Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's in your pocket?

Stylish. Suave. Svelte. Swanky. As corporate America seems to be more casual and less formal, a little attention to detail will take you a long way. Enter: the pocket square. But you can't just stuff any fabric into your lapel pocket - there are many suggestions for making this look happen well.

1. Never match your tie and pocket square. This is absolutely tacky. A rule of thumb - only one piece may have a bold pattern or color. For example, if you're wearing Burberry's iconic nova check tie, you would accessorize with a solid pocket square. Choose a color that's featured in the tie, like khaki, red, white, or black.

2. As a general guide, try to match the pocket square to the color of your shirt. When in doubt: a white pocket square is always a classic.

3. Stick to linen or cotton fabrics. Fashion for me at it's basic existence is function. While the look is aesthetically pleasing, you should be able to offer the pocket square to your lady (or any lady, for that matter) who may need to dry her tears. Or in case you need to blow your nose (at a last resort, of course). Silk pocket squares seem to frumpy and fussy to me.

4. Keep the fold simple. Try folding it into a rectangle or square shape, with the exposed edge straight across. Pocket squares add a touch of flair and flash - they're not to mimic boutonnieres or corsages.

5. You might not need a square at all. Better tailors and designers often line the pocket with beautiful silk material, that in a flash can be pulled out for a splash of spice.

6. For a more casual look, forego the tie all together. Unbutton the top two buttons of your shirt, and include a more exciting pocket square. (The only time I'll wear a silk pocket square is if I'm utilizing the "no tie" look.) Hermes makes beautiful, intricately designed pocket squares. As does Etro and Pucci. Now that we've got the pocket square sorted out, let's move on to what you should and should not keep in your pockets while wearing a suit.

Remember: less is more. Your designer and/or tailor put a lot of thought into the silhouette of your suit. So don't ruin it with bulging pockets. Here's what to pack, and how.

1. If you're in the city and utilize public transportation, all you'll need is a house key. No other keys should be with you. You won't be going to the office, checking the mail, visiting your vacation home(s), or driving the car. Leave all those keys at home. They are unneeded.

2. If you're paying cash, carry your bills in a money clip. Limit number of bills to 5-10. Carrying a wad of money isn't safe, and doesn't make you look good either. In fact, it can be viewed as ostentatious and pretentious.

3. I absolutely love slim wallets. Small ID type wallets or card cases are best. You don't need more than 2 cards (I keep my debit card - it doubles as an ATM card, and is a good back-up in case AmEx isn't accepted), my driver's license, and my insurance card (accidents happen). That's it. When I go out, I also put my house key in the wallet too, for safe keeping. Leave behind old receipts, frequent shopper cards, membership cards, and any other mindless banter.

4. Speaking of membership cards and such. I love a bargain. I have many loyalty programs. Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards, Hertz Five Star Gold, CostCo, video store, CVS extra care...the list goes on and on and on. I keep a small, discrete list about the size of a credit card, with all of my fidelity program names and ID numbers. This way you're always prepared, and not lugging around a dozen or so cards. Maximum buying power with minimal space.

5. Only carry a few business cards. You shouldn't be randomly soliciting anyway, but having a few cards keeps you prepared for any impromptu business meeting or networking.

Your small wallet or card case will fit easily in your pants pocket or jacket pocket. The thin size will keep the garment's natural silhouette. After all, there should only be one bulge in your pants - and it shouldn't be your wallet.

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