Properly Wear A Pocket Square - The Upscale Banker

Properly Wear A Pocket Square

Essential Tie Knots: How to Tie a Tie Reading Properly Wear A Pocket Square 8 minutes

Ever notice how the sharpest-dressed men all have pocket squares?

I have good news for you if you've been wondering if you can also pull it off; everyone can wear a pocket square.

The best detail is that you may wear one with any suit; you don't need to wait for an ideal occasion.

You simply need to understand the fundamentals of pocket square etiquette.

Here, we discuss the brief history, folds, and variations of styling for this distinguished accessory.

Let’s dive right in!

History of Pocket Squares

The use of the pocket square dates back to ancient times, just like many other simple and timeless clothing items. Some claim that the Greeks carried strips of fabric that were perfumed so they could cover their noses and block out the awful city smells.

Some claim that the first person to wear a pocket square was an Egyptian, who wore ornamental strips of red-dyed cloth as a sign of riches. The Romans also announced the beginning of gladiatorial fights using cloth resembling pocket squares. And much later, pious Catholics in medieval times displayed their religion by donning white handkerchiefs on their arms.

Another well-known tale attributes the invention of the handkerchief as an accessory to King Richard II of England. He was known for his elegance, which was almost excess, and he added vividly colored silk garments with elaborate embroidery to his vast wardrobe. 

The small ornamental cloths were originally used to clean his hands and face. Still, in the decades that followed, prominent members of European high society were seen wearing them on their clothing.

Louis XVI of France, who issued a royal proclamation requiring that every pochette created in France have a length equal to its width in 1784, is to be thanked for its design. And voilà, the pocket square.

Before we continue, let's be clear that a pocket square is not the same as a handkerchief.

What's the difference between a handkerchief and a pocket square?

In several ways, pocket squares resemble handkerchiefs. A handkerchief, often known as a hanky, is more useful. You can use these folded cotton pocket squares to blow your nose or wipe your hands and face; they are kept in an internal breast pocket. Contrarily, pocket squares are a fashionable addition to go with a tuxedo or suit.

When men realize how much they can stand out with a pocket square, one of their first questions is how to fold one. Let’s look at the three main styles.

Pocket Square Folds: The Three Basic Styles

It goes without saying that this is crucial (detail in picture below), but wearing pocket squares effectively requires more than just knowing the "official" guidelines.

Knowing how to wear them will help you get the best results. The good news is learning the ins and outs of pocket squares doesn't require a degree in fashion design.

The secret is to understand the three main pocket square folds and when to use each.

1. The Presidential Fold or the Flat Fold

Folding your handkerchief neatly into a rectangle the width of your breast pocket and placing it so that 1/4 to 1 inch of the square is visible above the pocket line is the safest, most traditional, and easiest method.

2. Puff Fold

Another common (and less formal) technique is to completely dispense with the square shape and hold the handkerchief so that it appears to pop out of your suit pocket.

This technique is most frequently applied to silk handkerchiefs with multicolored designs or distinctive patterns, such as polka dots or stripes.

A patterned pocket square can add a lively pop of color to your suit, preventing it from looking too formal or stuffy, as can sometimes happen with solid-colored accessories.

The Loose Square

The handkerchief is folded similarly to the traditional square, but the corners are purposely misaligned to provide a layered look that stacks each fold on top of the others.

The stacking of the corners reveals more color, while the foundation keeps it modest.

Optimal Pocket Square Coordination

Although they feel incredibly nice, pocket squares aren't just for the most formal occasions. They look well with both formal and informal attire.

The ideal fold, fabric, and even color should be used when wearing a pocket square. However, if done correctly, a pocket square will look good with any kind of ensemble.

Donning a Pocket Square with a Suit

Suits provide you with a lot of options for how to wear a pocket square. For instance, you can decide between solids and patterns, cotton or fine silk.

The most conservative choice for a pocket square when dressing for formal business would be a solid color or a very modest print folded in the presidential fashion.

The pocket square should be simple if your suit has a design. When you wear a suit, adding a pocket square makes you look more professional, detailed, and conveys responsibility and maturity.

You don't want to appear flamboyant in a serious business meeting. The incorrect pocket square color or fold will make you appear less authoritative.

When dressing for work, keep it simple, and save the fancy folds and designs for a night out.

Donning a Pocket Square with a Tuxedo

You must put on a white tuxedo shirt with your tux and a solid pocket square for the most formal occasions.

Choose a presidential fold if you want to take a conservative approach to your formal occasion. However, you have the option to make your fold a little more flamboyant.

For a tuxedo, you are also allowed to add a pop of color to your pocket square, but keep in mind that doing so will make your suit less official.

If that's okay for your occasion, experiment with a stunning jewel tone or a tiny, covert print.

Lastly, keep in mind that a pocket square is necessary to complete your tuxedo!

Donning Pocket Square in a Wedding

Weddings are the ideal setting for your suit to be both classy and imaginative. You can accessorize to reflect the event's playfulness while wearing your most stunning suit or tux.

You might wish to wear more conventional wedding clothing if you’re the groom. That also applies to pocket square designs and hues, particularly if the wedding is more formal.

For instance, if you decide to wear a tuxedo and a white shirt, a white pocket square can be the finest option to elevate your look.

It's the ideal occasion to experiment with patterns and folding techniques and relax your formal attire when attending a friend's wedding.

As long as you don't take the bride and groom's place in the spotlight, this is the time to be as audacious as you feel comfortable being.

Casually Donning a Pocket Square

For a night out with friends or a date, a casual blazer with a pocket square looks really dapper. With something as simple as this extra piece of fabric in your breast pocket, you will stand out from the crowd. It's the ideal method to improve your laid-back look.

If you choose to don a pocket square casually, you have a lot of leeway for creativity. You can play around with colors, try out some wild folds, and be as daring as you imagine.

To avoid a terrible collision, keep in mind that you must still follow the fundamental guidelines of fashion matching.

And Now: Break The Rules!

The pocket square, according to The Upscale Banker, offers a remarkably versatile accessory option, allowing contemporary men to express themselves and change up their appearance without having to spend money on additional suits and coats.

Get instant access to the accessories you need to turn your everyday suit into a power source!