Accessorizing with Knee High Socks

Donna Cosmato
dark grey knee highs on model

When it comes to women's fashion accessories, knee high socks are some of the most challenging to incorporate into an outfit. Most accessories, like scarves, hats and jewelry, only accent a look. You can easily remove them if they are inappropriate or miss the mark. Knee high socks, however, make a bold statement. Socks add more texture and interest than tights and they create a more polished look than bare legs.

Where to Buy

Longer socks are available in a wide range of solid colors and prints. Bright, bold, and contrasting prints are especially popular. Thicker styles may be made of cotton blends, and more sheer pairs may be made from nylon and or spandex blends.

You can find them at most department stores and mass retailers, but for the best selection, you may want to shop stores that are focused on sock sales or have categories for this accessory.

  • Sock it to Me: Here you'll find dozens of styles for women, including argyle, stripes, and funky patterns.
  • Spanx: Most major department stores carry Spanx Topless Trouser Socks. Spanx, the company that perfected the body shaper, also figured out how to keep knee socks from falling down without binding your legs.
  • Stockingirl.com: Browse their great collection of patterns in fashion knee highs, which include paisleys, florals, argyles and animal prints. As a bonus, the price points are very reasonable.
  • Sockdreams.com: Patronize this online store, which features a wide variety of socks in solid colors, stripes and patterns as well as seasonal novelties, and your legs will always be dressed in the most fashionable styles.
  • Joy of Socks: Shop for trouser and athletic socks in funky prints and essential solids.
  • Wolford: For sexy sock styles made from luxurious fabrics like satin, merino wool and velvet, look for Wolford socks in Wolford boutiques or high-end retailers.
  • Shoe Buy: This shoe shop has a category for this type of sock and includes sporty, fashion, and basic looks. An advantage of this site is free shipping.
  • Hot Topic: For ladies looking for the bold and edgy prints, shop Hot Topic's selection.
  • Hue: If you want sheer styles, see the selection at Hue for mesh, fishnets, and sheer patterns and solids.

Tips for Wearing Knee High Socks

textured knee highs

Follow these tips to pull off this tricky look.

Create a Unique Style

There are many ways you can really make a splash when wearing this accessory.

  • Wear socks under boots to create an interesting, layered look. Add a dress and long cardigan for a hip, sophisticated effect.
  • Choose a chevron design, metallic sheen or argyle pattern if you want to appear youthful and fun.
  • Pair them with a dress and Mary Janes for a more adult look.
  • Make a statement with an over-the-knee sock.

Consider Your Body Type

While socks may not make or break your look, you can still choose the way you wear knee highs to best flatter your body type.

  • Wear them with long skirts if you want to stay warm but avoid the bulk of tights. This helps avoid an added layer around your waist, which is especially helpful for those whith apple body types or carry extra weight around their middles.
  • Opt for dark, solid neutrals if your legs are less than perfect. Patterned or retro style stockings make legs look heavier, so women with pear-shaped bodies or who have heavy legs may want to avoid those prints.
  • For women with rectangular figures, pair lighter colored socks with a light top and dark skirt. This creates a more balanced look and the illusion of some curves.
  • For any body type, ensure that the band at the top of your knee highs doesn't cut into your skin, which would create a 'sausage' effect.

Wear the Right Styles for the Season

  • Since these socks are fairly versatile, you can wear them for more than one season.
  • Wear thicker knee-length styles under slacks with boots or chunky dress shoes for an extra layer of warmth in cool weather.
  • Make knee highs a wardrobe staple to transition your look in the spring and fall.
  • Choose sheer, lighter colored styles for spring.

What to Avoid

  • Don't tug at socks and pull them up in public. No one looks comfortable in clothes they are constantly adjusting.
  • Avoid wearing white stockings with winter clothes. If it doesn't work for shoes, it doesn't work for socks.
  • Don't create a costume or uniform look by pairing them with a pleated skirt, oxford shoes and a white blouse.
  • Skip wearing the short skirts and knee socks to the office. Save this look for the weekend.
  • Steer clear of wearing these socks with flat shoes, because it looks too masculine.
  • Refrain from wearing knee socks with strappy sandals. This creates a sloppy, unkempt look.
  • Try not pile on too many trends at once. It's easy to go from style maven to fashion victim if you wear too many faddish items together.
  • Refrain from wear knee highs with shorts; this is not a flattering look for any woman.
  • Ban tube socks off the field or outside of the gym.

Step Out in Style

Normally associated with Catholic school girls, this trendy leg wear became popular for adults when Miuccia Prada showed them as part of her 2007 fall collection. They have been spotted on the stylish characters of the hit television program "Gossip Girls" as well as on the set of the "Sex and The City" movie.

With a little bit of know-how, these stockings can take an ensemble from ordinary to chic. Knee highs tell the world you are savvy and confident. Add a pair to your favorite outfit and step out in style.

Accessorizing with Knee High Socks