One question I'm often asked is how to match your tie and pocket square.
Should they be the same color? Do you have to wear a tie and pocket square? Is silk the best material?
In today's article, I'm answering these questions and more. This is the ultimate guide to matching your tie and pocket square.
Getting your tie and pocket square right shows people you take pride in your appearance and that you dress with care and consideration. It's a mark of respect to yourself and those around you.
Getting it wrong makes you look like a rookie.
In this article, I'm going to start by laying out the basics and I'm going to show you how to match your tie and pocket square and how to leverage colors, patterns, textures and styles to take your outfit to the next level.
Are you ready to rock your tie and pocket square? Let's start with the tie…
1. What Is A Necktie?
A tie is a long piece of cloth, worn around the neck for decorative purposes. It rests under the shirt collar and is knotted at the throat. Variants of the necktie include the ascot tie, bow tie, bolo tie, cravat, Knit Tie and clip-on tie.
The modern necktie, ascot and bow tie are descendants of the cravat. Croatian mercenaries serving in France during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) favored a cravat and this came to the attention of French king Louis XIV who adopted the style around 1646. This started a fashion craze which developed into the necktie we know today.
The best ties are made out of materials like silk, wool and cashmere. Top neckties also have wool or cotton interlinings and are folded over multiple times to give the necktie shape, weight and bulk.
Tie Colors And Patterns
Neckties are an accessory piece and bring color into your outfit.
Popular colors include red, known as the “power tie” and associated with authority, passion, love and power.
Blue is the most common tie color and is associated with calmness, elegance and maturity. Black ties are common for formal evening functions.
Tie patterns are woven or printed and include Polka Dot, Foulard (small repeating patterns), Paisley, Stripe (University and Regimental), Club (Sport), Tartan (Plaid), Novelty and Knit.
2. What Is A Pocket Square?
The pocket square is a hemmed square of thin fabric which you place in your jacket pocket. It is a purely decorative accessory (“it's for show not for blow”) and derives from the handkerchief.
The purpose of the pocket square is to break up your jacket and to add color, pattern and variation to your outfit.
In the 1400s, the pocket square found favor with the European upper classes who used it as a decorative accessory and a practical tool. French nobles scented their pocket squares to provide some relief from the unpleasant smells which were prevalent due to a lack of basic washing facilities.
Pocket squares or handkerchiefs were made from exotic materials like silk and were embroidered to create beautiful patterns as a demonstration of wealth and status.
Best Pocket Square Material
The best pocket squares are made from natural materials like silk, wool and cashmere. Synthetic blends create different weights and textures.
Pocket Square Colors And Patterns
Pocket squares are available in a multitude of colors and patterns like polka dot and intricate jacquard weaves. Some pocket squares contain screen printed pictures and embroidered monograms and others are plain with colored or decorative edging.
3. Matching Your Tie And Pocket Square
You've got the basics so now it's time to lay out the ground rules. After this, we'll move onto colors, patterns, textures and styles.
Your tie and pocket square shouldn't exactly match! Your goal is to complement.
10 Golden Rules – How To Match Ties To Pocket Squares
- Start with your tie and make sure it complements your jacket and shirt.
- Now add a pocket square and make sure it complements your tie.
- Your tie and pocket square should complement each other. Matching your tie and pocket square exactly is for a newbie!
- Wearing a tie without a pocket square is perfectly acceptable but adding a pocket square shows you take pride in your appearance.
- You can wear a pocket square without a tie if you ensure your pocket square complements the rest of your outfit.
- You can wear a pocket square with a bow tie. The same style rules apply as with a tie.
- Your pocket square and tie can be made from the same material but you get bonus points for bringing in different textures.
- If you attend a Black Tie event, keep it simple. This is not the time to show off your personality or color matching prowess. Use a white linen pocket square with a Presidential Fold.
- Be careful of pocket square creep. Small pocket squares can disappear from view and larger pocket squares may start to protrude from your jacket pocket.
- Keep a separate handkerchief if you are likely to blow your nose.
How To Match Ties To Pocket Squares – Colors
Color Theory is a complex subject and is worthy of an article itself! Understanding color coordination can be a daunting prospect but grasping the basics is essential if you want to take your style game up a level.
Use the following rules as a base and seek to develop your style further by experimenting as you become more confident with color.
- Remember the color of your pocket square should complement the color of your tie and not exactly match.
- If you're struggling, don't worry – if in doubt, use a plain white pocket square. This classic fold works with virtually any outfit.
- Don't overpower your outfit – if you wear a bright tie, don’t wear a bright pocket square (and vice versa). Muted colors give a sophisticated, cool look.
- Neutrals go well with any color so if your tie or pocket square is a neutral color (black, white, gray, brown, beige), the other can be any color you wish.
How To Match Ties To Pocket Squares – Patterns
You should experiment with patterns but be careful not to overdo them because matching different patterns requires a bit of courage and a fair amount of know-how.
You can use these rules as a guide when you're starting out and building your knowledge:
- Keep it simple until you're confident with patterns. If your tie/bow tie or pocket square has a pattern, the other should be a solid color.
- If you do decide to wear a patterned tie/bow tie and pocket square, make sure the pattern proportions vary. For example, if you wear a tie which has small dots, select a pocket square with a larger pattern. (See the image above.)
- Don't overwhelm your outfit by incorporating more than 3 different patterns and remember your suit or jacket pattern also counts as 1!).
How To Match Ties To Pocket Squares – Textures
Textures and fabric are among the most misunderstood words in men’s clothing. Texture is less noticeable than color but it still has a big effect on the way you look and shows you have a developed sense of style.
You can use textures to create a more casual look and smooth fabrics like silk to create a dressier look.
- The fabric of your pocket square should differ from that of your suit or jacket.
- The fabric of your pocket square and tie can match.
How To Match Ties To Pocket Squares – Styles
- There are at least 18 ways to tie a tie and at least 9 ways to fold a pocket square – ranging from simple to very complicated and flamboyant. Familiarize yourself with these methods and start adding variety to your outfit.
- The 3 basic tie knots you should learn are Four in Hand, Half Windsor, Full Windsor.
- The 3 basic pocket square folds you need to know are Presidential, one-point, two-point and ‘le puff’.
- If you use a complicated and elaborate tie knot, keep your pocket square simple (and vice versa).
- Furthermore, note that your pocket square should fill your pocket otherwise it will disappear into it and your hard work will be ruined.
And there we have it; I've shown you how you can match your tie and pocket square. You will become better as you try out new styles but for now it's time to experiment and have fun!
As I mentioned earlier, an understanding of color theory is an essential component when it comes to matching ties and pocket squares. I recommend you read my article color coordination to better understand color and how you can leverage it to take your style to the next level.
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