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Socks and Sandals: A How-To Guide

Everything you need to know to try out this tricky trend.

I know, I know. Just the thought of wearing socks with sandals makes your skin crawl. I don't blame you. There's something decidedly "Portlandia" about sporting Birkinstocks with heathered socks or slides with sporty ones.

But after seeing Taylor Tomasi Hill and Lucky's Tamu McPherson and Laurel Pantin wearing socks with their sandals, I started to think that the trend is worth a try – so worth it that I spent a week walking around New York City in socks and sandals of all kinds, just to prove that it could be done. 

And after days of sliding, stumbling and feeling very, very cozy, I'm here to say that socks and sandals is totally doable – with some exceptions and even more rules, the most important being socks with contrast toes will never work with sandals.

During my week of sandals, my style inspirations were Burberry Prorsum's spring 2010 and Marc Jacobs's fall 2006 runway shows, which sent models down the catwalk with neutral socks and statement sandals – though each in a very different way. Burberry managed to make the pairing look beachy and even a little sexy, while Marc Jacobs's layered-up muse was a punk at heart with a very grunge-y wardrobe. I also took some modern day inspiration from Laurel Pantin's and Taylor Tomasi Hill's Instagrams below, because they know how to make modern style work. 

Want to learn how to make socks and sandals work for you? Just read on for all the tips and tricks you're going to need.

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To try out flat sandals with socks I sported Adidas Adilette slides with American Apparel white socks. I paired them with white Levi's 501s and a striped tee and set out on my daily transport from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I was surprised by two things right off the bat: how amazingly comfortable my feet were and how few people on the street and subway stated at my lax-bro stylings.

The secret to making it work, I learned, was making sure that some skin was visible between the bottom of my pants and the top of my socks – without it I looked like I was in my pajamas – and keeping the rest of my outfit casual and sporty. You can apply those rules to all flat sandal outfits – just think, "The more chill I look the better" and try it out with the picks below.


Mules with socks definitely raised the most eyebrows in theory, but in actuality they were very comfortable and looked great with a midi skirt or skinny trousers. As with the flats, it was important to make sure a glimpse of skin was showing between the sock and the bottom of my trousers. You might think that wearing a mule with socks would make your foot slip out of the shoe, but it actually was the easiest of all the shoes (including the flats!) to walk in. 

Don't believe me? Try out the combos below and I promise you'll be converted.


This one got the best response by far. I chose a pair of Asos sandals that have a high platform and thick straps because I thought the chunkier the shoe, the better it would look with a sock. The ankle strap ensured that I didn't slip out of the sandals, and despite their height, they were very easy to walk in. Again, this style looked best with a midi skirt and some skin showing – but not too much. The best socks to pair it with were thin, printed socks cuffed around the ankle. 


The peep toe heel might have been the hardest shoe to style, simply because of the possibility of a pouf of sock sticking out of the front (the stuff of nightmares, really). After much trial and error with these metallic Topshop heels I figured out that the best way to style them was with a very, very thin sock. Men's trouser socks actually work great as do thin ski socks (which is what I'm actually wearing). The peep toe feels more like an evening look, which is why I'd recommend wearing them with a miniskirt.