Guide: How to fold Pocket Squares

Pocket squares are one of the most understated optional essentials for a guy's wardrobe. Having begun as a mere piece of cloth used for personal hygiene, pocket squares have come a long way from being hidden to being displayed as a mark of sophistication. Read on for a little pocket square history and a brief guide on folding them

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Images: Uomo Luxury

Pocket squares have come a long way since "ye olde" days when they were linen handkerchiefs used for personal hygiene. Blowing the nose, wiping off a sweaty forehead, and even wiping off grime from the fingers, handkerchiefs were hidden away in trouser pockets as they were seen as too un-clean to be visible in the breast pocket of a jacket. The pocket square has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a mere handkerchief that was to be used but not seen. When two-piece suits became all the rage in the 19th century, men began to carry their clean handkerchiefs in their breast pockets, which after use would then be transferred into their trouser pockets.

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Slowly but surely, the look of a pocket square caught on, fuelled by the emergence of a variety of folding techniques. By the early 20th century, the suit-jacket-with-pocket-square look took on a life of its own and became more a fashion accessory than a utilitarian tool; some men wore a pocket square and carried a separate handkerchief in their pants pockets. After Kleenex, or tissue, was introduced a few decades later, people mostly did away with handkerchiefs entirely, leaving the pocket squares to reign supreme.

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The pocket square look remained a mainstream fashion accessory for men. Mostly used with suits to add a touch of class and sophistication, pocket squares often separated the ‘gentlemen’ from the ‘unrefined layman’. The late 20th century saw a minor decline in the popularity of pocket squares, with pocket squares mostly only making an appearance during black tie events; they remain a good way to distinguish between proper business suits and cocktail attire. Pocket squares have been "in-season" for our century, so far and is redefining itself as more than just an accessory for formal fashion. The pocket square is now an excellent means of adding a touch of savoir faire to your look no matter what you are wearing, including a shirt without a jacket, although we think this is excessive. Whatever the case, just pick a fold to match your style.

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Here is a quick guide to a few folds:

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Illustrations: Ken Li

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