When it comes to absurdly-priced clothing, few things beat $3,200 designer ponchos, $400 grey sweatshirts, and $75 cotton pocket squares. The third isn’t necessarily expensive, but the price feels high for what you’re getting: a 16″ by 16″ piece of cotton that will run you anywhere between $50 and $100. Even the best European mills will sell you half-a-meter of shirting for that kind of money.
Cotton squares are surprisingly useful though – especially in the warmer months. White linen will work with almost any kind of jacket, but it often demands a Presidential fold, which can look a bit formal. Silk can be worn in a more casual puff, but it’s often best with tweed and flannel, as the sheen of silk complements the matte-finish of wool. Wool squares, on the other hand, work well with silk neckties for the same reason, but they can feel a bit autumnal.
Cotton squares, then, are like the spring/ summer version of a wool hank. You can wear them with casual suits or sport coats, and pair them with silk rep ties. Few will noticed the difference between a cotton and wool pocket square once it’s in your pocket, but it’s nice to be able to wear something that feels a bit more seasonal.
Drake’s has cotton squares with big, bold patterns that are as handsome as they are versatile. You can find them these days at Mr. Porter, No Man Walks Alone, The Armoury, Exquisite Trimmings, and A Suitable Wardrobe. Put This On (the main site I write for) also has a pocket square shop. My college Jesse handpicks vintage fabrics from around the world, and then sends them a tailor in Los Angeles so they can be finished with hand-stitched edges (a rare thing, even among top-shelf labels). Vanda Fine Clothing is another great source, and they too finish their squares with hand-stitching.
Other notables include Tie Your Tie, who has cotton hanks that feel a bit more airy than Drake’s, as well as Savile Row’s Richard James, who’s known for their fun take on tailored clothing. The French weaver Simonnot Godard also has some in linen/ cotton blends, which are sold at The Hanger Project and Barney’s. Sometimes you can find them on deep discount at Barney’s Warehouse.
So yes, these are a bit of an extravagant purchase, but at least they’re an affordable extravagance. Throw one in your pocket and never admit to anyone what you paid (including yourself).