The Advantage of Unusual Designs in Pocket Squares

Like with ties, I find it’s easy to acquire more pocket square than you need. This is true for almost any accessory, really. As I mentioned before, accessories tend to be easier to size right, are relatively more affordable, and can satisfy that urge to buy something new. Before you know it, you have dozens of ties and pocket squares, and not nearly enough sport coats or suits to justify your collection.

In my time wearing pocket squares, I’ve come to realize that I mostly rely on just three types. The first is clean white linen, which I like to wear with everything except tweeds. Then there are madder silks, which I find to be useful in the fall and winter months. For some reason, those are a bit hard to find (especially in soft, muted colors), but Ralph Lauren sometimes stocks them.

Then there’s the third category, which I think is the most useful – squares with large, intricate designs of the kind that you’d never see in ties. The advantage of these is that you never run the risk of looking like you bought your tie and pocket square as part of a matching set (which you should never do, by the way). With a big, bold pattern – as opposed to something like pin dots – you can always be sure that your square will stand on its own, but still harmonize with whatever else you’re wearing through some complementary color. Plus, if you find something with the right square, you can get a bit more versatility by simply turning the square a bit here or there to show off the colors you want. That’s much hard to do if every inch of your square is essentially the same repeating pattern.

In recent years, the number of places where you can buy such squares has exploded. There are the standards, of course, in the form of Drake’s and Rubinacci, both of which produce beautiful pieces. You can purchase those directly through each brand’s shops, or through various online retailers such as No Man Walks Alone, A Suitable Wardrobe, Exquisite Trimmings, Malford of London, Mr. Porter, and our advertiser The Hanger Project. There are also a number of other operations worth considering:

Put This On: The first is of course our pocket square shop. Jesse finds vintage and deadstock fabrics from online sellers and thrift shops, and then has them handmade into pocket squares through a tailor in Los Angeles. That means having the edges handrolled with a nice plump edge, rather than something machined and flat.
Vanda Fine Clothing: Run by the newlywed couple Diana and Gerald, these two produce excellent high-end ties and pocket squares – all hand sewn by them in their workshop in Singapore. Recently, they came out with a series of Chinese zodiac squares, which add a bit of personalization for the wearer.
Ikire Jones: Ikire Jones is a relatively new company run by a finalist in one of Esquire’s “Best Dressed Real Man” competitions. The designer, Wale Oyejide, is a bold dresser with a strong sense of color. Whether you’re a conservative dresser such as myself, or more daring, I think his pocket squares are quite useful. I reviewed them here.
Christian Kimber: Christian has some refreshingly modern designs with abstracted shapes made to look like famous landmarks. At the moment, there are squares representing London, Melbourne, and Florence, but more cities will be released sometime this year.
P. Johnson Tailors: Like Christian Kimber, P. Johnson also produces designs with a slightly more modern sensibility. Their squares tend to have large swaths of color, so you might want to think about how you normally fold your square, lest you look like you’re wearing something that’s one solid color.
Kent Wang: Always a good source for more affordable options, Kent has printed more unique looking pocket squares in the last year. The only thing to watch out for is the size. I find that squares smaller than 15” x 15” feel a bit too insubstantial, although your taste may differ.

(Photos above by The SartorialistChristian KimberRubinacciMalford of LondonVanda Fine Clothing, and us)

Ikire Jones Pocket Squares

Our friend Wale Oyejide recently started a new clothing line called Ikire Jones. I’ve actually been in touch with Wale about his project for the last year and a half or so, as we used to trade emails about clothing production, design, and distribution. For a time, I was thinking about starting a small accessories company, but work got too busy for me. Wale, on the other hand, has been working hard to make his company happen, and his first collection of jackets and pocket squares were released a month or so ago.

Wale sent me a few of his pocket squares to check out and I’m rather impressed with what he put together. The squares are made from a 70/ 30 wool-silk blend and the edges have nice plump rolls. Each square is also generously sized at 45cm x 45cm. It’s harder and harder to find pocket squares this size nowadays, as many manufacturers need to cut down on their costs, so they skimp on material, but a bigger square means getting something that won’t slip down in your breast pocket throughout the day.

What I like most is the artwork, which are inspired by Wale’s Nigerian heritage and hand printed in Macclesfield, England (where much of the world’s best printing is done). As a matter of practicality, it’s easier to wear pocket squares like these since you never want your squares to match too closely with your ties. Thus, when you have a big, bold pattern – as opposed to a small repeating one such as pin dots – you can always be assured that they’ll stand on their own, but still harmonize through a complementary color. And, with a little turning here and there, you can show off which colors you want most. I’ve taken my favorite of Wale’s five designs, the darker red “Iya Ni Wun” square, which celebrates the relationship between a mother and her child, and put it in one of my pockets to demonstrate. With a little turning, the square can be a dark mottled green, a light celery green, or a pumpkin orange.

Wale’s squares sell for $65, which is a great price for what these are. You can check out everything at his webstore and follow him on his blog Less Gentlemen. We wish him the best of luck with his new venture.