Style Stories

Sock/Sandal season is right around the corner

Welcome to this refresher on how to wear them together
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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Last Spring, I broke down how to wear socks with sandals. This spring, I have a number of new ideas, tips, tricks and rutabagas on nailing the art form, starting with the ideal shoe shapes (Birkenstock-style slides withstanding this go around for the simple reason of their ubiquity), ranked from most to least casual.


Most casual: Double strap sandals that clasp right before the ankle

The Row Sandals, Falke Socks; these from Saltwater Sandals do the same thing

Before the ankle is an essential component on account that this strap is more likely to show when styled with pants, and will not cut you off in a presumptuous place when wearing something short. It initially surprised me that I like these with socks and I have been trying to figure out what makes the combo good.

I know that their inherently casual nature is something. The sole is rubber and the leather gives off this “take me anywhere and I’ll be okay” effect of durability, so when I style them with more formal clothes, they create a good contrast (they’re also very similar to a classic saltwater sandal, which I’d 10/10 recommend if you’re into the vibe).

Technically, though, they also scoop the toes in (you’ll notice the sides of the shoe straps are wide wider than the middle part where it buckles in narrowly) towards the center of the shoe and that produces a welcoming effect to plug in a pair of socks because the front of the shoe is holding your toes together, so they’re not running amock. And then when you wear them with something like this:

Kallmeyer top (I really like this color too), and here is an alternative gold skirt; a good denim one too in case you’d rather keep it simple. A riskier choice here to harken back to last week’s story! If you’re going the denim route, I might suggest this sequined shirt as a companion.

It’s like, who the actual fuck is that girl with the Goya truck behind her? In a good way!

Or here is a gold shirt, that could be an alternative option to match with a regular denim skirt too.

There is a good deal of leniency to take style risks here with such a casual sandal, even if you’re going to pair them with socks.

I chose a grey pair on purpose to keep the lower half of the look really toned down, but you’ll notice I made sure to use a fine knit weave as opposed to something chunky or generally more rigid (like stuff cotton) so as to maintain a mini contrast even down there (very casual socks would make the shoes look even more casual and that would make them make less sense with a silk top like the above or a gold skirt, or both).

The other way you could do this:

Attersee top, Emi Mess pants, Falke socks; these look okay

I would definitely recommend getting your hair out of the way, unless you’re trying to conceal the profound vitamin D deficiency you are up against, but the basic principle here is to employ a pair of socks that are the same color as your sandals and put on something you could get away with either wearing to work, or would choose to wear when you want to look a little less practical. A little exposed midriff on a silk, deep-v blouse paired with a giant satin clutch in an inconvenient shade of mint green is precisely the kind of glamour I believe it essential to roll into your day-to-day.

Here’s a pair of delicate earrings I would recommend to counter the masculine notes in this look

The other thing to mention: pant length. You have relative carte blanche here because it works for both shoe straps to show, or just the top one. And you get something feminine, too, from the shape of your foot showing, even if it is concealed by a bright red sock. Viva ketchup 2023.

Mid casual: double strap and ornamental

Les Belles socks; these from Calzedonia are good too, Marni sandals (from TRR); not the same, but I like these a lot for the same purpose. Or these! These are the Gabriela Hearst ones I wore through last summer, kind of similar, but wider on the foot, and I think these are a solid comp too.

Not so different in conceit to the first pair with the double strap, but certainly more formal and as cited, ornamental with the various grommets and bullets and that one gold clasp (also a fan of the black patent leather skinny strap against the part of my foot closest to my ankle), but the wear cases are different! Let’s examine:

Soeur button down and jeans, Khaite t-shirt, The Row belt (not a bad comp), Delarge House sunglasses

Here is another pass at what happens with a pair of counter color socks. The basic motivation behind the styling was to keep the look as simple as possible — the kind of thing you’d wear when you weren’t really thinking, easy to be a parent in, but also go to work on a casual day, or meet some friends, or run an errand, or do the kind of thing that has you leaving home in the morning without a defined sense of when you’ll be back home. I find in those instances it is always hardest to get dressed but that good basics are a solid way through. So you lean on the tried and trues of a durable wardrobe in the form of a solid white shirt and great blue jeans, but yield maximum excitement factor (evidenced by the grommets). And the red socks correlate to the wash of the denim so well.

For a less intense vibe, these are good. For a more intense vibe, these sandals are heaven! And would look interesting with a pair of socks in this look.

No? Alternatively, you can apply the other sock recommendation I’ve been going hard on this year with the sheer babies that are highlighted in the banner image of this category.

Home of Hai dress; and here’s something with sleeves and another thing that’s more pared down, plus a skirt that is on sale and another that is less expensive — they could produce a similar effect styled with a tank top (this is a fun one!) (or maybe this one from Susan Alexandra’s Rosette?), and carry you through the summer under many circumstances from “beach to bar” as they say in the pet food biz.

I consider this to be an “intuitive outfit” to the extent that I can’t exactly tell you what I was thinking when I put it on or why I think it works completely, but something about the combination — the way the black bow catches the black socks and the patent leather strap on the shoes, and how the length of the dress hits against the pink bottom of this ribbed mid-length tube thing feels RIGHT. Even better with a pair of kooky sunglasses that don’t need to be taken off at all because the lenses are so sheer. A good foil to the otherwise feminine dress, and a nice play on the socks.

If you’re going to give this a try, I would say that if you pair your sheer socks and sandals with a straight skirt and tank top, you get the same effect. And in that instance, you might want to think about how you’d accessorize. I’m thinking a chunky gold chain bracelet and pinky ring.

Viva ketchup 2023.

Least casual: single-front strap slingback

The Row sandals

I wouldn’t have seen it coming, would you? But these shoes have already proven themselves to be precisely the kind of annoyingly simple closet-lifter-upper. Like any outfit you deign to put on just looks better with them, from caftan to khakis.

But it’s too cold to do it without socks yet, which creates the issue of the backstrap slipping down/my foot sliding out of the shoe. Lest, that is, I wear these very sheer socks that have a solid grip on my sole. Why don’t more brands make socks with grips under them for the express use of styling them with sandals? We’d have so many more footwear options at the ready for us. Here’s take 1:

Soeur white button down, Kallmeyer pants (these are such a fun alternative!) Chanel pearls (these are nice too), The Row sandals

“Upstaging the groom.” A good outfit to wear to a wedding! Or, I don’t know, your Passover seder? Key features include: (1) High waist on the silk pants. (2) Pants against shoe/sock combo

Narrow leg on shiny pant and sheer sock create fancy effect that is still pretty understated because ultimately, you’re in a pair of black socks and black pants. (2) Pearl strand around neck, flirting into and out of the crisp white shirt. A good way to fold your collar in if you want to expose more chest.

So many choices for pearls! And a pair of earrings that could compliment them well are these from Dorsey

And red lipstick for a pop of something vibrant.

The final pass at this shoe/sock combo is like a loose take on the style of wearing innerwear as outerwear: blazer (not no to this khaki one!), Raey merino knit, Marine Serre shorts (these, for a very specific kind of woman, are darling too), Les Belles sock, The Row sandals and sunglasses (do you have Wayfarers?)

It’s not the most practical or convenient outfit but it is comfortable enough to get you through an afternoon. This is the same thin merino knit from Raey that featured heavily in last winter’s lesson in layering and is warm enough, with the inclusion of the blazer for a 60-degree day. The blazer is also long enough to conceal your boxer shorts for in the event you have a moment of vulnerability that has you questioning the decision you made to wear such knickers.

The full pairing calls to mind images of a half-dressed man, you know what I mean? Like wearing his shirt and tie with boxers and knee-high work socks/shoes. Then I like making it a little more feminine — I affixed the tie to my head:

Here’s a good hair bow

Turned the archetypical shirt into a sweater, gave the boxers a doily trim (or really, Marine Serre did that) and traded work shoes for fun shoes.

And in the end, I have but one haiku to share.

There’s no wrong way to

Wear a sandal and a sock,

Lest you wear neither.


Hoy Shoes
Salt Water Sandal
$63 USD

These are good in the gold color too.

Crystal Embellishments Slingback Sandals
$188 USD
Llaut Cutout Leather Sandals
$384 USD
Brother Vellies
Lilia Flat Patent Leather Sandals
$495 USD
The Row
Bow Silk-faille And Leather Slingback Sandals
$678 USD
Miu Miu
Leather Slingback Sandals
$140 USD
Brunello Cucinelli
Suede Glitter Accents Slingback Sandals
$233 USD
Bottega Veneta
Colorblock Pattern Slingback Sandals
$336 USD
Rachel Comey
Leather Slingback Sandals
$168 USD

Signing off yours,

Viva ketchup 2023