The Art of the Pocket Square
Male awareness around these small squares of fabric has been steadily rising over the past few years. More and more gentlemen are putting time into consider color matching and complimenting. The folds are becoming more expressive and on the Auckland high streets they are being seen more and more. Yet still there are a few things that I believe need to be understood about these silk and cotton off-cuts.
Squaring Fashion With Modern Pragmatism
Allow me to start by making a broad case for the pocket square. We need to acknowledge that ties are not what they once were. Where previously it would be unimaginable for a gentleman to walk into the office or to meet a client without a tie around his neck it is now not only accepted but expected for him not to be wearing one in most places. This being the case pocket squares are more important than ever. Most suits are plain in pattern and dark in color. They are, for the most part, designed with shirts and ties in mind. They require some color to lift them. This is not an argument against minimalism, which I happen to love. But a dark suit and a white shit can easily be improved with a simple white square.
Fortunately a new generation has found the tie and it lives on. Even here, however, I would argue that the pocket square has its place. Matching one’s tie and square demonstrates a talent for color and is a sign that a gentleman puts effort into presenting himself, in other words that he respects himself. Another way to wear the pocket square and tie is to match the square to the shirt allowing the tie to really be the focus of the outfit. There is real sartorial reason to abandon the pocket square.
Now that my plea to explore the depths of the pocket square has been made we can turn our attention the many ways that this tiny piece of fabric can be worn. There are, depending on which search engine you use, some 800 ways to fold a pocket square, although if you simply fold each of those in half again there are some 1600 ways to fold a pocket square. This being the case the ways that one might express one’s self through squares are almost infinite.
I find that simplicity is best. If we look at the flamboyant and dramatic tie knots such as the eldredge or the trinity we can see that more so often means less. I use only three folds for my squares. The common puff fold which is created simply by pinching the center of the square and pushing the four corners down into the pocket. The line fold, which creates a straight line. Finally the three crowns, which shows three corners of the pocket square. Of course this is only me. Any way is good and it depends on what impression you are trying to give. The puff is perhaps the most casual and the line, being the most conservative, is often thought of as the most formal. The other folds give different effects, however the more complex the more one can seem fastidious or too self interested.
Color is a great way to elevate your wardrobe. An equally good way to add depth to your outfit is experimenting with textiles. Most pocket squares are silk. Silk is the main staple of menswear accessories with the majority of both ties and pocket squares being made of it. It yields a polished and classic look. The second most common fabric to find is cotton. Cotton pocket squares are among my favorites. The are able to hold color in a unique way and so printed patterns look stunning upon white cotton backgrounds. Then we get to the rougher fabrics such as linen. Linen is perhaps the most casual looking fabric. It creases easily and is an excellent way to make a formal sports coat look a little more relaxed. Finally there are woolen pocket squares which are rougher to look at and add an extra dimension to an ensemble that I find perfect for winter.
Exploring the different ways that you can combine both color and texture will allow you to completely change your favorite combinations and add a new element to your wardrobe. That being said I should also point out that I think that the pocket square is not an all the time accessory. For example I take no issue with men not wanting to wear them to business if they already wear a tie and feel that it may be over kill even to wear plain white. I understand that patterned shirts may be vocal enough without any added help. Still I believe that the pocket square ought to be in every gentleman’s wardrobe.
By Nathan Perry