If you are planning to attend an event where you’ll need to wear a pocket square, you’ve come to the right place. There are certain things you should know before you pick your pocket square. In this guide to pocket square do’s and don’ts, we explore when a man should wear a pocket square, how to wear a pocket square and pocket square etiquette.
What is a pocket square?
If you’ve bought a suit or blazer at any point in your life, you will have noticed that, more often than not, it comes with a little piece of fabric neatly popped into the top pocket. This dainty piece of fabric is commonly referred to as a ‘pocket square’ and is thought to have derived from its older sibling, the handkerchief.
The handkerchief has been prevalent for a very long time, and astonishingly, it is believed to have originally appeared in history in ancient Egypt, when people living along the Nile used little red-coloured bandages as a symbol of riches. Although not precisely comparable to the current pocket square, those tiny fabric shreds are really regarded as the first instance of a fabric-only item.
In the 19th century, the 2-piece suit became a common item in men's wardrobes. This was also when the pocket square as we know it today was created. Men used to keep their handkerchiefs in their trouser pockets but later started putting them in their jacket pockets to avoid contact with coins or other items.
What are pocket squares for?
Whilst the origins of the pocket square come from the handkerchief, which undoubtedly had a purpose, the modern equivalent is merely used for decoration and stylish expression. Often pocket squares are used to complete a look and balance the tones and colours of your shirt and tie together with your suit. Or pocket squares are an excellent way to match the ushers with the bridesmaid’s dresses at weddings!
There are no hard and fast rules on when you should wear a pocket square, though when wearing a three-piece suit, a pocket square is normally a key styling item. The pocket square is an extremely versatile men’s accessory, so playing around with colours, prints, and fabrics is a must. Look at the colours of the Suit or Blazer, the linings and subtle colours in print and match the pocket to those tones.
If you are wearing a blazer and chinos or a two-piece suit then the choice between adding a pocket square largely depends on how casual the overall look is. If the top and shoes lean towards formal, then a pocket square can be introduced. If you’re wearing a t-shirt and trainers, then it’s advisable to leave it out.
How to fold a pocket square
There are different ways to fold a pocket square, such as peaks, puffs, and squares. The occasion usually determines the fold, with work settings calling for a simple square fold and weddings or relaxed events calling for a flamboyant puff or triple triangle. To fold a pocket square with flair, it's important to ensure it's crease-free. Ironing it may seem pointless, but it makes a difference in how it looks. Squares and triangles are easy to fold, while puffs require more artistic expression. Don't overthink it; just pop it in and fluff it out.
What colour should a pocket square be
The colour and print are very much dependent on the choice of the suit and shirt. If the suit is plain, then a printed pocket square is more forgiving; if it features a print, such as check, then either the pocket square or tie should be plain. As a general rule of thumb, the pocket square should never directly match the tie.
If the suits are tan, brown, olive or red in colour, then traditionally earthy tones will match this style of the suit as it creates an analogous appeal. Certain opposing colours, like blues, can also work. Navy, blues, greys and black can pretty much be paired with any colour and occasion. A red-toned tie and pocket square is considered a formal look, as are stripes and spots. Floral, dainty printed pocket squares are often used for weddings and special occasions.
Pocket squares for weddings
No wedding look is complete without a pocket square! For most grooms, the pocket square as an opportunity to complement the bridesmaid’s dress and general colour scheme.
At Marc Darcy, all our pocket squares match the lining of the style and are carefully colour matched to the fabric of the Suit. If the pocket square that comes with your desired style isn’t quite what you want on your big day we have a wide selection of tie-sets in a variety of colours and fabrics. After popular demand, we’ll also be launching knitted pocket squares to match our knitted tie and bow tie range.