There's a run on fancy men's socks this season: bright colors, exotic patterns, intriguing textures and high price tags -- up to $75.
Van Johnson wore red socks for good luck. Halston wears red socks for the fun of it. Woody Allen has a thing about white sweat socks -- he even wears them with black tie. For men who venture from the traditional black, brown or navy, socks seem to serve as an emotional boost.
"One should think of fancy socks as a bit of wit," says Robert L. Green, an authority on style, who says he wears them often. Green also adds that fancy socks offer a good way to dress up a tired pair of slacks. And less expensive ones can be an alternative when the budget won't allow for a new suit of shoes.
Ralph Lauren thinks that men are wearing more colored socks today because they are wearing more color generally. Personally, Lauren prefers dark socks for dark business suits, "but with a tweed or corduroy, why shouldn't socks make a statement?"
For years, Lauren collected argyles and cables in colors for himself on trips to Europe. Then, a year ago, he offered hand-knit argyles for $60.
"Some told me I was crazy but Saks Fifth Avenue sold out every pair," he says. This winter he sold cashmere socks for $75 and will have them again for the fall. To make sure his socks were noticed in the recent showing of his fall collection, Lauren had his models roll up the cuffs of their pants.
Alan Flusser sold out of the $35 hand-knit argyles he made last year -- 1,500 pairs by his count. His all-cotton sock for $7.50 has already sold more than 15,000 pairs. For fall, he will have a cashmere sock with hearts at $75 to match a sweater. "I feel a little strange about $100 socks, even $75," Flusser says.
Burlington now makes one style of socks in 37 colors, with several shades of purple, gold, autumn red and deep green among the best sellers. Colored socks started to sell a year ago, says Wayne Duggin, Burlington vice president for product development and styling. "With more men wearing color in their clothes, men are no longer afraid to wear color on their feet," he says.
But there are perils in wearing fancy socks, warns Robert L. Green. They can be a distraction, he says. "Unless you do nothing but stand still or just walk, they are sure to be noticed. Just sitting in the subway, a doctor's office, in the theater . . . whenever you cross your legs, fancy socks distract from your face and what you are saying." He recommends dark colors for job interviews and other important appearances in public.
Green also warns against fancy socks if one is wearing fancy shoes, such as punched leather or two-tones, "You really need only one strong statement at your feet," he says. "With fancy socks and fancy shoes, you get more than a statement. You get a full-scale conflict." CAPTION: Illustration, Alan Flusser's stone green cotton sock with cocoa brown toe and heel from The Designers ($6.50); yellow cotton cable-knit socks from Neiman-Marcus ($5); Yves Saint Laurent's tweedy socks in cotton and nylon from Bloomingdale's ($3.75); navy blue argyles in cotton lisle and stretch nylon by Ralph Lauren from Bloomingdale's ($12); nubby blue socks by Christian Dior in cotton and nylon at Raleigh's ($4.25); lilac terry-cloth sport socks in cotton and nylon by Ralph Lauren at the Polo Shop ($7); gray argyles by Interwoven in cotton/nylon/acrylic at Hecht's ($3.75). By Ellse Glickman for The Washington Post