How to Fold a Pocket Square: 4 Methods to Master
Most underestimate the added finesse that a pocket square brings to a gentleman’s look. These four straightforward folds are easy enough to create, so you’ll never miss out on this overlooked wardrobe piece. Learn how to fold a pocket square in seconds so you’ll always look your best!
Fold #1: The Mad Man
Also known as the James Bond or banker’s fold, the mad man fold was originally called the “TV fold” after television personalities of the early 1950s who adopted the style. Clean, sharp, and no-nonsense, this method of displaying a handkerchief had its heyday in the 1960s and now, largely thanks to Mad Men, is back in vogue.
The straight-across style is made for a cotton or linen hank with minimal embellishment. You can press the folds with an iron if you like. The open edge of the folded square is best placed facing outward, toward your left shoulder.
Practice this fold with the following steps:
1. Fold the pocket square in half length-wise.
2. Fold one side up from bottom to top. How much you fold in will depend on how deep your jacket pocket is.
3. Place the pocket square in your pocket and adjust it so that around 1/4″ is showing.
Fold #2: The Southern Gentleman
The southern gentleman fold is also known as the puff fold and the Astaire after the great dancer and film star who favored this method. It’s a classic way to display a silk pocket square.
Be aware that the puff fold has a tendency to ride up, so what began as a conservative peek of silk can turn into a flamboyant show of color. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you may find yourself needing to subdue the puff with a few finger pokes throughout the day.
Get this fold by following these steps:
1. Lay the square flat and pick it up by pinching in the center.
2. Sweep the points behind.
3. Slip into your pocket and adjust the degree of dimpling and furrowing to your taste.
Fold #3: The Londoner
The Londoner is also known as the puff with peaks. It’s also called the Churchill after Sir Winston Churchill, who cycled through every known fold of pocket square except the TV fold. This style is best achieved with silk, but cotton and linen also work. Simply modify the puff fold by turning up two or more corners so they show on either side of the puff.
The goal is not symmetry or perfection. Instead, you should aim for an unstudied appearance, as though you stuffed the hank into your pocket with a single, casual motion without a thought to how it looks. But you do care about how it looks, so you’ll need to push and pull it into a shape that pleases you.
Create the Londoner by:
1. Hold the pocket square so that the corners are hanging down.
2. Grab the middle of the pocket square with your other hand and fold the corners up so they’re aligned with where you’re holding it.
3. Hold both ends of the pocket square in one hand.
4. Fold each side of the bottom of the square up so it holds the three peaks of the square in place.
5. Place in your pocket so each of the three peaks are fanned out and visible.
Fold #4: The Bon Vivant
This type of pocket square fold is also known as the peak fold. Equally suited to silk, cotton, and linen, the peak fold is the most common way to display a pocket square. If you’re just learning how to fold a pocket square, this is one of the folds you’ll want to master! When folded into four flat, evenly-spaced peaks, the bon vivant fold offers a ’60s style that’s conservative.
Your goal is to create a devil-may-care look—a casual contrast to the perfection of your suit.
Try this folding technique by:
1. Fold the square in quarters.
2. Fan the corners.
3. Fold up the lower parts.
4. Insert the square with points up.
5. Angle the points towards your shoulder, echoing the “V” of your lapel.
Pocket Square Rules to Follow
Now that you’ve learned how to fold a pocket square, it’s important to note the proper etiquette when wearing one. These steps will guide you through how to properly style your pocket square with your look.
Coordinating Your Pocket Square with Your Shirt and Tie
Many believe that your pocket square should match your tie. However, this simply isn’t true, and it’s not always necessary to wear a tie when sporting a pocket square. In fact, it’s best to choose colors that complement one another. If you choose to wear a tie, your pocket square can coordinate with your dress shirt or the tie itself. If you decide to forego the tie, you can use your pocket square to emphasize the colors and patterns in your shirt.
Wearing your pocket square is all about highlighting your own style. Try experimenting with different styles depending on the occasion or your personality.
Finding the Best Material for Your Look
The occasion you’re dressing for will dictate the material you choose for your pocket square. A cotton or linen pocket square is best worn for a casual look, while a silk square should be worn for a more elegant occasion.
Cotton and linen materials are great overall choices if you’re stuck between materials. With cotton and linen pocket squares, you are able to safely iron your folds. This creates clean lines that will make your pocket really stand out.
If you’re still unsure which material to choose, you may use your suit or blazer material to guide you in the right direction. You can choose to match the materials of your pocket square to your suit or blazer. You could also choose two different materials that complement one another. For example, a silky pocket square really pops against a suit with a wool-like finish.
Choosing Your Pocket Square Size
The size you choose for your pocket square comes down to personal preference. A typical pocket square is about 12″ x 12″, but they may range in size due to customizations. Another factor that comes into consideration is the fabric material. Silk pocket squares tend to be larger because they can take up more room within your pocket.
Again, there isn’t a wrong choice when deciding the size for your pocket square. The great thing about pocket squares is that they highlight your unique sense of style, so one size pocket square does not fit all.
How to Pick the Right Pocket Square for Your Look
Numerous factors come into play when choosing the right pocket square for your suit jacket or blazer. Your style may change from day-to-day, so having a collection of pocket squares to complement any piece is crucial.