Manolo for the Men Fashion and Lifestyle Advice for Men

November 9, 2007

Pocket Protectors

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Shirts,Tailoring — Izzy @ 3:43 pm

dress shirt pockets

According to journalist Harry Mount (a member of the British aristocracy who, while in college at Oxford, was reportedly pushed down a hill in a porta-potty by a Hungarian count), the snobs are winning in their crusade against pockets on dress shirts:

The news that sales of shirts with breast pockets have collapsed – from 90 per cent of all shirts sold a decade ago to 25 per cent today – doesn’t surprise me. The clothes snobs have been fighting them for years, and tragically – for a breast pocket fan like me – they’ve won.

As they do in all clothes snob battles, snobs appeal to style when they make their argument, but what they are really appealing to is snobbery – to the ancient cry of “I know this rule and you don’t; I’ve got it right and you haven’t.”

Tailors say a breast pocket destroys the line of the suit. Of course those 12 square inches of thin cotton pocket – far thinner than the line of buttons alongside them – don’t destroy the line, unless you put something in it.

But whether the pocket is full or empty is neither here nor there. The real point is that the pocket is useful and, in clothes snob world, usefulness is the enemy of grandness.

It is true that, for both men and women, the more functional the piece of clothing, the less formal it is. Think of how you cannot roll back the sleeves on a french-cuff shirt, or how the pockets on a (slimly cut) tuxedo jacket can barely fit anything beyond a money-clip. When it comes to breast pockets on shirts, the issue is to what extent you are willing to trade formality for functionality, a question that each gentleman must determine for himself. Also, it should be noted that it is far more common in Britain than in America for men to wear shirts without pockets, which is a reflection of the relative informality of American attire. While Izzy himself enjoys the smooth, clean appearance of pocket-less shirts, which he does prefer when getting all snazzed up, on a day-to-day basis he gets frustrated when he has no convenient place to stash an iPod or a corned-beef-on-rye.

But whatever the basis for your decision to favor shirt pockets or not, please ensure that it has a firm moral founding. Snobbery, after all, is the vice of making inequality hurt.

1 Comment

  1. “far more common in Britain than in America for men to wear shirts without pockets” which is a reflection of the independence of the American spirit and of the greater productivity of the US.

    Comment by class factotum — November 15, 2007 @ 11:44 am

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