For men, the most prominent pockets are those on the outside of their coats. In the seventeenth century, they had been close to the lower edge and then moved higher. In the eighteenth century, like pockets in waistcoats, they became marked out by flaps becoming deeper and often decorative, sometimes lavishly so in keeping with the color and embellishment of fashionable garments. The great coat, which was common before the railway age, provided a capacious range of pockets suitable for the needs of male travelers. Its demise may have contributed to the widespread adoption of the briefcase in the twentieth century by businessmen and commuters. In the voluminous trunk hose worn by men with doublets in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, very large pockets could be accessed from the side. Pockets in later styles of breeches and trousers have been situated in the side seams, but also at the back and front.
Smaller pockets, such as those for coins or hanging watches, were less visible, for example placed in the front of the waistband of breeches; chamois leather was sometimes used as lining. Watches became small enough at the start of the seventeenth century to be concealed in pockets made for the purpose. These remained common until the wristwatch became popular in the twentieth century. The inside top pocket is commonly found in many male garments past and present. Men's garments utilized integrated pockets and positioned them to achieve balance across the body generally before women's garments did so. The number of pockets for men has been substantial. Extant historical breeches and trousers show evidence of the cycle of patching made necessary by wear and tear caused to pocket linings by coins and keys, a problem that has continued.
Was this article helpful?