Pocket squares are manufactured in a wide array of materials ranging from silk to linen to cotton to synthetic fabrics. While silk offers the most sheen, the other materials have advantages of their own. The basic rule to be followed when deciding on the material is to ensure comfort, durability and looks. Sometimes, the material chosen for making the pocket square is dependent on the easy availability of a particular cloth in the region of manufacture and the intended price of the article. Additionally, dependent on the uses the pocket square is supposed to perform, either silk or cotton is chosen.
In its strictest sense, a pocket square can be made of just about any material as a handkerchief. The material should be soft, non-creasing and having minimal loose fibers. For hand rolled pocket squares, the cloth should be exceptionally soft to permit easy folding and stitching of the edges. Additionally, the material should strike a balance between thinness and strength; the material should be thin enough to be folded and slipped into the pocket easily, but should not be so thin as to be worn out easily. It goes without saying that the material should also be easily washable.
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One of the toughest decisions to make when choosing a pocket square is to create the right balance between the suit material and the pocket square material. A rule of thumb states that a silk suit should be coupled with a silk pocket square while a linen or woolen suit should go well with a pocket square of a similar material. While it is mandatory to have a pocket square having a distinctly different color as compared to the suit, the rules for the material combinations are not so strict. Though not very noticeable, wearing a pocket square having a material that is not in line with the suit fabric would mar the overall look.
Not being glaringly obvious, the suit-pocket square fabric combination rules are not easy to define and can be based on individual judgments and tastes.
While silk pocket squares could be more aesthetically appealing due to the sheen they have, linen ones have more functional value. Linen pocket squares are softer and more moisture absorbing. Thus, these pocket squares can double up as handkerchiefs too. In summers, silk tends to get hot which is not the case with linen fabric. Also, since silk tends to have a sheen, pocket squares made of this material are may not go well with all suits. For example, a silk pocket square may look out of place when coupled with a plain suit having a matt finish.
Linen pocket squares are more versatile as these can be used with almost all kinds of suits and for all occasions. Due to the easy availability of the fabric, linen pocket squares may also be more prevalent in all parts of the world. Another advantage of linen pocket squares is the fact that these articles would cost less.
As was mentioned earlier, one occurrence to be avoided when using the pocket square is the bulge caused in the pocket. The main cause of this bulge is the material from which the pocket square is made. Generally, thicker the fabric, more pronounced the bulge in the pocket. Since silk pocket squares are usually thinner than linen ones, they occupy lesser space when folded and the bulge in the coat pocket is relatively less. Linen pocket squares, on the other hand, being thicker, tend to bulge. It is for this reason that many style aficionados have stressed on the importance of having a smaller-sized pocket square when it is made of linen.
When a small sized linen pocket square is folded, it tends to be slimmer, thus not causing a noticeable pocket bulge. On an average, a 16 inch silk pocket square could result in a bulge of the same dimension as a 12 inch linen pocket square. Therefore, it stands to reason that the linen pocket square should be smaller sized than a silk one. With a properly sized linen pocket square, the user need not pull out more of the pocket square above the pocket, just to flatten that unsightly bulge.
When a pocket square is used as a handkerchief, it serves a dual purpose of style and functionality. A pocket square can be used to perform almost all the functions of a handkerchief such as wiping the face. When used as a handkerchief, it is preferable to have a pocket square made of linen or cotton as compared to silk. Cotton and linen have more moisture absorbing capabilities and are also friendlier on the skin. After being unfolded and used to wipe the face, these squares can be easily refolded and slipped back into the pocket.
In a broad sense, any good absorbent fabric can be used in the manufacture of pocket squares that are intended to be used as handkerchiefs. Also, it is advisable not to go in for pocket squares made of synthetic materials as these can be harsh on the skin and may even cause allergies and other skin irritations.
The manufacture of pocket squares is both an artistic and painstaking process. Using innovative designs, these clothing accessories have nowadays become works of art. With sizes ranging from around 12 to 18 square inches, these squares are usually rendered with an extra half to three-quarter inch to provide compensation for the border or the hand-folding task. The borders are either machine folded or hand rolled. Either way, the periphery is tightly stitched to prevent shredding of the edges and displacement of loose fibers.
Depending on the style parameters and the intended usage, the pocket square material is chosen. This could range from cotton to linen to silk. A typical silk pocket square would weigh around 0.5 to 3.5 ounces. With attention to detail, the pocket square is designed for functional durability; it also has the ability to add an element of class.