When it comes to completing the dapper look, nothing says suave and sophisticated quite like a clean, neatly folded pocket square. The fabric flourish is a grand touch when it comes to accessories, which means that getting things right is essential.

Follow this simple, easy to use ‘how to’ guide for those formal, black-tie occasions when nothing but the best will do for your breast pocket.

Before we take a look at folding our pocket square, let’s start by examining what we’ll need.

Choosing A Square

There are no set rules when it comes to ‘pocket squares’; theoretically, their construction can be made of any square-shaped piece of fabric you happen to have to hand.

More often than not, though, pocket squares are formed using silk handkerchiefs. Why? Firstly, handkerchiefs are easily available, uniformly shaped & styled, comparatively cheap, plus they fold easily. Secondly, they’re neatly finished around the edges for crisp corner. Lastly, the silk is luxurious and relatively easy to work with when forming.

If silk isn’t an option, a fine-spun cotton or linen will often perform the job just as cleanly without the added expense.

Selecting Your Fold

There’s no singular fold you must conform to. Just as with neckties, you’ll find a variety of options are available to you. Below is a selection of the more popular choices for you to take a look through.

Puff-Fold

puff fold pocket square

A fold so simple your six-year-old nephew could make it. Leave ample time for tucking and tweaking with this fold; there’s a fine line between laid back and lazy, and the puff fold walks it with aplomb.

Lay your square out flat on the table; pick up the square from the centre and pull to a point. Fold the pointed end up to the ‘ruffled’ end and neatly tuck into the breast pocket.

Point Fold

point fold pocket square

A simple, elegant fold that peaks up out of your jacket, adding height to your torso area. A timeless classic, always fold the bottom up three quarters of the length for added rigidity so your pocket square doesn’t droop.

Fold your square into quarters. Position the square so it appears diamond-shaped and fold the left and right corners into the centre. Fold the bottom up three quarters of the length of the design to add stability. Tuck into the pocket exposing the top half of the design.

Square Fold

square fold pocketsquare

Another timeless classic. The square peeks out the top no more than half an inch – much more and it looks like a badly misplaced napkin. Don’t be tempted to simply fold into quarters; it won’t slip neatly into your pocket, plus it’ll sag or slide without the added support of the correct folds.

Lay your square flat on the table; fold the square over to the right. Fold over to the left ensuring the resultant rectangle is the same width of your jacket pocket. Fold the bottom up three quarters of the length of the design to add stability. Tuck into the breast pocket leaving half an inch exposed.

Multipoint fold

multipoint pocket square

This is a beautiful, decorative fold that should be reserved for the most elegant of occasions; remember, it’s a highly ornamental fold, which will naturally draw much attention – don’t upstage your groomsman or special guest speaker with this design!

Fold the square roughly in half along the diagonal so the points don’t quite meet. Pull the two ends up and over far enough to make four points. Fold the edges in to match the width of your pocket. Pull up the bottom and tuck into the jacket pocket.

TOP TIP: Neatness counts with the multi-point fold, so ensure your lines are sharply defined and you practice in advance. You may want to ‘pre-fold’ several squares on the day and pick the best looking one for your pocket.

Colors & Patterns

If you’re wearing a black suit, then a white or light cream square should be your first and last choice. It’s classic, elegant and timeless. That said, you should never wear a pocket square to a funeral – it’s too flamboyant for such a somber affair.

Never match your pocket square to your suit or tie color; the lack of distinction is too bland. Nor, for that matter, should you find the most vivid, contrasting color available, void of any harmony.

bland pocket square

Ideally, you’ll want to find an accent color, using a secondary tone on your outfit as a base. Use your socks or necktie as a starting point, but remember, don’t find a match too exacting – again, a lack of distinctive contrast feels amateurish, lackluster and leaves your outfit dull.

correct handkerchief square

If you’re sold on patterns, you’ll need to use the same discerning eye as with color. Again, you want to choose designs that complement, but don’t exactly match, your outfit.

Things to Remember

Make sure your pocket square is clean and freshly laundered.
There are few things worse than a crumpled, crusty square thrown into a breast pocket. If your pocket square has been sat in a draw for the past four years, it’s best to give it a quick freshen to avoid musty pongs.

There’s nothing wrong with using your square.
Feel free to come to the rescue with your pocket square if necessary; don’t leave a teary-eyed wedding guest weeping in distress. That’s assuming it’s a handkerchief you’re using of course – you might put a damsel in even more distress if your thin linen square happens to split or leak…

Make Once, Wear Once.
Don’t reuse your pocket square without laundering again first. Never refold and tuck back in once unfurled, you won’t be able to get those crisp lines back again without a good ironing beforehand. Put that square in a side pocket out of sight.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

12 Responses

  1. Aydika Jack James

    Excellent article and illustrations. I write for our men’s style blog and couldn’t have presented it better. Thanks for the great content — and we’ll be sharing it on our Facebook page!

    Best,
    Aydika, Writer & Men’s Personal Style Expert, Hendricks Park

  2. Mark

    I have a bespoke suit where the pocket is on more on a diagonal than straight and can’t seem to find a pocket square to suit it..any suggestions???

  3. jan peters

    dear sir,

    What colours tie should one wear with a sky blue velvet jacket? Please your suggestions.

    Kind regards,
    Jan

  4. James

    Awesome article, I can’t wait to add some swag to my suit with a square

  5. Adil

    Wow! Great pocket square shapes.
    I love the puff fold very much, but unfortunately I never ever tried any of these pocket squares. Now I will use Puff fold with my grey colour suit in the upcoming event.

  6. Jojo

    Please, demonstrate how to fold the multipoint fold using a step-by-step diagramatic display

  7. Justin

    Great post! A creative way to make a “how to guide” interesting. Pocket squares are such a small detail regarding a overall look but little details is what makes an image look good. This simple step process makes it clear and concise for people to understand how to properly wear pocket squares. The images are a great help and visual aid and adds to this already amazing post.

  8. dheeraj goel

    I want to know that if I m wearing a black velvet coat then what should be the fabric of my pants? Whether it should be matching velvet or something else??????

  9. shekhar

    hi,
    can i wear pocket square during meetings and giving presentations? if yes which style pocket square should i follow?