Socks with Sandals & Other Controversial Sock Pairings

Sketch of guy wearing socks with sandal flip flops - that guy

Is It OK to Wear Socks with Sandals?

Oooh… this is a sharply debated topic. There are some that are firmly in the “Nope. Absolutely not! I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing socks with sandals” crowd. And then, there are those of us (yes, I include myself) that say, “Why not? Sandals need sock love too.”

Person wearing darn tough hiking socks with crocs

 The debate can get pretty specific – what about socks with Birkenstocks®? Flip flops? Dare I mention socks with Crocs®? Whatever you’re preferred sandal type, the question remains whether it should be paired with socks.

If Your Answer Is No... 

Watch your toes. Should you choose NOT to wear socks with sandals, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. There is an etiquette covering how your toes and toenails should be clean and clear should you choose the barefoot approach. Think about that! There’s etiquette about every topic, I guess.

A Timeless Look?

Did you know that there is a “socks and sandals” Wikipedia page? I kid you not. It goes on about this “controversial fashion combination” and how socks with sandals is perceived in different countries and cultures and has been throughout history.

Queen Bee hiking socks on feet with sandals

There was a discovery in England that suggested Romans wore socks with sandals roughly 2000 years ago. Mind. Blown.

But do you know what’s even crazier than that? Apparently, Egyptians sported split-toe socks to wear with, what I can only imagine was, a combination of leather and rope flip-flops. I mean, why would they need a split toe sock if they weren’t wearing a rustic version of the flip-flip?

A Modern Trend?

Woman seated on fence putting on dress sandals and socks

It’s in Vogue. Literally. Last May, Vogue published an article about this controversial trend that's often closely associated with “dorky dads,” “cranky neighbors yelling at you to get off their lawns,” and (let’s not forget) the “tourists” to tropical locales.

Animal haus socks paired with black dress sandals

Be that as it may, even celebrities have been seen wearing sandals and socks. One well known celeb was even seen pairing high heeled sandals with a sheer sock at a fancy do! With the celebs on board, will we start to see any number of crazy shoe-sock or even sock-clothing pairings now?

Socks with Shorts or Skirts

It’s not just certain sock-shoe combos that are frowned upon. For example, what about wearing socks with shorts or a short skirt? Living in the rural area of Central Vermont, this is a combination I see a lot, with socks sticking out above the boots. And surprisingly, it works.

Woman wearing gold boots, striped socks, and a skirt

It’s a kind of effortless look, if you will. I’m sure you think I’m crazy, off my rocker, or one step away from being a “fashion faux pas” myself. And maybe I am. But the style of a comfy top, shorts/skirt, socks, and boots is a study in casual carelessness.

Woman seated wearing shorts, boots, and koala socks

This look can be defined by wearing a loudly patterned sock with well-worn, well-loved boots. Of course, the leg portion of the sock should be scrunched above the top of the boot for that hint of insouciance.

Live and Learn

When I was a lot younger, I remember my brother wearing tube socks, pulled all the way up his calves. You know which ones I’m talking about. They were white, with a colored stripe around the top of the sock. Sometimes they had one stripe or several.

He was wearing these socks with sneakers and I remember full on cringing whenever I looked that him, while he was completely unaware of how NOT COOL he was in my 10 year old eyes.

Skateboarders wearing pixie socks with loafers

Now, at the ripe young age of 48 about to turn 49, I think about how much I love wearing my Darn Tough socks with my sandals, leggings, and a slouchy sweater or sweatshirt.

Pros and Cons of Socks and Sandals

With this fresh perspective on the great sock and sandal debate, I tried a more scientific approach. I polled some friends and family (Ok, ok, I put it out on social media) about the pros and cons of wearing socks with sandals or other controversial footwear. Here’s a small sampling of what they had to say:


  • Keeps your feet warm
  • Don't like how shoes and sandals feel with bare feet
  • Like the look of pretty socks on feet
  • Love the toasty feel of socked feet when sitting in front of a fireplace or wood stove
  • Feet are not all that attractive (to some people) and should always be covered up
  • Socks can protect your feet from injury, like small cuts that could lead to an infection


  • Socks and sandals look weird together. Especially when you pair black socks with lighter colored sandals.

That was really what the cons boiled down to in my highly scientific poll. It just didn’t look right.


I’ll admit, the cons on this list are 99% based on the aesthetics of the look. I can’t argue how others feel about this. I can only provide my opinion based on personal experience. And you’ll notice, there are way more pros than cons.

However You Sock, Own It

There are those few folks who swim against the current and make their own opinion on what they like, independent of what they’re being taught. Those sock-wearing rebels like to determine what works for them, in the face of fashion-based adversity.

Blue merino wool socks and sandals

They will wear those socks with sandals, Crocs®, Birkenstocks®, and whatever else takes their fancy. Bobby socks with kitten heels! Sheer socks with stilettos at a high falutin’ shindig! Over-the-Calf camo socks with a short skirt and ankle boots!

And they will were these sock combos proudly, even flaunting their black socks with brown sandals. They’ll even brag about the toe socks that allows them to wear flip-flops.

Man putting on striped socks with loafers

Who am I to judge anyone for wearing socks with sandals when I do the same strange combinations? I mean, right now I’m wearing a Darn Tough Pixie Crew Lifestyle Sock on one foot and a compression anklet on the other!

So say what you will, but socks and sandals have been around for over 2000 years. I think they’re here to stay.

About the Author

Megan Cooley is an avid animal lover and would have a pack of 12 dogs if only her husband would let her. She loves hockey, (GO SHARKS!) and has a voracious appetite when it comes to reading. She’s fluent in humor, sarcasm, and wit, yet people continue to confuse and surprise her. She’s also part of the Darn Tough family.