How To Go Sockless Like a Pro
Erin Gray (Pronoun: she/her) is a Portland, OR based writer with an affinity for working behind the scenes with companies that offer something unique to their market. When she’s not writing, she likes to roam around mossy hiking trails, wear leather hats, and build stuff. You can find her on instagram @rawhidelaces or email her by clicking on the little envelope below:
Don’t be afraid to show off your ankles. Summer is their time to shine.
When the weather gets warm, the stylish go sockless.
Going sockless is great for when you want to pull off some seemingly effortless summer looks, like a pair of slim chinos, with just the right amount of cuff, combined with a pair of comfy suede moccasins.
It’s also a great trick to have for when you’d like to wear your favorite shorts but want to look a bit more polished yet still casual, so you ditch the athletic shoes, throw on some fresh white sneakers, and leave the socks behind.
Add accessories like a belt or a watch, and you’ve just up-leveled the look into dapper territory.
But before you ditch those socks, read on, because there are things you need to know...
First, what not to do:
Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances just skip the socks without any forethought, put on your favorite pair of low-top sneakers or loafers, and hit the town.
This goes double for when you want to wear that snazzy new pair of shoes you just bought.
Sure, you might be able to pull this off with a super floppy pair of suede moccasins, or if you happen to have unusually thick-skinned feet.
But for most of us, going sockless without some prep is gonna be a one way ticket to Blister City with a layover in Footstankville.
At first glance, a sockless look seems so simple and carefree… but it actually requires a game plan.
Luckily, it’s easy if you know what you’re doing.
Understand what you’re missing (the sock, of course)
Before you step out the door without those trusty little inner foot covers, it’s important to understand why we wear socks in the first place.
Socks have three main jobs:
1. Keep your feet warm in the cold.
2. Form a soft protective layer between your skin and your shoes, to keep your skin from rubbing directly against the shoe and getting a blister.
3. Absorb your foot sweat so that your shoes don’t stink to high heaven after a few wears.
Since we don’t have to worry about Sock Job #1 (if it’s chilly, wear the socks!), we’re just going to worry about the other two. First, let’s talk about blisters, AKA the scourge of socklessness…
Solution #1: The No-show Sock
Image Source: Ali Express
No-show socks are like the strapless bra of the sock world (and if you’ve never worn a strapless bra, just trust me on this).
Their primary function is to be invisible, and so their big challenge is to pull that off while still functioning as well as regular socks.
A no-show sock is meant to take care of odor and blisters, while sitting just out of sight under the low-top of your shoe.
At the end of the day, some no-show socks are able to deliver this solution and some aren’t.
Some will stay put, and others will slip down your heel throughout the day.
Some are truly invisible, and others will peak out a bit from the top of your shoe.
Some will sit so low that the heel of your shoe will still rub the top of your ankle and produce a blister.
The moral of the story is that finding the right one is going to involve some trial and error.
It really comes down to finding the right fit for the shape of your feet and for the type of shoes you want to wear.
For example: A pair of basic white no-show socks might work really well when paired with low-top white sneakers. Even if the edge of the sock peaks out a bit from the shoe, it doesn’t matter because they are the same color. If you were wearing them with tan leather loafers, it wouldn’t work so well.
This is why you always do a trial run with a new pair of no-show socks and any pair of shoes.
Try them on together and take a quick walk around the block.
It’s like a first date. Take a little time to see if they get along together.
If they don’t match well, it’s way better to find that out before you really leave the house, rather than once you set foot inside the office or out on the dance floor.
Good no-show socks can be a bit of an investment, but they are your best bet if you’re hoping to pull of this sort of look in shoes made out of stiffer leather that don’t really “break in” all that much at the heel or toe.
That includes some pretty darn stylish options, from classic dress oxfords to various styles of loafer (penny loafers, tassel loafers, and monk straps are some of our faves).
If you ask us, being able to rock those bad boys “sockless” is totally worth the trial and error of finding your perfect no-show socks.
Solution #2: Shoe Liners
Image Source: Mygekks.com
Shoe liners function like no-show socks to provide a barrier between your skin and your shoe.
The difference is that unlike a sock, they attach to the inside of the shoe itself.
They’re not as widely popular as no-show socks (yet) but a quick google search of “sockless shoe liners” will reveal several good options.
The big advantage that liners have over no-show socks is that when they’re properly adhered to the inside of the shoe, they won’t slip down and there is no chance that they’ll peak out over the edges.
Their disadvantage is that they tend to pick up some smell over time, since they don’t get washed after every wear like socks do.
Some liners incorporate anti-microbial thread to combat this issue, and there are other ways of dealing with it yourself (which we’ll talk about it a sec).
As with no-show socks, make sure the liner you choose matches up with the shoes you want to wear. Some liners are made to adhere to leather interior lining, and others are made for fabric lining.
The nice thing about liners is that once you’ve got them in there and you’ve taken a nice test walk, you can pretty much forget about them.
No having to dig around in your sock drawer for a tiny pair of no-show socks, or cursing when you lose one.
Solution #3: Blister Prevention Products
If you have a pair of shoes that you’d like to go sockless in, and they’re made of a softer material that “breaks in” over time (like fabric, lightweight canvas, or soft floppy leather/suede), you can try going truly sockless.
No socks, no liners, no nothing.
If you go this route, the key is easing into it.
Break in the shoe slowly by wearing it sockless for a few hours at a time, and protect your feet from blisters using one of the many blister prevention products out there.
There are many options: gels, sprays, balms, and moleskin bandages. Try out a few and find the one that works best for you.
Apply your product of choice to your feet in a preventative way until the shoe is broken in, and then try wearing the shoes without them.
You may get lucky and end up with a broken-in pair of shoes that you can truly wear with nothing in between.
But you're not out of the woods yet. You’ll still need a good smell-reduction strategy…
How to Minimize Odor
If you thought your shoes smelled before you started going sockless, you have another thing coming.
When you’re not wearing socks, the sweat and odor from your foot comes directly in contact with your shoe, causing them to smell way stronger than usual.
Luckily, there are many ways to deal with this problem, and best results are usually achieved by practicing several of them at once:
- Foot Powder: Applied to both your feet and inside your shoe, it absorbs moisture and keeps things nice and dry
- Scrub those feet: The more regularly you commit to scrubbing and exfoliating your feet, the less bacteria will be hanging around and there will be less dead skin for them to eat.
- Foot Antiperspirant: Just like for your underarms, you can spray or roll on antiperspirant for your feet, but be careful if you’re wearing white shoes because some of the ingredients can cause discoloration.
- Activated Charcoal Insoles: A great line of defense against odor and moisture, they are easy to order online.
- Don’t wear the same shoes every day: Give them at least one day of rest in between to dry out, especially in really hot weather.
- Use Shoe Trees: If you’re going sockless in leather shoes, put cedar shoe trees in when you’re not wearing them to absorb moisture.
- Machine washable shoes: If you really want to defeat smells once and for all, opt for one of the many machine washable shoe options on the market today, mostly made of canvas or wool.
Sometimes, your choice is going to depend on the season.
You may have a pair of shoes that you can comfortably wear without liners or socks during the spring while it’s cool, but then you need to add some no-show socks in the summer when things get a bit sweatier.
Now that you know how to prevent blisters and deal with odor, you’re ready to start flashing some ankle and rock those low-tops, boat shoes, loafers, oxfords, and moccasins with confidence and without socks (that people can see, anyway).