When it comes to accessories, men generally don’t have the range of options that women have. Enter the pocket square.
The pocket square is a simple accessory, but it effortlessly adds character to suit jackets and blazers. And hey, if you or the pretty lady have the sniffles, it might actually come in handy.
Pocket squares are certainly nothing new – they have a distinctly old school flavor, and men have been using them for generations to add an extra flourish to their style. But lately, they seem to be enjoying a resurgence. From Justin Timberlake on the red carpet, to Bruce Willison the cover of GQ, to Marcus Mumford rocking a pocket square on the cover of Rolling Stone, the pocket square is becoming a sartorial signature for a new generation of men.
True, if you go to your typical family wedding you probably won’t see too many attendees rocking pocket squares. But if the weddings you attend are anything like mine, most of the men will be wearing poorly fitted black suits anyways, if that says anything.
Pocket squares break up the consistency of your suit and adds a dash of character. If you want to add this classic finishing touch to your look, you’ll need to know how to fold a pocket square.
Ways To Wear A Pocket Square
Don’t let anyone tell you that it doesn’t matter how you wear a pocket square – like anything else in style, little details can make all the difference. You need to learn how to fold a pocket square, but you also need to choose the style that suits you best (no pun intended).
1. Crisp & Clean
This is the simplest and cleanest way to wear a pocket square. It’s simple to fold, looks sharp, and nearly impossible to mess up. It can work well with an ultra formal look, as well as dressed down. The crisp & clean fold always looks great with a solid blazer – this is the look you’ll usually see in GQ.
All you have to do is take your pocket square, fold it in 3rds, then fold it in half, and tuck it neatly into your chest pocket. Make sure the clean edge is facing up.
2. One Point Fold
Like the straight edge, the 1 point fold (or “corner up”) is a timeless classic way to wear a pocket square. Like the straight edge it’s simple and clean. You end up with just a peak of fabric poking up from your pocket.
To achieve this fold, start with your pocket square laid out flat, with one corner pointing down at you and another pointing away, like a diamond.
- Fold the bottom and top corners together to form a triangle.
- Fold the left corner over to meet the right corner, then the right corner back to the left corner.
- At this point, you should have a long rectangle, with a little point on top. Fold up the bottom of the rectangle towards the pointed top, but don’t fold it all the way.
- Place it in your suit, adjust your pocket square so you get just the right amount of fabric peeking out your breast pocket.
3. Four Point Fold
This “corners out” look is still a classic look – but with a bit of edge. Simply fold the pocket square from corner to corner to create a triangle, then fold the corners over again, then again to create the 4 points. Now arrange them like the picture above.
You don’t necessarily want all 4 corners pointing out symmetrically. In my experience, it tends to look like you’re trying too hard and makes it that much harder to pull off.
4. The “Poof”
The “poof” isn’t quite as clean and crisp as the last few folds and can be a bit harder to pull off. But if done right, it looks distinguished yet laidback, and it’s great if you want something that will stand out. The “poof” (probably not what fashion editors would call it) is probably the simplest of all the pocket square folds, and should result in a small poof of fabric poking out the top of your suit pocket.
With your pocket square laying flat and unfolded on a table, pick up it up at the center and bunch the fabric up towards the middle. Now all you have to do is slide it into your pocket and leave the peak visible.
Color coordinating a pocket square with your outfit is relatively straightforward if you follow some basic rules. Make sure that your pocket square compliments your tie, but doesn’t match exactly –matching your solid red tie with a solid red pocket square – or worse, matching patterns – will look like you’re trying way too hard and is a major no-no.
However, choosing a patterned pocket square that has a bit of red or a solid red pocket square is ok if your tie has just a bit of red on it.
If you’re still uncomfortable with color coordination, your best bet is to stick with the basic white linen pocket square, which goes well with virtually any suit/tie color combo. (and be sure to check out our guide to color co-ordination)
And now you know the basics of how to wear a pocket square. The key now is to experiment with color, fabrics, and pattern and figure out what works for you.
Update: We published a fantastic guest post on when to wear a pocket square. Because let’s face it, you won’t wear a pocket square every day, right?