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The etiquette of socks: what goes on inside a shoe

Socks are great dividers of opinion. Some sock-wearers swear by classic black and nothing else; others regard socks as far more than mere practicalities. Contrasting colours and patterns can make strong fashion statements, and express their wearer’s personal taste in exactly the same way that accessories can. But how flamboyant dare you be, and when do you need to rein in your style?

As a basic and obvious rule, holes, ladders, poor-quality fibres and the colour white are all off the table. For day-to-day wear, the art of the sock is simple: as long as your outfit has no more than three basic colours or your socks are coordinated with one of the other items in it, you’ll be safe. However, plain dark socks are essential wear with suits and for formal occasions. Casual office environments are a good backdrop for colourful socks, either in a contrasting shade for a muted outfit, or matching your shirt or tie.

Extra tip

To keep your socks in shape for longer and prevent sock tops from stretching, avoid hot washes. A delicates cycle at 40° with mild detergent is ideal for cotton socks.

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