I Think My Favorite Summer Wardrobe Staple Is Just… Socks?

summer socks man repeller

I’m famous among the local rat population for whining about getting dressed in the summer. It’s too hot, and biologically wet, and the most appropriate clothing leaves little room for the imagination. Getting dressed in the winter, meanwhile, feels like working on a puzzle—you get four or five layers to play with and piece together, maybe even six if you’re fun, but in the summer you get a paltry two. And a bad mood if you push it.

The specific trappings of warm weather style have never spoken to me: frilly sundresses, delicate sandals, cut-off shorts, and flimsy tank tops. I end up settling for their more basic counterparts, but then I get bored. And then I remember that mid-length shorts and a T-shirt never look the same way on me as they look on cool-looking dudes on the Lower East Side. Something gets lost in translation, and I’m left to ponder the opportunities of fall.

But this summer, like an old dog defying expectations, I stumbled upon a new trick. It’s a tiny change in how I get dressed that’s transformed my relationship with summer dressing. Now I can wear a dress without feeling uncharacteristically dainty, or shorts and a tank top without feeling run-of-the-mill, or a skirt without feeling like a skirt person, which I most decidedly am not.

The trick, if you haven’t guessed it yet, is socks. Specifically crew-length socks, worn with any shoe, really. The first time I donned a summer sock to surprising results was in late June: I wore black socks with black brogues, paired with my Derek Lam shorts (which have also much improved my summer) and an oversized white T-shirt (the one mentioned here). It was an outfit that, with the summer shoe du jour known as the sandal, would have fallen flat. But with socks, felt cool. Next I paired the same shoe-sock combo with a daytime pajama set and felt positively civilized. Then I tried white socks and sneakers with black leather shorts and I was officially convinced that socks had saved my summer.

They’re not an obvious nor particularly impressive warm-weather accessory. Your ankle may at times prefer a breeze, but it’s the smallest of prices to pay in exchange for an additional layer of interest (and protection against blisters), not to mention the unexpected hint of boyishness in a sea of floral prints they provide. Despite some hot days this summer, I’ve never been called to take them off for my physical comfort, and instead have felt emotionally buoyed by them all season. For a mostly utilitarian garment everybody already owns, that’s no small feat. So to speak.

Photographed by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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