The Art of Pocket Square Folding

Stylishly Simple

The pocket square has had its ups and downs over the years as a fashionable accessory for men but over the last few the pocket square has become a wardrobe staple of the well-dressed man. The future is even brighter as we progress further into the different world that has followed enforced working from home. It is noticeable that the smart guys around town and in the media are now regularly seen wearing pocket squares at work and when out and about. They recognise that a pocket square is a perfect finishing touch, bringing style and a pop of colour to any jacket or suit, whether casual or formal. They also recognise that the dialling down of the formality of men’s dressing means they can embrace the idea that ‘the future of the tie is square’.

Despite the upward trajectory of the pocket square, many men are still holding back from wearing one judging by the number of times the question is asked, 'How do you fold and wear a pocket square?' This indicates a good understanding of the benefits and appeal of the pocket square but also betrays a lack of confidence. Not helping the situation is that much is made of the art of pocket square folding and the numerous folds that can be created (851 at the last count apparently), with YouTube videos galore demonstrating the better-known folds. Many men are put off however by the complexity of most of the folds and by disappointing results even when trying something less challenging. 

Otway & Orford’s own epiphany was in realising that wearing a pocket square really can be both stylish and easy to achieve, by using a couple of well-chosen folds. Whilst we use a number of different folds in our website and Instagram photography, the answer for most men (including us) lies with two very simple folds, regularly used by experienced pocket square wearers. We use the word folds loosely as there isn’t really much folding involved and to make things simpler still there is actually no wrong or right with either of them, it being rather a question of personal preference.

The first ‘fold’ creates a puff effect but more interesting. With the reverse side of the pocket square upwards, simply push one corner of the pocket square down into the top pocket as far as you can, then do the same with the corner on the left followed by the corner on the right and finish with the corner nearest to you.

To complete the fold, adjust the pocket square on show by pushing and/or pulling a little as required until you are happy with the shape and size. What’s also nice about this fold is that it is always turns out to be a little bit different (but still interesting) every time.

The second ‘fold’ gives a soft angular effect but with an extra flourish. This needs the pocket square to first be folded to a square shape a quarter of its full size. Then fold again twice to create a rectangular shape that fits the width of your top pocket and that has the soft folds of the pocket square at one end.

The soft folds of the pocket square should protrude from the top of the pocket and the other end will be hidden, sitting at the bottom of your pocket. Adjust the visible part as required but keep a decent amount on display to show off the design. With a full-size pocket square, you may need to fold the bottom end over so the pocket square sits at the height you want in your pocket.

With multi-coloured pocket squares, you can emphasise different areas of the pocket square during the folds to complement your outfit. Given the potential for numerous colourful looks, a multi-coloured pocket square represents great value as it can bring style and a pop of colour to almost any jacket or suit.

Finally, practice builds confidence and improves your folds. It doesn’t guarantee a perfect result every single time but part of the joy of pocket square folding is that it is an art not a science.

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American football silk pocket square in red, white & purple by Otway & Orford swirled