Watches, Pens, Pocket Knives

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Just as the advent of the motor car began the demise of the umbrella and hat, and the wristwatches of WWI replaced the pocket watches of the Victorians, the cell phone may spell the demise of the wrist watch. And when it does we will be denied one of the most elegant accessories which a man may still wear.

I’ve noticed several people lately flip open phones to check the time. On a hunch I looked around at my fellow pedestrians and confirmed that the vast majority (they were mostly students and a few younger professionals) were chronographically nude. At least to the eye. Not a wristwatch amongst ’em. But each had a pocket bulging with cell phone and keys or keys dangling from a belt loop (N.B. not a good look.) All carried backpacks or messenger bags and I wonder why they didn’t use those to hold the extra things they carried?

When I was a kid growing up in Europe, I remember seeing a lot of men carrying purses. Not “manbags” or bags in general, handbags. They had little wrist straps on them and a zippered opening. My father’s bag was black leather and had a zippered pocket on the outside as well.

Yes, he too fell in to the habit during off hours when we were traveling. But only after my mother convinced him to buy a New Man denim jacket and jeans “suit.”

It was the 70’s and I don’t know what was going on in the States, but European men were wearing tight jeans. Jeans that frankly couldn’t accommodate the large breast pocket wallets that everyone hauled around to carry the huge European banknotes that were much larger than the American dollar. So the handbag became de rigeur.

After reading another wonderful post by Mrs. Blandings, I decided to come clean. If the contents of a pocketbook can tell you a lot about the owner, just imagine what going through their pockets might reveal.

Men today carry all manner of things with them in all manner of bags. I have a shoulder bag big enough to carry my laptop and a portfolio that I used to carry before the laptop became my portable desk and filing cabinet. But I don’t carry them day-to-day.

No, most of the time I have to carry all the things you see above in my pockets — without bulging at the seams.

This is really when made-to-measure and bespoke clothing shines. You can have pockets built in to conceal all of your gear. A watch pocket carries my pocketknife. A coin pocket can hold my pocketknife or keys or phone (when not wearing a jacket.) The cigarette pack pocket on the left inside of my coat holds the phone, while the inside pockets hold my cigarette case (I keep my cards in it) and my pen. The breast pocket of the coat holds my glasses or sunglasses behind my pocketsquare. The car key and/or house keys can be stashed in the inner coin pocket of the pocket on my coat. The handkerchief and card case/wallet are in the back pockets of my trousers and my money clip resides in my left hand pocket.

If you are buying off the rack, the best brand in my opinion that caters to those of us who carry things on our persons, is Oxxford. The tailors there build their suit coats with pockets that work with the lining, expanding inward. I don’t know how they do it, but it works. There is hardly a ripple visible.

I still wear a wristwatch, though. And I have a landline. I suppose I am beginning to show my age.

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