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How to Wear Dress Shirts: With or Without Pockets

Written by Nana YaaDate: 3/9/2017
The dress shirt easily falls into the category of one of the staple pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. It’s an item that can be dressed either up or down depending on the setting, whether it’s work or just chilling at the pub. Interestingly, it’s the presence or absence of a pocket that is often the indicator of how casual or formal the dress shirt is.

A dress shirt with no pockets should be worn at a black tie or white tie event and should never feature a breast pocket, as opposed to when you choose to wear a sports shirt or work shirt, then having a pocket adds a cool casual touch.

Shirt pockets are traditional and functional and definitely make the look less dressy. Whereas shirts without a pockets certainly have a more formal affect, and are usually a bit more fitted and considered to be bespoke.

Dress Shirts with Pockets
Pockets are a common feature on a shirt and essentially adds another function. As well as increasing definition to the shape of your shirt, breast pockets are a convenient place to hang your sunglasses from in the summer, to stash business cards or any other small objects.

Although, a lot of the time pockets aren’t always used, it will add a certain depth to the shirt and also imply a more active look on the wearer. Prior to what was said earlier, dress shirts with a pocket were once worn to formal occasions, specifically in America.

As such, there are really only two definite reasons for opting for a formal dress shirt with pockets in the modern day. The first reason being that you want to dress smart without looking overly formal, so you wear a dress shirt with a pocket which adds that casual aspect. Sports shirts as well as military shirts have a patch pocket which may also be worn to smart-casual events.

Otherwise, you may want to wear a dress shirt to work. In that case, a dress shirt with a pocket increases practicality, especially in summer when you are less likely to wear a jacket to work and so the pocket may actually be of use.

How to Style a Dress Shirt with Pockets
In time, as the dress shirt has become less reserved for formal occasions or business wear; the rules of what to wear with a dress shirt have also become more relaxed.
If you do choose to wear a dress shirt with a pocket in an office environment, then you should typically stick to a white or blue shirt. However, this may further depend on the office you’re in and how corporate or practical it is, which therefore effects how relaxed your dress code is. In some offices, a checked or bolder colour may be permitted, so it’s worth checking that out as well.

Stick to lighter cooler coloured trousers for office wear such as cream, beige or pale grey. You can afford to try out different colours, especially if you choose not to wear a blazer or suit. To complete the look choose brown or black shoes with pale socks. Avoid wearing a tie, as the breast pocket makes up for the loss of this accessory and you don’t want to overcrowd the look.

It’s sometimes hard to figure out how to dress in-between a smart and casual look. In the summer, if you’re going somewhere where that kind of dress code is present, then a dress shirt with a pocket is the perfect option. You may also be able to pair it with jeans or an alternative type of casual trousers.

A mismatched suit or a patterned or plain shirt is a great idea and can be worn with pale coloured trousers or even jeans. Finish the look with slip-on shoes, brogues or loafers .

Dress Shirts without Pockets
As mentioned before, a dress shirt with no pocket is evidently more formal and, similarly, the more high-end or corporate your job is the more likely it is that you wear a dress shirt with a suit and no pocket. Besides, a pocket would be covered by a blazer anyway during meetings or conferences.

Furthermore, if you chose to remove your blazer, the symmetry created by a tie would be at loss by the addition of a breast pocket. Therefore, a dress shirt with a pocket will look unbalanced.