Men’s shirt guide: with or without a pocket

Is a dress shirt better with or without a pocket? If you wear a shirt often, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once, especially if you get a made to measure shirt.

The dress shirt easily falls into the category of one of the staple pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. It’s an attire that can be worn anywhere depending on the occasion, whether it’s work or just a relaxing aperitif with friends and coworkers.

In fact, all the customisations like the collar, the buttons, the cuffs and the front pocket determine whether the shirt is formal, semi-formal, casual or smart casual, for that reason, it is important to choose and customise the one most suitable for you.

The shirt pocket is a detail that has appeared recently, especially in order to cope with some practical needs or tone down the formality. Now that the waistcoat is not much in use, the pocket on the shirt sometimes seems essential.

Think, for example, of the need for keeping small items such as business cards, pens or pencils, banknotes with you. Not exaggerating obviously and not compromising on the form of the shirt by carrying bulky or excessively heavy objects in the pocket.

Accordingly the conflict “with pocket/without pocket” simply can be solved considering your needs, your taste and the context of use. For example, if you are used to carrying some items in your hand, the shirt with a pocket may be the ideal practical solution for you.

If you are looking for a garment to wear in a more formal context, pay attention to the rules of étiquette, and prefer a version of a dress shirt without a pocket. Here is a series of easy tips to understand on which occasions you can go for the pocket and where instead, you should give it up considering the étiquette.

A shirt without pocket: how to make the choice

Made-to-measure shirt without pocket
Made-to-measure shirt without pocket

The pocketless shirt is undoubtedly the most formal version. The smooth, sober and clean front makes it ideal for all formal events.

In case of ceremonies or particularly solemn occasions, especially, when it is necessary to wear a tuxedo, a morning dress/tailcoat or a wedding suit for the groom, the shirt is typically characterized by a formal collar and cuffs, the pocket is therefore totally excluded and prohibited by the code of elegance.

Not just the special events, but it is apt for other venues. If your workplace is rather very corporate or much conservative, it might be compulsory that you should only wear elegant formal shirts without pockets.

If you happen to take off your jacket during a meeting, the visual symmetry created by a tie would be obstructed by the presence of a pocket. Therefore, a look with the shirt with a breast pocket would seem unbalanced.

Shirt with pocket: when to choose it

Made-to-measure shirt with pocket
Made-to-measure shirt with pocket

The shirt with pocket has a more casual and sporty look and it is perfect for occasions where you have the freedom for a more easy and less “stiff” style. It is also approved in the certain business working surroundings, considering that the dress code at the workplace is rather casual.

In addition to characterizing the style and the shirt, chest pockets are a comfortable place to hang your sunglasses in the summer, to store business cards and other small items.

Although if the pockets are not always in use, they will add a certain depth to the shirt and will also give a more dynamic look to it. Note that often the presence of the pocket is combined with that of a normal placket.

Considering this, we can distinguish two different types of shirt pockets: the round pocket and the pointed pocket.

Round pocket

Made-to-measure shirt with round pocket
Made-to-measure shirt with round pocket

The round chest pocket is the least informal solution and the most suitable for a relaxed working surrounding: it is the perfect compromise between etiquette and functionality, or between a sober and discreet pocket, which embraces its substantial function and utility.

Pointed pocket

Made-to-measure shirt with pointed pocket
Made-to-measure shirt with pointed pocket

The angled chest pocket is the most informal solution: more visible and noticeable, characterized by the typical tip that extends downwards and by an additional seam, it is perfect for the shirts combined with a more sporty clothing, during leisure time, may be distinguished by a button-down collar.

Pocket: with or without?

Given everything, there are only two reasons for opting for a shirt with a pocket. The first is if you want to dress elegantly without looking overly formal. The other reason is that you may want to wear a shirt that you can also use at work.

In this case, a shirt with a pocket increases the practicality, especially in summer when it is less likely to wear a jacket (and a tie) at work and then the pocket could actually come in handy. When instead the dress code is “strictly formal” there is only one choice: a shirt without a pocket.