Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The display of a breast pocket handkerchief is a conscious act of dressing up, and many men fear that it might look pretentious or effete. When a hank appears in a jacket's breast pocket at all, it is usually white (particularly if worn to the office). The challenge of course is that in terms of enhancing the look of the day's clothing the practice has its limits. A white handkerchief really only adds to an ensemble when it is worn with a shirt that has a white ground or white collar. When the shirt is colored, a colored handkerchief simply looks better.
Now I am not about to recommend that every man throw his fears out the window and immediately begin sporting colored hanks for the work day. After all, most shirts worn for business have white grounds, or should, so the practice is hardly necessary. But there are hopefully other times when jackets are worn, with or without a necktie, and since those also tend to be occasions that bring out colored shirts one can think about stuffing a bit of color in his breast pocket without worrying about his rivals putting the knife in as it were.
Now, colored handkerchiefs are usually silk, but not always. Colors look better in silk than in other materials, but the combination of a shiny silk necktie and a silk handkerchief is a bit more contrived looking than a pairing of matte and sheen. When the necktie is silk, colored cotton or linen work nicely. And when the necktie absorbs light rather than reflecting it, whether silk shantung, grenadine, cashmere or some other material, a non-directional patterned silk comes into its own. A tweed jacket with a cashmere necktie and a silk square is a classic of course, but there is much to be said for a matte necktie and silk square worn with a worsted like the tan gabardine in the photo.
Put some color in your breast pocket.