Handkerchief vs Pocket Square

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handkerchief vs pocket square

A brief explanation of the difference between the handkerchief and the pocket square.

What is a handkerchief?

A handkerchief is a piece of cloth—generally cotton, used to blow your nose. You can also find various other types of handkerchiefs, such as flannel. A hanky basically replaces paper tissues and is intended for a practical use. Often made with a single ply of fabric, it can be offered in extra large size and can even be doubled up for more absorbency. Should you want to carry it around with you, you’d place into a nice little handkerchief holder in your bag, sneak it into your back pocket or even inside your blazer, discreetly tucked in the interior pocket.

What is a pocket square?

A pocket square is pretty similar to a handkerchief, but it’s usually quite thin, so that it remains supple and easily foldable into lovely, eye-catching pocket square folds. It is offered in various types of fabrics, including cotton, linen and most common, silk. The pocket square is worn in the suit pocket and remains visible at all times. It’s decorative and should complement your outfit. Needless to say, you absolutely should NOT blow your nose in it!

What is the difference between the handkerchief and pocket square?

Simply put, a handkerchief is useful, a pocket square is decorative. Both can look alike and can be made from the same fabric—both can be offered in the same dimensions, but both cannot be interchanged. True gentlemen (or gentlewomen) would hence carry a handkerchief to blow their nose or dry their tears, and a pocket square neatly displayed in their suit pocket, to assert their sense of style and add a touch of colour to their outfit.

How to use a handkerchief?

Handkerchiefs can serve various purposes. What they have in common? They’re all meant to be useful and reduce waste. For example, you can use your handkerchief to:

  • Blow your nose (get the lowdown on mastering this function)
  • Wipe the sweat off your brow
  • Dry your tears
  • Wipe your hands (who has time for hand dryers anyways!)
  • Polish your glasses
  • Carry your snack
  • Mop up a spill

You can use it for many things, but even if it looks amazing, you won’t want to use it as a decorative accessory since it’s meant to serve. 

How to use a pocket square?

A pocket square should be decorative. You would make sure it complements your outfit perfectly and you would fold it neatly and place it in your suit pocket. You got it: the pocket square is 100% decorative. Now, if you want to look super smart, you’ll want to master pocket square origami. Check out these short guides featuring easy-to master, great looking pocket square folds:

Handkerchief vs. Pocket Square Recap: when you need what!

Bet there’s no doubt in your mind now, right? Handkerchief -> Useful. Pocket square -> Decorative.

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Marion Poirier

Co-founder & CEO at TSHU
Fusée, pieuvre et un tantinet bordélique, Marion est maman, parce qu’elle a quatre enfants. Mais avant tout, c’est une femme, une amoureuse, une fonceuse, une passionnée, entrepreneure et aventureuse, mais aussi une timide et une sensible qui le cache plutôt bien. Écolo mais pas grano, elle adore les trucs zéro-déchets, le poisson cru, la danse, la mode et le thé pas sucré.
Marion Poirier
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