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Like Paul Manafort, Knoxville attorney Greg Isaacs goes sockless in court, too

Greg Isaacs, a criminal defense attorney and founder of The Isaacs Law Firm, has built a two-decade reputation for going sockless inside his loafers.

Greg Isaacs was confused when he started getting about a dozen screenshots of the Paul Manafort trial courtroom sketches texted to him.

Then he looked closer at the sketches.

"I just laughed hysterically because it showed (Manafort) sans socks," Isaacs said.

This courtroom sketch depicts former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, left, listening with his lawyer Kevin Downing to testimony as Manafort's trial continues in Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 7, 2018.

Isaacs, a criminal defense attorney and founder of The Isaacs Law Firm, has built a two-decade reputation for going sockless inside his loafers.

What started as a practical choice has become a “streak of non-conformity” for Knoxville’s defense attorney.

A no-socks cult?

Manafort is on trial for bank fraud and tax evasion. The former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign (who also owns a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich) refused to wear his government-issue white socks because, according to his spokesperson, he doesn’t like white socks.

Isaacs said his disinterest in socks began for a more practical reason.

He “fanatically” works out at lunch every day and socks are one less thing to worry about. (He wears athletic socks when he exercises.) Now he finds it comfortable.

It’s become a calling card of sorts for Isaacs. Potential clients or other lawyers will call him — is he that lawyer who doesn’t wear socks?

Greg Isaacs, a criminal defense attorney and founder of The Isaacs Law Firm, has built a two-decade reputation for going sockless inside his loafers.

“(People) will come up and show me they're not wearing socks like it's a secret, no-socks cult, which I want to completely disavow,” Isaacs said. “There is not a cult of lawyers that wear no socks."

He’ll wear socks during a jury trial as respect toward them, he said. Only two judges ever requested he wear socks.

“I've actually had a past federal judge tell me that he would be disappointed if I ever wore socks," Isaacs said.

Socklessness: a faux pas?

Isaacs seemed to wear — or not wear, rather — this fashion choice as a badge of honor.

Esquire Senior Style Editor Jonathan Evans critiqued Manafort’s look, writing that white socks are “kind of a thing right now” and wearing them with loafers is cool.

I asked Southern clothing expert Roger Johns: Is not wearing socks a men’s fashion faux pas?

"I haven't worn a sock in 20 years, ma'am," he replied.

The sockless look, according to Johns, stems from the 1960s Southern prep look that began at Ole Miss.  

"I think it's really cool if you don't have socks on," Johns said.  

The preps followed “The Preppy Handbook,” a guide that sat on Johns’ dresser throughout his adolescence.

"The real, true preppy dresser did not wear socks with his penny loafers,” he said. “He didn't do that. That set him apart (as) a prep guy from just being a regular guy." 

A few caveats to the no-sock look. Trousers must be fitted properly and the length should be tailored so the ankles are visible.

Some of his clients who are barefoot-averse wear footie socks that don’t show.

And Johns will wear socks with his tuxedo, but it will not be a plain, black sock.

“If I'ma put a sock on, it's going to be something. If somebody looks down at my foot they'll (say) 'Whoa, that's handsome, that's really cool,’ " Johns said.

Stink factor?

This trend begs the question: Won’t your shoes get stinky without a sock barrier?

"Some guys' feet do sweat a lot, and it's a problem," Johns said.

He suggested putting shoes on a shoe tree at the end of the night to keep them in good shape and to sprinkle some baking powder inside to freshen them up.

As for Isaacs? He claimed his shoes do not get stinky.

"I've never experienced that," Isaacs said.

‘A small vestige of nonconformity’

Attorney Greg Isaacs, right, talks with his client Norman Eugene Clark before a hearing Jan. 6, 2016.

For Isaacs, going sockless is a way to stand apart from the traditional lawyer attire of a gray or blue suit and solid ties.

"It’s a little, small vestige of nonconformity that you can cling to,” he said.

His choice still garners “attention and tension” from people who don’t understand, he said. 

“Am I trying to make a professional statement? No,” Isaacs said. “Has it morphed into a professional fashion statement? Probably yes. Do I think it's just silly fun? That's my take on it."