Color Coordinating Your Dress Socks, Shoes, and Suit

Slowly but surely the world has been opening back up around us. We’re going back to doing the things we used to do before the pandemic kept us inside our homes for so long. Having been vaccinated and feeling confident to travel again safely, I recently got to a milestone in my personal post-pandemic journey. Just last weekend, I got on my first flight since February 2020 and attended my first wedding in almost 2 years!

I remember the packing process feeling so unfamiliar: what should I bring? What should I wear to the wedding? Do my dressier clothes still fit? Will my outfit look good? I know I’m not alone in having recently asked myself these questions; many of my friends at the wedding reflected on feeling the same stresses I did when packing. 

Whether you’re heading out for a celebration (weddings, birthday parties, religious milestones, etc.), or just returning back to the office, figuring out the right clothes to wear can be tricky. Picking the right color socks for your outfit can be even trickier. How can a pair of socks change how a suit looks? Socks can provide flair to an otherwise dull look. Socks can show off your personality with creative designs and color patterns. Socks can even be a talking point if you go with a novelty option. In this blog, we’ll provide some basic rationale for color coordination and offer some general advice for incorporating specific popular colors into your outfits.

Should Your Socks Match Your Pants, Shoes, or Both?

navy socks to wear with brown shoesIf you’re searching for a classic and simple look for an occasion that isn’t the most formal (i.e. not a black tie affair), you should wear socks with a color that matches your pants and contrast with your shoes. It’s a nearly fool-proof method for ensuring your socks complement your outfit for the occasion.

You could also mix it up by matching your pants with the sock’s base color, while having a pattern or a color accent to contrast. Another option is for the pattern or the design on the sock to contain an element of the color of your pants. In some manner, at least one of the colors on your socks should match with that of your pants.

black grey and purple triangle socks to wear with brown shoesThis advice assumes you have some contrast between your shoes and pants; for example, if you wear brown slacks and brown shoes, a notoriously difficult color combination to coordinate, adding brown socks will not help matters! Thus, with one exception we’ll get to later, we don’t recommend going monochromatic with the same colored socks, pants, and shoes.

On the other hand, if the occasion isn’t too formal, and if you have a bold personality type, feel free to mix and match colors with pants, socks, and shoes. At the end of the day, it’s your style. As long as you feel comfortable and confident with your color choices, it shouldn’t matter what we or other people think about your sock selection.

Navy Socks: A Neutral & Stylish Option

Blue paisley socks to wear with brown shoesNavy socks are versatile in how they can fit with so many different outfits. They pair well with both brown and black shoes, and just about any pair of pants that aren’t black. If you’re like me and you often wear brown shoes with dress outfits, this advice is especially good for you:

When wearing brown shoes, avoid wearing brown, or black socks. Trying to pair browns will be difficult and may look mismatched. Instead, consider a navy blue sock, either solid colored or patterned. If wearing navy blue socks with brown shoes, a classic look would be to wear navy slacks.

blue plaid socks to wear with black shoesWhether they are with a suit, jeans, or slacks, navy blue socks do a great job of complementing darker blue, brown, and grey outfits. They also provide enough contrast for pants that are lighter grey, khaki, or non-traditional colors such as pink, green, or red.

Navy blue serves as a great base for a solid color sock or classic patterns. Below are a few of our favorites here at Tall Order HQ:

When are Black Socks Best?

formal wear black socks to wear with black shoesWhat’s the first thing you think of when you picture black socks? For me it’s black shoes, completing the ensemble of a sharp tuxedo at a black tie wedding. Monochromatic black has a classic feel for the most formal of outfits. Being the absence of color, black doesn’t offer much in the way of contrast except for only the darkest greys and brown outfits. However, you must consider this carefully when trying to pair it with different color shoes:.

When wearing black shoes, the classic choice for both socks and slacks is black, creating a monochromatic look. To add a bit of flair, consider light colors or a tasteful pattern that incorporates black. If going with a bold color choice for socks with black shoes, black slacks are recommended as to not clash. 

black and pink socks to wear with black shoesDepending on your personality, you may find the solid black look a little boring. A pop of color in an accent or a creative, colorful pattern can enhance the socks to give them a little flair. Some of our favorites at Tall Order include:

When to Go With Grey Socks

Grey blue and black socks to wear with black shoesGrey socks, like navy blue socks, are also very versatile. They can be worn with a variety of pants, and work equally well with black or brown shoes. Because greys can come in a variety of shades, there’s no hard and fast rule for when to wear grey. However, we can offer some general best practices.

For the purposes of matching with pants, Dark grey socks can be treated very much like black socks; they can blend in with other greys and darker outfits or provide some contrast to a set of black pants and shoes. Light grey socks can be treated like lighter blue socks in their use - they go well with blue pants, jeans, and brown or black shoes.

grey red and blue stars socks to wear with brown shoesMany colors go well with grey to create cool patterns, and even the heathering effect on grey looks great! Here’s our grey style guide with top picks from our team:

Breaking Conventions: Novelty and Designer Socks

Just because some colors and looks are considered “timeless” or “classic” doesn't mean these are the only routes you can go with your look! Sometimes, these traditional colors aren’t even the right fit for your event! Which socks to recommend here will largely depend on your specific event, your personality, and the color shoes you intend to wear. Those novelty socks can be a great conversation starter at a casual get-together, but would look out of place at a black tie wedding.

Refer to Tall Order’s Novelty and Designer offerings to find socks in all sizes (socks for regular feet, socks for XL feet, socks for XXL feet, and big and tall socks) in a wide variety of colors and patterns to match anyone’s personality and style. You can also write to us at hello@tallorder.com should you need any recommendations if you haven’t put on a suit in a while.