The History and Development of the Handkerchief
Our Hidden Curiosities VI Printed Silk Pocket Square
Pocket squares have been making a huge comeback in recent years. Versatile, and in a plethora of different designs and colours, they can be used in many different ways. Though often made of linen or cotton, we think they’re at their best when made from silk, and they can be folded and worn many different ways. This gives you an accessible way to express yourself with your attire, showing off your creative flair.
It may be a versatile accessory, but where did the pocket square originate? Let's take a look at the history and evolution of this humble piece of fabric.
History of the Pocket Square
The pocket square originated first as a simple plain white handkerchief. Ancient Egyptians carried small squares of linen, some of which were dyed with red powder, indicating they were used for decorative or aesthetic purposes. The ancient Greeks used to carry a handkerchief scented with perfume to cover their mouths and noses from bad smells - this lasted until medieval times, because bathing wasn't common and there was little protection from airborne diseases. In ancient Rome, the drop of a handkerchief signalled the start of the gladiatorial games.
The turning point, however, was the 19th century. As suits became the staple of men’s fashion, the handkerchief moved out of obscurity and into prominent display, right there in the jacket’s breast pocket. The pocket square, having briefly died out, has risen again to become a prominent fashion accessory for the well-dressed gentleman, finishing off looks for decades.
Fun fact - though the two names tend to be used interchangeably, pocket squares always have a rolled hem, distinguishing them from handkerchiefs.
Our Imari printed silk pocket square
How To Wear a Pocket Square?
The pocket square has evolved from its humble origins as a plain white handkerchief, and is now available in a wealth of fabrics, colours and patterns. Made from silk, linen, cotton or wool, the pocket square can be the ideal finishing touch for your look, providing contrast and bringing out detail.
If you’re wearing a dark suit, you could choose a pocket square in a light or subtle shade. By the same token, a light suit is perfectly set off by a dark handkerchief or by bright colours. Be bold and have fun with fabrics, folds and colour. We would suggest never wearing a matching cravat or tie with your pocket square; the aim is to break the colour code, especially if your tie is a vibrant colour, and to add a fresh feel to your outfit. You want to emanate effortless style, not novelty.
Finally, it’s important to practice how to fold your pocket square and try different folds for different occasions. The presidential and the puff fold are the two essential techniques for any beginner, but there are other ways to wear your handkerchief and to personalise your outfit, such as the three point fold. Be daring, and don’t be afraid to show off some wit and imagination.
Our customer wearing Koufuku pocket square in a "3 point fold"
Our Kissho Japanese Goldfish Pocket Square worn as a "puff fold"