Don’t be a square. You should learn how to wear a pocket square instead.
Yale conducted a survey in 2014 in which people participated in mock negotiations, with one group dressed poorly and the other dressed in suits. The poor dressers made a profit of fewer than $700,000, while the formal dressers made over $2 million.
If you want to make money, you have to invest in how you dress. One way is to learn how to wear a pocket square. It adds a formal touch with a pop of color and texture.
Don’t just shove a handkerchief into your pocket. Here is a quick guide on pocket square etiquette.
The Basics of the Pocket Square
For your pocket square to work, you need to pick the right one. The size of your square is a significant factor.
You want to avoid squares that are too small. If no one can see your square rising out of your pocket, there’s no point in wearing one. But a pocket that is too big will distract others from the rest of your outfit.
Pick a square that is roughly 12 inches long. Make sure the square doesn’t slip inside or fall out of your pocket.
If you have a tweed product, you can pick a shorter square. Tweed is thicker than silk, so a longer square will bunch up when folded.
Many people match their pocket square to their tie, which overpowers the viewer with one color. You can always pick a different shade of the same color.
A better option is to pick a pocket square that contrasts with your accessories. Accessories add more style to your outfit, but you need to be careful about matching colors. If you have a red tie, complement it with a blue pocket square.
You can buy a square with designs on it. Many squares come with geometric shapes, lines, and motifs. These squares add style, but you shouldn’t select a square that will distract from the rest of your outfit.
How to Fold a Pocket Square
You can fold your pocket square in several different ways. When you’re folding, make sure you don’t scrunch your square. Keep it as flat as possible as you are folding it.
The presidential fold is a simple square fold. You fold your square to the width of your pocket, then fold it from the bottom, so it sticks out by half an inch. The presidential fold is the most formal fold, appearing as a single band above the breast pocket.
The one-point fold is a little more complicated. It is more informal, perfect for a casual blazer at a business event. You fold the square diagonally down the middle.
Then you fold the doubled-over corner inward on one side. You fold in the other corner, so each fold is the same size. When the square is the width of your pocket, you slide the bottom fold into the pocket.
The two-point fold is near identical to the one-point fold. When you fold the square diagonally, angle it so one corner lies to the left of the other. While inserting the square into your pocket, make the offset triangular points visible.
The puff fold provides a pop of texture. Pinch your square at its center, letting the edges hang downward. Then tug on the edges, pulling the square into a tube.
Roll upward from the bottom of the tube so you can tuck the square into your pocket. When you do tuck it, place it so the rounded top is visible. Puff folds are informal, but they are stylish and distinct.
Pocket Square Etiquette
Your pocket square is for decoration only. Do not use a pocket square to clean your face or pick up something. Use a handkerchief instead, and keep that in your pant pocket.
When you want to display a handkerchief in your pocket, follow the same rules described above. Pick a handkerchief that contrasts with your tie and will stick out of your pocket. Use a clean fold that does not create too many wrinkles.
If you need your breast pocket for something, you may not want to carry a pocket square. A square will get in the way. Try to avoid removing your pocket square once you’re at the event.
White pocket squares work with virtually every jacket and tie you can wear. When in doubt, wear a white pocket square with a presidential fold.
If you want a more conservative look, pick a solid pocket square that is a shade lighter than your jacket. Do not use a flashy fold with eccentric designs. This is ideal for very formal events like weddings.
Do not wear a pocket square if you’re going to stand out. Many people do not wear pocket squares at funerals, even when it might be appropriate. Ask people what they are going to wear and adjust accordingly.
You can wear a square with a lapel pin and other accessories. Add a boutonniere for an additional pop of color. Create a balanced look, alternating colors and textures.
How to Wear a Pocket Square
The pocket square completes any formal outfit. But there are rules and tips for how to wear a pocket square.
Pick a square that rises out of your pocket without calling too much attention to itself. Do not match your square to your tie. Pick a square of a different shade, if not of a different color altogether.
Use a presidential or one-point fold for a formal appearance. If you want to make more of a splash, use a two-point or puff fold. You should only wear a square if someone else will, and balance your look if you have other accessories.
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