Real Talk: Shoes Without Socks

In the spring and summer, we wear shoes without socks and defend talk about wearing shoes without socks.

We already know that fashion is cyclical. And we also know that the arguments discussions we have about fashion and matters of style seem to be repetitive as well.

Ever since the season has turned decidedly towards spring and afternoons have become a bit warmer, I’ve noticed that I’ve automatically begun to jump feet first into another perennial and contentious issue: wearing shoes without socks.

Let’s lay out a couple of the arguments and talk about how to go sockless the “right” way.

shoes without socks fashion trend

The Detractors – Two Arguments Against Wearing Shoes without Socks

1. Your feet sweat. This is actually a very good reason to avoid going sockless. After a day of walking around without socks in any pair of shoes, you’re going to have some sweaty and stinky feet as well as some nasty smelling shoes.

Some people will recommend using some sort of powder – talcum powder, Gold Bond, et. al – to curb this issue. In theory, it’s a good idea, there are some drawbacks.

First, any powder will be messy. On the floor, in the shoe, there’s no way around it.

Second, a powder will not last all day. Not even close. And when it wears off, your feet will start sweating and you’ll be right back where you started.

I had a pair of white Sperry Top Siders that I used to wear without socks all the time, all summer long. I tried the powder thing and needless to say, it didn’t help them much.

shoes without socks fashion trend

| WEARING | Blazer c/o Reiss, Brooks Brothers Black Fleece shirt, Vintage Yves Saint Laurent pants, Goorin Bros. hat, Rolex Datejust watch, Loafers c/o G.H. Bass | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

2. It looks bad. Really? Seriously? Tell that to legions of stylish men all over the world. This is the type of prescriptivist style conservatism, that I do not understand and will never understand.

The only credence I will lend to this rationale, is that in some cases, it might be true. However, this is entirely dependent on the context and/or situation.

Would you wear shoes without socks to an important business meeting? Probably not. Unless it was in Italy and with a bunch of other rakish Italian gentlemen.

As always, exercise good judgement and some good old fashioned common sense when in doubt.

shoes without socks fashion trend

Shoes “Without Socks” Done Right

The best way to wear shoes without socks is actually to not wear shoes without socks. But, in this case, we’re not talking about calf-length or over the calf socks.

Giving the bare ankle illusion that you’re going sockless without the detrimental sweat or stench is best accomplished with a pair of “peds,” which are also often referred to as no-show or loafer socks.

They’re small and can’t be seen in your shoe (unless, you’re really looking for them). They wick the sweat (and smell) away. Our favorite no-show socks for the past couple of years have been these from J.Crew.

shoes without socks fashion trend

Where do you stand on the shoes without socks “issue”? Chime in below.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • SC

    Uhmmm I am in between, I like the look when done right but I haven’t tried it myself yet. Not sure I will either anytime soon, you need to have certain style confidence to pull this one off…

    • Brian Sacawa

      There is something to say for knowing what you are (or aren’t) comfortable with. If you can’t wear something or a look with confidence, it will show. Cheers.

  • Lord Byron

    I wear shoes without socks over the summer all the time and I bought the famous “invisble socks”. But 20,5€ for 2 pairs of socks ? Come on…I bought 5 pairs at Calzedonia for 11,5€ and the quality is amazing!

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for the tip. Will check it out.

  • beardedman

    I do it when I’m more casual – sport coat and odd trouser or a very casual suit like seersucker, always paired with loafers. I tried it with Oxfords, but decided against it before leaving the house.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Good to know one’s limits and comfort zone!

  • Leandro Arteaga Vega

    When summer arrives my socks go to the drawer I tried invisible socks once but I was able to see them enough for my maniacal sense of “style done right” to take them off. Lucky for me I don’t have sweaty feets but I must be honest my feets can get dry at the end of the day.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Wow, good for you! There are different brands that show to varying degrees. I love the ones I have from J.Crew, but sometimes they do show a bit.

  • sdjackofclubs

    I do it sometimes.. Always with the loafer socks. In the summer I wear Sperry’s or Bass Loafers most days, so it makes sense.

    • Brian Sacawa

      That’s the way to do it! Thanks for chiming in!

  • Kyle Kirkpatrick

    In general I hate wearing socks unless it’s cold. But, I also don’t like having sticky, sweaty, stinky feet. So, I may eventually try to find some no-show socks to wear.

    • Brian Sacawa

      No-show socks are the way to go. Cheers.

  • Ben

    Love the loafers. Can I ask for the exact model/link? I think the link takes you to a different one. Thanks!

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks, Ben. They’re the Conner Weejuns.

  • centimo123

    Well, the way to keep stylish is loafer socks. I wore this stuff for some of my shoes. It depends on what I want people to see.. But, for formal occasions, I always use regular socks

    The Fashion For Men

    • Brian Sacawa

      That’s the trick!

  • Brad Jones

    Totally agree with you, Brian. Loafer socks have been a solution for me since I started to care about how I look :) I’m very obsessed with the “socks” issue and believe that socks done right is one most important details in a man’s look.

  • Peter Vaabengaard

    Well, I have a nice pair of green suede race drivers that I love. I wear them without socks and have not experienced the problem with smelly feet. Though have I experienced the sweaty part. I dont like wearing socks in my drivers, so I am never going to wear socks, no matter what.

  • Matt

    I personally hate socks in the summer. I´m wearing cedar insoles in my loafers and runners. Works perfect for the Australian summer. Shoes und cabinet don’t smell anymore!

  • Forrest Howe

    Forgotten in this discussion is the question of aesthetics. I find few men have the feet to pull it off. Mishappen feet with with ugly ankles protruding. My SO a registered nurse sees a man with unsightly bulging veins finds them attractive for starting an IV!

  • Alan S

    Wearing shoes without socks looks as daft as wearing sandals with them but some blokes don’t mind looking like a bit of a prat. And check health concerns about aluminium if you decide to drown your feet in talcum powder.

  • MarkinTex

    When I was a preteen in the late 80s and then teenager in the early 90s, sockless was all the rage, first topsiders, then weejuns, then nubuck oxfords, all sockless. All of our feet stank and were stained by the chemicals in the leather. Never again. It’s sad that Millenials think they invented going sockless and are going to have to learn on their own what we Gen Xers learned in our teens. Wearing socks isn’t a matter of fashion, it’s a matter of foot health. Wearing shoes without socks puts one at greater risk for fungal infections, especially toenail fungus infections that can be extremely difficult to get rid of. The friction of the bare foot against leather causes blisters and abrasions that can introduce bacterial infections as well.

    It’s also a matter of shoe maintenance. When your foot sweats into a leather shoe without a sock to absorb it, the leather absorbs the moisture, which creates a dark, warm, moist environment – ideal for fungal growth. Fungus is a decomposer, it is actually breaking down the leather to absorb nutrients from it. The leather is also damaged by the salts in your sweat, and the lactic acid and urea (a compound similar to ammonia). When you wear leather shoes without socks, you severely shorten their life.

    If you’re wearing long pants, just wear regular socks, there is no reason not to, and especially with dress socks and dress pants, a bare ankle just looks out of place. And if you’re wearing loafers or topsiders with shorts, wear low-cut loafer socks. You feet with thank you.

  • Silverbanshee

    Fashion is an idea and totally objective. I personally think that fashionable men wouldn’t dream of going sockless. It’s tacky and, yes, it DOES look bad. I especially find it objectionable to see a man in dress clothes (like wedding attire) and see that they are wearing no socks. Personally, I’m sick of people trying to redefine concepts and words because they’re lazy, tasteless, or think it’s clever to be “counterculture”. The moron in the loafers is a perfect example.

  • MM

    you have stinky feet.
    that’s it, if you don’t like being called stinky feet, wear socks.

  • Ignats

    You forgot the friction argument against going sockless.

  • Sherry Hewins

    Interesting that for women the argument is the other way around. I hate wearing shoes without socks, but fashion dictates that, in most cases, women must not wear socks.

  • JJ

    I think with certain shoes, it depends on shoe if it works to wear them without socks. Some of the shoes I own that are supposed to be worn sockless still make my feet stink and even with socks, they still stink and then I have a pair of really nice Converse All Star’s and I wear them without socks all the time and I’ve had them for 4 years and they’ve never made my feet stink or made the shoes stink. They let my feet breathe. I’ve heard some say that the cheaper versions of Converse make your feet stink and they get an awful smell inside because the material isn’t the same.

  • jaffa99

    I saw a guy in town at the weekend, he’d pi$$ed himself, the stain went right down his leg, but worse than that he was wearing shoes without any socks, disgusting.

  • Ric Woodward

    What about uggs? Shearling lines!
    I get less athletes foot wearing these.
    Can I try it in Reg shoes. Maybe w wool footbeds?