Tuesday 6 December 2016

Paul Galvin: Sock it to me

Paul Galvin on that all-important accessory

Published 02/05/2011 | 09:28

Blue socks, Paul's own
Blue socks, Paul's own
Spotty socks, €20, Paul Smith
Odd socks, €20, Paul Smith
'Trailing Flowers' socks, €20, and 'Elysian Fields' floral socks, €20, both Duchamp. All socks at Harvey Nichols

You know you’re cool when people talk about you when you’re not even present. Or maybe you're just really unpopular. In the case of socks, though, I like to think it’s the former.

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It always amuses me how remarkable something as unremarkable as socks are. Wear bright red ones and people pass remark. Wear white ones and people pass remark. Wear none and people pass remark. That's when you know you’ve made it. And as a wise man and good friend once said to me sagely, people are very pass remarkable. The same wise man calls socks “shtockins”, which is also notable I feel — if only as a commentary on the north Kerry dialect and its influence on fashion.

I really like the sockless look these days. Of course, your trousers need to be of sufficient length for this look to work. And a nice pair of brogues helps, or a pair of brogue plimsolls. I recently found a pair of five-year-old brogue plimsolls that I'm now wearing a lot.

They’re great summer shoes, as are boat shoes, which look better without socks too. Roll up your trouser legs and sail away. Never with ankle socks, mind you; you can't half do a look in fashion. You either do it or you don't. Ankle socks are cheating.

I think socks are my favourite accessory. Yes, lads, socks are an accessory. They’re a great way to add personality to what you’re wearing. Subtract them and you can add even more personality.

With the changing seasons comes a change of socks. Last winter, I got well into wearing woolly ones over my trousers with boots. Christmas is a great time to layer your look, so why not include your socks in that? Pull them up and get the rugged Scandinavian look. If you like to wear high-top trainers, try pulling your socks over your carrot-leg jeans or tracksuit legs.

I have a red pair of socks which I wear inside out, as I love how the embroidery looks on the inside. All the high-street stores are worth a snoop as they sell a variety of socks, from slogan and cartoon styles to plain old black and grey. Neta- Porter now has a male equivalent, MrPorter.com, which is worth a snoop. And a fine collection of men’s hosiery they stock, too.

Sock aficionado Paul Smith has an eclectic collection online in colours that reflect the designer’s personality — bright, effervescent and punchy. Richard James is also there with his take on socks, as are Ralph Lauren, Corgi and Pantherella. There's a reason why merchandisers place socks next to shop tills in stores. Five pairs for €15? Why not? And, oh my, they're in navy, red, blue, yellow and green. Bargain. Now, try finding a pair of shoes or trousers that will go with yellow socks. Or green. Or blue for that matter. Not that easy. I love red socks — they’re great with a navy suit and brown shoes, navy jeans and trainers, black jeans and white trainers, a black suit and black shoes, grey jeans and navy trainers, a grey suit with black shoes, and so on.

Burgundy is another great sock colour. I also like dark grey and brown, depending on which other colours I'm wearing. I'm not a big fan of stripes; they can take from your outfit too. Despite these variations, there's only so much a man can do with socks. No matter how we wear them, we’ ll never make them sexy. Women in socks, I confess, I have a weakness for. Or should I say stockings. American Apparel stocks a crazy variety of socks and stockings for women. Footless socks? Check. I'm also a huge fan of knee socks on women. Have a look at this year’s Victoria’s Secret fashion show to see how well they can look.

Americana looms large, with a big emphasis on cheerleader and basketball socks. Prada and its sister line Miu Miu also had a big focus on knee socks in their catwalk shows last autumn. Music festival season will see rock chicks rocking knee socks with Hunter wellies, which I love. Agyness Deyn has worn embroidered lace knee socks with lace-up brogues and an LBD, while Rihanna wears hers footless and over the knee with kitten heels. Florence Welch, on the other foot, wears her to the ankle with strappy sandals. For such a simple piece of clothing, the possibilities are endless. For guys, we can try different colours, wear them over our trousers with boots, wear one up and one down over a tracksuit leg. We can wear some with brogues or we can wear none with brogues. We can wear them inside out. But we can never wear them to bed.

Girls can wear all sorts; to the ankle, to the knee, over the knee, footless, footed, with heels, with flats, with wellies, with dresses, with shorts. They can even wear them to bed. The joy of socks

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