Mixing and matching - how to combine pocket squares with neckties, suits and dress shirts

Mixing and matching - how to combine pocket squares with neckties, suits and dress shirts

In the world of menswear you can find a lot of things – but very few of them are as efficient as pocket squares when it comes to the quick upgrade of an average outfit. Within only a few seconds, you can make your outfit become a lot more elegant, if you add a pocket square to it.

This guide is for you who want to know how to wear pocket squares – how to combine and  match them with your dress shirt your tie and your suit jacket.

A word on accessories

You shouldn’t only see accessories as a sort of add-on to your overall outfit, but instead as items that make or break outfits. In order To achieve something that’s pleasing and flattering to your outfit, you need to create a harmonious look.

Wearing patterned neckties paired with solid pocket squares

Try pairing a navy jacket with a pastel- and blue striped dress shirt. Those colours will be complemented by the necktie, which should be blue and yellow, orange and red – to then be rounded off by a pocket square that should be likewise yellow.

Wearing solid neckties with patterned pocket squares

Try wearing an orange necktie, a gray jacket, a pastel yellow or orange dress shirt – and then pair it with a patterned pocket square that doesn’t have the exact color tone, as it pocks up somewhere in between. It’ll create a harmonious overall experience.

When you put an outfit together, always remember that you have to consider different degrees of formality. You have to look at the texture of your cloth.

Now, the easiest way to combine an outfit that looks great is to start with the suit or the suit jacket because that dictates where you’ll go from there. If you have a charcoal suit in worsted flannel, you’re having a more formal outfit. If you instead go with something brown, it’s more of a casual outfit.

Once you have that in place, choose a dress shirt. It’s easiest to choose either a solid white, off-white, or light blue dress shirt, as then you really can go ‘wild’ with the different neckties you’ll be wearing, the pocket squares, and maybe a boutonniere if you’d like.

As the third item, you’ll want to choose a necktie as that defines what color accents you set. As a fourth item, choose the pocket square which complements the necktie.
Last but not the least, you can try out a boutonniere or cuff links.

When you’re starting out, keep the ground rules in mind as they help you to create better, more dashing outfit. You don’t necessarily want to incorporate more than three different patterns in your outfit as otherwise, it’ll easily get overwhelming.
Of course, there are very dapper gents out there, who can combine four or even five patterns in one outfit, but that requires a lot of experience, skill, and a good eye.
When you’re just starting out, it’s over the top and chances are it looks bad and very odd.

Be cautious when matching patterns. You don’t want to look like you are trying too hard.

Keep accessories simple with bold dress shirts

The same is true when you decide to go with a bold dress shirt like for example, a green and white striped sample, or something in orange. If you do that, try to stay in the same color palette, or opt for something darker. For example, with a green and white striped dress shirt, a dark solid navy- or a knit necktie you’re perfectly set.

Wear patterned pocket squares with solid coloured suits

If you have a suit jacket with a navy solid- or gray jacket, something with a little pin point pattern, you can really pull of being much bolder with your pocket squares and your neckties. You should invest in a dark suit and in items that you can easily pair with lots of accessories, as accessories are a lot less expensive – and you’ll create a lot more different looks that way.

Why you should invest in a pocket square

The pocket square, after all, doesn’t serve any functional purpose other than making you look great. The pocket square can really give your entire outfit a different look and feel – and it’s all coming from just a little piece of fabric that you can fold in a few seconds. It can quickly take an otherwise average outfit and make it look awesome.

Additionally, a pocket square has the ability to pull together entire outfits that otherwise may not have worked really well. Usually, a pocket square achieves that effect by having a number of different colours that pick up one in the outfit and then tie it together in an elegant manner.

You’ll find that pocket squares are always printed and not jacquard woven because it just gives a better look and you don’t really want to have an extra texture.  It’s also less likely that you pull threads with your fingernails. You can also add a lot of different colours to a pocket square,  and it helps to create a harmonious outfit with a lot of different neckties.

  • A good pocket square will always make you look polished and complete and if you want to show the edges of your square, make sure it has hand rolled edges because it’s a true hallmark of a gentleman who knows how to dress elegantly.
  • Avoid machine stitched or hem pocket squares because they’re not elegant. Also, it’s important to have the right size of your pocket square and depending on the fabric and the thickness of it, different sizes work best.
  • You always want to avoid having a pocket square that is so small that it just disappears in your pocket because it can’t stay up.
  • It’s very important to never match a pocket square exactly to your necktie, as it shows that you really don’t have any sense of style or elegance, and that you lack the confidence to put together a well coordinating harmonious outfit.
  • There are lots of pocket square sets you can buy out there, but instead you should steer clear from them, and rather invest in a pocket square that you can combine in different ways. If a matching pocket square is all you have, try not to wear one at all. Maybe opt for a a boutonniere instead because it just looks tacky otherwise.
    The first pocket square you should ever invest in is a plain white sample in solid Linen material.

You can also get a pocket square with color contrast edges. The advantage is that you either can wear them with colour, or you just fold them so you can’t see the colour at all. That way you can get two pocket squares in one.
The white linen pocket square is a gentleman’s wardrobe staple because it works with any kind of white shirt or with a tuxedo;  you can wear it to an interview, to a wedding, to a funeral – you name it.

It’s a formal look that goes with everything and it’s simply the first one you should have because it goes with so many outfits.

Now, when you coordinate colours between your pocket square and your neckties; let’s say you have fifty ties and fifty pocket squares, that’s a whopping 2500 outfit combinations right at your disposal.
Of course, we can’t show you all 2500 combinations here. However, there are a few basic principles that you can apply in your everyday outfit combination process.

  1. To start, it’s easiest to go with solid necktie and a pattern pocket square or the other way around, and you go with a patterned necktie and a solid pocket square. The advantage of this combination is that you can pair the solid necktie with a number of different pocket squares.
  2. If you choose a different pocket square opt for one made of Wool with polka dots.
  3. Use a pocket square with a silk wool blend, as you can first of all create a look with purple, blue, and green that works really well, but you can also take the pocket square and maybe just show a different part of it, so you just get more orange for example, with just a light pattern. Overall, it’s very easy to combine your pocket squares in that way.
  4. You can also choose to opt for something contrasting, or a complementary contrast that just gives a different look to the outfit, but it’s still harmonious.
  5. If both your necktie and your pocket square have patterns, you should avoid going with patterns in a similar size.

That’s it. That’s how you combine pocket squares and neckties with patterns, so make sure to go with different sizes in your tie patterns, and your pocket square patterns, so it all looks well put together. Also bear in mind that colours too close but not the same will clash, so it helps to have pocket squares in patterns with many different colours rather than a solid color.
That being said, of course, you can sometimes have a solid pocket square that works really well with a patterned necktie, as it picks up on one of the colours and it just creates a really good dapper look.

Furthermore, keep in mind the way you fold a pocket square can have a huge impact on the way it looks.

Once you’ve mastered pocket square combinations that pick up on the color, you can also take the next step and go for pocket squares that don’t have any color in common.

Obviously, pairing pocket squares in that way is a lot more difficult, but when you keep in mind that if you have a bold color to go with other bold colours and if you have subdued colours to go with other subdued colours, you may yield some very interesting outfit combinations. Of course, not every time will be a winning combination but you have to make mistakes in order to improve your outfits over time, there’s no way around that.

An end note

At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable in your skin and comfortable with your outfit and once you’re confident with your choice, it will show and your overall look will be even better than if you are unsure about the combination you chose.

As we’ve said before, first start with your jacket and your shirt and then with your ties.

Thanks for reading, Gents.