The pocket square has been a staple of men’s fashion for hundreds of years. Wearing a pocket square correctly can make your business or formal attire more stylish and sophisticated—wearing one incorrectly can cheapen your whole look. Pulling off a pocket square is all about learning how to fold and style the accessory in a way that complements your outfit without becoming a chintzy distraction.
EditChoosing a Pocket Square
- Start out with a basic white pocket square. White is a good color to start with because it goes with just about everything. It’s also less flashy, which can be helpful if you’re attempting to ease into the look. From white, you can move onto other unobtrusive shades like light gray, powder blue and khaki before introducing wilder colors and patterns.
- If you want to add some flair to a plain white pocket square, look for one with colored contrast stitching.
- You can model an ordinary handkerchief as a pocket square when you’re first trying out the accessory.
- Move on to solid colors. Pick out a pocket square in a bold shade that clearly stands out from your shirt, tie or jacket. That way, you’ll be able to make more of a statement, but do it subtly. Colorful squares have an eye-catching yet uniform look that won’t distract from the rest of your attire.
- Use a bright red or yellow square to offset a navy ensemble, or pair light colored summer suits with a pastel pocket square in robin’s egg, pink or lavender.
- A pocket square should complement the color of your shirt and tie, but not match them exactly.
- Create contrast with various patterns. On the more extravagant end of the spectrum, you have the option of wearing designs like stripes, polka dots or even vibrant floral prints. Patterns are popular among experienced pocket-square wearers because of their ability to instantly make an outfit look refined yet playful. They’ll need to be matched to both the color and pattern of the suit and other accessories.
- A paisley pocket square in may be just what you need to spruce up suits in muted hues like grays and browns.
- It’s best to keep busier patterns to a minimum, as too much can easily begin to look kitschy.
- Try out different fabrics and materials. Because of their light weight, cottons, silks and linens are perfect for warmer months. In the winter, you might consider trading in your basic square for a heavier one made from wool or cashmere. Switch up your go-to fabric from time to time to lend a little versatility to your formal wardrobe.
- Silk and satin squares have a luxurious look and feel that makes them suitable for virtually all climates and events.
- Different materials will have different textures, which is worth keeping in mind when picking out a square to match your clothing.
EditStyling a Pocket Square
- Match the color of your pocket square to your attire. Like other accessories, the color of your pocket square will contribute to the overall effect of your outfit. Pull together shades that blend naturally to the eye. Create depth by pairing a dark suit with a square in a lighter hue, or a muted ensemble with a bold or contrasting color.
- Colors that are similar but not identical tend to clash, which can result in a disorganized look.
- It’s a good idea to pick out your outfit first before deciding which tie, pocket square and other accessories will go with it best.
- Wear complementary patterns. If you’re decked out in multiple patterns, it’s a good idea to make sure that they’re different enough to keep from being jarring. That way, the large, uniform pattern on your tie won’t have to compete with the small, intricate one on your pocket square.Your safest bet is to go with a different design for each of your major accessories, or at the very least a different size or color scheme.
- A gingham pocket square, for instance, will be a bit much set against a pinstriped suit, but will look right at home on a solid one with a lightly textured tie.
- Avoid matching your pocket square to your tie, or to the suit itself. If you’re going to coordinate it with another article of clothing, it should be your shirt.
- Choose a fold that’s appropriate for the occasion. In general, you should go with a fold that you like and think looks good. However, there are times when one style or another will be preferable. Certain folds, like the three-point or crown fold, are better suited to formal settings. The square fold, basic double peak and other simple folds, on the other hand, are more versatile and can be worn to just about any event.
- The fold you use should be dictated by the image your attire presents as well as where you’ll be wearing it.
- One important thing to keep in mind is that a fold that’s too fancy can actually become a distraction.
EditFolding a Pocket Square
- Create a quick pocket puff. Lay the pocket square flat and pinch the center of the fabric with your thumb and forefinger. Lift the square straight up, bunching the loose ends together with your other hand. Fold the ends over and insert the square into your pocket to leave about two inches of the rounded edge billowing out.
- Don’t worry if the pocket puff comes out looking a little loose. This is a casual fold, so it’s not supposed to be perfect.
- Alternately, you can wear the puff inverted (sometimes referred to as a “crown fold”) so that the corners of the loose ends poke out the top of your pocket.
- Start with a simple square fold. Place the pocket square against a flat surface with the upper and lower edges level. Fold the square widthwise across the middle, then again lengthwise from the bottom, leaving only a thin strip exposed at the top. Slide the square into your breast pocket to complete the look.
- The square fold is also sometimes known as the Presidential fold. It is generally thought to be the most professional way to wear a pocket square.
- A square fold will look best with pocket squares in solid colors, or those with neat, subdued patterns like stripes or dots.
- Move on to a one-point fold. Set out the pocket square in a diamond shape. Fold it neatly in half from the bottom so that the top and bottom points are aligned. With the resulting triangle, fold the left and right points inward to the center to make the square small enough to slip into your jacket.
- Double check that the folded points are perfectly centered—there should be no overlap whatsoever. Be careful not to be too rough with the square as you fit it into your pocket.
- The one-point fold is one of the quickest and easiest methods of wearing a pocket square. It’s uncomplicated yet sleek enough to be worn in a business setting or for most formal events.
- Form a two-point fold. Begin with the square lying flat in a diamond shape. Fold the bottom point up at a slight angle so that it ends up in line about an inch beside the top point. Crease both side points over and smooth the square before placing it in your pocket. You should end up with two identical peaks side by side.
- This fold can be a bit tricky to get right. You may have to give it a couple test runs to achieve a neat, symmetrical outcome.
- It will be easier to form natural-looking folds that hold their shape with a soft, flowing fabric like silk.
- Show off a three-point fold. Starting with the square in a diamond shape, fold the bottom point up and slightly over to one side so that it’s positioned just next to the top point. Then, take hold of the squared point on the side you just folded and bring it across to the opposite side of the top point. Tuck the remaining side point behind the other folds and carefully fit the square into your suit pocket.
- Folds with three or more points provide an air of suave sophistication that will turn heads at high-profile events.
- Solid colors and simple patterns tend to work best for multi-point folds. If you’re not careful, a more complex pattern may clash with the intricate design of the fold.
- The most important thing to remember about a pocket square is that it’s an accessory. Like any other accessory, it should be used to bring your outfit together, not hijack it.
- A pocket square is an excellent way to inject a bit of personality into formal attire without making it too tacky.
- Almost any square piece of fabric can be used as a pocket square, as long as it’s the right size to sit comfortably in your pocket without bunching or bulging.
- For black tie formal events, silk is the only acceptable way to go.
- Don’t be shy about experimenting with different folds, fabrics and patterns until you find the one that suits your individual style.
- Iron your pocket square before wearing it to make sure the edges are clean, precise and stay neatly folded.
- Build a collection of different pocket squares so you’ll always have one that goes with what you’re wearing.
- Pocket squares should always be worn in the breast pocket of a tuxedo, suit jacket, or vest, never a dress shirt.