Get the Bare Ankle Look (While Keeping Your Feet Fresh)

It's a rakish look, but requires some safeguards. Here's what works, and what doesn't, to keep sweat at bay.

Knowing the ins and outs of matching your socks to your outfit is one thing — but what about when you want to forgo the things altogether and rock the bare ankle look?

It's a sharp look for when the sun's out, but whether you're wearing boat shoes on the weekend or lace-ups at the office, there's a big tradeoff: sweaty, uncomfortable feet and a serious dent in your shoe's lifespan. At the end of the day, you want to be able to take off your shoes and not worry about the aftermath.

Talcum Powder

You can use either normal baby powder, or specially-formulated stuff that's geared towards this kind of use. The claims – cooling your feet, absorbing sweat as it happens, relieving itches, and controlling odor – all sound terrific. Problem is, we've found that in practice, it doesn't do much other than make your feet feel clammy.

Your feet are meant to breathe and perspire, and no powder is going to stop that completely. And once your feet do start to get damp, the powder turns gummy and uncomfortable. Also worth mentioning: if you go this route, be ready to get white powder all over your closet, and track it everywhere you go once your shoes are off.


You can give your regular antiperspirant a shot by rubbing it on the soles of your feet before you lace up, which is slightly effective but can leave your feet feeling slippery and grimy. Spray versions exist, but we found that they hardly work.

Absorbing Insoles

These multi-faceted additions can make your soles more comfortable while also getting rid of sweat and funk. But the cheap, rubbery ones have a short life span, aren't very comfortable, and won't do a ton of heavy lifting, so they aren't your best bet.

These Superfeet insoles, on the other hand, use felted merino wool that helps naturally wick sweat away and keep your feet cool. And they're layered on top of a supportive, shock-absorbing base, so they're really damn comfortable to boot.

Shoe Trees

We think you should be using shoe trees even in the dead of winter, since they maintain form and keep everything in tip-top shape. But they're especially important when your shoes start to take a beating from summer wear.

When you take your shoes off for the day, put in a pair of trees so that the cedar can draw out excess moisture and freshen up the insoles, helping to neutralize any lasting smell. If you don't have a pair and want a quick fix, you can get a somewhat similar effect by bunching up a couple dryer sheets and leaving them in your shoes overnight. Any offending odors will be easily soaked up.

No-Show Socks

Here's the very best option: socks that stay out of sight. You can slip them on quickly and wash them regularly. They’re easy, comfortable, reusable, keep your insoles from the abuse of going truly sockless, and most importantly, they get the job done no matter how hot it gets.

Just be careful to find a brand that works for you before you invest in a week's worth, since some (we're looking at you, cheap mall brands) use elastic that isn't tight enough, which causes the heel to slip down and bunch up. Taft Clothing makes some great ones with an extra pop of hidden style.

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