“Do we have what?” the confused store clerk would say incredulously.
“Pocket Squares. You know, the pieces of fabric that you put into your front pocket.”
“Oh yeah. Ummm, I don’t know, we may have something thrown in with the ties”
And so it was, that a few crumpled pieces of silk would be unceremoniously tucked in with a ties in men’s stores if you were lucky. It just wasn’t always easy to find pocket squares. I remember repeatedly searching men’s sections in disappointment to find perhaps a white cotton pocket square.
It was a hunt. Usually, most places would have some packs of white cotton handkerchiefs. Finding a paisley or patterned square was like striking gold. I was hooked. I got into the hunt. It was like I was back in middle school furiously tearing open packages of Pokemon cards desperately hoping to find the Foil Charizard.
Except this time it was just the right shade of purple in a pocket square to be able to finish the outfit I had in my head. And I didn’t have to buy the pack of pocket squares in order to be able to find out what was in there. Which actually would not be the worst idea in the world for a menswear designer. If Paul Smith started selling packs of pocket squares with limited editions in them, I would probably be the first in line.
The point was, that it was a hunt, an adventure, and I honestly began collecting pocket squares. It started with a few solids, a light blue, yellow, red. Then a few patterns, some paisleys, and polka dots. Vintage pocket squares from old friends and relatives. Eventually, I had more pocket squares than most men do ties. I could mix and match at a whim.
Today, if you are looking for a pocket square, there are a ton more options. Most major department stores have racks of them near the ties, and most menswear clothiers have them as well. Men’s Wearhouse used to sell pocket squares for $10-$15, and had a decent selection. That’s the only thing I’d recommend you buying there though. Online, The Tie Bar has a huge selection for around $10-$15. I don’t subscribe to the notion that you should spend a fortune on pocket squares.
If you’re just starting out, I’d say go with the primary colors. Blue is probably the single most common color worn by most men, so I would say a nice yellow pattern, or blue pattern with yellow would be an excellent choice. A simple but favorite outfit of mine is a nice oxford blue shirt with a white collar, a navy blazer, khaki’s, and a solid red pocket square that just adds that dash of color. Classic and understated, but the pocket square makes it.
Today’s fold is the easiest one. The Puff. It can work for anything, though generally works best with silk, or a soft cotton. It can be formal, though I generally tend to wear it more casually. Pictures are barely necessary for describing this one.
1. Take your pocket square and grab it in its center.
2. Let it hang.
3. Take your other hand and make a loose circle. Draw the pocket square through your other hand until you’ve drawn 4-5″ of fabric through. It should form a puff at the top.
4. Fold the lower half of the square under to lock in the fold. Or rather puff.
5. Boom, there you have it. Place into your pocket and fluff as needed.
Any questions, feel free to contact me! Seamus@smkstyle.com