How To Fold A Pocket Square

A pocket square is one of those minute details that have major implications. Though we’re not dressing up as much as we used to, when you’re wearing a suit or a sport jacket, you’re doing yourself a disservice when you omit the hanky. In this post, we’ll go over how to fold a pocket square and also how to coordinate one with your outfits.

How To Fold A Handkerchief

If you Google “how to fold a pocket square,” you’ll see approximately a bazillion results that list hundreds of ultra-precise, intricate ways to fold a pocket square.

With few exceptions, this is all bull. Like a pre-tied bow tie, a handkerchief that’s been overly styled misses the point. A pre-folded hanky is even worse. There needs to be an element of imperfection – sprezzatura, even – that lends a human aspect to the look.

So, generally speaking, don’t overdo it. If you’ve spent more than fifteen seconds adjusting it once its in your breast pocket, you’ve gone too far. Let it be what it will be, and everything will fall into place.

Next, let’s look at two common ways that we fold pocket squares.

TV Fold

president reagan in a brown suitNamed for the hosts of television quiz shows in 1950’s America who sported this look, the TV fold is simple and conservative. The finished product is a simple 1/2″ of material visible above the breast pocket. If your style is on the quieter side and/or if you’re dressing for a conservative audience, this is the fold you should use. Here’s how to fold it:

  1. Unfold your pocket square completely and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. Fold into thirds.
  3. Fold in half lengthwise.
  4. Place into breast pocket with folded side facing up. Adjust to your liking.

Though this fold works with silks, it’s particularly sympathetic to cotton or linen pocket squares, which have a little more heft and seem to hold the fold better.

Puff Fold

blue tuxedo and red bow tie on a mannequinThe puff fold is kind of an anti-fold. You don’t fold it so much as grab it and gently stuff it into your pocket. It’s more expressive than a TV fold and makes for a somewhat bolder impression. It works particularly well with silk squares, which are a bit more pliable than cotton or linen ones. Puff folds also tend to work best with larger pocket squares as opposed to smaller ones.

To fold one, follow these steps:

  1. Unfold your pocket square and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. With your right hand, grab the center of the pocket square in your thumb, forefinger, and middle fingers. Hold it up in front of you at eye level.
  3. Using your left hand, use your forefinger and thumb to encircle the pocket square from the top down, stopping in the middle.
  4. Fold in half lengthwise from top to bottom, using your right hand. What was the mid-point is now the top.
  5. Place into your breast pocket, adjust to your liking.

Pocket Square Coordination

grey three piece mens suit on a mannequinExplore more about this topic on our blog post about color coordination. Your handkerchief shares a visual plane with other garments on or around your chest. This means your tie, shirt, or the jacket itself. As such, you should coordinate these garments in terms of color, pattern, or (ideally) both.

An easy way to think about this is the concept of major versus minor colors. Let’s say you’re wearing a dark blue tie with burgundy stripes. Dark blue is the major color, burgundy is the minor color. A good start is for the square’s major and minor colors to be opposite those of the tie. In this case, a burgundy square with navy dots would make a smart combination.

men's purple sport coat with grey trim on mannequin

Note how the pocket square speaks to the button’s color.

If you use your shirt or jacket as the point of reference when you pick out a pocket square, use the same logic.

For those of us who wear ties, under no circumstances should your pocket square match your tie. This draws the eye across the chest instead of upwards towards your face. It’s also a mark of an unsophisticated dresser.

If all else fails, a white pocket square will go with everything.


We hope this guide simplifies pocket squares for you in a way that the Internet doesn’t. If you’re ready to manage your image with more intention, we’re here to help. Call 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to get started.

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