WONDERING MAN: I usually wear black shoes with black pants and brown shoes with brown pants, and I match the socks to their respective pants. But I have some navy pants and I don’t have any navy shoes. What shoes and socks do I wear with those? –Steve U.

ANSWER: This question is pertinent whether you are a man or a woman. The basic rule of thumb is that you match your socks to your shoes. I recently read an article that insisted you match the socks to the pants because when you take your shoes off it matches better. Well, I don’t know many career people walking around the office without their shoes on! And I’ve seen some high-level executives wear socks that don’t follow this rule. But, hey, when you are the CEO, you can wear whatever you want.

The reason for the rule is that pant shoes tend to be rather clunky. To keep the shoe unobtrusive the socks should match the shoe. Black pants, black sock, black shoes. Brown pants, brown socks, brown shoes. Now we hit the navy wall. There are plenty of navy pants and plenty of navy sock, but navy shoes are quite a different matter. What to do? Revert to the black shoes and the black socks. Do not wear navy socks with the black shoes because it leaves the shoe “hanging” there and obvious.

As long as we are on the subject of socks with pants, please be sure to wear tall socks that cover your calves. When you cross your legs, if a patch of skin separates your socks from your pants, you have just caused a distraction!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant