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How does one wear a pocket square exactly?

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The question

I just inherited a bunch of lovely pocket squares. Is there anything I should know in terms of pairing them with my shirts, ties or blazers?

The answer

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What a beautiful idea: pocket squares blooming in bunches. Sadly, we can only wear one at a time.

Here are some things to know: Don't match the pocket square, either in colour or pattern, to the tie exactly – the square should contrast with the tie. So if your tie is striped, the square could be paisley or dotted; if the tie is dotted, the square could be plaid.

Don't be afraid of mixing up lots of patterns and colours. If you want to echo shades, let the hankie match the shirt, not the tie.

There are two ways of pocketing them: crisp or puffy. That is, you can show a sharply ironed, folded edge – with the corners fanned out a little, if you want – or you can have it puff out loosely. Linen squares tend to be worn ironed, silk ones puffed. To get the perfect puff, just unfold the square, then stuff it into your breast pocket any which way. Then leave it alone. The way it lands – maybe with a corner showing, maybe without – is the way it will stay. Push it further in if it's showing more than about five centimetres over the top of the pocket.

Russell Smith's latest novel is Girl Crazy. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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