Rules of Thumb for Wearing a Tie and Pocket Square
Any time you have a formal or semi-formal event to attend, like a wedding, it helps to have the right look. In most cases, this means wearing a suit with a tie and pocket square. The right accessories and fashion details can make or break the entire look, so it’s important to choose wisely.
A tie and pocket square can not only complete your outfit, but it can also be a great way to add a personal touch. But it’s not just a matter of picking out the first thing you find. As with anything else, there are certain tie and pocket square rules to follow – and a few things to avoid.
Why You Should Wear a Tie and Pocket Square
So, why should you wear a tie and pocket square? Well, it comes down to three things:
- Completing your look
- Complementing your outfit
- Providing an accent or contrast
Completing your look
Call them accessories or fashionable details. Whatever the case, having a tie and pocket square is essential to complete your suit. You need both to bring everything together and give your outfit an added level of polish and refinement.
The only real exceptions are extremely casual or themed events, such as beach or tropical weddings. Even then, it might not be a bad idea to have them on hand, just in case.
Complementing your outfit
Wearing a tie and pocket square will complement the rest of your ensemble. It will make everything feel much more cohesive and stylish.
Providing an accent or contrast
And finally, having a tie and a pocket square will add just enough contrast to make you stand out in a good way. These small details are often overlooked, but they add the perfect balance of visual interest. Plus, you can use either piece – or both – to put your own personal touch on your suit.
For the pocket square, it’s generally recommended to choose one that contrasts with the main suit. So, if you’re wearing a dark suit, choose a lighter pocket square. And if you have a light suit, go with a darker pocket square. If the colors are too similar in tone, it can seem a little off.
As for the wedding tie, it’s usually a good idea to choose one that’s similar in color to the suit jacket and trousers. However, if you’re wearing a light-colored suit, go with a darker tie.
Wedding Tie Rules: How to Choose the Right Tie
The single most important thing to consider when choosing a tie is the formality of the event. Most events can be broken down into either formal, semi-casual, or casual.
On formal occasions, such as a black-tie wedding, go with a dark-colored solid tie. More often than not, this will be the best possible way to complete your look. To add some life and interest, choose a tie that has a bit of texture – grenadine fabric is a great choice.
For semi-casual events, like black-tie optional or cocktail weddings, go with a solid tie or one in the mid-tone range. Avoid wearing anything that’s extremely dark or bright as it can look out of place. If you want to add a personal touch or contrast, introduce a simple pattern like a stripe, pindot, or any other tight repeating pattern.
As for casual settings, you have more leeway and can choose a lighter color or busier pattern. It’s always a good idea to pick colors and patterns that are appropriate for the season.
A general rule of thumb is to wear lighter, brighter colors for spring and summer; wear darker, richer, earthier tones for fall and winter. In terms of patterns, you can go with nearly anything – from medallion prints to paisleys. Just try to avoid over-the-top patterns.
Pocket Square Rules: How to Choose the Right One
When it comes to the pocket square, you can either go with a one-and-done solution or get a bit creative. Again, this does depend on the formality of the event.
The easiest solution that will work across a variety of wedding dress codes – from formal to casual – is a simple white pocket square. It’s classic, timeless, and always looks good with a suit. Plus, it provides a good balance of accent and contrast, regardless of your suit color.
For those who want a splash of color, remember this: the pocket square should complement the rest of your outfit. There are two ways to approach this.
The first way is to choose a color that’s the same as your suit or tie but in a slightly different shade. This will create a cohesive, harmonious appearance and prevent your ensemble from looking too perfect. While this might not seem like a bad thing, if things look too perfect, they often seem stiff or wrong.
The second way to choose a pocket square is to go with one that’s in a complementary color. If you’re not sure which colors work best together, find a color wheel generator online. Enter the main color of your suit and the wheel will give you all the colors that pair well.
Pocket Square and Tie: Things to Avoid
Just as there are general wedding tie and pocket square rules to follow, there are also a few things to avoid.
1. Never perfectly match your tie and pocket square
In many ways, perfection is the enemy of great style. This is true when it comes to picking a pocket square and tie that matches in every way.
The pocket square’s main purpose is to complement and contrast with the rest of the outfit. It should accentuate it, not blend in until it disappears. If it completely matches, it’s not doing its job.
So, avoid the matching sets you might find at the department store or a rental company. Instead, choose colors and patterns that look good together but aren’t exactly the same.
2. Don’t wear a clashing tie and pocket square
The tie and pocket square shouldn’t be opposites either. Make sure the colors complement each other. A color wheel will give you all the complementary (ex. red and green) and analogous (ex. purple and blue) colors. Play around with it until you find the best match for what you have.
3. Don’t overdo patterns
One of the more complicated — and sometimes confusing — parts of pulling together any ensemble is getting the right pattern. Your wedding tie and pocket square should integrate seamlessly into the rest of your suit. Adding a big, bold pattern will draw people’s attention in a way you might not intend.
Generally, it’s best to pick a pocket square with a similar pattern to the tie — similar but not exactly the same. For instance, a pocket square with a small polka dot pattern complements a tie with a larger polka dot pattern.
So, what if you already have other patterns going on? When in doubt, play it safe and choose a plain pocket square or tie.
4. Never forget the pocket square
A suit without a pocket square looks incomplete or unpolished. So, don’t forget the pocket square — it’s as simple as that.
When it comes to dressing appropriately for a wedding or any other event, there are always going to be variables to consider. Take any “rule” of fashion with a grain of salt and use your best judgment on the things you’re not sure about.
But remember, the pocket square and tie are essential parts of any semi-formal or formal attire. Having the right accessories can accentuate your attire and give you the look you want — whether that’s refined and sophisticated or otherwise.