What Is the Appropriate Amount of Mankle?

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If a man's gonna display his ankle, he has to do it right.

Today The Cut published a post by Allison P. Davis extolling the virtuous beauty of the mankle, or man's ankle. The mankle, sort of the male's trendy summer-wear equivalent to the crop top, is the look that is created when a dude wears short pants and no socks. Allegedly, this is real sexy: "Women, gird your loins; carry extra hankies for all that drool. Mankles season is upon us," Davis writes. 

I am a straight man. As such, I am no authority on what women find attractive in a man. Maybe Ms. Davis is genuinely into ankles. But, I can say with the authority of a human being with eyes and a sense of how not to look like a ding-dong: the mankles look veers dangerously close to corny, and must be exercised with caution. 

Showing some ankle is not only acceptable, but encouraged. In summer months, socks should not be worn. Sockless freedom is the reward for enduring the brutality of winter. And most of the time, men's socks are terrible. White socks are a scourge and should always be avoided, and should be extra-avoided in the summer. There is no surer way to look like a tourist than combining white socks with shorts. Calf-high of course, but even ankle-high is bad. Socks-and-shorts should never be done. So no white socks, no socks with shorts. But from there, it gets a little more complicated. 

The trend for men's pants is, like a military haircut, high-and-tight. Dudes are out here walking around with pants rolled up or even tailored up to the base of the calf. Homeboys are showing off leg hair like they've been cultivating a beard down there. All that's missing from this highwater look is a fishing pole. I call it the Huck Finn look. 

There are three problems with showing this much mankle: 

1. It leaves a man's Achille's tendon susceptible to attacks from ticks and bugs/rabid squirrels/Evil Dead.

2. It makes a man look like a capri-wearing, George Washington's knickers-legged, Urkel-waisted goofball.

3. It shows mindless devotion to trend following. Because here's the thing: the only men who look like menswear models are menswear models. Even if they aren't models, they get conscripted into it. Regular-ass dudes like you and me don't have the legs for mankle display. 

So where's the balance? How does a fellow go sockless without looking like a yokel on his way to go a-fishin' in the crick? How does a regular-ass guy show he knows about his mankles while simultaneously showing that he's not a menswear clown? It's actually very simple. Your pants should hit at the very top or juuuuust above your shoe (obviously, the socklessness only works for low-top shoes. If you've got Kamikazes on, wear socks). This way, when you sit down, some ankle shows. Even if your legs are uncrossed, a sliver will peek out. And that's all that's necessary. Leave some mystery. Because as the saying goes, "mystery is the brother of dignity."* 

Of course, as in all things, wear high pants if you want. No one cares. As my exquisitely fashionable colleague Wesley Bonner said to me, while he disagreed with me about mankles, "you can wear your pants any way you like cuz this is Merica."

*it's not a saying, I just made it up.

Image via skjackson

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