Disclosure: these items were a personal purchase from a shop I like immensely. I did not receive compensation to write about this retailer.
I’ve always been intrigued by sock garters. They turn up from time to time in movies, as an accessory that serious men wear under their stuffy suits. Sock garters are traditionally a men’s garment (worn with kilts or suits), but they look particularly great on women. Like a men’s white button-down shirt, there’s something powerful and sexy about co-opting that little bit of masculinity.
But how do you actually wear them, you ask? I didn’t know either, so I decided to test out both buying and styling a pair. First, I had to find some garters. You can buy them at a retailer, or you can make your own. Here’s where I’d buy:
SWAN Clothing is the brand that made sock garters cool again. They closed temporarily in January, but they’re open again with a small selection of innovative garters, like this awesome rosebud garter complete with thorns. Ultimately I decided I was too clumsy to have anything that sharp right on my bare thigh, so I had to say no. But you don’t have to!
Crumpet Clothing has a few different sock garter designs, all very cute. But I wanted something a little more basic that I could style in a few different ways. They are amazing and adorable though, especially if you’re looking for a very feminine pair.
This pair of garters from Sock Dreams was just about right for what I had in mind: simple, streamlined, elegant.
But then, of course, I remembered that I live right down the street from my favorite vintage shop, so I went there and picked up a pair. What can I say? I love instant gratification. If you have a local vintage shop and are impulsive like me, you may want to check there first. They’ll usually let you try before you buy, too.
I bought a black pair, which I later found out is made by the brand Suspender Factory. They sell online for around $6. I got mine for $8, but I didn’t have to pay shipping, so yay! If you like online shopping, you can get a similar pair here.
Once I got them home, I began phase two: actually putting the garters on.
I found that they were a little tricky to adjust, and I got pinched a few times by the elastic in the process. But once I got the hang of it, I could set them up to hug my calves or my thighs. The one caveat: this pair has to grip your leg pretty hard in order to keep your socks up–and I suspect other sock garters would as well. If you don’t like feeling squeezed, a regular garter belt is probably a better choice for you.
Overall, I found this particular pair pretty comfortable and versatile. I tried them with an outerwear look, and they did a good job of holding up some looser thigh-high socks I have, solving a years-long problem of Sock Slippage:
I think they worked better with the second pair of “socks” I tried, which were made from a pair of old tights (a suggestion I got from SWAN Clothing’s site!) I normally feel kind of uncomfortable in conventionally feminine lingerie looks, so I paired them with the aforementioned men’s shirt and my only pair of high heels. I think they ended up looking pretty sexy. It felt like a look worn by an tough business lady. Or an accountant with a secret wild side.
Overall, I like sock garters better than I’ve liked traditional garter belts: they’re a little more unexpected and definitely more convenient. I could see them looking good styled with a big t-shirt for slightly fancier laying-around-the-house, or with some of the strappy lingerie that’s everywhere right now. I’m thinking of trying some other pairs now that I have these figured out. Sock garters: they’re available at a lot of price points, they look super sexy, and incidentally: they hold your socks up really, really well.
A final note: I tried wearing mine below the knee, but while they function just fine that way, I didn’t love that look on me. Readers: if you wear your sock garters low, tell us (or link us to a picture) in the comments! I’d love to see how you guys rock this offbeat look.