Contrary to what you might think, there have never been hard and fast rules governing the world of male elegance. Or rather nobody has ever sat down and defined them. It is only the bold initiative of a few innovators which has, over the years, given the rules and customs a shot in the arm. And so, for over a century, we have possessed the conventions of dressing well; some of which are more rigid, others more flexible.
Amongst the many characters of this world, the pocket handkerchief enjoys the greatest freedom of expression; obviously it should not be confused with a normal handkerchief and so, in order to avoid filling up the pocket where it is kept, the pocket handkerchief is considerably smaller. It is better to choose one which matches the suit but is not necessarily of the same colour, and usually, after six o’clock in the evening, it should be white. That is the moment when a more sporty daytime suit is replaced by a more ‘cocktail’ variety; finally embroidered initials should be hidden. Other rules for wearing it are limited to the common sense and good taste of the individual sporting it.
The most frequently-used materials include linen, cotton, silk and flax batista. Colours and patterns are endless. There are, however, four classic shapes: pointed, stuffed, rectangular and triangular. As already stated, there are no hard and fast rules but everything depends on the suit and the context; it follows that a more sporty suit may be worn with handkerchief of more lively shapes and colours, whereas a more formal suit will necessitate more sober ones and, at times, white will be the only advisable colour.
All of which without forgetting to put everything together with a certain nonchalance, because the final details of real elegance come from naturalness, and naturalness inevitably involves pleasurable imperfections.
Ten variations of the theme can be seen in the photo gallery.
Lake Como, April 24 2017