Friday, December 10, 2010
Only generalities apply because the market for squares is relatively small and the number of staple patterns limited. For few men other than those in the clothing business or owning art galleries can wear patterned silks in their worsted suit jackets without attracting the suspicion of other men that perhaps they should be selling antiques or something. And that is a dangerous road to go down.
No, white linen is the staple of worsted suit wearers everywhere. Only the French, the Italians and a few Americans will so much as wear linen with colored borders and I doubt that any true Englishman would be caught with one in public.
Really, the opportunity for other types of squares lies principally with flannel and with tweed jackets, where the gleam of silk complements the matte finish of the woolen cloth and the wool or cashmere necktie that often accompanies it. Here a man can wear that navy dotted square, the full palette of paisleys, and other patterns as well from makers such as Hermes, Drakes or Rubinacci. Hermes aside, there are not many of those to choose from, for, as Michael Drake once told me, a maker has a fairly substantial price to pay to the designer to make the first square and then sells only a few relatively inexpensive pieces each year to slowly get his money back. And thus, instead of new designs on a regular basis, the best of the old, like Drake's Moghul prints, are re-issued periodically to a new crowd of purchasers.
Returning to the practicalities of filling a drawer with pocket squares for a moment, it probably takes at least six white linen handkerchiefs to start a collection. Look for the ones that are 48 cm (16 1/2 inches) on a side so they stand up in a pocket, and have enough so that there is always a fresh one waiting for its call. Then consider silks of the same size, starting with that dotted navy, continuing through at least two paisleys in colors that match nothing in one's necktie wardrobe and finishing with one or two of the Hermes/Rubinacci/Drake prints. Advanced dressers may look for another one or two patterns in wool or cashmere though they should be forewarned that those may get the least wear as they should only be paired with silk neckties and odd jackets.
After that, fill the drawer as you please.