January 20, 2010

Let's Talk About Sox

All this swanning about in New York does make one fantasise. Yet I find that a pied-à-terre in New York is presently out of my reach, so to keep my feet on the floor I’m thinking about earthly mundanities, namely socks. I apologise for titillating with my titular allusions, but I am of the opinion that the male ankle is sorely overlooked these days. The well-turned ankles of women used to make men swoon, and were to be kept concealed lest the stoic reserve of the robust sex be disquieted in public. The male ankle was once thought a critical indicator of a man’s character. Properly considered, a fine figure of a man with the exception of portly ankles was not a fine figure of a man at all. We can rarely discern this crucial sign of moral rectitude today, as ankles remain covered by the superfluous folds of ill-fitting trousers, and are further concealed by the saggy whatever-I-put-my-hands-on-first-in-the-dark garments that go under the misnomer of ‘socks’.

Men rarely buy their own socks. I cannot think why. They are perhaps deemed unimportant, but necessary, and therefore something to be put up with, like paying the gas bill. Men rely on Christmas and birthdays for their annual quota of socks to arrive courtesy of the ill-taste of well-meaning mothers, wives and children. This being the case, an opportunity to portray one’s individuality is missed, in favour of the slouched anonymity of dark-coloured conformity. Worse still, these nylon nasties are typically ill-fitting. Heels protrude rudely from the backs of shoes, and bare skin can often be seen peeping from between the sock and trouser hem of a seated male. If you are going to flash your pins at people, why bother to get dressed at all? Worst of all, the sports sock with shoes is still seen in abundance (as terrible a crime as the sports shoe with trousers, which is lamentably even more common). It’s time men took their ankles in hand!

Socks really can set a man off to advantage if chosen well, and co-ordinated with an overall look. I am known for the boldness of my choices, especially in pinkish hues. Pink is truly a manly colour if you have the skin tones to cope with it, and I urge all men who shun pink as effeminate to have a second think. Pink shirts are generally a huge hit with the sophisticated eye of the beholder, and I would make a similar claim for the pink sock. But whatever colour suits your character best, I recommend that socks be well-made, be long enough not to reveal any skin when you sit down or cross your legs, and be well-fitting of your foot. If, through a little discernment, your inadvertently displayed ankles portray your individuality, so much the better. And unless you want to be considered merely a novelty, do not wear novelty socks. Cartoon characters do not belong on any item of clothing. At the very least, your socks ought to leave no doubts that you have bought your own clothes, and that you have dressed yourself.


  1. Doctor,

    'tis good of you to advocate for - and advertise - self awareness in matters sartorial, it is not merely pleasant, but also educational. But let me add on the topic of self-awareness that men do not swoon when they lose control, but rather feel like they are about to rise to the occasion and presumably burst forth. - It is not merely that socks get in the way of that, whether on men or especially on women, but let me assure you of two things my schooling has shown, though not taught, me: men with fancy socks are rarely able to defend their presumably gentle choices in the obvious manly way - which I deplore, because it is a sad thing to see good clothes crumpled, torn, muddied or otherwise acquainted with the harsher things they are so good at concealing - and the fine & refined pleasures of life are hardly a match for the tough & rough pleasures of life. What is a good pair of socks on a bad pair of legs? What good a walking stick when the man knows not how to play cudgels?

  2. Men do swoon, rightly or wrongly. And if one's honour is at stake, matters sartorial should not prevent a man from defending it (although it would be seemly, and indeed advantageous, to remove one's jacket). It is a shame to see fineries besmirched, but there are cleaners, menders, and indeed, shops.


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