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How to wear a pocket square in the office

how to wear a pocket square in the office

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pocket squares are a lot of fun. I can’t think of a better way to add a little personality to your wardrobe than by artfully adding a little color into your chest pocket. While many guys don’t see any problem wearing one at a wedding, they get a little timid when it comes to the workplace. Do you know how to wear a pocket square in the office?

It’s easier than you think. And with this article, I hope to give you some guidance on choosing a great looking pocket square.

In a nutshell…

How to wear a pocket square in the office:

  1. Pick the right material by matching the fabric to that of your jacket.
  2. Choose something with a pattern for a stylish look.
  3. What you need to know about matching is that your pocket square should refer to and complement the rest of your wardrobe, as opposed to matching it exactly.
  4. Fold your pocket square with the puff method (described below).

Let’s go a little more in depth.

paisley pocket square

Material

Pocket squares come in all shapes and sizes. They are most commonly silk, and made up in a 12″ x 12″ square. But we also see linen and cotton pocket squares. If you look real hard you can even find flannel and cashmere(!).

How do you know what to choose?

The rule of thumb when choosing a material is that you want to match the fabric of the pocket square to that of your jacket.

For most office use, you’ll be just fine sporting a silk pocket square because you’re probably wearing a nice woolen suit. Whereas, for linen and cotton suits, you will want to consider choosing a more textured pocket square fabric, like linen or cotton, because silk will look a little too refined for a more casual suit.

Consequently, a cotton or linen pocket square will always be more casual than a silk pocket square. A notable exception is a crisp white cotton pocket square that always looks great for black tie events and when you’re wearing a white dress shirt.

a cotton pocket square and how to wear a pocket square to the office

Patterned or solid?

Solid is obviously the easiest to match, right? But a patterned pocket square is so much more fun!

That being said, there are many different types of office environments and therefore many different answers to how to wear a pocket square in the office. If you’re in a creative field, then you’re probably OK sporting a colorful pocket square with a unique pattern. However, for a more conservative environment, it’s always a safe bet to stick to a nice crisp look — a pressed cotton pocket square that extends just a quarter to a half inch above your chest pocket.

Which brings us to…

blue check pocket squares and how to wear a pocket square in the office

Matching

If you only remember one thing after reading this article, I hope it’s this: That your pocket square should refer to and complement the rest of your wardrobe, as opposed to matching it exactly. The standard approach is to pick up some of the colors in your necktie. If you’re not wearing a necktie, then pick up some of the pattern in your dress shirt. You can even look to your socks!

If you’re just starting out learning how to wear a pocket square in the office, stick with some very basic patterns, like simple stripes or a check pattern. And something in only a couple of colors. As you become more comfortable with matching your pocket square, maybe you want to try some more unique patterns…

skull and bones pocket square and how to wear a pocket square in the office

Folds

There are many ways to fold a pocket square, but you already know that. In fact, I’d argue that the internet has made it a relatively intimidating endeavor to learn how to fold a pocket square, there are just so many options that it’s easy to feel like you won’t get it right.

In my opinion, there are two basic folds. And guess what, they’re super easy.

They are the puff and the reverse puff.

How to wear a pocket square in the office: Wrap up

Remember, in the early twentieth century, a well dressed gentleman would have never left the house without a pocket square in his chest pocket. It’s a great piece of tradition that’s certainly worth bringing back to the office.

Further reading

Our favorite summer pocket squares

Should you wear a cotton or silk pocket square?

When should you be wearing a pocket square?

elephants pocket square

nautical themed pocket square

How to know when to wear a pocket square

pocket-square

There are a lot of sources out there on the Internet that show you ways to fold a pocket square, and that very thing seems to be what most guys think of when they see a pocket square in the store or online. But, back up a minute. How do you know when to wear a pocket square in the first place?

This week we want to answer that very question. We’re going to give you some easy guidelines on choosing a pocket square based on the occasion.

In a nutshell…

Here’s how to know when to wear a pocket square

  1. Do you have a chest pocket? Then wear a pocket square!
  2. Pick the right material by matching the fabric to that of your jacket.
  3. Choose something with a pattern for a fun look over something solid.
  4. Your pocket square should refer to and complement the rest of your wardrobe, as opposed to matching it exactly.

Let’s go a little more in depth.

 

At the office

Pocket square: Conservative (maybe) and not too distracting.

There are many different types of office environments. If you’re in the arts and entertainment industry or work in some other creative field, then you’re probably OK sporting a colorful pocket square.

However, for a more conservative environment, stick to a nice crisp look – a pressed cotton pocket square that extends just a quarter to a half inch above your chest pocket. A silk pocket square is just fine too, but make sure that it’s not too distracting.

For linen and cotton suits, chose a more textured pocket square fabric, like linen or cotton. Stay away from silk because it’s going to look too refined for a more casual suit. This nod to the fabric is an important factor in knowing when to wear a pocket square

Formal events

Pocket square: White, ironed and crisp.

There’s a reason you always see a white pocket square when men dress for formal events – it helps to frame a guy’s wardrobe. You see, with a white dress shirt (like this one), it will show a little on the cuffs when you’re wearing a dark suit or tuxedo and the white pocket square extending just above your chest pocket will help to frame your overall look.

Of course, if your dress shirt color changes, then you have more room to play with the pocket square. It really just depends how formal the event is that you’re attending

Going out

Pocket square: Colorful and very liberally folded.

When you’re out on the town you can pretty much wear whatever the heck you want to! If you want a nicely refined look, iron that cotton pocket square and you’re good to go. Alternatively, find yourself a fun and colorful piece of fabric in a really unique print or pattern. You have a lot more freedom here on when to wear a pocket square – it’s entirely up to you!

Stuff it in your chest pocket so that it looks like it is almost falling out or take a more calculated approach and fold it in one of the traditional ways. Regardless, make sure that the colors in the fabric refer to your dress shirt or tie. And please, please don’t match your pocket square to your neck tie exactly.

when to wear a pocket square

 

Wrap up

So, when should you be wearing a pocket square? Well, whenever you have a chest pocket! Remember when you were a little kid? You’d collect all sorts of things and put them in your pocket. Now should be no different – if you have a pocket – fill it! 🙂

But more specifically, it’s important to understand the basic guidelines above for matching your pocket square to the occasion. The more formal the event, the less distracting your pocket square should be.

By Ryan Wagner

Further reading

Business Insider: The underrated suit accessory that no one gets right

GQ: The GQ guide to pocket squares

Bespoke Edge: 4 tricks to dress like a man in 2014