Let's face it: There's nothing more uncomfortable than a bulky pair of socks, so it's no surprise that more men are choosing to go sockless. When done correctly, going sockless can be both stylish and comfortable while providing a pleasant cooling ankle breeze. From how to style your sockless look to how to keep your feet and shoes smelling fresh, these tips will allow you to free your feet without fear.
- First Thing's First: Choose the Right Style of Shoe. Going sockless goes best with a low-profile shoe like a loafer, moccasin or other slip-on. Choose a lightweight, breathable fabric like linen or canvas. If you favor a leather shoe, forgo stiff leathers in favor of a soft, supple one or an unlined suede, which will feel better against your bare feet. Synthetic materials provide less ventilation than natural ones, so avoid these if you're looking to lose the socks.
- Don't be Afraid to Flash a Little Ankle. If you're wearing pants, choose a length that's short enough to give you some breathing room between the hemline and shoes. Ideally, your pants should finish at or just above your ankle. Good fabric options are denim, chino and lightweight wool. The cut of the pants is important, too; a slim or tapered leg looks best. And a cuffed hem can enhance your look - typically the slimmer the pant, the thinner the cuff should be.
- Keep Your Feet So Fresh and So Clean. Your feet play host to more than 250,000 sweat glands and can secrete up to a half pint of sweat per day. While sweat itself doesn't have an odor, that river of sweat combined with hours in a warm, unventilated shoe, can create fertile ground for bacteria to thrive. Your best bet for preventing stinky shoes is to keep your feet as clean as possible. This means giving your feet a full, vigorous scrub every day in the shower, preferably with anti-bacterial soap, paying particular attention to the spaces between your toes, where bacteria can collect. And be sure they are completely dry before donning your shoes.
- When in Doubt, Powder Your Toes. Not to belabor the point, but it's kind of a big deal. There are a wealth of sweat- and odor-fighting products available that can help you successfully go sockless. A sprinkle of powder containing corn starch and baking soda from well-known brands like Odor-Eaters will keep your feet dry while helping kill any bacteria before they start to grow. Odor-Eaters now offers its product in spray form, as well, which can be applied directly to the foot and the inside of the shoe. For especially sweaty feet, apply a spray anti-perspirant containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate on to your feet, which will help keep your sweat in check. Just be careful not to slip on smooth surfaces like wood or tile before you have a chance to put your shoes on. Over-the-counter insoles containing charcoal can help absorb foot odor, too.
- Take a Load Off ? and a Day Off Between Wears. Without a protective sock layer, your shoes will absorb all of the sweat your feet are putting out throughout the day. That's why it's crucial to give your shoes time to adequately dry out between wears. Twenty-four hours should do the trick for most pairs, but be sure to check them for any dampness before wearing again. The longer you can let them dry, the better. A shoe tree will help expedite the process, and choosing a material like unvarnished cedar will actually draw the moisture from the shoes while leaving them with a fresh scent.
- One Time When it's OK to Cheat a Little. If you find you're having difficulty making the transition to sockless, there are some no-show socks on the market that will allow you to fake it until you make it. One option is no-show loafer liners, which will give you all of the look with none of the hassle. Pro tip: To ensure ultimate invisibility, choose a shade that closely matches the color of your shoes. When selecting your no-show option, be sure to choose a sock made of wicking material, which will wick moisture away from your skin, helping to keep both sweat and odor under control. Some socks even contain antimicrobial agents that will help prevent odor-causing bacteria.