To be blunt about it – don’t. A precise match is never an elegant and polished look, in the words of Noel Coward, “an exact duplication of colours ill becomes the well dressed man.” The aim should always be to complement and enhance the colour, weave and pattern of the overarching outfit. Whilst it is possible to carry off very contrasting colours, that is an area to be approached with caution and practise.
If your tie is a stripe or is patterned, opt for a square that picks out one of the colours in the tie. For example on a blue and white striped tie, look to use a pocket square that has some blue in its design – say a green square with a secondary blue paisley pattern.
Tone is all important – be aware of the colour spectrum. A red tie will sit very well with a burgundy pocket square as they are adjacent colours in the spectrum but one is slightly more vivid, the other warmer, earthier. Likewise blues and dark greens and/ or reds have always worked well together. If in doubt experiment with two warmer, more muted colours as – even if they are not perfect – they are far more likely to still blend in and compliment the overall outfit.
It is up to the individual which accessory is the focal point of the outfit, when wearing both a tie and pocket square it is more likely to be the tie as the eye is naturally drawn to the centre of the body and more tie is invariably on display. If you are wearing a very understated tie – perhaps a single colour grenadine, your pocket square will (and should) probably draw the eye that bit more. With a simple tie to play against the contrast could be emphasised not just through colour but also a bold pattern – a large paisley or polka dot with one of the square’s secondary colours picking out the colour of the tie.
It is perfectly acceptable to pair a patterned tie and pocket square – the nature and proportion of the pattern must though slightly differ. For example if you’re a fan of madder silk paisley ties, use a polka dot, a geometrically inspired square or completely contrast with a tweed or linen which, whilst being muted, will provide an interesting textural and well as pattern counterpoint to the printed silk.
Above all, don’t be afraid to experiment, ask advice – and even make the occasional mistake. Know what your favourite colours are – and those which you are comfortable in. Pairing one’s tie and pocket square is about creating a subtle contrast, something that accentuates the wearer and allows you to demonstrate your taste in colours.
One final word. If matching exactly tie and pocket square is a no no, matching tie, square and socks deserves a firing squad for crimes against sartorial decency……..!
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