The Male Handbag aka The Jacket


While the analogy may end where it begins, I have long since considered the coat, the jacket, the blazer, call it what you will, the male handbag. But, whereas the coat, or jacket as we will refer to it from here on in to avoid any confusion, has a plethora of compartments in which to store, hide or carry one’s accoutrements, the female handbag, seemingly, has only one!

Now, if, like me, you are a handbag admirer (Bottega Veneta, thanks), and have gazed upon the beauty of such oversized, handcrafted, leather masterpieces, only to see the the look of shear panic on the bearers face as they descend into a frenzy when their phone rings and they rifle through the trough-style receptacle in search of their device; lipstick, lipbalm, cigarettes, keys, notebook or even ipad, in a vain attempt to locate the elusive item. Not so for us chaps, who have realised the Victorian brilliance of the common or garden jacket, with it’s myriad pockets; a place for everything and everything in it’s place. As I will explain.

And when we consider what must be carried upon our person, you’d have thought that the most commonly carried item of any gentleman would be his wallet, but you’d be wrong. Perhaps once upon a time, it was. But not any longer. It is, of course, his phone. And phones may come in all shapes and sizes, but typically, they will all fit into the breast pocket (inside left and right) of a jacket, which is where Brown in Town suggest one carries said device. When placed inside one’s breast pocket, with the tab and button fastened, it will support the weight of your phone from the shoulder – as opposed carrying it in one’s hip pockets, or, worse still, in what is now referred to, albeit incorrectly, as the ticket pocket, which is inside your jacket on the lower left hand side, and which causes the skirt of one’s jacket to gape-open – and, thus, not cause any protrusion.

But you’d be forgiven for thinking that carrying one’s phone in this way would spoil the line of your jacket, however, depending on the size of one’s device, and, to some degree the fit of your jacket, it is plausible that, where the phone comes to rest at the bottom of the pocket will be just below the rib cage – the location of the waist of most jackets – and not at chest height as you might imagine, and, ergo, the device will be recessed ever so slightly and will not affect the silhouette of your jacket at all. And for those rather particular about the orientation of their device within a pocket, it is possible to have a pocket custom-made to ensure it is always the correct way-up! Brown in Town offer such a variable size pocket, so please enquire within if this illuminates your screen.

Invariably, the wallet, given it’s ever increasing inventory, is, in my experience, the greatest offending item which gents struggle to find a home for. However, providing that you do not insist on carrying in your wallet every receipt for every transaction that you’ve made so far this year, then there is no reason why you cannot carry your wallet in the opposing breast pocket. Naturally, the tab and button will require fastening to ensure the weight is supported from the shoulder: refer to previous point.

Breast pockets loaded, it is the turn of what Brown in Town affectionately refer to as, the cigar pocket (also referred to in certain circles as the pen pocket, and more’s the pity). Located just underneath the left breast pocket, our cigar pocket will carry, up to and including, a tubed Partagas Serie D, or P for that matter. Perfect for those moments when we find ourselves in a position to enjoy a fine cigar, Cuban or otherwise.

The small pocket on the lower left hand side of the interior of your jacket, incorrectly, but commonly, referred to as a ticket pocket, is actually nothing more than an additional inside pocket – businessmen will often utilise this pocket as a place to carry their business cards. And for those of us who have a lip balm penchant, or other personal affect, they can be carried in here.

In addition to one’s pocket square, hank, pochette, silk handkerchief, call it what you will, a jacket’s breast pocket is the ideal place to carry one’s spectacles, or, if you are enjoying the current spate of clement weather we’ve been treated to in Blighty, your sunglasses. In Italy, there is a trend for revealing the arm of one’s shades on the outside of the breast pocket, perhaps to let others know which brand you patronise. And when carried together in the same pocket, the pocket square lends itself to being the perfect tool for cleaning one’s lenses.

Hip pockets, whether straight or slanted, are ideal for carrying one’s keys, providing, of course, that you are not a jailer, as a bunch of keys that size is more than likely to spoil the silhouette of one’s suit. Brown in Town’s suits are equipped with a coin pocket in the right hand hip pocket – you will also find an additional coin pocket in our trousers. And, aside from being a nifty place to carry loose change, the coin pocket is also ideal for carrying a second pair of glasses, whether spectacles or lunettes, and keeping them out of harms way, where, for example, they are at risk of being scratched by one’s keys, for example.

And there you have it, the jacket, as hand bag. A multi-faceted receptacle, or, perhaps, multi-receptacled facet, is a more accurate description, whereby, not only can you choose what you carry, and carry what you choose, but you can also design the jacket to fit, not only you, but also fit everything that you carry, or, may ever want to carry, within it.

And if your jacket pockets have been stitched-up by your tailor, as they sometimes are during the construction process, then throw caution to the wind, un-pick them, and load those pockets!

The BLT.

Brown in Town