Here’s a question for you to ponder over your latte: what is the greatest fashion faux-pas of all time?
By ‘greatest’ I naturally mean ‘worst’, rather in the same vein as ‘the Great War‘ or VH1′s ‘Greatest Power Ballads of the 80s’. There’s double denim, that tragic affliction of late 80s country rockers and science teachers on non-uniform days. There’s cycling shorts, the sweaty-crotched, cellulite-hugging, wear of a Rosemary Conley-shaped devil. Then there’s the ultimate, the uniform of elderly men on beaches, with knotted hankies on their heads and a fluttering copy of the Telegraph on their faces. Socks and sandals. And guess what folks? This year, they’re all back! Go on, at least fake some excitement.
With April Fool’s Day only a fortnight away, I can feel your scepticism. While there aren’t many styles that are safe from a sudden catwalk revival when designers run out of all other ideas, I think we all assumed that socks and sandals were immune. Too strong is their association with Sunday school teachers, hairy-legged eco-campaigners and people with fungal foot infections. But no longer! They’ve leaped off the crown green bowls lawn and onto the catwalk – and here are the pictures to prove it.
Burberry pulled off the look with aplomb, teaming scrunched-down knee socks with clunky platform wedges in a sort of safari-meets-70s-yachting-holiday fusion. Dior played it cutesy, again with wedges but this time in little white ankle socks, of the sort we used to wear in lower primary with our gingham summer dresses. Less convincing, though, was Marni’s effort, with kitten heels and beige socks straight off the orthopedic ward.
Meanwhile on the high street, Jonathan Aston is evangelising for the cause. That’s Jonathan Aston, purveyor of jazzy hosiery to well-dressed legs throughout the land, not BHS or Country Casuals. And the brand’s take on the trend, with slouchy knee-highs in khaki and sorbet shades, is so wearable you’ll wonder why you didn’t take style tips from your Grandad earlier (the armpit-waisters with a little shirt poking through the fly, though, might be one step too far even for these innovative times).
So are we doing it? Are we really? I’d like some sort of fashion pact here, where we all hold up our right hands and solemnly swear to embrace socks and sandals as a bonafide trend, for better or worse, for Burberry or Bon Marché. That way nobody can turn up wearing them at a party to be greeted by mocking squeals and cries of “You didn’t ACTUALLY believe that one, did you?”
A few guidelines might help too, to keep us out of drippy-hippy territory. So here are my top 3 tips for doing socks and sandals with style:
1) Keep it well-heeled. I know, I know, we’ve been cheerleading for the midi-heel and heralding the demise of the debilitating super-stilt. But when you’re wearing socks, you need to keep them high to fight the frump… even Chloe Sevigny can’t quite work it with flats, I think you’ll agree.
2) Keep it chunky. That’s not to say you can’t work it with stilettos, but on the catwalk the S’n'S looks that worked the best were those in super stompy wedges. A little clunk makes it modern.
3) Keep it pretty. The greying socks you wear to the gym will not cut it. Go with pastel colours or sheer lacy styles for a look that says “I did this on purpose” rather than “I have toenail issues.”
Good luck, ladies. I bid you, go forth and makes socks sexy. And look at it this way – even if we spend a summer looking like a Derby and Joan day trip, at least it’ll save us from blisters.
When it comes to double denim, however, I’m afraid you’re on your own.