My dad has always been a sharp dresser. Bespoke suits, fine silk ties, and a collection of shoes to make any man envious. I think I was in my teens before I had ever seen him in what he would consider casual attire (casual for him means without tie, he even digs around in his garden in a dress shirt!). A friends mom once remembered my dad coming to my little league baseball games, the only dad there dressed in a suit and tie. As long as I can remember, he was never without a pocket square. Before stepping out, he would always take one last look in the mirror and tuck it deeply into his pocket, give it a tug, letting it peek out of the top.
Originating in England (it has been noted as early as the 14th century), the pocket square or handkerchief was used for hygienic reasons, to wipe the face or blow the nose. By the 19th century, an early version of the two piece suit we know today came into fashion and with that, the pocket square became a standard in a man's wardrobe for practical (nose blowing) and fashionable (looking good) reasons.
Once fancy folding techinques reared their heads, the square had become a must have accessory for any man, allowing him to showcase his individual style.
With the invention of the disposable hankerchief (thank you Mr. Kleenex!), the square started to lose its importance and with the continuing quest to be less 'formal' and more 'casual' in our lives (and wardrobes and grooming and manners and I could go on all day!) the pocket square became a relic, an item associated with old men and the past.
The resurgence of the pocket square has young men of 2010 pairing theirs with everything from formal suits and ties to sport jackets and jeans. They know a fabulous way to bring their look up a notch when they see it.
I have added a little instructional guide below for three of the most common folding techniques but when I started to my research, I never knew their were so many ways to fold such a little piece of material.
The Straight Fold
Lay your pocket square flat and bring left side to right side.
Bring the bottom towards the top and then fold in thirds horizontally to fit pocket appropriately.
The One Corner Fold
Lay pocket square flat so that it is in a diamond shape (one point north, one point south)and bring bottom point to meet top point (making a triangle)
Bring left corner to the right corner and then right corner to left corner making a slim rectangle with a point at the top. Fold the bottom towards the top but stop short before base of top peak (making it look like a shorter version of the slim rectangle mentioned before. Place it in your pocket and adjust till you have your preferred amount of peak sticking out.
The Puff FoldLay pocket square flat. Pinch middle of fabric and with one hand firmly holding the square, use other hand to gather fabric together.
While continuing to hold middle of fabric, bring top of square to meet bottom, stick in pocker and arrange appropriately until you are pleased with the puff.
I am on a quest for all men, young and old alike, to start sporting them once again. Ladies now is the chance to sneak a little fashion advice passed your husbands. Even the most relaxed of men have to slip on a suit and tie sometimes, and that's were you come in. My husband does not wear a suit that often but after introducing him to the beauty of a pocket square, he never puts on a suit without one.
(okay, truth be told, when I first bought one for him and brought it home, his only response was "what am I supposed to do with this?" accompanied by a blank stare. With a little coersion from me, he wore it for the first time to a wedding and received so many compliments that he started buying them for himself. He has never put on a suit without one since!)