The Pocket Square Chronicles
In the world of men's fashion, certain accessories have stood the test of time, quietly enhancing the elegance of a well-dressed man. One such understated yet powerful detail is the pocket square. As we delve into the story of pocket squares, we uncover a rich history and explore how this small piece of fabric has become an icon of sartorial refinement.
Pocket squares trace their origins back to ancient civilisations, where linen or silk handkerchiefs served both functional and decorative purposes. Earlier, the elites carried these early versions as symbols of status and sophistication, showcasing their attention to detail even in the smallest accessories. Some people believe that the pocket square can trace its origins back to ancient Egypt, where small linen cloths were dyed with a red powder that indicated they were used for decorative purposes and as an example of wealth. There are also traces back to the Greeks who carried a cloth with scented perfume to ensure they always had a pleasant smell nearby and the Romans who used pieces of cloth to start the Gladiatorial Games, with the event starting when the Emperor dropped his handkerchief. Finally, a popular theory often espoused is that King Richard II of England was the first person to wear a handkerchief as a fashion accessory while on the throne between 1377 to 1399.
The 18th and 19th centuries brought about the rise of the dandy, individuals who placed great emphasis on personal style and elegance. The pocket square became a canvas for self-expression, with vibrant colours and bold patterns making a statement. Dandies used pocket squares to set themselves apart in a sea of conformity.
The Golden Age of Hollywood brought the pocket square into the limelight. Leading men like Cary Grant and Fred Astaire added a touch of sophistication to their suits with perfectly folded pocket squares. This era solidified the accessory's status as a must-have for any well-dressed gentleman.
While fashion trends evolved over the years, the pocket square never lost its allure. The latter half of the 20th century witnessed a resurgence in interest, with designers and style icons reintroducing the pocket square to a new generation. Today, it continues to grace the breast pockets of suits on runways and red carpets worldwide. While traditionally associated with formal wear, pocket squares have transcended their formal connotations. From casual linen folds to silk squares paired with jackets, the versatility of the pocket square allows it to seamlessly blend into various style narratives.
The story of the pocket square is a testament to the enduring appeal of classic accessories in the ever-changing world of fashion. From ancient civilisations to the modern runway, the pocket square has not only weathered the sands of time but has emerged as a symbol of timeless elegance. So, the next time you slip a pocket square into your suit, remember that you're not just accessorising; you're carrying a piece of history and a touch of refined style.