Everybody has an opinion about pocket squares, and here at “Wall Street Stylist” we hold pretty firm on the stance that without a pocket square your suit jacket looks quite naked. It’s an added touch that separates the men from the boys, and creates a polished elegance that exudes style and confidence. In fact, almost all of our clients receive an attache case of 5-10 pocket squares selected just for them to complement their wardrobe. Although there are a million different ways to fold a pocket square, for the most polished and modern look we recommend keeping it simple. Below we have outlined a few different ways to achieve the perfect fold.
Now that we’ve simplified the fold for you, let’s talk about how to coordinate your pocket square to your shirt/tie combo, and what fabric pocket square is appropriate. Here are the rules:
Rule #1: Wear One.
Wearing a pocket square adds the finishing touch and a bit of panache to what would otherwise be a “naked suit.” Rule #1 is simply to never leave home without a pocket square in your suit coat or blazer.
Rule #2: Coordinating
Although there are very few hard and fast rules to coordinating your pocket square (besides the obvious color faux-pas), you do want to choose your pocket square based on what will complement your shirt, tie, and suit. There is a big different between “complimenting” and “matching,” as you do not want your pocket square to match your shirt or tie exactly, as this not only defeats the purpose, but also looks very contrived. On that note, NEVER buy those matching tie/pocket square sets, and if you do, remember to never wear them together. In case you are confused as to the subtlety between matching and complementing, let me break it down for you. Matching is when you have 2 or more items with the same exact fabric, color, or pattern (ex: a blue and white striped tie with a blue/white striped pocket square, or a solid blue pocket square the same exact shade as the blue stripe), and complementing would be taking that same blue and white striped tie and pairing it with a blue polka dot pocket square, or perhaps a lighter blue floral or solid colored pocket square. Complimenting is where you can add your own style into the mix, and make it as subtle or as bold as you want. The easiest thing to do is to select colors that are in the same color family, but perhaps of a lighter or darker shade, or add a monochromatic print. You can also select colors that are right next to eachother on the color wheel. For instance, if you have a blue tie, try adding a blue and red, or a purple pocket square. Once you feel confident you can then venture into the more colorful patterns.
Rule #3: Fabric
As a general rule, you want to closely complement the fabrics of your tie and pocket square. If you are wearing a silk tie, you should wear a silk pocket square. The one exception to this is white cotton, which can be worn with anything. If you are not wearing a tie, and want to keep things a bit more casual it is best to pair your sport coat with a cotton or linen pocket square. In the summer months when wearing a tie might be a little hot and restrictive, a pocket square can definitely stand in and give your suit the added panache.
Pocket Square Folding Techniques
There are several ways to fold a pocket square, and like everything else described here, there aren’t any hard and fast rules. In general, you want to master the basics, then venture off as you gain more confidence to find your own personal style. Although there are several different folds, most men will decide upon 2 or 3 that they feel complement their style and the image they want to exude.
The Straight Fold (aka the “Straight Edge” or the “Bond Fold”)
This is one of the most basic of folds, and my personal favorite. This fold provides a modern, clean, sophisticated look, and is incredibly easy to achieve. Depending on the pocket square and your desired look you can choose to either have the folded edge or the non-folded edge visible.
- Lay your pocket square flat.
- Bring the left side to right side
- Bring the bottom towards the top, but don’t fold it all the way.
- Fold the fabric in thirds horizontally so that it will fit your suit pocket.
The One-Point Fold
This is also a pretty basic fold, and like the Straight Fold, adds a nice geometric pop of color.
1. Fold your pocket square in half diagonally
2. Fold one corner about 1/3 across pocket square
3. Fold the other corner over the center
4. Flip the folded pocket square over and insert into jacket (depending on the width of your pocket you might need to tweak it a little)
The Puff Fold
This is a very easy fold, and one that allows for a little artistic license.
1. Lay the pocket square flat with the right side of the fabric facing up.
2. Pinch the middle of the fabric, allowing the folds to come in naturally.
3. With one hand firmly holding the pocket square, use your other hand to gently gather it together.
4. Now gracefully gather up the bottom of the pocket square and fold it up towards the top.
5. Place it in your suit. Tweak it until you get the desired puffiness.
The Pointed Puff Fold
1. Lay your pocket square down right side up
2. Pinch the middle of the fabric with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, allowing the folds to come in naturally
3. Lift the pocket square up from where you are grasping it and allow the bottom to drape down
4. Lightly wrap your left hand around the draped fabric
5. Move your left hand down while gently squeezing the material until you have reached the bottom of the pocket square (this is called ‘fluting’).
6. Tighten your left hand enough to hold the pocket square
7. Let go with your right hand. The handkerchief should now be sticking out of your left hand.
8. Fold the pocket square over your left thumb with your right hand.
9. Grab the folded pocket square with your right hand, being sure to keep its folded flute intact, and remover your left hand.
10. Rotate the pocket square so the fold is now toward the bottom.
11. Insert into your jacket pocket.
Must-Have Pocket Squares