How to Wear a Pocket Square

Don’t even think about putting your phone in the outside pocket of your suit. That’s what the inside pocket is for. The outside one is purely for decorative use – to add a pop of contrast or color in the form of a pocket square. Here’s how to wear a pocket square:


  1. Solid White Cotton with Dark Charcoal Border – As worn by Jimmy Fallon in GQ.
  2. Chambray Compass – Warm Blue
  3. Armstrong & Wilson Cotton Pocket Square
  4. J.Z. Richards Silk Pocket Square

There are a few essential decisions to be made with a pocket square. How the color, pattern, and material work with the rest of your ensemble. It’s essential to take your suit, tie, and shirt into consideration

1. Color

One of the most common questions men have about wearing a pocket square is if it should match the tie. The answer is a resounding no. Never ever match your tie and pocket square. There are matching tie and pocket squares out there but that doesn’t they should be worn together. In fact, tie and pocket square sets made from the same fabric should never be paired together either.

Instead of matching, the pocket square should complement the color of your tie. With a multi-colored tie, choose a pocket square in one of the background colors. For example, for a navy plaid tie with green and mustard stripes, highlight the lightest color with a dark yellow pocket square.

For a solid tie, look to the color wheel. A complementary color is either an adjacent color in the color wheel or the one directly across. When in doubt, a white pocket square can be worn with any color so this is an essential part of every wardrobe.

2. Pattern

With solid color blazers, the pattern is up to you and there is a wide range available from classic plaids to modern prints. When it comes to corduroy and tweed, it’s time to get creative. Brown, green, and navy corduroy blazers are just begging for a pop of contrasting color and pattern. Tweed can be worn with traditional patterns but for a surprising twist that really works, try a paisley.

3. Material

Pocket squares are available in silk, cotton, linen, and wool. Like with colors, contrast between your suit, tie, and pocket square material is best. Mix and match wool and silk,

As a general rule, silk, especially when it’s white, cream, and/or shiny is the most formal. This works with a tuxedo as does white linen or cotton. Red or burgundy are also acceptable choices. Linen is a versatile fabric and goest with everything. Like the rest of your wardrobe cotton is most appropriate in summer and wool in winter.

For casual looks or something with a hipster touch, you can fashion a pocket square out a bandana or square cut from an old shirt.

For pocket squares that combine fashion and function, check out this Kickstarter project Declan Squared microfiber squares that look dapper and can be used to wipe sunglasses, phones, and tablets clean.