Cummerbunds, bow ties, sport jackets, suspenders, pocket squares, and shiny shoes. What do all these things have in common?
They're things you use when you're getting all dressed up to go to a formal event. At least, they are if you plan to be invited to the next one.
And since most suits and tuxedos are basic colors like black, gray, and navy, pocket squares give you a little pop of color and allow you o show off your personality when you otherwise look like the rest of the men there.
And if you don't care about that but someone in your life is demanding you get one, the guide below is for you too.
Learn how to fold a pocket square, how to pick the right pattern, and what brands to trust below.
History of the Pocket Square
Pocket squares go way back in time to the Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks. It was a sign of wealth to have a white handkerchief, which one would subtly display in their pocket to a. use and b. communicate their status.
A few thousand years later, it was used in both British and French courts as a fashion accessory, but also as a way to cover the mouth and nose to block out any smell.
During the eighties and nineties, when fashion became a lot more casual, pocket squares went out of fashion. But they came back in the 2000s with the cycles of fashion trends and, some people think, the popularity of Mad Men.
In some sub-cultures, like Fraternities, the trend toward preppy clothing and aesthetic has increased the demand for pocket squares as well.
How to Choose a Pocket Square
There are a few things to consider when choosing a pocket square, like material, pattern, and size.
There's no one standard size for a pocket square, so try out different things to see what you like.
While you don't want to shop in stores for pocket squares (they're much more expensive), it is worth visiting a store to feel the different material options and look at the sizes available.
Another option is to order a bunch of different pocket squares, try them out, then only keep the ones you like.
Materials to Choose From
Most pocket squares are made from either silk, linen, or cotton. Cotton and linen will stand up better when it comes to folds and structures, while silk will look classiest and catch the light.
Again, it's what you prefer.
Different brands offer different material selection. One brand may solely make silk pocket squares while another prefers cotton. Browse our selection to see what you have to choose from.
Picking the Pattern
Here's the most confusing part for most men, especially for the type of man who doesn't get dressed up often or sticks to basic colors: picking a pattern.
You want to choose a color that works with the suit you're wearing and ties into the tie or bowtie you'll add to the ensemble.
As a general rule, you don't want to put navy with a black suit or black with a navy suit.
Other shades of blue with black are fine, as long as they're not too dark - you don't want them blending into the black fabric.
Some people are against wearing brown with black, so keep that in mind as well when picking a "base" color for your pocket square.
Base and Accent Colors
Let's break down patterns for a minute. Base colors are like the background of the design or the color there is the most of. You should consider that the "main" color of the pocket square.
Accent colors are any other colors there are small amounts of.
You could get a pink pocket square with a green pattern, like a pink background with green polka dots.
Coordinating Pocket Square Colors
So when you have a pocket square with more than one color, you want to match at least one color that you're already wearing.
So if you were wearing a navy suit with a pink tie, you could get a pocket square with a matching pink somewhere in it.
The base color doesn't have to match, but there needs to be at least one pink accent to tie the whole look together.
How to Fold a Pocket Square
Now that you know more about pocket squares let's talk about folding them so you can finally show your new one-off.
There are three main types of folds.
The first is the classic fold, which is what it sounds like. You fold the pocket square like you would a napkin and place it in the pocket with the fold that holds everything together, facing the center of your body.
Then you have the presidential fold, which is the same thing except you want the fold that holds everything together to be at the skinny end, and you let that end peak out of your pocket.
Finally, there's the "puff" or "wad", which is seen as a more casual way to wear it. Instead of folding it all fancy, fold it smaller at least once, then grab the center of all the fabric (make sure you grab through all of the folds) and pull up.
Keeping your hold on the center of the fabric, stuff the remaining part of the pocket square in your pocket, and arrange the "pouf" or "puff" that was in your fingers however you'd like.
Shopping for Pocket Squares
Now that you know everything there is to know about pocket squares, including how to fold a pocket square, it's time to get one so you can try out your new knowledge.
You can shop for pocket squares here, so you're ready to rock your look for any party!