When it comes to completing the dapper look, nothing says suave and sophisticated quite like a clean, neatly folded pocket square. The fabric flourish is a grand touch when it comes to accessories, which means that getting things right is essential.
Follow this simple, easy to use ‘how to’ guide for those formal, black-tie occasions when nothing but the best will do for your breast pocket.
Before we take a look at folding our pocket square, let’s start by examining what we’ll need.
Choosing A SquareThere are no set rules when it comes to ‘pocket squares’; theoretically, their construction can be made of any square-shaped piece of fabric you happen to have to hand.
More often than not, though, pocket squares are formed using silk handkerchiefs. Why? Firstly, handkerchiefs are easily available, uniformly shaped & styled, comparatively cheap, plus they fold easily. Secondly, they’re neatly finished around the edges for crisp corner. Lastly, the silk is luxurious and relatively easy to work with when forming.
If silk isn’t an option, a fine-spun cotton or linen will often perform the job just as cleanly without the added expense.
Selecting Your FoldThere’s no singular fold you must conform to. Just as with neckties, you’ll find a variety of options are available to you. Below is a selection of the more popular choices for you to take a look through.
A fold so simple your six-year-old nephew could make it. Leave ample time for tucking and tweaking with this fold; there’s a fine line between laid back and lazy, and the puff fold walks it with aplomb.
Lay your square out flat on the table; pick up the square from the centre and pull to a point. Fold the pointed end up to the ‘ruffled’ end and neatly tuck into the breast pocket.
A simple, elegant fold that peaks up out of your jacket, adding height to your torso area. A timeless classic, always fold the bottom up three quarters of the length for added rigidity so your pocket square doesn’t droop.
Fold your square into quarters. Position the square so it appears diamond-shaped and fold the left and right corners into the centre. Fold the bottom up three quarters of the length of the design to add stability. Tuck into the pocket exposing the top half of the design.
Another timeless classic. The square peeks out the top no more than half an inch – much more and it looks like a badly misplaced napkin. Don’t be tempted to simply fold into quarters; it won’t slip neatly into your pocket, plus it’ll sag or slide without the added support of the correct folds.
Lay your square flat on the table; fold the square over to the right. Fold over to the left ensuring the resultant rectangle is the same width of your jacket pocket. Fold the bottom up three quarters of the length of the design to add stability. Tuck into the breast pocket leaving half an inch exposed.
This is a beautiful, decorative fold that should be reserved for the most elegant of occasions; remember, it’s a highly ornamental fold, which will naturally draw much attention – don’t upstage your groomsman or special guest speaker with this design!
Fold the square roughly in half along the diagonal so the points don’t quite meet. Pull the two ends up and over far enough to make four points. Fold the edges in to match the width of your pocket. Pull up the bottom and tuck into the jacket pocket.
TOP TIP: Neatness counts with the multi-point fold, so ensure your lines are sharply defined and you practice in advance. You may want to ‘pre-fold’ several squares on the day and pick the best looking one for your pocket.
Colors & PatternsIf you’re wearing a black suit, then a white or light cream square should be your first and last choice. It’s classic, elegant and timeless. That said, you should never wear a pocket square to a funeral – it’s too flamboyant for such a somber affair.
Never match your pocket square to your suit or tie color; the lack of distinction is too bland. Nor, for that matter, should you find the most vivid, contrasting color available, void of any harmony.
Ideally, you’ll want to find an accent color, using a secondary tone on your outfit as a base. Use your socks or necktie as a starting point, but remember, don’t find a match too exacting – again, a lack of distinctive contrast feels amateurish, lackluster and leaves your outfit dull.
If you’re sold on patterns, you’ll need to use the same discerning eye as with color. Again, you want to choose designs that complement, but don’t exactly match, your outfit.
Things to RememberMake sure your pocket square is clean and freshly laundered.
There are few things worse than a crumpled, crusty square thrown into a breast pocket. If your pocket square has been sat in a draw for the past four years, it’s best to give it a quick freshen to avoid musty pongs.
There’s nothing wrong with using your square.
Feel free to come to the rescue with your pocket square if necessary; don’t leave a teary-eyed wedding guest weeping in distress. That’s assuming it’s a handkerchief you’re using of course – you might put a damsel in even more distress if your thin linen square happens to split or leak…
Make Once, Wear Once.
Don’t reuse your pocket square without laundering again first. Never refold and tuck back in once unfurled, you won’t be able to get those crisp lines back again without a good ironing beforehand. Put that square in a side pocket out of sight.