Everything You Need to Know About Pocket Squares for Your Wedding

Elevate your big-day look with this simple accessory.

groom in hunter green suit and polka dot pocket square

Photo by Sydney Noelle Photography

Pocket squares might not be the first thing you think of when figuring out what to wear to a wedding, but they are something to keep in mind when attending a wedding. Although small and seemingly insignificant, a pocket square is a great way to add some personality and pizazz to a wedding-day look in a more subtle way; and no matter if you're the groom or a wedding guest, this accessory can immediately make you look more stylish and put together. "Although it’s not essential, I believe that all grooms should incorporate a pocket square into their look," says Breyana Wright of Styled By Breyana, a personal and professional stylist. "Pocket squares really set the look apart and add a special touch to your wedding day." However, before you go out and buy one, there are some things to keep in mind before officially committing to this style.

To start, pocket squares come in a variety of different colors, patterns, and styles, so you want to select one that complements your suit, but one's that also versatile enough to wear time and time again. Additionally, they're very cost-efficient and serve as an accessory you can buy for events long after a wedding. "You don't need to spend a ton of money on a made-in-Italy handcrafted silk pocket square," says Brock McGoff, personal stylist and owner of The Modest Man. "In a pinch, I've used plain old handkerchiefs as squares, or on one occasion, a cloth napkin!"

Meet the Expert

  • Breyana Wright is a personal and professional stylist, and the founder of Styled By Breyana.
  • Brock McGoff is a personal stylist and owner of The Modest Man

Interested in learning more? Ahead, Wright and McGoff further break down everything you need to about pocket squares, in order to make them a staple in your wedding wardrobe and beyond.

What Is a Pocket Square?

A pocket square is simple: it's a small square cloth that is folded and tucked into the breast pocket of a suit jacket or blazer. They are meant to elevate and add some flair to a look, and come in varying fabrics, prints, and styles. Wright also notes that these accessories are usually made of cotton, silk, linen, or wool, with some iterations made of synthetic fabrics like rayon and polyester. "I always advise my clients to choose the more premium options (cotton, silk, linen, and wool) because they add detail to the jacket or blazer, make the entire outfit look more expensive and poised, and have a much longer lifespan," Wright says.

Regarding colors and prints, you can find both solid-colored pocket squares and ones with patterns and prints, from slightly elaborate designs to something more simple, like polka dots. Aside from the design, however, it's their construction that allows them to stand out, as noted by McGoff. "Some are machine finished, meaning a sewing machine is used to sew the edges up," he explains. "Others are hand-finished, meaning someone rolls the edges and stitches them up by hand. These hand-finished squares are generally seen as more luxurious, and they're almost always more expensive."

How to Wear a Pocket Square

Since pocket squares are placed in the breast pocket of your suit jacket or blazer, both Wright and McGoff note that the most important thing to keep in mind is that a pocket square should not match your tie or jacket exactly. "You know those matching tie/square sets you see on display in department stores? Never buy those!" McGoff warns. "Instead, your pocket square should compliment your outfit by pulling out one or more colors featured in your suit, shirt, or tie. For example, if you're wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and burgundy polka dot tie, a light blue, pale pink, or white pocket square would work well."

Simply put, opt for a pocket square that pairs well with the rest of your look. And if you have no idea where to start, McGoff says you can't go wrong with white, especially if you're wearing a white shirt. "A white pocket square never looks out of place, no matter the occasion," he says. "If you only own one square, make it white linen." What's more, you can also play around with the way you fold this accessory. "Some guys like a simple straight fold," McGoff says. "Other guys will add more flair with the puff method. Some guys prefer intricate four-peak folds." Look up some styles and decide what fits your style the most.

Rules and Etiquette Tips to Follow

The one great thing about pocket squares is that there really aren't many rules that need to be followed. "Pocket squares are a fun accessory that men can use to add some personality to their outfit," McGoff says.

That said, there are a few things to consider when choosing to sport this accessory. "In terms of color, a darker pocket square is more suitable for formal occasions, whereas a vibrant-colored pocket square is more suitable for casual and creative spaces," Wright says.

The same goes for folds. McGoff recommends avoiding a more flamboyant fold in a serious situation, such as a funeral or job interview—stick with a straight fold for those. For a wedding, he says, "Feel free to go nuts with whatever fold you like!" Wright also adds, "Flat or two-point fold pocket squares are ideal for formal occasions." However, these are small details that not everyone will notice, so don't stress over them too much.

Should All Grooms Wear a Pocket Square?

In general, pocket squares definitely are not a requirement—they're just a fun accessory meant to add some personality to your look. Still, both Wright and McGoff recommend them, especially for grooms. "If you're getting married and wearing a jacket, you should wear a pocket square," McGoff says. "It's a great way to add a dash of color to your wedding getup, and an easy way to incorporate the wedding party's color into your outfit. For example, if your bride is wearing white, you're wearing black, and the bridesmaids are wearing green, add a green pocket square to pull everything together."

Looking for another reason why you should wear this accessory? They're also versatile. "The best part is that outside of your wedding day, you can keep them and incorporate them into your work attire (if you work in a business casual or business professional environment), you can include them into your wedding guest attire (should you ever attend a friend or family member's wedding), and they can be worn tastefully to formal affairs," Wright says. This is especially true if you buy a simple one that matches everything.

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