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Formal wear

The Right Combination of Tie and Pocket Square


Wearing a suit is something relatively simple but the way you choose the tie and the pocket square is an art.

If you haven’t yet decided to go this far as to accessorize a suit, I will attempt to convince you otherwise.

Let’s start with the fact that most of us can’t afford many suits. Sure, it would be nice to have one for each occasion but a suit is a BIG investment. For this reason we prefer suits that go well for each occasion.

Under these harsh conditions, how can we express ourselves? Enter the world of ties and pocket squares.

Now I know what you’re thinking: you’re already wearing a tie. But have you ever considered a pocket square?

If you haven’t I’ll let you know most guys never though of pocket squares either. This is your chance to upgrade your style with a minimum investment.

First of all, there is one BIG BASIC style no-no: your tie and pocket square should never have the same color and exact pattern – ever.

I see hundreds of guys fall into this one. They see in stores this “package” consisting of a tie and pocket square of the same color and pattern and they think: hey, this is you you match the tie and pocket… no, no, NO!

The reason you find such “deals” in clothing stores is because they want to make it easy for you to buy. They can’t possibly know what suit and shirt you’re going to wear… so they try to push both the tie and the pocket square down your throat to make more money.

(Not to mention they have little style knowledge so, even when you DO ask them about color matching a formal outfit, they’ll give you some ridiculous answers.)

OK, back to our style lesson.

The pocket square doesn’t necessarily need to be in congruence with the tie. It can have one or even 2 colors in common, but there is no rule. Pocket squares are your chance to get creative and stand out from the crowd.

You can match the pocket square with your shirt, your socks if you want. Or, you can choose not to match it with anything.

Whichever way you choose to go, there is one thing to keep in mind: the pocket square should make a contrast with your suit jacket. If it doesn’t it will be very hard to spot and be pretty much useless.

Personally, I always wear a pocket square with my sports jacket. I choose something with a pattern to complement the stripes of the jacket.

Ok, let’s see some actual examples of ties and pocket squares to get a clear idea.

  1. Red tie with a pattern, red pocket square (exactly the same color but different pattern), white shirt and navy suit jacket or suit.
  2. Red pocket square with dots, pink tie with the same kind of dots (thus the two have something in common), white shirt and a gray sports jacket.
  3. navy tie, white pocket square, navy suit and a white shirt. In this case, the pocket square matches the shirt.

Here’s a few photos of different pocket square combinations:

photo source: 2.bp.blogspot.com

The picture above shows a yellow pocket square whose color repeats itself in the tie. If the tie were uni, we would have experienced that faux pas. Let’s also notice how the red stripes from the tie match the shirt.

In the outfit above, the center of attention is the red pocket square. The suit is dark brown and the shirt is light blue. Notice how the tie is missing, for a more relaxed look. Now this is the kind of outfit I would like to see YOU wear.

source: photobucket.com

The last outfit is definitely the hardest one to pull. The complexity is high but once you get your eye formed, you will be able to pull this off as well.

Now that you have a starting point, you can start your own journey for adding a little personality to your suits. You can learn a lot just by looking at people who were pocket squares. And your effort will well worth it because you will stand out without having to buy a new suit.

Remember how I said you shouldn’t wear ties and pocket squares that come as a set? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them…

if you can’t find pocket squares sold separately (this was my case as well) here’s a great trick I want to teach you:

Get 2 or 3 sets of ties and pocket squares, then mix them up!

That’s right. If you mix the tie from one set with the pocket square from another set, you’ll avoid the trap. Just make sure they do follow my guidelines, though.

Easy, right?

George Lavas

George is dedicated to fashion and style for men. Based between the UK & US he enjoys writing about lifestyle and fashion from both sides of the pond. George created BeStylish.org to help readers create a strong sense of style with minimum effort believing that everyone can look and feel good, all day, every day.

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  1. PocketSquareZ com January 24, 2010

    Nice combos. I have seen other combinations at http://www.PocketSquareZ.com

  2. O Mafia June 9, 2011

    The Right Combination of Tie and Pocket Square is some difficult for some people, but there is better ideas of matching…

  3. Jon September 17, 2011

    Thanks for the info! I just left the store With a yellow pocket square to match my yellow/blue striped shirt and remembered my tie was green. Had no idea if the square had to match the tie or not. Now I have a few combinations I could go with. Thanks!

  4. George September 24, 2011

    Great combo, Jon! your green tie may or may not match the pocket square, it all depends of the color intensity. I’m glad men are starting to realize the power of pocket squares.

    Here’s one that I just bought (100% silk):

    Read more here: http://www.bestylish.org/blog/index.php/i-bought/i-bought-a-red-pocket-square

  5. salman October 9, 2011

    Hey, I was Wondering if you could wear a pocket square with just the dress shirt. I really love the pocket square but im still a teen so I rarely get a chance to wear suits and blazers. Thanks!

  6. AdelinDumitru May 14, 2012

    Your pocket square is too large – it should be more tucked in

  7. Kevin Tarvin November 20, 2012

    Very helpful article. I have never once worked the magic of a pocket square but have always admired the look of those who do it right. I recently purchased several and came very close to asking how to “match.” I didn’t ask and obviously saved myself a little embarrassment. I have been tying a tie 6 days a week for 22 years. Your article has given me the courage to try to pull this off tomorrow. I was able to visualize as I read. Thanks

  8. George November 29, 2012

    Hey Kevin,

    Matching a pocket square is easier than you think. Even if you have absolutely no clue on how to do it, just do it with any color from the outfit (as long as it isn’t the tie).

  9. Milen S Yordanov February 13, 2013

    Very helpful article indeed. I’ve been waiting for an occasion to wear a suit for a few months just so i can rock a pocket square. A friend of mine turned me in to that look an i think it’s great. I have only one question. Can the pocket square be the same color of the shirt or it’s a no, no, NO just like with the tie? Thanks again for the article.

  10. Juan Camilo February 19, 2013

    GREAT TIP. First decent webpage with good style advice in what regards pocket squares, though I was hoping to find an answer to my question: I recently bought a beautiful silk (and damn expensive) tie to wear at an upcoming friend’s wedding. I’m wearing a white shirt but I want to add the handkerchief detail. The question is: PINK SILK TIE + WHITE SHIRT + DARK GRAY SUIT…which color of pocket square??? Should I wear a classic white? But on the other hand, if I’m buying a handkerchief, shouldn’t I put the money into something more original than plain white?


  11. Stephen February 24, 2013

    Well Mr, your advise is very blinkered,,, matching tie’s and Pockrt squares are not a NO, NO! What is a NO, NO is how and what you wear with your suit, like black shoes shold ONLY be worn with a Blue suit, brown with every other colour. If you where to research this properly(read books on British Mods) the Mod movement all wore matching ties and squares, had to tell you this as you are adviseing the world, FACTS rite please!!

  12. George February 24, 2013


    I’m afraid your style advice is not exactly on the spot.

    First off, matching your tie with your pocket square is such a trivial thing taht it’s best to be avoided. Most men do it so why not take it a step further?

    Secondly, black can be worn with more colors not just blue, including green.

    Also, a blue sit will work fantastically well with brown shoes. Everyone from GQ to Fahion Beans to Roetzel agree with me on these points. Please read a couple of books on style to get you started, you’ll imporve your knowledge a lot.

  13. Noor May 4, 2014

    I would like to say a very different article compared to most available on the internet about “tie + handkerchief”. My question in this regard is on what occasions it is acceptable to wear a tie + handkerchief combination? For example business meeting, wedding, formal dinner, job interview or else? Secondly, do only old people wear a tie + handkerchief combination? It will be helpful for me to prepare accurately for the occasion.

  14. Nate December 31, 2014



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