A traditional handkerchief is a hemmed square of thin fabric carried in the pocket or purse, its use is intended for personal hygiene purposes. In formal wear, a handkerchief or pocket square is a silk or satin fabric square folded in a variety of manners and placed in the outer breast pocket of a tuxedo.
When used as an accessory for a tuxedo or suit, a handkerchief is known as a pocket square. It does not have to match the vest but should complement the colors in the tie and or vest. There are a wide variety of ways to fold a handkerchief or pocket square, ranging from the austere to the flamboyant:
- The Presidential, perhaps the simplest, is folded at right angles to fit in the pocket.
- The TV Fold looks similar but is folded diagonally with the point inside the pocket.
- The One-point Fold is folded diagonally with the point showing.
- The Two-point Fold is folded off-center so the two points don't completely overlap.
- The Three-point Fold is first folded into a triangle, then the corners are folded up and across to make three points.
- The Four-point Fold is an off-center version of the Three-point Fold.
- The Cagney is essentially a backwards version of the Four-point Fold.
- The Puff or the Cooper is simply shaped into a round puff.
- The Reverse Puff is like the Puff, except with the puff inside and the points out, like petals.
- The Astaire is a puff with a point on either side.
- The Straight Shell is pleated and then folded over to give the appearance of nested shells.
- The Diagonal Shell is pleated diagonally and then folded.