As ever in the lovely, international, interactive community that is Permanent Style, this article was spurred by a reader.

He asked about the appropriate configuration of jacket pockets on a suit he was ordering, and I realised we hadn’t covered it in our Guide to Suit Style. So here we go: everything you wanted to know, and probably some things you didn’t, on jacket pockets. 

Do ask questions on anything I’ve missed out, in the comments below.

As with the other articles in this Guide, and indeed all Guides, it helps build it into a really comprehensive resource. 

 

 

Breast pocket

Let’s start with an easy one. The outbreast pocket, which is the one sitting on the left of your chest on the outside of the jacket (hence outbreast, not inbreast) is nearly always a welt. 

This means there is an opening, with a strip of cloth just below it, reinforcing it (shown above). 

The alternative is a patch pocket, where a piece of cloth is simply laid on top of the jacket, with the top open. This is not very common as a breast pocket, because it stands out much more than a hip pocket, and so makes the jacket look much more casual. 

As a result, I wouldn’t recommend having it on a suit, only a sports jacket. 

And, I would only do so with a Neapolitan maker, personally. Most other tailors – particularly the English – have a tendency to cut larger, squarer patch pockets, which are not that elegant and are better suited to actual sporting jackets.

 

 

I have had dinky Neapolitan patch pockets on the breast of some sports jackets – as shown at the top of this piece on my Caliendo jacket. But even there, I more usually have a welt. 

That welt can also vary in shape and direction. Most are straight, and angled slightly up towards the shoulder. This creates an impression of breadth. 

Some tailors though, particularly Neapolitans, like to curve that pocket, making it scooped, perhaps a little like a boat. They call it a ‘barchetta’ as a result (shown above). It can be an attractive little touch. 

Other permutations of the outbreast pocket include flaps, bellows and jetted. I’d recommend against all of them though, unless you have a strong preference, or they are also on a functional jacket, like a piece for hunting or walking. 

Otherwise they tend to look gimmicky.

 

 

Hip pockets

The hip pockets on a jacket are where there is most choice. 

There are generally three options here: jetted, flapped or patched, in descending order of formality. 

As is the case elsewhere on a suit, that formality is determined by how much bulk there is – how much the pocket gets in the way of the smooth run of the cloth. It’s the same principle that makes checks or textured cloth less formal too. 

Black tie, being the smartest thing you are likely to wear, should always have jetted pockets (above). A smart suit should usually have flapped pockets. And a very casual sports jacket will usually look better with patches. 

 

 

But there is leeway with the suit and the jacket.

For example, my Ciardi suit (above) is formal in colour and lack of pattern; but it is informal in its soft Neapolitan make, and details like pick stitching around the edges. The cloth is also a high-twist wool, not a sleek worsted. 

Its formality, as a result, is middling. Flapped pockets would have been the safe choice, but patches are fine also. And those patches make it a little more casual. 

A patch outbreast pocket, however, would have looked odd. 

 

 

In general I want to make my tailoring more casual, rather than smarter, which is why so many of my suits and jackets have patch pockets. 

But I would always have flapped pockets on an English-cut suit, and my more structured sports jackets also often have flaps.

For example with my donegal jacket from Steven Hitchcock (above), I wanted it to be a little smarter than you would otherwise expect from tweed, hence the dark colour and the flaps. 

English tailors also have a tendency towards those large, square patch pockets when asked to put them on the hips. Partly because they were mostly commissioned for things like hunting jackets in the past. 

Have a look at the size of the patch pockets on the hunting jacket made for me by Huntsman, below.

 

 

Also, remember fashion has a big role to play here, as it does in any questions of suit style. 

Patch pockets have become fashionable in the past 20 years, along with a lot of things unstructured and Neapolitan. That might change in another 10 years. Indeed, jetted pockets are seen more commonly now – perhaps because the suits that are being bought are often for the evening, or for dressing up in other ways. 

And remember that a well-made flap pocket can also have its flap tucked away, making it look just like a jetted one. 

 

 

Other, more minor options are slanted pockets – sometimes called hacking pockets – and ticket pockets (shown above).  

Slanted pockets originated on riding jackets, where the angle made them easier to access. They are also supposed to be thinning, drawing the eye away from the waist. 

I’ve had them occasionally (eg on that Hitchcock jacket), and think they usually look better on English tailoring. But I don’t think they make a big visual impact; if you like them, go ahead. Just not on the most casual jackets. 

I feel the same way about ticket pockets. The small, additional pocket on the waist seemed very exciting and dandy when I was first getting into tailoring. But today it just seems unnecessary. 

Have it if you want, but on smarter commissions. And don’t worry about it too much as a decision – certainly compared to patch vs flap hip pockets. 

 

 

What else? A hidden change pocket inside the hip pocket can be useful, unless you carry your change elsewhere. This is usually made of the same cloth as the lining. 

Edge stitching on pockets can be nice, but the more you have, and the more visible it is, the more casual it makes the style. Bear that in mind before having two rows of it. (Above, from Solito.)

Patch pockets can have bar tacks on the top corners, which is a harmless piece of adornment – but usually not actually required. 

Flaps can be both slanted and curved, as on my Rubinacci below. 

 

 

The welt of an outbreast pocket can also be slimmer, or more angled. But in general anything unusual here is a bad idea. It’s too close to the face and risks being a distraction. 

And there are far more variations and idiosyncrasies with overcoats, such as patches with flaps (below), postbox pockets and so on. But they deserve to be covered separately.

Now let me know everything else I’ve forgotten. 

[All images shown are from Permanent Style commissions – if you want to know which articles they are from, do also ask in the comments]



Subscribe
Notify of
guest
70 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anonymous

Great article. I find ticket pockets useful on business suits for holding Oyster cards / subway tickets. One less thing for the trouser pockets. I wouldn’t bother if I drove everywhere.

Chancellor

I use them for business cards. I always keep a few in each of my jackets in case I need to hand one out.

R Abbott

Some of this is a matter of personal preference and taste. I’ve always thought ticket pockets look overly trendy and would be concerned that they look passé in a few years. So for that reason, I would never get one in a bespoke jacket. Beyond that, I think they add clutter and break up the look of the jacket; jackets look “cleaner” without them.

That said, I like the idea of using them to stash business cards in each jacket so that if I forget my business card hoked, I still have a few on hand.

Christopher Lee

Ticket pockets do have a long history though, at least back to the Golden Age and the glory days of railway travel across Britain, so not a contemporary trend necessarily. This is not to say that I like them, however, as I prefer to lean toward a cleaner and more minimalist look.

Chancellor

No doubt different body types may benefit more or less from a ticket pocket. I am very thin but tall, and find the ticket pocket a helpful detail precisely because it adds clutter, but in an elegant way, to break up the clean lines a little to de-emphasize my disproportionate height.

Winot

There seemed to be a trend a few years ago of RTW suits adopting bespoke styling (ticket or hacking pockets; coloured linings). So there was a danger of what you thought was a unique bespoke style ending up looking rather passé.

R Abbott

I think that’s a out right. There was a period recently when all the trendier RTW brands were adding ticket pockets. I think many still do, and it has the effect of cheapening the overall look. That’s probably the main reason they turn them off.

Stefan

Thank you for this helpful piece, Simon! Great read, as always.
I usually stick to jetted pockets for suits and patch pockets for sports jackets as I don’t really like the look of flaps. I often find that flaps interrupt the clear line of a suit and the fabric. Regarding breast pockets, I agree that patch pockets often look odd.
By the way, I would really like to read how you choose linings for your commissions. To me, this is often the most difficult decision, even though in most cases nobody will ever see the lining.

Henrik

What kind of fabric is recommended for the lining? Are there usually alternative and which one is the best?

Robin

I suppose essentially pockets takeaway from the symmetry of a jacket and can have a heavy effect of the proportions and appearance of a jacket.
Ticket pockets just spoil the symmetry of a jacket.
Patch pockets seem to add to the width of a jacket and take away from the slimming silhouette that everyone hopes to achieve.
Thus my preference is always for slanted pockets.

Would you advise mixing up pockets e.g. patch pockets on hips but a normal breast pocket ?

P.S. you missed out internal pockets . Of particular interest given mobile phones

Rogey

I think that patch pockets are stylish and practical. I’m always cramming stuff in there, like a beanie, gloves. As for the English tailor’s tendency to make them too big and square, I just request that he make them a little smaller and put a bit of roundness in the bottom, especially on the outbreast pocket. When I get a jacket with hacking pockets I get a ticket pocket. I think it looks sharp, even if it’s not really that useful.

Anonymous

Does your advice against bellows extend to hip pockets? Thanks.

JB

I completely agree on how hard breast patch pockets are to get right.
My default is barchetta breast pocket and jetted for the rest, as I agree with Stefan on them interrupting the clean lines. I used to get flaps to tuck in, so as to get the best of both worlds, but I always tucked them so now I’ve settled on jetted.

Chris Jones

Love the Ciardi suit – probably the best I’ve ever seen on you. Hate the Huntsman jacket – those stripes simply jar and don’t line up with the sleeves.

Anyhoo – my question. How far should the bottom of the flap be from the hem of the jacket ? Taller people have a lot more length to play with but flaps that sit higher on the hips elongate the jacket (IMO) where too low just makes a short man look shorter.

Ti

Is there a similar logic with regard to the positioning of the outbreast pocket? I am the fairly proud owner of a bespoke suit and a sports coat from two different tailors and the sport coat‘s seems to be positioned somewhat lower that the suit jacket‘s. I questioned the sports coat‘s tailor and he told me something about dividing up the front in thirds, not sure if I completely followed her logic…

Matt

Great article Simon, thanks. Really useful and reassuring for people commissioning first bespoke items. Maybe a follow-up on overcoat pockets? There’s lots more exciting options there!

I’ve had ticket pockets in the past because I’m tall (6’4”) and think that the extra pocket breaks up a potentially large stretch of plain cloth on the jacket. I like a bit of asymmetry (cf button hole and four in hand tie knot). Fully agree that it’s not a big deal, however.

Oh, and I’m partial to the patch ticket pocket that Drake’s seem to specialise in. Surprisingly useful.

Eugene

I don’t need a train ticket, but my on my one suit with a ticket pocket, it’s the perfect size for my iPhone. I prefer keeping it there than the hip pocket or inside breast pocket.

Adam

I got a beautiful Ulster coat with postbox pockets a while ago. The pockets look fantastic, but they’re ludicrously high up, and not really functional – not that the pockets are meant to be functional anyways. I can finally sympathise with women who enthuse about dresses with pockets.
My only real disappointment with the coat is that the internal pockets aren’t as useful as I’d like, given that it’s an outer winter layer of clothing. There isn’t enough space in the pockets to store gloves or a toque when the coat is on a hangar. I’m used to a horizontally opening internal pocket on the chest, like a flask pocket, and I kind of wish I’d asked about internal pockets before the coat was finished. Oh well. Clearly what’s needed here is a PS guide to internal overcoat pockets.

Adam

Sorry – a vertically opening pocket on the chest, accessed horizontally.

Ben

They’re not very useful, but for comprehensiveness sake one can also add the more eccentric stuff like pleated pockets on hunting jackets and variations on flap shapes popular on western jackets.

NB

To clarify, are the inclusion of slanted pockets and ticket pockets technically considered to make a jacket more formal or less formal? I did not quite follow you.

Omar Asif

Simon, I really like this Isaia tie of yours (the one you are wearing with the charcoal suit), from where did you buy it?

Omar Asif

oh well, meaning hard to find this again – any chance you might be looking to recycle it out of your wardrobe? 😉

Mason

Might I ask for an ID on the jacket near the bottom, the dark green plaid one? It’s gorgeous.

Chancellor

I think it’s Simon’s lightweight wool jacket from Solito: https://www.permanentstyle.com/2017/01/building-a-wardrobe-neapolitan-tailoring.html

E.O.

Great article! It’ll be my first comment here. Upon commissioning a jacket, I remember talking to the tailor about the exact positioning of the pocket – especially when you’re asking for a lower or higher button stance, the pocket positioning per theory in conjunction to the lower button could ruin the entire look. How high, proportionately, should the pocket be on the jacket to maintain a clean look that doesn’t look exaggerated either way?

Tim

A useful article. But the welted pockets could do with a proper photo. If you didn’t know what they look like the black velvet photo would be no help.

I also hadn’t realised just how many different shapes of patch pocket there are. I was discussing it with a taior many years ago, he produced a file with three distinctly different shapes. One I’ve never seen before or since was aparently Hungarian. I sent him a template for a Neopolitian pocket. By far the most rounded, and probably different with every tailor.

You don’t mention how to do ticket pockets on patch pockets – usually a slightly narrower slightly shorter pocket within the main pocket, with just the top peeking out.

Philip

Simon, random question. If I were to supply a leading English tailor (say, A&S) with the cloth and ask them simply to fit and cut a two-piece suit for me, what sort of ballpark figure would I be looking at? Half their regular entry level do you think?

Omar Asif

Price of cloth is a small percentage of the finished suit, specially at a high end tailor – it is the workman ship which forms the bulk of the total price, unless you go for a very exclusive fabric. In general, a good quality worsted would typically cost around £100-120 per metre, so you can subtract about £350 – £400 for a 2 piece suit if you want to supply your own cloth.

Winot

I believe A&S traditionally didn’t give any discount to a customer supplying his own cloth (‘CMT’ or ‘cut, make and trim’ as it’s called). Their saying was that when you commissioned a suit from them ‘the cloth comes for free’ (story via Stephen Hitchcock).

Chancellor

I recently commissioned a jacket using the Escorial tweed run Simon helped arranged. I was able to negotiate a reduction of 300 euros, which is less than the cost of the cloth (fair IMO given a more premium cloth, and no bulk order discount for the tailor). I think the price you paid for the cloth is probably the upper range of what you can hope to discount. As Omar notes, you’re paying for handwork and hand construction with a bespoke garment, and not much for cloth.

Mike

Simon, try not to make definitions so overly complicated, which the British have a tendency to do. It’s either a “breast pocket” but mainly guys don’t use this term because it refers to a woman’s bosom. So most guys mainly utilise chest pocket. It’s that simple – because it’s on your chest – done.

And yes- flapped pockets on the side of your jacket can be jetted simply by enclosing it within- it’s a good combination.

NICO

Simon, do you happen to know what is the provenance of ticket pockets, country or city suits? Being an element that interrupts lines and therefore less smart, I instinctively associated it to country / sports attire. On second thoughts, since it is called “ticket” pocket purportedly because of its use to keep train tickets, it may have been more functional for gentlemen regularly commuting into the city, and therefore belong rather on city suits. That supposing the element and its name originate in English tailoring tradition, in my mother language it is called “matchbox pocket”, which would defeat the latter clever reasoning.

George

Simon, a slightly unrelated question. Do bespoke coats come with their pockets sewn shut the way ready-to-wear ones do? Do you typically open them up? Asking out of curiously. Thank you!

Chancellor

Of interest, do you ever carry your mobile phone in a jacket pocket? If so, in which one?

I suspect you try to carry the phone in another bag most of the time, but sometimes that’s not practical.

Detlef Rueskamp

Hi Simon
Can you just give the link to the second from top brown herringbone jacket? I love the cloth and the colour.

Mirko

Hi Simon,

Do you prefer the out breast pocket when it is sitting on top of canvases or when it stay between canvases and linings?

I am curios to hear your opinion and also if you ever payed attention to that detail.

Take care

Mirko

mirko

Italian tailors generally, make pockets after the first fitting, so welt pocket and cross pockets will be between canvas and lining. British do the opposite they like to make pockets before canvassing, welt pocket will stay between fabric and canvas, for the cross pocket they will make a cut to pull it through the canvas. so the main difference at the end is in the welt pocket.

robert

The outer breast pocket is problematic for guys with slight builds. I wear 38 US (48 Eu) but I find that the standard bespoke breast pocket extends too far across the suit almost touching the shoulder seam. I have worked with my tailor on 15 to 20 suits to reduce the size proportionally with my frame. But when combined with slimmer lapels (again due to my slimmer physique), the medial corner of the pocket doesn’t “tuck” under the left lapel. It kind of hangs out there on the chest like an island. But if he moves it midline to tuck under the lapel it is now off center. I know this seems trivial but are there any norms dictating that the inner edge of the outer breast pocket must partially hide behind the lapel? Thanks much Simon. Really find this site informative. Appreciate your passion for bespoke.

Robert

Agree it does look nicer tucked under the lapel. Some widening of the lapel could be the answer. Planning on a donegal sport jacket for the winter (inspired by your PS donegal overcoat which you recently commissioned) & I will give it a try. Thanks for your response. Love what you do here.

Matthew Colcombe

Thank you for the article Simon. I am currently making a Linen jacket for the summer with my Tailor. Regarding pockets, I am thinking about not having hip pockets at all. What would be your initial reaction to this? My reasoning behind it is minimise material to make it as light and breathable as possible. Also, I tend not to use the hip pockets as anything with weight e.g. phone tends to bulge the silhouette.
Your thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Jonny

I’ve noticed great variation in the position of jacket breast pockets. Some are very high, and some that I’ve seen on suits by Corcos or Liverano for example, seem to be much lower. Is this a regional thing? Do you have any insight about what the breast pocket height does to the overall feel of a jacket?

Leo Oettingen

Simon have you found there to be any variance regarding the placement of hip pockets on a jacket? Either distance from the bottom of the jacket or where the pocket would sit on your body? Wondering if this plays into house or regional styles or if it changes pending button placement, pocket style etc (realise ticket pockets and hacking pockets would obviously be different to all others). Thank you.

Jay

Hello Simon,

Helpful article. I was wondering if jetted pockets on sports jackets are generally considered a no-no? Realized that the used of jetted pockets on Italian-style inspired jackets (i.e softer tailoring) is an increasingly popular look.

I am about to place an order with Ring Jacket for a sports coat in a checked flannel that is bold but not loud (Drapers 70012) and am considering patched pockets, or if jetted pockets are a possible option that wouldn’t look out of place.

Penny for your thoughts.

D4924CC3-2098-4616-B0A4-5EA047D01F77.jpeg
Jay

Thanks Simon.
How would you make the decision between jetted pockets and patch pockets on your sports coats though?

Would jetted pockets make the jacket look odd when paired with jeans for example, as they are supposedly the most formal out of all the pocket options?