Bring back the pocket square: three unusual suit accessories and how to wear them

13 August 2015
Bring back the pocket square: three unusual suit accessories and how to wear them

One of the joys of a bespoke suit is the ability to accessorise your garment with a number of suave and stylish accoutrements. Some of these, off course, are more common than others. Here are three of the more unusual suit accessories and how you should wear them.

Pocket Square

Pocket squares go all the way back to the time of the ancient Greeks, when wealthy men would carry around perfumed cloths. This tradition continued for years to come, with English and French noblemen carrying similarly scented squares to shield their nostrils from the stench of city streets and of the paupers who populated them. Quickly becoming a sign of wealth, pocket squares began to appear neatly sticking out of the breast pockets of the well off. Though they have somewhat vanished from the modern suit lexicon, the occasional dapper dandy can be spotted sporting one of these accessories about town today. We think its time for a handkerchief resurgence, so make sure you wear your pocket square properly.

A completely matching pocket square and tie can have a look of uniformity about it, so make sure the two are complementary rather than exact matches. If your tie pattern has a bit of blue in it, chose a block blue pocket square and vice versa if you prefer a patterned pocket and simple tie. If you can’t find anything complementary to your favourite tie, a white pocket square can be worn for any occasion.

There are numerous ways to fold your pocket square, ranging from simple shapes to the complicated hankie origami, it all comes down to taste and preference. Pocket squares may seem a little outmoded, but be bold and give them a go. Adding your own touches to your suit is a great way to accentuate excellent tailoring and stand out from the crowd.

The Bowtie

The necktie first came into play during the 17th century, when Croatian mercenaries in the Prussian wars would use scarfs to hold together the necks of their shirt. These early ties were reminiscent of what we would now call cravats, and soon became popular with the French upper classes – only to later evolve into the modern ties and bowties we see today.

The bowtie can give your tailored suit a whole new dimension. If you want to stand out from the crowd, it’s a great option for a subtle but individual look. Firstly, you have to decide whether you want your bowtie to be the talking point of your outfit, or whether it’s just an accent. This will affect the brightness, texture and size of the tie you chose. Patterns can add a splash of interest to a simpler suit, but avoid anything too busy if you are going for a pinstriped jacket or opting for a particularly garish shirt. Make sure you think about the size of the bow, too. If you have a larger neck or a particularly round face, a smaller bow will look constrictive and silly, whereas larger bows on the smaller gentleman can make you look like a poorly wrapped Christmas present.

If you want to go authentic and have the opportunity to wear your neckpiece casually dangled by the end of the night, go for a proper tie-it-yourself bowtie (make sure you perfect the art of knotting to avoid a wonky bow). Pre-tied bowties can look childish and tacky if you don’t get the fit just right, so spend a bit of time adjusting your sizes before stepping out into the night

The Cummerbund

The cummerbund began in the 19th century in India, where locals wore sashes around their waists. British military men who were stationed there began to wear them too, seemingly as an alternative to the warm extra layer of a waistcoat – unnecessary and uncomfortable in the blistering Indian heat. It is used today as an accessory to the tuxedo, covering the awkward shirt bunching that can occur between billowing dress shirt and trouser waistband.

The first step to wearing your cummerbund correctly is trouser placement. Make sure your trousers come up to your natural waistline, low-slung cummerbunds are a no-no. Where possible, match your cummerbund to your bowtie in both colour and fabric to ensure your accessories look sharp, and not gratuitous. Worn incorrectly, a cummerbund floats around your middle with no real purpose. Worn as they should be, fitted and coordinated, a cummerbund can be slimming and suave.

Simple accessories can add personality to your tailored wear. Of course, finding the perfect suit is the first step. A bespoke handmade suit will ensure you look as sharp as can be – just add your own touches for a truly individual look.

Abbas Mahmood
Abbas Mahmood
As a lifelong purveyor of fashion, Abbas has been writing for Hemingway Tailors for 2 years, keeping readers up to date with style trends and delivering a regular insight into the world of tailoring.
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