Fashion Friday – The Pocket Square

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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!

THE HISTORY

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.

MODERN USAGE

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

The Presidential

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.)

The Cooper

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.

The Sailboat

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

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!

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Jack the Melancholy Octopus Pt. 2 (Repost)

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(Sorry for the delay in my posts but two weeks of the flu will knock you out for a bit.  Here is Pt. 2 as promised even if it is a little late.)

As Jack approached the field he attempted to muster up some fake happiness and give his parents a friendly, warm and confident smile and wave. He was unable to tell if he had succeeded, he certainly didn’t feel confident nor all that friendly. In his heart he had no joy. He hated this moment and just wanted it to be over so he could go home and forget he ever met Roberta. How could she not be here? How could she be so selfish? How could he have been so wrong about her? With those and a million more thoughts Jack stepped up to the throwing circle.

Mr. Riley, the track and field official (and sea turtle) came over to Jack and gave him his first Hammerhead to toss. “Now Jack once that bell rings you have 60 seconds to throw it otherwise you fault. Let that happen twice and you double-fault and are disqualified from the competition. After your first throw you will have two minutes before your second throw to make any adjustments. Do you understand?”

“Mmph” was the only reply Jack gave. Apparently it was satisfactory for Mr. Riley as he shuffled off to ring the bell.

*Ring ring*

Jack could have sworn that bell could wake the dead. The big countdown clock flashed on and started counting down. It was Jack’s normal routine in the Hammerhead toss to use the full 60 seconds before making the throw. He always felt it was a waste if he didn’t take all the time allotted. For today, at least on his first throw, he didn’t care.

Before the clock even reached 50 seconds Jack went into the classic spin motion that Roberta had encouraged him to use and that he was the most comfortable with. Unfortunately for Jack it was also the riskiest of the methods in the Shark toss. Using this method Jack would normally spin around twice and on the third time around he would step up and let loose his shark. Spinning more than three times was just not a good idea.

Jack tried to concentrate and put Roberta out of his mind and focus on the throw. He knew his parents loved him regardless of his performance and whether he succeeded or failed he knew they would still be the same great parents at the end of the day. However, as he spun to throw on his third spin a wave of sadness came crashing violently inside of his head like a tsunami. He accidentally stepped on the stop-board, stumbled as he threw and stepped outside the throwing circle.

The silent shock of the onlookers was like a cacophony to Jack making him wish he were dead and desperately hoping the next bell wouldn’t bring him back. “How could this have happened?” Jack cried aloud in his heart. It was then Jack realized he should have just quit months ago; that this whole season had been a monumental waste of his time.

Mr. Riley quickly came over to make sure Jack was okay and signaled to the other official he might need some additional time before his next throw. “Jack, oh boy Jack are you okay? That was a nasty trip. If you are hurt you are allowed an additional five minutes to recover if needed.”

Jack was silent.

“Jack? Did you hear me”Pleaded Mr. Riley.

Jack was in a daze. He didn’t even want to make his next throw, what was the point? He had utterly embarrassed himself on the biggest stage possible! There was nowhere he could go though. He didn’t want to be a failure in the eyes of his fellow athletes not after making it this far. His third and fourth tentacle ached but nowhere near the ache in his heart. He simply didn’t feel he had the strength or desire to get up and throw again.

“Please let me have a few minutes” Jack said.

“Yes of course, of course!” the old sea turtle replied. “When the buzzer rings next that will mark the end of the five minutes you will then have to head back to the throwing circle for your final toss.”

“I understand” Jack said without emotion.

His parents looked concerned and how could he blame them? He had made a fool of himself and Octopuses everywhere! Now he had only one chance at redemption, one opportunity to salvage his dignity but he wasn’t interested. His mind began to drift and he just sat staring straight ahead. He didn’t know how long he had been doing that when from behind him; somewhere off in a far away world he heard his father’s voice, “Jack, Jack! Son, come over here quickly!”

His father had climbed down to the edge of the field, as close as he possibly could to get Jack’s attention. Snapping out of his haze Jack dejectedly walked over to where his father now stood. Only an ugly grey fishing net separated father from son.

“Jack I know you are sad that Roberta isn’t here. Neither your mother or I know where she is, nor do we know why she chose not to show up today. I can only imagine how devastated you must be.”

Jack’s eyes began to well with tears

“Two minutes! Two minutes before the bell!” Mr. Riley yelled from across the field

His dad continued, “Sometimes in life you are going to be disappointed. On some occasions it will be those closest to you that will disappoint you the most. It is great to have people who will help you during difficult times and encourage you when you are down. Yet there comes a time when there is only you, Jack” His dad’s voice thick with emotion.

“There are times when you have to find the courage to press on and fight, to compete against all odds and in the face of great adversity. Your mother and I are so proud of you Jack, no matter what happens today we are proud you are our son. Nothing will ever change that.”

“Yea Dad I know, but uh…”began Jack.

“Son, this is a time to listen, not to speak, ok?” said his father firmly.

“Okay” Jack said out of frustration. Jack knew what he father was saying was true but it was just so hard to overcome his disappointed and heavy heart.

“Jack this is your chance, you have to search inside of yourself and throw that damn shark as far as you can. Don’t do it for me or your mother and certainly don’t do it for Roberta. You have to reach way down deep inside of your soul to your very essence and throw this shark for yourself. You are at a defining moment in your life. You can look back many years from now and realize the significance of your decision or regret your decision and blame whatever happens next on Roberta. I love you son, now step up there and show this crowd what an Octopus is all about!” with that his Father hurried back to sit next to Mom.

*Ring Ring*

Whether it was the last words his dad spoke to him are that awful bell, Jack couldn’t be sure. Whatever it was, Jack snapped back to reality. He now realized the truth of what his Dad had said to him. No matter what the results of this Hammerhead Shark toss would be Jack would compete for himself. Not for Roberta and not for his parents but for his pride and his future. All that mattered now was he give his next (and last toss) everything he could. Deep down Jack now understood he wasn’t a quitter. The temptation to quit is always there but following through on that idea just wasn’t in his DNA, not under any circumstance. He knew now that if he gave 100% of himself in thismoment, no matter what the outcome, he would have no regrets and could hold his head high. For the first time in his young life Jack realized he was no longer a child Octopus but had grown into a man. It was time to put away his childish thinking forever and embrace his emergence as a grown Octopus.

This time Jack stepped confidently into the throwing circle, his face set like flint. His eyes full of focus, concentration and purpose. The onlookers begin to offer up an encouraging cheer but Jack barely hears them as he quiets his mind, grabs his shark and prepares for his final toss. Jack patiently waits for the clock to run down to 10 seconds before he begins his first spin. His mind is clear, he feels sad for Roberta that she is going to miss this moment but that is her loss not his. Second spin…a big smile begins creeping across Jack’s face…into his third spin and woosh…the shark leaves his tentacle. At that very moment Jack knew he nailed it, this would be one of his best tosses ever. It wouldn’t matter where he placed or if he won. In his mind he knew he already had won a major victory.

As his shark comes crashing down at the 75 meter mark the crowd erupts in thunderous applause. In the end Jack will place second in the event, falling half a meter short of the eventual champion. None of that matters at this moment. He cannot believe how loud the cheers are now!

“Jack! Jack! Jack!” the crowd roars!

It is almost deafening and Jack thinks to himself this must be the sound that awakens the living…

Devotional Tuesday – Love Has Limits

 

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Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33

Way back at the beginning of time we are taught a lesson that we teach our kids today, if you play with fire you will be burned. Don’t touch the hot stove, if you don’t listen there will be consequences. The thing that becomes so obvious to us is love has limits.

Adam and Eve were given the gift of life from a God who loved them so much. He wanted to have a love relationship with them. He gave them life and a perfect environment to live in with Him.  No stress, perfect food, nothing ever to fear, nothing that could frustrate them, no clothes to hide their nakedness, nothing that would force them to do anything they didn’t want to do.  God in His perfect wisdom and knowledge knew that there is no love without limits. God in his perfect wisdom knew that love demanded a choice.  Therefore, a limit was introduced.  Whatever you do, don’t eat of the tree which I have placed in the middle of this perfect place that I have created for you. The tree was introduced so that Adam and Eve would make that meaningful choice to trust the love of God who created them.

If you are a parent, your child has a choice to either trust your love for them by accepting the limits you have put on them or reject your intent and do their own thing. You have been given the choice to either accept the love God has for you, or do your own thing on an ongoing basis. Just like our kids, we would rather do what we want than what God has designed to protect us. He knows best and has designed a perfect plan for each of us. You can trust His limits.

Wow! There is no love richer and deeper than Yours, thank you!

Tell us if you agree or not!

Jack the Melancholy Octopus Part 1 (Re-post)

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I wrote this story probably about three years ago.  It isn’t fantastic or the work of genius but I figured I would re-post it since it hasn’t been up here in over two years.  I hope you enjoy.  I will re-post Part II later this week.

This really has nothing to do with being a better man (mostly) but thought I would share.  The best I can say is that sometimes when I have a rough day, days or a full week writing about it is better than other self-destructive type activities.  Thus I encourage you men that when things are going off the rails you try and channel that energy into something useful.  Even if it turns out to sound like a child’s story…

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Meet Jack. Jack is an Octopus. As a young Octopus, Jack grew up without any brothers or sisters. In their underwater grotto it was only Jack and his parents. His parents loved Jack very much and they taught Jack many wonderful lessons such as honesty, respect and always to be polite. Jack had many friends as a young Octopus but because he had no brothers or sisters he spent a great deal of time alone. It was always great to have his parents around but still Jack had to spend many hours alone.

Like every Octopus before him, when Jack turned 14 he attended the Sea Mammal Academy. It was a very prestigious school and his parents were so proud of Jack for being selected. Sadly for Jack none of his friends were chosen for the school and from the very first day Jack again found himself alone much of the time. After several months at this school Jack noticed one day the school was having tryouts for its underwater track & field team. Jack decided he was going to try out as a way to make new friends. It turned out Jack was an especially gifted athlete in the Hammerhead Shark Toss. Jack even managed to make some new acquaintances to and he began to feel more comfortable at the academy. Jack looked forward to track every day when he could spend time with his new friends and practice his Hammerhead Shark Toss. Jack just loved it and quickly developed a passion for track and field.

However, he first meet of the year was a disaster. As he lined up to make his first toss of the day he tripped over his own foot while in his wind-up which resulted in a double fault. One his second and final try he was able to toss his shark but lost his balance in his follow through and his shark only sailed a small distance. Jack did not advance and instead spent the rest of the day having to watch the other sea mammals compete. This made Jack very sad.

Over the next two weeks Jack struggled to find motivation to attend his classes and no longer looked forward to underwater track and field. Even his parents started to notice and they became concerned, yet they didn’t know what to do. It was the day before the next track meet when Jack’s track coach, Bob the Electric Eel, gathered the entire team together. Coach Bob wanted to introduce the group to a new student who had just transferred from the Red Sea Academy (which was one of the Sea Mammal’s greatest rivals) Roberta the Dolphin. Everyone was very welcoming to Roberta except for Jack who barely mumbled a “hello” before heading over to his Hammerhead Shark tossing station. Determined to make a good impression Roberta wandered over to where Jack was practicing. Roberta noticed right away that something with wrong with Jack the Octopus.

“What is wrong” she asked in her sweet voice.

“Nothing” responded Jack as he tried to concentrate on his next toss.

“Well clearly something is bothering you since you don’t seem to enjoy what you are doing.”

“Hrmph!”Was all Jack would say.

“You know Jack, sometimes when you have a bad day or things don’t go the way you hope, you have to put it behind you, try harder and believe that next time things will be better.” Roberta said with a slight giggle and then walked away.

Deep in his heart Jack knew she was right but it was just so difficult. Yet Jack decided that the next day he would forget his first track meet and try and go in with a positive attitude. The next day Jack would place third overall in the competition! Everyone was so happy for Jack and Coach Bob commended Jack on his ability to overcome his initial poor performance and improve so much. Afterwards, when everyone had gone home, he stopped by to thank Roberta the Dolphin for the encouragement. From that day forward Jack and Roberta became great friends and Jack knew there was something different about his friendship with her.

Jack and Roberta were pretty much inseparable from that day forward. Roberta would always catch Jack coming out of the locker room to encourage him and help to calm his anxiety. Jack always felt so anxious before every track meet but just a few words from Roberta always gave him the confidence he needed to perform well. As the track season was coming to an end soon Jack confided in Roberta how badly he wanted to be chosen for the “All-Star Track Meet.” This was a meet that was held every year and only the most successful athletes were chosen for the event. Roberta encouraged Jack and told him he had done more than enough to be chosen for the track meet. Even grouchy old Coach Bob told Jack he liked his chances of making the “All-Star” team.

Later that day Jack and Roberta were talking and Jack said “Roberta, please promise me that if I am selected for this track meet you will be there to cheer me on.”

“Of Course!” Roberta replied, “How could I miss it? I am so proud of you! I am proud that I am your friend! I am proud you have allowed me to play such a special role in your life! Yes I will be there”

“Good!” Jack said. “It just wouldn’t be the same without you there. It would be downright depressing if during my shark toss you weren’t there cheering me on.”

Sure enough when it came time for the names to be announced Jack was one of the top athletes chosen to represent his school in the “All Star Track Meet!” It would take place in just a few short days. Jack’s parents were so excited. It was a real honor to be selected as one of the few students to participate in such a meet. Yet Jack knew it wouldn’t mean as much if Roberta wasn’t there. Jack determined he would practice as much as he could leading up to the meet. Later that day when he saw Roberta he asked her if she would help him practice the night before the big event. “You always calm my nerves and make me feel so much better about my chances of success. Can you come hang out while I practice the night before the event?”

“I am so sorry Jack but I can’t” Roberta replied. “You know my friend, Melanie the Puffer Fish? Well she is in town and I promised her I would spend time with her. However, I promise I will be at track meet the next day to cheer you on! I just know you are going to do a great job and I am so proud of you! I want to be there to share in your achievement.”

“Isn’t Melanie the one who is always getting in trouble in class?” Asked a concerned Jack.

“Well yes, she does get into trouble sometimes, but I promise you nothing bad is going to happen. I am just going her house and we are going to watch our favorite reality show, ‘Housewives of Atlantis’. Melanie’s parents are going to drop both her and I off to watch the meet the next day. Don’t worry, I promise!”

“Okay” said Jack “But I don’t like how it sounds and I am worried you will have too much fun and forget about me. I am so nervous I am not sure I will do well if you aren’t there.”

Finally the big day arrived and Jack was so excited not only for the meet but also to see Roberta. He wanted to make her so proud by doing well and to show her how much her encouragement had meant to him over the course of the season. He knew if it hadn’t been for her encouragement he wouldn’t be at the All-Star meet to begin with.

Jack finished getting ready and as he headed out of the locker room he was excited to see Roberta and get a few words of encouragement from her. Yet as he emerged from the locker room Roberta was nowhere to be seen. Jack was a little discouraged but thought perhaps she couldn’t find it or perhaps was waiting closer to the event for him to come out. Jack hurried to the Hammerhead Shark Toss area in anticipation of his event. Jack arrived and quickly spotted his parents. His mom gave him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. His dad, tough as ever, simply gave him a hand shake. Neither his mom nor dad had seen Roberta yet.

Jack still held out hope she would show up as his event wouldn’t start for another hour. However, as the minutes went by he quickly came to the realization that she wasn’t going to make it. It was unlike her to miss such an important moment in Jack’s life. A moment Jack had been waiting for, for so long. A moment Jack had longed to share with someone he cared about. A moment he had hoped to share with Roberta. Jack became very sad as he counted down the final minutes to his competition. Jack didn’t even care how well he did. All he could think about was how much he missed his friend Roberta and her encouraging words. Jack had learned it wasn’t even so much what she had said to him every time it was simply having her there to be a part of something that mean so much to Jack. As he sat there alone, Jack would have given anything for her to be by his side. Life was just better when Roberta was around and now she wasn’t and he didn’t know how to handle it. No matter how well he did today it would mean so much less because Roberta had chosen to miss the event. Honestly, Jack was devastated. All the moments he spent alone he dreamed about sharing a moment like this with someone he loved and cared about and yet here he was pretty much on his own again.

“Jack the Octopus to the Hammerhead Toss. Jack the Octopus to the Hammerhead Toss please.”

And just like that Jack had to accept the fact he would do this alone and without the one person he most wanted by his side. He hurried off to get ready…

To be continued….

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