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Could the pocket square ever be used to replace a necktie?

Iconoclast

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...or does the necktie project a certain sense of formality that a pocket square can not? Many wear both the necktie and pocket square together. I see the pocket square as an accessory that is chosen to complement an outfit much in the same way that a necktie does, but if I do the pocket square thing and wear a dress shirt with the top button open, there's a casual vibe that is given off. Can I be "formal" with the pocket square without having to wear a necktie?
 

GBR

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No it cannot.

Do try reading some threads to understand what style is about.
 

GBR

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Iconoclast

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No it cannot.

Do try reading some threads to understand what style is about.
Would you kindly summarize "what style is about" and how this applies to the pocket squares versus neckties debate that has taken the fashion world by storm?
 

archibaldleach

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No, the pocket square is not going to replace the necktie and doesn't even compete with it. I've seen dress codes where men are asked to wear a tie; I have never seen pocket squares explicitly mentioned because it is more a decorative feature than a determiner of formality.

If you are wearing a shirt with an open collar, your outfit is not formal. Period. Wearing a pocket square will not make a tie-less outfit formal or be an appropriate substitute for a tie if you are asked to wear a tie. Would you wear a suit, open collar and pocket square to a job interview in a conservative industry? Probably not. That alone should answer your question about whether one replaces the other. If you are wearing a suit and tie with no pocket square, your outfit can be viewed as formal. A pocket square may have a small influence on how formal an outfit is, but the necktie is the arbiter of formality.
 

Iconoclast

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archibaldleach, I appreciate many of the points you make but I must point out that the pocket square is replacing the necktie in many sectors of the Washington DC area, including professional offices in both the private and public sectors. Interestingly many experienced (15+ years) attorneys, engineers and other professionals are interviewing while wearing the pocket square and no tie. In fairness, I have yet to see a young entry level job applicant in a professional field wearing anything other than a suit w/tie to an interview. Perhaps there's a stature gap that prevents the less distinguished from being able to pull off "formal" with a pocket square and no necktie.
 

TM79

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Fashion has been on the decline for years. Less and less people look respectable or even know how to go about trying to look respectable.

Add this to this list.

It'll be a trend, if anything.

Fashion is a lot like sports betting. Joe Public is almost always on the wrong side.
 

Wayward

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I hate to say it, but your response appears very typical of newcomers who are not looking for an answer, but rather corroboration. archibaldleach's answer was succinct and, more importantly, correct. Your reply amounts to "thank you but I disagree". If your mind is already made up, why ask in the first place?

I agree with you, that your question is not one of style. That said, it goes to the core rules of dressing up. Personally, I'd equate an open collar's formality with wearing a turtleneck. Can it look good and stylish? Absolutely. Is it acceptable attire for a conservative business look? No.
 
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Iconoclast

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I hate to say it, but your response appears very typical of newcomers who are not looking for an answer, but rather corroboration. archibaldleach's answer was succinct and, more importantly, correct. Your reply amounts to "thank you but I disagree". If your mind is already made up, why ask in the first place?
I'm intrigued by the new use of the pocket square and I've witnessed it being used in place of a necktie. My approach to this issue is that I have a definite opinion of the pocket square, but am also interested in hearing other opinions and carrying on the discussion.
 

archibaldleach

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archibaldleach, I appreciate many of the points you make but I must point out that the pocket square is replacing the necktie in many sectors of the Washington DC area, including professional offices in both the private and public sectors. Interestingly many experienced (15+ years) attorneys, engineers and other professionals are interviewing while wearing the pocket square and no tie. In fairness, I have yet to see a young entry level job applicant in a professional field wearing anything other than a suit w/tie to an interview. Perhaps there's a stature gap that prevents the less distinguished from being able to pull off "formal" with a pocket square and no necktie.

I've worn a pocket square without a tie at times myself (though always with an odd jacket, never with a suit), but it does not follow that I was dressed formally by any credible definition. If you are not wearing a tie, you are not dressed formally. What I suspect is actually happening is that the tie is becoming less and less utilized as people dress more casually and perhaps this bleeds down to interviews for some senior level people. It doesn't mean they are dressed formally; it means that more casual dress has become acceptable. Big difference. Some of these people may be wearing a pocket square, but I suspect they would also be wearing a pocket square when they wear a tie. The idea that one replaces the other makes absolutely no sense.
 

Iconoclast

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I've worn a pocket square without a tie at times myself (though always with an odd jacket, never with a suit), but it does not follow that I was dressed formally by any credible definition. If you are not wearing a tie, you are not dressed formally. What I suspect is actually happening is that the tie is becoming less and less utilized as people dress more casually and perhaps this bleeds down to interviews for some senior level people. It doesn't mean they are dressed formally; it means that more casual dress has become acceptable. Big difference. Some of these people may be wearing a pocket square, but I suspect they would also be wearing a pocket square when they wear a tie. The idea that one replaces the other makes absolutely no sense.
Another way to look at it is that the event determines the level of formality and dress follows because it is determined based on the formality of the event. An interview is a formal event for all levels of professional employees, however, the higher level folks have the stature to be "formal" with the pocket square, and are not shackled to traditional symbols of formality. There's a fashion revolution going on in DC, and the necktie may be completely replaced by another top accessory within the next 10 years.
 

lwmarti

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The club where I played tennis and golf as a kid required white to be worn for tennis and a jacket and a tie for the dining room. While I believe that the rule for tennis has been relaxed, I don't think that they'll ever change the requirement for the dining room to a jacket and pocket square.

More seriously, though, people who seem to get uncomfortable when you're wearing a suit and tie don't seem quite as uncomfortable when you're wearing a suit and pocket square. I actually do this in the summer with both my seersucker and linen suits.

Lots of people have a problem with ties these days, and here's my personal crackpot theory about this. Lots of people get their first suit when they're in college and use it for their job interviews. After a few years, they gain a few pounds and the shirt that they bought to wear to those interviews doesn't fit anymore. Instead of realizing that they've gained weight, they start complaining about how uncomfortable it is to wear a tie, incorrectly attributing the uncomfortable fit to the tie instead of to the shirt THAT DOESN'T FIT ANYMORE. Every time I hear this, I want to say (using all capital letters again) BUY A SHIRT THAT FITS, YOU &%$#@!
 
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archibaldleach

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Another way to look at it is that the event determines the level of formality and dress follows because it is determined based on the formality of the event. An interview is a formal event for all levels of professional employees, however, the higher level folks have the stature to be "formal" with the pocket square, and are not shackled to traditional symbols of formality. There's a fashion revolution going on in DC, and the necktie may be completely replaced by another top accessory within the next 10 years.

If you're arguing that senior people can get away with more in terms of deviations from dress codes, no arguments here. Same if you're arguing that some people dress more casually as they rise up the corporate food chain and they may have a different idea of "formal" in their head. More broadly, I would agree that everyone has their own scale determining what they wear to different events and that most probably don't deviate a lot from that scale. I wear at least trousers and a dress shirt everyday and others may consider that to be dressing up or an outfit they reserve for special occasions. If you're saying that some people have a different idea of what formal means to them personally, I don't disagree. I also don't disagree that people have gotten more casual in their dress over time.

What I want to be clear about, however, is that there are also objective meanings to certain words. Formal used to mean white tie and tails or a morning coat; now it generally means suit and tie and this is the definition most commonly used here. The word therefore still has an objective meaning in certain contexts, much like black tie. So someone wearing a jacket without a tie is not dressed formally in an objective sense. One may be dressed "as formal as one gets" or bringing the equivalent of one's "A game," but it does not mean one is actually dressed formally. If someone showed up in jeans and a polo shirt to a formal wedding at a cathedral, he may think he is dressed formally because he is not wearing a t-shirt (perhaps this is an extreme example), but he would clearly be violating the dress code.

I think this is where the confusion lies. You are trying to use "formal" in a subjective and relative sense and I am using it in an objective sense. A pocket square cannot replace a tie because they do not serve the same function and one cannot be formally dressed in an objective sense without a tie. It is entirely possible for people to go about their business never wearing a tie but wearing jackets and placing a pocket square in the jacket. I have no doubt that some people do just that. To they extent they want to claim to be dressed formally, however, they can only do so in a personalized and subjective sense that is disconnected from societal norms.
 

MisterFu

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archibaldleach, I appreciate many of the points you make but I must point out that the pocket square is replacing the necktie in many sectors of the Washington DC area, including professional offices in both the private and public sectors. Interestingly many experienced (15+ years) attorneys, engineers and other professionals are interviewing while wearing the pocket square and no tie. In fairness, I have yet to see a young entry level job applicant in a professional field wearing anything other than a suit w/tie to an interview. Perhaps there's a stature gap that prevents the less distinguished from being able to pull off "formal" with a pocket square and no necktie.
You show up, ask a question, and when you get an answer you don't agree with, you tell us we're wrong and that the PS is now the new tie based on the behavior you see in DC (not exactly a city I would reference as a benchmark for haute couture). I will repeat what has already been said: there is absolutely nothing formal about a plain open collar, no matter how elaborate your pocket square might be. The stature gap you describe as being between those who can and can't wear the PS in place of a tie is simply those who (think they) have the option to dress informally. That the option of informality is continually abused in our society is an indication of our degraded standards, not that the PS is a replacement for the tie.

If you came to SF looking for validation of your assertion that the PS is a replacement for the tie, you are unlikely to find it here. If you want to follow the ill-dressed herd and pimp your chest hair (or worse, your undershirt) with a fancy PS in place of a proper tie, that is your prerogative. Just don't expect much support from SF.
 

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