Wearing a suit is something relatively simple but the way you choose the tie and the pocket square is an art.
If you haven’t yet decided to go this far as to accessorize a suit, I will attempt to convince you otherwise.
Let’s start with the fact that most of us can’t afford many suits. Sure, it would be nice to have one for each occasion but a suit is a BIG investment. For this reason we prefer suits that go well for each occasion.
Under these harsh conditions, how can we express ourselves? Enter the world of ties and pocket squares.
Now I know what you’re thinking: you’re already wearing a tie. But have you ever considered a pocket square?
If you haven’t I’ll let you know most guys never though of pocket squares either. This is your chance to upgrade your style with a minimum investment.
First of all, there is one BIG BASIC style no-no: your tie and pocket square should never have the same color and exact pattern – ever.
I see hundreds of guys fall into this one. They see in stores this “package” consisting of a tie and pocket square of the same color and pattern and they think: hey, this is you you match the tie and pocket… no, no, NO!
The reason you find such “deals” in clothing stores is because they want to make it easy for you to buy. They can’t possibly know what suit and shirt you’re going to wear… so they try to push both the tie and the pocket square down your throat to make more money.
(Not to mention they have little style knowledge so, even when you DO ask them about color matching a formal outfit, they’ll give you some ridiculous answers.)
OK, back to our style lesson.
The pocket square doesn’t necessarily need to be in congruence with the tie. It can have one or even 2 colors in common, but there is no rule. Pocket squares are your chance to get creative and stand out from the crowd.
You can match the pocket square with your shirt, your socks if you want. Or, you can choose not to match it with anything.
Whichever way you choose to go, there is one thing to keep in mind: the pocket square should make a contrast with your suit jacket. If it doesn’t it will be very hard to spot and be pretty much useless.
Personally, I always wear a pocket square with my sports jacket. I choose something with a pattern to complement the stripes of the jacket.
Ok, let’s see some actual examples of ties and pocket squares to get a clear idea.
- Red tie with a pattern, red pocket square (exactly the same color but different pattern), white shirt and navy suit jacket or suit.
- Red pocket square with dots, pink tie with the same kind of dots (thus the two have something in common), white shirt and a gray sports jacket.
- navy tie, white pocket square, navy suit and a white shirt. In this case, the pocket square matches the shirt.
Here’s a few photos of different pocket square combinations:
The picture above shows a yellow pocket square whose color repeats itself in the tie. If the tie were uni, we would have experienced that faux pas. Let’s also notice how the red stripes from the tie match the shirt.
In the outfit above, the center of attention is the red pocket square. The suit is dark brown and the shirt is light blue. Notice how the tie is missing, for a more relaxed look. Now this is the kind of outfit I would like to see YOU wear.
The last outfit is definitely the hardest one to pull. The complexity is high but once you get your eye formed, you will be able to pull this off as well.
Now that you have a starting point, you can start your own journey for adding a little personality to your suits. You can learn a lot just by looking at people who were pocket squares. And your effort will well worth it because you will stand out without having to buy a new suit.
Remember how I said you shouldn’t wear ties and pocket squares that come as a set? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them…
if you can’t find pocket squares sold separately (this was my case as well) here’s a great trick I want to teach you:
Get 2 or 3 sets of ties and pocket squares, then mix them up!
That’s right. If you mix the tie from one set with the pocket square from another set, you’ll avoid the trap. Just make sure they do follow my guidelines, though.