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How To Fold A Pocket Square For A Tuxedo

Any man can throw on a tuxedo and look somewhat decent, but the real challenge is mastering how to style a tux; and like most facets of fashion, the devil is all in the details. By details, we are not referring to the size or the color of your tux, but the accessories – the subtle differentiators that will set you apart from the rest of the men wearing nearly the exact same outfit. Tuxedos don’t change much from one to the other. It’s a pretty standard look. However, with the right splash of style, you can really make your tuxedo stand out from the rest.

When styling a tuxedo, several accessories to focus on include cuff links and button studs, various styles of shoes, and most importantly, the pocket square.  It is believed that the origin of the pocket square dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, in 2000 B.C., where the very rich carried the first versions made of white linen.  The tradition made its way over to ancient Greece and Rome as well, and was continued on throughout history making quite a comeback into modern day fashion.  By the 20th century, you weren’t considered a stylish man if you came out of the house without a pocket square in the breast pocket of your suit, so obviously the same would go for a tuxedo.

The first step: in any pocket square application process is the choosing of what type of kerchief (as the French say) works best for you and your tux.  The three main materials used for pocket squares are traditionally linen, cotton, wool, and for the more fashionably confident, silk – usually reserved for the more extravagant patterns and prints.

The next step: Color Coordination.  The key to choosing the correct color pocket square is really dependent on how subtlety you can match it to your shirt, tie or jacket.  But this color coordination needs to be secondary and seem almost purposively negligible.  Matching exact color to color is very costume like and comes across tacky; aim for elusiveness.  For instance, if your tie is green with splashes of navy, perhaps a navy pocket square is in order.  Have fun with it!

The final step is the fold:  The most simple and common fold for your handkerchief is the Straight Fold, which requires one straight edge of the pocket square be parallel to the outer edge of the pocket.  To complete this fold, start with the pocket square lying flat, unfolded. Fold the pocket square in half horizontally, and then fold it in half vertically, which will make a smaller square. Next, you’ll fold it vertically in half again and rotate the pocket square so it lies horizontally. Finally, fold it vertically in half one more time.  You’ll want to place the square in your pocket with the creased side facing out.

Although a simple method, similar to the straight fold, the One Corner Fold will add little more pizazz to your look. Start with the pocket square lying flat again, and fold horizontally. Then, you’ll want to fold in half vertically, leaving a perfect square. Rotate the pocket square so it is shaped like a diamond, and then fold in half horizontally again, leaving a triangle shape with the point facing downward. You’ll then want to flip it over to hide the edges, putting the point facing back upwards and fold the corners towards the middle. Then adjust and stuff according to pocket size with the corner facing up.

The Puff Fold is often mistaken as the simplest fold to execute because it has fewer steps, but the finesse is really what sets this method apart from the rest (as there are no actual creasing folds in this process). Again, start with the pocket square lying flat with no folds. With two fingers, pinch the center of the pocket square and lift off of the table. You’ll want to tuck the sides accordingly, somewhat forming a diamond shape as the hanky hangs. While still pinching the top, use your other hand to gather the tail end of the pocket square, bunching it together, and then flip it over so the open side is facing up.  Then fold the pinched in side halfway up the square, and stuff it into your pocket, flaring out the loose ends. This technique sounds easy, but will take a good bit of practice in order to execute correctly.

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