Ready to Wear: The socks and sandals look has got legs

Socks and sandals? Overly self-conscious styling device or quite a good look? Certainly, this one has, er, legs.

Originating in the mid-Nineties as a London girl look, it was seen once more only this season on catwalks as diverse as Burberry, Marni, Dior and Alexander Wang.

As is usual with fashion statements that have become if not ubiquitous then certainly well known, designers’ approaches vary. Burberry’s rib-knit socks in sludgy shades suggest a girl who borrows from her boyfriend – they undercut the unabashed prettiness of the pieces they’re worn with, in much the same way as wellies might a tea dress. It’s all very English rose. Marni’s socks are more purposefully strange, not least because they are toeless (“I’m mad, I am”) and in schoolboy navy but sheer as stockings. The teaming of Lurex ankle socks with Dior’s elevated platforms this season clearly demonstrates a sense of humour, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Finally, Alexander Wang’s socks are perverse to the point where David Cronenberg might be proud – they’re backless, bringing suspenders (for the innocent) and callipers (for the experienced) to mind.

Vivienne Westwood is the sock-wearing heroine of the fashion firmament. Her big woolly socks are emblazoned with the word “CHAOS”. Spotted on the street, meanwhile: grey chunky-knit socks worn with Birkenstock sandals which is the type of aberration the average fashion editor might poke fun at but is, in fact, quite Prada or old-school Helmut Lang. More obviously au courant is a pair of opaque knee-highs in a dark shade, bringing a flouncy frock that would make anyone over the age of 16 blush down to earth, and indeed metropolitan life, with a bang.

Will this particular style ever really take off anywhere other than in this country? It’s safe to assume that the Milanese are unlikely to wear socks with their neat, chic summer styles. Neither are the eternally elegant French prone to such sartorial eccentricities. And that suggests there might, in fact, be a practical reason for such an unlikely fashion flourish – stranger things have happened, after all. It’s far from balmy out there and a nice pair of socks has the happy effect of ensuring British toes remain as warm as toast whatever the weather.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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