There's much, much more to a suit than just a shirt, tie, pants, and jacket. How high or low should a tie bar be? Should my pocket square match, and what kind of fold does it get? Collar stays...what exactly are those, anyways? If you enter a situation that requires you to don a suit, you may as well pull out all the sartorial stops and educate yourself on what it means to get proper...
Much like the pocket square (we'll get to that), a tie bar is a small, underrated accessory that packs a punch. The clip itself doesn't have to be anything elaborate, and a muted color will work with whatever is already in your closet (like the one in this picture, for instance). But there are three rules when it comes to wearing a tie bar. They are:
1. It goes between the third and fourth button of your dress shirt (counting down from the top button).
2. It doesn’t just clip to the front and back of your shirt, the clip actually functions and holds the tie in place. So when using one, clip it to the placket of your shirt and the front of your tie.
3. Never wear a tie bar that is wider than your tie.
They're made for shirts with a French cuff, which is basically a cuff san buttons. With cufflinks, feel free to get as fancy, plain, or eccentric as you want, it really depends on the situation.
A little bonus history...
In the 18th century cuffs (as well as collars) were held together with ribbons or string. The modern cufflink surfaced in the 19th century, when those stuffy Victorians used so much starch on their cuffs that they couldn't seal them with the aforementioned binding instruments. And since necessity is the mother of invention, metal cufflinks were produced.
This is the most prominent suiting accessory, mainly because it's the one people will notice first/the most. You do not want to match your square and suit/tie perfectly. Like, never ever. Basically, stay far away from those department store tie and pocket square kits, and just nab two or three handkerchiefs that'll compliment a range of colors. White, chambray, and slate grey are three of the best in regards to multi-use purposes. No suit, no prob. Rock it with a blazer and long-sleeved shirt (unbuttoned a few times) to easily dress up a casual vibe.
Even more history, son!
The pocket square dates back to the Ancient Greeks, when the rich would carry perfumed handkerchiefs to cover their noses from the stench they encountered from the catacombs/ unbathed hoi polloi masses.
How to fold it
It's easy to get bogged down in the 248 different ways you can fold your pocket square, but in reality you don't need to have a piece of origami protruding from your breast pocket. There are only two
folding techniques that'll suit (!) your everyday needs
just fine. They are:
The straight fold
: Lay your pocket square flat, and bring the left side to the right.
: Now bring the bottom towards the top, but only go three quarters of the way up. Don’t fold it all the way.
: Fold the fabric in thirds horizontally so it’ll fit in your pocket.
The puff fold (pictured
: Lay the square flat. Grab the middle and lift it into the air.
: With your other hand, gather up the bottom of the square and bring the fabric upwards.
: Place it in your pocket and fiddle with it until your happy with the puffiness factor.
A few final tips for all y'all
- Your square should not create a bulge in your pocket. If it does, that sucker needs refolding.
- These things are strictly for show, so please do not wipe the sweat from your brow, dirt from a day of embracing nature, or blow your nose in one.
- Steer clear of those shiny, silk pocket squares unless you have excessive chest hair and are heading to a speed dating event.
You know when you wear a dress shirt with no tie and you get the visual ailment that's known as pancake collar
? When it just kinda droops down and makes it look like like you've been going door-to-door selling outdated vacuums for way too long?
Well, collar stays solve all that.
Since most of your shirts have pointed collars, use a pointed collar stay. If you happen to be one of the outliers and have a rounded collar, use a rounded stay. Also, always
take out the stay before you wash, dry clean, or iron your shirt. Leaving it in could damage/ ruin your shirt.
is theThread's Editorial Assistant and he owns one pocket square. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisDiScipio