What are Pocket Squares?
A Pocket Square also called a hankie or, historically is a form of a kerchief or bandanna, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric which can be carried in the pocket or handbag, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose. A handkerchief is also used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket, it is then called a pocket square. It is also an important accessory in many folk dances in many regions like the Balkans and the Middle East; an example of which is a folk dance using handkerchiefs is Kalamatianos.
All About Pocket Squares
In addition to carrying for practical purposes, handkerchiefs have long been displayed in the top pocket of men's jackets and hence they are referred to as a pocket handkerchief or pocket square. A traditional pocket square always has the hem rolled, contrary to handkerchiefs.
The trend of pocket squares as a fashion accessory really started during the 1920s, and it continued until the 1960s. During that period, all famous actors such as Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper wore them regularly. The pocket square subsequently fell into disuse until the late 2000s and then it made a comeback thanks in part to popular television shows such as Mad Men.
Pocket squares are usually made of fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen or wool.
Ways To Fold A Pocket Square
As a visible fashion item, there are a wide range variety of ways to fold a pocket square, ranging from the austere to the flamboyant:
1. The Presidential, or Flat Fold, perhaps the simplest, is folded at right angles to fit in the pocket.
2. The Winged Puff, a simple and elegant fold.
3. The Puff or the Cooper is simply shaped into a round puff.
4. The Reverse Puff, or The Crown Fold, is like the Puff, except with the puff inside and the points out, like petals.
5. The Westo Four Point fold, the quickest way to achieve a four-point fold effect.
6. The TV Fold looks similar but is folded diagonally with the point inside the pocket.
7. The One-point Fold is folded diagonally with the point showing.
8. The Two-point Fold is folded off-center so the two points do not completely overlap.
9. The Three-point Fold is first folded into a triangle, then the corners are folded up and across to make three points.
10. The Four-point Fold is an off-center version of the Three-point Fold.
11. The Cagney is basically a backward version of the Four-point Fold.
12. The Astaire is a puff with a point on either side.
13. The Straight Shell is pleated first and then folded over to give the appearance of nested shells.
14. The Diagonal Shell is pleated diagonally and then folded.
Since the turn of the Millennium, pocket squares have started to enjoy a renaissance in popularity and becoming an essential part of the outfit of high-class people, high profile celebrities and fashionistas alike. As the working environment has become more casual, basic ties have been lost and ill-fitting suits have become the norm. For the man that wants to stand out from the crowd, the pocket square provides a touch of elegance and style.
What Is The Purpose Of A Pocket Square?
The main purpose is for minimal effort an outfit is subtly upgraded. While it is not recommended to match your pocket square precisely to your tie, choosing an accent colour can have a strong effect. While white is classic and can happily live in your jacket anytime anywhere, today witnesses a huge variety of colours, patterns and materials.
How To Make A Pocket Square?
There’s nothing hotter than a man in a suit, except for a man in a suit with DIYed accessories. Sure, there are plenty of pocket squares on the market, but why be lazy when you can get your hands dirty making your own foldable piece of fabric? It’s that easy. Grab your thimble and just get started.
Consider some of our historical painting pocket squares. When folded it appear striking and dazzling, the perfect conversation starter before you whip out the full painting. While there are no rules as such, try to have either your pocket square patterned and the other plain. As usual, the key is in contrast and in variety. If your suit or shirt is heavily patterned, go for a more subtle pattern with your square or even go for flat faint colour.
As for materials, silk, cotton, wool, and linen remain the classics, along with blends to create different textures, patterns and weights. The thing to keep in mind is - the lighter the fabric the larger the square needs to be to hold your chosen fold in place. For a classic silk pocket square then large volumes can be easily concealed in your pocket.
For this reason, go for a generous size over 10×10cm. This has two advantages 1. It won’t disappear into your pocket and 2. more flamboyant display can be formed, which is more impressive when a shimmering sheet is pulled out of your pocket to refold it. Thicker materials like tweed should reserve themselves to small lengths since you don’t want too much of that bulk in your pocket. Plenty of newer and more fashionable designs are of this size for this very reason and are accepted by gentlemen.
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