January 28, 2015

Matching A Pocket Square And Tie

The hallmark of a true gentleman, a pocket square is an effortless way to add some sartorial flair to classic tailoring. Whether it's a more traditional tweed or a vibrant silk paisley you favour, a pocket square can impart a personal touch to even the dullest workwear. The question is, how should you wear it, and what are the rules?

A common misconception is that a matching tie and pocket square is the way to go. This is actually the opposite of the truth, as in practice this will often leave even the snappiest dressers looking more than a little austere.

So how do you style a pocket square, ensuring that it stands out, reflects your personality, and complements your suit, without looking like you got dressed in your grandmother's handkerchief box that morning? Read our style guide to find out all you need to know about how to wear this essential accessory.

As mentioned, directly matching pocket square and tie is a style no-go. But the question remains, how should you wear a pocket square and tie together? Here, you have a variety of options which can be alternated depending on your sartorial preference.

If you're feeling brave and you want to wear a pocket square that's going to get you noticed in the office, you may opt for a bright, patterned design such as paisley or polka-dot. If this is the case, then ensure that one of the colours featured in the pocket square complements either your tie or your suit. For example, if you had a blue polka-dot pocket square, you might want to go with a tie with flecks of blue in it, or for the fashion staple, a solid blue tie.

tie and pocket square polka-dot

A more conservative option would be to opt for a traditional heritage fabric such as a Harris tweed or tartan, and largely the same rule applies here. Identify the main colour of the pocket square, and endeavour to pick a tie that features that colour in some way.

Not quite ready to go for a patterned number and want something more low-key? Neutral solid colours will work with everything, but ensure that they are in contrast with your suit and tie otherwise the impact of the accessory is definitively lessened. A textured pocket square, such as a lightweight linen or pique cotton, will add a point of interest without being too bold.

Now we've covered the basics, what about something a little more advanced? Considering your tie is one thing, but what about the rest of your outfit? Firstly, let's start with the suit. The pocket square is a great companion to fine tailoring, but as a contrast to, not a match for it. Choose a colour that will stand out against your suit and worry about matching it to your tie later, as this is what will really make the impact. Black makes a great base for the more stand-out, printed designs, whereas a simple grey suit can be transformed by a gentlemanly tweed.

tie and pocket square suit

Next, your shirt. As a general rule, wearing a printed shirt and a printed pocket square together runs the risk of looking like you've made a little too much effort, so a solid colour works better with a bold design and vice versa.

As a final flourish, why not consider your socks as an additional pairing to your pocket square? It's easy to forget the humble sock, but they can add serious impact to an outfit when properly picked using the guidelines above. Choose a block-colour that brings out the hues of your chosen square and you're guaranteed to turn heads on the train.

Jessica Spires
Features And Fashion Writer