top of page

Should I Wear Socks with Barefoot Shoes?

One foot with sock. Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes?

Table of Contents:


If you’re new to the barefoot shoe world, you may have entertained the question of whether or not you should wear socks with your new minimalist shoes. And if you’re on the journey toward a maximally barefoot lifestyle, ideally you want to work toward being ABAP (as barefoot as possible) as often as possible.

Contrary to what you might think, socks can actually have a negative effect on proper foot function. Our feet thrive on external stimulation, and wearing socks can mute all those amazing nerve endings (all 200,000 of them!).

They can also squish our toes together, which could defeat the purpose of wearing a shoe with a wide toe box. With our toes constricted by tight socks, they’re prevented from achieving their full range of splay.

This means that, ideally, you should try to ditch your shoes (even barefoot shoes!) whenever you can!

Alas, we live in a world where we must occasionally don footwear. Whether it’s winter and you don’t want freezing feet, or social customs call for shoes, sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet and cover your feet.

When you must wear shoes, if you can get by without socks, that’s probably best. (That’s what I prefer when I can get away with it.)

But if cold weather or a propensity for smelly feet require that you wear socks, read on for some practical and foot-healthy options.

Reasons to wear socks:

  • For warmth

  • To avoid blisters

  • For extra padding

  • Your feet will stink up your shoes in no time flat

If you choose to wear socks for any of the above reasons, you want to consider whether or not your socks will inhibit the purpose of barefoot shoes, which is allowing your feet to function as they would if they were not in socks or shoes at all. Unfortunately, most socks were designed with shoe-shaped feet in mind rather than healthy-human-shaped feet.

Some solutions to this particular dilemma are:

Wearing Toe Socks

Should I wear Socks with barefoot shoes? Toe socks

If you can get used to the feeling of each little piggy being encased in its own blanket, toe socks are a great option for you. For obvious reasons, they allow your toes to splay out naturally without restriction. You can even wear your Correct Toes over top of them!

Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes? Correct toes with toe socks

Injinji is a popular, high quality (but high priced) toe sock. I’ve found an alternative on Amazon that’s less expensive but still pretty durable.

Toesox is a very cool brand with a ton of different varieties to choose from. Plus, they’re made with antimicrobial silver ion to keep your feet totally fresh!

Knitido+ is a quality brand that I love, with a great selection of toe socks. Something from this brand is always on my Christmas list.

There are many other options for toe socks - too many to list here! But if you love a brand I didn’t mention, please comment below to share the love!

Wearing Tabi Socks

Tabi socks are a traditional Japanese sock that have been adopted by barefooters who don’t want to give up sandal wearing when the weather turns cold. These socks are similar to toe socks, but with just two pockets - one for your big toe, and one for your other four.

Whether you want to wear these with sandals or in shoes, tabi socks allow your toes the freedom you require!

Check out Earth Runners, Luna, Tabio, and of course, Amazon.

Wearing Correct Toes Inside Regular Socks

One of my go-to solutions for the sock-in-barefoot-shoe dilemma is to wear my Correct Toes inside of my conventional socks. This ensures that my toes can spread out even though the conventional sock makers haven’t been thoughtful about my foot’s desire to splay.

Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes? Correct toes inside socks
Left foot with Correct Toes, right foot without

Foot Friendly Socks

Be Lenka Barefoot socks. Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes?
Be Lenka Barefoot Socks

You won’t find these at Target, but you can definitely find socks specifically made for barefoot shoe lovers that won’t negatively affect your splay. If you’re not into toe or tabi socks, these are a terrific option.

Foot friendly socks have a left and a right - just like your shoe. Which makes logical sense!

Recommended brands are Be Lenka, Icebreaker, and Feetures.

If you or a loved one are a knitter, anatomically correct socks would be such a fun project!

For the Ladies - Wearing Men’s Socks (if you’re a man, sorry bro)

If you're a smaller-footed person, you can just go ahead and buy socks bigger than you normally would. Here's a photo of my feet in my husband's socks without my Correct Toes:

I found that there was a bit of extra fabric in the heel, but it didn't really bother me. And there was no need for me to wear my toe spacers inside - there was plenty of space for splay.

If you're not up for the investment in a pair of Correct Toes to wear inside your regular socks, this is an excellent option.

Cut the Toes Off Your Socks

One thing I hate about wearing socks inside on hard flooring is the slippery factor. Ever since I've switched over to a barefoot lifestyle, I've relished the grip of my toes on the floor.

So when I cut the front off these socks, I was pleased to find that the grip I experienced with only my toes exposed was sufficient for walking around on hard flooring!

I also spent some time moving around my house and the neighborhood with these deconstructed socks worn inside my Unshoes. I found that the biggest inconvenience was actually getting the shoes on without the socks sliding up. But once I was able to get everything configured nicely, I surprisingly didn't experience any unwanted bunching.

Cut toes off socks. Unshoes Forager. Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes?

Other Considerations

Embrace your inner 80’s child and bring back the leg warmers. I absolutely love this option for winter months when I just can’t bring myself to put on a pair of socks. Leg warmers keep cold air from getting down into your boots, are sock-ish if you get the kind with a heel hole, and keep your toes totally free flowing.

These Knitido leg warmers are an absolute dream, and definitely my favorite brand. Toesox has some very cute varieties that I have yet to try (they’re on my list! Comment below if you’ve tried these!). And there are a ton of more economical options on Amazon.


To add some warmth and avoid the stink of going sockless, you could think about investing in a pair of shoes/boots with a wool lining.

Did you know that wool is naturally antimicrobial?? The stink-resistant properties of wool never cease to amaze me - from using wool as my baby’s cloth diaper covers to wool leggings to my wool-lined Wildling boots. The stuff just doesn’t get stinky!

The Magical Shoes Alaskan Boot, the BeLenka Winter Boot, and many Wildling Boots are wool-lined. (If you know of others, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!)

OR, for a more versatile and less expensive option, grab a pair of wool insoles. Softstar and Magical Shoes make wool liners. Wool insoles are an especially good option if you have low volume (smaller, with a lower arch) feet, and need a little bulk to help your feet fill out your shoes. If your feet are higher volume, consider sizing up your shoe/boot to make space for the insole or warm socks.

Be Thoughtful when Choosing Your Size

If you live somewhere that gets cold and you plan on using socks in your shoes or boots, consider sizing up to make sure there’s enough space to fit your wool socks while still allowing your toes wiggle room.

If you know you’ll only be wearing your shoes in the warmer months - either barefoot or with thin socks, pick your usual size according to the shoemaker’s sizing chart.

Reasons NOT to wear socks:

  • You don't need extra warmth

  • They squish your toes together

  • They hinder that “pure barefoot” feel

My personal preference is to go sockless in my shoes whenever possible, to maximize the feeling and benefits of being ABAP. I can usually get by with this without a problem!

My Magical Shoes Explorer 2.0 are very breezy, and much more ventilated than I expected when I bought them. This does mean that they aren’t as warm for cold weather adventuring, but it also means that I can go sans sock in the summer months without getting super sweaty and gross.

Should i wear socks with barefoot shoes? Magical Shoes Explorer 2.0

I do have luck sometimes without socks in my Xero Mika Boots. These boots are surprisingly warm and waterproof, and if it’s not sub-zero and I won’t be outside for long, I am absolutely fine without socks in these. (I plan on getting some wool insoles for these this coming winter)

Mary Jane’s are obviously meant to be worn without socks, and I do quite fine in this scenario for the most part. I would think that on a particularly sweltering summer day, my toes would get a little slimy, but in that case I’d just swap ‘em out for sandals.

Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes? Softstar Merry jane

I’m almost always barefoot in my Unshoes Foragers. These shoes are awesome as a house slipper and as a slip-on for errand running or child pick-up. They come with a comfy insole that adds a bit of cushion and makes them extra cozy feeling. I think I’d wear socks with them on a super wintry day, but for three out of our four midwest seasons, I do fine without socks in these.

Should I wear socks with barefoot shoes? Unshoes Forager


Although they can dull your senses and squash your toes, socks are sometimes a necessary evil for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for those days when you just can’t get around it. You can:

  • Wear toe socks (with or without Correct Toes)

  • Wear Correct Toes inside regular socks

  • Get wool-lined shoes

  • Use wool insoles

  • Wear men’s socks (for the smaller footed among us)

  • Cut the toes off your regular socks

Ultimately, the decision to wear socks or not is totally your call, and will probably vary depending on the day and the circumstances. I would love to hear more about your sock-in-barefoot-shoe journey, and any wisdom you’ve gained along the way!

Do you have any other hacks for being ABAP in your barefoot shoes?

What are your favorite barefoot shoes to wear without socks?

Let me know in the comments!

Your Barefoot Guide,




Hey, I'm Kim!

I'm so happy you're here.

I believe that your feet are the foundation for full body strength, and living a barefoot lifestyle is key to moving through your years with joy and freedom.

Join me as we live our best barefoot lives together.


bottom of page