With Esquire and Brooks Brothers’ recent tweets, the menswear Twittersphere has been buzzing over whether it’s too early to forgo socks. It all depends on where you live of course, but we’ll all be there within a month. So I thought I’d put together a little guide on how to go sockless; it’s not as simple as you may think. Here are some tips:
1. Make sure you do the basics: Use cedar shoe trees and don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day. These are things you should already be doing, but they’re especially important if you’re not wearing socks. Sweat will soak into the leather of your shoes, and if you don’t give them time to dry out, you’ll not only wear down the leather faster, but you’ll also stink up your feet more.
2. Use powders, terry cloth insoles, or no show socks: Unless you’re one of the few people whose feet don’t sweat, you need to put something in your shoes.
Powders: The first option are powders, of which Gold Bond is the most recommended. Sprinkle a little bit in and it’ll help absorb moisture and keep your feet cool.
Terry cloth insoles: You can also consider terry cloth insoles, which are basically just like socks. They absorb sweat and can be thrown into the wash, which is a huge upside. My favorites are by Aldo and Kiwi. Odor Eaters also had some; they have baking soda and activated charcoal in them, but I don’t know how they hold up in the wash. They also only come in one size, unlike Aldo and Kiwi’s, so you may have to cut them down. I personally recommend just getting Aldo and Kiwi and then sprinkling in some Gold Bond if you have particularly sweaty feet.
No show socks: Lastly, there are no show socks. Jesse wrote all about them here. Very little more can be said.
3. Wash your feet: The reason why your shoes stink when you don’t wear socks is because a bacteria called brevibacterium eats the dead skin that sloughs off your feet. The smell is from the gas they expel after they’ve “eaten” (ie bacteria fart). Thus, get to the source: scrub your feet with anti-bacterial soap when you’re in the shower. Use a terry cloth for this; the material and texture of the cloth will help buff away the dead skin. Be sure to get the areas between the toes, and you’ll leave less for the bacteria to feed on.
4. Know when you can go sockless: Never wear socks with shorts. Always wear socks in an office or business environment. Also know what types of shoes go best with a sockless look: boat shoes, loafers, mocassins, bucks, bluchers, chukkas, and anything made from canvas. Basically anything besides oxfords can be worn sockless.
5. Know how to get rid of odors: If your shoes are made out of canvas, you can wash them in the washer, stuff them with newspaper, and let them dry in the sun. You can also use Odor Eaters’ Sneaker Spray, which helps kill some of the bacteria. Lastly, you can try what denimheads have been doing for years - putting things in Ziploc bags and sticking them in the freezer overnight. The cold temperature will kill off all the bacteria, which in turn will eliminate the smell they emit. Just be sure to tell me when you do, so that I make a note to never to eat at your house.