Men’s Style Tips: Socks & Sandals with GQ Style Director, Robert Johnston

Men’s footwear fashion has evolved at such a bewildering pace in recent decades, observes GQ Style Director Robert Johnston, that this summer you might reasonably ask yourself, ‘Is it OK to wear socks with slide sandals – or is that just a step too far?’

Sometimes you can surprise yourself. Which is what happened when I set off to Santorini recently, for a week in the sun. The surprise was that I checked into the flight at Heathrow wearing socks and sandals – the slip-on type some call ‘slides’. And this, until very recently, would have been my idea of a deadly sartorial sin.

Before you plan to have me roasted on a spit as mutton dressed as lamb, I will add that the slides in question were by Brunello Cucinelli in navy suede-look Alcantara, and the socks in cotton lisle in a complementary shade. If nothing else, the combination meant speedy boarding was even speedier than usual – and having kicked off the sandals mid-flight, I didn’t have the usual nightmare of stuffing my swollen feet into shoes at the other end. I’m a convert.

If you remain unconvinced, I’m sympathetic – summer and socks can be a problem. Indeed, summer and feet are troublesome altogether. As a culture, we Brits tend to be poor on pedicures.  Indeed, during the London menswear shows in June, a former colleague who’d stepped off the fashion treadmill turned up in Birkenstocks with bared feet. Bad move. The American press were literally gagging at the sight.

That said, I have my own shame around socks – or more specifically ‘secret socks’, the discreet demi-type only you know you’re wearing inside your trainers. Having spent my career at GQ advising men on the best brands, I have to admit that I don’t actually get on with them myself – they work themselves down my feet until they’re bunched up round my toes. Perhaps my soles are the only part of my body that lack fat, but I still require socks of normal dimensions. After my first foray into the socks and slides arena, I’ll not be looking back.

Robert Johnston is fashion director of GQ. His favourite London Sock Co. styles for teaming with those trainers (and slides) are the block colours from Simply Sartorial.

Image courtesy of

Related products

Enjoy 15% Off your first order & Weekly Style Tips.  Join our Style Club today.