They say black goes with everything. But really, it’s white that goes with everything.
After all, a whole camp of people out there adamantly believe you shouldn’t wear black with brown (which I don’t think is always the case, by the way).
And though white is truly adaptable, I think the sartorial rules around socks require a bit more etiquette. Just because every color of sock looks tonally appropriate next to white shoes doesn’t mean you could just put on some hot pink socks with your bleach-hued sneakers.
Here are some best practices to help you navigate the freedom granted by versatile white kicks.
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Can You Wear Colored Socks with White Sneakers?
Yes, you can certainly wear white sneakers with different colored socks. The light-based shade of true white creates a bigger contrast than black would. It spotlights the hue of your socks. So, going this route is a fun way to add a pop of color to your outfit if that’s your thing.
There are two ways to wear colored socks with white shoes that make sense within the “language” of the outfit, if you will.
The first is the most obvious one: match your socks to something else you’re wearing.
If your blue socks are tonal with your pants, you create a longer color block. And, as I mention in our guide to wearing socks with dress shoes, it’s a great way to add length to your legs if you’re a gent of modest height or even if you have shorter legs and want to even out your proportions.
If you match it to any other part of your outfit, the color of your socks becomes part of a visual accent. For example, imagine you’re wearing a red cashmere sweater with nothing else over it.
Also, imagine that you’ve matched your socks to that sweater. Here, red becomes the dominant color of your outfit.
Regardless of your pants’ color, your socks help anchor the look. Plus, your shirt is closer to most people’s eyelines than your pants are.
If your red socks match the shirt underneath your sweater, you’ve made red the main accent overall. This is an effective way to wear bold colors you love but aren’t always sure you can get away with wearing.
The second way to wear colored socks with white shoes is by making socks a quiet statement piece. I know “quiet statement piece” sounds like an oxymoron, but here’s what I mean.
If your entire outfit is completely neutral or monochromatic, your socks are the sole pop of color. Obviously, though, they aren’t a loud or in-your-face pop of color. In fact, if your pants have a longer hem, then they simply peak out.
This is an even better way to incorporate colors or patterns you want to try but are insecure about.
If you like yellow but think it doesn’t go well with your complexion, try wearing a black shirt, black pants, and yellow socks.
Perhaps you love red but think it’s too bold for your understated style. You can wear a tan shirt, beige pants, and red socks. If you cuff your pants, the more of a statement color your socks are.
Can You Wear Black Socks with White Sneakers?
The intense contrast of black socks and white sneakers can seem pretty random. However, there are ways to pull it off. In fact, there are even contexts in which this combination is preferable.
Just as you would do with colored socks, you can go for another item of clothing in black to give context to the black socks. If you’re wearing a black t-shirt, a black vest, or a black hoodie, then the black socks make more sense, and there’s more cohesion.
I will say, though, that there is something very intentional about pairing black socks with white shoes. It’s not the route to go if you’re going for an effortless, thrown-together look. The contrast between black and white is too great. And keep in mind that the greater the contrast, the more eye-catching it is.
Although black and white are both neutrals, they don’t always make a neutral combination.
The best time to wear black socks with white sneakers is in business casual situations that allow for sneakers. These days, you can even wear trainers with a suit, if they’re the right kind. If you’re unsure what the right style is, here are a few good options.
Low-profile white leather sneakers can be worn with suit trousers and even full suits. In this case, black socks would pair excellently with your white footwear and look better than white socks would. Another route is to wear socks the same color as your suit, but darker shades for your socks always look sleeker.
Can You Wear White Socks with White Sneakers?
The answer is a resounding, undeniable yes. I’ll even go on record to say that white socks are your best bet since they’re the most natural looking choice.
Certain sneaker styles, low-profile leathers, for example, aren’t athletic shoes per se. Sure, they’re more comfortable to run in than any dress shoe, but they’re built more for looks and general comfort rather than performance.
This doesn’t take away from the fact that sneakers were popularized on courts, tracks, and gyms. There’s an organic association between white gym socks and trainers.
So no matter your white sneaker outfit—whether you’re wearing white sneakers with jeans, chinos, or shorts—white socks never look out of place. The monochromatic combination looks minimalist and effortless, which is the whole point of wearing white sneakers in the first place.
So, when in doubt, just go for a pair of white socks.
Does Sock Length Matter When It Comes to Sock Color?
Yes, sock length does matter in relation to sock color. The reason behind this is simply because the longer your socks are, the more they’ll show, and the more the color impacts your overall outfit.
It doesn’t matter whether your socks are purple, polka-dotted, or puce if they’re no-shows.
Keep in mind that certain styles of ankle socks do still stick out a bit. In this case, you can think of them as a sort of peek-a-boo accent, similar to when you wear a regular calf-length sock with long-hemmed trousers.
The biggest thing I want you to take away from this is that you can essentially wear white sneakers with any colored socks. But, to optimize the look of your whole outfit, always consider the context and the general aesthetic you’re trying to achieve.
It’s great that white goes with anything. It gives you the power to make a wider range of fashion choices. But remember—with great power comes great responsibility. Dress accordingly.
What color socks to wear with black jeans and white trainers?
You can wear white socks with black jeans and white trainers for an effortless and natural look. However, you can also go for black socks for a more intentional aesthetic. If you’re wearing any other color, say a blue shirt, you can go for dark blue socks.
How do you match sneakers with socks?
When choosing your sock color, you can match it to any item of clothing you’re wearing, or you can make your socks a pop of color. With most sneakers, especially white ones, the most neutral route to go would be a pair of white socks.
Should you wear white socks or black socks with white shoes?
White socks are the most appropriate and neutral choice when wearing white shoes. However, if you’re going for a more eye-catching look, then black socks would create a stark contrast that achieves that.