Pocket Squares are Menswear’s Comeback Kid

Tyler Mitchell, Wilkes Bashford, Jack Mitchell & Andrew Mitchell-Namdar of Wilkes Bashford

(Left to right) Tyler Mitchell, Wilkes Bashford, Jack Mitchell & Andrew Mitchell-Namdar of Wilkes Bashford with pocket squares.

If you’ve noticed the telltale flash of a pocket square peeking out from a suit jacket, you might be watching Mad Men, or you might just be noticing one of the biggest resurgences in menswear history. While trends come and go, there’s something about the pocket square that’s been gaining momentum with all kind of blokes, from boardroom types to creatives.

It’s a deceptively simple way to elevate your look, but one that also seems to incite a little panic for guys who want to know how to pull it off without looking like Thurston Howell III. So, we took it up with Tyler Mitchell, Co-Owner and Men’s Fashion Director at luxury retailer and San Francisco sartorial institution Wilkes Bashford, and got the scoop on why it’s now hip to be square.

According to Mitchell, pocket squares grew out of necessity. Men needed something to wipe sweat off their brows or blow their noses, and of course they couldn’t just use their shirtsleeves. From there, gentlemen carried one for themselves and one for the ladies (after all, those delicate flowers were prone to tears), making it a chic, must-have accessory for every guy. While khaki-wearing dot.com magnates and the advent of casual dress codes changed the focus of men’s fashion, shows such as Mad Men, the resurgence of heritage brands and the classic prep look have brought back the humble pocket square and thrust it into the spotlight once again. (Mitchell contends that “true gentlemen would say pocket squares never fell out of favor.” We couldn’t agree more.)

The Tie Bar Denim Pocket Square

The Tie Bar Denim Pocket Square

“The explosion of colors and materials and different folds made [pocket squares] popular again,” said Mitchell. “Purists would say that pocket squares should always be white, but the more daring men would complement — never match — their pocket squares with their tie, shirt and jacket. If you match, you’re trying too hard.”

And the folds? Don Draper might prefer a razor-sharp

Gucci Pocket Square

Gucci Pocket Square

Presidential, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Mitchell suggests four point folds, too, and silk pocket squares can be crumpled and tweaked to look as puffed or punctuated as you want. For the truly advanced, Mitchell’s rose technique might require a personal lesson, “It’s the next level of action,” he said. “Come see me at Wilkes Bashford.” Gentleman, makes those appointments!

Today, a trip to Wilkes Bashford, J. Crew or even a department store like Nordstrom yields myriad choices. (We found some fabulous ones at The Tie Bar.) From plain white, which Mitchell points out as a good place for pocket square dabblers, to the madras, chambray, and silk that are seen on glossy GQspreads and Milanese runways.

Alexandre Olch Pocket round

Alexander Olch Pocket round

While the pocket square is a big step for some, especially guys that are just getting used to putting suits on, seasoned vets are already moving to the next big thing. Neckwear savant Alexander Olch’s take on the pocket square is actually a circle. His pocket rounds are a quick, nonchalant way to add an accent to a jacket, especially since by nature of its shape, it’s a casual and breezy way to lose the rigidity of a standard square.

If the pocket square renaissance has now come full circle (pun intended) what’s next? “I see a big return to the suit,” Mitchell said. “And custom shirts. The biggest [trend] I think is custom shirts. For pretty close to the price of a stock shirt, you can custom make one. New generations are discovering this and you’d think they struck gold, they’re so excited.”





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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.