Patch pockets with business suit?

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 11.5.2016 in General

Is it alright to have patch pockets with business suit? Aren’t patch pockets kind of casual? How well does this pocket type work in more formal situations? I wrote earlier five tips about “how to buy a business suit”. Today taking a brief look on this issue as a continuation of that post.

Patch pockets with business suit - dark blue suit by Caruso
My oldest suit but still my favorite. The one I use the most for my important work meetings. And it features patch pockets. Picture from the book “Klassikko”.

In terms of suit jackets and blazers the most relevant details to pay attention are the model of collar and pockets. Regarding the collar notch lapels are generally more restrained and in my opinion more versatile choice. Peak lapels on the other hand are a good option if you are looking for a sharp and powerful looking business attire. Naturally for a double-breasted suit there is no other option than peak lapels. When it comes to pockets, the use of jacket is determinative. Generally speaking patch pockets are an alternative worth to consider for those looking a more lightweight and casual option. For business or more formal occasions flap or jet pockets are a traditional choice.

Patch pockets with business suit – too casual?

Instead of having the pocket placed between the shell and the lining of the jacket, a patch pocket is literally a patch of cloth sewn to the outside of the jacket. This can be done with the hip pockets and the chest pocket. Some guys even have patch pockets as a ticket pocket. That is rare though.

Answers to question “can a suit jacket have patch pockets” vary. Strongly. Some say it is totally appropriate whereas others say not ever. One of the most potent arguments on the side of the “not ever” camp, is the claim that a suit jacket must have something that distinguishes it from a a blazer or sport coat. According to some views for example changing the buttons to metal will fulfill this requirement. Others say that’s not good enough and that there are other considerations such as type of fabric and cut of the jacket that differentiate suit jacket from sport coat. One of the points that comes up is that sports coats and blazers commonly have patch pockets whereas suits don’t. Personally I think there is no all-encompassing answer.

My suits and patch pockets

Most of my suits feature patch pockets. So do many of my sport coats as well.  One noteworthy thing here is that I personally don’t have to deal with the most stringent dress codes at my work. And as I consider patch pockets aesthetically more pleasing than basically any other pocket-option, that has become a regular choice for me. Most recently last week I made an order for a new suit. Lightweight wool in light grey that I am about to wear not only for work but also for parties such as summer weddings. And I ended up choosing patch pockets for that suit as well. On the other hand, when it comes to most formal occasions such as funerals, I would not prefer patch pockets. For example my black suit that I wear for funerals or other occasions with formal dress code feature jetted pockets.

Patch pockets with business suit - Gray suit with white shirt and printed tie.
Ready for business? Checked suit featuring patch pockets, white shirt and printed pattern silk tie. Another favorite of mine.

Who really pays attention to your suit pockets?

I think that when it comes to details such as the shape and type of your jacket pockets, most people do not pay any attention to that. Only those the people who know will know. As far as your suit fits you well and is made of a decent fabric in some restrained color, you are quite safe. And if you are wearing your suit properly with a well-combined shirt and tie, people will not judge you based on the pockets.

One more reason for me to prefer patch pockets is that I like my suit jackets lightweight and unstructured. Patch pockets make those jackets more versatile and easier to wear as sport coats with odd trousers. Although in case you are working in an industry or in a firm with a strict formal dress code, patch pockets might be something you want to leave just for sport coats and wear them during weekend and vacations.

Patch pockets with business suit - dark blue suit with white shirt and gray wool tie
The Caruso suit from another angle. Formal but casual.

Sum up – 3 tips to patch pockets with suits

As mentioned many times before, dressing up is all about the context. In general there is no rule that would say that it is forbidden to have patch pockets with business suit. But there are definitely suit jackets that will look better with other pocket options. Just to remember to focus on the big picture. If you are thinking about getting wearing patch pockets with business suit, here are three brief tips to help you out.

  1. Choose a suit that is lightweight and preferably unstructured.
  2. Make sure the pattern matching with the pockets is done correctly
  3. Two patch pockets is fine for business – save jackets featuring three patch pockets for casual occasions

Patch pockets with business suit - details