David… Garrett… Maurice… before we get started, we have to get one thing out of the way. Maurice, do you speak with the pompatus of love? Anyway, I love that we're getting not just one, but MULTIPLE questions around pocket squares. Thank y'all. There's a rule in our employee handbook: no empty breast pockets. A pocket square completes an outfit, and to me, it's just as important as the tie. I know that it can come off a bit precious, but when it's done right, it can be a quiet supporting character to your look. Here's what you need to know:
First off, don't sleep on the plain white… it's pretty much never wrong! One of my all-time favorites is our 10x10 hemstitch - if you can only have one, this is it. It's Irish linen so there's some drape and crunch to the fabric – almost a little bounce. It's white, so it goes with virtually every jacket. The hemstitch along the edge is just enough of a detail without getting too flashy. The size (10 x 10) sort of guarantees that it can't get too intrusive. And $30 makes it a pretty inexpensive gateway into the pocket square world.
Now, if – like Garrett – you've got that part down and are looking to branch out with color and pattern, let the rest of your outfit be your guide. For me, it is one of the last things I put on before I walk out the door. If I'm going with a patterned jacket that's got some pop – a solid or understated pocket square is a great accompaniment. (You gotta let that lead singer sing.) But if I'm wearing a navy blazer and quieter shirt and tie combo, or no tie at all, then I might lean on my pocket square to give my outfit a little jolt. As with everything else, you're going for balance.
Color-wise, I like looking for a root color that can hook back to my outfit in some way without matching too literally. Too much matching can get a little prommy. The basic rules apply: colors found in nature – blues, greens, browns, heathers – all party pretty well together, while bright colors are usually best as a one-man-band. And beyond colors, there's a whooooole world of patterns out there. Liberty Fabric prints, geometrics, florals, dots, paisleys, batiks, kilims, foulards. Best rule of the thumb: if there's a pattern that catches your eye – like, for example, this tropical print – and you're not sure how to work it into a more complex outfit, keep it simple. A navy blazer and a solid blue or white shirt is a pretty safe bet. And if you're still having a hard time taking the leap when it comes to print, go with one with a solid outside edge. Then you can show as much (or as little) of the pattern as you'd like.
The final factor in this equation is the way you fold it. There are about 5 basic folds we like, which you can see below. All are great (and relatively easy,) but more often than not, I'm going with the most basic one, the fold-and-go. It's a bit of a take on the late 50s/early 60s super-crisp, squared off look that you'd see in Mad Men… but more casual and a lot less perfect. And no matter the pattern, it's always understated. The folds get trickier from there, so if you're still getting your sea legs, there's no shame at all in sticking with that fold and go. It's kind of like a napkin… unless you're working a cruise ship or some elaborate banquet, the simple square - the fold and go - is more than enough. If you prefer a demo and have 8 minutes to spare, there's a video explainer from the archives (2017) that we made but never released.
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