Real Southern Men Wear Pocket Squares Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
It is springtime once again here in the South. Which means that gentlemen will be rocking their seersucker or linen at outdoor affairs where gin is served and tornadoes are dodged. In my opinion nothing sets off a blazer like a nice pocket square. I love them and have worn them for years, even when I am wearing a blazer with jeans. Depending on what you read, pocket squares have been worn or carried by men since Roman times. It is said that French gentlemen used them to shield their delicate olefactories from the stench of the commoners. Pocket squares serve no such utilitarian purpose now. So why should a gentleman insert a piece of cloth into a compartment on a blazer that might be otherwise used to conceal a small handgun or switchblade? Hang on.
Fashion writer Alan Flusser once wrote that a pocket square should “appear unstudied, effortlessly contributing to the overall aplomb.” Which is precisely what a Board Certified dandy like Alan Flusser would write. And so I turned to a professional to explain just what the hell that means in English and why men should wear pocket squares more often.
Jon Stone is a partner at The Independent, a men’s clothing store in Little Rock, Arkansas. He took time one afternoon to patiently explain it all to me.
B&B: You read the quote from Flusser. Is wearing a pocket square as fussy as all that?
JS:“Not necessarily. I wear them in every jacket whether it’s a trip to the market or to a formal event. Now HOW you wear one is the defining factor. If you are indeed a fussy, flowery person [editorial note: Like Alan Flusser] you will wear it very billowy and ‘blousy.’ If you are not you will wear it very crisp and clean. Either way will subtly project an indication of who you are.”
B&B: Still, why should I wear a pocket square?
JS:“Why should you NOT wear one? A pocket square has the potential to speak volumes of your mood and overall psyche. It projects confidence, strength, creativity, and hopefully, taste.”
B&B: Why couldn’t I just stick a damn handkerchief in there?
JS: “Actually you can! But handkerchiefs per-se are typically used for function [editorial note: What a nice way of putting it]. If you are going to substitute a handkerchief for a pocket square, you still will need to carry another handkerchief in your jacket or hip pocket. You can’t take it out of your front pocket to blow your nose. Well, at least not if you intend to put it back in there.”
B&B: Speaking of handkerchiefs, can I keep the emergency one in the sleeve of my jacket and produce it from there if need be?
JS: “Dear God. No.”
B&B: Does my pocket square have to match my tie?
JS: “Well, if you aren’t comfortable with mixing patterns, perhaps you should stick with mixing solid colored ties with similarly colored pocket squares and/or keeping it white. You can’t go wrong there. Or, if your tie has multiple patterns and colors, you could simply choose your favorite color from the multitude within the tie and enhance the color with a coordinating pocket square. If you are a bit more confident, a subtle contrast of a striped tie and a gingham checked pocket square is really sharp. (Editorial note: That would have never occurred to me. Good thing I brought in adult supervision.)
B&B: In conclusion?
JS: “The best reason to wear a pocket square pretty much depends on you. Initial impressions are important. If you want to be seen as someone with confidence, class, and quite frankly, cajones, then wear a pocket square and wear it however the hell you want. (Editorial note: We at Bourbon & Boots have thought of everything. See the pictures to learn a couple of basic folds.) But don’t let your jacket or blazer leave the house without one.”
There you have it. Be a man. Grow some cajones. Wear a pocket square.
Arthur Paul Bowen is a lawyer and writer who lives in what he calls the “People’s Republic of Hillcrest” in Little Rock. He may also be found on his blog, The Moving Finger Writes. Photography by Justin Bolle, (pictured from left, The Independent Little Rock partners Flynn Smith, Sean Cullers and Jon Stone).