Beneath those stolid suits of blues and blacks are, increasingly, a pair of outlandish, colour-saturated, boldly patterned socks.
And those crazy colours and prints encasing ankles are serving as an entry point for men looking to create a more personal look through accessories.
"Socks are not as big a risk as a tie or tightly checked dress shirt," says Mike Peters, Harry Rosen's managing director for Western Canada. "It's a subtle way to express, 'I'm not a boring guy.'"
For the past two years, Peters has found more men paying attention to socks. It started with significant others picking out a colourful pair or two for the men in their lives; that slowly translated into men coming into the store on their own to look for something a little more interesting for their feet.
It's a safe way to ease into more daring sartorial choices.
"Rather than committing to a wild suit or crazy shirt, socks are a tame way to express some creativity and style. Lift the pant leg up and show you're living on the edge."
When travelling, Peters has found that looking down the aisle of the airplane reveals a sartorial secret: Men dressed in classic suits and colours are wearing bright orange bananas or geometric prints on their feet.
Todd Kipp, a Calgary filmmaker, has been wearing stylish socks since high school, embracing a desire to dress with personality.
"I've always liked lots of patterns, colours, argyles, stripes and polka dots," he says. "Now there are socks with robots on them."
While his own way of dressing reflects British mod culture and a bygone era when vintage silk scarves filled suit pockets and cufflinks adorned wrists, Kipp appreciates that more men are adopting a personalized style.
"It's taken 50 years to catch on here," he says. "It spices things up. It's who you are. Everyone has to work and (many) work in an office; you might as well have some fun while you're at it."
In decades past, more attention was paid to those defining details, says Peters, but starting in the 1980s there was a greater adherence to a stricter dress code.
"We've gotten off track with those accessories. Now they're back in a more lighthearted way," Peters says.
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2014