Designers loving the socks and skirts look include, from left, Marc Jacobs, DKNY and Marni. Photos: Marc Jacobs Fernanda Calfat, Getty Images; DKNY Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images for IMG; Giuseppe Cacace, AFP/Getty Images



Style setters are saying "sock it to me" this season, strutting the streets in the once-forbidden look of anklets and knee-highs paired with skirts.

Designers including Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Marni and Cynthia Steffe are among those putting a stylish spin on socks.

"I think a ballet flat and a sock is a really cute look," celebrity stylist Elle Werlin, who has worked with Beyoncé and Jessica Szohr, tells StyleList. "It kind of has that hipster, geeky-chic vibe and can look amazing. Also, a sock and a great sandal or boot adds a youthful, trendy look to anything you already have in your closet."

Cynthia Steffe sent socks paired with skirts and dresses down her fall runway. Photo: Jemal Countess, Getty Images for IMG

And yes, Werlin says, the socks-and-skirt look is something real women can pull off, giving a youthful twist to the season's retro-inspired silhouettes.

"For fall, there were a lot of A-line, '50s-style skirts, and ankle socks with a small, 1-inch heel gave a new look to the '50s feel," she says. "The socks add a twist to a lot of inspiration from the past."

Plus, legwear has become an affordable way to express yourself, Alison Hessert, spokeswoman for HUE, tells StyleList.

"I think people have discovered that you don't have the same rules you used to have," she says. "It's all about self-expression now. Scarves are no longer taboo in the summer, socks are no longer taboo in sandals, tights are no longer taboo in sandals. Basically, every romantic look on the runway had anklets. It's fun. "

So what, exactly, are the tricks to looking like someone off the Marc Jacobs runway and not like Grandpa Joe, the neighborhood fashion faux pas? We grilled style experts Werlin and Hessert for their best advice.

Who can wear this trend?
  • "It's definitely a little bit more aggressive or a little bit more fashion forward," says Hessert. "Wear little anklets, but not so much the turn-down anklet. You're talking little, ribbed, short styles. What I think is really lovely is a little longer sock, but ruched down a little bit. Anklets and sheer knee-highs work best."
OK, I'm outgoing. But let's just say I'm of a certain age.
  • Werlin says it's probably best to be in your 30s or younger to pull off the trend. "It is a hard look for the body," she says. "But if you have really great legs or you want to add a little funk to your style, a little ankle sock would look great with a sandal, or, if you want to go more delicate, you can do a nylon, sheer kneesock."
  • Hessert says legwear is about attitude, not age. "You want to look at it as pretty. Look at how Marc Jacbos is showing it with full skirts. You're looking at it as a way to accessorize a fresh, modern look. Color is where the age comes in. If you're going to do it in a bright color, it should be for people in their 20s. I don't feel like a 40-year-old woman should wear a hot-pink ruched sock and a heel. I think you're looking at neutrals."
I get it: Hot pink is out. So what other colors should I try?
  • "For fall, I think you're looking at heather grays and browns and blacks and whites. Neutrals," Hessert says. "If it's a gray sock in a gray flat, it'll elongate the leg a little better."
  • Werlin, who says the anklet is the key sock style to try, also likes the idea of going gray. "If you're in your late teens, early 20s, you can add a bright color. A peach or a mango sock would look great, but that's definitely for a younger woman. For the masses, I'd stick with a nude palette to not seem like you're trying too hard."
  • And staying away from prints is wise, too. "You don't want to wear the flowers," Hessert says.
What if I want to go higher than an anklet?
  • "We're seeing a lot of knee-high action and for fall 2010, one of biggest legwear trends is over-the-knee socks, especially the chunky over-the-knee sock," Hessert says. "So you're looking at so many different length socks, it's just like, let's play with different things."
Great. I've got the socks. Now, what about the shoes?
  • "They look great with chunky platforms and sandals," Hessert says. "They also look really pretty with a flat. There's something very cute and sweet about pairing an anklet with a little ballet flat."
Super. Now, for my skirt?
  • "I think it definitely depends on the woman's shape," Werlin says. "But trend-wise, a pencil skirt and a sock and an oxford can be a really cute look. Or try it with a '50s full skirt and then little socks and flats."
  • Hessert agrees. "Socks give a nice balance to the retro look and make it a little bit fresher and more modern than a 1950s housewife/'Mad Men' kind of look," she says.
Now that I'm set, will this trend last long?
  • "We're getting calls left and right for the socks Prada showed for 2011 resort," Hessert says. "They've got the little anklets in every single one of the looks."


And click here for 5 trends that will never go out of style.