White vs Black Socks: When Should You Wear White Socks?

White Socks vs Black Socks

black socks

There seems to be a divide between owning white socks and black socks. 

Some people prefer black socks over white because they are so much easier to clean and last new-looking a lot longer.

While some others prefer white socks over black because they pair well with sneakers. 

Some find these two basic colours “boring” and prefer patterned socks. 

I wear both black and white socks but choose according to the pants and shoes I’m wearing on that day.

Personally, I favour black socks over white since stains are so much less noticeable with a pair of black socks. 

So, where do you stand in this big debate? 

Are White Socks Better Than Black Socks?

white socks

On a medical standpoint, white socks are sometimes recommended for certain people with medical conditions. 

For instance, while it is true that there are benefits of wearing white socks for diabetics, other sock colours including blacks socks are not actually “bad” for you.

The reason why white socks are recommended is because some people cannot feel their feet. 

Wearing white socks will allow the wearer to immediately notice wounds - blood, pus, drainage or other signs of injury in their feet. 

But think about stains on a white sock.

Step on some ketchup or pasta sauce at home? 

On a white sock, that stain is going to take some serious scrubbing to come off (or partially come off). 

With a black sock however, the dark colour will probably just cover that stain anyways.

Depending on your preference and usage, one is not necessarily better than the other. 

Does Wearing Black Socks Create More Bacteria and Feet Issues Than White?


People who confine their sweaty feet in a dark and tight-fitting shoe all day long are more prone to issues and infections.

For example, athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that occurs between the toes. 

The symptoms are characterized by scaly itching, rash, redness, and overall discomfort. 

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot thrives in a damp and dark environment. 

If your feet are basking in sweat for long hours, it creates the optimal damp environment for the fungus to flourish.

Your feet is safe from fungal infections if you keep it dry. 

If you have sweaty feet, it’s recommended to change your socks a few times throughout the day.

Perhaps you can opt for a pair of sandals once in awhile during hot summer days. 

This way, you can air out those toes.

Some people attribute that “dark” environment to black socks.

However, dark does not equal black. 

Black is just a hue-less colour, while dark means the absence of light. 

To combat athlete’s foot, you don’t need to throw out your black or dark-coloured socks. 

Pay attention to keeping your feet and toes dry. 

For people with sweaty feet, air our your toes once in awhile by going sock-less and shoe-less at home. 


Black Socks vs White Socks Health

fabric dye

Long ago, it was believed that the dye found in coloured socks caused blisters and other foot complications. 

This was because dyes and synthetic material used to produce coloured socks were not as advanced as it is now. 

Nowadays, I’m confident to say black socks and any other coloured socks are just as good as non-dyed socks!

Unless you have an allergy to the dye used to make coloured socks, there are no health hazards with wearing coloured socks.

When Can You Not Wear White Socks?

white long socks

White socks are great for the gym, a casual, and athletic setting. 

However, they are not often welcomed in the workplace. 

Why is that?

Level of Formality

dress shoes

White socks are associated with sportswear. Wearing them in a professional setting can bring down the overall formality of your business attire.

A lot of formal work wear is dark-coloured.  

Think of a black or navy-coloured suit. Pairing this with a pair of bulky white socks could attract unwanted attention to your feet. 

Susceptible to Getting Dirty

Imagine spilling a bit of morning coffee or your salad dressing or sauce.

With a pair of white socks, it is much more noticeable than a pair of black dress socks. 

spilled coffee

Why White Socks Are Bad?

While not inherently “bad”, there are situations where other coloured socks are preferred over white socks.

May Not Be Appropriate in a Formal Setting

dress shoes

Dress socks are thin and light. 

Grab any pair of white socks from your sock drawer and look at them. 

They’re probably thick and bulky, with a towel-like feel.

These thick towel-like white socks are made this way to absorb sweat during sports. 

Thus, making them the perfect go-to selection for sportswear, sneakers and athletic shoes.

Not surprisingly, these bulky white socks are not going to sit well in your dress shoes. 

Your dress socks are made for your dress shoes. 

Clash with Jeans


Back to our previous point, white socks give off a very casual and laid-back vibe. 

Like how you would not wear a jersey under your dress shirt, you shouldn’t wear a pair of white socks with your designer jeans. 

They just don’t go together. 

Gets Dirty Quickly

Anything against a white background magnifies how dirty something really is.

Extra attention and care needs to be paid during the cleaning of white socks. 

Pat on the back to all of you who separate the lights and darks from your wash.  

However, if you’re like me and don’t separate them in the wash, there’s a high chance your white socks will come out of the wash with a bit of colour-transfer. 

Can Make You Appear Lazy

Your whole look would look more cohesive and refined if your socks matched the occasion.

White socks are associated with sportswear. 

Most of the time, white socks should only stay in the gym bag or worn with a pair of sneakers.

Stand Out Too Much From Faraway 

The young man standing beside you at the bus stop is sporting an all-black sleek-looking suit ensemble.

But when you look down towards the feet - a pair of thick and bulky white socks. 

It quickly ruins the whole image you’ve worked hard to attain.

Matching the colour of your socks to your shoes is much more important than you might realize. 

When Can You Wear White Socks?

I hope you haven’t started thinking about whether or not to get rid of those remaining white socks after reading the first half of this article. 

Because I’m about to tell you why white socks are also great for other situations.


white socks

Whether they are ankle socks, crew socks or short socks, your white socks are probably either thick or bulky or feels like a terry cloth.

They are made this way to absorb sweat. 

Their strong moisture-wicking property is what makes white socks an ideal option for sports. 

Shoe and Sock Colour Should Match

The general rule of thumb: Match the colour of your shoes with the colour of your socks. 

If you match the colour of your socks to the colour of your shoes, your entire look will appear uniform and balanced.

For example, try wearing white sneakers with white socks and black sneakers with black socks.

At Home

white socks

Casually lounge at home in your white socks.

Assuming your home kitchen is free of fresh and wet stains, your white socks are probably relatively safe from getting dirty. 

Are White Socks in Style?

Are White Socks Trending?

Just because white socks are not appropriate for the corporate setting, there are still so many opportunities to wear white socks.

Pairing With White Everyday Clothing

white clothes

White clothing pieces are starting to gain a permanent spot in wardrobes of the young, bold and adventurous.

That includes white sneakers, white converses and other white shoes. 

What pairs best with white shoes?

Going back to the general rule of thumb we mentioned earlier - match the colour of your shoes with the colour of your socks. 

The best socks for this look is no other than white socks.

Intentional Mismatched Look

If you are purposefully going for a mismatched look, what is better than a pair of white socks and white shoes against a pair of black shorts and a black T-shirt?

This look draws the eye to the feet. 

If this is what you’re going for, you can bring the focus of your outfit towards your feet. 

Don’t Make These Mistakes While Wearing White Socks

White socks can add a touch of style to your outfit. 

It can add a touch of accent to your look while giving your overall coordination a sharp look.

However, if you make a fashion faux pas with your white socks, you can quickly ruin your outfit. 

Area of the White is Too Large

If you’re going for an everyday look that combines dark colours with a pair of white socks and white sneakers as accents at the feet, the white colour can bring a sense of liveliness and freshness to your outfit.

However, if the white is too conspicuous, you run the chance of spoiling the overall look.

The Length of the Pants

One of the key points when incorporating white socks into your outfit is the length of the pants. 

If the denim you’re wearing is short or cuffed, it’ll expose too much white from your socks (as mentioned in the previous point).

Opt for Non-White Socks with Loud Print Clothing

If you are sporting clothing with loud print, choose a non-white sock.

There will be too many accent points in your outfit which can cause a messy and incoherent image.

Follow the general guideline of picking white article you want to highlight and play your other pieces around that.

You’ll find your look will not be distorted, but organized. 

Refrain from White Socks with Baggy Clothes

For baggy clothing, it’s probably a good idea to choose another colour other than white. 

White is an expansive colour.

Your outfit will be full of pieces that bring out an obscure mood.

Can You Wash White and Black Socks Together?

washing machine

Like most people, you probably don’t have enough white socks to run a load full of white socks.

So, can white and black socks be washed together?

The short answer is YES

But, you need to be careful and take certain precautions if you don’t want your white socks to be stained. 

If you purchased a few pairs of new black (or other dark-coloured) socks, it’s a good idea to soak them in water overnight to let the remaining dyes come out.

Personally, I wash it separately from my white socks at least once or twice before washing them together. 

This ensures that my black socks will not bleed onto my other white socks. 

Our Verdict

Black and white socks are great for different usages. 

That’s why most people have a few pairs of both in their sock drawers. 

There definitely isn’t a “superior” sock colour. 

Experiment with adding different coloured socks to your outfit. 

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Depending on what types of shoes you frequently wear, you’re going to want a few pairs of both white and black socks in your drawer. 


  • The Sock Alley

    Hi James!
    Thanks for reading our article and providing your insight!
    Somehow, I also find that darker-coloured socks do tend to smell more.

  • James

    They are better in work boots then black black make feet stink more

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published