Of all the sartorial flourishes a gentleman may affect, the pocket square is one of the least considered but most profound. Other than the rare flap breast pocket on certain sporting jackets, a suit or odd jacket looks undressed without a flourish on the chest.
Functionally derived from a time when every man need sport a handkerchief., this bit of fabric has evolved to compliment a personal style. A glance at any movie from mid-century times will show almost every well dressed gentleman to sport this item of personal style. However, the firm grip of minimalism has made many to eschew this masculine accessory.
Perhaps it is more of a hesitation on what type of square looks correct. The simplest square is composed of high quality cotton or linen and folded into, literally, a square, the tip peeking just out of the pocket. This is never incorrect, and relates nicely to the trimmer silhouettes and narrower ties and lapels that are so now in vogue. Plain white is a good choice if one is wearing an equally white shirt, but can be a touch bright with shirts of color or pattern. In this case, a cotton or linen with a print or perhaps a plaid or tattersall is correct. Also good is a hand rolled square, showing off a little of eccentricity with a colored border, well matched to one of the colors of one’s tie or shirt. For a slightly more dandified effect, a silk square in colors that reflect on one’s tie (but never, ever in the identical pattern), can show a true case of care about one’s appearance. For a more textural garment, say, a Harris Tweed sport jacket, a nice silk and wool challis is a perfect compliment. For the truly secure, a square in a color or pattern not found anywhere else on one’s body is a wonderfully eccentric flourish of style. Just make sure that several disparate elements, such as ties or socks, stand in equal contrast, so the eye is not drawn to any one item.
For a more casual outfit sans tie, the pocket square can lend a personal touch of color otherwise missing, and can anchor what might be an expressionless outfit. With the acceptance of casual attire so prevalent, the square lends itself well to a chinos or jeans combo with jacket. Here is where a rougher texture is more apropos, whether cotton, wool, or a woven and less shiny silk.
From here, it is only a matter of how a square might be worn. The aforementioned cottons and linens may be folded square, where the part showing is a plain expanse of fabric. Hand rolled edges belie a superior workmanship and may be shown square, with the edges up, or grabbed from the middle, and placed into the pocket so that the points show. With silk or other soft fabrics, either the hand rolled points may be exposed , or the points stuffed into the pocket in a manner to display a nonchalant “puff”. There is a fine line between showing too much and too little square but a good rule of thumb here is to have just a peek showing, like the cuff of one’s shirt from beneath the jacket, one half to three quarters of an inch is acceptable.
Just for a few tips: starting out, a solid color is always acceptable, a plain square fold is also worth considering, but for the truly creative, a myriad of styles, patterns and combinations can bring a new dimension to your personal style.
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