The Pocket Square Guide - How To Wear A Pocket Square
The pocket square is a tiny detail that makes a big impact. Pocket squares are an essential suiting accessory that lifts your look in the most simple and subtle way.
Wearing a pocket square is a must for completing your look and should never be forgotten. This little accessory is often overlooked by those in suits, who often think about a tie or bow tie and forget to add a pocket square, but you need to make sure you always have one or your outfit doesn’t look finished.
When considering what pocket square to wear, you should think about whether you’re wearing it alongside another accessory (tie or bow tie) or whether it is going to be a standalone accessory with your suiting. If you’re wearing it with a tie or bow tie, there are a few things you need to think about to ensure it looks right and sends the right message. Don’t worry, we will give you all the advice you need below.
First things first, let’s get a question out of the way; what is the difference between a handkerchief and a pocket square? Technically, a handkerchief is a larger square cut of fabric made from cotton that is designed for practical use (blowing your nose) rather than styling. On the other hand, a pocket square is a fashion accessory that can be made from a variety of fabrics. That being said, the words have become quite interchangeable, and you’ll often hear silk pocket squares being called handkerchiefs.
How to choose your pocket square (without a tie or bow tie)
We’ll start with the assumption that you’re not wearing a tie or bow tie, and that your pocket square will be worn with a jacket and shirt. The key things to consider when choosing your pocket square are the colour and, less importantly, the pattern.
If you’re wearing a navy blue jacket or blazer with a white shirt, you are pretty flexible to choosing any pocket square colour you want, though we recommend you stay away from similar dark colours like navy blue and black. In this instance, the pattern should be determined by the occasion, so don’t wear something bold and distracting if you’re going to a wedding. Choose something more stylish and sophisticated.
If you’re wearing a jacket or blazer of a different colour, for example, grey or brown, make sure you coordinate the pocket square to stand out against the background of the jacket material. For light grey, use a vibrant or dark coloured pocket square so that it stands out.
If you're wearing a black jacket or blazer, we recommend that you don’t add colour but instead stick to a monochrome colour scheme. Try a white pocket square with black spots or a black and white houndstooth pattern.
How to choose your pocket square (with a tie or bow tie)
If you’re wanting to know how to match a pocket square with a bow tie and tie, keep reading. The fundamental rule for anyone wanting to look like they know sartorial rules (“fashion rules” for the blokes at the back) is to avoid wearing a matching pocket square. A huge number of our customers automatically buy the matching pocket square, and we are never going to stop people from doing that. We get it; it’s easy and convenient to match it, rather than hunt for a complementary pocket square. However, if you want to really look like you know what you’re doing, avoid wearing a pocket square in the same pattern or colour as the tie or bow tie.
How should you know what to pick? Well, to be very honest, unless you’re going for dinner with a top fashion designer or rubbing shoulders with the editors of GQ, you’re pretty free to pick what you think works without judgement from those who see you.
Some quick tips:
Pick a subtle colour from within the tie pattern. If you’re wearing a busy print tie, for example a floral tie, you could choose a pocket square that is primarily the colour of a small detail within the tie pattern. So, if it has various colours on the tie and one is a yellow flower, you might want to choose a yellow pocket square that ties in with the other pattern.
Match a primary colour with a secondary colour. This doesn’t mean pick one colour and then pick a second colour, it refers to the colour chart. Red, blue and yellow are primary colours (meaning they cannot be created by mixing two colours together), while purple, green and orange are secondary colours because they are created by mixing two primary colours together. If you’re looking to create a look rather than pair a pocket square with a tie or bow tie you already have in mind, this is a good idea (yellow + purple, blue + orange, etc.)
If you’re wanting more guidance on choosing colour combinations, take a look at a colour wheel and you’ll be able to see colours that work together. The trick with a colour wheel is to choose a colour or shade that is opposite to the first colour you’re working with.
When it comes to patterns, you should make sure you DON’T match it (floral with floral, spots with spots), but instead create a look by merging two patterns that work together. For example, if you’re wearing a floral tie, match it with a paisley pocket square. If you’re wearing a spotted tie, pair it with a floral pocket square. Just don’t match stripes with spots because, well, it’s just not a good look.
What is a pre-folded pocket square?
We don’t just sell a regular pocket square that you can fold however you want; we also sell pre-folded pocket squares that are super easy and convenient.
Our pre-folded pocket squares are put into a shape (Classic or 3 Peak) and sewn into a pocket square holder, which you then just need to slip into the pocket of your blazer or jacket without any fussing around with getting it right.
While pocket square holders are available from some retailers, they still require you to learn how to fold your pocket square into the right fold before inserting it into the holder to stay in shape. With our pre-folded pocket squares, you don’t ever have to learn how to fold them because they're permanently sewn into the holder, meaning you get to use them as much as you want and it’s perfect in an emergency (it’s also great for wedding parties to avoid the groomsmen all having different pocket square folds).