Artistic socks can be an original yet whimsical means of self-expressionAnnia Krzoska with permission for Varsity

Scarves, hats, gloves, jewellery - we give a lot of credit to these accessories when putting an outfit together. We agonise over which scarf might look best with which jumper, or how many necklaces we should layer, or which earrings we should pair them with. Socks, however, are usually forgotten. We throw on a pair of plain black or odd stripey socks just to hide them beneath some Dr. Martens. If nobody’s going to see them, why bother? Sometimes, however, socks can add a lot to your outfit. It’s like wrong shoe theory, where the unexpected pairing of a certain shoe style with a certain outfit actually draws attention to the highlights of your look. With so many interesting socks out there, it’s time we give them more credit as fashion accessories.

“Subtle, iconic and elevating - the three words I’d use to describe the impact a good pair of socks can have on your wardrobe”

In Edinburgh, I noticed how many artwork-inspired sock pairs there were for sale in the National Gallery gift shop. My eyes were drawn to ‘The Skating Minister (1795),’ his graceful pixelated form gliding over a blocked colour scheme of purple, red, and blue. I pictured these peeking over the top of a pair of Mary Janes, looking out from the slightly raised end of my black jeans. Many of my outfits are relatively minimalistic, but funky socks like these add a lot of colour and patterns to a plain look that elevates it to a new level. I’d be wearing socks regardless, but why go for something basic when I could wear one of my favourite paintings as part of an everyday outfit without it being so bold that it distracts from the rest of my clothing? Subtle, iconic and elevating - the three words I’d use to describe the impact a good pair of socks can have on your wardrobe.

On a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe last Easter term, I spotted an entire collection of Shakespeare themed socks that had similar outfit potential to my skating minister. If you love Shakespeare, but think that showing up to lectures in full historical dress is a tad too complex, why not wear some themed socks to demonstrate your appreciation? Tote bags are one thing, earrings are another, but socks are something practical that you’re going to wear anyway. Plus, interesting socks can cause people to ask you about them. Where did you buy them? What’s that pattern on your socks? I have a pair of Polish pierogi socks sitting in my wardrobe, and they’ve attracted many comments and questions from interested passers-by. Now, you get the chance to talk about something that fascinates you, elevating your outfit at the same time.

“Socks are something practical that you’re going to wear anyway”

Socks also have the potential to tone down the formality of an outfit, without requiring you to change out any of the key components. Once, I felt as though my library look was a bit too business casual, so I threw on a pair of pink fluffy socks and made sure that they were visible.Where I might have felt too dressy before, I now felt like my outfit was a bit more exciting and creative. Creativity is, after all, something we strive for with many of our fashion choices.


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The more absurd the sock/outfit pairing, the better. If a flip-flop/suit combo has been praised by Vogue, then why can’t a fluffy zebra-print sock/suit combo also receive the high fashion treatment? Of course, some clothing combinations can be so absurd that they tend towards ugliness rather than fashionableness, but socks are such a minor part of your overall look that you can get away with pretty much any pairing. If your socks don’t go, it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t throw the rest of your outfit off. If your socks do go but have nothing exciting to show for themselves, they only serve a practical purpose.

We want to look great when walking around Cambridge. We want people to comment on our outfits, and we want to stand out in the sea of fashionistas at Sidgwick site. If you don’t want to replace your whole wardrobe, or have a minimalistic style that you want to give an extra little something to, consider investing in some funky socks. You’re going to be wearing socks anyway, why not treat them like any other fashionable accessory?