Mind the details: pocket Square

A few of my pocket squares: Paul Smith, Reiss, TM Lewin, Tie Rack and Marks and Spencer

I’m starting a series on men’s accessories called ‘Mind The Details.’ ‘Mind The Details’ will explore men’s accessories and how they add value to your look. The purpose is to identify certain pieces that will take your dress game to the next level with little effort. To kick this off, lets start with my favourite piece of accessory, the pocket square.

If you have being reading my blog then you would know that whenever I talk about a fashion piece, I like to give a brief background or history to get things into perspective. I would’ve loved to do the same for the pocket square but I am not even going to try.

Simple reason being the origin of this piece of accessory is so unclear that different writers attribute it to different “inventors” from varying civilization. Because I like to talk in absolutes and facts except when I am expressing my views and opinions (which I usually make clear), I will leave the origins of this beautiful piece to the historians.

Packet square with a double breasted blazer

I have no intentions of digging up the remains of King Richard 11 of England (1367 – 1400) to ask him whether he had a hand in creating the pocket square. And just in case you are indeed interested in finding out the origins, please come back and share with us. Word of caution though, history favors the views of the writer regardless of facts.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s have a quick look at how the pocket square was used hundreds of years ago and try to relate it to present day use.

Before it became a fashion accessory, the pocket square was primarily used for health and hygiene purposes such as wiping hands and face, blowing nose or covering it to block out bad odors. It was also used by ancient Greeks to cover their heads. As time moved on, it became necessary to distinguish this small piece of cloth based on it uses, known at the time only as Kerchief. For the piece used primarily by the hand, word hand was added to kerchief (hence handkerchief) to differentiate it from the one used to cover the head.

Like the necktie, this was used by the upper class in different societies. Due to the stench from the streets and the odor of the working class men, nobles and upper class people would add perfume to the hanky to hold it close to their noses to disguise the smell.

Even though this piece of cloth is still referred to as the handkerchief by many, it is more commonly known as the pocket square in fashion circles. The difference lies in its function. The pocket square is strictly for fashion purposes and belongs in your suit or blazer or outer top garment’s pocket, whiles the handkerchief is for blowing the nose and wiping sweat and this belongs in your trouser pocket or the inside of your top garment.

Now that we have a bit of background to the original functions and how the name has evolved, let us now focus on the fashion and modern day use of this cloth known as the pocket square.

Some writers and commentators say that matching your pocket square to your tie is a fashion faux pas. All I can say to that is, its subjective.  I have matched my pocket square exactly to my tie and I personally think it’s a great look. Whether you want to match your pocket square to your tie or not, there are a few things you must consider. Does your entire look already have a lot going on? If so, then it may be wise to play safe and not try to introduce a completely different pattern or colour to the mix.

I personally think that the right pocket square can transform an everyday look into a more sophisticated one. The pocket square, just like the necktie, allows the user to instantly switch between levels of presentation. In a society where wearing a suit and tie is not only common but expected, the pocket square is the deal breaker to separate the men from the boys.

Pocket square with a denim jacket

Oh and do not for one minute think you can only wear a pocket square if you have a suit on. I have personally won a pocket square over a denim jacket to give the look a bit of a twist. So go ahead and experiment with your packet square.

I will be doing a blog post on the different kinds of folds you can use for a pocket square

I’ll be continuing with the theme of pocket squares. Next time i’ll be looking at the different folds such as the one point, two points, three points etc.

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