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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 11:24 GMT
Do white socks show bad taste?

Dutch Finance Ministry officials deny that they have declared a war against white socks.

Media reports suggested that white sports socks had been labelled as "transgressing the limits of decent dress behaviour" in an internal publication.

But a spokeswoman at the ministry told the BBC that said the words reflected the personal opinion of a high-level official, expressed during an interview in their internal magazine.

She added: "Our opinion is that everyone has to dress according to occasion, and the employees at the Dutch Finance Ministry have a good dress sense".

Do you wear white socks? Or do you agree that they transgress the limits of decent dress behaviour? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The following reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Twenty years ago I endured much ribbing for *not* wearing white socks. I applaud anyone who ignores the wafer thin demands of fashion. Why can't people see that it's just a ploy by the textile industry to make us buy clothes we don't need? Long live individualism.
Kelly Mouser, Upminster, Essex

Fashion is like hair. Here today, gone tomorrow. So at the risk of sounding like a bleeding heart, why bother about white socks when there is a world to save, the ozone layer to patch up and the 'war against terror' to win!?
Darab, Gabi, Chris, London, UK

Do the Commission for Racial Equality know you're carrying out this survey? They get very touchy on matters concerning colour discrimination.
Brian Cole, Surrey

My gosh! Why does it really matter about white socks? I really hate long socks, doesn't matter if they are black or white. Ankle socks are the best. I only wear ankle socks! But why does it matter what colour socks someone wears?
Rose, USA

White socks - another import from USA! If worn out with sports clothing they exemplify bad taste - in the same league as sovereign rings.
Mark Pittman, Scotland

If a guy turned up for a date wearing white socks I'd fake a sickie
Julie Barrett, Belfast, Co Antrim
White socks are sooo eighties!! The one and only time they should be worn is for sport activities. If a guy turned up for a date wearing white socks I'd fake a sickie!
Julie Barrett, Belfast, Co Antrim

If the manufacture of these items was banned, the world would be a better place. There would be economic benefits as users would no longer have to shell out so frequently for new socks as it is a well known fact that darker coloured socks need far less washing and therefore last longer. A ban would also have the effect of reducing social exclusion and help less fortunate members of the community to acquire some dignity and sense of style.
Jane C., UK

It should never be white socks they're yoook! Black or nothing that the way ahead.
Natalie, Heanor, Derby, England

White socks, coloured-matched socks; fashion or practicality, the classic struggle. To some of us, the fuss over these things seem silly while others consider the unspoken statement being made by these choices in appearance and how they reflect on serious matters. But, it is a mistake to imagine that everyone has the same attitude about the triviality or the seriousness of these issues. For myself, I drift between the two camps. White socks are thicker, more comfortable, can be bleached and there is no difficulty finding a match. Black socks are, well... invisible, which I suppose is what socks should be.
George Milton, Baltimore USA and Rome Italy

Why war against white socks? Here in Chicago, they are very popular, especially when they hit home runs. But in Boston people prefer red socks instead.
Dan, Chicago, USA

I can't wait until the day that Victoria makes David wear them. Then just watch you lot change your tune, you'll all be running down to Markies to clear the shelves!
Chrissie, Scotland, UK

If we're going to start on white socks, what about cartoon character ties? If I ever go to a meeting with someone wearing either you know you are in for trouble and very little progress will be made!!
Siege Building, Paris, France

White socks declare that the wearer is no slave to fashion or status quo
Diepiriye S. Kuku-Siemons, New Delhi, India
White socks declare that the wearer is no slave to fashion or status quo. They should be applauded in that they shown the world that northern Europe is too concerned with micro details to move their society forward, progressively. Entire societies remain pacified for generations when they become entangled in such minutiae.
Diepiriye S. Kuku-Siemons, New Delhi, India

I am proud to wear white socks in all circumstances and with whatever else I'm wearing. White socks look very sexy, especially on hairy legs.
White Sox Fan, Amsterdam, Holland

This doesn't only apply to Dutch people - Americans seem to be fans of wearing white socks with the most inappropriate of clothes. Does any other nation in the world think mullets, stone washed jeans, white "sneakers" and white socks are fashionable? Leave the white socks for the gym. As for socks with sandals - any socks - this should be considered a crime against humanity.
Mark Davies, London, UK

Hmm certainly highlight ones feet! Not to mention ones shoes! I think white socks are better left for sporting activity like tennis. After all, I don't believe I've ever seen any clothes that can suitably be worn with them.
Richard Sweetman, Winsford Cheshire

A recent survey split office workers into two test groups, one group wearing white socks and one wearing black. They were surveyed after one week and queried as to whether they felt their socks affected there day to day routine. The black sock group said they noticed no change in their routine. The white sock group however reported desires to roll their suit jacket sleeves up & a need to wear sunglasses inside. There were reported incidents of designer stubble, pastel tee-shirts and greatly improved balance and co-ordination. Several male employees noted that they felt more confident when approaching women in bars.
Andy, London

White socks are well known to be thicker than black ones. They generate more heat. The heat is given off as a gas. This rises into the atmosphere, where it combines with other gases to create a shield over the Earth, thereby trapping in the heat, causing sea levels to rise and orang-utans to verge on extinction. This is called 'The White sock Effect'. Successive generations will not thank us for this, as they battle to adjust to living with acrylic and polyester mixes in their socks.
Aidan, Brit in Italy

When were Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine appointed to the Dutch Finance Ministry?
Ben, NY, USA

As they are the face of the company, white socks is not just a fashion statement but a company No-Go!
Dave, Basingstoke, UK
As humorous and entertaining as these comments are, employers do require you to conform to certain dress standards. In my opinion, it looks just as bad to a customer if one of my salesmen goes out in white socks as it does if they go out in Jeans - sloppy and unprofessional. As they are the face of the company, white socks is not just a fashion statement but a company No-Go!
Dave, Basingstoke, UK

You people disgust me. I thought we had come further as a society than to make generalizations based on colour. White socks, black socks, yellow socks, they are all the same on the inside. I just can't believe that in this day and age we are having this discussion. Let me guess, I'll bet everyone here is against mixing white socks and black socks. What about the children!?
Myles, San Francisco, USA

The only decent socks I can get on my budget are white "sports" socks, 20% cheaper than most branded socks and they last longer!
Taf, Cardiff Wales

Next up...tie-pins!
Sebastian, The Hague, The Netherlands

I've spent childhood with advice such as "we don't wear high heels with jeans or tight or short pants" and "your underwear should not be evident under your clothes". Since then, I spend entire seasons looking at women wearing high heels with jeans and vichy pants (last summer), or girls deliberately showing-off pink and green bra-straps (two years ago) or panties under falling trucks(all of past years...). There are so many ugly fashion trends that, really, clean white socks...shock me the least!
Maria, Athens, Greece

I live in Essex. White socks are not bad taste compared with the army of white stilettos, white mini skirts, white trousers and white shell suits that descend on our town centre every Friday and Saturday night. I know it sounds stereotypical but its sadly also true!
David Howe, Chelmsford, UK

There is a definite psychology to dressing
Jez, UK
We would get suspended from school if we were ever caught wearing white socks. I have to admit that I personally think white socks are only suitable for sports wear. They do look slovenly and naff when worn with anything else, ESPECIALLY office clothing. They indicate that the wearer has very little respect for the image they put over which generally indicates a high level of arrogance and inflexibility. There is a definite psychology to dressing.
Jez, UK

Blue jeans with black socks and white trainers are equally as bad as blue jeans and white socks with black shoes.
Chris, Batley, West Yorkshire

When I wear white socks at work it means only that the weather is good. If my socks get wet or muddy on the ride in, I change them for black socks in the office. If my socks are still dry and clean when I get in, I quite often forget to change them. Simple, really.
Guy Chapman, Reading, UK

In the Police Service the wearing of socks is controlled, it being a requirement that black or dark grey socks are worn. One evening a Policeman friend of mine was asked by his boss, 'why are you wearing white socks?' His reply; 'To keep my feet warm.'
Barry P, Havant, England

How sad judging people on what colour socks they wear. Next people will be judged on their hair styles or physical features. As for me I wear socks to match the colour of my trousers, hence if I wearing white ones, my socks will be white.
Caron, England

White socks should be strictly worn for three reasons: 1. with joggers and walkers and tennis shoes. 2. When other socks you have are more stinky. 3. When you damn well feel like wearing them. Period.
Agha Ata, Houston, USA

Shoot! There goes half my wardrobe!
Scott Peck, Tucson, USA

My school's dress code is the boys who wear navy blue trousers must wear navy blue or black socks. A guy in my geography class was wearing white socks today, and it just looked tacky.
Katriona, Singapore, British expat teenager

Speaking as a woman: white socks just turn me off
Lia, Amsterdam - Netherlands
The Dutch generally are really bad dressers. Dutch civil servants (oops, I'm one...) are worse. They happily go to a meeting, representing a governmental organ, wearing worn-off jeans and a sloppy sweater. Not to mention the haircut. The idea is 'people should judge me by what I have to say and not by my looks'. Go get a haircut and buy yourself a decent outfit! Speaking as a woman: white socks just turn me off, especially worn in sandals or those inexplicably unsexy loafers.
Lia, Amsterdam - Netherlands

At least with white socks you can tell if they are clean or not without smelling them!
Anna, Cannock, UK

So do we now have the Fashion Police telling us what to wear? WOOHOO!!! Maybe they should dictate what brands of televisions or other equipment we should use too. And how about clamping down on people eating with their mouth open and other equally useless endeavours?
Adam, London, UK

No other problems on Dutch Finance Ministry agenda? White socks are way cool for Dutch fashion(ab)sense.
Vajt Soks, UK

White socks do NOT show bad taste. The pants and shoes shown in the picture do, but the socks are fine. I have white socks on right now. They feel great and look quite nice. Mine are made by Sara Lee Sock Company! We will be glad to help those poor folks out in Wales who need a larger supply!
Sandra Hall, Kernersville, USA

A good day starts with matching socks.
Jake, Northampton, USA

I seem to remember the Red Hot Chilli Peppers raising controversy about wearing white socks...
Of course, they weren't wearing a lot else at the time!
Phil, Cardiff, UK

To look cool it's got to be Simpson's socks, especially Bart or Homer!
Andy, Basingstoke, UK

White socks always previously associated with estate agents here! But I wish I cold wear them with my PJs like Jennifer Aniston in Friends. Now she can do white socks!!!
Marilyn, Bletchley, UK

Nowadays people have to take breaks outside to wear white socks
Jack, London, UK
In my office we have now banned white socks altogether. We used to have a special white socks room, but that has been claimed by the marketing department. Nowadays people have to take breaks outside to wear white socks. There are always a couple of white sockers huddling together near the entrance to the building.
Jack, London, UK

What do people do about socks if they have severe athlete's foot? Sometimes, you just have to wear white socks, especially if living in a college dormitory.
Dietrich Tormohlen, Muncie, IN, USA

There's no doubt about it - white socks are evil.
J, Warsaw, PL

I think what matters most is you dress appropriately when going to work or elsewhere. It's up to the person if they want to where white socks. No one should tell you what to wear.
Heidi Brandiss, New York, USA

I think men in white socks are making a statement of intent - intent to go home alone, again.
Dave the Rave, Raveland

In Europe, you can tell one's nationality by one's socks and underwear. The Dutch wear white socks to the office and the Germans wear black socks to the gym. The German men also wear cotton briefs with small animal pictures on them (like sheep). American executive women wear white socks and sneaks with a wool suit. Germans wear white socks with sandals, usually a goatee to go with and unbrushed hair.. Go figure.
Rocko, Enghien, Belgium

White Socks with suits should be banned everywhere, maybe a constitutional amendment is in order?!
Tim, New York, USA

White socks have got to be better than the novelty socks I received for Christmas
Paul, Glasgow, Scotland
I am more concerned about how clean one's socks are, rather than the colour. If you could smell what I do at my local gym when shoes are removed, you'd feel the same way! I often wear mis-matched pairs of socks anyway, so I guess I'm just strange and besides, clean white socks have got to be better than the novelty socks I received for Christmas...
Paul, Glasgow, Scotland

Does the colour of one's socks make any difference to their ability to do their job? Almost never! Wear what you feel like, folks. Do your job well & ignore these pedantic self-appointed 'fashion-police'.
Ray Selby, Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is why I kept my 70s ponytail all these years. It distracts peoples attention from my white socks.
Greg, US

Black socks they never get dirty the longer you wear them the stronger they get. Sometimes I think I should wash them but something keeps telling me don't wash them yet.... not yet... not yet.... not yet.
You couldn't sing this song about white socks could you? I suspect that the Dutch (known for their forward thinking on environmental issues) are afraid of the energy costs of having to wash white socks so frequently. It's not a fashion statement it's environmental awareness!
Lisa Kitson, Bermuda

If we are banning men wearing white socks can we also ban women wearing those horrible knee length socks and see through blouses.
Gerry, Scotland

Socks and sandals are great when at work on a really hot day. Also I may take socks in my pocket and put them on if it gets cool. Sock and shorts are also OK. The safari suit is a case in point.
Richard, UK

To Jack the physicist: I'm (also) a physics PhD student, but I do care what I look like. The girl that doesn't judge you on the colour of your socks is a girl who does not care how she looks. The way we look tells something about the way we are. I, therefore, would not like to be served by a civil servant who looks untidy, and ergo, provides an untidy service.
Miran, Geneva, Switzerland

My opinion is if a girl is going to judge me on the colour of my socks then that's not the sort of person I really want to spend my time with
Jack Levell, Cambridge

As a physics student who plays role playing games and loves Star Trek I don't really care what I look like. My opinion is if a girl is going to judge me on the colour of my socks then that's not the sort of person I really want to spend my time with. I have spent six years in Holland and this regulation is just the sort of thing I can imagine the Dutch doing. They are totally conformist. The only reason they are so tolerant of certain things is because everybody else is!
Jack Levell, Cambridge, UK

I think everybody should decide what to wear, whatever they find comfortable. Fashion may touch out-door clothing, but when it comes to socks, it is definitely going too far!
Stanley, Norwich

So it's come to this... a debate over socks with worldwide responses. I guess there is nothing important going on. I vote for everyone to just go barefoot and end the insanity.
Paul Ryan, Southington, USA

There is only one thing worse than wearing white socks and that is having a perfect crease in your jeans.
Ian, Germany

Oh put a sock in it! Alternatively, what about white sock hand puppets?
GG, Belgium

I have been living in Holland for 6 months and the sock issue is a funny one but surely its not the socks they should be worrying about. Has anyone seen what else they wear?
Kelly Stevens, Veghel, Holland

The sheer idea of 'bad' taste is merely a matter of some people trying to dominate others; to raise their own values above those of others. It is a pitiful display of small-mindedness, and those who clamour for public adherence to 'good' taste should, preferably, be helped to see the tyrannical nature of their ways. At worst they should be ignored.
Stefan W Christensen, Southampton, UK

Personally I prefer something a little brighter - pink ones perhaps?
Dindy Drury, Famagusta, North Cyprus

If I'm wearing dark trousers then I wear dark socks and dark shoes. Otherwise it's white socks with light trousers and light shoes. I can't stand the feeling of bare feet in shoes other than sandals and I believe that if one is wearing trainers with shorts then the socks should be short as well.
Susan, London, UK

I wear white socks only during sportive activities and I completely agree with high-level Dutch official on the statement "white socks transgress the limits of decent dress behaviour". One has to wear socks same colour with his pants. White socks look awful. The only person white socks look "cool" is Michael Jackson.
Arda, Ankara, Turkey

Please, those who wear white socks, keep wearing them. It is one of the worst fashion crimes (disgusting, really!!), but if we all knew how to dress, then how would the stylish ones among us stand out?
Panagis Vagenas, London, UK

White socks do not transgress decent dress behaviour, only smelly ones do.
Mike Chamberlain, Margate, England

As bad as wearing white pantyhose...
Dawn, Paris, France

The colour of a man's socks subtly conveys his standing in the world
Pat Bateman, New York
The colour of a man's socks subtly conveys his standing in the world. White socks give the aura of a shmuck who clearly does not understand the do's and don'ts of sartorial elegance, and quite obviously can never get a reservation.
Pat Bateman, New York

I think you've been had-Pat Bateman of New York was the hero of Brett Easton-Ellis' novel "American Psycho", but to be fair, this is the sort of thing he used to say when he wasn't busy disembowelling and eating women!
Pete Simons, Exeter, UK

White socks are to fashion what TV dinners are to cuisine: they only fulfil the absolute minimum requirement for clothing (to cover one's feet) without the slightest regard for taste or finesse. They will, however, provide the wearer with one other useful fashion hint: if you can actually see the socks when standing upright with one's shoes on, your trousers are to short! But to ban them seems a bit over the top. Group pressure would probably be more advisable...
Aske Munck, Paris, France

Let's free socks from the confinement of sportswear!! We have only our fashion sense to loose and a world of nice comfortable socks to win.
White socks liberation front, Eindhoven Netherlands

I had a dream, two little white socks and two little black socks, playing with each other.
Chris, Japan (Northern Ireland)

White socks are for some sports and young girls. Black socks are for butlers, dinner suits and funerals.
Barney, Brussels

The only reason that white socks are worn in Holland, is that the Dutch have milk white legs, which actually makes the socks invisible, and therefore they look like they are more fashionable i.e. sock-less. Whoever thought that the Dutch are much better looking people should see what other clothes they wear. Shambolic.
Chris A, Houston, Texas

Black socks betrayed me - you've been warned
Jason Miles, Reading
I wore white socks up till very recently when I started thinking I was erring in that 'Britney fashion disaster' sort of way. So I went out and replaced all the white with black, which was a mistake - the black (from a good high-street retailer) shed all over the floor and leave the most awful mess in my wake. Black socks betrayed me - you've been warned.
Jason Miles, Reading, UK

Seeing the flash of white socks from under dark trousers makes a lady's stomach turn!
Anon, London

Worst than white socks, is wearing a short with socks (white or not) and sandals. This is the normal attire of German tourist from formerly East Germany at the Lake Balaton in Hungary. You can easily spot them that way when they venture in Budapest!
LAN, Budapest, Hungary

When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in Tirana don't wear white socks.
Laert, Tirana, Albania

White socks are the least of Dutch fashion crimes. I think half of them get dressed in the dark.
Jeremy McMahon, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In banning white socks, the Dutch once again set the rest of the world the right example. White socks used to look great with sta-prest trousers and huge whacking loafers or jam shoes, but those days are gone and will not be coming back. No white socks except for playing sport in.
Adrian, London, UK

Down with this dreadful suggestion and up with white socks
Stu, UK
I find this whole 'Have Your Say' issue totally sockist. My Grandfather didn't fight in a world war only to be denied his choice of foot wear by the men in suits. Down with this dreadful suggestion and up with white socks.
Stu, UK

Although we are liberal there are limits! I think white socks should be banned, all over the world. They should burn at the stake!
Maarten, Amsterdam

Please, if you are a man and pretend to be a gentleman in France, do not wear white socks! It's clearly a fault of taste for French women.
Eric, France/UK

Women wear white dress socks all the time, which are appropriate for business wear. I think the real issue surrounds wearing white athletic socks, which are thicker. These socks are inappropriate with any non-casual clothing. And let's not forget: never wear these socks with black shoes! What horror!
Theresa, Columbus, USA

Theresa, USA: Oooh no no no. Women shouldn't wear white socks either except when doing sport! At work, socks should never be worn with a suit, unless they're dark socks under trousers. We can always tell when there's an American in our London office: the woman will be wearing a brightly coloured suit with lots of gold jewellery and "pop-socks" and high heels (yuk), and the man will have a perfect crease down his chinos, and a pair of white towelling socks giving a strobe-lighting effect as he walks across the floor.
Tara, Windsor, UK

An excellent statement of personality
Dan, Kansas City, USA
I find white socks to be an excellent statement of personality. I wore them under a tuxedo at my wedding, much to the annoyance of my mother.
Dan, Kansas City, USA

I had no idea I was committing such a grave fashion faux pas. I am heading straight to the supermarket to buy some black socks!
Pri3, USA

Do you remember the Clinton's cat, 'Socks', he had white socks. I reckon he was a pretty cool cat. Not sure what that proves but I think it's a valid contribution to the issue.
Ed, London, UK

I am wearing white socks right now under a pair of blue jeans. I also wear white socks with khakis and chinos. Who cares?
Kevin Scarlett, New York, USA

White socks with a business suit are standard salary man wear in Japan and Korea (and increasingly China).
Calum O'Neal, Hong Kong

White socks with a suit - definitely not on!!! You might as well bring neighbours back onto prime time TV.
Simone, Waga Waga, Australia

If people wear white socks they should do so in the privacy of their own homes
Regina, Fairfax, VA, USA
If people wear white socks they should do so in the privacy of their own homes, instead of flaunting their cotton-whiteness so flagrantly and immorally in the work arena. Decent people shouldn't have to see it unless at the gym, the park (in the case of joggers), or other acceptable white sock areas. For shame! In America this behaviour is considered normal and tolerated, and you see what the society is like. Bravo to the Dutch for trying to stem the erosion of fundamental values!
Regina, Fairfax, VA, USA

What are you supposed to wear with athletic shoes or hiking shoes if you aren't supposed to wear white socks? Argyle socks with your sneakers? No way!
KK, Ohio, USA

I spend up to three months on the road working. White socks are easy to wash and sort. Always thought black socks were for people that wore them month at a time and did not want others to know.....
Pete, Arizona, USA

This is a style issue. Clean white socks are only acceptable for some sports. Having said that, men's socks are pretty dull. Except for truly formal occasions I wear red ones.
David Spence, Bogor, Indonesia

I heard first hand whilst in the UK a Personnel Officer say they would never hire a male who turned up for interview in white socks!
Barry, USA

The placing of abundant importance on the colour of one's socks is simply one symptom of a shallow and pandemic ethos.
Tim, Austin, TX

As my American step-mother always said, there's nothing worse than seeing a guy in shorts wearing socks, or wearing white socks at any time. Apparently, in the US, Americans can spot a British tourist in warm weather a mile off, as he'll be the only one combining socks with shorts. Silly looking, and extremely unattractive, apparently. I took the hint, and have no white socks at all, and have gone sock-less if I am going out wearing short trousers, ever since, and I won't look back!
Dan, UK

What is needed is a global no white socks at work enforcement agency
Wearing white socks for sports is fine. Wearing white socks socially is a matter of choice although I would not. Wearing white socks at work should be banned all over the world as it looks tacky. What is needed is a global no white socks at work enforcement agency that will confiscate white socks at the workplace and will fine repeat offenders.

White socks are all to often neglected. They are left to turn dingy. Dingy white socks could be enough to throw the earth out of balance. This could be a real disaster!
Margaret, Portland, USA

White socks are to be worn with trainers whether for workout or casual wear (or with slippers at home). When wearing any other types of shoes, white socks are illegal There really isn't much to argue here, just common sense.
Spyros, Miami, USA/Athens, Greece

I stopped wearing white socks about 6 years ago - and I have to say it has changed my outlook on life.
Clovis, New York, USA

In Europe, perhaps. The common trend in North America is black socks with anything remotely formal, white socks for casual. Nothing looks more odd than shorts with black socks.
Steve Anthony, Raleigh NC, USA

I'm glad to read that my tax money is being well-spent by our civil servants. I'll have to keep this comment short, since I have to put away my freshly-laundered and dry socks (white, of course).
Anna, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dress codes are just a conveniently superficial way for the stupid to make judgements about people without thinking. Business and government should concern themselves with value of an employee's work rather than with bizarre fixations on people's dress.
James, Saint John, Canada

There is really only one occasion when from both a sartorial and aesthetic point-of-view it is acceptable to wear white socks and that is with a pair of well worn trainers whilst down the Gym or engaging in some exercise such as jogging. Any other occasion just looks ridiculous.
William, England

If people have to wear them, they shouldn't show them
Ella, New York, USA
White socks are up there with shell suits as an example of poor taste in dressing. I remember, when I was younger, wondering why Michael Jackson with all his millions would still wear white socks. I think that it is a European view point though, as I now live in NYC where well dressed business women wear loafers with white trouser socks. If people have to wear them, they shouldn't show them.
Ella, New York, USA

Now, dressing well is a way of showing respect. Putting on the same white socks you wear to the gym to go to work doesn't tell the world that you tried very hard before you entered the office this morning. On the other hand, in a pinch, I have pulled on some white athletic socks and unsuccessfully tried to hide them with tall boots. Lack of clean dress socks happens to everyone.
Leah, New York, NY USA

I think the Dutch have got this one right. I totally agree with them. Prostitution? legal, drugs? tolerated, Gay marriages? fine. But even liberal countries have to draw the line somewhere - white socks (unless worn with shorts or for sport) are an affront to decently dressed people everywhere.
Will Bugler, Hereford UK

This is a joke right? Do come along now! White socks are perfectly fine. So are black, blue or brown. Its torn socks that bother me.
Prateek, Boston

From a country where prostitution is legal and drugs are tolerated?
Glenn, St. Louis, USA

White socks are clean looking, odour free in cold climates and cool in warm weather. At least, the observer can make out if the socks are washed or due for a wash.
Rohin, St. John's, Canada

As I peer down from my work station at my white socks partially obscured by running shoes and blue jeans, it occurs to me that my vote must fall in the liberal camp. I don't even mind if others make a show of dubious judgement and regrettable taste by dressing differently than I do, thereby further validating my liberal credentials. As a final proof of solidarity with this much abused mountainless nation, I even make a point of "going Dutch" on dates.
William Innes, Missoula Montana, USA

White sports socks with trainers...they are ok. White socks of any kind with anything other than trainers.. bad, bad taste.
Mark H, UK

You shouldn't see socks at all. The problem is people wearing trousers too short for their legs!
British Bubba, Houston, Texas

Not something I would do unless I am mowing the lawn
Gregg Barkley, Mechanicsville, Va, USA
As dress socks I cannot see how a man could get away with it unless it was an argyle or other type of pattern on a white background. In a casual setting it would be okay, but not something I would do unless I am mowing the lawn.
Gregg Barkley, Mechanicsville, Va, USA

Just want to let all those poor white socks out there who have been so maligned that I support them 100%!
Georgia, UK

Things must be pretty dull in the Netherlands if they have time to worry about something like this!
Sam, Ohio, USA

I have nothing but utter respect for the Dutch people and here again they prove their worth. Some might say that anyone with a sense of style knows when white socks look alright and when they don't. They're wrong. White socks 'never' look good unless you are deliberately trying to look like a clown.
Guy Thackeray, London, UK

Only simple people judge others solely by the colour of their socks.
Tony, UK

White socks are not necessarily in bad taste but rolled up pants legs are.
Lynn, Decatur Ga, USA

Ever heard of contrast? I rather think there is nothing wrong with white socks.

I have never worn white socks but I now feel a strong urge to go buy some and wear them tomorrow!
Phil., Southampton

This is pathetic, i can't believe you people actually care that some people want to wear white socks. I thought politicians talked about politics, not looked at each others socks. Give it a rest.
Katie, Wales

One of the few publicly accepted hatreds is White sockism. I dream of a world where all socks are equal.
Daniel, Chipping Sodbury

In the US I remember that white socks with strips were not well liked. White socks I find are easy to wash and the ones I buy have extra cushion for comfort. Besides, you buy enough of the same type, you won't have to worry about having just one sock.
Russ, USA

If you don't want to wear 'respectable clothes' find a job elsewhere
Brian, Spain - ex UK and Netherlands
This has nothing to do with the colour of socks. It has to with the formal and serious image of government representatives when meeting the public. Dress code is an important aspect of the image and is taken very seriously in many businesses and government departments throughout the world. It has to do with maintaining high standards, something which is sadly lacking in many parts of the (so-called) civilised world. Don't whinge. If you don't want to wear 'respectable clothes' find a job elsewhere. Don't try to bring the rest of the world down to your degenerate level.
Brian, Spain - ex UK and Netherlands

I was an Exchange student in Holland for a half-year, the only thing I was told in preparation for my studies was not to wear white socks!
N Watkins, WDC, US

Well. On a business suit, of course the white socks look bad but other than that I don't have a problem wearing them.
Habib, Washington D.C.

As a Dutch-American I'm shocked and disturbed at this story. People are wearing white socks with a suit? I thought we had better fashion sense than that.
CW Burgers, Michigan, USA

I can't think of the last time I didn't wear white socks, it's the norm here. I have one non white pair for when I absolutely have to wear dress pants and shoes, but luckily this is America. The wedding I went to last weekend was 75% jeans and dress shoes/boots vs. 25% dress pants. Just let anyone wear whatever socks they want.
Jason Drew, St Paul, MN, USA

Yes, people should wear what they like, but white socks look odd. They draw the eye to two bright flashes of white around the ankles, that look especially comical when in mid-stride. The colour contrast is alienating, and it would also indicate to me an inability of the wearer to distinguish between every day attire and sports clothes. A lack of discretion. Keep them for sport, and keep subtle greys, blacks and beiges (in summer only) for every day use.
Patricia, London, UK

Absolutely, with all the new cotton socks on the market you can get high quality cotton socks of all colours these days.
Rob, USA

White socks? I have only three pairs of non-white socks! At my office (a major Silicon Valley computer manufacturer) the uniform of the day is jeans, sneakers, and - white socks. If you really want to get into a fashion discussion, ask what we wear above the waist.
Duane Fowler, Boulder Creek, CA

I had to check my calendar to see which century we are living in. Worrying about other people's socks and dress sense is pathetically juvenile in a world of far worse adult transgressions. For pity's sake, I hope it is all a big January joke caused by frozen brain cells.
Michael Lavalette, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I have a naturist friend who wears (only) white socks when he's showing off his tan!
Richard, London, UK

The number one "don't" for anyone with a sense of style
Iran Djordjevic, Nyenrode, The Netherlands
White socks under a suit - or anything different than jeans and sports clothing - is the number one "don't" for anyone with a sense of style. It makes me sick seeing this! (So do ugly ties, but that is another war.)
Miran Djordjevic, Nyenrode, The Netherlands

Having travelled all around Holland with work this year I found the Dutch extremely friendly and hospitable. I was however, somewhat shocked by their unique personal sense of style, and the half mast trousers on display throughout the country have to be seen to be believed - really!
Tony, London

I may just be an uncultured American, but I honestly had no idea that there was a sense of necessity to wearing dark socks with suits until I was 13. Fortunately I was educated of this by my technology teacher Mr Slater in 2nd form. I was attending boarding school in Belfast and it was a shock to him when he noticed I was wearing white socks with my uniform. As I was so unaware, he gave me a nickname to constantly remind me of such impropriety, and I still haven't forgotten.
Max, Arcata, California

I like the Dutch people very much and I agree with whatever they say and do. If the Dutch government decides that we should not wear white socks to work, then we should not wear them. The Dutch are a very democratic people and we all should listen to them.
Alfred Reasor, San Diego, CA, USA

C'mon! We just spent a year living in The Netherlands - and believe me, white socks are the least of their fashion problems. Without a doubt, the Dutch are the worst dressed nation within the EU! It's not entirely their fault though....over there the clothing quality is abominable - but the cost is exorbitant. Cut 'em a break. (Or else send in the Italians to teach them how to dress! They are the best-dressed in all of the EU).
Gee, New York, USA

Our Ministry of Finance should worry about the budget deficit, not the colour of their socks.
Bertrand, Enschede, The Netherlands

White socks with professional clothes is such a horrible fashion crime that at least a bunch of unaware people who read this may be able to see the light. I have worn white socks for years and still do so, but I don't buy them anymore, they are for sport, and lounge-around wear. Or for urban fashion when your socks don't show due to larger/longer pants.
D. Max, Chicago IL USA

Catwalks are full of indecent dress behaviour, none of them socks
Mare Sergo, Søllested, Denmark
1. Yes. Practically only white.
2. Catwalks are full of indecent dress behaviour, none of them socks.
3. View? a. That "high-level official" only revealed his angle of view regarding colleagues. b. Personal view: nothing cleaner than white. Clean comes before fashionable. c. Stupid discussion.
Mare Sergo, Søllested, Denmark

Why are we so obsessed by what people look on the outside? Have we forgotten what's on the inside? This is another example of the "Old Europe."
Tom, USA

It's a mainland European and Scandinavian thing. Belgians, Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians wear white socks with pride. It's a cultural phenomenon we should celebrate. Vive les differences.
Emma, UK

Oh dear and to think I was almost buying how "inclusive" and "tolerant" you Europeans were. And good to see such an important issue in this era of global terrorism, SARS and static cling addressed by the Dutch. The Finance Ministry no less... hands in the pockets of hardworking Netherlanders and now micromanaging sock sense.
Peter C. Kohler, Washington DC USA

The only reason that white socks are 'not done' in Britain, is that the Brits have milk white legs, which actually makes the socks invisible, and suggests that people go barefoot. The Dutch are much better looking people, and if they want to wear white socks that is fine with me.
John (a Dutchie in London), UK

The only place where white socks should be allowed is, in my opinion, hospital.
Eliana, Pisa, Italy

In America, most people only wear white socks with tennis shoes/trainers. However, in general, I believe that people should wear whatever suits them. Freedom of expression extends to the way we dress.
Beth, USA

This is from the country that gave us...clogs.
Chris Klein, Winchester England

This is clearly a horrible display of sock racism! Why discriminate against white socks- the only thing about them that is different from black socks is their colour!
Brittany, St. Andrews, Scotland

So does that mean that cream or yellow socks are okay? How ridiculous! Suppose in a year or two it becomes the height of fashion to wear white socks, what then?
Jackie, UK

So Michael Jackson (when combined with black trousers and shoes). Need I say more?
Raluca, Brit in the States

They should not talk about "good taste" in dressing; that just doesn't exist here
Aristides Garcia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I live in Amsterdam since 1991. I have a lot of respect for the people of this country; and for their opinion on many subjects. However, they should not talk about "good taste" in dressing; that just doesn't exist here. What usually is in fashion here has been already dead for years in other countries; bell bottoms, and now the latest rave are incredibly pointed shoes. The favourite colour for garments is different shades of black. Actually I see very few white garments, including socks; with the slush and rain white clothing gets dirty quickly.
Aristides Garcia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

People ought to be able to wear what they want without falling victim to fashion fascists.
Jane, Wales, UK

Decent dress behaviour?? You have to be joking! People actually pay attention to these things? How sad that we can't find something more constructive to do.
Christian, London, UK

Absolutely. Except on Mods, where they look cool. But with suits and usual day wear there is absolutely no excuse.
Al, UK

Excuse me, but certain legs look VERY sexy when they end in white socks.
Tom, Canadian in Cholula, Mexico

It seems that acceptable sock colours have been reversed between Europe and the Americas. In the Americas, one would never wear white socks with dress shoes. One would wear white socks with jeans and sporting or gym outfits and if one 'must' wear socks with sandals, they would be white, not coloured. It is a nice little difference between the continents that really doesn't matter when one really thinks about what all else is going on in our world.
Chuck, Florida/USA

I haven't worn white socks for any reason for twenty years or more because they are so like yesterday and show bad fashion taste.
Phill C, Sheffield, UK

I think white socks look cute - on my wife.
Simon Richardson, London, UK

I know of several occasions where my brothers got into fights over it
B, London, UK
White socks are definitely wrong if you had the situation my brothers and I had as kids. Our dad used to walk us to school and not only did he wear white socks and drainpipe jeans but also insisted on wearing Jesus sandals with the socks! I know of several occasions where my brothers got into fights over it so I think to promote peace white socks should be banned (and certainly socks with sandals!)
B, London, UK

I wear white socks when I play tennis or do some sports activities. In my opinion wearing white socks with either trousers or shoes which are not white is tacky and transgresses the most basic rules of decent dress behaviour.
Italo, Zurich, Switzerland

White socks are only acceptable when worn with trainers - it's that simple!
Lee, Hebburn, England

Now I'm stunned with the topic of discussion. White socks and bad taste? Well everyone knows when to wear white socks. Banning them is absurd and the most ridiculous suggestion I've heard. Most people know when and with what combination the white socks goes with. Else they just lack the basics of fashion.
Vijay Bysani, Newcastle, UK

White socks just look very 80s to me so no I don't wear them but I think this is generally a British obsession (and now Dutch?!) because the horror combo that is white socks with black shoes seems to be perfectly acceptable here in the US as well as in many European countries - in fact it seems to be quite the norm and whenever I have expressed displeasure at a colleague wearing them all I get is a very confused stare and "why, what's wrong with them??".
N, UK (currently US)

Wearing white socks with black shoes is a fashion crime and should be banned; similar crimes are to wear high heel shoes with thick socks and sandals with socks.
Mary Jo, London, UK

White socks: fine if worn with shorts and appropriate footwear for playing sport, totally unacceptable under all other circumstances. I own three pairs, and wouldn't dream of wearing them anywhere other than on the Golf Course!
John, England

Long live white socks and the individual!
Neal Coope, Birmingham
I consider myself a dedicated follower of fashion and regularly wear white socks, even in my workplace! I have noticed the occasional comment from around the office but I regard this as part of my freedom to express myself in any way I please. Long live white socks and the individual!
Neal Coope, Birmingham

Only in the 80s were they cool. Not now.
Bob, UK

Come again? Have these people got nothing better to do? I'd rather deal with someone who does their job and wears white socks than some of the useless jobsworths I see in the UK public sector regardless of the colour of their socks.
John B, UK

People who wear white socks cannot be trusted. I once knew someone who wore white socks and he was very sneaky. The Dutch Finance Ministry is absolute right to instigate a witch-hunt against sartorial criminals of this kind. If we tolerate white sock wearing, where will it all end? The world will go to hell in a hand basket, you mark my words.

Dutch deny 'war on white socks'
14 Jan 04  |  Europe


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