Pocket Square vs Handkerchief: Know the Differences

Whether you’re going to a wedding or to a fancy gathering, a man’s attire can define his tastes. Although pocket squares and handkerchiefs are often mistakenly interchangeable, it’s certainly not the same.

If you’re planning to wear a suit, you should be equipped with the ability to fashion it, as it’s not the suit that matters, it’s how you present it.

Matching your pocket square with your suit is an essential skill for any gentleman. How you accessorize, your attire speaks volumes about your social excellence and adds an extra flair to your presentation with minimal effort!

This pocket square vs. handkerchief guide will show you how to differentiate between these two essential garments, and prepare you for any event!

Pocket Square vs Handkerchief: Which One to Go for

Pocket Square 

A pocket square is a small piece of fabric, which works as a part of the ensemble of a suit. It’s meant to be worn on the suit jacket breast pocket, with the top portion of the fabric sticking out, which compliments the suit.

Unlike the handkerchief, this item of clothing is only meant to be worn for aesthetic purposes, and its color scheme and pattern should complement your suit. So it’s best to learn about the material, purpose, and price of this fabric.

  • Material 

The type of fabric or material used is the most essential feature when you have to differentiate between a handkerchief and a pocket square.

A pocket square needs to be contrasted to the suit, as to not shift focus from the actual ensemble. And the material used to make this square should fit the material of the jacket or tie.

If the tie or jacket is made from a heavier fabric, it’s best to go with a silk pocket square. Similarly, linen squares should be able to compliment suits made from wool.

The pocket square also needs to be relatively thin in order to fit in any breast pocket, and its thinness would stop creasing, which should be avoided for squares.

And the size should also be relatively small if you’re wearing a jacket with a patch pocket. But for linen pockets, it’s best to go with a larger square.

  • Purpose

A pocket square is essential to highlight a man’s ability to present himself, as it is merely for aesthetic purposes. However, the color of the square is the most important feature, and it should coordinate with the secondary highlighted color in your ensemble.

The color of the square should match an out-of-focus color on your tie or a lighter shade of your jacket. If you want a more vibrant color, it is best to consult a color wheel to pick out a complimentary, analogous, or triadic color scheme.

But vibrant colors can often be daunting, so suit tailors often recommend a neutral color such as a solid white, as it’s a suitable choice for a color scheme.

  • Price

Pocket squares are relatively more expensive than a handkerchief, as they are usually seen as accessories. But the price varies depending on the material of the square.

Silk or satin squares are the most expensive choices, but you can get yourself a cheaper square if you opt for a lower-quality silk blend.


A handkerchief is made to be carried in the pants pocket and generally used for wiping sweat, blowing your nose, or for other practical uses.

Due to its variety of uses, the handkerchief must be sturdy and cheap enough to be cleaned often or disposed of. In contrast to the pocket square, there is almost no aesthetic value of this fabric, as its purposes tend to hold a higher ground.

  • Material

The two types of garments are usually distinguished by their type of fabric, as most handkerchiefs are made from cotton due to their ability to absorb.

And the size of a handkerchief should also be larger than that of a pocket square.

As a handkerchief should be used to clean up after yourself, a larger garment would do a much better job. The thickness of this fabric should also be the opposite of that of a pocket square.

As the thinness of the pocket square is essential for it to fit inside the breast pocket, and the thickness of the handkerchief is necessary for it to be able to absorb most liquids.

  • Purpose

A handkerchief is often considered as a fancier tissue paper, and instead of disposing of it after each use, it’s stashed away in the pants pocket and away from view.

As it has little to no aesthetic value, the color and size of the handkerchief merely depend on the owner.

And as long as it can carry out its practical purposes with minimal effort, none of the other factors that affect a pocket square applies to a handkerchief.

Although the origin of the pocket square is a handkerchief, any man carrying both should remember to keep them separate based on their functionality.

  • Price

A humble handkerchief is significantly more inexpensive than a pocket square. Because it lacks aesthetic value and can’t be accessorized, the handkerchief comes at a very low price.

However, the price range does vary, yet it’s nowhere near as steep as a pocket square. A handkerchief should be inexpensive because of its accessibility, but it’s better to opt for a slightly expensive one if durability is essential.

  • Similarities and Differences

Although both garments are essential for the perfect ensemble, they can be differentiated by their use of fashion and function.

Just as a pocket square should not be used for a hygienic purpose, a handkerchief shouldn’t be used to add aesthetic value.

Final Words

A man’s wardrobe and ensemble speak a lot about his personality. If you want to present yourself and stand out among the rest, it’s important to know how to dress.

And now that you know the differences between a pocket square and a handkerchief, you’ll be able to dress better.

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