The pocket square has been worn in some form or another since the Ancient Egyptian times, where they were used as a symbol of power and wealth.
The Greeks & Roman would spritz their handkerchiefs with perfume and store them in their pocket, to ensure they always had something pleasant to smell if they found themselves walking through unpleasant city streets.
Moving through to the Middle Ages where King Richard II began using handkerchiefs as a decorative accessory instead of its practical purpose. He would often commission extravagantly decorated handkerchiefs with lace trims.
Pocket Squares became prolific during the Tudor Times when design and decoration became more important - with expensive materials, such as silk used by the wealthy to draw more attention to their status. Of course, the French really embraced this trend. Pocket squares were huge in the court of Louis XIV, with members and attendees trying to outdo each other with bigger and more lavish handkerchiefs. Marie Antoinette eventually made Louis order that all pocket squares must be 16” x 16” in dimension – the same measurements we use today.
By the time we entered the 19th Century, pocket squares were purely decorative, with the emergence of the two-piece suit, men were placing their decorative pocket squares in their breast pockets. Thanks to advancements in printing technology, designs became more interesting and we also started to see different styles of folds emerging during this period, as men try to add new style elements to the outfits. Towards the end of the century, with the growing popularity of ‘casual’ trends, suits and pocket squares began to lose their appeal. Pocket Squares may have occasionally been worn for more ‘fancy’ affairs.
Now though, The Modern Gentleman definitely embraces the Pocket Square, and it has enjoyed a boost in popularity. As it becomes more acceptable for men to also have an interest in clothes and style, men are realising that the humble pocket square is a great way to inject personality and flair into an outfit and doesn’t always have to be formal.
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