Up Close: The Hidden Tailcoat Pocket

tailcoat pocket
Like other rarefied details of bygone formal tailoring such as shirt-front trouser tabs and authentic trouser braiding, I have long wished to see an actual example of pockets hidden inside a tailcoat’s tails.  From The Black Tie Guide:

“In company, as little as possible should be borne in pockets of the coat ; indeed, a full-dress coat should be made without pockets”.  The reasoning behind this salient advice from an 1837 etiquette manual is that the weight and bulge of loaded-down pockets will obstruct the graceful lines of the contoured dress suit.  Thus, hip pockets are never seen on a tailcoat and a breast pocket (introduced in the Edwardian era) is left empty by more fastidious dressers.

This lack of pockets presented a dilemma for nineteenth century gentlemen who were expected to remove their otherwise mandatory dress gloves when dining.  In typical English fashion, Regency dandy Beau Brummell had his tailor hide pockets in the inside folds of the coat’s tails and this remains a feature of better tailcoats to this day.

Well, now thanks to reader Michael El Koubi, the elusive feature is no longer such a secret.  I thought I ‘d share this photo of his vintage tailocat with others who harbour a similar curiosity.  (Note that there is a similar pocket along the seam of the other tail.)

3 Comments

  1. A. R

    I’ve been known to store my telephone and wallet in those in lieu of gloves. Rather useful, they are.

    Reply
  2. Cygnus

    It’s also a handy place to store a spare collar or two – that way, when you need to freshen-up after a bit after dancing, you can quickly retreat to the men’s room, remove your collar, wipe your neck with a wet towel, and attach a fresh collar.

    Reply
  3. Yesterday's hero

    Veteran Coutts bankers recall that they used to hide little bottles with alcohol in these hidden pockets while on the job before the a CEO got rid of the tails as a corporate uniform in 2000….

    Reply

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