43 Comments.

Have you seen EG’s video on how to fold a pocket square? Click here.

The pocket square is the ultimate accessory. It provides the extra punch you need in an outfit, and it’s actually useful if you spill or need to clean yourself up after a street brawl.

The old rule says to always carry two pocket squares, or hankies: one in your suit jacket’s breast pocket (for looks, but more importantly, in case the lady you’re with needs to use it), and one in your back pocket for yourself. I guess that’s because you wouldn’t want a pretty girl wiping her nose with something that’s been touching your butt all day.

Here are some basic ways to fold and place a pocket square in your suit jacket’s pocket. There are an infinite amount of ways to do this, but these are the basics. The idea is to not try too hard. You don’t want it to look too perfect, or too imperfect that it seems you tried for 10 minutes to get the right amount of pizazz and flare in your display. If you’re struggling, just stuff the damn thing in there and get on with your day.

1.) The clean edge

clean edge

This is probably the most basic (and also cleanest) way to display your pocket square. Fold it in thirds, and then in half, and place in your pocket, clean edge up.

If you’re trying to keep it simple but still stand out, try this with a tux or a dark suit and a white pocket square. Or you can try something like this combo in the photo, with a herringbone blazer and small grid-patterned pocket square.

2.) The rolled hem

rolled hem

The decorative red stitching on the edge of this pocket square is called a rolled hem. Something like this creates a bit of visual interest and pop when you throw it in your pocket.

If you fold your pocket square like the basic clean edge in #1, just insert it in your pocket clean edge first, letting the rolled hem peek out over the pocket. When I keep a pocket square in my jacket, I often throw it in there rolled hem up.

3.) Four corners up

four corners

This is a variation on the common “three corners up” style, which might be more ubiquitous.

Fold your pocket square corner to corner, creating a triangle. Fold over again, corner to opposite corner, and then once again. Stuff in your pocket, and arrange the corners like so.

When I have a pocket square with a contrasting rolled hem, I like how the fourth peak doesn’t display any stitching. To me, that’s interesting and part of being effortless. If you’re a perfectionist, you may not like it, but that’s entirely your call.

4.) The Poofy Poof

Poofy Poof

I doubt “Poofy Poof” is what true clothiers and sartorialists would call this style, but that’s what I call it.

Gather and bunch the pocket square from the middle and it will create this mountain of fabric. Then stuff in your pocket, leaving the peak sticking out. Poof it so it looks like you’re keeping a cloud in your pocket and it’s attempting to escape. BOOM. Done.

4b.) The Inverted Poofy Poof

Inverted Poofy Poof

I think one of my favorites (and probably the most nonchalant) is the Inverted Poofy Poof. You take the peak of the mountain that formed when you gathered the pocket square from the middle, and stuff it inside your pocket first.

This leaves the edges haphazardly formed and spilling out of your pocket. If you’re more conservative, you can stuff more of it in. If you feel like showing off a bit, leave more out. It’s up to you. Effortlessness at its best!

This is the easiest method by far, and one you can have the most fun with.

5.) The butt pocket

butt pocket

I always carry a pocket square with me, even if I’m not wearing a sport coat or suit. I always find myself sans napkin, or in a situation where I’ll need to wipe a couple drips of coffee off my jeans.

The square always goes in my right pocket, edges up, ready to go whenever I need it.

Add a pocket square to your daily arsenal (which probably includes your wallet, watch, phone, and maybe a Swiss Army knife) and you’ll wonder how you went so long without one.

What’s your favorite way of folding and wearing a pocket square? Is your preferred method not listed here? Let us know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading. Hopefully you can put some of these methods to use. If so, I’d love if you followed us on Twitter and Liked us on Facebook.

PUBLISHED March 21, 2011


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr.



  • Theron

    what type of material does it have to be? cotton? silk? I have some nice white “handkerchiefs” that are cotton. Could they be used?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      White is a great option; I have several myself. They’re the simplest and cleanest look. Usually they come in cotton or silk. I stick with cotton if I’m actually going to use them. Silk is mostly for show.

  • Caleb

    I like doing the clean edge, but instead of folding in half, I will fold in thirds with the crossed “folds” facing out. Dont know why, but I like it.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Do you mean fold in thirds, and then in thirds again? Can’t really picture what you’re describing, though it sounds interesting.

  • Zachsdad1

    I like the cotton pocket square folded with the clean edge with the rolled edge as a close second. If I use a silk square, the folded edge does not work. Only one problem: Many of may jackets have such a deep pocket, the square disappears into the pocket. Any suggestions?

    • Caleb

      A safety pin will help hold the square up in the pocket. Put the square in how you like it and then from inside the pocket -put the pin through the square, your pocket and back through the square and close the pin.
      You cant pull the pocket square out to offer it to a lady as fast, but you also dont have to worry about your square hiding in the deep recesses of your pocket either.
      You can also pin the square to an index card to stand it up a little higher if yo udont like pinning through your coat pocket.

      • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

        Caleb has great suggestions, though they violate the idea of effortlessness, haha. And if you forget you pinned your square, you might tear either the jacket pocket lining or the square itself, if you pull it out quickly like I tend to do.

        If you’re not forgetful, this should work. You could also just do a pocket check every once in a while, feeling around to see if your square disappeared.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Right, sometimes the rolled hem exposed doesn’t really work or might not make a difference if you don’t have contrasting thread colors. If your pockets are deep, try doing away with the folding in half (the second step after folding in thirds). This might help prop up the square more.

      For silk, it holds better in your pocket if you use the Poofy Poof, or the Inverted Poofy Poof.

  • http://twitter.com/RMRStyle Real Men Real Style

    Great post Barron – I especially like how you created the images with overlap. I may just steal that idea:)

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Antonio, use it! I’m sure I wasn’t the first one to do that. haha.

  • http://www.fisheyecorp.com/ Andreas Duess

    Great post. Inspired me to get a square for my Irish tweed jacket. It’ll completely change the look.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Definitely man. A pocket square will nicely complement the texture and depth of a tweed jacket.

  • Frank

    Your last use is rather improper. You should be using a handkerchief for that. A pocket square is decoration, not utilitarian.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I’m using “handkerchief” and “pocket square” interchangeably. Did you read the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph?

  • Kristian

    Unbelievable…

    I just commented on how you should write about the pocket square on your last post and then this comes up?

    Great post! I can’t seem to get the poofy poofed look as poofy as the picture though.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      The poof takes some practice. I actually am not sure how I got it so poofy for that shot. Beginner’s luck perhaps?

  • Dan

    Hi Barron – good idea for an article! Here’s my question: is your method for the “clean edge” pocket square the same as here:

    http://www.samhober.com/howtofoldpocketsquares/flatpocketsquarefold.htm

    In the picture, it looks like you have the “folded edge” part up; is that what you typically go for?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Dan,

      Methods are similar but he folds in half first, and I fold in thirds first. And you’re right, the folded edge part is up in my example, and I believe if you look at his example from the top down, you’ll see three sections. They both look good; his might look more interesting because of the different sections. You can go either way :]

  • Kilmore Ferrets

    dude!

  • Jhl

    have enjoyed tasteful clothing/access.for men most of my adult life. beleive in your concept. have put on several seminars for graduating colleges sr.’s on dressing for success. keep on trucking. jake

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey that’s great Jake. College seniors (most of em, anyway) need help, glad you’re out there showing them what they need to know.

  • Grickert

    Pocket squares are not form cleaning errant drips of coffee. That is what a handkerchief is for. And a handkerchief is never displayed. Just sayin.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Glad you know that. Most guys don’t know the difference and use the terms interchangeably. I’m okay with that, as long as they start using SOMETHING. Eventually we learn the difference.

  • Aguilar Joseph

    Barron – Thank you for the excellent tutorial. I went out and bought my first pocket square today.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey that’s great! Glad to hear it. Soon enough you’ll have a drawer full of them. 

  • Kerr

    Thanks for the very informative post. I just purchased some Dmitry ties that came with matching pocket squares. Having never used one before, I’m anxious to try the look.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Glad to hear it’s useful. Be careful with those matchy matchy ties / pocket squares though, highly advise against that. Rarely does that look good, if ever.

      In general you want accessories that complement each other in texture, color, etc., but never matching exactly.

      • http://twitter.com/FrontLineSEO George Gonzalez

        I just got a sean john tie that came with a pocket square. So, it is not a good idea to where this? Should I just go to the store and pick up a new square that compliments this tie?

        • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

          Sean John makes ties?

          Yeah, if a tie and pocket square come in a set, and they match, don’t wear it. In fact don’t even buy the set, just get a great tie and find a square that complements it.

          For example if you get a striped tie with three colors, figure out which color is the least dominant, and get a square whose color has that as the most dominant… does that kinda make sense?

          It’s all about complementing the colors, balance, etc. http://www.effortlessgent.com/back-to-basics-which-socks-do-i-wear-with-these/ — this might help… it’s about socks, but the same idea applies.

  • Ed the Bruce

    Great post! I’ve actually had debates over what’s the “proper” way to wear a pocket square. Thanks!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Glad it helps!

  • Vovan

    Hi Barron,
    Is it ok for a pocket square match the shirt?
    Also, somewhere in the comments you say that it should never match the tie. Why is that?
    Thanks!
    ~Vovan

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Matching the tie and pocket square is okay to a certain extent. For example, if you have complementing colors. But the tie and pocket square should never be cut from the same fabric. Why? Because it screams “box set from discount department store” and generally is in bad taste. Best thing you can do is stick with a solid white pocket square.

  • Gavin

    Hello Barron, I am ninteen and interveiwing for a Firearms salesman position. I was planning on wearing a black suit and tie with a white shirt and pocket square. Is it appropriate to wear a pocet square to a job interview? Should I dress down because of my age and the fact that is is an entry Level Job? Also would the outfit I explaned match or look good in a professional atmosphere? Thank you for the advice. Sincerely, Gavin

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Gavin. This is an excellent little article I read today: http://bit.ly/RK7GPp

      Basically, if your future coworkers dress in denim and flannel, don’t think you have to wear a formal getup just because you’re interviewing with them. If I’m imagining this correctly, your potential colleagues don’t normally dress in suits. You shouldn’t either.

      Now if you’re dealing arms to fund world wars and supplying foreign militaries with firepower like Nic Cage in Lord of War (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399295/), then definitely wear a suit.

      If I’m completely off-base and you’ve already done your research and know it’s important to wear a suit because your boss / colleagues dress up, then yes, it’s appropriate to wear a pocket square. It’s appropriate any time you wear a suit. For the interview though, I’d keep it subtle like in example 1 (the clean edge).

      For your next professional interview / suit-wearing situation, I’d go with a navy suit. Just sayin. G’luck!

  • Ludders47

    Excellent advice, thank you Barron, i’ve been wearing pocket squares (pouchettes) for a while now and it’s great to see others are joining in. The only problem I have now is the length of time it actually takes me to get ready! A while ago, I used to spend an era choosing the correct tie……now, I spend even longer selecting the the right pocket square to match!! tough eh! lol
    Well done on the post…keep up the great work

  • DZ

    putting a hankie in the pants pocket is so smart. who knew hankies are also functional? :O

  • Sajid

    actually i m amazed. found this blog as best for me. i m having my farewell, this weekend, and m gonna “bOOM” :D love it.

  • charlie

    Its funny how times have changes and now people are beginning to change the way they wear their pocket squares. Most pocket squares available are not made in the right material that allows you to shape them in a cool way and the pocket square actually stays… I found these pocket squares to fit best with the latest trend of wearing your pocket square. http://sebastiancruzcouture.com/products-page/pocket-squares/

    I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. Plus It came it a wicked box to say the least. The service was amazing!! Awesome referral program too!!

  • Panas

    Hi Baron, may i add a new trend that slowly hits europe? Embroided pochettes.. its sounds strange, i know, but look into this one http://kydos.gr/product/linen-personalised/
    Very much interested to read your feedback..

  • Joe

    What’s the best material for the clean edge white pocket square paired with a formal black suit?

  • Mash

    I like to wear a square with a suit. I hold the opinion that they must cast the impression one might use it in some act of gallantry. I would never use it to blow my nose but I would offer it to a lady or a child. Having done so, and if it were returned, it would be relegated to back pocket utility status.

  • charles

    When I was from 4 or 5 mother always put a kids hany in my top pocket for show when we went to town or any where I had suit coats or blazers as I got older they were white and l have always had one since, she always put to in my trousers to use.