Why Ankle Socks Are the Y2K Trend Gen Z Should Get Behind

Gen Z is coming for our ankle socks, and we're taking a stand. Find out why we're willing to die on this fashion hill.

Published June 3, 2024
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beautiful woman's legs in black socks

Watch one middle school bus unload, and you’ll notice crew socks as far as the eye can see and nary an ankle sock in sight. Crew socks are making a comeback, and kids are pairing them with slides, Jordans, and any other shoe you can think of. For all of their ribbing against millennials and Zillennials like me, I’ve got one thing to say to Gen Z — in honor of Regina George herself, you can try to make crew socks happen, but they’re never going to happen. At least, not again.

Crew Socks vs. Ankle Socks: Why Size Matters

If you haven’t heard about the latest fashion choice that Gen Z is dogging on their ancient millennial ancestors for, it’s wearing ankle socks. This is hilarious coming from the group of people that are single-handedly bringing back every bad Y2K fashion style I was convinced was cool as a tween. All that aside, let’s bring you up to speed on what crew socks vs. ankle socks are.

Crew socks usually range about 8-11 inches tall and hit just at the start of the calf muscle. Ankle socks either rest just above the ankle bone or snugly underneath it.

5 Reasons Ankle Socks Are Superior

short socks of gray, brown and blue top view

Ankle socks are superior, and I’m not afraid to say it. But for all you skeptics, I’ve got several reasons why they’re lightyears ahead of crew socks in every way.

They Don't Add Extra Bulk

I don’t know about Gen Z, but I grew up in the ultra-skinny jean generation. Though I’m so glad to have those days behind me, there are a ton of other form-fitting clothes whose styles are disrupted by crew socks.

Stretch fabrics show every lump and bump on your crew socks, and wider-leg pants can’t be tucked into them comfortably. At the same time, you can say goodbye to Capri-length pants because pairing them with crew socks will give you the patented Party City Founding Father’s costume in real time.

They Don’t Leave Marks on Your Skin

Ankle socks cinch around the base of your ankle, and because of the structure of your foot, they don’t need a ton of elastic to stay in place. Meanwhile, crew socks are usually ribbed to create the tension needed to stay in place.

My fellow bra wearers know how a long day of wearing a tight-fitting item can leave indentations and marks on your skin. Leave crew socks on for a few hours, and you’ll have wait a few more after you take them off for the neat indented rows to disappear. Quick day-to-night outfit changes aren’t on the crew sock menu.

Need to Know

Speaking of marks, you don’t see crew-sock proponents calling to bring back sock garters, despite them being a mainstay of the crew-sock ensemble. Hmmm. 

They Don’t Give You Awkward Tan Lines

Personally, I rock the most impressive two-strap Birkenstock tan line all year round. But one tan line that’s not as easy to cover up is a crew sock tan line. Crew socks hit just over the bottom of your calf muscle. And if you tan relatively easily, then you know it only takes a few weeks of wearing something consistently enough to start to tan around it.

Ankle sock tan lines are much easier to hide in your everyday outfits. So, if you still want to be a die-hard crew sock fan, I suggest investing in a lot of self-tanner.

Related: How to Whiten Socks: 7 Clever Hacks for a Brilliant Clean

They Trap Less Heat In

Unless you’re fighting against ticks on a backwoods trail, there’s no reason to suffer sweaty feet and legs. Crew socks — while often white — lock in way more moisture and heat than ankle socks do. Ankle socks let your legs breathe, while crew socks build up more sweat. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I shouldn’t be able to ring out my socks like a washcloth.

They Make You Look Taller

As someone with a long torso and shorter legs, the last thing I want is to make my legs look even shorter than they are. With ankle socks, you can elongate your frame and give a visual boost to whatever leg length you’re working with.

Meanwhile, crew socks cut you off mid-calf, serving to visually shorten your legs. Much like how Bermuda shorts make your thighs look like they go on for days, crew socks take away from your visual height by messing with your proportions.

How to Wear Ankle Socks in a Youthful Way

woman legs with socks posing in winter sitting on a couch at home

Let’s face it — no one looks at a pair of socks and thinks, “Oooh I just know these are going to look so flattering on me.” But, if you know how to properly pair ankle socks, they’ll do more work for your look than crew socks ever could.

Stick With Low Ankle Socks to Elongate Your Lines

Ankle socks are one of those weird articles of clothing that don’t have a super strict size guide. Companies will label both socks that hit well below the ankle bone and right above it ankle socks. If you want to really elongate your lines, choose lower ankle socks that dip beneath the ankle bone and just tease the top of the foot. You can grab a five-pack on Amazon for less than $15.

Wear Cushioned Ankle Socks With Boots

If you can’t wear ankle socks with your above-ankle boots, the problem isn’t your socks. It’s your boots. If your boots are made out of comfortable material, then you should have no irritation from wearing them without socks that reach the top of the boot.

But if there’s some friction along the ankle bone, wear cushioned ankle socks like these from Bombas, to create a barrier between the boot and your ankle.

Break Out Compression Ankle Socks at the Gym

Compression socks are helpful if you have circulation problems or want to improve circulation when working out. Forgoing crew socks doesn’t mean you have to give up on compression entirely. There are a ton of ankle socks with built-in compression tabs. For example, you can get a six-pack of unisex compression ankle socks for around $25 on Amazon.

Give People a Peek Into Your Interests With Fun Ankle Socks

As a proud ankle sock wearer, I can promise you that the only ankle socks I own have something fun on them. From Bioworld’s Universal Monsters pack to their Ghost Face socks, I’ve got quirky ankle socks for days. Where you can’t usually wear outlandishly patterned crew socks to corporate or service jobs, you can rebel against the dress standards with a mostly hidden fandom ankle sock.

Nineties kids like me will enjoy Bioworld’s 90s cartoons ankle socks, while others might want something sweet with these candy wrapper ankle socks.

Ankle Socks Still Reign Supreme

There’s a place and time for every kind of sock. While that time is few and far between for crew socks, it’s never-ending for our beloved ankle socks. And if you’re still holding out for crew socks, I’d like to take a moment of silence for your sweaty and compressed calves. May they one day know the freedom that ankle socks provide.

Why Ankle Socks Are the Y2K Trend Gen Z Should Get Behind