Sophisticated Socks to wear with Chelsea Boots and Brogues

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Both images from

Can we return briefly to the Ankle Socks debate? Although I am not a signed up member of the ‘ankle socks with pointy shoes’ brigade, I am taking my socks much more seriously these days. For winter, my default footwear is either brogues or (mostly) my beloved Grenson Chelsea Boots, often worn with jeans which I’m now in the habit of turning up, as in the right hand image above. Which puts a forensic focus on what to wear around your ankles.

I am a fan of those shoe-liner socks for summer (Muji do the best ones), but these are useless for keeping you warm in the winter where bare legs look nothing short of insane. I just can’t do tights with jeans, it feels wrong and of course there’s always knee high socks in plain colours to keep you warm, but this can be a bit ordinary. So I’ve been researching a more sophisticated ankle sock, one with a bit of grown up pattern detail or fabulous yarn/colour interest to have visible just above the top of my boots.


Image from

Jane and I both love COS for socks, they always does something a bit quirky and for the last season or two I’ve been stocking up on these metallic fine knit ones (£5) below, which bring a touch of party sparkle to your feet, even on a cold wet Monday morning. I have a pair in almost every colour now and they are great for a slightly neater, more refined finish, sort of like the picture above – although I’ve never quite achieved this level of neat-ness. The cobalt blue, below left, is a joyous colour to wear.

cos socksIf I’m walking miles in my Chelsea Boots, pounding pavements in search of a fabulous shop, I prefer a more comfy sock and am very partial to a Fairisle number, such as these gorgeous patterned wool  (£18.50) ones from Toast below.

toast socks

British sock firm Pantherella is the Rolls Royce of socks, and make truly covetable pairs that come in a multitude of colours and patterns, with hand linked toes for comfort.  They come in merino wool and also cashmere and I like the look of them, I suspect also that they are horribly addictive, but they are British, so a Good Thing. Choose from many colours and patterns here, prices start at £12.

pantherella socksA random search of Fairisle socks brought up these terrific J.S Homestead ones -part of Journal Standard- from Japan below (£15). The Japanese make the best patterned socks in the world and they could be cheerfully uplifting to gaze down at as we get closer to Christmas madness. The more sophisticated sage and turquoise Toast ones  (£22) on the right below are a perfect match with a COS sweater I have and they are super-soft organic….I don’t quite understand what this means and have visions of sheep grazing on organic pastures, but they come in many lovely colour combos.

fairisle socksMy favourite socks in the world are a Peruvian alpaca folk pair I bought from the lovely menswear store Anthem in Shoreditch last year but sadly are no longer available. However they do have these cute yellow and salmon pink stripe Hirsch ones (£15) and Anthem also stock the more clean-line Folk waffle socks  (£16) which come in the type of colours you can’t decide between.

anthemAnd finally to Muji, which do the very best edited selection of socks for every occasion, as well as the liner socks I mentioned previously, and thoughtfully knit an L and R into the toe shape of the Heathered wool socks (£7.95) to ensure you don’t muddle up your feet….it makes me smile every time I put a pair on. They are my go-to socks for everyday wear.

socks mujiThe secret to sophisticated sock wearing is in the washing….my Peruvian Alpaca ones need to be hand washed (don’t look at me like that, I know it’s mad but I love them, ok?) but generally I’d make sure you take a bit more care with washing nice socks to make the investment in a good pair last longer. What socks are you wearing?


  • Sue says:

    Perfect timing for this.You are so right about having L and R on the toes.Falke do this on their (very good) socks, too.Also, I really like Brora cashmere socks and they too prefer being handwashed.Not cheap, but they last forever and most years there’s a lovely grey.Will definitely go and check out the Toast ones.And will also pass on the top Muji tip for invisible socks to my daughter .

  • F M Luke says:

    I have small feet and very high arches and most socks bunch up under my arches which is truly annoying. The best socks I have found are Pringle bamboo socks – a lovely texture, slightly on the thick side but very comfortable for walking. If you need something thinner then Falke are excellent.

  • Amanda says:

    Looks like I’m going to have to visit (and save up for) Falke then, and Pringle bamboo! I have heard this is a very nice fabric to wear so will seek this out to test too…good tips ladies, any more? Ax

  • Susanna says:

    I read this with a wry smile after my very early morning activity this morning which involved pairing about 1000 pairs (well it felt like it!) of identical M&S black cotton socks! My socks of choice are the ones that are clean and paired in the drawer… not an artistic and self-worthy choice of course but quick. I will definitely raise my sock game now that I’ve been inspired… thank you. x

  • kate says:

    beautiful socks, thankyou. also to FM Luke for the Bunching up comment. I have high arches and now understand why my socks always creep down…
    my tip is uniqlo heattech socks which are now in colour blocked mustard and bright fiarisle a bit like the toast ones…

  • Amanda says:

    Susanna I’m SO with you on that pairing job…I live with 4 men who are happy to wear non matching socks for speed! And Heatech Socks! Kate I can’t believe I forgot to check Uniqlo, what a good idea! A

  • Kate Whittell says:

    Thank you for these suggestions, can I add one? I always stock up at Tabio, available online and with some London shops. They have particularly good sales and great variety of colours, lengths and textures.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank Kate, I love Tabio too -those clever Japanese again- although not cheap they are great quality…Ax

  • steffi says:

    Me too, I stocked up on the glittery gorgeous COS ankle socks and have to say, they provide just the right amount of sparkle where it’s least expected. X

  • lyns says:

    Best of all, drop hints to sock-knitting friends who might knit socks for you.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m a big Falke fan. I have size 3 feet and their socks come in two sizes (where does this insane assumption that all women have the same size feet come from?), they wear well and I got some fab fair isle ones last year. I have taken up ordering them direct as I can’t find anywhere that holds a good range anymore.

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