Happy Friday Gents! I know it has been awhile for fresh content on our blog but as I noted yesterday I had the flu for about 10 days. It was hard enough to function let alone try to utilize the itsy bitsy amount of creativity in my brain.
Anyway, I am back now at least for this week and I didn’t want another Friday to go by without some fashion advice. From my recent travels I can tell you fashion advice for me is still very much needed. Today we are talking about pocket squares. Using the pocket square is no longer utilitarian like it was back in the day but rather is used to set yourself apart from the other gorillas out there and to attract those peacocks. See below for a little history on the pocket square and the appropriate ways to wear it. Follow the advice below based on your own personality but don’t be afraid to take a chance and step outside of your fashion comfort zone. Few things get a persons attention like a great pocket square and a sharp looking suit. I hope you enjoy!
Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means “to cover,” and chef, which means “head.”
In the time of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today. But in the Middle Ages, kerchiefs were usually used to cover the head.
Then in the 16th century, people in Europe began to carry kerchiefs in their pockets to wipe their forehead or their nose. To distinguish this kind of kerchief from the one used to cover the head, the word “hand” was added to “kerchief”.
King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399, is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose. Certainly they were in existence by Shakespeare’s time, and a handkerchief is an important plot device in his play Othello.
The material of a handkerchief can be symbolic of the social-economic class of the user, not only because some materials are more expensive, but because some materials are more absorbent and practical for those who use a handkerchief for more than style. Handkerchiefs can be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.
Handkerchiefs were also used, especially by children, as an impromptu way to carry around small items when a bag or basket was unavailable. They could also serve as a substitute for a bandage over a small injury. In the United Kingdom, the habit of wearing a handkerchief with tied corners on one’s head at the beach has become a seaside postcard stereotype, referenced by the Gumby characters in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In Spanish football or in bullfighting, it is a common sight to see supporters waving white handkerchiefs as an expression of deep emotion. It is used both positively, in admiration of an exceptional performance by a team or player, or as a negative sign of disgust at an especially bad performance.
From the late 18th century white handkerchiefs were waved, generally by women (men usually waved their hats), to demonstrate approval at public events such as processions or political rallies.
Using handkerchiefs to accentuate hand movements while dancing is a feature of both West African and African-American traditional dance, in the latter case especially in wedding celebrations. Handkerchiefs are also traditional accouterments in certain kinds of English folk-dance.
Besides their intended use, they could be used for cleaning equipment, polishing shoes, cleaning hands and face, signalling for attention, as a sweat band, neckerchief, as protection from dust inhalation, to repair footwear, cut out pieces to patch clothes, cut up as emergency firearms cleaning patches, Molotov cocktail wick (fire-bomb), hot cooking utensil holder, a makeshift bandage, tourniquet or arm sling.
With the development of the modern two and three piece suits during the 19th century, the handkerchief would be tucked into the breast pocket by men not wishing it to become sullied by dirty objects in their other pockets, and thus the pocket square was born.
HOW TO WEAR IT
Use this traditional fold if you are going for the classy, crisp, understated and ah hem “Presidential” look at your next event. If it makes you feel better it is the same fold used by James Bond. Extra points if your pocket square has color around the outer edge. (Please note: pocket squares and ties are NEVER supposed to match. It can match your shirt but it can’t look like you bought both in a two for one sale.)
This is sometimes called “The Puff” but I think we can all agree that sounds lame. So instead we will use the more popular name “The Cooper,” so named for Gary Cooper (if you don’t know who that is, I can’t help you any more.) As you can see from above this square simply needs to be made into a puff and gently placed in your pocket. Easy.
This is certainly not your father’s style of folding a pocket square and can be a bit tricky to pull off. You don’t want it to look like you crammed it in your pocket with no thought. You should only use this type of fold if you are looking to show off the pattern or edges of your pocket square, otherwise this fold serves no purpose and you will look odd.
The Four Point Fold
This is another classic fold for your pocket square and certainly will set you apart from others wearing pocket squares. If you need help making this fold you can find it here (although please see below for what The Cagney really looks like)
The Cagney is most easily described as a backwards Four Point fold with one of the points not being exposed as shown above. You can pretty much following the link above on the Four Point fold and you can pull of this look. It resembles a flower emerging from your pocket but there isn’t anything wrong with that and again will help to highlight any patterns, color or other embellishment on the edges.
The Reverse Puff
This one has several different names but is really a quick and dirty version of the Four Point Fold. Lay the pocket square on a table; grab it in the middle with your thumb and forefinger; bunch it into your fist with the four corners point out and then stuff in your pocket. Boom. Done.
There are plenty of other ways to wear a pocket square but this will have you covered for the time being. As you feel more comfortable wearing one (and getting intriguing looks from others) you can experiment with other styles and folds. Feel free to add a lapel pin for extra pizzazz!