Gosling does it right!

There is a very fine line, when wearing suits especially, to showing off too much sock (i.e. your trousers are too short) and not showing enough. I, myself, have battled with getting the perfect trouser length on every pair of trousers/jeans/pants that I own. But it’s a hard thing to do and if not done right, can leave you with too many breaks in your trousers or simply too much sock region showing. The problem, however, is not so easily managed as there are several factors to it, all things that can drastically make a difference in as little as a measurement of millimeters. So how do we get it right without looking like we are trying too hard or simply don’t care enough? Well, a good tailor comes in handy, that’s for sure. Getting a bit of direction from someone with years of experience is always good thing provided that you know or can afford a tailor to hem your trousers for each and every pair, particularly as it rarely comes free with the purchase of the trousers/pants/jeans…. The best way, is to be the expert yourself and to know all of the factors involved that will affect the way your trousers either sit on your shoes or float off of your ankles.

He is a master

So what are these factors? Well, for one, your shoes. Each shoe you own will have a different height to it (unless, of course, it is the same model). For instance, loafers are specifically designed to have a lower vamp height than say an oxford or derby. That being, a trouser will sit very differently on a loafer than it will on an oxford and if you cut your trousers to that oxford, you might find your trousers riding a bit high when you wear your loafers. This is why a good salesman at a suit shop will ask you if the shoes that you are wearing while fitting a new suit/trousers are the ones that you will be intending to wear with your new garments….because it makes a difference. Knowing this will help you. For instance, I have a pair of jeans that look great with my loafers, but if I wear them with a boot or an oxford shoe, it starts to baggy up at the bottom and looks like they are far too long, all for something that is at most a centimeter’s difference. Another factor that affects how your trousers will sit are using braces (suspenders), which will pull the back of your trouser upwards and therefore raise the length of them. So, if you intend to wear braces, make sure to have your hemline fall a bit long. I have learned this the hard way, and find a few of my suit trousers sitting a bit too high and still need to correct them. The last thing is to know that the rise in each trouser is different so simply telling a tailor to take you to a 34″ inseam simply won’t do, not for perfection at least, as a 34″ inseam in a low-rise trouser will be very different to a 34″ inseam to a high-rise trouser…..

Nice contrast (and socks!) – Courtesy of A Suitable Wardrobe

So how do you know when you are doing it right and wrong? Well, in reality, it is all very subjective, but I will do what I do best and put my two cents with regards to what I find just right, on the verge of too high, and looking like you are about to go wading in water. The key really is to give a hint, a small flash, of sock but not to draw in attention like a focal point. Your socks should show when you walk, but not when you are standing still. And being overly colorful is only stylish when you do it right and do it sparingly. Nothing screams attention seeker worse than wearing your red socks with your black shoes every other day. So let’s take a look at a few examples that I have labeled:

(Many photos courtesy of The Sartorialist and clearly one of GQ)

Green Light (done right)



Yellow Light (on the verge of too much – I sometimes find myself in this category….):


Red Light (way too much….come on guys!!):


4 thoughts on “The Art of Showing Sock”

  1. It’s an “amber” light over here, sonny. And yes, my colour-confused friend, you’re frequently on it. But you’re young and thin and in the business of attire, so you get a bit of dispensation.

    Please don’t use that first pic as your reference point though: for all his talent and charisma, the man dresses like a fool. He even made a film about him showing some other fool how to dress like a fool. Just because wearing a suit that is too narrow, too short and all-round too small is de rigeur for Justin Bieber, doesn’t make it right. It’s cute (probably) if you’re thirteen and gender-ambiguous. But if you’re a grown man it makes you look like a twat. There’s no other way to put it. If you’re Korean it can also be successful, but only if you’re prepared to be an international cultural meme based on doing a cowboy dance that makes caucasians laugh.

    Not that I feel strongly about the issue or anything. But really, you work in the Universe’s spiritual centre of fine tailoring. Any more of this tiny suited nonsense and some neatly-dressed men with high sleeveholes and improbable bachelorhood will be round to stitch your typing hands to your backside.

    P.S. Nothing wrong with either red socks or black shoes. But I agree – variety is the spice of life. Today I went with raspberry and tan respectively, which is splendid.

    P.P.S. Good morning; welcome to your week. 🙂

  2. Alex B – HA!! You are too funny. Don’t forget that I lived in Italy, and that side of me will never rub off (so long as I maintain my slenderness, hard to do in England with all of the pints about). So, I will continue on with my slim trousers and my fitted jackets, because I gave up wearing my father clothe’s back in highschool….
    fitted (properly aka bespoke) is the way forward.


  3. I’ve never seen an Italian in a suit that was a size too small. Nor a Savile Row suit that was made that way.

    Your preference for fashionably shortER (and slightly narrow) trousers is fine though. But if you were wearing your father’s clothes in high school they would no doubt have been too big, just as your school uniform now might be too small and look rather silly (cf. Gosling, Bieber, “Psy”, and many more…) Not that you probably wore a uniform at your school. I suspect even chewing gum might have been permitted. It’s that sort of moral decadence that’s led you down this tiny-suited, mafia-funded spiral of horror.

    I am looking forward to your shoes though. Why didn’t you put that pic of your kiltie chukka on the blog? And more?

    P.S. Mr Fitzpatrick senior: how are you doing over there, Sir? It’s nice to be appreciated for abusing your son. I know it must be frustrating not being able to slap him from over there, and hope this offers some consolation. 🙂

  4. Alex B – You obviously have not spent much time in either place…. as many gentlemen in both places wear suits that fit their size…not the baggy crap that old-timers and fat blokes wear….it would look silly if my trousers were any baggier or if my jackets any more forgiving….it’s just that i am a thin guy so everything looks thin on me….don’t be jealous 🙂

    will put that chukka on the blog, don’t worry, i have to space it out you know or else some people start complaining….

    my father tried to comment back but couldn’t seem to get past the firewall block that i use for spammers….oh well, he said to tell you that he enjoys the amusing ‘abuse’ that you try to lay on me….but I am resistant to it all my friend!!

    Look forward to the next round of comments!


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