All You Need To Know About Pocket Squares

There can be times when your already dapper three-piece suit feels lacking. Does your tie match? Are the colors clashing? Do you need to cut down on the prints and patterns, or perhaps add a little more?

Any gentleman looking to elevate his suit game knows that a simple pocket square can take any charming look to the next level. So how exactly do you get started with men’s pocket squares?

What is A Pocket Square?

Accentuate every outfit with a pocket square
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Simply put, a pocket square is a small piece of fabric — typically about 16 inches in size — tucked into the breast pocket of your suit jacket. Pocket squares add some visual interest to an already smart outfit. The sliver of cloth that peeks from under your breast pocket provides a striking accent of color or patterns that enhances the overall look of your suit.

In the same way cufflinks add a simple but classy finishing touch, pocket squares are versatile accessories that can give your suit the statement piece it needs.

Differences Between Pocket Squares and Handkerchiefs

You might think that a pocket square is just a fancier handkerchief. In actuality, the two are significantly different. What’s so special about pocket squares when you’ve already got handkerchiefs?

Function

Whereas a pocket square is more decorative in nature, a handkerchief provides more functionality. Handkerchiefs are often stored either in the pocket of your dress pants or the inside of your jacket pocket. They’re usually used for personal hygiene purposes, like wiping off the sweat from your face or blowing your nose should the need arise.

Apart from looking good, pocket squares are functional too
Photo by Hardini Lestari on Unsplash

On the other hand, pocket squares are a part of your overall outfit. They’re much daintier than your typical handkerchief as they’re more for show than anything else.

Fabric

Silk and linen remain to be popular choices for pocket squares. As these materials are more lightweight, they won’t weigh down your breast pocket nor add any unnecessary bulk. There’s also the option to go for thicker fabrics, such as wool and lightweight cotton, though you might have to compensate for their thickness by opting for a smaller size.

Pocket squares are mostly made from cotton, but can be made from other materials like linen and silk too
Photo by Big_Heart on pixabay

Lauded for their absorbency and durability whilst still maintaining softness, cotton is the fabric of choice for handkerchiefs. Though they can be made from linen and silk as well, handkerchiefs call for a material that can withstand several washes, what with their general state of being dirty at the end of the day. Cotton is also a considerably thicker fabric; while this makes them more durable, they can be too blocky to emulate the sleekness of pocket squares.

Size

In general, pocket squares are much more convenient to fold if they’re smaller in size. However, for silk pocket squares in particular, going any smaller than 16 inches could result in the fabric slipping down inside your breast pocket due to the delicate nature of the material. For cloths on the heavier side, such as the aforementioned wool and lightweight cotton, sticking to fabrics that are around 12 inches will suffice.

Size shouldn’t be much of an issue for handkerchiefs, especially if they’re being kept in the pocket of your trousers. Go for whatever size is comfortable for you. More importantly, choose a handkerchief size that suits your needs and preferences.

How to Wear a Pocket Square

Colors

While you might think matching the color of your pocket square to that of your necktie will make your outfit more cohesive, in actuality, a more harmonious outfit is one that features different pieces that complement each other. When it comes to pocket squares, mixing colors is better than matching them.

For a classic option, choosing a white pocket square can be your safest bet. It’s a no-fail choice that goes with any jacket and tie combo of any color or print. Neutral colors, like grays and browns, are also a popular choice for when you want to be a little more understated with your pocket squares.

If you’re looking to dive into the more colorful side of pocket squares, it’s important to pick a color that complements your suit and tie of choice rather than simply matching with it. Choose a secondary color from your shirt or tie and go for a square that incorporates that color.

Meanwhile, a pocket square in the complementary color of your suit or tie adds some great contrast without being too overwhelming. It might be considered a little bold for some, but if you’re on the more daring side, then complementary color schemes are going to be your cup of tea.

Prints and Patterns

A little pattern goes a long way
Photo by tookapic on pixabay

Pocket squares come in a variety of prints and patterns. It can be exciting to choose from such a vast collection, but incorporating pocket squares that feature bold prints and loud patterns calls for a little more constraint. Be sure not to overdo it; avoid mixing loud patterns between your suit and your square. If your shirt sports a bold print, then balance it out with a more subtle square.

Once you’ve settled on a pocket square with a pattern or print of your choice, you can then build the rest of your outfit around it. A monochrome suit can be a handsome choice to make your pocket square the focal point of your look. Alternatively, pocket squares in flamboyant prints can still bring harmony to a look so long as they’re in a color that complements your suit.

When to Wear a Pocket Square

Formal engagements can be the best opportunity to show off your pocket square. After all, pocket squares are an effortless way to dress up your suit. They’re also great for when you want to add a bit of pizzazz to your look through a splash of color, texture, or print.

How to wear a pocket square
Photo by The Lazy Artist on Pexels

Want to lose the tie? A pocket square can make for a refined alternative to a necktie. Whether you’re donning chinos or even jeans, so long as you’ve got a blazer on you, adding a pocket square can instantly add some formal elegance to an otherwise casual outfit.

How to Fold a Pocket Square

Folding a pocket square depends on what kind of look you’re going for, as well as what the occasion calls for. Considering the extensive amount of pocket square folds there are, it can be a little overwhelming to know what kind of fold works for you. Some of the more popular pocket square folds can be worn in a variety of occasions, whether it be at a wedding or for an office setting.

Learning how to fold a pocket square can be pretty daunting for newbies. Fortunately, even the simpler pocket square folds can be classy and worn for both formal and informal gatherings. Here are some of the most popular ways of folding a pocket square to get you started.

Presidential Fold

Presidential Fold
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  1. Lay your square flat.
  2. Fold the square in half, or to the width of your breast pocket if your square is on the bigger side.
  3. Fold up from the bottom to form a rectangle, leaving the front side about half an inch longer than the back.
  4. With the edges facing up, tuck the folded fabric into your pocket. The longer side should be the only part peeking out, providing a crisp strip of cloth that runs parallel to your breast pocket.

One Point Fold

One Point Fold
Photo by Lucas Souza on Pexels

  1. Lay your square flat.
  2. Fold the square diagonally down the middle, making a triangle.
  3. Fold the left corner inwards about one-third of the way.
  4. Repeat step three for the other corner.
  5. Place the bottom fold into your pocket, leaving only the triangle point upwards and visible. Having about half an inch of the top half visible will suffice, but you may want to adjust it according to your preference.

Two Point Fold

Two Point Fold
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  1. Lay your square flat.
  2. Fold the square diagonally down the middle, but make sure to angle the fold slightly off-center so that it is asymmetrical and creates two points (versus the One Point Fold’s singular triangle point).
  3. Fold the left corner inwards about one-third of the way.
  4. Repeat step three for the other corner.
  5. Tuck the bottom fold into your pocket until the vertical folds are no longer visible. Only the two triangular points should be peeking out from your pocket.

Puff Fold

Puff Fold
Photo by The Lazy Artist on Pexels

  1. Lay your square flat.
  2. Pinch the center of the square with one hand.
  3. With the center still pinched, use your other hand to fold the points of fabric behind the “puffy” part of the square.
  4. Tuck it into your pocket, making sure only the rounded part of the square is visible from your pocket.

Scallop Fold

Scallop Fold
Photo by DQT.co.uk

  1. Lay your square flat.
  2. Fold the square diagonally down the middle.
  3. Fold the triangle in half again.
  4. Curl one side of the doubled corners in and downward. Make sure to curl it, not fold.
  5. Repeat step four for the other corner.
  6. Tuck the triangular part down into your pocket, making sure only the top curves are visible. All straight edges should be hidden away in your pocket, leaving only the rounded “scallop” shape peeking out.

Now that you know how to fold a pocket square, dressing for the occasion will become less of a challenge. As you continue to experiment with patterns and colors and even folds, pocket squares will eventually become a fundamental piece of your wardrobe. More than just a mere slip of silk or linen, pocket squares are a staple accessory for every gentleman. Who knew such opulence and sophistication could come from a square piece of fabric?

Mr Maxim
Mr Maxim is your go-to guy for all things men's lifestyle. If you need help getting your mojo together, Mr Maxim has all the tips you need to survive as a modern man in the 21st century.

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