Of all the various accessories available to the gentleman, the handkerchief in the jacket’s breast pocket is quite likely the least understood. What colour to choose, which fabric is right, and how to fold it properly are just some of the questions that add to the apprehension.
Lets us admit, do we really have any specific record of when humans first started using handkerchiefs or pocket squares? Well no, because small pieces of cloth have been used since the time cloth was invented. However, let us look at how its use entered the world of men fashion in a big way.
As two-piece suits came into fashion in the 19th century, many men started to place their clean pocket square into the breast pocket of their jacket to protect it from dirt and other objects, such as coins, in their trousers’ pockets. The look of the pocket square in the breast pocket became more popular, especially after specific folding techniques came into use. By the 1920s the pocket square had become more of a fashion accessory than having any other purpose. Often time’s men had a pocket square in their breast pocket, and another handkerchief in their trousers meant for wiping their hands or cleaning their nose.
Every man should be aware of pocket square etiquette rules. The dress handkerchief doesn’t have to be a mysterious and frightening item; with a little know-how and a few simple rules, it can become a standard – and debonair – part of any gentleman’s wardrobe.
Pocket squares should never match your tie. It may seem like a brilliant idea to match your pocket square to your tie, but it isn’t. Proper pocket square etiquette mandates complementing the tie. If your tie is patterned or printed, choose a colour from the pattern or print and use a pocket square that coordinates but does not exactly match the colour from the tie. An easy tip would be to go a shade or two lighter or darker than the tie you are trying to complement with the pocket square.
Pocket squares at a formal occasion must always be white. Formal events are not the time to play around with colour when rocking a pocket square. The occasion demands you follow a strict dress code and as a gentleman, you must adhere to these rules down to your pocket square. Etiquette standards do give you a choice of cotton or linen fabrications for your pocket square, as well as the allowing for a textured or woven fabric.
Know how to fold your pocket square properly. Perhaps the most important principle when it comes to pocket square etiquette is the correct way to fold and position your pocket square. Without this knowledge, you may as well not wear one. Do not just shove the pocket square into the pocket. Do take the time to create an elegant fold.
When putting together your suit, the options are endless. The smallest details determine its look and comfort and ultimately, the impression you make. The addition of a pocket square adds some finishing panache to a good suit. So, the first guideline of pocket square usage is to always wear one when you wear a suit or sport coat. It just looks better.