From billfolds to pocket secretaries, a wallet is one of the most personal items a man carries all day, every day. In addition to credit cards and cash, IDs, and licenses, your wallet is often home to those personal scraps of memory and nostalgia unique to you.
Unlike a favorite bag, shoes, or even the clothes on your back, a wallet is often so personal an accessory that for many men it never crosses their mind to get a new one, unless prompted by sheer necessity.
It’s true for us too. The wallet our editor-in-chief carried for years was from R. Horns, a small leather luxury goods brand based in Vienna, Austria. It is a classic international billfold model with two currency sections and eight credit card slots. The thick yet supple leather is a rich, nutty brown that has darkened with age. It’s distinct in both style and personality, imparted through years of faithful service.
Like many of the personally unique things in one’s life, this wallet would be hard to replace. Sure, a call could be made and a new wallet shipped, but it would not really be the same one, and that’s what makes this type of accessory so special.
Still, there comes a time when curiosity or functionality forces one to examine new options. And, as with menswear in general, the options are expanding. The actual form a man’s wallet has changed too much – billfold, pocket secretary, slim, or card sleeve – but the variety of materials and designs within those categories make choosing a new or alternative wallet much more interesting.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of wallets: the pocket secretary (tall and thin, it is designed to fit into the inside pocket of a suit coat; the international billfold (essentially a large square, this is a wide wallet with room for multiple cards and varying currency sizes); and the slim card sleeve (a minimalist wallet designed to hold only a few credit cards and identification).
Depending on your needs any one of these gets the job done on a day to day basis. Choosing a wallet today is actually easier than even a few years ago. While women have always had the luxury of a handbag in which to carry their everyday accouterments, men long suffered though bulging pockets and overstuffed wallets.
However, the rapid growth of the men’s everyday bag market means that there is less need to try and fit everything on earth into your back pocket. Your wallet, along with all the other stuff that historically weighed you down, can now be tossed in your bag.
On The Road
A variation on the breast pocket wallet is the travel or zip wallet. Typically oversized and intended to be carried in a bag, rather than on your person, these wallets serve a variety or purposes. From cash to boarding passes, to passports, travel wallets are a sort of one-handed holdall.
We have a fantastic version of this style from New York maker BillyKirk. The No. 217 is a large clutch-style wallet that zips open to reveal card slots; a zippered coin pouch; and space for tickets, currency, and receipts. Do women carry it too? Sure – but we don’t care. It was recommended by a very testosterone-heavy friend who who uses it as a “home base” wallet in his everyday bag. We often do the same, paired with a simple slotted card case for the more frequently used ID and a metro pass. Aesthetically, it’s a beauty. Daily use has lightened the bright tan belting leather aged into a scarred and worn medium brown. It still gets a lot of compliments, as does BillyKirk’s mastery of simple lines and clean functionality.
With the wallet now freed up, simplify the things you carry on your person. Opt for that slim card case – as mentioned above – or a pared-down billfold and carry just the necessities – maybe just a credit card, driver’s license, and insurance card.
Swedish brand Ulterior Motive makes a range of minimalist card case wallets for when you only need the essentials. They come in a variety of colors and materials, including leather and nylon. While simple and practical, UM’s design and personality show through in the brigh interior linings and occasional signature tag.
American maker Chester Mox (shown at top) offers a range of low-profile wallets that are both practically minimalist and casually elegant. The precise laser-cut designs, perfectly finished leathers, and flawless stitching are a bit mesmerizing. Really, a fantastic brand that should be better known.
Lastly, some men carry their cash in a classic money clip. This elegant option keeps cash separate from your credit cards, which is a good idea when traveling. We have previously delved into the money clip discussion in some detail. Click here to read our article on this timeless accessory.
Whatever type of wallet you choose, in whichever configuration best matches your needs, choose something you really like. A wallet, like all your most personal accessories, should be an investment. So, invest wisely.