Whether you’re a suiting pro or you’re just beginning to poke your head through the door, the pocket square is testament to the old saying that the (dapper) devil is in the details. It can lend sophistication and elegance to your outfit, completing a carefully thought-out look, or if executed poorly, it can leave you looking like a Las Vegas casino owner relic without any class. Here are some of our tips on choosing and styling the perfect pocket square.
Where Should I Wear A Pocket Square? Everywhere, actually. From weddings to work, dinner or a party, there aren’t many occasions that can’t be bettered by a pocket square. The real question is: which pocket square should you wear? They can be subtle full-stops on a conservative outfit, sitting neatly at the top of your jacket pocket as a sign or formality. Or they can be rambunctious statements, bursting with a colour and pattern as the statement piece of your look.
The How-To: Choosing Fabric & Formality The first consideration of your outfit should be matching the fabric of your pocket square to the formality of the occasion you’re wearing it to. For uber formal events, like your wedding or a black tie event, you want to select conservative and elegant fabrics - you’re probably looking at white, in cotton or silk. For work or play, you can have some more fun with colour and pattern, though a fine silk material is most common. For more casual events still, a cotton fabric with more colour and pattern is an appropriate choice, working well with the texture of sports coats and blazers.
The key to selecting the perfect pocket square lies in the way it complements the rest of your outfit. You don’t want the colour or pattern of your choice to compete with the rest of your outfit - it should subtly work with everything, without fighting for dominance. A white shirt, simple block-colour tie and classic suit will enable you to choose boldly, while more flamboyant selections in suiting fabric, shirt pattern or tie will mean you should keep to neutral colour and patterns. And, for the record, you should never match the colour of your pocket-square to your tie - they should work in cohesion, not unison.
How To: Folding A classic sharp edged fold is the most conservative and subtle of the ways you can wear your pocket square - think Don Draper in Mad Men. This is probably going to age the best, and is appropriate for wedding and black tie events. Just keep it slim and a little at an angle, to keep it interesting.
A casual puff or roll of the pocket-square is great for work and casual wear, particularly when the material is silk - it elegantly sits in the pocket with some Italian flair. Just ensure the pocket square extends all the way across the pocket and sticks out no more than a centimetre or two.
More accomplished suiting pros may choose to go bolder still, by playing with the corners of the pocket square (usually best with firmer cotton materials) so they extend outward. It’s worth looking to the pros for inspiration on this before you give it a whirl - it can take some practice to get right. The real experts even make sure the points of the fabric point toward the shoulder, to accentuate the wide shoulder of a traditional V silhouette.