Not just for old men
My father always had a half-dozen or so plain white pocket squares, which he would fold oh-so-carefully and insert into his suit pocket every Sunday. Back then they weren’t called “pocket squares,” he always just called them “hankies.” They served a practical purpose outside of decoration, and he would pull it out of the breast pocket of his suit to wipe his glasses, or clean the dirt off of my eight-year-old self’s face. Sometimes he would use it to mop up the excess Brylcreem he insisted on slathering onto my head. From time to time it would be pressed into service to attend to my runny nose.
Pocket squares are once again in style, and instead of the plain white ones, men are wearing them in all colors and styles, and hopefully not using them to wipe pomade off their hair. Before you get into choosing your favorite colors and styles, you need to master the art of folding. Just watch a few episodes of Mad Men and you’ll see what I mean. Creative Director Don Draper always wore his in a plain flat fold, founder Bert Cooper had a perfect three-point fold. Salvatore Romano was probably the most style-conscious character of all the Mad Men, and he would rotate between a flat fold, a single point, and a more casual rounded puff. Once you’ve folded a few, you’ll get the hang of it. And for God’s sake, don’t buy those fake pre-folded ones that come stapled to the top of a cardboard insert! Yes, it’s easy, but you want to be able to occasionally pull out that pocket square in a stylish and gentlemanly flourish when a woman is in need.
Pocket squares usually come in cotton or silk, and you should have some of each – some plain white, along with a variety of colors to match your suit. Add a couple patterned ones for casual occasions. I discovered the latest eye-popping trend from a company called Mister Burlap, who has brought a new hip take on the pocket square. Their tagline is “It’s hip to be squared!”, showing us that yes, pocket squares aren’t just for old guys, and I love their new take on an old traditional concept. It’s pocket squares made of burlap, and it can really make an ordinary suit “pop.”
It’s a real conversation starter and it looks cool and trendy, and it adds a little bit of a rugged look to your ensemble. Each one comes packaged in its own little burlap bag. I’m definitely adding a few of these to my rotation.
Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.