How To Wear A Mens Pocket Square

While handkerchiefs where widely used from about the 15th or 16th centuries, it wasn’t until the 1920s that it became fashionable for men to display them in the breast pocket of their jackets. The original intent was practical rather than fashionable. The handkerchief was placed in the pocket until it was used, then it was relegated to a trouser pocket. Most handkerchiefs were made from white cotton or linen at this time.

The practice of wearing the pocket silk in the breast pouch of the jacket became popular and elaborately folded hankies became a fashion accessory. A gentlemen carried two handkerchiefs, one for show and one for blow. The practical handkerchief continued to be made of linen and cotton, while the fashion pocket square showed up in colors and patterns and in fabrics like silk. For a while it was the fashion to match the pocket square to the neck tie.

The introduction of the paper tissue in the thirties eliminated much of the practical need for the handkerchief, but the pocket square continued to be part of the well dressed man’s apparel. The most popular method for display was a single corner poking out of the breast pocket. The handkerchief adds and extra touch of color to the conservative dark suits worn by many men.

Pocketsquares remain a popular fashion accessory even today. While the practical reasons for carrying a handkerchief ended with the advent of the disposable tissue, a crisply folded pocket square still adds a certain je ne sais quoi to a gentleman’s appearance. Not all modern jackets feature a breast pocket, but when a jacket does have a breast pocket, it looks incomplete when the pocket is empty.

The most common way to display this fashion accessory is folded over so that one corner appears. Another popular method for displaying it is to fold it so that three points emerge from the pocket. The presidential fold allows a small rectangle of the square to protrude about one quarter of an inch from the pocket.

Men who don’t know how to properly fold a pocket silk can find detailed instructions online. Those who have never used this clothing accessory before, may wish to stay with white or solid colors since they are easier to match to the suit, shirt and neck tie. A well folded pocketsquare on a business suit adds an extra layer of sophistication and elegance to an already formal look.

Pohl is the founder of – a shop for mens ties, bow ties, pocket squares, and cufflinks. He also suggests you have a look at the sites tutorial on How to Fold a Pocket Square.

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