When opening a conversation with a bespoke tailor about a custom suit or sportcoat, one of the first questions you will be asked is “Do you have a preference on the pocket style?”
A surprising number of men—even men who wear suits often—won’t have considered pocket styling before.
This is for one of two reasons:
For men who began wearing suits in the 1990s, this is often because all of the suits that they own have exactly the same pocket styling: Two horizontal double-besom style flap pockets.
During the 1990s and into the late 2000s men’s suits didn’t really evolve much.
The main evolution in menswear was toward the ever-more-casual. This lack of interest in men’s suits led to a reversion to the most generic.
Not that there is anything wrong with horizontal flap pockets—-they remain among the most classic styles for business attire.
The second reason that many men have not considered pockets is that, when made up, all of the details are so subtle.
In the black and white sketches, the details look dramatic. But when made up in a heather grey or navy, the details fade.
Moving beyond the horizontal flap pocket, the two pocket styles that most American’s will be familiar with are the “Jetted” pocket and the “Patch Pocket”.
A jetted pocket is a pocket identical to the basic flap pocket, but with the flap removed. What is left is the upper and the lower “besom” or “piping.”
Generally, this style is seen on tuxedo jackets and it can give the jacket a more formal, cleaner look.
The sketch above for the “Jetted” look, shows a classic tuxedo look where the body is an superfine wool and the lapels and pocket besoms are in a silk satin or grosgrain.
In general, we do not recommend the jetted pocket except on tuxedos. The jetted pocket has a tendency to gape open when the pocket is used to hold an object of any size or weight.
On a flap pocket, the flap covers the gap, but jetted pockets on the outside of tuxedos are often left basted shut to assure the cleanest and most put-together look.
A patch pocket, on the other hand, is the traditional casual daytime pocket.
I say “casual,” but casual in a way that has very very little to do with the hoodies and tshirts that many men consider to be casual attire today.
Instead, the patch pocket is actually more sophisticated than wearing a tuxedo in many cases. If it is at all avoidable, one should never wear a tuxedo during the day. Instead, a jacket or suit with patch pockets in a sporty fabric shows just the right amount of attention to dress for outdoor summer weddings.
Midway between the patch pocket the traditional flap pocket is the “hacking pocket”. A hacking pocket is a flap pocket that is angled backward on the body.
Originally a detail from British riding attire, the hacking pocket as a long history in men’s sportswear and business attire especially in the British and Continental traditions.
It tends to read as slightly more sporty, but also more sophisticated, than the standard horizontal flap pocket.
One often sees the hacking pocket accompanied by a “ticket pocket.” This additional pocket balances out the breast pocket on the left side and can be useful for smaller items that one needs to keep track of.
Of course, these are only some of the possible pocket shapes and details from the long tradition of men’s formal, sport, and business attire.
For those who are more adventurous, we offer our signature curved breast pockets (a 1920s and 1930s sportswear detail) or crown-shaped pockets with pointed flaps (common in the military and sport jacket traditions).
One should never be anxious about “over-doing” details when choosing a pocket shape—-to men who don’t care about suits, and to most women—a suit is a suit and most of the details are nearly invisible. To those who care about menswear, a unique detail or two, properly chosen is what dressing well is all about.
We can design a suit with any pocket styles you might like and would love to talk more. Because we make each piece one-at-a-time here in our studio in Denver, Colorado, we are always able to design a piece with the details that fit your individual tastes.
Contact me with your thoughts and I can get you a sketch.