'A Star is Born' Weighs in on the No-Show Socks Debate

Bradley Cooper's Jackson has an opinion.
IMAGE Warner Bros. Pictures; Glue Store

Few articles of clothing have been quite as contentious in modern menswear as no-show socks, those tiny not-exactly-socks that just barely wrap around your toes and end right before your ankle. They've also been called loafer-liners, ankle socks, and socklets; and they exist for a simple reason: Some guys want the comfort of wearing socks without actually looking like they're wearing socks.

As the breezy bare-ankle look became a thing at the start of the decade, no-show socks became popular among men, and the internet's menswear pundits were torn about them. There's a side of the aisle that despises these tiny foot-condoms—a traditionalist side that believes no-show socks are shameful, and have no place in a man's wardrobe. But there's also a side that sees nothing wrong with no-show socks, and instead embraces them for their sweat protection and overall practicality.

Of course, no one's necessarily right or wrong about this, because, well, these are socks we're talking about here—not senatoriables. But the sock-shaming divide exists nonetheless, and has been the reason for many contemptuous sidelong glances in the boardroom of your office after someone fixes his legs de quatro.

One of the more surprising entrants into the no-show sock wars is A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper's directorial debut and a movie-of-the-moment that will very likely figure into the next Academy Awards. At one point deep into its plot, the movie makes an unexpectedly articulate point about no-show socks in a passing moment of dialogue.

(Minor spoilers ahead.)


Towards the final act, music producer Rez (played by Rafi Gavron) visits Jackson (Bradley Cooper) for a tense confrontation. But before the confrontation itself, some small talk. Jackson glances at Rez's loafers and asks why he's not wearing any socks, taking a tone of contempt. Rez then explains that he's wearing no-show socks, to which Jackson replies with disapproval. He just doesn't understand why a guy would wear socks like that.

It's a brief moment of dialogue between the two characters, but it feels so deliberately written and purposely placed that as a viewer, you can't help but feel like it carried real weight. Jackson, the old-fashioned, midwestern virtuoso who values authenticity above anything else—chastises Rez, the business-minded record label executive who foregoes authenticity in favor of marketability; and Jackson chooses to do so first with a thinly-veiled attack on Rez's socks.

It's as if the film used no-show socks as a metaphor for Rez and the heavily commercialized music industry that he represents. It's as if the film meant to characterize Rez through his socks by pointing out that both deal in some level of farce.

To the old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud (in this case, Jackson), no-show socks are cop-out options for a man who wants the stylishness of bare ankles without having to endure what it traditionally demands: sweat, dirt, stink. Rez, on the other hand, doesn't mind that his socks are solely about appearances, just as he doesn't mind producing vapid, meaningless music by an all-about-apperances artist. The film seems to imply, then, that no-show socks are shallow, expedient, and inauthentic.

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Of course, this is the film's point of view—and it certainly shouldn't stop anyone from comfortably enjoying bare ankles. If nothing else, it's something to think about the next time you want to wear your loafers out.

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