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.
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,