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Are Dress Shirts Without Pockets in Style?

Dressing up for a formal event can be stressful for some men. Let us take a little of the burden by addressing the pockets vs. no pockets conundrum.

A man wearing a dress shirt without pockets adjusting his necktie.

Every guy wants to look their best when they are dressing up to go to a formal event, a business meeting, to meet your girlfriends’ parents for the first time, or even just to go to the office.

If you aren’t particularly fashion-forward and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about fashion trends, when it’s time to dress up for any occasion, there can be some questions you might be asking yourself about which look is the look you should be going for.

When it comes to dress shirts, there are no shortage of options. Do you go with one pocket, two pockets, or even no pockets? What about cuffs and buttoning the cuff buttons?

Should you opt for the slim fit dress shirt? Do you want a thicker collar or a smaller one? What about the buttons on the collar, do you need those too or should you not have them? The list goes on and on.

The specific conundrum with the breast pocket vs. no breast pocket has been somewhat of a newer phenomenon that has men all over scratching their heads wondering what to do.

Van Heusen Men's Poplin Regular Fit Solid Point Collar Dress Shirt, White, 17.5" Neck 34"-35" Sleeve

The thing about pockets on shirts is that there are specific occasions where you wouldn’t necessarily want a breast pocket on your shirt, but many times it is a matter of preference and style.

Pockets could come in handy in plenty of instances while you are wearing your dress shirt, but just because it is practical, does it also mean it is the best fashion choice? Luckily there are answers out there to these questions that will hopefully be able to help you decide which is the right option for you.

When to Choose the Pocket Vs. No Pocket

Historically, a dress shirt without a pocket has always been seen as a more dressed up or formal style as opposed to a dress shirt with a pocket.

The idea behind that is simply a cleaner and smoother look, especially if you plan on wearing a tie. Pockets tend to be a bit more eye-catching and take away from the look of your outfit and neatly pressed dress shirt.

Any time you have to wear a suit or tuxedo, the best option is to opt-out of the dress shirt with the pocket and go for the sleeker look without the pocket.

Carhartt Mens Fort Lightweight Button Front Relaxed Fit, Black Chambray, Med

On the other hand, a dress shirt with a pocket and buttons on the collar is more of a sporty look and is meant to be worn unbuttoned at the top and even the quarter rolled sleeves, depending on how casual you are trying to look.

However, a dress shirt with a pocket has plenty of practical uses, especially if you are wearing it to work. Many men carry business cards or pens or other useful items that they might need to grab quickly at the office or in a meeting.

If your dress code is more on the business casual side, a dress shirt with a pocket is perfectly fine. But, if you work in a more formal corporate business setting and also are required to wear a full suit to work, having a pocketed dress shirt and a tie could be a bit distracting and distasteful when it comes to the etiquette of men’s formal wear.

Sets of dress shirts without pockets and neckties on display at a store.

The dress shirt with a pocket can also emulate elegance without looking overly dressed up, so if you are attending an event where you want to look nice, but don’t want to seem like a snob, this could be a better option for you.

As long as you aren’t at an event that would require a suit or tie, especially if it’s warmer outside and there’s If the event doesn’t require a tie, it’s safe to say the preference is all yours.

Lacoste Mens Short Sleeve Oxford Button Down Collar Regular Fit Woven Shirt Button Down Shirt, Hemisphere Blue, L

Even a short sleeve button-down shirt with a pocket and shorts is a dressy look that you can wear to an event, keeping it styling without feeling overdressed.

Unintentionally, if you happen to choose the wrong shirt style to a particular even, it can be an outward symbol to others of how you personally view the setting and the event you are attending.

You don’t want to be in a formal setting where you are trying to impress people or execute authority and you are wearing a dress shirt with a pocket that is telling people you aren’t that serious about the event and prefer to be more comfortable.

While that may not be your intention at all and you may have never even considered that, other people who may be more fashion-conscious and observant of your attire can get the wrong message, so it’s always best to follow this etiquette.

Pocket Options

diig Men Slim Fit Long Sleeve Dress Shirt, Purple 17.5

When it comes to pockets on a dress shirt, you also have options. There are round pockets, pointed pockets, pockets with a flap and even double pocket options.

Wrangler Authentics Men's Short Sleeve Classic Twill Shirt, Bright White, XL

The round and pointed pocket are more formal options, with the round pocket being more of a formal option than the pointed pocket.

A pointed pocket represents more of a sporty look and is usually accompanied by a button-down collar. These shirts are more appropriate for leisure activities and events where there isn’t necessarily a dress code.

ZEROYAA Men's Banded Collar Slim Fit Long Sleeve Casual Button Down Dress Shirts with Pocket ZLCL09 Tan X-Large

Same goes for shirts with a pocket that have no collar at all, which is something that has become more popular over the last several years.

What Is the Future Like for the Pocket?

A man putting on cufflinks to his dress shirt without pockets.

The funny thing about fashion is that at any moment things could change and completely switch up all the fashion do’s and don’ts that we’ve finally nailed down, completely throwing a wrench in the works and then we are back to square one.

Things like slim ties that are in style now make any shirt with a pocket look even more out of place because the tie takes up very little room on the front of your shirt and then you have a big bulky pocket that really stands out (and not in a good way).

Slim-fit button-down shirts have also increased their popularity over the last several years, but don’t look the same on a person not built for a “slim-fit” type of shirt.

So, in this case, there is definitely a fashionable look, but the look isn’t for everyone. At the end of the day, styles are going to change, fashion is going to change, and what is considered “fashionable” may not always be what you like.

The best suggestion is for you to dress how you feel most comfortable and in the style that you like the best, and whether you follow the fashion trends or not, that is up to you.

But always remember, if you are going to a wedding or formal event, NEVER choose the shirt with the pocket!