For this installment of “The Ensemble,” I’m going to focus on one of the most unique items in my wardrobe: a pocket square from Ikiré Jones, a Philadelphia-based menswear company. Its aesthetic roots are simultaneously in Neapolitan tailoring and West African colors and patterns. Everything the brand does is high-quality, and they pride themselves on each piece having a backstory. Walé Oyéjidé, the brand’s founder and Creative Director, writes all of their copy, and the item descriptions read more like novellas than anything else.
Most importantly, the pieces are incredibly unique, beautiful, and exceptionally well-made. You can shop the full line at ikirejones.com.
As with each #TheEnsemble post, you’ll see pictures of each ensemble piece with a detailed explanation as to why they were chosen and how they work.
#TheEnsemble – Ikiré Jones Pocket Square
Printed in Macclesfield, England with hand-rolled edges, this is a high0quality pocket square. At 70% wool and 30% silk and measuring 17.5″ x 17.5″, it has excellent hand and heft.
This item is from Ikiré Jones’ introductory fall/winter 2013 season, entitled “Escape To New Lagos.” The square itself is titled “Iya Ni Wura,” which translates to “A mother is worth more than gold.” There was something inherently sweet about it that complemented its objective beauty, and when I saw it, I had to have it.
Analyzing The Outfit
Much of my life has been dominated by a casual dress code despite my preference for tailored clothing. As a result, I’ve been a fan of mixing high and low, as they say. Denim and a sport coat with a tie and (gasp!) French cuff shirt is not an uncommon outfit for me, and it’s served me well on dates and dinners out with friends. I also (over)dressed like this to my son’s first visit to the pediatrician, which was when I learned the hard way that they keep the heat cranked all the time in those offices.
But I digress.
There’s a lot going on here in terms of color, pattern, and other details. Check out the pictures below and read on for analysis.
You likely recognize the bracelet on the right from this post, I love wearing it every chance I get. While the Fossil watch (which pales in comparison quality-wise to the many watches that Paul owns) and Banana Republic mother-of-pearl cufflinks are an inexpensive way to accessorize, the shirt is custom made in the United States. Look at the top left picture, and you’ll notice a peculiar detail you’ll never see in a ready-to-wear shirt. I’ve illustrated it below:
See the slanting material in between the two blue lines? It’s called a cutaway cuff and you’ll only see it on custom shirts. You’ll also see something similar on Sean Connery’s James Bond in 1962’s Dr. No.
Another sign of a custom shirt is a monogram. While it’s common for monograms to go on a shirt cuff, this is not where they were placed originally. Back when gentlemen never removed their jackets during business hours, monograms were for identification at the laundry and nothing more. As such, they were placed at the shirt waist, which is where you see it here.
The tie clip is a vintage piece that belonged to my maternal grandfather. I have no further idea as to its provenance.
This tie is one of the jewels of my collection, a Hermès that I had the good fortune to inherit from a family friend. It’s 60% wool and 40% silk, making it great for colder weather. As you can see, the detail of the weave is impeccable, and it ties a beautiful knot. typically I tie this in a half-Windsor, but a four-in-hand felt right today.
The dark jeans could easily be substituted with navy trousers.
Pocket Square Details
Though they may look similar at first glance, not all handkerchiefs are made alike. There are three main things to consider: size, material, and edges.
A small pocket square does you no favors. It falls down in the breast pocket when in a TV fold and isn’t big enough to fill out that pocket with a puff fold. My Ikiré Jones square is 45cm by 45cm (nearly 17.75 inches), so it’s got some heft just by virtue of its size. It will stand up to any pocket you put it into. As an added bonus, it’s made in Macclesfield, England.
Save the small hankies for actually blowing your nose.
Most pocket squares are made of linen, cotton, or silk. Each material has varying quality levels, and though you might see minimal difference in performance across price points, you will see a difference in longevity. As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. My pocket square here is 70% wool, 30% silk. A bit of a novelty, but high quality nonetheless.
In the world of pocket squares, there are machine-stitched edges, and there are hand-rolled edges. Machine-stitched edges are cheaper and fast to produce, costing less money. Hand-rolled edges, on the other hand, are just that: handkerchief hems that are rolled into a rounded edge and stitched by hand, creating a hanky that has more bounce and heft to it than its machine-stitched counterpart. Kind of like the difference between a fused canvas suit and a full canvas one, the visual difference is subtle but can’t be unseen once seen.
Here’s a quick list of some concepts at play in this ensemble:
- This is a ” high low” outfit. I’ve mixed vintage items, luxury items, and budget items at the same time. This is totally fair game.
- The pocket square’s main color is green, which syncs with the green check in the shirt. The blue and brown in the tie complement that, but do not have a direct tie (no pun intended). It’s a serious rule bend.
- The large windowpane of the sport coat and smaller check of the shirt are variations on a like pattern and thus harmonize nicely. This works with shirts and ties, ties and pocket squares, and ties and braces.
- The puff fold of the pocket square you see here is but one of many ways to fold one. Experiment to see what works for you and your outfit.
- The wool in the tie syncs beautifully with the wool of the sport coat.
- Change the dark denim out for navy trousers and you have a dressier outfit instantly.
- Mother-of-pearl cufflinks are extremely versatile.
- Pocket Square: Ikiré Jones
- Sport Coat: Uniqlo
- Shirt: Henry A. Davidsen
- Tie: Hermès
- Tie clip: Vintage, source unknown
- Bracelet: Maven Metals
- Watch: Fossil
- Belt: Banana Republic
- Jeans: Uniqlo
- Boots: Cole Haan
- Sunglasses: Cole Haan
As always, we welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section. We’re looking forward to sharing our next #TheEnsemble with you!