How to Choose and Wear a Pocket Square

Groom and his groomsmen

The pocket square doesn’t let it all hang out like other suit accessories (we’re lookin’ at you, neckties), but they’re an important element of your suit or tuxedo wedding outfit. If you haven’t worn a pocket square before, just picking one to wear can be a pain, and that’s assuming you know how to fold the thing.

Don’t worry—this pocket square guide by The BLK Tux will give you ideas for coordinating with your other accessories, teach you our favorite folds and generally, show you how to wear a pocket square.

How to Wear a Pocket Square

Pocket squares are meant to be worn in the outer breast pocket of a suit, tuxedo or blazer. They’re purely decoration—not to be mistaken for the utility-oriented handkerchief.

Pocket Square vs. Handkerchief 

The primary difference between a pocket square and handkerchief is heft—pocket squares aren’t built to absorb all… that. If you stuff a clean hanky in your jacket’s breast pocket, it’s going to get bulky.

Squares are typically made of lightweight cotton, linen or silk, and they’re usually a little smaller, too. Handkerchiefs are made of a heavier cotton for obvious sneezons.

How Should a Pocket Square Look? 

While your need may vary, it’s usually best if your square looks like you casually placed it in your pocket without a lot of thought. You won’t be living that stuff and roll life. You’re going to need to learn to fold it—more on how to fold a pocket square in a moment (it’s not as hard as you may think).

How to Choose a Pocket Square

Pocket square designs run the gamut, from plain white to a simple pattern, to an intricate work of art. Choosing one can seem complicated, mostly because you don’t want your pocket square clashing with your tie. Ideally, they support each other. So, matching your tie and square designs exactly would be the safest way to go. Truth is, that’s the only wrong way to do it.

You want your pocket square to complement your tie. They should be similar, but not the same. Here are a few examples of what we mean.

Black pindot silk bow tie from The Black Tux

Assorted fabrics for a pocket square

We’ll start easy with a pretty simple black bow tie—this one has a pin dot pattern. If you’re wearing a black bow tie, the event is most likely formal. You’ll want to rein in the impulse to go big, but you can still make it interesting. First, a white linen pocket square goes with everything. The one on the left (above) has a black shoestring border—a nod to your black bow tie. As we mentioned, you don’t want to duplicate the pattern on your tie, so this menzies tartan square in the middle photo above also works well. It’s similar, but not the same. Or, if you want something playful, the leopard design square (right) is perfect because its black and white color scheme supports the bow tie.

Want to turn it up a notch? A  purple plaid (tartan) tie is just the right move.

Starting with the obvious: the circles design pocket square (left) uses the same color scheme as the tie—greens, purples and some black—without copying its pattern. This is about as matchy as you want to get. If you look closely, there’s a very light lavender line within the tie’s pattern, so the blue-grey color of the black quad square (middle) accentuates it nicely without being loud. Finally, as mentioned in the previous example, a white linen pocket square works with everything, and it lets the bold tie shine.

As you get more comfortable choosing and pairing, you’ll feel more confident taking risks and showing your own unique style.

How to Fold a Pocket Square

There are at least 52 ways to fold a pocket square. If you’re into variety (and folding things), flex away. However, if we’re correct and the goal of a pocket square is nonchalance and effortless elegance, that’s too much. Below, you’ll find The BLK Tux’s top four folds in order of difficulty, with step-by-step fold instructions.

THE PRESIDENTIAL FOLD

The Presidential pocket square foldHail to the classic. If this fold reminds you of Mad Men’s Don Draper, that means his clean, powerful look has stayed with you over the several years since the show ended—proof that this fold is timeless.

Diagram of how to fold a Presidential pocket square

1. Lay the pocket square flat.
2. Fold the left side neatly over the right. Align the edges.
3. Fold the bottom about 2/3 of the way up to the top. Arrange in your pocket so a half inch of the single top folded layer peeks out.

THE ONE TIP UP FOLD

The One Tip pocket square foldHard to create a name-inspired witticism here without talking anatomy, so we won’t do that. The one tip up fold is in a similar category as the tidy Presidential, but you’re less likely to see 30 other people wearing their square this way at a wedding or party.

Diagram of how to fold a One Tip pocket square

1. Lay the pocket square flat, tip up.
2. Fold the lower tip up to neatly create a triangle.
3. Fold the left triangle point halfway across to the right.
4. Fold the right triangle point across to the left edge. Arrange in your pocket so a triangle peeks out from your pocket.

THE PUFF FOLD

The Puff Fold pocket square style

This one has effortless charisma. No two puff folds are going to look alike, and that’s why it’s the play if you want to stand out.

1. Gather a bit of fabric in the center of the pocket square with your dominant hand.
2. Lift it up and let it hang. (Oh yeah.)
3. Gather the hanging end together with your other hand.
4. Release the top from your dominant hand, and fold the loose ends of the bottom up. Place the folded portion in the bottom of your pocket, leaving a puff of square blooming from your pocket. (How much is up to you, but less is usually more.)

THE THREE-POINT FOLD

The Three-Point Pocket Square fold

How to fold a Three-Point pocket square diagramSteph Curry’s favorite fold, for obvious reasons. This is fussier than the Puff, but in a similar league—you’ll definitely have a unique square. Don’t worry about perfection.

1. Lay the pocket square flat, point up.
2. Fold the lower tip up, slightly overlapping the top tip.
3. Fold the left corner point up and across the overlapping tips at the top.
4. Fold the right corner straight over to the left. Arrange in your pocket so that the three points peek out of your pocket.