How to fold a pocket square

Hip to be square

Obvious effort is the antithesis of grace – at least when deciding to adorn your shirt with a pocket square. Especially in our city where pocket squares might come off contrived and pretentious, the trick is to keep it subtle.

Because it’s the little things that make the big picture, we’ve pulled together a nifty beginner’s guide to handling the accessory with panache.

A pocket square is a handkerchief placed in the top pocket of men’s suits. This visible fashion item not only adds interest to an otherwise plain outfit, but can also hint at your personality. How modest or flamboyant you wish to appear is dependent on factors such as the fold, print and material of the handkerchief.

1) Choose the right materials. Although casual and convenient, cotton or polyester lies flat and limp. Cotton also comes off as stiff. Linen makes a more viable — and affordable — alternative, but for best results, stick to silk or wool, as both materials give a pocket square natural drape and volume.

2) Complement, not contrast. The general rule of thumb is that the print of the pocket square should sport a similar shade of your tie or bow tie. For example, if your tie has a bit of blue, picking a pocket square with a similar shade, be it plain or patterned, harmoniously brings the two pieces together.

3) Be bold. Never be afraid to experiment with different colours, folds, materials and prints. After all, you won’t know what works till you’ve tried it.

Not sure where to start? Here are three simple but sleek folds you can emulate.

Triangular fold
Also known as the ‘one-tip up’ fold, and works best with solid, non-white squares.
• Lay the pocket square on a flat surface with its corners pointing outwards like a compass.
• Fold one corner up so you get two overlapping triangles.
• Fold one side of the triangle towards the centre.
• Do the same for the other side.
• Place it in your pocket, with just the triangle sticking out.


Three tips up fold
Also known as the the ‘crown’ fold, and works best for patterned squares.
• Lay the pocket square on a flat surface with its corners pointing outwards like a compass.
• Fold the bottom corner up, just slightly left of the top corner, so that both triangles overlap.
• Fold the left side up towards the right of the middle ‘peak’.
• Fold the right side in straight across to the left to form the base.
• Place it in your pocket so that both peaks just peek out slightly.

Casual fold
Also known as the ‘puff’, and works best for paisley patterned, tarten checks, and polka dots squares.
• Lay the pocket square on a flat surface.
• Pinch the centre and pick it up.
• Form a ring around the pocket square with your thumb and index finger of your other hand.
• Flip the square upside down.
• Place it in your pocket, and don’t be afraid to tinker with it. Adjust it to fit the width of your pocket, and puff it up to create more volume.

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Published 29th December 2015