The Gentleman's Fashion Accessory
If you remember Cary Grant, Hollywood's legendary leading man, you may recall that he always wore a pocket square in the breast pocket of his suits and sports jackets. But did you know the humble handkerchief had a rather colorful past, long before Mr. Grant made it a fashion accessory.
It was King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399, that many credits with inventing the cloth handkerchief. They were certainly present in Shakespeare's time, since one played a rather important role in Othello. They have long been a device used at Spanish bullfights to express deep emotion as well as approval or disgust at a bullfighter's performance. They have been used to accentuate movements in West African and English folk dances. Plus, in addition to their intended use they have been used for polishing shoes, as a sweat band, Molotov cocktail wicks, tourniquets and arm slings. And of course, to wipe one's nose.
And while these little handkerchiefs have long been displayed in the top pocket of men's jackets, I must give Cary Grant the credit for turning the humble pocket square into a debonair fashion accessory. One that now, according to my latest count, has accumulated 14 different ways to be folded—from conservative to very flamboyant. They include the Winged Puff; the One, Two, Three and Four Point Folds; the TV Fold, and the Straight or Diagonal Shell.
While the history is quite interesting, it was Cary Grant himself who inspired me to design a few knitted pocket squares. I wear them with matching ties and always give a little thanks to Mr. Grant.