Spring Is The Time To Rock Your Socks

Shoes, Mixx, $29.99, at Bare Feet Shoes, www.barefeetshoes.com.
Shoes, Mixx, $29.99, at Bare Feet Shoes, www.barefeetshoes.com.
Posted: March 23, 2011

I've always wanted to pair thigh-high socks with a shift dress and tie it all together with Mary Janes.

But no matter how fit my physique gets, my legs are still thick. So, basically, I've been denying myself this little piece of fashion nirvana since I was 12. Maybe I'll have my chance this spring.

While longer skirts are definitely the trend of the year, shorter ones are not a faux pas, and this season, when it comes to the sheath, socks will replace opaque tights, leaving more room for skin - and for mistakes, too, if you aren't careful.

Not only are stylists and retailers leading the way by showing us contrasting black socks with white or patent leather shoes for a totally mod look, they are teaching us how to play with color and texture as well. For instance, you can wear taxicab-yellow peep-toe shoes with a brown striped sock. Or orange shoes with navy-blue socks paired with a white short skirt.

The look has been around the block before, of course, but its origin can be traced to 1957, said Clare Sauro, director of Drexel University's Costume Collection. That's when Hubert de Givenchy designed the waistline-less sack dress, the predecessor of the miniskirt.

French designer André Courrèges would taper the look a bit and add geometric proportions, but by 1966, British fashion designer Mary Quant had refined the mini so it skimmed the body.

Although Roberto Capucci - the subject of a current Philadelphia Museum of Art costume exhibition - is credited with introducing the sheath-with-socks combo to the couture world (he even produced his own line of socks), the look didn't rock the ready-to-wear industry until Quant incorporated the pairing into her fashion repertoire in the late '60s.

Other designers paired the two as well, like Austrian-born Rudi Gernreich (of thong-invention fame), who made dresses with coordinated socks - and underwear, Sauro said. "It was very schoolgirl style."

Well, the schoolgirl look is back.

The good thing is that you don't necessarily have to go out and buy new socks, assuming you've got some tucked in the back of your drawers.

And the socks don't even have to reach your knee. Anklets are acceptable, even encouraged. Wear them with pumps and even open-toed shoes.

The No. 1 no-no: You don't want to show too much roly-poly meat; larger legs should be toned for this trend to work. (Use your own discretion here.) Also, shave. Smooth thighs are a must.

I'm looking forward to wearing a pair of bold pink socks with my black shift on the first warm day of spring.

There is hope for me yet.

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter at ewellingtonphl.

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