In comparison to our female counterparts, menswear can be viewed as rigid. To some, the stoic tradition that defines men’s fashion is what keeps things on an even keel. For others, these rigours serve as creative license to unsettle what seems to be the norm. I say all this because I’m noticing a rebel of sorts within menswear that would leave the staunchest traditionalists livid. However, for the longevity of men’s fashion, I think this break with tradition can be healthy. Or maybe not. Well, you be the judge as I share with you some recent avant garde encounters and sightings that had me shook.
So a few weeks back I was on the board of interviewers tending to a candidate for an entry−level business position. To our bemusement, the young man walked into the interview with fully exposed white socks paired with black dress shoes!?!? Bewildered does not begin to describe how I felt at such a fashion faux pas. However, what had me more puzzled was the fact that this young lad had the audacity to attempt such fashion brazenness in a setting this formal. Experimenting with sock colours is one thing, but at least wait until you land the job. Only then can you slowly inject personality through your dress à la Steve Erkel if you must.
Afterwards, I got to thinking: was I antiquated or had visibly sporting white socks with dress shoes become trendy overnight? I’ve been under the impression that the Michael Jackson “Beat It” era had been vanquished, but when three is a trend (and men are boldly entering interviews with black lace−ups complete with white socks), you have to start reprogramming your style schema as to what is and isn’t acceptable.
On that thought, I embarked on a bit of trend spotting and low and behold, peppered throughout cities far and wide, a revolt was in place on the established order of sock wearing. The streets are definitely talking and they are all for white socks and black dress shoes. Judging from these four looks, it’s safe to say their foray into the sartorial unknown is largely personality driven, with the odd dollop of style. In that sense, pardon may be granted to them for their subtle channeling of a nerdy élan.
However, my run in with white socks and black lace−ups was utterly unacceptable and left me unconvinced at the growing fad. But then again, who’s to say that the interviewee wasn’t emboldened by the same forces that spurred these four men to opt for verve at the expense of sartorial traditions. Even if that was the case, there’s a time and a place for the instinctive quirk in one’s style to surface and the boardroom is not one of them.
That being said, I’ll give it a couple months and revisit these pictures and see where my stance lies on the matter. I guess in the department of socks I’m what you would call one of the traditionalists that are yet to be won over to the whimsical ways of the new school. Sticking to conservative blacks, grays, browns, and tans has left my sock collection rather void of a crotchety style. Then again, in reference to the quandary at hand, I’m well aware that pairing white socks and black shoes steers clear of the bootee phenomenon (when you’re socks match your shoes hence there being no demarcation between where shoe ends and sock begins). However, when I see white socks worn with black lace−ups, I can’t help but envision Michael Jackson and his flailing legs bedecked with sequined white socks (yes, check out the “Beat It” video to relate to this mental imagery). So if anything, I believe come two months I’ll still be in agreement with the Style Guy in saving “your white socks for your white suit and white shoes.”