Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
There are more than 75,000 nerve endings in your feet, a fact many sock-makers don't pay proper attention to. We've tried everything. Paul Smith, Happy Socks, Brioni, BOSS, Etro, Corgi, Ecco, Caufield Preparatory, Obey, Thomas Pink. You name it, we've tried it. If price is no object then hands down Nudie Jeans makes our favorite socks. Yeah, even better than Paul Smith or current J.Crew favorite Corgi. They're made in Nudie's homeland of Sweden and are stylish, soft, thick, don't pill, and are worth every krona.
However, if you can't or don't want to spend $25 on a pair of socks we believe we've discovered big value from the nearly 200 year-old Scottish brand Pringle. Asos.com, which has lately been claiming an increasingly large portion of the brainpower we devote to staring at endless arrays of miniaturized backpacks and outerwear, sells 3-packs of Pringle argyle socks* in either cotton or bamboo — apologies to the pandas for wearing your lunch on our feet — for right around 15 bucks. At only $5 or $6 a pair, we've decided to fill up a whole drawer with them.
*Two of the three pair are argyle. The other one is solid color.
Q: Definitely digging the new header. The holidays are a wonderful time for MBs to do what they do. Alas, the sweater featured on the model in the header is intriguing. Details?
A: Let's get all the header questions out of the way at once:
SWEATER: Heirloom fisherman-knit cardigan, hand-woven in wool by Jean Cooke in Killarney, Ireland
SHIRT: John Varvatos
DENIM: Adriano Goldschmied ("Protege" fit)
SOCKS: Paul Smith
BOOTS: TST (available at YOOX)
CHAIR: Vagabond Vintage
RUG: IKEA Koldby
HOUSE: 1936 colonial
BOW: Michaels (in Green Bay)
WOMAN: 100% Wisconsin, born and bred
John McEnroe winning his first Wimbledon in 1981
Q: My wife and I have a disagreement. We joined a "walk for charity" the other day. Most of the men were wearing ankle socks with their tennis shoes. I have always preferred the calf-high athletic sock pushed down just slightly to give it a disheveled look whenever I run or work out. My wife is trying to tell me that the calf high sock is out of style and the ankle sock is the new style. I think ankle socks are for women tennis players. While a real man wears calf-high athletic socks. Will you please set her straight?
A: Congratulations, Eamon, on being a lot less wrong than your wife. We see where you're going with the artfully disheveled tube sock look, but would like it better if they've got a stripe or two, as worn by male tennis players. As for your wife's current thinking on men's socks, ankle socks suck. They offer none of the disheveled/vintage benefits of quarter or crew-length, and leave tan lines that trash the exposed ankle look.
Our suggestion is no-show socks. Wigwam, based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin -- a town so completely Wisconsin we invented and then named a cocktail after it -- makes a good no-show athletic sock that's primarily cotton, an organic materials rarity in the age of Dri-release®, Lumiza™, Coolmax®, or other new-fangled synthetics that only serve to make our feet sweat.
Q: What color socks should I wear with my white TST sneakers and dark-blue AG jeans? What's the underlying principle here?
A: John, you've got superb taste.
Where we're from, white sneakers are on about the same wearing calendar as white pants -- Pulaski road slush really does a number on them -- which means the weather almost always calls for exposed ankles with this shoe-pant combo. But don't spare the socks. Even encased in stylish Japanese sneakers, feet without socks stink worse than Van Halen without David Lee Roth.
We've worn these for years and therefore highly recommend Banana Republic no-show loafer socks. They're now discounted so if you buy 3 or more pair they're just $5.43 each. (Choose white for this use, of course.) Another option (that we haven't tried) is young entrepreneur Philip Bunting's Mocc Sock & Co.'s version (pictured), which also come in gray and are only slightly more expensive than BR.
Q: I am going to a polo event on June 12th. I have not been to one. What to wear? Obviously weather plays a part in this, so let's assume it is 90 + degrees and sunny. I would love the detail for the outfit and sunglasses (total to spend $2500.00) and I have a great watch. I am more concerned with pant, shirt, jacket, and shoes. Thanks!
A: This may be your first polo match, but that doesn't mean everyone has to know. Follow the lead of Prince Harry, who has been there before, many times over, and go casual. Based on your budget, here's some specific pieces that will make you look like carefree royalty. (Caveat: Harry gets everything right from the neck down. His Maui Jim-style sunglasses should be left to the toolbag rabble.)
With shipping this adds up to ~$1600.00. Spend the balance on several rounds of MBs
for everyone at bar afterwards.
Q: Aspiring to become MB in all aspects of conduct, I have formulated a question for you: What is the proper way to cross your legs out in public? Ankle on knee, leg over knee, or no cross at all? Thanks!
A: Ryan, there is no single correct answer to this. Mark Twain was a leg-over-knee man. James Dean never crossed. Both were magnificent sitters!
We recommend that you adopt whatever position you personally find most comfortable. When you're most at ease, you're most likely to project an air of natural, casual confidence, and that's what you're after. If you do end up doing some variation on crossing, though, make sure whatever socks you're wearing cost at least as much as a neat measure of single malt. And take a yoga class every now and then.
via Gent Supply Co.. $10.50.
Q: I have a job that I'm able to dress pretty casually to and therefore wear jeans a better part of the time. My question is this, if I'm wearing something like the beloved Pumas, which may be something other than black or brown, what color of sock is appropriate? I was taught to match the sock with the pant? Does this mean blue socks? And if so, where can I find a respectable pair of socks?
A: No, Dave, it does not mean blue socks. We're not really into sock-matching in trouser situations, and with denim no rules apply, except of course the immutable rule that white socks are for athletic activities (and no, Obama, it does not include throwing out the first pitch).
We've mentioned this before but we really dig Paul Smith socks. Each spring and fall he adds just the right seasonal touches with material, color, and style. Unfortunately they retail for $30/pair. A more affordable option we've been happy with is Happy Socks (pictured), available from Gent Supply Co. for $10.50.
Earlier this year we mocked 44's first pitch wardrobe as "soccer dad jeans and space-age running shoes." Months later, things have not improved, and probably even taken a turn for the worse as he's added white socks and a girlish early release point.
Christopher Columbus and the 'Indians'
Q: Having compared the sock wear of English and Italian friends I find myself in a quandary. The Englishman tends toward the characteristic, and perhaps dull, understated look reaching to the lower calf with the Italian chaps opting for bright stripes and patterns that reach almost to the knee. It's clear to me that there is a certain boldness and verve to the Italian option but is that joy in keeping with the studied coolness characterized by the MB? What do you suggest?
A: Astute observation on your part, Mark, though British designer Paul Smith makes some of the boldest socks on the market (inset). Regardless, we lean pretty strongly towards the British approach you note. No surprise there given our severe case of Anglophilia, not to mention the Italian socks-pulled-up-to-the-knees technique is both too serious and too 15th century explorer. However, colorful socks are still perfectly OK. They're a subtle way to add some personality to your wardrobe, and are under wraps until you cross your legs.
Anyhow, now that it's nearly spring, we recommend showing some ankle.
Q: Recently in GQ's online series "How to Become a Well Dressed Rebel in 30 Days," Adam Rapoport interviewed Thom Browne and suggested that you forgo the socks with your suit. When they show the pictures of Thom Browne I got a distinct feel that he looked like a 12 year-old that got a suit when he was 7. I guess this can be classified as artful dishevelment but I feel that less dishevelment is better than more Hobbit. Am I completely off the mark? And how should a MB go about the no socks advice?
A: We've never understood the fashion world's hard-on for Thom Browne. Thom Browne this. Thom Browne that. Whatever. His approach to pants is a completely unflattering trend, kinda like women's capri pants from a few years ago. (Like the Terminator, they'll be back.) However, Thom Browne's thoughts on no socks with suits is a good one, but do it in an understated (i.e. MB) way. Go sockless with a normal inseam and then surprise folks with a leg cross or a nicely-timed gust of wind. Just be sure to wear a pair of these socks with your shoes.
Now that spring's arrived it's time to consider what to do with your footwear/sockwear. The cashmere Paul Smith socks have been filed away in the "seasonal" drawer, so now what? MB recommends letting your ankles feel the increasingly warmer breezes and the splash of April showers ... not to mention, nothing quite exudes the devil-may-care raffishism we're all trying to achieve than exposing one's ankles, especially in the workplace.
(If you decide to try this look we insist on a pair of loafer socks so your shoes don't smell like the locker room at the Y after 5 minutes.)
Sure, Larry David might have the funniest show on TV, but it doesn't stop him from making highly questionable wardrobe choices, like the t-shirt/v-neck sweater combo, and the dreaded white athletic sock look. Save those for the gym.