ANGELES ó The pocket square, that flourish of
breast-pocket plumage that once belonged to the old
school, has become a sartorial signature for a whole new
generation of men, from the Hollywood celebrities and
folk rock musicians who walk red carpets and grace
magazine covers, to NFL players and the average guy on
a pre-Super Bowl press conference in New Orleans, it was
Baltimore Ravensí linebacker Terrell Suggsí suit,
tie and pocket square ensemble that earned honorable
mention in press reports. During Hollywoodís most
recent awards-show season, it was guys like Taye Diggs,
Eddie Redmayne and Justin Timberlake who made it hip to
be pocket-squared. Then thereís Bruce Willis sporting
a jaunty number on the cover of the March issue of GQ
magazine, and Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford
wearing one on the cover of Rolling Stone.
if it seems like pocket squares are popping up all over,
itís not your imagination.
Brooks Brothers, pocket square sales for 2012 were up 10
percent over 2011, according to Richard M. Cristodero,
the chainís merchandise manager for menís
luxury e-commerce site Mr. Porter reports that the sales
of pocket squares have doubled in the U.S. market.
"And we foresee this continuing to grow," says
Terry Betts, Mr. Porterís buying manager.
Chicago-based, mass furnishing e-tailer the Tie Bar saw
a surge. "We sold twice as many pocket squares in
2012 as we did the year before," says Greg Shugar,
co-founder and chief executive. "And weíre seeing
plenty of orders that are only pocket squares ó where
people are ordering five to 15 at a time and nothing
else. For us, pocket squares used to be more of an
add-on or impulse item, and now theyíre the main
shopping purpose for some of our customers."
itís clear that men (or those shopping for them) are
buying more pocket squares these days, what theyíre
buying requires that we delve a little deeper. Pocket
squares, after all, encompass those crisply folded,
razor-thin white badges of conformity (think "Mad
Men") as well as vaudeville-magician-worthy acres
of brightly colored silk.
some, like Brooks Brothers or old-school independent
Beverly Hills boutique Carroll & Co., itís the
silk pocket square that still has the most traction.
"We sell silks all year round," says Carroll
& Co. President John Carroll, "(though) we do
sell a lot of linen and cotton too."
those cotton and linen squares that are doing brisk
business at the Tie Bar, Shugar says, and he has a
feel like itís the younger guys who are wearing the
cotton ones," he says, "the ginghams, the
madras, the white squares with the contrast piping at
the edges. For them itís the final piece of their
design team has used the renewed popularity of the
pocket square to think outside the box, creating
nontraditional versions out of wool suiting fabrics and
nubby knit silk and, most recently, adding a fringed
edge to a range of brightly colored gingham-patterned
pocket squares arenít even necessarily square;
menswear designer Alexander Olch, for example, offers
"pocket rounds" ó circular pieces of fabric
that create an eye-catching floral feel when scrunched
into a breast pocket.
itís the kind of fashion flourish often used to
telegraph a manís attitude and individuality in
situations where such opportunities are rare (John
Carroll calls the pocket square the suit coat equivalent
of the loud menís dress sock), itís not surprising
that color has been king lately.
has also been a trend for color in recent seasons,"
says Mr. Porterís Terry Betts, "and we have seen
a strong sell-through in cream and pink styles."
solid-colored square with contrast-colored piping or
edging was singled out by several of those surveyed.
(pocket squares) with colored piping are extremely
popular," Shugar says. "Theyíre probably our
most popular. Theyíve got that traditional feel but
offer a small hint of color to modernize things and give
the look a little bit of personality."
means this springís most popular pocket plumage will
definitely have a colorful edge to it.