So, This Is Why Gen Z Think That Ankle Socks Are Cringe

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If you’re a millennial like me, you probably think one of the biggest cardinal sins of fashion is wearing anything other than ankle socks with trainers. Ankle socks being ones that often barely show above the rim of a trainer, are designed specifically not to be seen, are a MUST if you’re wearing trainers, right?

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that is now considered to be cringe. The worst possible thing a person can be, really.

Gen Z have been playfully poking fun at us croaky ol’ millennials on TikTok, saying they can spot us from a mile off just by the socks that we wear. Very funny, to be fair.


The socks say it all. 🧦 #fyp#foryoupage#genz#millennials#agencylife#socks

♬ original sound – Nathan Ellgen

Listen, I’m in my mid-30′s, I can accept that I’m not cool. The only thing that saved me from getting one of the moustache tattoos on my finger was a lack of funds and I can sing the entire Hamilton soundtrack without once pausing for breath. 

But, when did we collectively start to be considered cringe and why are ankle socks now such a faux-pas?

Yvonne Hay, Fashion Lecturer at Glasgow Kelvin College explained this change in dynamic and why it happens.

Why ankle socks aren’t cool anymore

Hay said: “We draw our fashion influences from the environments we grow up in, and fashion serves as a way for younger generations to differentiate themselves from older ones – constantly seeking reinvention.

That’s why we have such strong feelings of rejection or acceptance of particular styles. Social media and the advent of influencer culture has changed the way fashions are shared, followed, and rejected, and Gen Z has a bigger platform to digest and also showcase their thoughts and feelings on the latest trends. Take the skinny jeans debate around 2021 that was driven by TikTok, for example. ”

This makes a lot of sense. I do remember spending a lot of time making fun of 80s fashion as a teenager, thinking my generation were the ones who finally had it down when it came to style, only to look back 20 years later and wince.

Foundation on the lips, anyone? 

Why SOCKS though?! It just feels so strange?

Hay explained: “Let’s look at the difference between these two styles. Ankle socks are less visible, aligned with a minimalist aesthetic that draws more attention to the shoe.

“Crew socks can make a statement: they’re more visible, there’s space for brands and patterns, and they complement the shoe choice rather than drawing attention away from it.”

I will admit that in potentially cringe-millennial style, I do have a range of Snoopy ankle socks. 

Why crew socks are all the rage again

So, what is the appeal of crew socks beyond just rebelling against an unspoken millennial law?

Hay said: “Largely, Gen Z fashion is influenced by a strong sense of nostalgia for the early 2000s, 1990s, and 1980s – even though this generation didn’t experience those periods – which could explain the trend for crew socks.

“Streetwear has also influenced Gen Z fashion, and historically popular streetwear brands like Off-White and Stüssy incorporate crew socks as part of their looks.”

Interesting! I do love the Gen Z penchant for nostalgia. 

Hay added, though: “Ultimately, you should wear what you’re comfortable with: these trends move so fast that we will have forgotten about it soon enough.”

I think I’ll just stick to wearing a mix of both and taking the hit of being cringe, tbh.