Pocket squares

May 01 ,2015
Published in Style guides


That suave, sophisticated 1950s look is right on trend now, and the stylish flourish to any sharp suit has to be a pocket square. It offers a finishing touch with a dose of practicality thrown in, and makes a quietly confident statement that works with any formal or smart/casual look.

The honour of inventing what is effectively a square of cotton falls to King Richard II during the late 1300s. Originally used as ‘a little piece of cloth for the lord king to wipe and clean his nose’, it was coyly dropped by courtly ladies and retrieved before it hit the ground by gallant knights all across Medieval Europe.

As a fashion flourish, it was the French who really had handkerchiefs down to a fine art. During Louis XVI’s reign during the 1700s handkerchiefs were pearl-encrusted, laced trimmed and embroidered to almost ludicrous levels. They were big too, and got bigger as fashions became more extreme. Eventually a practically-minded Marie Antoinette stepped in and convinced the king to issue a decree saying that all handkerchiefs should be a square of 16” by 16” to stop them from becoming too outlandish. And so the ‘pocket square’ as we know it was created.


There is no ‘set rule’ on how to wear a pocket square – it really depends on the current trends and your own personal preference. However, if you want to create the right effect and make the most out of this accessory, then here are a few tips that will help:

  • Pocket squares don’t have to be plain white. But it is best if you avoid co-ordinating your square with your tie, unless it is part of a uniform.
  • Every time you wear a jacket with a breast pocket, make sure you take a couple of minutes to pop in a pocket square.
  • Don’t be afraid of adding a dash of vibrancy, especially if you’re wearing a relatively neutral toned suit but still want to show off your personality with a pop of colour.
  • It’s not necessary to wear a tie every time you wear a pocket square – the more relaxed smart/casual look is right on trend now.
  • Don’t go over the top with your co-ordinating. You can match a pocket square with your shirt, socks or use it to pick up colours or patterns in your suit or top, but keep it subtle.
  • Always remember to iron a pocket square to ensure you get the best look crisp folds and a smooth, sophisticated finish.
  • If you’re not confident on how to fold a pocket square, then keep the look simple, sophisticated and elegant.


The flat

This is the simplest of all styles. Fold a flat pocket square in half from left to right. Now fold the bottom up, stopping just short of the corresponding hem on the top. Finally, fold it horizontally until it fits into your breast pocket, and adjust until it’s just showing the top quarter inch of linen above the edge of the pocket.

The Puff

In the late ‘60s and into the 1970s things got puffy, in line with the more flamboyant fashions of the era. Pocket squares went from plain white linen to vibrant silks and bright colours. The popular pocket square design was the ‘Puff’, which although more exuberant than the more formal straight fold of the 1950s and early ‘60s, was still reined in a little in the business environment.
Remember that the puff has to be understated, not blowsy or over the top. Lay a pocket square flat and with the forefinger and thumb pinch the middle and lift. Turn it towards you and using your other hand smooth down until you have a cone and the lose corners underneath. Fold up the corners into a diamond shape, and then flip it upside down and insert into the pocket, adjusting so that you achieve a subtle Puff, with none of the corners showing.

The Single Point

To create a single point, simply open up a pocket square and fold it in half length ways. Now fold it again, this time from the bottom to the top. Position into a diamond shape with the exposed folds at the top. Fold the left corner into the middle of the diamond, and the right corner to overlap the left fold. Now fold the bottom corner back to expose the two folds, flip over and insert into your breast pocket.

The Double Point

double point 2 rows
Lay a pocket square flat with a point at the top. Fold the bottom up asymmetrically. Now fold the left and right sides over to the middle, and insert into the breast pocket, adjusting so that the two points are even.

Nowadays, We’ve returned to plain, simple sophistication with the straight-edged folds, adding a final subtle flourish to business suits while colourful pocket squares in a puff fold make the perfect final touch to casual outfits. However, no matter how you choose to wear your pocket square, never forget to  keep your folds simple, even if the final look is anything but. Keep it sophisticated and keep it subtle with a perfectly ironed, perfectly folded pocket square.

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