When to Wear One: A Pocket Guide to Pockets.
Pocket or no pocket? Anyone who has ever worked in an office, been invited to a wedding, or gone to an event with even a hint of formality has asked this question. The short answer? When in doubt, go without.
But there are many factors that dictate how formal is too formal and vice versa. Especially if you are going with a customized made to measure dress shirt. Everything from the cut of the collar, gloss of the buttons, and shape of the cuffs lends to a dress shirt’s style, and therefore, its applicable uses. Here are a few simple things to remember when deciding on whether or not to go with a pocket.
Any dress shirt without a pocket immediately falls into the “more formal” category. This includes things like weddings and ceremonial events where one might wear a tie. If you like the look of a pocketed dress shirt, instead, make it so that the jacket you choose has one. Sports coats and blazers can also serve this purpose in an office environment where the dress code calls for it. Many jackets come with a faux breast pocket, that is, a slit cut into the breast area made to emulate a pocket, but with none of the function.
*Bonus fact, the pockets on suit jackets are generally sewn shut so that your suit keeps its shape. This translates to a cleaner look without sacrificing the overall style.
A dress shirt that includes a pocket is made for casual activities. Think office attire and brunches with other young professionals. This look is great for short sleeve dress shirts where you want to take advantage of a skinny tie to spruce things up a bit. This is also the category in which fun prints – like Hawaiian, live. The more pockets, the less formal.
Put it this way:
A single breast pocket is fantastic on a long sleeve with chinos and a rolled-up cuff. It dominates short-sleeved prints and gives the pen toting writer a place to show off their favorite utensil.
Double breast pockets are things you only see on a safari. Or at least you should. The double pocket is a manual labor, outside activity, kind of shirt. They’re like cargo shorts. When was the last time you saw a pair of those worn in any setting that wasn’t sun-soaked or weather-beaten? Follow that same rule of thumb with their top-heavy, double-breasted, counterparts.
In the end, the shirt you choose to wear says a lot about how you view the event being attended. Is it a casual affair that beckons patrons to put comfort first? Then wear a pocket. Is it a formal setting where you want to impress people with authority? Then ditch the pocket and opt for a cleaner line.
FYI – weddings absolutely have an authority figure that you want to impress. Have you ever met anyone with as much power as a bride on her wedding day? We didn’t think so.