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The Ways of The Pocket Square

Categories Fashion

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It’s the male accessory that can add colour and personality to any suit or jacket… here’s how to wear the pocket square.

Like much in men’s fashion, the wearing of the pocket square by men was originally utilitarian. While even the Greeks and Egyptians wore pieces of cloth over their breast which approximated today’s pocket square (but were worn for other reasons, such as having a pleasing scent under the nose), as the two-piece suit with pockets for coins and other daily accoutrements gained currency through the 19th century, men decided to swap their handkerchief to their breast pocket to keep them pristine.

The basic rules on the formality of styles when wearing a pocket square were formed during this period and while they are still observed – i.e. a straight fold with Black Tie being more formal than a peak or four-peak fold – the contemporary way with a pocket square is much more about expressing personality through colour and pattern.

The pocket square went out of fashion for a number of decades, but has returned strongly as a male accessory over the past decade (even the hosts of The Footy Show wear them now!). The modern pocket square is worn to add some elegance and some ‘dash’ to the standard blues, grays and blacks of male suiting.

Most commonly they are made of linen, cotton, wool, and silk. The key is that the material is not bulky so that it bulges from breast pocket and ruins your overall silhouette.

Other basics things to remember, not all of which you need to strictly observe:

  • Don’t match your pocket square to your tie… although you will see our Fashion Director Kim Payne do this in Men’s Style sometimes. A close match – i.e. large spots on your tie, smaller on your pocket square – is more than acceptable.
  • Start with a solid colour if you’re unsure about which colours or patterns work with your tie or suit colour. Probably best to wear it as a straight fold, too (see below). To beign with colour, pick out a secondary colour in your shirt and tie and find a pocket square which is mainly the same or similar colour, either solid or in a pattern.
  • Clash, but don’t be ridiculous. Lots of guys now wearing pocket squares think it should clash as dramatically as possible with their tie, both colour and pattern. We don’t agree, and think it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

There are umpteen ways to fold and wear a pocket square, and plenty of diagrams that will show you how online. The essential modern ones you need to know, however, are below:

The Single or Flat Fold

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The Loose or Uneven Fold

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The Single Peak Fold

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The Puff or Unstructured Fold

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Employ any of all of these ideas with your look for the upcoming Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Men’s Style’s Guide to Melbourne Cup Carnival Dressing