It’s been the summer of the mankle.
Let’s backtrack: Two summers ago, UK’s Daily Mail wrote about “the rise of the mankle.” The mankle trend — a portmanteau of “man” and “ankle”, obviously — was blamed on Jude Law. The Mail helpfully noted that “[s]ocks are suffering as the mankle increases in popularity; sales are down by 4% for the retailer.”
This summer the mankle trend spread, Beatles-like, to America. I first noticed it in a New York magazine article by Allison P. Davis, "Men, Throw Out Your Socks: It’s Mankles Season." I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of my favorite pieces of the year:
At a recent happy hour with a guy friend, I mentioned that another friend (attractive, female, single) might be joining us. His response: “Julia’s coming by? Let me take my socks off.”
No. Not a metaphor. His socks weren’t, like, pre-knocked-off by the promised appearance of a hot girl or something. He actually bent down at the bar, where other people could see him, removed his socks, put his shoes back on, and readjusted the cuff on his pants to maximize ankle exposure — the same way I’d remove my cardigan and readjust my cleave to impress a potential suitor.
“What?" he said, while repositioning himself to fully present his ankles to approaching women, “I gotta show off my ankles. My Achilles' tendons are hotter than hell.”
Later, Pitbull — Mr. Worldwide himself! — sent the mankles trend into high gear when he went sockless at the World Cup.
I am enough of a hypebeast to acquiesce to this trend: I've been rocking mankles for most of the summer. And I've learned a lot in my several months of baring my mankles. I'm here to share my knowledge with you.
1. It's best to wear socks. I own a lot of obnoxious pairs of sneakers because, well, duh. One of my favorite pairs is a recent highlighter-yellow-with-red-swoosh Air Max 1. "I could spot you from nine miles away," a woman said to me the other day.
Unfortunately, I wore them without socks this summer before they were properly broken in. And, though I've cleaned it up a little, there is a red stain on my left sneaker. It's my blood. Blood from my pinky toe bled through.
To be fair, I probably should be a 12 1/2 in the Air Max 1 instead of a 12. Whoops! But I don't bleed in the shoes when I wear socks. Plus, your feet and sneakers reek when you don't wear socks. C'mon.
2. No-show socks are bullshit. In June, my colleague Sheil Kapadia noted his battle with alleged no-show socks. "I recently purchased socks from Target that were billed as no-show, as in they don't show above your sneaker," Kapadia wrote. "But as I look down towards my feet today, I see that the socks are very much showing. I push them down under the tongue of my sneaker, but they just come back up. I thought 15 bucks for a 10-pair was a sweet deal, but these are show socks."
He's right: They were show socks. Maybe "no-show socks" means "for basketball." But when I purchased a bunch of different brands of "no-show" socks downtown recently, all of them showed.
Now, let's be clear: These are still showing off my mankles. They'd do in a pinch. And showing a little sock does say to a woman, "Hey girl, I'm the type of guy who knows my feet are going to smell if I go sockless." But sometimes it looks ridiculous.
3. What you want are liners. While picking up no-show socks at Macy's, I also grabbed a few liners. These, as GQ’s Max Berlinger wrote, "may remind you of the small nylon slip-ons that were provided to you when trying on footwear at Payless." The ones I got were made by Sperry. Yes, they were liners for boat shoes.
What do you know: 100 percent full-on mankle.
And, yeah, if you're wondering, I own what are quite possibly the only cool pair of boat shoes in the world.
4. Stick to sneakers. This is a sneaker column, and I advocate for wearing sneakers as often as you can. Unfortunately, sometimes shoes are necessary. And both the GQ and New York articles are about dudes going no-show with dress shoes. Do not listen to the trends. Wear socks — maybe some nice argyle ones? — with your shoes. Only show your mankles when you're wearing sneakers.
Got it? Great! Now you, too, can show off your mankles in the best possible way. This has been my service journalism for the month.