Monday, December 5, 2011

Sock It To 'Em!

No, I'm not talking about these.
I was doing a bit of research this weekend and realized something: socks really get the short end of the stick whenever anyone describes a Mod ensemble. Oh sure, we can talk about how many buttons a jacket has, what type of collar a shirt has, flared or straight-legged trousers, ties/scarves/ascots, or what types of shoe shapes we all like... but what about socks?

I perused a few Mod books to see how much they've been discussed, and other than mentions of red socks with Hush Puppies and the Rude Boy preference of white socks, the books were pretty silent on the whole thing. I had a memory of a sock mention in the Mods book, but was disappointed when I found the passage. After Richard Barnes talks about how he and Pete Townsend were in awe of the clothing selections they found while shopping at His Clothes, he ends on a downer note by letting us know they only had enough money "for Pete to buy a pair of socks. I don't think he ever wore them."

Yeah, socks sort of fall by the wayside when it comes to a Mod wardrobe. Heck, I'll admit it... they weren't something I thought a whole lot about until recent years. When I first started started dressing more Mod, I was satisfied with white gym socks to go with my loafers and tapered Dickies pants. As my style got more refined and I got a clue on how to dress better, I kept my socks pretty conservative: dark dress socks in navy blues, blacks, dark greys, and dark browns. Some solid-colored, others slightly patterned, but overall hidden in between more stylish shoes and patterned or colorful pants.

But then it hit me... why aren't socks exploited more in a Mod's outfit? Let's be real here, many of us still tend to wear pants cut a bit above the top of shoes... highwaters, if you will. Personally, I've moved away from pants with a negative break... I'm just not at all into the Thom Browne look. But I still like my pants with no break, y'know, to show off some sock.

So, if I'm going to show off some sock, let it be colorful and exciting! Isn't that the best thing about a Mod look? The little details that make an outfit stand out? Soon, I started replacing the more drab 'safe' socks, with those of brighter colors. These days, I try to get the socks to match a color in my shirt or tie. If the socks are going to match the color of my pants, I try to use a lighter tone with a stand-out pattern (or darker tone, depending on how light the color of my pants are).

And right now, the sock industry is alive in styles that would make 1960s Carnaby Street proud! One of the best brands currently rockin' the sock world is, of course, Paul Smith. I'm sure you know this already thanks to the many fashionable, non-Mod guys out there, strutting down streets and experimenting with his multi-striped socks:
Paul Smith Mononuke socks in pink.

And, heck, he's even got op-art patterned socks to dig on:
Paul Smith op-art socks in blue.

Luckily, there's a great shop a block or two from where I work, called The Hound, with a nice display of sock styles in the window. I fell in love with the Marcoliani brand that they carry, which offers socks in vibrant colors and in patterns that include vertical stripes, argyle and more!
It's like Fruit Stripe gum... for your feet!

You can never really go wrong with argyle.
Another brand The Hound turned me on to was Robert Talbott which had some beautiful socks with monotone color blocks, in addition to other patterns. I'm not sure if they still have those available, but here is a pair I was able to get my hands on:

But hey, sometimes you may not want your socks to have crazy patterns, especially if you're wearing loud, patterned trousers. All companies above have some great solid-colored socks as does Mes Chaussettes Rouges, which I learned about from the Shoe Snob blog:
All of the colors of the rainbow, in sock form!
Now, I'm not against conservative sock wear, because many times you just need to bust out the navy blues and blacks to keep things simple and elegant. But every once in a while, bring some excitement to that little space between shoe and trouser leg! It's time to start extending your dandy sensibilities to your sock wear. After all, if you're going to wear short pants, give people a reason to take note!
Paul Smith socks featured on GQ.