Opinion: Is It Time To Retire The 'Mankle'?

Some thoughts on the man-ankle, and whether we should put it away for good.

BY Sam Parker and Charlie Teasdale | Mar 28, 2016 | Shoes

'Mankle' noun (informal)
a man's bare ankle, especially when displayed for the purpose of fashion

The Collins Dictionary defines menswear's favourite summer portmanteau thus, but the question it can't answer is whether the look should be retired altogether after infiltrating British high streets for the past five or so years.

Here, Esquire writers Sam Parker and Charlie Teasdale debate the finer points before spring kicks in proper.


I get it. The mankle is the death rattle of the Don Draper phase, the hanger on at the sharp silhouette soiree, the personality pocket square of the bottom half and - as with all things fashion - the time has come to move on.

At London Collections: Men Spring / Summer '16, socks were back big time. On the runways they were paired with shorts and sandals by everyone from Margaret Howell to Lou Dalton to Christopher Raeburn. Between that and the omnipresence of billowing trousers and soft tailoring, the message from the fashion gods was clear: roll down those hems boys and put those ankles away. We've had quite enough.

All the same, I'll miss it. For although the portmanteau could hardly have been more eye-rollingly 'fashion', the look itself was pleasurable and refreshingly practical in a way style trends rarely are.

Being released from the tyranny of choosing socks during the hotter months – just buy 10 pairs of those invisible sneaker socks, and you were done – made dressing that little bit easier, while feeling the swirl of a cool breeze tickle the bottom of your leg hair felt at once life-affirming and somnolent: the very essence of summer.

And don't give me the 'aesthetic horror' argument either. Since when did the male form so offend we recoil at the sight of a joint? What next: wrists? When part of every man is secretly longing to rip his top off and walk around like our cavemen forebears better to escape the insufferable heat, baring a little ankle is a small but welcome liberation.

There is something, too, about the way a marked separation of trouser and footwear elevated the latter. Admiring your new pair of Stan Smiths or Jack Purcells as they dangled on the end of a fleshy plinth was pleasing in the same way a watch looks good with your sleeves rolled up.

Those celebrating the death of the mankle can enjoy feeling they are one step ahead of the game this summer, but I suspect when they peel their socks off at the end of the day there'll be a tinge of regret in there, too.

- Sam Parker



A portmanteau is rarely a signifier of quality, appeal or style. Take 'Kimye', for example. Any musical talent that one half might possess is cancelled out by the sheer lack of any discernable endowment in the other. And then there's such delights as 'Chillaxing', the 'Webinar', and of course, the 'Shart'. There are a few exceptions. We all like brunch, and no one can deny the glorious audacity of 'Sharknado'. But 'Mankle'? Well that definitely falls on the insufferable side of the fence.

It's a shame really, because there shouldn't be a stigma attached to men going sockless, but there is, so that's it now. If you ever dare to leave your socks out of the equation you can rest assured that some hilarious soul will point it out. "Breaking out the mankle today, are we? How very modish." Then passers by will overhear and wander over to get a peek, and pretty soon the entire staff of your office (and that of the adjoining building) will be cooing unapprovingly at the little gap between your trousers and shoes. You'll feel self-conscious; make your apologies and vow to only wear ski socks going forward. You wretch.

The reason it's become a point of discussion is because a few tasteless men fucked it all up and now we have to deal with their mess. They bust their ill-conceived mankles out in mid December. They were pale, hairy and sandwiched between shabbily rolled-up trousers and weather beaten black brogues. A terrible pairing, and proof that a bare ankle alone does not a stylish man make.

Had they held off for a few months, waited for their ankle to get a little colour, it wouldn't have been so bad. They could have worn nice white tennis shoes with cropped navy trousers, or matched suede loafers with their summer weight suit, or paired technical running shoes with ratty, rolled-up jeans and a white T-shirt. But they didn't.

If only they'd known that it's about proportion, colour and material. Neither the trouser nor the shoe should be too dark or heavy. Going sockless is a thing you do in the summer, so dress accordingly. They could have followed Tinie Tempah's lead (does the man ever wear socks?), or – like with most stylish queries – looked to the Italians. It would seem that all Italian men are taught how to dress sans-stocking at a very young age. Just single out any of the preening sprezzaturans that loiter outside Pitti Uomo every season and you'll agree.

But no, the man-ankle is ruined forever, so maybe it's better we just ban it, move on and save ourselves the ignominy. In fact, I'm going to lead the charge. If I see any of you with your ankles out I'm going to point, shout, and throw socks at you until you concede that it was all a waste of time, and your feet are cold.

- Charlie Teasdale

From: Esquire UK.