My career and my style don’t lie: I love suits and I love to stand out in a crowd.
But no matter how far I took my look – brightly colored trousers and jackets, unusual tie and shirt color combinations – there came a point when I felt like there was something missing. That’s when I fell in love with pocket squares. A well-chosen one can take your look from impressive, to unforgettable.
I’m not the only one who’s realized this. Pocket squares, or pochettes, as I like to call them, have gotten big in recent years. But like anything that’s popular, you’ve got your quality pocket squares, and ones that aren’t so great. If you’re thinking about getting into the game, or if you want to add a few more to your collection…
Here are some ways to make sure you’re buying quality pocket squares :
Fabric quality. Pocket squares come in a variety of fabrics, most commonly silk, linen, or cotton. Sometimes, you’ll find guys who want to be a little more unusual and will use thicker fabrics like wool –but generally this should only be done in fall or winter weather. Whatever fabric you choose, make sure it doesn’t look cheap and that it doesn’t wrinkle easily. If it looks like it has small tears or has already caught on something simply while on display, that’s a red flag.
Edges. If you’re ever in a situation where someone tries to sell you a pocket square that’s just a cut of fabric with unfinished edges, WALK AWAY. Not only is that going to look sloppy and weird in your pocket; it probably means the entire piece of fabric will gradually unravel. Luckily, I’ve never personally come upon this kind of thing, and I don’t think it’s very common. Most pocket squares have edges that are hemmed — that is, a few millimeters of the fabric are folded over and sewn. Sometimes you’ll see edges that look rougher and rolled, instead of neatly folded. As long as the thread looks to be in good condition, not frayed or uneven, this is completely okay – it’s just an aesthetic choice.
Staying power. When it comes to pocket squares, size matters. Smaller ones can slip and shift in your pocket, meaning that by the end of the day they’re coming unfolded or have completely disappeared from view. Although there are exceptions, generally, you want to try for the standard size (usually about 12×12 to15x15 inches (30.5 x30.5 cm to 38×38 cm)) or even one that’s slightly bigger.
Stay away from sketchy websites. It’s happened to the best of us: You’re looking for pocket squares online and you get to a site that features (sometimes blurry) pocket square pictures with unbelievably low prices beside them. So you order a few…and end up with a dinky version of what you saw in the photo. Sure, you didn’t spend a lot of money. But now you’ve got a pochette that’s way too small or has unfinished edges. There could be a stinky chemical smell and wrinkles that just won’t iron out. There’s nothing wrong with discovering a new place to get pochettes – just make sure the prices seem reasonable, the photos are legit, and check if there are customer reviews on the site and in a general online source, too.
Don’t let the price fool you. Just as you might fall into the trap of incredibly low prices, some pocket squares are way too overpriced. These may be high quality products. For example, you can find pocket squares by fashion houses like Hermes that retail for hundreds of dollars/euros. That seems like a lot to me – and to many other pocket square fans. It’s one of the reasons I started my company, Glamorous Pochette: I want every guy to be able to afford a great-looking, quality pocket square that will catch eyes and spark conversations. Our clients include wealthy businessmen, stars, and socialites, but many others are just regular guys with a normal budget and great taste.
Make sure it’s unique. You’re wearing a pochette to make a statement, so why be boring? Either the texture should be surprising and interesting, or the pattern should be unforgettable. If you do prefer a simple white square, make sure your fold is as sharp as possible, and that the fabric gives you a white that’s crisp and clean-looking, boldly standing out. But I’d still highly suggest taking things to the next level and choosing a color or even a really interesting pattern. Some shops (including mine) offer unique, one-of-a-kind or limited edition prints, so that you’ll be noticed even in a crowd of fellow pochette enthusiasts.
Of course, no matter how high-quality your pocket square is…
… if you don’t know how to wear it, it might as well be garbage. Here are two essential pocket square rules:
A pocket square doesn’t have to exactly match something else.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules in fashion, but generally speaking, the idea with a pocket square is to complement the other colors you’re wearing, not match them. For example, if you’ve got on a blue suit and tie, a yellow pocket square or a patterned pocket square with yellow and blue tones would look great. You can look at illustrations and tips in men’s fashion guides, magazines, or websites if you’re in doubt. And if you want to start simple, a white pochette goes with just about everything.
There are so many great men’s accessories out there, from bowties, to cufflinks, to tie pins. But remember that the point of a pocket square is to draw attention. If you’re wearing the entire arsenal of men’s accessories all at once, people won’t know where to look! Choose what you wear carefully – for example, if you’re rocking a pocket square, keep the tie and cufflinks, but leave the tie pin at home.
Now you know what to look for when you buy your next pocket square. So head out there and put a little more style in your look and a spark of appreciation in people’s eyes!
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This article was originally published in Glamorous Pochette Blog: How to find a quality Pocket Square