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Can winter socks be both warm and dressy? Add to ...

The question

What to do about socks in the winter? I have to wear good shoes to work, so I can’t wear thick wool socks. Or can I?

The answer

Ah, the intractable Canadian problem: Winter and finery are basically incompatible. It’s true that a pair of heavy, fuzzy wool socks will jar any suit out of its seamless respectability (especially if they are light grey and have a red stripe at the top). Thick socks don’t match a suit’s silkiness.

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But there is wool and there is wool: It’s easy to find fine knitted wool socks that are as thin as cotton. You just have to try to balance warmth and unnoticeability.

But here’s a trick: You can buy, at outdoor stores, very thin polypropylene athletic “sock liners” – basically nasty synthetic socks that you wear under your presentable ones. The high-tech fabric wicks moisture away from your skin and into the outer sock. They are not uncomfortable and actually work magic when it comes to keeping your feet dry and warm – you can pass, with these two layers on, between toasty offices and slushy streets without freezing and sweating.

These things cost about $10 a pair (I like a brand called Wigwam, available at Mountain Equipment Co-op). And no one will see them under your elegant charcoal cotton-silk socks.

Novelist Russell Smith’s memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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