How to Wear Dress Socks

How do I choose the right dress socks for my ensemble?

socks dress


Trouser Dress Socks

Typically worn with dress pants, trouser socks are perfect matches for men’s dress shoes like oxfords or loafers, women’s pumps or dressy boots, or any narrow shoe. The trouser sock is a chance to add some personality to a drab work ensemble, as it is available in many different colors, prints, and textures; however, the dressier the situation, the darker the socks you should choose  to stay looking polished and classy. Typical colors for dress socks include grey, black, brown, and navy blue. Any of these colors can come heathered, which gives them a speckled appearance.

As for prints, most commonly you will find trouser socks that are striped or argyle, but neither should be too loud or too bright. Also popular are pin dots, which are small dots usually in a diamond or striped pattern. With textured dress socks, ribbed socks are a popular choice because they can be extended to full height or slouched down. Dress socks can also be textured in shapes like knit diamond, knit stripe, knit argyle, and knit chevron, which is a zigzag pattern. For colder weather options, marled trouser socks are popular: these socks are given texture through knitting yarns of different colors together and are very warm.

Knee High Dress Socks

This is a type of sock to be worn with dresses and longer skirts. In terms of color, it is most common to wear knee high dress socks that match your skin tone. Also popular are grey, black, and navy hosiery, which give a sophisticated, classic feel. The shade of hosiery can also vary from being very sheer to completely opaque, and fabric variations can make knee highs appear matte or shiny. Common textures for knee highs include dots, diamonds, cable stripes, and zigzag chevron.

Usually made from nylon, knee high dress socks can range from thin and sheer to very thick with full support. Choose a thickness and support level depending on what fashion you like, how much warmth you need, or if you are wearing them for a cosmetic reason to hide hair, injuries, or varicose veins. Knee highs also come with different toe features: some have a reinforced toe to help you prevent breaking through the end of the sock, some come with a seam on the toe line, and others offer a seamless toe line in case your toes will be visible. Be sure to keep the top of the sock in mind: some varieties will have a silicone, no-slip top to prevent them from falling down and others simply have a reinforced top that’s more likely to slide down. Knee high tops can come in plain fabrics or have a decorative element like lace.


If you need an invisible sock solution because you are wearing a skirt, dress, or professional-looking shorts, footies can be very beneficial. Footies aid in comfort if you have a pair of shoes that are uncomfortable without socks or if you don’t want to stink up your inner soles.

Footies come in several fabrics, including nylon hosiery, soft cotton, and moisture-wicking microfiber. The hose variety of footies tends to be the most discreet; however, they do not have the moisture-control qualities of cotton and microfiber. Besides different fabrics, there are different cuts of this sock that can be worn with nearly any type of shoe. A regular footie could be worn with a pair of oxfords, loafers, or Mary Janes. No show liners are very low cut and work well with ballet flats or heels. Mule socks cover your toes to the balls of your feet for slip-on shoes. Some varieties of mule socks have a discreet strap that goes around the heel, which are perfect for backless shoes.

What are the rules of dress sock fashion? Our Top Dress Sock Tips answer that. For more dressy ideas, check out the Fall/Winter Fashion A to Z guide to find out the latest head to toe trends and how to style them!