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Coordinating Ties & Pocket Squares

We’re living in well-dressed times. More than any time in the past decade, men have lately been taking more pride in their appearance and the image it projects. While it’s important to have some natural ability in matters of attire, it’s equally (if not more) important to learn the rules of clothing so as to manipulate them and, eventually, tastefully break them. The first concept where men can generally use some guidance is coordinating a tie and pocket square.

Coordinating A Pair

First and foremost, note the usage of the word “coordinate” as opposed to “match.” To match your tie to your pocket square is poor form for a couple of reasons. For starters, it draws the viewer’s eye horizontally across your chest and takes attention away from your face, which does you no favors at all.

Secondly, it lacks sophistication. Certain things make sense to be sold in pairs: shoes, socks, cufflinks, gloves. Ties and pocket squares, on the other hand, should be sold separately. We want to avoid uniformity. It gives the impression that the wearer lacks creativity.

Successful coordination between ties and pocket squares isn’t all that difficult if you think both in terms of color and pattern. For example, let’s say you’re wearing a red tie with blue stripes. If you’d like to coordinate the stripes, wear a handkerchief with blue/white stripes or plaid, as the straight lines of the plaid sync up nicely with those of the striped tie. If you’d like to focus on color, you can do solid red, solid blue, blue with red dots, red with blue paisley, etc.

Blue and red pocket square - henry davidsen

Advanced Coordination Ideas

As you get a bit more advanced, you can start playing with complementary colors: that same red/blue tie can take a purple pocket square, for example, because blue and red make purple. For more insight on this, all you have to do is remember your primary (red, blue, and yellow) and secondary colors (orange, purple, and green). Most of these colors will play nicely with the others, depending on shade.

Another thing to consider is to break up patterns. If our jacket has windowpane stripes it might be advisable to avoid horizontal and vertical lines in our ties and pocket squares. Scale is another thing to take into consideration. We can have a theme of circles running throughout our outfit as long as those circles are different sizes.

custom ties and pocket squares on display

Pocket Square Rule of Thumb

As a guideline, remember that a white pocket square goes with anything, and with semi-formal and formal wear should be worn exclusively. Finally, keep in mind the Rule of Two, oft-stated as “one for blowin’, one for showin’.” The idea here is that a gentleman has two handkerchiefs at all times: one for show in his breast pocket, and one in his back pocket should he or someone else need it to clean up a spill, wipe away sweat, and even serve as a makeshift tissue. This only works with cotton or linen squares, but try it out: next time a lady spills her drink next to you at the bar, you won’t have to frantically search for napkins.


At the end of the day there are so many rules it can be easy to miss some. If you are still struggling with coordinating your outfits give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to speak directly with one of our expert image consultants.

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