Style & error

One woman tests out trends of the day.

TREND Pairing socks with stripper heels.

WHY? Because Prada, Marni, Marc Jacobs, Tao and Alexa Chung for Madewell do it.

TRENDOLOGY Some stylists trace this trend to “kawaii,” Japanese cute fashion, but, according to a German stylist I spoke with in Paris recently, sockettes and heels were an ’80s trend in Munich, of all places. Blame Burberry Prorsum for this latest rerun: Its models went down the runway in socks and heels two springs ago.

TEST DRIVE At first glance, you may think that this styling trick is child’s play. If a three-year-old can pull it off with Mommy’s Louboutins, how hard could it be? Think again. Socks and heels are a dangerous combo for anyone even slightly beyond their Lolita years— or with a normal leg-to-body ratio. If it’s done right, you achieve a hipster jailbait vibe that makes this such an edgy look; done wrong, you look like you’re off for a stroll in the Alps—or to the loony bin.

The first rule of thumb is simple: No tube socks. Not even a pointy-toed Prada pump can save them—though I think the fashion potential of a pair of tri-striped Adidas sweat socks is tantalizing.

The second rule: You want to pair socks with sexy shoes like kitten heels, stilettos, bottines, platform sandals or even evening sandals—nothing orthopaedic or wholesome-looking. I tried salvaging a pair of sensible Hush Puppies wedge sandals that I never wear with a pair of argyle socks. I thought the chunkiness of the heel would work well with the thicker-than-ordinary hosiery. Wrong—I looked like someone who had just slipped into any old shoes by the back door to take the garbage out.

The verdict on the next page …

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sock-hop.jpgI experimented with socks pulled up to the knee and scrunched down around the ankle, but nothing worked—this socks-and-heels combo was, quite simply, an ill-fated merger.

Maybe the three-pack H&M socks were to blame. I upgraded to premium chiffon Wolford ankle socks and, just to be sure, ditched the Hush Puppies in favour of glossy plastic three-strapped Melissa pumps. Stylewise, I was getting somewhere. In a ruffled prairie dress with short puffed sleeves, I looked like a Japanese version of Dorothy in
The Wizard of Oz—an acceptable look in the highest fashion circles but not in civilized society.

It wasn’t until I hit on the combination of thin Falke ankle socks, platform wedge sandals and narrow cropped trousers that I finally found something I could walk out the door in. On the downside, walking was a little treacherous because the socks kept slipping on the soles, which made me proceed cautiously, like a geisha. But that is a small price to pay for a trend that not only puts me on the same page as Leigh Lezark and Chloë Sevigny but also extends the life cycle of my sandals into the fall season.

THE VERDICT 6/10. While monochrome socks/heels were accepted, anything involving colour or panache was met with strenuous protests from my children. I also got a “So, you’re off to the nursery?” comment from a woman in my local café, but she is renowned for her lack of tact.

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