Ties may dominate the men's fashion accessory scene, but the pocket square is the rising star. So, what is a pocket square (a common question, actually)? It's a square piece of fabric, worn decoratively, folded in a suit jacket's top pocket (left side). The pockie is usually considered a complement to a tie or bow tie. But wearing it with just a shirt and dressy jacket is more and more common fashion, driven by deformalisation of dress codes at the workplace. So why should you wear one? Well, pocket square using men are seen as good dressers, for starters, people who pay attention to detail. Pocket squares convey elegance and sophistication and will work like a charm if well co-ordinated with a suit, shirt and tie/bow tie. This particular kind of handkerchief can give new life to an old tie or make a rather ordinary suit magically feel fun and fashionable. Whereas the suit, shirt and tie are all quite expected fashion items, a pockerchief is always noticed. Relatively few men use this small yet potent fashion item, which gives you a window of opportunity to put yourself in the spotlight. Master the pocket square and you have an amazing styling tool to help you look your best.
Tieroom has an enourmous range of pocket squares – great quality at affordable prices. Most of our pocket square designs are available as ties and bow ties too, but within our premium brand, produced in Como, Northern Italy, we have some unique pocket square designs. Our easy-to-use product filters will aid you single out your preferences, most start with colour or pattern, singling out e.g. red, blue, pink, green, white, black or yellow pocket squares or solid, striped, dotted or paisley ones. Solid pocket squares are very popular but patterned pockies are just as or even more popular. Many faddists use the fabric filter to single out silk, wool, cotton or/and linen handkerchiefs. Together with outstanding customer service, fast shipping and easy returns the pocket square customer is up for a smooth shopping experience at Tieroom.
The absolute dos and don'ts are few, although fashion experts may try to convince you otherwise. But of course, there are both things preferred and best avoided, things that help you be in charge of how you are perceived by scrutinizing eyes. Here are a few basic rules on how to use pocket squares:
First of all, pocket square is a relatively recent wording, so although used in this text, the term didn't appear widely until the 20th century. So, what's what? Some short (not very good) answers to this question are: "handkerchiefs and pocket squares are the same thing" or "both are square pieces of cloth". Another distinction is that a pocket squares often have rolled edges, contrary to the mere handkerchief. A possible good short answer is that the pocket square's purpose is mainly aesthetic whereas handkerchief's is primarily functional. The terms are often used interchangeably and synonymously though, so let's dig a tad deeper.
Many theories and stories surround the evolution of the handkerchief as fashion item. Historical sources indicate handkerchief use during Antiquity, in prominent societies of the time. Initial use was initially more functional and practical. In Egypt, carrying small pieces of red linen was allegedly a sign of wealth. Greeks used white linen cloths for wiping, like us. The emperor of Rome dropped a piece of fabric to start off gladiatorial games. Catholic clergymen attached white hankies to their left arm as a sign of strong faith, and during the Middle Ages, white hankies were used as head cover with the same religious subtext (actually called "headkerchiefs" or just "kerchiefs"). So, although Antiquity has often been named a starting point for handkerchiefs, the 14th century is probably more reasonable and accurate. But of course, square pieces of cloth have been used in many ways ever since pieces of cloth started existing basically, although not always recorded in history books.
Textiles have been a luxury historically, something for the wealthy, royal courts and nobility. Noblemen often scented them to fend off bad smells. The English 14th century king, Richard II has often been given credit for inventing the pocket square as fashion item. "Inventor" may be too much said, but king Richard was indeed an early adopter. With rare fabrics, especially silk, rich embroideries, patterns and colours starting to unfold, handkerchiefs became widely popular among the upper class of Europe, to show off wealth and standing. These handkerchiefs were eventually considered lordly gifts to nobles and royalty. The best silk during the 16th century came from Italy, and Catherine de Medici brought the best silk designs into France, which gave the pocket square fashion a boost.
During the 19th century the two-piece suit became an unquestionable mainstay within men's fashion. Now a gentleman wanted his fine handkerchief kept away from other everyday items in his pocket. And so the handkerchief was gradually transferred to its present, more prominent spot, the breast pocket, ergo renamed pocket square. So one could argue that this is where the pocket square history really starts. The pocket squares popularity rose, and continued to do so into the early 20th century, boosted by the appearance of new folding techniques which made the fashion fancier. The functional side of the handkerchief as wiping tool was already waning, but became even more peripheral when the Kleenex company was established. Pocket square wearing movie stars like Fred Astaire, James Cagney and Cary Grant helped popularise the pockerchief fashion even further. Later, toward the end of the 20th century, as workwear was casualised, the pocket square somewhat lost its momentum. But the 21st century saw a steady rise in pocket squares' popularity again.
So, this small, fashionable square has indeed gone through a spectacular transformation, from snot keeper, symbolic cap and general wiper to a fashionable symbol of refinement and finesse. And the pocket square's present state as fashion wizard seems to continue.