What's the problem with shirt pockets

Bjorn

Moderator
Better without. Simply doesn't look as clean with pockets. Convenient? Sure, but then so are cell phone holsters.


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MaxBuck

Elite Member
Better without. Simply doesn't look as clean with pockets. Convenient? Sure, but then so are cell phone holsters.


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The suggestion that dress shirt pockets are in any way analogous to cell phone holsters beggars belief.
 

Bjorn

Moderator
The suggestion that dress shirt pockets are in any way analogous to cell phone holsters beggars belief.

Why? They are both used to stuff things in while walking around the office.

I think we could also agree that as a basic premise for a clothing forum, it's the sartorial view we are after.

Check any book on clothes and it'll tell you that pockets on dress shirts are to be (wait for it) eschewed. Ask someone sartorially knowledgeable and they'll most likely have the same opinion.

In this thread, people seem to generally agree that from a sartorial viewpoint, pockets are less good than bad. But that they are swell to put things in, and people use them.

So, from a sartorial viewpoint, less good than bad. End of sartorial discussion.

From my point if view, good thing cruiser won't come charging back just to say that anything goes. There's far too much anything goes going around.


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El_Abogado

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
"Cruiser charging back just to say that anything goes" is one end of the spectrum. Sartorial world habitués are the other end. They have more in common with each other than either realizes.
 

Bohan

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I never liked pockets on T-shirts. On dress shirts, I can see it either way because practicality goes out the window with dress clothes anyway. Think of all of the needless and impractical things on dress clothes. Ties, leather soles with no rubber, show hankies, etc. Eliminating pockets for dress shirts seems ridiculous to me but less so when I think of the other stuff. Whatever the designers decide, I go along with if it becomes standard, but secretly I think it's all ridiculous.
 

Matt S

Connoisseur
I never liked pockets on T-shirts. On dress shirts, I can see it either way because practicality goes out the window with dress clothes anyway. Think of all of the needless and impractical things on dress clothes. Ties, leather soles with no rubber, show hankies, etc. Eliminating pockets for dress shirts seems ridiculous to me but less so when I think of the other stuff. Whatever the designers decide, I go along with if it becomes standard, but secretly I think it's all ridiculous.

It's not about eliminating pockets, it's about adding them. Traditionally dress shirts don't have pockets. One of the American makers decided to add them and now in America they are everywhere. But adding a pocket changes it from a dress shirt to a work shirt.

And most features of traditional dress clothing are very practical, or at least they have practical origins. Sure, ties and pocket handkerchiefs are more about style than practicality, but most parts of traditional clothing exist for a reason. When designers decide to alter those traditional things, it's usually very ridiculous. The jackets today with a shorter length and higher button stance are ridiculous, and if you're interested I can tell you why.

And about leather soles, I find them very comfortable. They're practical for that reason.
 

Jovan

Honors Member
Someone once said that shirt pockets were invented to take the place of waistcoats, most of which had four pockets for a gentleman's every need. However, given their presence in a time when waistcoats were still required to look properly dressed I am uncertain of that claim. I have a theory that it may have actually been influenced by the utility pockets on military uniform shirts, since those soft spearpoint collars were also quite popular after the first world war. But I could be mistaken.

If it's a dress shirt you're wearing a suit or sports coat with it, so why do you need the extra pocket? If your jacket is open, a pocket on the shirt looks messy. Without a jacket, the pocket throws off the balance of the shirt. Putting something in the pocket messes up the lines of the shirt, especially if the shirt is fitted.
Wearing a tie clip or having a pocket on a French cuffed shirt feels wrong to me. It's not incorrect, technically, just a preference. Almost all my button cuff dress shirts lack pockets too, yet I somehow don't feel as strongly about them.

I have also noted the continental divide on dress shirt pockets. They don't seem as ubiquitous outside North America. Not sure what the reason is.

If you don't like the look of a pocket, fine. But it's entirely a matter of arbitrary taste.

Any "proof" that a shirt pocket is wrong - based on symmetry, line or whatever - could also be applied to prove that the breast pocket of a jacket is wrong.

Exactly. But in desperation, the case can be made by Mad Men fans who see Don Draper pulling out a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket looking effortlessly cool. Or something like that.
 

MaxBuck

Elite Member
It's not about eliminating pockets, it's about adding them. Traditionally dress shirts don't have pockets.
Dress shirts have routinely had pockets for the entire 60 years I've inhabited the planet. It therefore is not about "adding pockets rather than eliminating them," but rather the converse. It's about electing to go pocketless counter to common usage. I have no problem with people who choose their shirts without pockets, but acting as though that's the norm for modern dress is just silly, as is the idea that pockets add to the wear of suspenders. Unless one buys raw-silk fabric braces, the wear differential will not be measurable.

I bought exactly one Sulka dress shirt in my life (the most I've ever paid for a shirt). It had a single breast pocket. I'm sure bespoke shirts usually don't have them, but that brings up the whole "don't need to work for a living" thing; I own no bespoke shirts and don't anticipate ever doing so.

So long as I need to go out and sell, I'll need a place to store the business cards I get from new contacts. There's no better place than the pocket in my shirt, as I need to take them out and look at them before I put the shirt into the laundry bag that evening.
 

Bjorn

Moderator
"Cruiser charging back just to say that anything goes" is one end of the spectrum. Sartorial world habitués are the other end. They have more in common with each other than either realizes.

Only if one considers oneself to inhabit a perfect position of well thought out moderation and balance, parked in the middle, are those two on two opposite ends of a spectrum, having much in common (rather like communists and fascists) whereas I rather see it as a binary matter, either the pocket belongs there on a dress shirt or it doesn't.

Of course, one could be undecided, but arguing that it doesn't really matter is rather anathema to posting in a thread about it, no?
 

Matt S

Connoisseur
Dress shirts have routinely had pockets for the entire 60 years I've inhabited the planet. It therefore is not about "adding pockets rather than eliminating them," but rather the converse. It's about electing to go pocketless counter to common usage. I have no problem with people who choose their shirts without pockets, but acting as though that's the norm for modern dress is just silly, as is the idea that pockets add to the wear of suspenders. Unless one buys raw-silk fabric braces, the wear differential will not be measurable.

I noticed in another thread you mention you have some Charles Tyrwhitt dress shirts. Those don't have pockets unless you choose to add them. Pocketless has always been the norm for English shirts.
 

Starch

Super Member
I don't think anybody's saying that a pocket is required. And it's just plain silly to say the only two possible positions are pocket required or pocket banned. The world - including the world of clothes - is full of options and choices, where choosing one or the other is just a matter of taste. Indeed, the same person typically mixes and matches many choices.

A person would be (rightly) mocked if he said something like:
- "Either a sport coat should be made of tweed or it shouldn't be."
- "Either a suit should have pinstripes or it shouldn't"
- "Either a shirt should be white or it shouldn't be"
- "Either a pair of shoes should be captoes or wingtips"

Slightly less risible, but still a matter of personal preference:
- Pleated pants vs. flat front
- Cuffs vs. no cuffs
- Three-button jackets vs. two-button

Nor is it anathema to posting in a thread about pockets to say that it's a matter of personal preference. Saying that is a statement worth posting, at least if people are taking the rather strange position that you can't put a pocket on a dress* shirt.
_____
*Which, I suppose is less strange if you engage in the sophistry of defining a "dress shirt" as excluding one you wear with, say, a suit to work in an office.
 

Starch

Super Member
There are two audiences on these forums, one for sartorial people who already know what they like and are interested in the esthetics.

Another for the people who are learning and wish to know what to do to be acceptable.
Like all dichotomies, that is - of course - a simplification. That's not a criticism, just an observation.

The larger world has lots of subcultures when it comes to just about everything, including clothes. This forum represents just one little corner. There are other subcultures in which people worry about such things as whether you should wear a Sex Pistols T-shirt that was made after 1978, or which particular style of football jersy is sufficiently "authentic" to be worn to a sports bar during a game. Or, in a slightly different vein, how incredibly horrible it is to wear a one-piece ski suit, or how lame colorful nylon ski gloves are.

Even in this particular corner, there is more than one binary division. One key one is between (or, more correctly, among) people in various different countries. What's appropriate (or "works") in the US and what's appropriate in England are only coincidentally the same thing, though they do tend to overlap. But one isn't evidence of the other any more than the proper way to tie a sari is evidence of how once should wear a cummerbund.

More in the "Sartorial World" vs. something vein: there is a definite subculture (call it Sartorial World if you want) which has a much more absolute and prescriptive view vis-a-vis what seems to me to be the more "Mainstream" camp. The mainstream camp really looks at dress shirts, suits, khakis and the like as just ... well, "ordinary everyday clothes." I don't think the Mainstream really recognize themselves as a subculture. The "Sartrorialist" crowd is different.

Consider, if you will, steam punks. People who adopt a steam punk look are, quite consciously and intentionally, joining a very distinct and small minority. Indeed, the whole point of the look is to be different from most everyone else. The same could be said about goths, "scene" kids, lowriders or nudists. The whole point is define elements of their style in opposition to what's considered "normal" in the broader world. My thesis is that "Sartorial World" is, essentially, an instance of the same tribal tendency. This makes it highly confusing to those of us who think of suits and ties as something everyone wears, even if we realize that's not really the case anymore. If you're trying (consciously or subconsciously) to create a distinct and recognizable subculture, rules are important, because they make the tribe recognizable, and avoid blurring of its boundaries. Hence you get the creations of shiboleths like: no buttondown collars with suits; suspenders are underwear; suit pants have to have cuffs; and dress shirts can't have pockets.
 

momsdoc

Connoisseur
yes I have become fond of CT and have ordered some as is and added pockets to others. When going to work I find myself naturally gravitating to the ones with pockets as I don't like the feel or look of my cell phone in my pants. The keys and wallet cause enough distortion and weight. And as I said I don't want the phone scratched by keys and change. The i phone is so slim that it fits invisibly in the shirt but seems annoying in the pants.
 

kravi

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Bah, I think almost everyone here agrees on everything, and I'm not sure what the argument is about.

Are pockets a fashion no-no? Absolutely not, they are fine (in America, at least, I wouldn't presume to judge elsewhere).

I think some people don't care whether or not their shirts have pockets.

I think some people like the utility of pockets.

I think some people like the aesthetics of pocketless shirts.

I think we all agree that a well dressed gentleman can wear a shirt with or without a pocket and still be considered a well dressed gentleman?

Right?

--Me
 

Bjorn

Moderator
I don't think anybody's saying that a pocket is required. And it's just plain silly to say the only two possible positions are pocket required or pocket banned. The world - including the world of clothes - is full of options and choices, where choosing one or the other is just a matter of taste. Indeed, the same person typically mixes and matches many choices.

A person would be (rightly) mocked if he said something like:
- "Either a sport coat should be made of tweed or it shouldn't be."
- "Either a suit should have pinstripes or it shouldn't"
- "Either a shirt should be white or it shouldn't be"
- "Either a pair of shoes should be captoes or wingtips"

Slightly less risible, but still a matter of personal preference:
- Pleated pants vs. flat front
- Cuffs vs. no cuffs
- Three-button jackets vs. two-button

Nor is it anathema to posting in a thread about pockets to say that it's a matter of personal preference. Saying that is a statement worth posting, at least if people are taking the rather strange position that you can't put a pocket on a dress* shirt.
_____
*Which, I suppose is less strange if you engage in the sophistry of defining a "dress shirt" as excluding one you wear with, say, a suit to work in an office.

Hogwash. And a bit too laissez-faire all in all.

I'm saying they shouldn't be on dress shirts. Of course it's personal preference, what isn't? It's also tradition.

I'm saying that if there should be pockets on dress shirts or not is the question, not if posting about dress shirt pockets is silly or not, neither if people who concern themselves with there being pockets or not are silly.

It's not a very relative question, it just seems that way from the postings above since so many dress shirt manufacturers, especially American, are simply getting it wrong these days.

From Storeys History of Men's Fashion, on casual shirts (p. 112):
"A breast pocket on a casual shirt is acceptable and indeed sensible, because it provides storage space when it is not likely to be readily available elsewhere. It might even be and idea to have a large pocket with a flap and button, for added security. One would generally avoid pockets on shirts - especially on formal shirts."

Yet again, correct answer is: should be avoided on dress shirts.
 

downzero

New Member
You should read more carefully. "Formal" shirts and "dress shirts" are not the same thing. Arguably, barrel cuffs have no place on "formal" shirts. They are just fine and may even be preferable on "dress" shirts.
 

momsdoc

Connoisseur
Agreed, there is a difference between dress shirts and formal shirts. I've never seen even in America a pocket on a tuxedo shirt, and wouldn't think of wearing one in that situation. But when wearing suit or sports jacket one isn't being formal. So I think we can all agree on tuxedos and morning suits. But business wear is another story.
 

Bjorn

Moderator
You should read more carefully. "Formal" shirts and "dress shirts" are not the same thing. Arguably, barrel cuffs have no place on "formal" shirts. They are just fine and may even be preferable on "dress" shirts.

I think I read that just fine. It says "especially".
 
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