Suit pockets can be tricky sometimes. They aren’t often large enough to hold much, but they add so much visual interest to a suit jacket.
However, there are so many different suit pocket styles and placements that one can’t help but wonder if they mean anything.
For example, how important is that little breast pocket, and does it matter if your pocket is straight across or slanted?
So take a quick whirl through the world of suit pockets; this knowledge may come in handy for your next suit.
Suit Pocket Basics
You’ve undoubtedly noticed that suit jackets have a few features that vary from suit to suit and that pockets are one such feature.
In fact, pockets are a significant variable; there are several different styles of suit jacket pockets.
But why are there so many different style choices?
Suit pockets can convey different formality levels of suits and serve different functions. Plus, it’s a simple way to change up aesthetics.
Pockets might seem like a matter of minor importance, but be sure to pay attention to them.
Suit pockets can alter your entire suit; a specific pocket type may rule that suit out for certain occasions. They may not be convenient most of the time but are an essential detail.
Differences in Formalities
A suit can reflect your personal taste, but only up to a point; your outfit will call for specific suit pocket styles depending on how you wear your suit.
There are three main suit pocket styles – patch, flap, and jetted, rated from lowest to highest in their level of formality.
So, for example, you are much more likely to find a patch pocket on a casual blazer than you would see one on a tuxedo.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you would never see a jetted-pocketed suit, but that would be a rare style combination.
Slanted vs. Straight Suit Pockets
Even something as subtle as the angle of your suit pockets can affect the formality of your suit.
Straight pockets are typically more formal; they’re more traditional and found on classic business and evening wear.
On the other hand, slanted pockets are a contemporary twist for a more modern approach to style.
Slant pockets are a bit less boxy-looking than straight pockets; they lend a more tailored look to your suit.
Patch Suit Pockets
Patch pockets are a very basic style of a suit pocket. However, they are the most uncomplicated style to incorporate, as they aren’t built into the jacket’s construction.
Instead, they are an additional piece of fabric that’s sewn right onto the face of the jacket.
Patch pockets give a casual look to your suit. This style is suitable for blazers or informal suits. However, they aren’t appropriate for business suits because of their more relaxed nature.
These pockets are usually pretty large. But while they provide a lot of room, I don’t recommend loading them up.
Putting too many items in your suit pockets will weigh your jacket down.
As a result, your suit will look slovenly, and it could permanently mess up your pockets. Also, you’ll risk looking unbalanced if one pocket is more weighted than the other.
Flap Suit Pockets
Their name describes this pocket style perfectly. This time, the pocket isn’t on the surface except for the opening; the pocket itself is inside the jacket.
A thick rectangle flap covers the opening of the suit pocket and is made from the same fabric.
The width of the flap can vary; usually, the width of the suit’s lapel determines how wide your pocket flap is.
Flap pockets are a versatile style of a suit pocket. They are suitable for most looks except formalwear (black-tie events).
Both business and casual suits often employ flap pockets, and they are stylish on both.
However, they look the best for formal-business suits. In fact, flap pockets are the most common type of suit pocket.
Some men like to tuck their flaps into their suit pockets and create a slit pocket look. This is perfectly acceptable as long as your flap doesn’t look bulky inside your pocket.
However, take care that you don’t inadvertently get one flap tucked into your pocket by mistake! This can sometimes happen when you stick your hand into your suit pocket.
Jetted Suit Pockets
Jetted pockets (a.k.a. piped or besom) seem to be nothing more than slits in the side of your suit jacket. They are almost like a cross between patch and flap pockets.
This suit pocket type is the most formal and suitable when wearing a tuxedo or other highly formal suit. That’s because they form a very clean and sleek silhouette.
Piped (jetted) pockets don’t have a covering, like patch pockets, but they are located inside the jacket, like flap pockets. In fact, they most resemble flap pockets with the flap tucked inside.
The pocket edges are trimmed in the same material as the rest of the suit; this is called piping. The only change for formal suit jackets is that the piping is often satin.
The opening of jetted pockets is situated to line up with the bottom suit button.
Welted Chest Pockets
Welt pockets are located on the chest of the suit jacket. They were initially intended for handkerchiefs, but today they are primarily decorative.
They aren’t very functional, as there isn’t much room to put anything in this suit pocket. Their best use is for adding a pocket square to add some flair to your suit.
The welt pocket is situated just below the surface of the jacket and is similar in design to the jetted pocket.
You can see the edging around the slip opening, and the body of the welt pocket is inside the lining of the suit jacket.
Some welt pockets have flaps, but that’s not a very common style. Instead, the welt pocket is traditionally edged with piping.
Some designers have played with the style of the welt pockets, making them stand out in a more modern way.
Sometimes the piping will be added in a contrasting color; other designers add a button or even lace. The opening can also be curved or straight.
The Ticket Pocket
Can you guess the original purpose for this suit pocket?
The ticket pocket was added to British jackets for men commuting between the city and the countryside by train.
Of course, these pockets aren’t handy today, but they are a lovely nod to tradition. They are exceedingly rare but can make your suit very interesting and will stand out.
You’ll almost always find a ticket pocket on the right side of the front of the suit jacket, located just above the regular pocket.
Ticket pockets often have a flap but can be jetted. They are relatively narrow and not at all deep; just the right size for a ticket!
The ticket pocket can be either angled or straight; it will match whichever way the other suit pockets sit.
Although ticket pockets look excellent on tall men, they can make a shorter man’s suit jacket feel overcrowded.
Not all suit pockets are located on the surface of the suit jacket.
Most suits have a couple of inside jacket pockets; one is usually found on each side of the suit jacket. These suit pockets are the best place to store things when wearing a suit.
In addition, they are the most functional because small items such as a wallet or cell phone are not noticeable as easily as with an outer pocket.
Slanted pockets are hip suit pockets that are situated at an angle. You may also have heard of hacking pockets; these are similar but have a more pronounced slant.
Slanted pockets have a sporty feel to them. Also, most slanted pockets have a flap, but they can also be jetted.
This makes sense; they were designed for horseback riding, so the rider could have easier access to his pockets and keep items inside better.
One final note – the angle of slanted pockets flatters shorter men.
The openings of straight pockets are horizontal. This is the classic, traditional angle for suit pockets.
Whether they are flapped or jetted, they are still straight pockets if they are not angled.
Straight pockets are more formal than slanted ones. You aren’t very likely to find a tuxedo with slanted pockets; they almost always have straight pockets.
Straight pockets aren’t unflattering on anybody, but they can help enhance the silhouette for a tall, lanky man.
That’s because the straight pockets add an illusion of girth, so he may appear a bit bulked up with this style of a suit pocket.
Why Are Suit Pockets Sewn Shut?
Have you ever put on a new suit for the first time, and at some point during the day, go to slip something into your suit pocket?
Oops! It’s sewn shut! It can drive you crazy when you make that discovery in the middle of your day.
Manufacturers sew the pockets shut mainly for aesthetic reasons. Doing so can help the suit jacket retain its shape until you wear it.
In addition, the threads gently keep the pocket shut to prevent the pockets from gapping and hanging open.
This isn’t a permanent feature of your suit. Instead, it’s a temporary stitch called “tack stitching,” intended to be removed.
If you have a seam ripper, use it to tug the thread apart very carefully. Otherwise, you may carefully sip the thread with scissors.
And try to remember to do this before you wear your suit for the first time.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.