It’s a walking, talking paradox … well, mostly it’s a walking paradox: If wearing socks with sandals is so wrong, why do so many of us do it?
I like to think it’s because we Yukoners are soooo polite. If our tourists do it, whether it be from poor blood circulation, leaving them with cold feet or some cultural thingy, we should do the S&S, too, to save them from embarrassment.
Maybe it is for some other reason? Yeah, it probably is. So I posed this question – Are socks and sandals fashionable? — to my writers because, really, they are all cool in their own way … and in so many ways, too.
I was glad to see that Jerome Stueart responded first. He’s gay, which makes his fashion sense second only to a French-Canadian’s.
“I prefer a man’s foot to be naked with the leather straps around it,” he says, ahem, however, “a man could get away with dark socks and sandals.”
So, there you have it. And yet, as in all quasi-scientific studies, we must consider the source: the fact that Jerome showed up at my house one night, with a Star Trek ball cap and sports coat, renders his fabulous advice as moot.
And yet Rainbow columnist Vanessa Willett says, “I would say, yes … it’s the rest of the world that thinks, no … and I wear socks and sandals all of the time.” Yet she blames this on being a lesbian.
How about a big-pond/small-pond transplant like George Maratos: “Unless you are of Greek descent, no … if it’s too cold for just sandals, throw on the shoes.”
Nicole Bauberger, a professional artist and writer, and therefore über artsy, says, “I’m afraid I wear socks with sandals myself. Less stinky than sneakers, and bare-foot sandal weather is a little scant in the Yukon.”
The next day, she sent me another e-mail that further explained that her sandals are Keens, “so they’re halfway to a closed-toe shoe.” I was instantly sorry I caused her so much anxiety by asking this question.
How about Sarah Lindstein? She’s young, university-taught and plugged into the arts scene with her Art’s Imperative and Musicology columns. “I vote NO,” she wrote.
Lee Randell, owner and operator of Peak Fitness, who is surrounded by people who care about their looks, echoes Sarah’s sentiments: “Heck no!”
If you are keeping score, it is three for and three against.
Now, these are all young and hip people. I wondered what my older more-mature writers would say.
“Effete snobs and fashion mavens say no, but those of us who don’t like having dry or chilly feet still wear socks,” says Dan Davidson.
(May I just say that Dan is my hero? I love his unapologetic Yukonishness.)
Meanwhile, “Rustic wool socks look exceptionally good with sandals,” says Pat McKenna.
However, “I, for one, don’t want to see your fish-belly flesh and grotty toes,” says Rodney, our prolific letter-to-the-editor writer. “Fashion be damned. We’re talking good taste here.”
This sparked some e-mails criss-crossing the ethernet that actually had one person suggest that Rodney get a pedicure. Please, God, let someone have a camera close by.
“For men, socks with sandals are probably a defence thing,” says Brian Eaton, going on to explain that, yes indeed, men “quite probably” have “unkempt feet”.
(See Rodney, that’s how you say something politely!)
I found it interesting that our resident wine connoisseur, Peter Turner, feels that socks and sandals are OK among Northerners — “There is a sort of cool factor to socks and sandals” — while our new beer columnist, Michael Kulachkosky, disagrees — “It removes any appeal whatsoever, and the damage lasts long after you’ve changed your footwear.”
And yet Michael did start off by saying, “I would love to be able to wear socks with sandals.” This prompted his beer-writing partner, Rachel Finn, to follow up with an e-mail that said, “I am still reeling from Michael’s disclosure that socks and sandals are not considered an offence. This is 2010. What’s next? The everyday sporting of birding vests and sun hats with corks?”
Looking at our more outdoorsy writers, I was surprised to see that Dennis Zimmermann favoured socks and sandals. But then I read further and found that my chunky gold chain was being yanked: “You have to pull your socks up super high and only wear shorts with a contrasting belt colour. Pocket protector, wire-rim glasses and a thick, oily application of a bronzing agent, and you are ready for the beach, buddy!”
Mike Gladish agreed with this sentiment, but added this practical exception: “If you are on a river trip and it’s very chilly and you are very ‘cool’, then you might get away with wearing some ratty wool socks.”
Do you know who else is practical? Farmers. So, let’s see what Joan Norberg has to say: “I think that wearing socks with sandals makes a person look confused as to whether it is warm enough to wear sandals.”
Hmm, not very practical, but plain-spoken. Joan does call ’em as she sees ’em. And she did follow up by saying that being confused is not practical.
Our newest Sourdough, Krista Prochazka, came to us from Ottawa. It may not be the hippest city in Canada, but it is more fashion-conscious than, say, Mayo. So, let’s hear what she has to say: “Sandals, by their very nature and definition are shoes meant to expose feet.”
She goes on to say that if I have seen “fashionable men” wear socks and sandals, then they are likely wearing clothes their wives had bought for them, but they left the house before they could be inspected.
Krista did admit that she dresses more casually (and, by extension, so does her husband, Michael) but she hasn’t copped to wearing socks and sandals yet … unless she is in a camp, after a long hike.
Another opponent to socks and sandals, yet willing to consider extenuating circumstances, is Sylvia Kolopenuk. “In general – socks with sandals – no (ick!),” she writes.
“If you’re a granola-type, Birkenstocks with wool socks is barely passable.”
In this spirit of acceptance of the fashionably challenged, I give the final word to Pamela Brown: “I am a person who believes in individual expression, in so far as dressing is concerned.”
What an incredibly ingenuous thing to say.
Oops, just a minute, there is more to Pamela’s e-mail: “That being said, I personally think that people wearing socks with sandals look like dorks.”
So, to sum up, I count eight writers who believe socks and sandals are OK (yet they all agree that generally it is considered not fashionable) and 10 writers who said no, but three of them were qualified (for Greek granola-types who are camping).
So, I declare this a draw.
And yet I will not shirk from the intended purpose of this column, asking the question,Are socks and sandals fashionable?
By definition, “fashionable” is what we as a society agree that it is. With our whims, fashions come and go (as wearing swans around your torso was fashionable for five minutes one Oscar night earlier this decade) and it differs from region to region (wooden shoes never caught on in North America).
So, since leg warmers were not favoured by more than 50 per cent of the population, even in their heyday in the 70s, and yet were still considered “fashionable”, the bar has been set: with 50 per cent of the vote, socks and sandals are, indeed, fashionable … because we Yukoners say they are.