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How To Wear A Pocket Square To A Funeral Respectfully

Funeral attire is certainly a sensitive topic regarding men’s style. There are many unspoken rules surrounding the subject matter. The question is, can you wear a pocket square to a funeral?

A pocket square can be worn to a funeral as long as it draws minimal attention. It should be white, worn with the straight fold (also known as the presidential fold), and ideally made from linen or cotton. Patterned pocket squares should be avoided.

Here are some tips to help you when wearing a pocket square to a funeral, while maintaining complete respect.

man in black suit with pocket square
A pocket square with a simple straight fold

Image From Deposit Photos

1. Go For A Straight Fold

With a wide variety of different pocket square folds out there, it is essential to pick the correct fold for the occasion. 

Whilst some folds are suitable for strictly formal events, others are suited to more casual attire. 

For example, the puff fold would be best worn to a party or dinner, while the one-peak fold would be a better choice for a wedding or business meeting.

When it comes to a funeral, remaining discreet is key. There is only truly one pocket square fold that is acceptable at a funeral. This is the straight fold – otherwise known as the presidential fold.

The straight fold is fairly simple to prepare and will draw minimal attention to you while adding a sense of extra formality to your outfit.

How To Fold A Straight Fold (Presidential Fold)

  • Place the pocket square face down
  • Horizontally fold the pocket square in half
  • Fold the pocket square in half horizontally, in the opposite direction to the previous fold
  • Vertically fold the pocket square in half, from top to bottom
  • Fold the bottom up and behind the front of the pocket square

Adjustments can then be made to the pocket square to ensure it fits the size of your pocket.

2. White Is A Must

At a funeral, the typically worn color is black. Charcoal and navy are other examples of colors that are acceptable to wear when attending a funeral. 

Black, charcoal, and navy being some of the most versatile colors, may lead to the belief that any pattern or color can be worn to a funeral. This, however, is not the case. 

Simple white pocket squares are fit for any suit and color combination, as well as being suitable for any event. A funeral is no exception.

In fact, when attending a funeral, the color of your pocket square should be white. This comes down to the fact that a dash of white is an understated complement to black attire – it will not draw unwanted and unnecessary attention.

White pocket squares (when using the correct fold) also demonstrate a quiet sophistication, ideal for a funeral environment.

It is also important to note that patterned pocket squares should not be worn to a funeral. They simply attract too much attention and are not appropriate for the setting.

A patterned pocket square would be more suited to a party, where more flamboyant clothing would usually be acceptable. 

3. Choose The Right Fabric

Picking the correct pocket square fabric may seem straightforward, however, there is a lot more to it than one might expect. 

Taking into consideration the huge number of different fabrics pocket squares can be made of, it is important to understand the correct one to use and why.

Fabrics have different textures. Similar to patterns on pocket squares, different pocket square textures are suited to different occasions. Due to their textured nature, wool and tweed are not suitable for a funeral.

Instead, they would be a fantastic option for a party or a relaxed wedding setting when wanting to add some flair to an outfit.

The ideal pocket square fabric for funeral attire is cotton. Cotton is well suited for folding, meaning it will maintain its shape more easily, and will not slip into your pocket.

This is essential for a funeral; a misshapen pocket square would look informal and scruffy. Whilst this may be acceptable for other events, a funeral is not one of them.

An alternative to cotton is linen – sharing the structural security aspect with cotton. Linen, however, may look somewhat textured, so be wary of opting for it.

It is important to keep your pocket square ironed. Linen, for example, has a habit of creasing. 

Formality should be kept a priority when attending a funeral, down to the last detail. Therefore ironing your pocket square is essential.

4. Pick The Correct Size

The size of your pocket square is yet another key factor in wearing one to a funeral. It is important because a pocket square that is too large could draw attention to the wearer. This is a fundamental “no-go” for funerals.

Pocket squares come in an array of different sizes, ranging from 25x25cm up to 45x45cm.

Larger pocket squares are generally used for less formal events and can add a sense of flamboyancy to an outfit. This is unnecessary at a funeral.

The best size of a pocket square for a funeral is on the lowest end of the spectrum – 25x25cm being ideal. 

30x30cm is also an acceptable size, but as far as funeral attire goes, the subtler, the better. Anything larger than this is not suitable for a funeral, as it would attract too much attention and disregard the formality of such an event.

5. Understand That There May Be Exceptions

It is becoming increasingly common for the deceased to have made requests regarding the attire of those attending their funeral. An example of this may be colorful clothing or a specific clothing theme.

In which case, the guidance regarding pocket squares may vary – with the potential of different folds, colors, and even patterns becoming acceptable. In some cases, a pocket square may not even be necessary.

However, always keep in mind that a funeral is a sensitive matter, so if unsure, stick to the basics and keep it subtle.