The two pocket square folds you must know

I’m always amazed to see articles and infographics with titles such as “50 essential pocket square folds”. How 50 folds could be essential I have no idea and of course one would need an infographic to remember all 50, most of which are impractical and fail to really bring out the best of your pocket squares.

In our view, there are two folds that matter and these are all you need know. One of these is very common and we can thank the Mad Men series for bringing it back to life. The other I rarely find documented yet it shows up in magazines all the time, most notably some of our favourite Japanese men’s style magazines.

The first of these is known as the square or presidential fold and is possibly the most subtle pocket square fold, great for those just venturing into the world of pocket handkerchiefs. The second is a variation on the puff or throw fold and I call it the Four Point Throw. It’s great for those who are a bit more adventurous and it really highlights the colours and patterns in your hanks. It has a casual flare about it and is practical in that it will survive most of the day with only an occasional adjustment.

The square fold

This can vary a little depending on the size of your hank and the size of your pocket, but in essence fold your hank in half, then in half again to form a smaller square. Fold this square in half to form a narrow rectangle that should fit in your pocket as is. If not you can fold it into thirds to make it narrow enough for your pocket. Insert into your pocket whichever way up you prefer for your hank’s print. If you’re doing this with a white cotton or linen hank (very Mad Men!) be sure not to over press your hank otherwise it can look like a folded piece of white paper in your pocket. Inserting into your pocket can be a little tricky at times so to help I find the end of a wire coat hanger is perfect for pushing the end down flat into your pocket.

The four point throw

Lay your hank flat and lightly pinch it in the centre and lift up. Gently fold the four corners, which are hanging down, up and behind the part you pinched. Then release the pinch and adjust it to puffed up a little before finally inserting into the pocket with both the puff and the four corners at the top. Tweak out the corners as you like or push them down a little if you prefer. This fold has a casual air to it and has the benefit of highlighting both the centre and the edges of your hanks. It works best with a larger hank ideally 35 to 40cms. This is the fold used in most of our pocket square photos on this website.

Matching your pocket square

Don’t forget, the pocket handkerchief is great on its own without a tie. However for those days when you want to pair it with a tie, there are a few important rules to follow.

Firstly, unless you’re in a wedding party, never wear a hank and tie of the same fabric together. Sadly these sets are very commonly sold and wearing them together will just look too matched. If you happen to have one of these sets don’t throw it away, just don’t wear it together. Matching then becomes a personal choice but we like to always ensure one or two colours are repeated in the tie and the hank. Pattern wise try to pick two patterns that contrast with each other, a little like pairing a tie with a shirt. If your tie has a large pattern, go with a small one on your hank. If your tie has stripes, consider poker-dots or paisley on your hank. As with anything this takes some practice and is always a personal choice.

As we’ve said before, we believe the pocket handkerchief is one of the most under-rate men’s accessory. We hope these tips help you add them to your fashion repertoire.