See below...... From the blog Bows 'n Ties Is it a ‘pocket square’, or a ‘handkerchief’? Are they the same thing? ......the answer to that depends on whether or not you’re living in the present day, or 600 years ago. A pocket square, and a handkerchief are, essentially, the same thing; a square piece of cloth worn on a man’s person. However, a handkerchief has a much more practical role, being used as a rag for personal hygiene. The story goes that Richard II of England invented the handkerchief, or at least popularized its use, when he described its royal need; ‘as a little piece of cloth, for the lord king to wipe and clean his nose’. Seeing Richard the king do it meant that it must be good idea, and, not to be left behind, the nobility and the upper classes followed suit. But, a good idea is a good idea. By the middle of the 17th century, men from all walks of life were making use of the handkerchief. Then, as now, it was considered unsightly to display a soiled handkerchief, so it stayed in the trouser pocket. Likely the pocket square would never have evolved into the accessory that it is, if men’s fashion hadn’t evolved first. So, as two piece suits became popular in the 19th century, men began placing their clean handkerchiefs in their breast pockets; allowing them to peek out, and add a bit of dash to their look. Of course, inevitably they would need to be used, and then they went right back into the pants pocket. Eventually, the look of a pocket square as an accessory to a suit became so common, that it became just that; an accessory and nothing more. This attitude toward the pocket square was even further reinforced with the adoption of specific and elaborate folding techniques; obviously not meant to be undone once they had been placed in the breast pocket. By the 1920’s, many men would even carry a separate handkerchief in their pants pocket for practical use. The pocket square had hit its heyday. But, with the invention of antibiotics, and after World War II, the classic linen handkerchief was looked on as un-hygienic. And, with the Kleenex company’s invention of disposable handkerchiefs, the cloth equivalent fell out of use; leaving pocket squares as nothing but a fashion accessory. The only design difference I have noticed in my experience that most pocket squares have hand-rolled and hand-stiched edges, where as a hankerchief is sewn by machine. This may seem like a minor detail, but hand-rolled edges look far more elegant.