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This Might Sound Stupid, but… What Kind of Socks Do I Wear With Shorts?

A modern truism: America’s lengthy history of hating on shorts has bred whole generations of inexperienced male shorts-wearers. This unfamiliarity with bare-legged style has led to many a heinous outfit, such as the classic “dad on vacation” look of jean shorts, knee-high socks and sandals. The good news is it’s easy to figure out where most men are going wrong with shorts: Almost universally, the problem is the socks. So we enlisted certified Style Coach Rayne Parvis to provide us with a few pointers for getting the ankle-wear right.

The No-Show (or the Ankle): First things first, do not wear socks if you’re wearing sandals. Yes, even you, high school geography teachers. With that out of the way, no-show socks are without a doubt your safest bet when wearing shorts. “If you’re wearing white tennis shoes, white ankle socks are also a good option,” Parvis explains. “That way, you look like you’re purposefully going for that sporty white-on-white look.”

Tube Socks: “If you want to wear longer socks, just make sure they match the color of your shoe — for instance, you could wear white tube socks with white Chuck Taylors,” Parvis explains. Another option, she adds, is to match the color of your shoes with the color of the stripes on old-school tube socks.

Crazy Socks: “If you want your socks to attract attention — socks can be sort of like jewelry for men — you could wear a minimal outfit (say, all gray or gray and black) with bright-colored or patterned socks,” Parvis suggests. She notes, however, that pulling off a look like this really depends on how eccentric or flashy you normally dress. More bluntly, it’s a look best saved for people who are confident in their style choices. Even more bluntly, don’t do this unless you know what the hell you’re doing.

So there you have it: Three solid sock options for when you’re wearing shorts. Now all you have to worry about is how many shirt buttons it’s acceptable to unbutton at your next barbecue.