Our Tailor Explains Pocket Square Folds & Mistakes (2022)

Our Tailor Explains Pocket Square Folds & Mistakes (2022)

Our Tailor Explains Pocket Square Folds & Mistakes (2022)

Dabbling in styling up formal attire with a pocket square? Looking for your personal style and the right accessories for a formal occasion? 

It’s easy to get lost in all the do’s and dont’s of menswear. Over the years, we've seen many men make rookie mistakes... That’s why we’ve come up with our Three Buttons Pocket Square Guide on everything you need to know about styling pocket squares for menswear in Singapore.

 

THE THREE BUTTONS POCKET SQUARE GUIDE

  • Introduction to Pocket Squares
  • When to Wear Pocket Squares
  • Common Pocket Square Mistakes
  • Pocket Square Rules: Colours, Designs, Materials
  • 7 Pocket Square Folding Guides (Step-by-Step)

Puff Fold by Three Buttons

 

Believe it or not, pocket squares are appropriate for a wide range of events. Whether you’re dressing up for a formal event, going on a date, or even going for a casual look, you can wear a pocket square to spruce up your look.

The tricky part? Nailing down the right style and the right fold.

In this article, we spoke with Dylan Ang, our Head Tailor at Three Buttons, and dove into the Dos and Don’ts of pocket squares, what colour to pick, how to fold a pocket square, and some common mistakes you’ll need to avoid!

To view our selection of contemporary suits, you can visit our store's collections. Or if you’d like a free consultation (Singapore) with Dylan, you can book an appointment with him here: Book Appointment

 

What is a pocket square in a suit?

Pocket squares are what some would refer to as a “pocket handkerchief”. A pocket square is usually a small rectangle cloth that’s folded to fit in your breast pocket of your suit, adding an accent to your outfit. It comes in a range of materials including cottin, silk, and linen. The classic pocket square is plain white, while more modern ones colour your outfit with interesting prints.

“There are many speculations of when the pocket square was invented or even used as a fashion accessory,” Dylan shared, “It all started as a hankerchief.”


Pocket SquarePocket Square - Puff Fold

What are pocket squares for?

It's always important to understand the "why" behind the "what".

In the past, gentlemen carried handkerchiefs with them for both decorative and functional purposes. One of the most famous reason dates back to King Richard ll in the 1300s where he started wearing loud and colourful patterns as his pocket square.

In the 1400s, the upper classes in Europe started using fine exotic fabrics like silk and embroidery as a demonstration of their wealth and status.

These days, the pocket square serves a more decorative purpose. With a wide range of folding styles, it’s meant to add a personalised style to menswear, add a touch of colour, and inject creativity. 

 

Why do suits have pocket squares?

Pocket squares were historically a sign of prestige and reserved for formal occasions. The French imbued their handkerchief / pocket squares with perfumes to musk their smell from the general lack of bathing facilities.

While the classic white handkerchief style pocket square remains a staple in formal events, you can experiment and go beyond the standard white pocket square look. In this day and age, a pocket square is a fashion accessory to spruce up an outfit.

Pocket squares help enhance the colours and design of your suit. Although it’s just a small decorative element, it creates visual interest and helps to tie different elements of your formal wear together, especially if you’re pairing it with a tie.

 

How To Wear A Pocket Square - Modern Men's Guide


When should you wear a pocket square?

Contrary to popular belief, pocket squares aren’t just for formal events. They are great for a wide range of occasions, ranging from formal to casual events. Depending on the way you pair and style your suit, wearing a pocket square can help bring your look to the next level.

Business and professional events

Business and professional events tend to be a little more conservative. If you’re thinking of styling up your formal wear, we’d recommend you go for something a little more conservative.

Choose a folded pocket square that’s just a shade lighter than your jacket to add a little contrast to your look, without it becoming a distraction. Plain white pocket squares always work well for business-appropirate occasions. To add a hint of visual interest, go for a pocket square that has coloured edging or light patterns.

Weddings and formal events

Choosing the right pocket square in these events depend on the dress code and colour theme. For formal events that are a little more celebratory (such as weddings), you can afford to wear a pocket square that adds a pop of colour to your suit. 

That said, we like to say that “less is more”— a folded pocket square work best when it adds a subtle accent to your look but don’t go overboard. Keep it simple and keep it classy. (You can check out our Made-To-Measure Wedding Suits)

Casual events

With parties and casual events, you can afford to go bolder with your pocket square. Experiment with different folds and pick a print that matches the occasion! We say you should totally get more experimental with your pocket square at casual events!

You don’t need to wear a pocket square with a suit. You can pair it with a tailored jacket to spruce up your jacket pocket.



General Pocket Square Rules For You Suit & Common Pocket Square Mistakes

We tend to hear a lot of misconceptions when it comes to how to wear a pocket square. As a tailor with years of experience, I’d like to cover the top three pocket square mistakes and give you a little more context on which styles will best suit you for the occasion.


What pocket square size should I get?

There is no magic size. Pocket squares usually are between 10 inches or 17x17 inches.  

 

Is it alright to not wear a pocket square?

Here’s the short answer—You should always wear a pocket square with your suit, even if you’re already wearing a tie. It might seem like a subtle detail, but without it, something is amiss. A pocket square helps to give your look a sartorial flair and ties your look together.

 

Pocket Square


How Do I Choose Pocket Square Colours?

You might think that you need to be well-versed with colour theory or know enough about the colour wheel to pick the right pocket square. But it doesn't need to be that complicated!

Choosing the colour of your pocket square is usually better determined when you know the colour of your tie. So... Does your pocket square need to match your tie?

The short answer—no. Your pocket square doesn’t necessarily need to match your tie. In fact, matching your tie with your pocket square breaks the rules of modern day menswear. Although it might seem like a simpler way to coordinate your formal wear, matching your pocket square and tie / bow tie is a definite NO if you hope to consider yourself a well-dressed man.

 

Matching tie and pocket square
Image Credit: Rampley & Co

 

Think of your tie and pocket square as siblings, not twins. You want your pocket square to harmonise and contrast with different elements of your look. While some stores offer a matching tie and pocket square, we recommend you steer away from them. 

 

Mens pocket squaresHow to tie a pocket squareHow to tie a pocket square 1
Image Credit: Rampley & Co

Picking the right suit and tie is tough enough. Picking the right accessories that match the different shades of colours of your suit and tie sounds even more complex. So don't overcomplicate things! Focus on choosing a suitable pocket square design instead!

 

Which are the best Pocket Square Designs?

In this section, we’ll cover different fabric designs before we dive into the more technical parts of folding a pocket square.

 

Plain Pocket Square

You don’t always need to pick a loud colour to make a statement with your pocket square. Sometimes, all you need is a plain white pocket square. Although it’s understated, it’s appropriate for all formal events, whether you’re going to a business event, weddings, or even black tie events. It’s always safe to have a plain white pocket square in your wardrobe.

 

Large Patterns

SOHO Scarves | Pocket Squares
Image Credit: Soho Scarves

Typically, a pocket square with large patterns are best for casual events. They have louder colours, tend to be more vibrant, and are more attention grabbing that your usual pocket square prints. 

To make your patterned pocket square stand out, we recommend the puff fold, or more complex pocket square folds like the winged puff fold. More tips on how you can fold a pocket square below. 

 

Small Prints


Image Credit: Rampley & Co

Whether it’s geometric shapes, polka dots or florals, small repeating prints offer room for versatility no matter what colour they are. You can wear a pocket square with small prints for almost any occasion. On top of that, you can also experiment with a wide range of pocket square folds with these designs. 

That said, here’s one thing you should keep in mind: If you’re wearing a pocket square with small prints, make sure that the design isn’t too similar to your suit, tie or shirt. 

 

Floral Patterns

Cornflower Blue Saratoga Floral Pocket Square
Image Credit: TieMart

Floral prints are a popular choice for pocket squares because they add visual interest to menswear and helps you stand out because they generally feature a range of colours. We recommend wearing a floral print pocket square on casual or celebratory occasions to give your look an extra oomph!

 

Paisley Patterns


Image Credit: Rampley & Co

Paisley patterns and their unmistakeable teardrop-like design has been around for centuries. That’s why a paisley print pocket square tends to look a little more serious and are well suited for formal occasions. They also come in a range of colours, which can create a unique personal style to your outfit.

As paisley print pocket square prints tend to be more complex, we recommend you pair it with simple, solid coloured suits. This adds just enough contrast and visual interest to your overall look.


Pocket square materials

Cotton Pocket Square

Best Pocket Square

Cotton pocket squares are simple, yet versatile. The great thing about cotton pocket squares is that its material is well-suited for a wide range of folds. 


A plain white cotton pocket square is great for professional events where you want to look business-smart. Opt for a simple look like the standard square fold, which brings just enough contrast to your suit and gives you a classy yet understated look. 

 

Silk Pocket Square

Silk pocket squares tend to be a little more showy than cotton pocket squares because of the way they reflect light. They are the softest and thinnest, best recommended for jackets that are a bit more fitted so the chest area doesnt puff up. Due to its smooth material, there’s a limit on the types of pocket square styles you can perfect with a silk pocket square.


The standard pocket square fold or triangle fold tends to slip easily with a silk pocket square. However, you can try the stairs fold—a three point pocket square fold—with the silk pocket square. Due to its material and generally more eyecatching folding styles, silk pocket square tends give off a more prestigious vibe and draws attention to your breast pocket.

 

Linen pocket square

Similar to the cotton pocket square, linen is versatile and suitable for a wide range of occasions and styles. From the presidential fold to the more elaborate stairs fold, you can easily nail down your fold with a linen pocket square.


So what’s the difference between cotton and linen? Linen is a little more tactile than cotton and gives an interesting contrast to your outfit, depending on the material of your suit. Like we mentioned, the right pocket square depends on the contrast and harmony it brings to your look. There are no hard and fast rules to choosing the right material for your pocket square.



How do you fold a pocket square? Pocket square folds to master

In this section, we’re going to cover some pocket square styles you can nail for your next event. We often get asked about the latest trends for pocket squares and how to fold a pocket square for formal events.

While there are lots of different pocket square styles, you’ll need to pay attention to mainly 3 types of pocket squares: Presidential fold, Point fold, and Puff fold.


So well, it’s really not as complex as you might think. Here are the 3 main styles you should know at your fingertips—the presidential fold, winged puff fold, and the four point fold.

 

The Square fold or Presidential fold: Classic folded pocket square

 

The presidential pocket square is one of the most popular pocket square styles. Why? It’s because its simple, classy, and yet chic at the same time. It never goes out of style. Here’s how to nail the square fold.

Image Credit: The Knot

  • Step 1: Begin with the pocket square face down
  • Step 2: Fold the pocket square in half and directly match one corner to the other
  • Step 3: Fold in half from left corner to the right. Leave a slight gap at the right side
  • Step 4: Fold in half from top to bottom
  • Step 5: Fold the bottom up and behind the front. Adjust accordingly

The Puff Fold: Add style to your breast pocket

 Puff Fold-1Puff Fold-2Puff Fold - 3

You might have heard of the winged puff. The puff fold is one of the most versatile and simple folds on this list. It’s ideal for all occasions, whether you’re going for a formal event or a casual party. Here’s how to nail the puff fold.

 Puff Fold
Image Credit: The Knot

 

  1. Step 1: Begin with the pocket square flat, faced up (or the side with the more vibrant print)
  2. Step 2: Pinch and lift up from the center
  3. Step 3: Run the fabric through the thumb and first finger of the opposite hand
  4. Step 4: Hold your pocket square at the center
  5. Step 5: Fold the bottom up and behind the front. Adjust accordingly.

If you’re going with a pocket square that has a loud design, the puff fold would be the perfect choice to show off your pocket square’s print. You don’t need to be particularly precise with this style’s fold and there’s not need to ensure that all corners are matched meticulously. That’s the beauty of the puff fold


The Winged fold or Pointed fold: Sophisticated folded pocket square

 
Image Credit: DQT

Here’s another point fold to add to the list. Point folds tend to exude a little more seriousness and adds a touch of sophistication to your look. Similar to the scallop fold, winged fold pocket square adds a simple yet classy touch to your suit. 


Image Credit: The Knot
  • Step 1: Begin with the pocket square flat, faced down and in the diamond position
  • Step 2: Fold the pocket square with one point meeting the other, making an inverted triangle shape
  • Step 3: Fold the right corner down to the bottom peak
  • Step 4: Fold the left corner down to the bottom peak
  • Step 5: Fold the right edge toward the center
  • Step 6: Fold the left edge to the center
  • Step 7:  Fold the bottom up and behind the front. Adjust to fit the size of your jacket pocket.

This flat pocket square style is one of the more classic folds that’s elegant and perfect for formal and professional events. To nail the point fold, make sure all corners are tidy and well-matched.

 

The Four Point Crown fold 

Four Point Pocket Square - Three ButtonsFour Point Fold Pocket Square - Three Buttons

It’s not hard to see why this pocket square style is known as the crown fold. This simple four-point fold resembles the shape of a crown, with one point in the middle being the most prominent.

Crown Fold Pocket Square
Image Credit: SuitsExpert
  • Step 1: Begin with the pocket square flat, faced down and in the diamond position
  • Step 2: Fold the first corner, bottom up, matching the two points 
  • Step 3: Fold the right corner up and to the left of the first peak
  • Step 4: Fold the left corner up and to the right of the two peaks, forming the third peak
  • Step 5: Fold the right edge in toward the center
  • Step 6: Fold the left edge in toward the center
  • Step 7: Fold the bottom up and behind the front. Adjust accordingly.

This pocket square style is an elegant style to say the least. It adds a little more flair to your look than the usual pocket square fold.



The Stairs fold

Stairs Fold
Image Credit: Savile Row

If you’re up for a challenge, try the stairs fold. It requires some dexterity but the look is worth the effort. As one of the more complex pocket square fold, the stairs fold is great if you want to add an intricate touch to your formal wear. We recommend you opt for a pocket square with a simpler colour palette for this fold.

Stairs Fold
Image Credit: ties.com
  • Step 1: Begin with the pocket square flat, faced down
  • Step 2: Fold one point diagonally to the opposite side, one corner to another (top right to the bottom left).
  • Step 3: Pinch the fabric two inches below the first stair and fold up to form the second stair, just below the first
  • Step 4. Again, pinch the fabric two inches below the second stair and fold up to form the third stair, just below the second
  • Step 5: Holding the steps in place, carefully fold in half diagonally, placing the top left portion behind the bottom right portion
  • Step 6: Fold the right side behind and to the left (be sure to hold your stairs in place)
  • Step 7: Fold the left side behind and to the right
  • Step 8: Fold the bottom up and behind the front. Adjust your pocket square as you fit it snugly in your breast pocket.

The Scallop fold

the scallop fold
Image Credit: DQT 

The scallop fold is a quick and easy pocket square style that adds a touch of class to your look in no time. This point fold look complex at first glance but it’s a lot simpler than you’d think. Here’s how you can nail this folded pocket square.


The scallop fold
Image Credit: Otaa

  • Step 1: Lay your pocket square flat, face-up in a diamond shape.
  • Step 2: Pinch the bottom quarter of the pocket square and fold one point to the other, forming a triangle.
  • Step 3: Fold it underneath to create a triangle.
  • Step 4: Hold the pleats together and rotate the fabric anti-clockwise. Then turn it on its back with the pleats at the top.
  • Step 6: Take the right corner and fold it down, slightly askew to the left of the bottom point.
  • Step 7: Take the left corner and fold it down, slightly askew to the right of the bottom point.
  • Step 8: Hold the fabric in place as you fold the sides around to the back.
  • Step 9: ensure all corners are well-matched and fit it flat in your pocket.

The Dunaway fold

The Dunaway Fold
Image Credit: Rampley & Co

The dunaway fold is similar to the puff fold, but adds a little more sartorial flair. As it shows off the hems of your pocket square, we recommend you choose a fabric that has an intricate hem to add more colour to your look.

  • Step 1: Lay the pocket square flat on one side. 
  • Step 2: Pinch the middle with your thumb and index finger and lift it up
  • Step 3: Next take your other hand and make a circle with your thumb and index finger quite close to where the four points start to form
  • Step 4: Next, being careful to hold the four corners in place, roll the bottom part of the pocket square up toward the peaks.

Final thoughts: What does wearing a pocket square say about you?

 

Puff Fold - Three Buttons


We hope that by the end of this article, you’d know how to fold a pocket square. But as one might have guessed, choosing your pocket square fold, colour, and material is one thing—but knowing your personal style. Pocket squares are one of the most neglected accessories in menswear today, however, we like to think that it’s the details that ties the look together. Depending on the colour and fold, your pocket square can reveal a lot about your taste and personality.

Outgoing individuals tend to opt for brighter colours and prints, and experiment with more complex folds. On the other hand, conservative individuals tend to opt for a subtle elegant look. 

From formal attire to casual sports coat, wearing a pocket square not only helps to spruce up your look, it adds colour to your outfit. Whether you’re going for a black tie event or a casual party, wearing a pocket square in Singapore is always a good idea. The real question lies in what kind of pocket square you’d adorn your suit pocket, which print you should choose, and which fabric is ideal.

 

Dylan From Three Buttons

Speak To Me

Still have questions about how to match different colours? Or perhaps you’re unsure about the kind of suit you should wear for an upcoming event? Whether you have questions about your pocket square, or any kind of accessories, we're here to help you with any queries you have about your outfit. 

There’s never a question too silly because we love talking about how to help men dress better—that’s why we’re in this business. Drop us an Instagram DM or book an appointment with Dylan. We can’t wait to hear from you.