Review – Armstrong & Wilson – Pocket Squares

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The gentleman’s pocket square: A discreet piece of sophistication whose primary objective is to effortlessly elevate the overall sharpness of a suit. Now, for seemingly decades, the pocket square was relegated to bland neutrality – no offense to the crisp, clean elegance of the gentleman’s white handkerchief. However, recent developments on the sartorial front has emancipated the classic accessory from the confines expected stodginess and monotony. Widely and roundly believed to be on the cusp antiquation, the contemporary pocket square has emerged reinvigorated, offering a countless amount of variety and selection. And perhaps none are as unique as the pocket squares available from Armstrong and Wilson.

Founded in 2009 by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson – each a finalist in Esquire’s Best Dressed Real Man in America – Armstrong and Wilson has sought to reinvent tradition surrounding the pocket square, and they are more than succeeding. With an astute attention to detail; the duo infused their reinterpretation with an exciting variety of color and pattern, blessed the inventory with exquisite material, and added a detail that has become their signature – a button. And now, with a surging popularity, it is not uncommon to spot their product being worn by the likes of Chris Bosh, Mos Def, Michael A. Smith, and Lebron James.

Personally, I first noticed these fashionable pocket squares a few years ago, but the pricing precluded my inclusion with the aforementioned players of the Miami Heat roster. Stunning visuals aside, dropping $55 to $85 on a single pocket square just wasn’t in my budget at the time. However, with a few job advancements and a purchase of a high quality camera, the plunge was ready to be made. So, here we are today, ready to offer an honest evaluation of the merchandise for the audience. So, let’s dive right in and break it all down for you.

Style & Substance – Armstrong and Wilson Pocket Square

Armstrong & Wilson PSBecause in a world of safe, neat pocket squares dominating the gentleman’s marketplace; sometimes a fresh reworking of a classic is needed. Read on.

  • The Who - For the discerning gentleman that appreciates the contribution of unexpected, distinctive accessories that bolster the sophistication quotient of his presentation as a whole.
  • The What - Armstrong and Wilson, an independent menswear company founded by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson, specializing in creative variations of classic menswear accessories – please see the killer pocket square above.
  • The When – To be worn during times that cry out for next level style and grace.
  • The Where – Great for the office. Boardrooms may be tricky, so survey the business environment beforehand and style accordingly. And when the workday is complete; feel free to rock out with supreme confidence, as no one will look as uniquely dapper as you.
  • The How – These squares are usually cotton, linen, cashmere, or wool; so an irregular square fold is recommended. Ensure that the button detail is situated for maximum visibility.
  • The Why – Because of all the pocket squares you own, most likely, none are endowed with an elegant button detail. And if you do own one, perhaps you could use another – for variety of course.

Standard Recommendations – The Madras Pocket Square

Tie Bar PS Green&RedDefinition: Madras is a lightweight cotton fabric, usually manufactured with a vibrant plaid design, and used primarily for summer clothing such as pants, shorts, dresses, and jackets, or as the picture shown above – pocket squares. The fabric takes its name from the former name of the city of Chennai, India. For the sharply dressed gentleman, assembling a well-rounded wardrobe requires the procurement of stylish, season specific accoutrements. And given the fact that summer is in full operation, perhaps the procurement of something madras could be a worthwhile endeavor. Nothing big. A cool pocket square is a nice start. Light and airy, madras is not as rigid or stiff as your typical cotton square. Colors are usually vivid, and the plaid pattern is typically pronounced. Great for a casual khaki suit or sport coat. However, if you are really bold, you can stuff one inside your business suit for a delicious dichotomy of serious and playful. No matter the preference, a madras pocket square certainly deserves a spot adjacent to your collection of wool, cotton, and silk pocket accessories.

Style & Substance – Richard James Pocket Square – Swan Motif

IMG_0982It was not long ago that my dresser drawer was absolutely barren, completely devoid of any stylish pocket squares of any kind. However, fast-forward to the present day, and my collection is quite extensive. The meticulous procurement of varying silk, cotton, wool, and linen pocket squares has become somewhat of a hobby. My latest acquisition, the Richard James offering above, was purchased recently with a little bit of luck playing a key role. As noted from a few posts ago, Mr Porter is conducting their annual spring sale. I had been stalking  watching this particular pocket square for quite some time, and I was hoping it would be one of few that received a reduction. Alas, by the time I checked the website, it was on sale, but it was sold out. Nevertheless, on few occasions, inventory is replenished and items are available for purchase once again. And it just so happened one morning that I was clicking through the Mr Porter website when I discovered my swan pocket square was back in stock. One hundred percent turquoise cotton edged with a lime green border and sporadically dotted with little white swans. It was a beautiful square with the precise amount leisurely panache that is perfect for this time of year. So, with nimble fingers I hurriedly placed my order, as the website indicated that there was only 1 remaining in stock – yikes. Well, my mission was completed and my new square arrived a few days later. The complete opposite of my skull & crossbones pocket square, the swan detail is lighthearted and carefree. Nothing wrong with a little variety in one’s life.

Click here for more awesome pictures!

Style & Substance – Eton Silk Pocket Square – Skull & Crossbones

IMG_0090In a slight continuation from the last post, I present another pocket square selection from my collection. Now generally, my sartorial tastes lean heavily towards the conservative side of the aisle, even though my political beliefs are decidedly liberal. But that aside, my personal wardrobe is a reflection of stylish convention and moderation. I never get too crazy. Nevertheless, on certain occasions, a fashionable furnishing will attract my attention, such as the Eton pocket square pictured above. The soft burgundy square beautifully edges with contrasting white border, rakishly dotted with a naughty skull & crossbones motif, possessed the precise amount of bad boy charm that could add a jazzy jolt to my otherwise tame closet. I scooped this silk square, along with another version in deep ocean blue, from Esquire’s CLAD e-commerce site before it shuttered its door. It was on a deep discount, so I took a chance. If you are a relatively conservative gentleman such as myself, adding a few unconventional pieces to your stock is an easy way to keep your look fresh, interesting, and appealing. It could be a bright pair of socks, an ambitiously patterned shirt, or a ballsy pocket square. Whatever the case may be, give it a try, you just might surprise yourself with the results.

Standard Recommendations – The Linen Pocket Square

Alfred Dunhill PS

Alfred Dunhill

This endorsement is going to be brief: Every gentleman should own at least one linen pocket square. Okay, that is all, may the remainder of your day be wonderful and productive. Not good enough? Of course, you are correct, I should at least provide some rationale behind my hasty recommendation. Well, believe it or not, spring will soon be upon us. And although linen pocket squares or handkerchiefs can be worn year-round, the changing of the seasons from winter to spring usually mark the reintroduction of lighter, less weighted fabrics. Not that cotton or silk are particularly heavy, but linen provides a nice airy, feathery touch to any gentleman’s suit jacket. Much like a wool pocket, the subtle texture of linen provides a much desired hint of elegance to your presentation. They are very easy to fold, and they remain upright while tucked inside your breast pocket throughout the day. Because linen’s demeanor is so effortlessly easy, so impossibly cool, we humbly suggest an easy fold; a simple square or irregularly squared fold will suffice. And so, there you have it, a few reasons why you should own a linen pocket square. Now, the one presented above is pretty hefty – in price that is – so we also suggesting visiting The Tie Bar and perusing their very affordable selection of squares. Unless, however, you don’t mind dropping $75.00 on a square. In that case, head over to Mr Porter and snatch up the beauty pictured above. The choice is yours. Now – may the remainder of your day be wonderful and productive.

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