Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer and director of the apparel company that bears his name, never looks boring in a suit. That’s because he spices it up with colourful pocket squares in his jacket’s breast pocket.
The decorative accessories “complete a gentleman’s wardrobe,” says the 55-year-old Hilfiger. They’re back in style now after a 20-year hiatus, he says, because European designers started using them in the past few years to accent menswear collections. “Men are starting to dress much more elegantly today,” Hilfiger says. These days, Hilfiger often wears his favourite one—a silk square with a paisley design in orange, brown and gold—with a navy blazer and a white shirt.
Hilfiger first learned how to fold pocket squares from his father when he was a teenager, he says. He lays the square out and folds it twice into a square, then folds about one-third of it in to make it narrow enough to fit in his pocket. For another look, he sometimes folds the pocket square diagonally instead and then bends the corners up into three or four uneven points that stick out from the pocket.
He takes care to make the folds look haphazard and imperfect, and never exposes more than an inch of the square from the pocket. “You don’t want it too high, because it looks like you are trying to show it off,” he says.
Hilfiger says it’s OK for men to wear the same pocket square-jacket combination over and over again. But he recommends avoiding pocket squares when wearing a patterned jacket, and says men should stick to silk or cotton squares. “Never wear polyester,” because it looks unauthentic, he says.
One caveat: Silk squares must be dry cleaned, while cotton can easily be thrown in the wash.