Yes, You Can Wear Socks and Sandals. Here’s How.

Four looks that will settle the debate once and for all.

Birkenstocks worn with socks
Socks and sandals — easier than you think!
Kirstin Sinclair / Getty Images

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

It’s a debate as old as time: can you, and more importantly should you, wear socks with sandals? It’s a debate as old as time, and although there has been considerable movement toward its acceptance, there will always be people for whom it is a non-starter. We get it. But they’re wrong.

We’ve all sported the divisive combo at some point in our lives, slipping our socked feet into a pair of slides to take out the trash or padding around the comfort of one’s home. But wearing socks and sandals outside of the house requires commitment (to the outfit and to defying the naysayers), confidence and proper styling, especially if you want to dispel any association with poorly dressed suburban fathers or crunchy granola types.

Below we’ve put together four outfits built around various socks-and-sandal pairings “ranked” by various levels, from beginner to expert, and how difficult we perceive each to pull off. So if you’re feeling up to the challenge, we encourage you to try one of these and settle the great debate once and for all.

Look 1: Beginner

Birkenstocks and socks are kismet (they even rhyme!), but we understand if you harbor any reservations about resembling a sartorially challenged biology professor from the ’90s. To help lessen your chances of looking like the aforementioned bio professor, we recommend opting for an off-white or oatmeal colored sock like the Gap pair below, which will help to soften the contrast between the leather of the shoes and the fabric of the sock and in turn draw less attention to your feet.

Now, hear us out when it comes to the bottoms of this outfit equation — we understand that pleated shorts might seem like a fashion faux pas (especially with Birks n’ socks) but this particular pair by Lands’ End features a tailored, streamlined fit that works against any granola connotations the Birkenstocks might hold. When finished off with a plain white tee, it’s a look that communicates casual sophistication with just the slightest touch of ’70s safari vibes a la Saint Laurent.


Birkenstock Arizona Suede Leather


Gap Athletic Crew Socks

Lands’ End

Lands’ End Pleated 6″ Chino Shorts


Everlane Premium-Weight Crew

Look 2: Intermediate

Socks and slides might seem like a slightly juvenile pairing, one favored by prepubescent middle school boys, but what we’re suggesting is an elevated version of the look that swaps out the athletic slides for a pair that’s nondescript and luxurious, like this all-black faux leather pair from Frescobol Carioca. Sans any overt logos or branding, the slides are all the easier to pair while still retaining a sporty vibe that when worn with black socks makes for a sleek look. Pair the socks n’ slides with gray-ish blue nylon shorts for a subtle pop of color and an easy camp collar shirt on top to balance out the casualness on the bottom while still keeping things laidback.

Mr Porter

Frescobol Carioca Faux Leather Slides


J.Crew Athletic Crew Sock Three-Pack

Urban Outfitters

Standard Cloth 3″ Nylon Short


Saturdays York Camp Collar Shirt

Look 3: Advanced

For this look we must recognize rapper Tyler, the Creator’s penchant for strappy Teva-style sandals with socks. While Tyler, a veteran when it comes to the pairing, tends to opt for the black sandal and white sock combo (which can easily read as geriatric), we sought to make things easier for you by swapping out the white socks for a mint green pair.

Still a relatively bold pairing, the key to pulling it is keeping the rest of the outfit simple, i.e. jeans and a T-shirt. Because the jeans will cover a good portion of the sock, the part that’s exposed will allow for a quick flash of color that isn’t too eye-catching, but we suggest cuffing or rolling up the hem of the jeans to create a sharper look. Just because you have color going at the bottom of the outfit doesn’t mean you can’t have fun up top, so don’t be afraid to indulge in a richly pigmented tee — because the colors are at opposite ends of the outfit, they’ll meld rather than clash if they were directly next to one another.


Teva Universal Sandals

Cotton On

Cotton On Essential Active Sock

Nudie Jeans

Nudie Jeans Gritty Jackson

American Trench

American Trench Pigment Dye Tee

Look 4: Expert

If you didn’t bat an eye when it came to the previous outfits then we challenge you to pull off the oft-derided white socks-and-sandals combo. Given that this combo is heavily associated with the elderly, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s also not impossible. To do it right, you want to be slightly more dressed up. Go for a more “formal” pair of sandals, like huaraches, which offer more coverage and leaves less of the sock exposed. A pair of lightweight plaid trousers and Mad Men-esque knit polo make for the ideal summer night out look, while the huaraches keep things festive and the white socks add a touch of playfulness.


Nisolo Huarache Sandal

Nothing New

Nothing New Eco-Friendly Crew Socks

Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder Italian Check Sutton Trouser


Mango Dyed Cotton-Knit Polo Shirt

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.