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Q&A: How (and when) should I wear a pocket square?

Q&A: How (and when) should I wear a pocket square?

'Tis the season for figuring out how to make your everyday clothes look more festive, and one surefire way to do that is to break out a pocket square.

"A pocket square will make any smart-casual clothes—from blazers to suits—party-ready," says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. Here, he explains when to wear one, and uses a Paul Smith pocket square to demonstrate his two favourite folding techniques.

The three best times to wear a pocket square

1. When you want to make a suit or blazer more festive

"Your navy work suit becomes instantly more party-appropriate if you lose the tie, undo your shirt's top button and add a patterned or bold-coloured pocket square in your blazer's breast pocket. Same goes for a blazer with a pocket square, jeans or chinos and smart shoes."

2. When you want to make your suit or blazer more formal

"Wear both a tie and pocket square. You're best off mismatching them. A starched white pocket square always works to add some formality—and goes with every tie in your wardrobe. This is one of those nice touches your grandfather would have made, but it's been dropped along the way; wearing one today is a nod to traditional, thoughtful dressing."

3. When you don't want to wear a tie

"A pocket square can do the same job a tie does—of smartening up a suit or blazer and smart trousers. In fact, because pocket squares are far less of a go-to than ties are, they can make outfits more thought-through and style-conscious. If your pocket square's subtle and silk, it can make your suit look more expensive."

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The two best ways to fold it:

Option 1: The nonchalant cluster

Step 1. Drape it over your hand and push a finger through the center of the square to begin to bunch it up.

Step 2. Grab and pull the gathered fabric from below, smoothing it into a neat bunch.

Step 3. Gather the bunch from the top and stick it in your pocket.

Step 4. Voila! Snappy but casual.

2. The smart square fold

Step 1. Fold the pocket square in half twice so it's a square, then in half again so it's a pocket-width rectangle.

Step 2. Fold the bottom up so it's a shorter rectangle—a bit longer than your hand.

Step 3. Smooth the folded square out.

Step 4. Stick it in your pocket and straighten it up.

Step 5. Nice and sharp!