Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peer Review: Pocket Squares

Brandon Capps of Drinkin' and Dronin'

While reviewing some of Jake Davis Test Shots, I noticed that many of my favorite subjects have a common denominator: pocket squares. I've been thinking about adding pocket squares to my wardrobe for some time now but wasn't really sure where to begin. So I decided to ask my peers for some advice on how to wear one.

Jake Davis Test Shot: Gay Talese

James Wilson of Secret Forts

Joshua Kissi of Street Etiquette

Jeremy Kirkland of Start With Typewriters

I basically always where a pocket square whenever I'm wearing a sportcoat or suit. I used to be a lot flashier with my pocket squares and have a small collection of silk pocket squares in a variety of colors. However, at some point I switched to just using a white linen square folded in a "TV fold" and that's what I use about 99% of the time nowadays. Maybe a little boring, but it goes with just about

A little bit goes a long way. I like them 2 ways clean and crisp or bold and proud. You cant go in between. If your going to go crisp and clean keep it white and I like the folded sharp square look. When I'm feeling good and daring I go for color bold color and pattern. I am an advocate that your tie and pocket square should not match, however I do like to pull a little of the same color from the tie in the square. I believe that something in your outfit should always pop and when wearing a blazer or suit a pocket square is a easy way to do it.

When it comes to pocket squares I just have a couple of rules:

1. Natural fibers only. No polyester, nylon, etc.

2. Non-disposable. I have see a few people try the whole "napkin/paper towel as a pocket square" thing and it's stupid, IMO.

From there just have fun with it. White is classic. I would just go cotton and fold it when it comes to white. I have a couple of patterned cotton squares and a nice silk one an ex got me. When it comes to colors, you just have to coordinate matching isn't important. I find that busier paisley silks are easier to coordinate and look less... douchey when you go tie-less. With silk, I just stuff it in my breast pocket and play with it a bit until I get the right balance. I really like Fine and Dandy Shop's selection of classic yet fun pocket squares. J. Press also has some nice ones and The Hill-Side is definitely strong. I hope that helps.

Dreams of Perfection:
My thoughts are just don't over think it... Get yourself a crisp white cotton square, maybe a few patterned silk ones.  Fine and Dandy Shop has a good selection.  I always go with what mood I'm in.  Sometimes I like the square neat and nice, sometimes I just stuff it in.

Drinkin' and Dronin':
Two rules..texture difference and just let it ride

Inventory Magazine (Ryan Willms):
I think they're nice, easy way to add some color, pattern, texture to an outfit. Whether its formal or casual, it works nicely with a good fabric choice.

Men's Style Pro:
The "Pocket Square". Some people refer to this piece of fabric peering out of the breast pocket of your blazer, sport coat or overcoat as a handkerchief, but, I call them squares. So, why do I still refer to them as squares? Reason being is that when I typical fold and place them in my breast pocket, the shape is square with just about an eight of the inch saying hello to the world from the top of my pocket.  Pocket squares come in a range of fabric and fabric blends from cotton, linen, wool, silk and lace (holla at a doily). You can definitely stray away from wearing the "square" in the traditional manner by going with the poof, crown or just throw it in your pocket and see what happens. In the summer when the sweat is dripping down my face, I carry a square in my inside pocket to wipe my forehead and one to complete my look. I like my squares to be functional and stylish all at the same time. The great thing about a pocket square is that is doesn't have to be a formal "pocketsquare", I cut fabric from old pattern shirts that I was going to get rid of, fold it up and presto chango i've got another pocket square.  

Mister Mort:
1.NOT flowing out your pocket. 2. ONLY in breast pocket

Noah Emrich:
Only in breast pockets of blazers and sport coats. Never in a shirt pocket. Sometimes in a back pocket in lieu of a bandanna and vice versa. Don't spend too much time making it perfect in your pocket either. Just stuff it in and go, just don't leave it hanging out and flopping about

Start With Typewriters:
My opinion is always the less amount of time you spend on a pocket square the better

Just stuff it in and go…

I love using old fabric swatches too.

to take the train:
I'm like you I don't know too much about pocket squares.  I've got a buddy that wears one almost daily.  He swears by them.  I think the general rule on pocket squares is to find one that doesn't match your shirt or tie.  "Coordinated contrast" is the term my buddy says. 

When it doubt go to the Style Guy:

I love those pocket squares from the Hill-Side that are popping up everywhere.  I'm definitely going to get behind them this fall.  It's time to step my game up.

I have a few.  I like to buy 'em but never wear them.  I have beautiful Hermes squares and a Ferragamo that is wildly colorful.  They're like these little pieces of art but they stay in a drawer for the most part.

I've tried to wear them. I'll take one out, pull it by the center and stick it upside down in my pocket. But for some reason it always looks affected to me.  Like I'm trying too hard.  I guess I'm afraid someone might say, "Hey, nice pocket square."  And I'd wanna hit them.

The William Brown Project
I like 'em.
vintage bandanna, lands end makes some good one's and I like the Italian cotton from chance.

My two cents on pocket squares: learns the folds…then don't think about it and just stuff it in there.  Given my personal style, I try and keep the fabrics and textures varied in my shirt/tie/jacket/square.

I really like pocket squares. And not just pocket squares. Crazy, loud pocket squares. On my last count, I had somewhere around twenty. Two linen and two cotton, and the rest silk. Most of the silk ones have some sort of paisley pattern. I just recently bought my first linen squares, knowing there would be times when I would want something a little more low-key than huge red paisleys. However, I love pairing a crazy pocket square with a somewhat conservative outfit. I think it can push a great outfit over the edge (either into awesome or aweful). I think my affinity for pocket squares comes from the fact that they are probably what got me into dressing nicer.

Nowadays I don't wear as many (I don't wear as many jackets), but when I do, I still just grab a square at almost random (making sure it doesn't match too well with my tie) and just stuff it in there. Most of my squares are large paisleys or geometric patterns. I'm a big fan of huge obnoxious colorful squares. I don't do the folds anymore, just try and get in there in an interesting way (yea yea that's what she said).


Whether patterned or solid, tossed in the pocket or perfectly asymmetrical, a pocket square is a quick and easy way to infuse personality into one’s style. Try not to over think it but rather experiment with pocket squares of different textures and fabrics to give yourself different looks throughout the seasons. Maybe even throw in some sentimental handkerchief (such as a Cub's Scout handkerchief) to change it up a bit.

Photo credits: Jake Davis


  1. Awesome post man -really collaborative. For my personal fashion sense, I think James' look (#3) is perfect. Casual prep, right? Which reminds me, I need a denim shirt.