculated look by most. I still think it's cool actually if 1) the person is young and 2) the outfit isn't overly nice as it's supposed to have a bit of a juvenile, almost 'punk' feel

    There should be limit's, however, on how high-water your pants are though as too much white showing get's ridiculous (and tubesocks is a big no-no).

    I think you are forgetting the youthful, punk rock nature of the Mod Revival.

  3. Haha! Thanks you guys! If I can't call myself out in these posts sometimes, then something's wrong.

    David, you are opening up a Pandora's Box in my mind. Personally, I don't remember wearing white socks on purpose, but... I do remember thinking I was cool with them on along with the highwaters. Luckily, at the time, I did fit those two criteria.

    I think white socks early on in one's Mod life is just another stepping stone to Mod sussed-ness.

  4. Actually, Paul Weller had a lot to do with it. He was photographed wearing white socks most of the time in his earlier years and, well, looked really cool doing it. And as we all know, where Paul goes, the rest of us followed (up until he was seen on that NME cover wearing a fur cod piece and the honeymoon was over!). Let's also not forget that every scene was big on white socks back in the early 80's; punks, rockabillies, psychobillies, and especially trendies. Not sure about your Morrissey though ;)

    But more to the issue at hand, I think your outfit in the picture works precisely because you have the youthful fashion 'accruements'; the buttons, the white socks, and the rayban knock-offs. It says 'attitude' in a way that even the sharpest bespoke suit can't. But again; Young People Only is the limits of this look IMHO.

  5. How to Lose a Mass Following in the Time it Takes a Shudder to Click:

  6. OK, I have to admit. I used to wear white socks and trouser leg rolled up. As David said - amongst new wavers, indies, post-punks, DM and The Cure fans white socks were in common use.
    It recalls me the other '80s classic item - dark trench coat. Absolute 'must have' of every genuine new waver :)
    Today white socks I wear only to white Chuck Taylor trainers...

  7. I'm always amazed to see that people from different countries, in their own isolated scene (you touched the subject a few posts back), experienced the same thing during the Mod Revival and went through similar growing pains.

    I talked about that very subject in a post a couple years ago. (please don't see this as a shameless plug)

    I also have a personal friend of mine who has an Ivy League/Mod fashion blog that did a great post about socks (in French). The photos are worth checking out.

    Keep those posts coming Carlos!

  8. Plug away Patrick (and nice seeing you on FB)!

    It’s funny how we all go through these phases (like the white socks) and your post reminds me of those early days of trying out suits for the first time.

    Unfortunately, my French still isn’t up to speed (something I plan to fix this year), but I’m already diggin’ the photos on your friend’s blog.

    The great thing about still being aware of the clothing is that as you get older you can refine your look further and even set it up apart from the ‘Mod uniform.’ We all tend to start off with dark suit, thin tie, white socks, and whatever shoes… the fun is making missteps along the way towards a better, elegant look, especially as an adult.

    And as I conceded with a friend on Facebook, white socks work well with sneakers (Chuck Taylors, etc.) or desert boots. They’re casual after all!

  9. I left FB sometime ago - I don't like shouting crowd... Now I'm user of G+ and really recommend it! Here is quiet and calm :). And last but not least you can delete your profile whenever you want!

  10. I wore white (tube)socks as an ill informed teen, then when I was 17 I bought a Kinks LP and saw this great color pic of Ray Davies on "Ready Steady Go" wearing a white turtleneck, houdstooth trousers, loafers and...white socks and he looked cool as *uck. I still think he does. Maybe that's because he's not wearing trainers with a suit jacket like The Lambrettas......

  11. Carlos I think high water pants as teenage mods weren't so much a fashion statement as our puberty striken male bodies growing faster than our parents ability to keep us clothed( at least in my experience).....Great thought provoking piece as always!

  12. Bill, speak for yourself. I'm still waiting for puberty to come back and make me a little taller!

  13. LoL...funny, I/we thought it was part of the look in the 80's....and actually here in Southern California it was. In the early 80's there was
    a "mod" boom here mainly due to the 2 tone ska being played on the radio. so you had days of MF's
    wearing their dad's suits riding round on brand new P's with Dasmi bbq backrests and a bunch of round mirrors going to see the Untouchables at Knotts berry THATS FOR REAL!
    lol ;)

  14. I think white socks are a classic if worn with suits, if they are not sport socks. I'd even say suits are one of the few outfits left where they might be usual or "appropriate", as that i remember, not few men, where i live, use them when they dress up. Imho, they are not only for young people, but any age, as long as the shoes are black.

  15. I think white socks are cool and not just with trainers or desert boots. It's sexy and subversive to wear them with suits or other more formal wear and I notice a fair few younger guys are wearing them stylishly again. This is the complete opposite to wearing white socks because you haven't got any others. Gym socks look rubbish when worn out of context!

  16. Outside of those times you sport a suit, you probably wear the same trousers that 90% of the male population does jeans most of the time, with khakis or flat-front dark casual.

    handmade woolen socks

  17. Looking for the finest pair of socks to go with your boots? Look no further! If that's the case, consider switching to a pair of moisture wicking socks. Moisture-wicking socks are great since they absorb perspiration and keep you comfortable for an extended period of time. Visit the Work Gearz website to get the finest moisture-wicking socks.