What gives me the ick? Men wearing pop socks

Ickbait: There's nothing sexy about tricking the world into thinking you’re going commando – on your feet, says TJ Sidhu.

Each week, we ask a FACE contributor to break down their biggest ick. Check out previous columns here.

You should always judge a man by his shoes, or so the saying goes. A Goldsmiths student in a pair of vintage lace-up boots might sleep on a mattress on the floor and have a beaten-up copy of Less Than Zero perched on his bedside table. A man in suede brogues probably enjoys IPA a little too recklessly and listens to Muse – unironically. And a guy in flip flops? Well…

Shoes are the eyes of the feet; the tell-tale sign of who a guy really is, his sensibilities and emotional intelligence. Shabby hi-tops that flap back at him when he walks suggests a lack of self-care, but pearly white, squeaky-clean sneakers could mean he’s a little anal-retentive. Bottega Veneta Puddle Boots in lime green might reveal a wicked sense of humour, but luxury diamanté-studded trainers point to over extravagance – and (if the ick were a place), Dubai.

What lies beneath is important, too. It took me a while to fully grasp the importance of replacing your old socks, and that binning holey ones goes hand in hand with being a fully-functioning adult. For that, I hold my hands up and salute the friends who backed me into a corner with sharp objects one dark, stormy night.

It’s been a few years and, since I’m reformed, I feel I can pass judgement on other people’s stockings. Generally, most socks are fine so long as they don’t have holes in them (see, reformed). What is not fine, however, are pop socks.

Whoever told a guy he looked like a mug for wearing socks?”

Pop socks – lightweight, disguisable and sometimes sheer – are worn when men think showing the world their socks is a crime against fashion, so they opt for the hidden style instead. Most of the time they’re worn when the sun comes out, with shorts or when trousers are inched up above the ankle. As the pins are revealed, so is the glaring lack of sock.

Have you ever seen pop socks on a man’s foot? I have. Disturbing in its minimalism, the pop sock covers only the toes and base of the foot, leaving a wide gap of skin on show at the top, before the elastic runs around the achilles. Shaped like a ballet flat and favoured by nans, the material is generally lightweight and thin, intended for heeled pumps and court shoes. But when they’re worn with trainers, questions are raised about what protection the wearer is actually getting when jamming their unkempt size 10s into a pair of laced-up, cushioned trainers on a sweltering day. I don’t have to spell it out for you here, but you can keep your shoes firmly on in the bedroom, mate.

All of this to trick the world into thinking you’re going foot commando – an illusion that has little grounding. Whoever told a guy he looked like a mug for wearing socks? Worse still are the guys who wear skinny jeans and pop socks, revealing a thin slice of naked ankle.

There’s nothing uncool about showing your socks. Good socks, like a decent watch or a nice necklace, can make a good outfit great. Just look at Martine Rose, Prada and Dior if you’re still unconvinced. Socks are nothing to scoff at, but pop socks are. Men: don’t fight against an essential and, for once, we’re asking you to put your foot in it – and wear a pair of proper socks.

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