As we transition into the summer months, our colors and fabrics warm as well. Loafers replace boots and balmorals. Manhattans move out; mint juleps move in. The charcoal flannels and navy worsted wool suits are neatly tucked into storage in favor of cotton and linen. Even in the warmer weather, socks are an essential part of any suit. But, in this article, we're not covering just any suit; the question we're answering today is what color socks go with tan suits?

Questions We'll Answer
What exactly is tan?
What color socks look best with tan suits?
Do black or brown shoes go with tan suits?

Before diving in, let’s cover some ground rules:

  • “Tan” refers to colors on the lighter side of brown.
  • The name tan comes, literally, from the process of tanning hides using a kind of oak tree bark called tannum.
  • Today, ‘tan’ in design parlance refers to colors in lighter brown tones with, perhaps, some yellowish undertones.

In menswear, the differences are somewhat semantic. What one brand calls ‘tan’ another may call ‘khaki.’ Throw some grey and white undertones into the same color palette and you’ve got ‘beige.’ Since beige has kind of a boring reputation, companies may just call it stone to class it up a bit.

infographic detailing sock colors for tan suits


In general, tan’s a blank canvas for most any sock. Here’s what socks you should have to maximize your mileage:

Brown Socks with a Tan Suit

Probably the safest option here. Since tan is mostly brown, this is probably the safest dress sock option. It can look quite elegant in a more formal setting. Try it with leather tassel loafers, and a dark brown grenadine tie for a more formal look.


tan dress socks with a tan suit


As we’ve established, brown and tan are on a spectrum. “Khaki” sits on this, and it looks best if you’re going for a monochrome look. Caramel suede derby shoes are optimal here, but a grey could look nice, too.

Green

Green and brown are excellent pairings. They are earth tones, after all. I think, though, one needs to get the right shade of green to make the look complete.


Shop Olive Dress Socks


I suppose a kelly green can work in some settings, but it’s not one I’d personally go for. A darker, emerald green and a tan suit can look handsome and shows you really know your stuff. But an olive green is the most versatile, especially in the semiformal settings you’re most likely to wear a tan suit.


olive green dress socks with a tan suit


Shoe pairings in any variety, texture, and material are a go here. If you’d like to dress it up, try an off-white shirt and a knit tie. However, do make sure the knit is substantial enough. Try for at least 2.75” wide. Dressing it down could be done with anything from a polo shirt to the surprisingly versatile denim shirt.

Blues

Regular readers may consider me a broken record here, but blue and brown just work so well together. Blue and tan gives a range of outfits to play with.


navy dress socks with a tan suit and brown suede shoes


For something refined, try a navy pair of socks and a navy repp stripe tie. This works really well for a summer wedding-especially if your suit happens to be a lighter tan-bordering on cream. I think it’s what Jay Gatsby would wear, were he around today.

Blue can also be playful. For something light and breezy, go for a sky blue. Try with a light blue shirt and tie in yellow or pale pink for a classic preppy summer staple. If you’d like to lean all the way in, dirty white bucks are the way to complete the look. Remember, though, menswear isn’t a costume.

Burgundy, Red, and Pink

And now for our most interesting pairing. Red isn’t my default choice in menswear. I find it harder to create harmonious outfits for my style. But, when you’re looking for what to wear with a tan suit, red is a great choice.

Burgundy socks are going to be the most versatile. Burgundy is refined, subtle, and will work well with many of the outfits mentioned already in this article. Err on the side of darker tan, and try to keep your tie darker as well. Brown, navy, and even forest green will look top-notch here.


burgundy dress socks with a tan suit


Red is fun, preppy, and summery. It works best with lighter tan suits and a gingham shirt. Try with those suede bucks, and you’ve got a fantastic outfit.

Pink is perfect for Easter Sunday service and any time you’re feeling bright and happy. Pink dress socks will definitely get noticed, so keep the rest of the outfit a little more subdued.

While a tan suit shouldn’t be the first suit in your collection, it’s definitely got a place when spring and summer roll around. It’s a neutral, blank canvas for almost limitless styling options from refined to bolder.

Which of these would you go for?

Yours in Style,

Tony Gorga
Boardroom Socks


Shop Dress Socks



Further Reading:
What Color Socks Should I Wear with Khaki Pants?
What are Business Casual Socks? Explained, with Examples.
The Ultimate Guide to Socks for Suits

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Our editorial staff is comprised of menswear experts dedicated to providing you with helpful information. Sharing everything from style tips to sock care instructions, these gentlemen are a wealth of knowledge for both our customers and the Boardroom Socks team.



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