To sock or not

Why would a man want to wear shoes without socks? Is this becoming a fashion trend? Simply an effort to be more comfortable in warm weather? Personal confession: I think it makes a guy look ugly. Not fully dressed. That might be a minority view, I realize. Others don’t seem to mind. Lately, bare ankles on men seem to be more common than they once were.

But it’s not new. I still remember one particular male ankle sighting more than 50 years ago, if you can believe it, in a college classroom in Miami. It was winter, and the temperature had dropped to the 40s, rare for South Florida. My classmates, unaccustomed to what they considered frigid temps, were bundled in heavy coats as they shuffled into the room for an 8 a.m. class. My eyes were drawn to the feet of one guy who was similarly bundled above, but bare-ankled below. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

A tour of the Internet on the subject reveals that the sockless shoe-wearing appears more of interest to the fashion-conscious in Britain than here in the U.S. A variety of web sites make clear that most of the UK publications that address the question treat it seriously as a fashion issue, passing along advice about which sorts of shoes are appropriate to wear with naked feet and how to deal with sweaty feet.

Ah, the sweaty feet. There’s the rub.

In The Telegraph, we read that The Royal College of Podiatry (RCP) takes a rather dim view of sockless shoe-wearing among men. It leads to a rise in such conditions as athlete’s foot. Acknowledging the rising popularity of the fashion trend, the RCP points out that, “Beyond the inevitable concern of suffering from smelly shoes brought about by a lack of cotton, it appears men are failing to realise (British spelling) some of the more serious repercussions and are seeking out help from podiatrists and chiropodists.”

The RCP’s Emma Stevenson notes that feet typically produce half a pint of sweat a day, and any moisture, if not soaked up by socks, is maintained in synthetic and non-breathable material – leaving people open to fungal infections. “One way Dr. Stevenson recommends solving this is by placing dry tea bags in shoes overnight to absorb any leftover sweat, while also suggesting men spray their feet with underarm antiperspirant,” The Telegraph reports.

Ever the professional, she didn’t address the ugliness question, which, as we know, is a matter of personal taste, subject to debate. But tea bags? Antiperspirant? What next?

Why not a nice, soft pair of socks?




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