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Do You Know How to Pick the Perfect Pocket Square?

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Section: Neckties, Bowties, and Pocket Squares - Blog

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Wouldn't life be simple if all you needed to know was how to tuck your pocket square into your suit's breast pocket? While it's not complicated, you do need some basic knowledge about how patterns, fabrics and colours impact your handkerchief selections.

Men's pocket squares come in such a variety of colours and patterns that it can be overwhelming to know which ones will give you the dapper look you're striving for. The ideal pocket square is:

  • Appropriate to most outfits (not too formal or too casual)
  • Contrasts attractively with business shirts and ties
  • Offsets or complements the suit jacket's colour

Your goal is coordinated contrast or in other words, a combination of pattern and fabric that showcases your suit, tie, andbusiness shirt – but not in such a manner as to appear unbecoming and discordant.

White Cotton & Linen Handkerchiefs

A solid white square, made of linen or cotton, is the classic dress handkerchief. Depending on the chosen fold, it may need a light starching to provide body.


Acceptable for almost any ensemble or occasion, it comes into its own when worn with dark, conservative suits where its crisp, clean appearance is most pronounced.

Silk Handkerchiefs

These come in several colours and patterns and offer the opportunity to make a distinctive and bold statement. Conversely, selecting these can cause stress because the variety of colours and patterns can be overwhelming. When choosing a silk square, look for hand-rolled edges; these denote high quality and an attention to detail and should be present on a well-made square.


Consider jacket fabric and tie fabric when selecting the type of fabric for a dress handkerchief. Mixing silk squares with heavier tie fabrics and textured handkerchiefs with smooth ties provides a pleasing contrast.

Silk squares displayed against a rough jacket fabric like tweed also creates a distinctive look. Woollen suits go well with linen or silk pocket squares as do silk ties.

Handkerchief Patterns

When choosing a pattern for your pocket square, work around the brightest coloured or patterned item in the ensemble. Usually, this is the tie or the business shirt, and in some cases, the suit itself. This item should be the focal point of the outfit with the pocket square as the contrasting counterpoint.


Although there are a variety of colours and patterns to choose from, the types of items in your clothing wardrobe limits your experimental efforts. Patterns look particularly pleasing with solid ensembles and while solid squares go well with patterned ties, a contrasting patterned square provides an elegant look.

Handkerchief Colour

Depending on the base colour of the matching item, the rule of thumb is to choose a complementary colour for the pocket square. If you want to add flair to an ensemble, avoid matching the square directly to a prominent colour. Instead, match it to a secondary colour as an accent.


Occasions have a bearing on the choice of pocket square colour as well. For example, wearing a boldly coloured square at a funeral or a wedding (unless you are the groom) might look out of place. Err on the side of good taste and keep your pocket square choices simple and elegant. This sets you apart as a gentleman of discriminating taste and style every time.

Want help matching up pocket squares, ties or other wardrobe accessories? The men of Montagio Custom Tailoring offerno-obligation personal styling sessions in our Sydney showroom. We'll be glad to put together a custom look that suits your tastes and preferences perfectly.

Image Credits © Viorel Sima | Dreamstime.com © Jackethead | Dreamstime.com © Alexei Gridenko | Dreamstime.com © Thelightwriter | Dreamstime.com © Maria Dryfhout | Dreamstime.com


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