The marker of a true gent, pocket squares are the ultimate finishing touch. With an illustrious history extending as far back as antiquity, they’ve long been symbols of class and elegance and the same still holds true today.
With a proliferation of designs and styles, the contemporary pocket square is more piece of art than anything else, top tier designers increasingly choosing experimental dying and printing techniques. However, this popularity has also led to the pocket square becoming ubiquitous.
This being the case, the question arises of how to distinguish oneself from the crowd? Here, we explain the difference between styles and the best way to model this elegant statement piece for maximum effect.
Wearing A Pocket Square With A Suit
For most, putting on a suit isn’t really seen as an opportunity to make a sartorial splash. In fact, it’s quite the opposite with it being all too easy to blend into a sea of navy and grey two pieces. Pocket squares, on the other hand, are the perfect remedy to the bland business suit and patterned pocket squares in particular provide opportunity to showcase your personal style – no matter how flamboyant or otherwise it may be.
With a personal predilection for paisley, we’ll start there. It can dress up a classic suit like nothing else and also works a treat with most ties. Regardless of what way you wear it, it’s bound to set you apart from the average punter.
If paisley isn’t your thing, look for bold geometric prints or graphics. These provide welcome relief from plainer suits and also break up a striped tie wonderfully. Suit Supply stock an enviable selection as do stores like Paul Smith.
In terms of styling, choose colour ways that compliment (note that this does not mean match) your suit. If you’re wearing navy, pink prints provide a pop of colour and look sensational paired with a plain white shirt. In a similar vein, if you’re wearing a grey suit choose warmer tones and bolder patterns that add a point of interest to your outfit.
Wearing A Pocket Square With A Tuxedo
Slipping on a tux is a great opportunity to experiment with plainer versions of the pocket square. An ivory silk kerchief will be a wardrobe staple you use time and time again. Look for a good quality one from the likes of Tom Ford or Mr Porter to complete your formal look.
If you’re really pushing the envelope, another option is a jacquard pocket square. Usually reserved for very formal occasions, these show stoppers are made from a stiffer fabric and work best when folded into a neat Presidential style. Adopt a less is more approach and show a sliver peeping out from the breast pocket for the ultimate finishing touch.
Wearing A Pocket Square With A Blazer
A personal favourite, the pocket square and blazer combo is a sure fire way to turn heads – whether it be at drinks or a day at the races. And this is one occasion where more is more. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold prints and colours – particularly if you’re working off a plain white or blue shirt.
If you’re heading to a more casual or summery affair, look at high quality linen pocket squares. The open weave of this fabric adds an element of Hamptons chic to most looks, particularly if you’re in a lighter coloured jacket. With heavier blazers, silk kerchiefs are your best bet. Try pairing a checked jacket with circular or floral prints to break up the geometry of the look.
It doesn’t just come down to the pocket square itself though when you’re sporting a blazer – it’s also in the way you fold it. Go for either a crown fold (this has three of the corners sticking out) or a casual fold – as per the gent in the blue jacket below. Both are relatively bold styles that look in keeping with this more laid back style.
Wearing A Pocket Square At A Wedding
Pocket squares are the ideal way to dress up a jacket to make it wedding ready. Pop on a pair of tailored chinos, navy blazer and white shirt, add in a bold kerchief and you’re ready to roll.
When it comes to choosing your pocket square though it’s helpful to keep in mind that not all versions are made equal. A proper kerchief should have a rolled hem on it, essentially creating the effect of an infinite edge. Where possible I also like to opt for pocket squares that are printed on both sides. Cheaper versions aren’t, and this can make them harder to fold, particularly if you choose a more casual style.
Finally, for the love of all that is holy, steer away from any jacket that has a kerchief pre-stitched into the breast pocket. The whole magic of this accessory is it’s something that can be used with a multitude of different looks. Don’t short change yourself with one that’s sub par.
Wearing A Pocket Square At Work
The pocket square you wear when you don’t think you need to be wearing one in the first place; plain kerchiefs are your go-to for a truly corporate style. Tom Hiddleston and Zac Efron are prime examples, using block coloured pocket squares and a presidential fold (that’s the square looking shape) for maximum impact.
It’s easy to overpower a perfectly good suit and tie combo with a bold pocket square but crisp white styles or versions with a coloured border provide antidote to this and level up your suit from the hum drum of the everyday. Look to style icons like Don Draper for cues on nailing a mod inspired look.
Given you’re likely pairing your kerchief with fabrics like tweed or wool, look at starchy cottons or more sumptuous silks. These fabrics are both hard wearing and look in keeping with a more structured, lined jacket.