FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, May 22, 2015

Aaron Tippin in Naples or FUUO Takes a Stand on Pocket Squares

A few weeks ago, I found myself strolling down Via Partenope along the Naples gulf.  It was a breezy bright sunny Sunday afternoon.  Italian mothers lounged on the boardwalk in designer dresses and high heels (or high tops)--dispensing wisdom to doting babies from the ash end of slim cigarettes. Open-shirted restaurant hosts lotharios hustled and chatted up passing women--offering up flutes of prosecco--beckoning them to an open table.

Men from ages 20 to 80 sauntered along in well cut jackets and suits, their breast pockets stuffed with colorful pochettes.  I should be more specific--every dapper signori that had on a jacket had a pocket square in it--without fail.  Walking back to my hotel room that evening after way too much linguine and buffalo mozzarella I was pondering the ubiquity of this pochette-toting population and I was reminded of Aaron Tippin's Gulf War classic "You've Got to Stand for Something."

Now I was mainly reminded of this song because of the title but you should still go ahead and give it a listen in all its jingoistic early 90's glory--its a classic.

Now where was I?  Ah yes, the point of this blog post is that pocket squares are one of the things that FUUO is going to stand for in all his third person glory.  Working overseas in an international community as a FAO, one has an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on those with whom you work.  The sartorial impact that you make is not just a personal one--for better or worse--they will associate your 'look' with America's look.

As men we have very few things that we can 'personalize' our looks with: ties and socks are the standard duo over which we have control.  Beyond that you have the cufflink option (a later FUUO post) but then the essential pocket square is too oft overlooked in the United States today.

Personally, I think that this is because men tend to overthink the pocket square too much.  A bewildering number of material types, colors, styles and prices can quickly overwhelm the handkerchief neophyte.  But ignorance should never be an excuse for sartorial shortcomings.

Having made the switch two years ago I am by no means an expert but I will offer a few pieces of advice:

  1. Save your money.  You don't need to spend a lot to pack an outsized sartorial punch.  You can get plenty of starters at your local H&M or Woolworths.
  2. Educate yourself though--start with Squared Aweigh.  Started by a fellow USNA grad, this is where you go to elevate your game.  The Victoria is the first square that I bought at the site and it's a beauty.
  3. Never match.  If your pocket square matches your tie you are doing it wrong.  The square should complement your tie or shirt in some manner.  Or if you are feeling particularly plucky, you can sport something that doesn't complement your outfit in the slightest--as long as you have the pre-requisite je ne sais quoi to pull it off.
  4. You can never go wrong with a Draper.  A simple clean squared white square will always elevate your suit above the masses.
  5. Ultimately the key is not to be too picky when you put in your pocket.  Now say that five times quickly.
  6. Supposedly silk squares are out right now and cotton is in.  My advice, buy what you like--silk will come back in style one day.

Finally if you need help figuring out just how to fold it, GQ has a helpful guide.

My collection

No comments:

Post a Comment