A Guide to Going Sockless

June 3rd, 2015

Like a lot of guys who appreciate style and good footwear, come the Spring/Summer seasons I rarely wear socks. Personally I find going sockless more comfortable; I like the feeling of a good leather on my feet and, combined with no break hem, the ankle breeze provides a significant cooling effect.

We get a lot of questions about this, so if you’re not comfortable with socklessness yet, here’s some tips to make it easier.

1. Buy the Right Shoe Size

It’s surprising how many guys are wearing the wrong size shoes, especially in terms of width. Men’s shoes come in a range of widths from “A” (very narrow) to “EEE” (very wide), with “D” or “M” usually representing “Regular/Medium” width. Buying the correct width for your foot (I’m an “E”, for example) is crucial to feeling comfortable in your shoes, whether you’re wearing socks or not.

mensstyleneilwatson (18 of 25)

2. Take Care of Your Feet

Foot stink comes from bacteria on your feet. Make sure you scrub your dogs with a strong soap (and maybe a brush) every day. I like Dr. Bronners for this. The fresher your feet are, the less they will stink. You don’t want to take off your shoes off at a house party and clear out the room. A pedicure is not a terrible idea from time to time, either. Yes, plenty of men get pedicures, especially in the summer when they’re wearing sandals and hitting the beach.


3. Break Them In Gradually

If you just picked up a pair of brand new shoes, I would suggest breaking them in with socks first. Going sockless in a fresh pair of leather shoes is asking for swollen blistering feet – which is never a good look.


4. Stick to Loafers

I always thought the idea of going sockless in a pair of fancy business shoes, like brogue captoes or wingtips, looks a little unnatural or forced. Going bare foot is a casual, leisurely move, so make sure the shoes convey that same message. Check out our Guide to Loafers for some ideas.


5. Look for Softer Leathers

Not all shoe leathers are created equal. A genuine shell cordovan (made form the strong rear muscle of a horse) is going to be extremely stiff and rigid (and take longer to break-in) while a unlined supple suede is going to be soft and flexible from the start.


6. Give Them a Day to Dry

You should never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, especially if you’re wearing them without socks. Give them at least a day in between to dry out completely. Extended periods of moisture can affect the leather and only add to the stinking problem. Keep them in steady rotation and always keep cedar shoe trees in them on their days off.


7. Get Yourself a Shoe Horn

A thin dress sock helps you slip into a pair of shoes. With barefeet it can be a lille more difficult to get them on. For this reason, I live and die by one of these (I prefer the extended length so I don’t have to bend down too much…I’m getting old and those bball surgeries are catching up).


8. Wear Breathable Fabrics

Going sockless is a move that should be reserved for warm weather. Try to stay cool by wearing lightweight fabrics (linen, hopsack, fresco, tropical wool, cotton, seersucker, mohair, etc) and a hemline that’s high enough to give you a little breathing room.


9. Powder Your Shoes

If you have issues with sweating, consider throwing a little anti-stink powder in your shoes between wears.


10. Consider “Loafer Liners”

If you’re still having trouble, you can cheat the sockless look by using “no show” loafer socks. Ideally they would match the color of your shoes, like these for example. This should be a last resort, as personally I think you should keep it authentic! The sockless feel might just take some time to get used to…



Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

  • Sarah Laforte

    I loooove the first pair of shoes!!! Anyway, I got a nice and simple solution for the “sockles” and “take care of your feet” part, I always like to walk barefoot in my shoes all summer and what I do is using insert inside them, but natural ones, who are really good for the feet and actually the shoe too! My favorite’s are those made out of cedar wood, they make my feet fresh and totally unstinky and stop them from sweating. They are a MUST for every shoe-lover:)

  • Scott

    Dan, who makes the blue loafers in your opening image?

    • cam

      if you are referring to the blue tassel loafers, those are scarpe di bianco. all the images are usually from past posts which you can find by searching the ‘Style Guide’ above.

      • Tim

        Except the site got rid of the style guide… WHY!

  • Stuart

    The slippers in look 6 and 10 are on point.

  • LarsBrown.

    Dan, this post couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. I just picked up a pair of suede Oliver Sweeney loafers and have spent the last couple of days deciding how I’m going to wear them. Sweaty feet is always a problem in summer no matter how little or much you sweat, I think.

  • Jeff P.

    Those black Gucci bit loafers. I need them.

  • Miguel

    Great tips,

    For guys that sweat a lot I suggest you buy Loafer Liners, just make sure you bring the shoe you’ll be wearing with since some of them are big and can stick out of shoe which is no no.

  • cuponoodles


    I’ve heard great things from the above, although haven’t tried a pair myself.

    Also, searching for “On Your Toes” on Amazon gives you a foot powder, while messy, completely and utterly eliminates all foot odor if used as directed. I’ve used it for the past two years and it works marvelously.

  • cam

    more great tips dan, and as usual, i have a question…
    in terms or going truly ‘sockless’ versus wearing loafer socks, does the former have any effect on the long term durability of the leather? im thinking here in terms of the natural oils and sweat from the foot. thanks again and cant wait to see the new line. cheers!

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