I have always been sock-neutral. I wear them to sleep and for activities that require them, but otherwise would prefer one less thing clinging to my skin. Once the thermometer heads north and the humidity peaks, you may be tempted to don more casual footwear, perhaps sock-free. In Florida, this applies year-round.
The purpose of socks in most applications is to provide an absorbent barrier between the feet and the shoes, and to minimize blistering. Walk all day in a new pair of loafers, and you’ll understand their value. However, once you develop the proper callouses, ditching the socks is easy (sometimes requires carefully-placed band-aids).
There are a few guiding principles to keep in mind, male readers, on summer footwear decisions:
First, ensure proper toe maintenance. No one likes talons, or what could be living under them.
Flip-flops are only appropriate for: the beach, around the house, or worn in a hangover state*
*This also applies to most of Florida living
White socks, no matter what their use, are rarely flattering. Go with black no-shows for exercise.
Socks shall never be worn with sandals.
Sock-free options are appropriate for most settings (even work!), but use your best judgement. Wedding…yes. Professional visit to hospital…no. Brunch…yes. Walking tour of Boston’s hills…maybe not.
Loafers, drivers (a Remarqed staple!), boat shoes, or slippers are all sharp warm-weather choices. See:
- Uncommon loafers: Cole Haan LunarGrand Pennys
- Classic drivers: Tod’s, also at Barney’s
- Hip boat shoes: Timberland Earthkeepers Heritage
- Minimalist slippers: Riviera’s Leisure Shoes, also on MR PORTER
Beware of the summer downpour. Few of the above options would survive more than a drizzle. In such cases, consider:
- Swims rubber & nylon mesh loafers, also on MR PORTER
- Native rubber slip-ons
Crocsare an absolute no-no
Other summer footwear options:
- The timeless rubber thong: Havaianas
- The European flair: ASOS espadrilles, which can also be commonly found at your local Asian supermarket
- The supportive: Birkenstock thongs
- The socially-responsible: TOM’S
- And for the adventurous male, the metallic leather slipper: Maison Martin Margiela
Now, about that pesky sweating problem. I have found that man-made insoles absorb less than porous leather. But, some technical materials may be designed to wick sweat. Best to test and see what works for your unique sole chemistry. I keep Dr. Scholl’s foot powder handy, which helps kill bacteria and absorb sweat, both during and after wear. There is no silver bullet solution, though, so get used to sweaty, stinky shoes if you walk in them all day. A good rule of thumb is to rotate shoes and give them time to rest and dry out between wears. This is true for all shoes, anytime, but especially when wearing sans socks.
In my perfect world, no one’s leg hair would be sheared off from years of dress socks, and ankles would see the light of day, everyday. A man’s ankle can be very telling of his priorities. Stifled by business casual and bad diet, or nicely tanned from spending time outside exercising, eating fresh berries. You can’t neglect letting your feet breathe and soak up some Vitamin D. We evolved from people who constantly walked barefoot!
Showing some lower extremity skin, especially around this time of year, is a great way to draw attention to your lovely legs, or fancy footwear. And, it feels good.
Stock up on a handful of sock-free options to make your summer more stylish. Your ankles will thank you!