Using Sport Coat Pockets

Today, in 2021, if you went to most men's closets and checked the pockets on their suit jackets, blazers and sport coats you would most likely find that the majority of them are still sewn shut. For the few whose pockets are no longer sewn shut, once you ask them if they ever use their pockets, most would say "no, of course not."

Today, the front pockets on your sport coat are for appearance only, they are not to be used, or that seems to be the general logic of the day. I went along with this for a while because that is what you do. You see what other people are doing, and you come to understand as that is what there is to do. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I started noticing in old films a strange sight, men using their sport coat pockets. I remember noticing Humphrey Bogart standing there idly using not his trouser pockets, but his sport coat pockets for his hands. I then started noticing it more and more in old films, photos, footage etc...

I started to think about what it means that today, the generally accepted way is to not use them. There is a fairly clear layer. It means that in this style we love, there are features and elements of our clothing which are no longer functional but decorative. Obviously this is not a grand revelation. We see this in many other pieces. How many men who wear boat shoes, have avoided slipping on their boat due to the specific design of the grip on the bottom of their boat shoe? It's most likely a small percentage of people. Most men who wear boat shoes do not own a boat. To avoid slipping on the deck is why the grip was designed by Paul Sperry. He designed it after slipping off his boat, himself. There are of course other instances of the original intention no longer being utilized today. But, what strikes me about what has become this decorative nature of the sport coat pocket, is that everyone needs pockets, everyone uses pockets, and there are two are right there waiting to be used, yet left unused for no real meaningful reason.

To my mind, the evolution of this kind of pocket into a purely decorative element of a sport coat is not a good sign. When elements of a piece of clothing stop being used yet still remain, it is a sign of impracticality and performance rather than function and purpose. In a sense it is also a sign of stiltedness or could be viewed that way. Men, feeling this sense, abandon this kind of clothing as they feel it is impractical and stilted and they opt for utilitarian sport clothing which will help them "carry more stuff" be "more comfortable" etc... They feel this way because of the false perception that Trad/Ivy/Prep is uncomfortable, impractical and stilted. I would argue, although not the purpose or point, it is actually the opposite.

We should live in our clothes, use our clothes, they were made the way they are for a reason. We shouldn't be stilted and performing, we should be living and being. These days, like in the photo above I use the front pockets on my sport coats. Sometimes I use them for my hands, sometimes for small objects. Using them feels like I am actually using the sport coat, I am not just performing something. It certainly is out of place today to use your sport coat pockets. You don't see many men doing it. I don't really care. Why would I care about the logic of the day? The logic of the day is wrong in almost every way. If I wanted to be in place today and be like every other man, I certainly wouldn't be involved with Trad/Ivy/Prep style.

It may feel strange at first, it may take a while to get used to, but give it a try, use your front sport coat pockets a bit. Don't perform in your clothes. Live and be in them.

The sport coat I am wearing in the above picture is a vintage wool sport coat from Brooks Brothers. The OCBD is, of course, J. Press.