Hey Sid!

Shirts with Pockets?

Hey Sid!

You ask, Sid answers

Submit a question at heysid@sidmashburn.com

“I read an interview in which you quoted the adage about men whose shirts have pockets working for men whose shirts don’t — yet I’ve never seen you in a shirt without a pocket, including when I met you. I like a pocket because it breaks up the shirt front in a good, interesting way and is practical. What’s your take? Your shirts are great except for two attributes: the fused collars and the way-too-long tails — like Cary Grant in 'North by Northwest' or 'Charade' long.” – Eugene

Hey there, Eugene. Thanks for the the question, and the honest opinions.

Right out of the gate, I’m happy to tell you that your two gripes have a fairly easy solution: Made. To. Measure. I grew up during the Burger King “Have it your way” era… and hey, if you want a different collar or a shorter shirttail, by all means, have it your way! Our MTM shirting program is practically made for this. Pick your fabric and your body, then go to town on the details. Pockets or no pockets. Fused collar, nonfused collar. Make it a popover if you like. We’ve just released our Spring 2023 batch of fabrics so it’s an extra-fantastic time to dip your toe in the custom waters if you haven’t gone there yet.

Sid in front of a sunny mountain landscape wearing one of his own made-to-measure shirt in sky university stripe with a spread collar. He's got few wildflowers in his shirt pocket.

MTM Sid's way, pocket included

The collar fusing happens to be the main difference between our Sport Shirts and our Dress Shirts – the Dress Shirts have a top-fused collar while the Sport Shirts do not. (The one exception to this is the button-down collar shirts in oxford cloth, which we always leave unfused. But 95% of the assortment is Spreads, so hang with me for the sake of simplicity.) This is primarily to give you the crispness and structure that one typically wants in a dress shirt. But if this isn’t your thing, you can opt for a nonfused collar via MTM. Or order any off-the-rack sport shirt. 

As for the shirttail flying in the wind — by the way, I love Cary Grant in those movies, but don’t remember his shirttail — our tailors in the shop would be happy to trim that down for you. We do this so the shirt stays tucked in if you want it to. I like to have enough room to really move without my shirt coming out of my pants… and you can always take away fabric, but you can’t add more. So it’s there if you need it – but if not, have it your way! Chop it off! And once again, with our MTM program, you can have it made to a shorter length from the get-go.  

On the subject of pockets and who works for whom… I do remember saying this, but I can’t remember the source to save my life. I doubt it came from my dad, who always wore a shirt with a pocket. He worked as a chemist and surely kept a few tools of the trade in there. I think that was the uniform of all the guys at the lab. It could have come from some brotherly banter between Jerry and Ralph Lauren, perhaps overheard when I was at Polo? A playful putdown from one or the other. Who knows? And more importantly, who cares? For me… I love a pocket. And I especially love our pocket. The one on our pattern is super special because it was hand-cut by our Master Tailor Dau. That’s the main pocket we use on most of our sport and dress shirts to this day… not too squared off, not too rounded, and cut by an artist’s hand. (Side note: we were fortunate enough to have that artist in residence for over a dozen years, and I miss him every day now that he’s retired.)  

Anyway. I clearly have a soft spot for this pocket in particular, but more generally speaking, I like how you’ve said that a pocket can break up the front of a shirt. Couldn’t have said it better myself. But there is something to be said for the more formal, symmetrical look of no front pocket. Maybe some men like the sense of evenness on either side of the tie, with the right and left sides perfectly mirroring each other. Oftentimes you’ll see a French placket shirt without a pocket… it’s kind of a minimalist, almost Euro look. I get that, but as you noted, it’s not what I’m wearing every day. Which is why all of our shirts come with pockets (except for the tuxedo shirts.) And I’ll echo you on the practicality of a pocket – it’s there when you need it. Business cards, pens, ink cartridges, candy, reminder notes, receipts… who couldn’t use an extra place for that stuff? I’ve got a Post-it note in my pocket right now reminding me to check on no less than 7 things.

The small yellow Post-It reminder list from Sid's shirt pocket against a background of MTM swatches. A few things on Sid's list: Chicago, H-VAC, hangers, and mannequins.

But for readers who fall on the opposite side of the debate as Eugene and me… you can almost always have it taken off of an off-the-rack shirt, except in the case of very very fine fabrics, like a cotton lawn. I will say that we prefer for our tailors to handle the deft work of pocket removal, and do not recommend DIYing this on your own with a seamripper. Or you can, once again, order an MTM shirt with exactly zero pockets to begin with. 

(Speaking of MTM, funnily enough, while I am almost always wearing a shirt with a pocket, I own just two dress shirts without one. And both happen to be marked out of stock – unclaimed – Made To Measure shirts that I finally grabbed for myself because I was crazy about the fabric. The mystery orderer was slightly leaner than me because they are both just slightly too small, which Ann never fails to remind me of every time I wear them. Now that’s really the last thing I’ll say about MTM.)  

Thanks again for writing in and for the feedback, Eugene – sounds like we’re on the same page about shirting and a few other things. Next time, maybe we can talk “off the cuff” about the remaining part of the shirt… French cuff or American!

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