Why Don't You Pick My Pocket Any More? 👌
Am I the only one who's noticed that it's becoming more and more difficult, at least here in Australia, to buy a business shirt with a breast pocket; whereas, a couple of years ago, only dress shirts (the fancy ones that go with your penguin suit) had no pocket?
By business shirt, I mean, of course, a long sleeved (or short sleeved) article of men's conventional office attire, which covers the chest hair and has robust buttons up the front to keeps the pot belly from escaping in all directions. It is generally made of cotton, or of various man-made, easily pressed, or non-iron materials, or even silk (for those with a ridiculously extravagant shirt budget). It comes typically presented in a plain colour, often with faint stripes, or close 'quiet checks'. Here the use of 'quiet checks' means easy on the eye and not too bright, and is not intended to discriminate against overly exuberant noisy persons from the former federal state of Czechoslovakia.
"So what's the big deal about the disappearing pocket", do I hear you ask?
Here's the case (or at least my case) for the affirmative (i.e. for pocket retention):
- For decades, I have, as have my male office compadres, been using my shirt pocket for keeping a variety of crucial accoutrements at my finger tips, e.g. pens, business cards, comb (well, perhaps this last item is becoming less of a necessity, in my case, as the years roll by). Furthermore, with trousers generally becoming slimmer (and hence trouser pockets generally becoming more restricted), there is a resultant increased potential to break pens, crumple business cards and break combs stored therein. Hence, the use of the shirt pocket for critical implement storage is becoming more essential for the transient office male, as he strolls around his domain, occasionally taking notes with his pen, dispensing business cards, and combing his hair.
- A suit jacket (or 'coat' as it is called in many countries) cannot be used effectively for 'accessible' storage of the aforesaid breakable and bendable items (which, I must state, should neither be bent nor broken). This is because in hot climates, like the northern states of Australia, and in other tropical or even warm temperate areas, it is neither comfortable nor indeed expected, these days, that a suit jacket be worn in the office, or to attend meetings, or to travel to and from work. Although a jacket does typically have many pockets, both external and internal, they are only useful on the occasions when the jacket is being worn.
- Even in colder climates, and I have worked in many chilly places in former business lives (including Melbourne), it still appears normal to take off your jacket when sitting at your desk and generally functioning around the office. So must the wearer rummage through the pockets of his jacket (hanging behind the door, or, more likely, left in the wardrobe at home) every time he wishes to retrieve and use any of the above listed accoutrements?
- Why dabble with an article of apparel which has been around for a couple of hundred years, albeit traditionally either in white (for white collar workers) or blue (for blue collar workers)?
Why didn't 'they' ask me when 'they' took away the breast pocket?The case for the negative is purportedly as follows:
- Tailors maintain that a breast pocket breaks the line of the jacket and is offensive to the eye. No argument here for a dress shirt (remember the penguin suit?), when typically worn for black tie functions (do these still exist?) or possibly christenings, weddings, and funerals (respectively hatches, matches and dispatches). But what about office wear (see affirmative argument above)? The breast pocket can't break the line of the jacket if a jacket is never worn, or if it is hanging behind the door, or left in the wardrobe at home.
- Retail is becoming increasingly more competitive, hence there would appear to be some cost advantage in making shirts without pockets. OK, so why don't we have trousers without pockets, jackets without pockets, etc. Or is this perhaps a ploy, on behalf of retailers in general, to 'persuade' we mere males to carry a 'man bag', yes that piece of irrelevant flotsam that surfaced a few years back and is generally as popular with manly males as a skunk at a barbecue?
- Clothing styles and fashions are set in Europe. Ask anyone outside Europe (for some reason an Eskimo, a Bedouin, and a Zulu spring initially to mind) their opinion on the workings of Saville Row, or whether they prefer Gucci to Burberry, Dior or Chanel, then re-examine your opinion, Mr Tailor. And since I'm writing this in Oz, why does Australia have its own fashion industry and fashion awards? Personally, I'm not sure of the answer to this last question.
- The bulk of Australian shirts (as sold in department stores and men's clothing stores) are mostly made in Indonesia, China, or Taiwan and, like many western countries, are no longer fabricated in the same country as the retail market, hence the customer's needs are becoming divorced from the supplier's/fabricator's specification. This is of course absolute bulls..t, since, in essence, specifications must meet user requirements as a primary requisite for a successful sale, no matter where the purchaser and fabricator are located. Furthermore, if we all stood up and demanded breast pockets in our business shirts, then breast pickets we would have.
So am I the only male (Australian or otherwise) who has become exasperated by the lack of a breast pocket in my business shirts? Here I should add that my frustration has lead me to resort to purchasing my shirts, by mail order, from an English tailor who provides me with a choice of breast pocket or not, along with a whole world of options with which to embellish the male shirt, most of which I have no need. This does not, however, stop me from perusing the rows of shirts in Aussie retail outlets, while muttering under my breath in resentment, all in a vane attempt to find any choice (reasonable or otherwise) of pocket-bearing, office-worthy, well-tailored tops.
Please let me know your thoughts on this crucial topic, so that I may move on with solving other equally pressing issues, such as:
- Which came first, the tin opener or the tin?
- Who invented sliced bread and why do so many achievements claim to be the best thing since it was invented?
- How long is a piece of string, and what constitutes a complete string rather than just a piece?
- What's worn beneath a Scotsman's kilt, or are all the bits in perfect working order?
When not researching the weird or the wonderful, the comical or the cultured, the sinful or the serious, I chase my creative side, the results of which can be seen as selected photographs of my travels on my website at:
The author of the above, Ken Boddie, besides being a sometime poet and occasional writer, is an enthusiastic photographer, rarely leisure-travelling without his Canon, and loves to interact with other like-minded people with diverse interests.
Ken's three day work week (part time commitment) as a consulting engineer allows him to follow his photography interests, and to plan trips to an ever increasing list of countries and places of scenic beauty and cultural diversity.