My Favourite No-No Styling Trick Is Finally Cool

My love of wearing loafers with white socks began years ago and was born entirely out of necessity. Being naturally cursed with the high arches of a prima ballerina (I've never danced professionally), I could not wear flats without some padded comfort. I frustratingly have a dislike for those tiny sock-ish inserts, so if I was ever to branch out from my New Balance walking shoes or Birkenstocks, socks were a must.

White socks and flat shoes: Christy Turlington models for Prada 1994


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When I first flirted with the idea of white socks with my flats, it made me think of Michael Jackson in the Billie Jean music video, my grandad and 1950s school children. But then I found this minimal look from Prada's 1994 show pictured above. Chic, no? It's been my footwear pairing of choice ever since.

Though it became part of my everyday style, I never embraced it wholly, or "owned" it in any way. I would make jokes about my new grandpa look and carry on. It was just something I had to do, but I never thought too much about it as a fashion statement.

Then I recently started to realise that this unexpected pairing was becoming a kind of a thing. Take a scroll through Instagram and you'll see Alexa Chung and Maria Bernad posting about, and wearing what I will now vainly claim as my signature look.

One quick dive down @simplicitycity's vintage fashion feed, and you'll see pairing socks and black flats has been humbly chic for decades. It's just finally shaking off its fusty, no-no rep and receiving overdue Insta-fame.

I asked one fashion blogger, Jessie Urvater, why she's recently started trying it out. She said, "Loafers and white socks are a great way to keep warm while also incorporating style and elegance into your winter look. I’ve always loved mixing sportswear with neutral pieces and colours; it adds character and edge to what would otherwise be a simple outfit."  

"By mixing high white socks with loafers, it makes it acceptable to wear shoes that I would normally wear in the spring. I also love the way the socks and loafers frame my legs, especially with a skirt or shorts," Jessie told me. 

Perhaps that's why this look has transcended decades: It's practical. Out of the comfort it gave me, this styling trick organically became part of every outfit I wear because, for me, it can work with anything. I listened to my body (aching feet) and a signature style was created. I wear white socks (from M&S) and my vintage black flats together with everything from jeans, to black trousers, to even a white dress at London Fashion Week. Accepting comfort in this way, I don't miss heels too much—but my ridiculous handbag choices might argue I'm compensating for something. 

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