How to Wear a Pocket Square in 2023 - Joseph Abboud
- by Off The Cuff
- June 16, 2023
- 7 min read
If you’re dressed to the nines in a bespoke suit, there’s one thing that rings true no matter what:
You need the right accessories!
We love a classy watch or a pair of elegant sunglasses when the sun is out. Cufflinks are great, too!
However, one often overlooked accessory for suits is the pocket square. It’s a small detail that all stylish men will appreciate—as long as you wear it correctly!
Not sure how to wear a pocket square? No problem—we’ve got a full guide on wearing a pocket square in 2023 below. But first, let’s dive into what pocket squares are and a little bit about their history.
What is a Pocket Square?
You’ve probably seen them before—even if you didn’t recognize them at first. A pocket square is a small, square-shaped piece of fabric that is typically made from silk, cotton, linen, or a blend of these materials. It is designed to be neatly folded and inserted into the breast pocket of a suit jacket or blazer. While it shares the same location as a handkerchief, it's important to note that a pocket square is purely a fashion accessory and should not be used for blowing your nose!
History of pocket squares
As is the case with many of the classic fashion items and accessories we wear today, the pocket square originated many years ago. Ancient Greeks carried handkerchiefs sprayed with perfume that they used to cover their mouths and noses from bad smells—since regular bathing wasn’t nearly as common.
Around the 19th century, when suits became the norm for men’s fashion, these handkerchiefs moved into view, being on full display in the front breast pocket—just like they are today. Today, handkerchiefs are much different from the pocket squares we wear and can be differentiated by a rolled hem.
When Should You Wear a Pocket Square?
You might be asking: Is a pocket square always an acceptable accessory when you’re wearing a suit or a blazer?
The short answer is yes. A pocket square can be worn with any blazer or suit jacket—even if you aren’t wearing a tie. We believe it’s an essential accessory that works anywhere from business casual to the most formal of settings.
How to Wear a Pocket Square
Ready to add the pocket square to your list of essential suiting accessories?
It’s all about getting it right since a pocket square can make or break your suit. Here are our favorite tips for properly wearing a pocket square with your suits.
Stick with suit jackets only
You’ve got several garments that have breast pockets. For example, your overcoat or dress shirt.
You should not be wearing a pocket square with them. Stick to your suit jacket or blazer when it comes to pocket squares.
Don’t overdo patterns
Patterns can be a fun way to introduce some personality into your outfits. While a suit can often be seen as overly conservative, certain details, such as cufflinks, tie bars, and yes, your pocket square, can provide some more interesting style quirks that set you apart from other men.
However, you need to be careful here.
Suits are, in general, meant to provide a more formal look. You can think a little outside the box with patterns but don’t overdo it.
Patterns look great when they make sense. For example, if your jacket and shirt are already patterned, you should opt for a more plain or solid-colored tie and pocket square to provide balance.
This works in the other direction, too. If you have a plain jacket and dress shirt, patterned pocket squares and ties can work wonders—as long as you follow the next rule we’re about to cover.
Complement your tie
Here’s a common question: Should your pocket square and tie match completely?
The answer is no. While this might appear to be an easy way to coordinate your outfit, the general rule of men’s fashion is that your pocket square and tie shouldn’t directly match. However, it also shouldn’t clash—you don’t want to wear a red tie with a green patterned pocket square!
Instead, your pocket square should complement your tie. For example, if you have an olive green tie with a minimal pattern, you could opt for a white pocket square that has a design containing some olive green elements. That way, you’re not directly matching, but the theme is on point.
Again, this slight contrast gives you more depth to your look instead of matching the two directly. You might even get some compliments from men’s style aficionados!
Match the fold to the occasion
When it comes to ties, you’ve probably seen how many different types of knots exist, with each one carrying a different level of formality—and difficulty!
The same can be said for pocket squares. You have several different folds that all look vastly different from each other and are appropriate for different occasions.
For example, in formal settings, you’ll want to go with a Presidential fold—this pocket square provides a well-kept and put-together look with just a small bit of fabric sticking out over the top of your breast pocket.
On the other hand, the Puff fold adds some more personality to your look, with a considerable amount of fabric coming out of your breast pocket with wrinkles and dimples throughout—hence the name. This fold is far less formal and should be reserved for more casual settings where a suit is still appropriate attire.
By matching the fold to the occasion, you’ll show everyone that the small details matter to you. If you’re not sure how to fold your pocket square, don’t worry—we’ll be getting to that soon.
When in doubt, go with white
Decision fatigue is real. Especially when we have to make so many decisions throughout our days as it is.
You want to look your best. You want to get all the small details right. So, what can you fall back on for your pocket square?
Never underestimate the power of a white pocket square. It goes with anything you have on!
We recommend having a few white pocket squares ready to go at any time. No matter what type of jacket, dress shirt, or tie you have on, a white pocket square will complement them perfectly and will save you from having to make a pocket square decision every morning.
How to Fold a Pocket Square
Now that you’re ready and armed with the best tips for wearing a pocket square, it’s time to put it into practice.
You’ll need to learn how to fold it and wear it!
There are several different ways to fold a pocket square—all of which vary in difficulty level and how formal they are.
To make it easier for you, we’re going to talk about three common folds that you can use that are all different from each other:
- The Presidential fold
- The Puff fold
- The One Point fold
Each one offers a unique style and level of formality—if you master all of them, you’ll be set!
The Presidential pocket square fold is likely the most formal fold you can use—however, it’s versatile. If you want to wear a Presidential fold in a business casual setting, go for it! It won’t look out of place.
- Start by laying the pocket square on a flat surface and unfolded.
- Fold it straight down the middle—this should make it the same width as your pocket. If not, adjust your fold to match the width of your breast pocket.
- Fold the pocket square up from the bottom—again matching the width of your pocket.
- Tuck the pocket square into your breast pocket with about ¼ inch of fabric visible.
This one is an easy, worry-free pocket square fold that anyone can use. Try it out!
The Puff fold
The Puff fold is more of the opposite—it’s a casual fold that works best in a business casual setting or for a less formal event.
As the name suggests, the fold creates a “puff” look outside of the breast pocket. It’s a unique fold that provides an interesting look and shows off a touch of personality with your suit.
- Start by pinching the pocket square directly in the center and letting all of the edges hang loose.
- Adjust the sides so that they’re all hanging at even lengths.
- While pinching the center, gently tug on the edges to form a loose tube shape.
- Roll up from the bottom of the tube shape, or fold all of the dangling edges behind the tube—the idea is to get the pocket square short enough to fit in your pocket.
- Tuck the pocket square into your pocket so that the rounded top of the Puff fold shows over your pocket.
This can be a tougher fold to master, but it’s a unique and fun fold to wear to all of your more casual events.
The One Point fold
The One Point fold is another common pocket square fold—it’s simple yet stylish and works great for any dress code!
- Start with the pocket square laid out on a flat surface.
- Fold it corner to corner and form two triangles that overlap each other.
- Fold the sides of the triangle in—the pocket square should look like an open envelope.
- Place the pocket square in your breast pocket—the peak should stick out of your pocket forming the “one point” shape.
This versatile fold is a good one to have in your repertoire. We especially love it with a solid-colored pocket square!
Caring For Your Pocket Square
Like your suits themselves, pocket squares need to be cared for—you don’t want to waste money!
To keep your pocket squares in top shape, here are some effective tips you can use:
You Can’t Wear a Pocket Square Without a Suit!
Still need a suit to rock a pocket square?
Whether you’re looking for your first suit or another one to add to your collection, Joseph Abboud can set you up. Our Bespoke Suiting process will get you started with a stylish suit that you’ll never want to take off. If you prefer a different option, we also have ready-to-wear styles—the choice is yours!
We can have you looking your best in a well-fitted suit. Learn more about how Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suit process takes your style game to the next level.