The Classic American Jacket: Horizontal Flap Pockets with Angled Breast Pocket

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?”

The "Jetted" Tuxedo Pocket

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 "Patch Pocket"

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.

Hacking Pockets with Ticket Pocket

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.

Pointed "Crown-Shaped" Hacking Pockets with 1920s Curved Breast Pocket

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.

Pointed Flap Pockets with Flap Breast Pocket

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.

Sporty Patch with Flap Pockets

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.

Some 1920s Details

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.

Boardwalk Empire Style SuitOur completely custom line of suits–which are individually handmade to order right here in our studio in Denver, Colorado–often have a vintage flair to them.Wool Peak Lapel Suit
Philosophically, our suits hark back to what we consider to be the most interesting period for men’s dress—the period between 1907 and 1921–when many of the distinctive looks of modern dress had been established, but before everything became entirely normalized by the advent of mass production in menswear.
At this point, suits were still meant to convey individuality and to express tastes, habits, and activities.
Although pocket styles have always been as much about conveying to others what one might put in such pockets as they are about functionality, one could, as it were, express more things which such details than one can today.
Our latest generation of suits strives to be distinctively contemporary in its look and functionality, while, at the same time, drawing upon the richest period of our history.
We also incorporate a vocabulary of vintage handwork into these pieces.  The corners of pockets are tacked with crowsfoot and D-tacks.
one button  suitVintage style handwork buttonholes appear on the lapels.
Hand pick-stitching and lapel treatments add an aura of the handmade to the pieces.
Cuffs can be functional or highly decorative.

Our signature cutaway style is perfect for those times when you need to roll up your sleeves because of the heat or because a piece of machinery is in need of repair.
In this posting, I have put up pictures of many of our favorite recent suits.
The army green suit with brown vest is the outfit that I made for my own wedding this summer.
The fabric is a wool sateen with tons of sheen, and the details are drawn from a host of amazing vintage pieces.
This suit (like the navy suit with 3 buttons and the bold plaid cotton summer suit) are “One Button Suits”.
Although each of these suits has 3 buttons on the front, only the top button functions.  The other 2 buttons are left undone so that the vest shows below the cutaway shape.
“One Button” suits are by far the slimmest, most elongating silhouette around, but are impossible to find in shops.
The navy 2 button suit (made from basketweave tweed) pictures illustrate our signature shoulder style.
Here the shoulder seam is pushed back to form a distinctive look with more visual interest in the back panels.  The fronts have hacking flaps with crowsfoot tacks and a handmade lapel buttonhole.
The pictures of the white suit show a distinctive turn of the 20th century take on the summer suit, with narrow cuffs, patch pockets and peak lapels.
The light grey plaid suit shows a look with hacking flaps and our cutaway style in a two button look.  This suit also featured contrast coral collar melton.
Also note the wide contour waistbands on many of these suits.  This detail allows us to shape the waist as much as necessary for comfort and a perfect fit.
We can currently make fewer than 50 of our completely custom “1909 Bespoke” suits per year (although we can make many more pants and vests).
2 Button 3 PC SuitSo if you are thinking of ordering a suit for a wedding or time-sensitive event, let us know as soon as possible.
We muslin fit each of these suits.  For non-local customers, this means that we will mail you a cotton mock-up of the suit to try on.
You send us pictures of yourself wearing it, and we will alter the pattern to fit you.
Contact AJ@denverbespoke.com for more info, and so that we can get started working on a custom design for you.

The initial set of engagement photographs is by amazing Denver and Fort Collins Colorado area photographer Sarah Christine Photography (www.sarahchristinephotography.com/) be sure to check out her work and to choose her to photograph your wedding.