In a formal event context, conversations typically focus on the suit or tuxedo. Beyond that, ties, pocket squares, and footwear are also topics of discussion. But one area that goes—regrettably—neglected are dress socks. Although you wear your socks all day and night long (workhorses of the highest order!), they’re an accessory that deserves more attention. Allison Reilly, who is the Head of Accessories and Men's Buying at Shopbop, notes that your focus when searching for dress socks should begin with comfort and quality.
“With their beautiful materials, comfortable fit, and long-term durability, the dress socks on the market have come a long way,” she notes. “For more basic sock options, Falke’s quality and attention to detail are unmatched. For something more fun, Paul Smith is the undisputed king of novelty dress socks—I love their variety of bright colors and bold prints, perfect for all occasions.”
Ahead, shop the best dress socks for your next formal outing—and hear more from Reilly on must-know shopping details like length, fabric, and fit.
Best Variety Pack
Bombas Merino Wool Dress Knee High Sock
Bombas is well-known for its collection of everyday socks, underwear, and T-shirts (they also donate an item to someone experiencing homelessness for every product purchased). This five-pack of socks comes in a versatile assortment of colors and the Merino Wool is naturally moisture-wicking, meaning your feet will stay dry and comfortable all night long. The cuff is designed to contour to your leg so it stays in place and doesn’t slide down.
Price at time of publish: $120
Paul Smith Multi-Block Socks
British Fashion Designer Paul Smith is a favorite for many things, and socks happen to be one. His ability to take a staple that is often considered boring or standard and elevate it to an art form is what makes this pair of colorful stripe socks a standout pick for the fashion-forward wedding guest. The shell is constructed from 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyamide and they are made in Italy.
Uniqlo Supima Cotton Wide-Ribbed Socks
We all know Uniqlo is a go-to for budget-friendly finds that stand the test of time, and these wide-ribbed Supima cotton socks are a no-brainer. The cuff at the top ensures they won’t slide and the under-$10 price point makes grabbing a few pairs just in case all the easier.
Falke Tiago Cotton Socks
Germany-based Falke has been around since 1895 and has perfected the category of legwear, including socks. These lightweight cotton dress socks feature ribbed cuffs for a non-slip fit and would make the perfect go-to pair of black dress socks for any wedding dress code.
Price at time of publish: $29
Bonobos Supersoft Dress Sock
You might know Bonobos for their expertly-fitted pants but their sock game is also on point. This navy pin dot pair is crafted from lightweight jersey and offers a cushioned footbed and mesh ventilation. They also constructed these socks with arch support with their Bonobos logo integral stitch as well as a 1x1 rib cuff to keep them from sliding down. If you want to wear a subtle pattern, make it this one.
Price at time of publish: $15
J.Crew Patterned Dress Socks
A neutral suit with a pair of dress socks in a bold pop of color is a great way to make a statement, which is why this red pair from J.Crew should be in your shopping cart, ASAP. They’re soft and stretchy and are made with sustainable materials.
Best for Cold Weather
Sunspel Merino Wool Rib Socks
Sunspel is the kind of brand you come to for high-quality fabrics, which makes sense why their cozy 100 percent Merino Wool socks are on this list. Founded in 1860, this British label is a staple for well-crafted legwear and these made in Italy socks have been given a technical finish to make sure they’re long-lasting.
Price at time of publish: $38
Best for Hot Weather
Mack Weldon Silver Extended Crew Dress Sock
Socks may be the last thing you want to wear on a hot day but if you have to, make it this pair that’s been crafted with Pima cotton with anti-odor silver. There are also “stay-put pique cuffs” and a cushioned footbed for guaranteed comfort.
Price at time of publish: $24
Best Earth Tones
Polo Ralph Lauren Rib-Knit Sock 3-Pack
Earth-tone colors in the green, blue, and brown families can help pull out colors in your outfit (such as your tie or pocket square) without feeling like too bold of a statement. This three-pack of rib-knit socks from Polo Ralph Lauren is designed in a comfortable cotton blend and includes ribbed cuffs for extra security.
Price at time of publish: $24
Best Subtle Pop of Color
Tabio Pin Dot Cotton Knee High Socks
Ready to dive into the world of colorful socks? Start with this dapper green pair from Tabio, crafted from smooth cotton and made in Japan. The brand creates their socks with a method that ensures they won’t shrink or lose softness after you wash them and they sew the toe area one by one using the ROSSO machine technique and the seamless toe linking craft technique.
Price at time of publish: $25
Best Flat Knit
Calvin Klein Flat Knit Logo 4-Pack Dress Socks
Designed in a refreshing blue palette, this four-pack of dress socks includes understated logo detailing, a mid-calf length, ribbed-knit trim, and a flat knit combed cotton blend for superior comfort.
Price at time of publish: $29
Burberry Check-Intarsia Sock
The Burberry print is beloved by all and this military green riff on the classic pattern takes the look up a notch. These dress socks are made from a stretch cotton-cashmere blend and would look top-notch with a black suit.
Price at time of publish: $140
Turnbull and Asser Long Merino Wool Socks
While every foot has different needs, it’s safe to say most feet will appreciate the high-quality warm Merino Wool this pair from Turnbull and Asser has to offer. All of their socks (both cotton and woolen) are crafted in England and feature the label’s signature seamless toe. Invest in this solid black pair for a timeless pick or go for one of their bright colors depending on what your closet is missing.
Price at time of publish: $55
Best Neutral Print
Anonymous Ism Wool Herringbone Crew
These made-in-Japan herringbone socks are an easy way to infuse your outfit with a splash of color while keeping the color palette neutral and versatile. Wear to formal events or for every day—the ideal investment.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Unique Cotton
Pantherella Pembrey Sea Island Cotton Long Sock
Pantherella’s dress socks are made from the ‘Cashmere of Cotton’—a West Indies Sea Island Cotton that is strong as silk, soft as cashmere, and as durable as wool. The seamless toe and long over-the-calf length give it the formal stamp of approval.
Meet the Expert
Allison Reilly is is the Head of Accessories and Men's Buying at Shopbop.
What to Look for in Dress Socks
It’s important to buy a pair of socks that won’t flash your legs when you sit down or cross your legs. “Dress socks should cover the full calf to ensure there’s no skin showing when sitting down for a cocktail reception or party,” Reilly says. “This gives the formalwear outfit a more pulled together and elevated look.” If you prefer a knee-high sock—go for it—otherwise, one that reaches your calf should do the trick.
You’ll often find dress socks in merino wool or Pima cotton. The former is known for managing odor and moisture as well as keeping your feet warm, while the latter is typically softer, lighter, and slightly more comfortable during hotter temperatures. Reilly says above all else, focus on comfort and quality. “Look for dress socks that are stretchy and without bulk,” she says. “Best in classic colors and comfortable materials.
Should Dress Socks Match Your Pants or Shoes?
The notion of matching socks can be intimating and confusing, but Reilly says not to overthink it. “Socks don’t necessarily need to match one specific item,” she says. "Dress socks don’t need to match your shoes, but rather should be paired to the outfit as a whole.”
What Color Dress Socks Should You Wear with a Tuxedo?
A black tuxedo signifies the highest level of formality, which can only mean one thing: wear black socks. Unfortunately, this isn’t the time to be flashy—stick with this tried-and-true neutral for a polished look.
Can You Wear Bold Socks to a Formal Event?
It depends. Your safest bet will always be to wear a classic neutral like brown, navy, or black, but if you want to show off your personality a bit (and the dress code implies some flexibility), accessorize your suit with something like a polka-dot sock or pop of color. When in doubt, look to the bride and groom for style cues—if they tend to be more easygoing about style, their wedding will probably follow suit.
Why Trust Brides
Nicole Kliest is a writer and editor with over eleven years of experience in the digital publishing industry. Her work has appeared on ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Condé Nast Traveler, among others and she holds a B.A. in Journalism from Pepperdine University.