It seems like men’s dress shoes without socks have become popular again. In fact, The Cut, an online magazine, named Summer 2023 “barefoot boy summer.” On the home front, we’ve noticed men wearing dress shoes with sockless feet everywhere from work meetings to church to weddings. Scarily enough, musician Mike Sabath even admitted to hiking barefoot because, as he told the cut, “it makes him feel more free.” (Insert shudder here.)

Luckily, this is a trend that seems to be cyclical; men decide to wear their dress shoes without socks, their significant others get tired of the horrible smell coming from their shoes and don’t let them in the house. Eventually, men start wearing socks with their dress shoes again. That is, until they forget and ultimately repeat the cycle. 
So, aside from love interests, why should men wear socks with their dress shoes? That is what we’ll try to find out in today’s posts. 

Men’s Dress Shoes No Socks: What’s the Problem? 

Men wearing dress shoes without socks is a trend that keeps coming back—but we wish it wouldn’t. Of course, there’s a bit of a double standard here. You won’t find any articles, videos or blog posts telling women not to wear dress shoes without socks. And there’s no fad or trend associated with it. They do it every day, and yet they get a pass. 

Why is that the case? Here’s the deal: there are some differences between men and women when it comes to their feet. First of all, women are less likely than men to wear the same shoes every day. While this is a generalization, it’s often the case: women look for the right shoe style and color to match the OOTD. (Outfit of the day, in case you didn’t know.) Men, on the other hand, tend to have basic shoe colors and they grab the closest match to what they’re wearing. Or black. There’s always the go-to black pair of shoes that matches everything, whether we like it or not. 

Another generalization? Men’s feet perspire more than women’s do. Then, the perspiration embeds itself in the leather of the shoes and, quite frankly, makes them stink! The moisture also deforms the shoe, which reduces its useful lifespan. On top of all that, as we mentioned earlier, these guys are likely wearing the same shoe day after day, never giving those kicks a break from the perspiration and the adverse effects on the shoes. In contrast, women’s shoes are changed more often, so the material has a chance to recover. Less perspiration also means less damage to the shoe. As a result, wearing dress shoes with no socks can make men’s kicks less supportive, increasing your risk for foot pain and heel pain. For women, this is less of a concern, although they face their own foot pain issues when you factor in heel height and pointy-toed stilettoes. 

So, there you have it: women can often get away with going sockless in their fancy shoes. (Although when those shoes are plastic, the risk of sweating is just as real as it is for men. So this should be a fashion no-no.) Still, in most cases, men’s risks from this trend are more serious than they are for women. And that means that wearing men’s dress shoes with no socks can be a big, stinky problem. Now, let’s look at how socks can be a game changer. 

The Case for Socks with Dress Shoes woman's feet next to men's dress shoes, no socks

Most people wear socks because it feels more comfortable and keeps their feet dry. Higher end socks even use moisture-wicking technology to move the moisture away from the feet to make sure they stay dry. Skip that step? Now, wearing men’s dress shoes—no socks—can leave you with blisters, calluses, corns, Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus

You see, socks serve as a barrier between the foot and the shoe. If the shoe rubs, then the sock is the first line of defense. Without wearing a sock, the rubbing is right on the foot, and this can cause a blister to form. In fact, blisters form pretty quickly in the areas of rubbing and become painful and infected. 

If there’s pressure on the foot inside the shoe, it can also cause a corn or callus to form. These bumps are simply areas of hard dead skin directly under pressure points. While calluses and corns are not always painful, as the dead skin builds up, they can be uncomfortable. 

Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus are both fungal infections of the feet. The fungus is an opportunist and will infect when it’s able. That could be through a crack in the skin or a bump to the toenail. Wearing shoes without socks dries out your feet, allowing small cracks to form, and giving that opportunistic fungus an opening. There’s also more pressure on the toenails, which exposes them to developing a fungal infection.  

Treating the Effects of Wearing Men’s Dress Shoes, No Socks

If you get a blister, you can carefully drain it by piercing it with a sterilized needle. (If you’re unsure of how to do this, come into our podiatry practice in Houston, TX, and we can do this for you.) Got corns or calluses? We can pare them down in the office to relieve pressure and improve discomfort. Have you developed Athlete’s foot or a fungal toenail? Don’t worry: there’s medication for both, and this too shall pass. 

Now, the best way to avoid needing to treatment for these concerns is to wear your dress shoes with socks. But in the meantime, if you insist on wearing dress shoes without socks, at least disinfect your shoes when you take them off. We recommend using Tolcylin foot spray, available at our office. And remember, if you’ve been wearing men’s dress shoes with no socks, and you notice an itch, odor, bump or blister? It’s time to come to the office for immediate relief! We’ll fix your feet and can even skip the lecture on the importance of socks in every man’s life! 

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