The Propriety of Pocket Flaps

A photo of a contemporary men's or women's suit pocket, as seen all around American during the business week.
A photo of a contemporary men’s or women’s suit pocket, as seen all around American during the business week.

Yep, you guessed it…this is a post on the etiquette of pocket flaps.  This long forgotten dictum of decorum for some reason makes totally good sense to me.

You may recall my earlier post on the etiquette of stay stitches in a jacket vent.  It may seem like I truly am the fashion police.  Thankfully I give tips, not tickets!

Today’s tip is about the flaps that cover openings to jacket pockets.  Did you know that traditionally for daywear, a man would keep his flaps outside the pocket.  However, for evening or more formal events, the flaps were to be tucked inside the pockets.

This tuxedo does have a jetted flap pocket, which...
This tuxedo does have a jetted flap pocket, which…
...may be tucked in for a more formal look (if properly pressed, which this jacket was not.)
…may be tucked in for a more formal look (if properly pressed, which this jacket was not.)

You may have noticed that tuxedos often do not have flaps over the pockets.  That is because one would never wear a tuxedo for daywear or casual wear.

The most common pockets I see on men’s and women’s jackets are called jetted pockets with flaps.  There is a small strip of fabric outlining the top and bottom sides of the opening.  When the flap is tucked in, this edge shows and together with the top edge, looks crisp.  With the flap out of the way, it just looks like a plain ol’ welt pocket (also known as a besom pocket or jetted pocket with no flaps).  No one but the wearer knows the flaps are there.

Flaps or buttons on jacket pockets are meant to keep items in the pockets from falling out.  While attending a formal occasion, individuals are not likely to carry things in their pockets or engage in activities that might cause any item in their pockets to fall out.

As Lionel Richie recently entertained the large crowd gathered at the American Airlines Center, all I noticed was his contradictory jacket.  The fabric indicated fancy evening attire, but the pocket flaps and leather, mandarin color were more casual.  Of course, rock stars can break any fashion rules they like!
As Lionel Richie recently entertained the large crowd gathered at the American Airlines Center, all I noticed was his contradictory jacket. The fabric indicated fancy evening attire, but the pocket flaps and leather, mandarin color were more casual. Of course, rock stars can break any fashion rules they like!

Back when I lived and worked in the Metroplex, I would often wear a dark pants suit to work with heels and a professional blouse.  For dinner, I would change my blouse to a silk shell and tuck my jacket pocket flaps inside the pockets.  This creates a more sleek line to jackets and, to me, makes them appear less utilitarian.

Do you prefer flaps in or out?  Had you ever heard this protocol before?  Do you think you will try it?

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