How to wear knee highs: 6 Style Panel tips for braving the often risqué sock trend

Knee Highs Style Panel

Knee Highs Style Panel
Right: Photography by Esther S. Byun

Knee-high socks, the quintessential schoolgirl closet staple, have become a transitional piece in our grown up wardrobes especially when the temperatures dip. From thin nylon finishes to thick wooly textures, unpredictable weather poses no challenge to our sock drawer.

With the seasonal change calling for more coverage we look to knee-high socks to add a cool edge to our layers. Putting them on elicits a total Cher Horowitz flashback of pleated plaid mini skirts, block cell phones and electronically controlled closets. Le sigh.

So, how to wear knee highs without looking like a Britney redux? Style Panel is here to help. Becky Kung of Velvet & Vino wears thick wooly socks that add texture and warmth to fully covered legs on a snowy day. Mo Handahu of Lion Hunter uses lace-trimmed knee-highs to add just a touch of sex appeal to a comfy look. Lindsey Forest of Over My Styled Body adds conservative layers to her socks.

Question 77: Knee-highs are an ideal transition this time of year, yet a little scary depending on how you feel about your legs. How do you wear ‘em? Read the answers now! »


Knee Highs Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson, 19
Calgary | Amy Flying a Kite

Autumn is a wonderful time for wearing knee-high socks. It is like hot cocoa in the crisp morning and your favourite knee-highs were made for each other. I know these pictures appear as if it’s winter already but it was actually +15 and knee-highs feel very welcome in this weather.

My favourite way of pairing them with an outfit is to wear short dresses or skirts and to add lots of layers. The short length dress gives you the illusion of longer legs and the layers make you feel cozy and warm. I like to finish my look with combat boots or riding boots which keeps me from looking too dressed up and helps balance the feminine tones of the outfit.

With the addition of knee-high socks, you can wear all of your favourite summertime dresses without shivering or having to put them in a box labeled “Summer Wear.” Knee-high socks are a closet saver!

Amy’s wearing: Poncho, Value Village. Dress, Mod Cloth. Boots, Forever 21. Knee-high socks, Free People.

Knee Highs Mo Handahu
Photography by Esther S. Byun

Mo Handahu, 29
Halifax | Lion Hunter

I’ve always been a little hesitant when it comes to knee-high socks. It’s because I knew if I wore them, I’d want to pair them with a short skirt, which meant I’d be exposing a little more leg than usual. I also somehow had this silly notion that my thighs would be too big and the trim would just roll down.

However, never being one to let fear guide me, I went for it and even chose a racy lace-trimmed pair. I love how it turned out and see myself exploring different textures to use for the really cold months up ahead.

Mo’s wearing: Skirt, sweater, earrings and belt, Value Village. T-shirt and rings, H&M. Bag, Little Burgundy. Knee-highs, Walmart. Boots, Asos.

Knee Highs Leah Gust
Photography by Peter Chatterton

Leah Gust, 31
Toronto | Leah Says’

Knee socks are a great way to play up your style while adding another cozy layer. I don’t have amazing legs but I do love the trend so to strike a balance I layer knee socks over tights to make sure nothing unsightly is on display! Knee socks add dimension to a monochrome look and are at their best paired with a short skirt or shorts. I like to pair my socks with a heeled or wedge bootie to help lengthen the leg. If you’re not sure you have the legs for the trend, wear colour-matched tights and socks. You’ll get the look without drawing the eye to where the sock, sometimes unflatteringly, ends.

Leah’s wearing: Cape, Club Monaco. Top and shorts, Vintage. Tights and socks, The Bay. Booties, Kurt Geiger. Necklace, Aldo Accessories.

Knee Highs Nichole Alabi

Nichole Alabi, 27
Toronto | Nichole Alabi

Knee-highs are my absolute favourite fall transitional item! They are a cool unexpected piece to pull out when you are piling on the layers. I love to wear mine during that time of year right before we girls have to retire our bare legs for the season. Try them with a chunky sweater and other layering pieces like a cardigan, gloves and a scarf.

Nichole’s wearing: Necklace, Zara Necklace. Gloves, H&M. Sweater, Cardigan, skirt & knee-high socks, Boohoo.

Knee Highs Becky Kung

Becky Kung, 30
Calgary | Velvet & Vino

Everything over the knee seems to be so on trend this season, including the knee-high socks! The knee-high socks can be intimidating to some, however my favorite way of pairing these lovelies is in the practical means of adding warmth. I love to add the knee-high socks for an additional lining to my Hunter Boots and an extra layer over my jeans, just above the knee. So warm and chic!

Becky’s wearing: Coat, Bershka. Top, Target. Scarf, Unknown. Boots, Hunter. Knee-highs, H&M. Denim Jeans, Express. Satchel, Topshop. Faux-Fur Mittens, Winners.

Knee Highs Lyndsey Forest

Lyndsey Forest, 23
Edmonton | Over My Styled Body

Knee-highs can be a little tricky to pull off during any season. You can go from looking like the teacher’s pet to a naughty schoolgirl pretty quick! So to keep your look from ending up in detention it’s all about playing with proportions. If you dare to try the trend make sure to keep your bottoms at an acceptable length and the rest of your outfit on the conservative side. And if you’re looking to lengthen your limbs, keep your socks and shoes the same colour for a more streamlined look.

Lyndsey’s wearing: Socks, The Bay. Coat, Zara. Beanie & Scarf, Urban Outfitters. Skirt, Forever 21. Sweater and bag, J.Crew. Booties, Aldo.