What Do You Call the Handkerchief in a Suit Pocket?

Have you ever noticed that small rectangle of cloth that fits snugly in the breast pocket of your suit or jacket? We bet you do! But do you know what it’s called? Well, it is called pocket square. It provides a stylish hint of fabric peeking out to increase visual appeal.

A pocket square appears to be very similar to a handkerchief at first look. In fact, it could be considered a direct “relative.” People began to realize that keeping handkerchiefs bundled up in their trouser pockets with coins, bills, and keys was a less sanitary option. So they began to use the breast pocket instead. And this is when the pocket square was known as a decorative accessory.

Pocket Square vs. Handkerchief

The terms pocket square and handkerchiefs are often used as names in common language. But in the vocabulary of masculine sophistication, they refer to two types of accessories. They are similar in appearance but very different in use. Let’s differentiate these two.


First thing first, although pocket squares and handkerchief look almost similar, they have different functions.

Handkerchiefs are a more functional accessory made of less noble material properties and are intended for practical use. It’s usually used to blow your nose, mop up spills, and even dab sweat from your brow. As a result, the handkerchief does not meet the requirements for elegance. That is why it is always hidden inside the trouser pockets rather than displayed in plain sight.

Pocket square’s function, on the other hand, is all about fashion. It is made of precious and refined materials. Pocket square must be carried in the jacket or blazer pocket to characterize a man’s outfit’s look and style. It can be worn to show off your creativity. It can also create a stylish 1920s vibe or add a splash of color to a dull-looking suit.

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Pocket squares are typically smaller than handkerchiefs. Handkerchiefs go in the larger trouser pocket, while pocket squares go in the smaller breast pocket. This is because a too large square may end up looking bulky rather than the sleek and chic shape you desire. Plus, if you’re suffering from a cold, you’ll want a handkerchief that’s as big as possible.

Surprisingly, the size of a pocket square influences the fold and pocket square styles you can achieve. It also influences how it looks in your jacket or suit pocket. We encourage you to invest in a square that is between 40cm and 45cm. It would be best if you also avoided a pocket square that is cheaply manufactured. Other lightweight fabrics, such as wool/silk, cotton, and linen, follow the same rule.

Note: A pocket square is also known as a ‘pochette square’ or simply a ‘pochette’ in continental Europe.

How to Wear a Pocket Square

After knowing what a pocket square is (and its difference from a handkerchief), all you have to do now is figure out the perfect match. How do you match the pocket square to the colors and fabrics you’re wearing? This is how:

Pocket Square and Tie

A pocket square shouldn’t be the same color and fabric as your tie – it’s too matching and could look tacky. While it may appear to be a simple way to incorporate your outfit together, matching your pocket square and tie is a no-no in modern fashion.

The purpose of the pocket square, on the other hand, is to complement the rest of your outfit by contrasting or integrating with your other accessories. Look for secondary colors in your shirt or tie and choose a square with them. And although some stores sell matching tie and pocket square sets, we recommend avoiding them if you want to be seen as stylish.

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What if you don’t have a tie on? In this case, the color of the pocket square can be compared to the color of the shirt or the suit. If you’re wearing a blue shirt or suit, for example, you can use a light blue pocket square to create a tone-on-tone effect. Even if the tie is present, this is sound advice.

Note: If you’re unsure about what color pocket square to wear, opt for white: it goes with any jacket or suit and is appropriate for any event.

Pocket Square and Its Fabric

When you decide to incorporate pocket squares into your outfit, you also need to consider its fabrics. So here are two (2) out of many fabrics that are usually used to make pocket squares:


One of the most popular materials used for pocket squares is silk. Itcannot only feel luxurious but also be the ideal material for luminous colors. When light hits it from various angles, different pops of color appear, adding genuine interest to an outfit. It’s also known for being a delicate fabric, which allows you to make a variety of delicate silk pocket squares.


Linen is among the world’s oldest fabrics, and it is made entirely of natural materials. It is highly sturdy and tears while remaining lightweight. As a result, linen pocket squares are frequently associated with the summer, when lighter garments are preferred.

They are much less lustrous than silk and can be paired with a differing fabric, but a double-breasted linen jacket also looks great with a linen pocket square. The only disadvantage of linen is how it wrinkles quickly, requiring frequent ironing.

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Outfits with Pocket Square

If you are still unsure how to wear your pocket square, here are some outfit ideas we believe you’ll pull off.

  • When you have no time, a beige suit, light blue dress shirt matched with a light blue pocket square are the simple and effective casual look you need. Note that brown suede loafers will add a touch of class to an otherwise laid-back ensemble.
  • Pair a gray plaid suit and white dress shirt with a black necktie and white pocket square for a look that’s super simple but can be worn in various ways. And to completely change up the look, pair this outfit with black leather tassel loafers.
  • When worn together in an off-duty ensemble, a navy check suit and white crew-neck T-shirt with a burgundy pocket square will indeed look effortlessly amazing. Add a pair of burgundy leather tassel loafers to your outfit if you need to kick up this look with a pair of shoes easily.
  • For a stylish off-duty look, pair a tobacco suit with a blue pocket square. You can complement this look with dark brown leather oxford shoes if you want to be a little more daring with your footwear.
  • When you need to look sharp in a hurry, the laid-back combination of a beige suit and a black pocket square comes in handy. And for a more masculine look, add a pair of black leather loafers.

The Bottom Line

The pocket square is an extremely versatile accessory that allows modern men to convey themselves and change their appearance without spending on multiple suits and outerwear pieces. And a pocket square is an elegant way to liven up your jacket or suit look when you want to add a splash of style.

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Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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