As a mens’ fashion aficionado trying to pull together impeccable looks on what some would describe as a shoestring budget, financial compromise is an unfortunate but unavoidable reality.
I’m the type of person who loves to obsess over finessing out the details of every outfit I wear, from rigidly defending the cleanliness of the iconic gold numbering on the back of my Achilles Lows to maintaining the perfect amount of I’m-not-even-trying slack in my perfect french tucks. But despite my passion for perfecting every detail, there are some garments I simply have to accept as low-cost basics. Though I’d love to swap out my Uniqlo tee-shirt collection for some brand that produces $95 shirts that fit my body perfectly, it’s just not going to happen on my budget.
That said, I’d be far more likely to drop (relatively) huge amounts of money on a single pair of designer mens’ socks than I would on, say, the perfect tee shirt, which might come as a surprise. Why socks, of all garments?
I have a few arguments compiled here that I hope will drive passionate menswear fans to at least consider opening their hearts to the possibility of investing in really high-quality socks. Even though, for most of us, financial compromise is an inevitability, sometimes investing in the most minute of details can make all the difference in the world.
First of all, the difference that extremely high-quality socks can make isn’t always so minute: the recently-popularized trend of high-contrast graphic socks isn’t one that I’d necessarily recommend to everyone, but for many, it can present an awesome way to inject personality and surprise into otherwise understated outfits. Here, investing in something a little nicer will afford you the opportunity to get choosy and select the absolute perfect pattern rather than compromising for something that’s more one-size-fits-most. Especially when coordinated with other elements of your outfit, this style can be eye catching and totally worth the investment.
Not into vibrant, colorful patterns on your socks? Neither am I -- but one thing I am really into is introducing contrast with color, texture, and material. Just because your socks aren’t expressly calling out for attention doesn’t mean that they can’t be worthy of it: this can be a perfect opportunity to introduce some subtle, refined, intentional contrast that elevates your entire look effortlessly. This style looks remarkably impressive because it demonstrates your acumen for the finer points of dressing well in a way that’s self-assured and sophisticated. Trying to pull it off with run-of-the-mill socks isn’t likely to provide quite the same impression.
But even further, beyond how other people perceive your outfit, little upgrades like these provide their real value by transforming the way you feel about your own outfit. As I’ve said many times on this blog before, I believe the most important factor when dressing well is choosing garments that make you look and feel like your best self, and I know from experience that even something as minute as the softness and texture of brand new designer socks can radically transform how you feel about your outfit.
Conversely, there’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than wearing socks that feel bad. One of the pairs of socks I wear the most is a pair of Uniqlo no-show low cut socks, and I absolutely hate them. These are an absolute wardrobe essential for me, and the Uniqlo pair was jaw-droppingly inexpensive, but the back of my sock slides off my heel and under my foot literally every time I wear them. This regularly turns the experience of wearing my favorite Italian fashion sneakers into one of crouching on the sidewalk trying desperately to reorient my horrible socks without taking my shoes all the way off.
Ultimately, the fact of the matter is that a lot of more expensive garments can simply feel better to wear than more affordable alternatives. But, really, analyzing the value of clothes on objective metrics like material quality and softness to the touch is always going to be missing the point, at least a little. Maybe it seems a little overly simplistic, but regardless of all else, the clothes that are the best for you are simply the ones that you prefer the most. And if spending a little extra cash on a potentially overlooked detail is something that will make you feel better about the outfits you wear, no matter what that detail is, it’s one of the best investments in menswear you can make.