A Man’s Wallet (+ Kenton Sorenson Wallet Giveaway)

by Antonio on February 14, 2012 · 4,523 comments

in Accessories, Dress & Grooming, Giveaway

Picture this: you’re talking to a small group of people.  Things are going great–in fact you feel this could really lead to something big.  Then someone asks for your business card.

You reach into your pocket and pull out……a huge lump of nylon and duct tape with tattered receipts and dozens of dollar bills sticking out from the corners.  Fumbling through the tightly wound ball of “important” items carried “just in case,” you finally manage to find a card after 5 minutes of searching. It’s marked up and bent, but hey–it’s a card, right?

Not a great impression, eh?

Photo credit – Ellisar over at Deviant Art

If you’ve had the same wallet since seventh grade, perhaps it is time to invest in something a little more mature and appropriate.

A gentleman’s wallet needs to be two things:

1) Functional

2) Presentable

Both of these have a lot to do with what you’re carrying, so get ready to clean house.

Functional:  What Your Wallet Needs

If you’re guilty of carrying around a George Constanza wallet, one that’s stuffed to the brim, waiting to explode and blow all your “important” papers to the wind, then you really should consider going through your wallet and stripping it down to its bare essentials. Because not only does an overstuffed wallet look kind of silly when you pull it out in public, it also does a number on your clothing and appearance when it’s being carried around in your pocket. A giant wallet in the back pocket of your pants makes sitting down uncomfortable and your backside look like it’s growing an unsightly tumor. Carrying an overstuffed wallet in your coat pocket weighs you down on one side, making the jacket’s shoulders a little lopsided. And regardless of the pocket you put it in, a heavy wallet will create creases that shorten the lifespan of the garment.

So if you want to streamline your wallet, how do you figure out what should stay and what should go? Here are some suggested guidelines:

Items Every Gentleman’s Wallet Should Have

CashAlthough credit cards and other forms of electronic payment have become dominant in how we exchange money, cold hard cash is still widely accepted and in some instances preferred.  It’s fast, convenient, and from a vendor’s perspective has no processing fee (which is why you see discounts occasionally).   Cash is king when it comes to tips and paying for quick services where electronic payment forms require extra time and you would rather just pay and be on your way.

IdentificationStick to the bare minimum here.  A driver’s license/state identification card should be your default.  You may need a second ID for your job or school, but try to stop there.  No need to carry your international driver’s licenses or passport unless you’re in a foreign country.  And even then I prefer to keep a photocopy and leave my original in a hotel safe or other secure area.

Credit Cards - Carry 1-2 credit or debit cards.  Here is where a lot of people go overboard–in fact the average American has 7 cards!  You do not need to carry your Visa, Mastercard,  American Express, Discover, and 3 fuels cards with you at all times. However, I do like to carry both a debit and credit card.  Although my debit card can be used as a credit card, certain companies will not allow you to use it as a deposit card (car rental services when you are out of state–my experience).  Also the better credit cards offer a wide variety of protections not offered to debit card purchases.

Business Cards - Have them with you at all times–even if you’re unemployed or at a social event.  People want to connect, and no successful man is an island.  If you don’t have a specific title or position, get a set of calling cards with your name, phone number, and e-mail.  You don’t usually need more than a few in your wallet, as the ones here are for random opportune moments.  If you expect to be handing out more than 3, carry a business card case.  Carrying more than 5 cards in a wallet can build up bulk fast.   Although there are apps out there making business cards obsolete, adoption of the technology is still in its infancy.   Even at tech savvy events like SXSW in Austin I found less than 5% of people using the technology.

Photos of Loved Ones A great personal motivator and reminder to carry close, the only warning is that anything you carry in your wallet should be a copy–never the original.

Items to Leave Out of Your Wallet

Discount, club membership, library, and medical cards should be left at home unless you’re making a specific trip and know you’ll need them.  My wife and I actually have a system where we keep all these cards in our minivan (we have 2 vehicles–but I rarely use my truck).  In the event we need them and forgot to bring them in, we simply walk back out to the vehicle and retrieve them.

Social Security Card – This isn’t just wasted space; it’s a bad idea.  You don’t ever need this for I.D. purposes, except when you’re actually proving residency status for legal reasons.  Keep it somewhere safe at home–not in your wallet.

Condoms – Keeping condoms for long periods in your wallet only damages them.  If you need to have some on hand, store them in your vehicle.

Coins – Unless you’re in a country where coin usage is a larger part of society for transportation (I feel for you guys over in Europe)–leave the coins at home.  An exception to this is if you’re headed out to a bar and may possibly run into another military man–then carry a military coin so you can brandish it and have the first round bought by your new (or old) friend.

Receipts – If you like to keep them for your records, transfer them immediately from your wallet to a folder as soon as you get home.  Week to year old receipts don’t have any place in your pocket.

Technology Note

Just because I do not carry the above items does not mean I do not have access to the information.  Using my smart phone, I keep scanned copies of important cards and files on a secure cloud-based service which I can access from anywhere.  Just the other day I had a receptionist make a photocopy of my daughter’s medical insurance card that was displayed on my iPhone via Dropbox.  There are many ways to do this–just remember to think through the security of the system you set up.  A lapse of security here could easily lead to identity theft.

Presentability:  What a Good Wallet Looks Like

The Right Wallet for the Right Job

Not all wallets are created equal.  Your slim day-to-day billfold won’t hold larger papers and tickets when you travel.  A polyester and velcro wallet with your alma mater’s football insignia is fine for shopping on a Saturday but won’t make the best impression at a business lunch.

A quick overview of wallet styles–and yes, a man can own various styles that suit his particular needs:

Billfolds – Your basic bi-fold or tri-fold wallet in plain black leather is a reliable workhorse.  It’s perfectly acceptable in just about any social or business setting and holds the daily essentials year after year.  Simple, elegant, timeless.  Your go-to wallet.

Below is a neat one from an Esty craftsman who will customize the handmade wallet with a quotation of your choice:

Sport Wallets – Usually made from a synthetic weave, these wallets are made in brighter colors and with features for men who need to ensure the contents of the wallet stay put.  They also can feature straps to secure them to the individual, can be water resistant, and utilize velcro and zippers.  Reserve these wallets for times when their functionality is a requirement–not when wearing a dinner jacket.

Super Slim Wallets – Recently I’ve seen the rise of simple and slim wallets.  Some are made from leather, but can only hold at most a few cards and bills.  Others are made from paper-thin, ultra-strong materials and are almost an empty form given shape by the wallet contents.  The goal is the same–make the wallet smaller and a man will by necessity carry less.  A good philosophy, and one I recommend for those who can’t seem to keep their traditional billfolds slim.

Kenton Sorenson Card Wallet

Money Clip – Often underrated, metal clips are even slimmer than wallets and can be eye-catching if you find a good one.  They also fit better in a jacket pocket than most billfolds. If you’re looking for one that’s truly unique, search Etsy.com for hundreds of interesting handmade options. There are even money clips out there like the one below that double as knives!

Creditor Carbon Fiber Money Clip Knife

Travel Wallets – These are usually built larger to accommodate tickets and international passports.  They also come with an attached clip or neck thong to help prevent theft or misplacement.  Travel wallets aren’t practical for daily use, but they’re invaluable when you travel, especially as a family man carrying paperwork and IDs for 5 people.

Saddleback Passport Wallet

Wallet/Phone Case – You’ve got a handkerchief, pocket knife, wallet and goodness knows what else in your pockets (seriously, check out what AoMers carry in their pockets each day)…add in having to carry a phone as well, and things start to get pretty bulky. That’s why a wallet that doubles as a phone case can be a smart move.

Portel iPhone Wallet

Stylistically, each of these wallet types comes in an almost infinite range of builds and colors.  Your tastes might run anywhere from alligator skin to recycled materials, but just remember the darker and simpler the wallet, the more formal it is.

I recommend at least a plain leather billfold; beyond that let your personal tastes be your guide.  A little character never hurt a man’s wallet — as long as it’s kept functional and stylish.

Have Tony talk you through the post:

_______________________________________

The Kenton Sorenson Wallet Giveaway

If your current wallet needs to be replaced with something nicer, you’re in luck. Kenton Sorenson is giving away one of their handsome wallets to one lucky AoM reader.

Kenton Sorenson’s leather goods are crafted in the USA with pure vegetable-tanned leather from a 130-year-old Midwestern tannery. Each article is cut, oiled, conditioned with beeswax, and hand-stitched using a heavy thread. The wallets feature simple, timeless designs, and the light leather is made to darken over time.

What’s Up for Grabs

Any of the wallets available in Kenton Sorenson’s collection, from their front pocket wallet ($90) to their classic wallet ($100) to their iPhone wallet ($140).

How to Enter

Leave a comment on this post sharing what you carry in your wallet. It might take awhile for your comment to appear–please be patient and do not submit multiple comments.

One winner will be randomly drawn from the comments. Giveaway ends February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am CST.

UPDATE: Contest is Closed. Winner will be announced on the AoM Trunk.

4501 Rich February 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm

DL
Credit Card – Personal
Credit Card – Business
Insurance Card
Business Cards
Cash

4502 Nicholas Kasarda February 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I always carry these things:
1. two debit cards
2. $20-15 bucks
3. Licence
4.Fire arms license
5. receipts for the month till they are filed
Hope I win!!!

4503 Jeffrey Mastronardi February 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I carry my ID card, a business card for me, one credit card, one debit card, a business card a remembrance for a loved one, cash, all in a money clip that also holds sentimental value. Very easy, functional, aesthetically pleasing. Have carried it like this for a few years now.

4504 Daniel I February 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Currently carry a special order hidden badge/ID wallet that also holds cash, two credit cards, and has an ID window for driver’s license.

4505 Brad February 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm

-Debit card
-Credit card
-Red Cross blood donor card
-DC metro card
-Student ID
-Driver’s license
-Lucky $2 bill my grandfather gave me when I was 5
-Cash

4506 Matthew H February 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

-driver’s license
-CCW permit
-debit card(s)
-picture of wife & son
-vehicle & health insurance id’s
-cash (when I have any)
-various other id’s, frequent buyer cards, or receipts as needed

4507 Zan February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I keep my driver’s license, student ID, a credit card, and a little cash in my wallet.

4508 christopher (@twistedxtian) February 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Far too many things. credit, debit, library, driver’s licence, cash, health card, business cards, proxy card for building access, student id, and the list goes on. After reading this I feel the need to do some purging.

4509 Philip February 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

cash
credit card
license
gas card
metro card
just the essentials

4510 Chad Brown February 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I carry most of the things I would need. I also carry a few treasured pieces of a dollar bill that was split between some good friends and I years ago. When we are all together one of us usually asks if we all have our pieces of a dollar. We have all always had ours. Good friends are hard to find.

4511 Dan February 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I keep way too many old receipts and empty gift cards. I really need to start carrying a smaller wallet to force me to cut out the unnecessary stuff.

4512 Mr. Saenz February 28, 2012 at 12:08 am

Drivers license
Subway points card
Theater points card
Debit card
Picture of whichever darling I happen to be dating.
Mechanic info

4513 Bagnew February 28, 2012 at 12:12 am

Debit Card
Library Card
Driver’s License
Student ID
Cash (including coins, because we use them here in NZ)
Business Cards

4514 Alex V February 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

I always carry My ID, Cash, a toothpick, A Guitar Pick, and Debit Card.

4515 thump February 28, 2012 at 7:53 am

Credit Card
Debit Card
A couple of rewards cards for businesses I eat lunch at frequently
Picture of my wife
Cash in my pocket
I need a new wallet though..good timing.

4516 Mark February 28, 2012 at 10:23 am

too much, really.

DL
credit card
debit card
discount cards – B&N, Brooks Bros, Best Buy, Cosi, movies
AAA card
insurance cards and doctor/dentist cards
metro card
maybe an atm receipt (to record at home)
business cards
a reminder to “Play Like a Champion Today”

4517 Bryan February 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm

DL
Cash
Credit Card x3
Debit Card x2
Costco Card
AAA
Single photo of my wife from the year we started dating

4518 jordan February 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

as I currently do not use a wallet or own one for that fact i carry in my front coat pocket…
2 debit cards
DL
health card
registartion card for massage therapy association
benefits card
cpl receipts
costco card
first aid cpr card
coffee card

4519 JT February 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Drivers License
School ID card
Debit Card
Fishing/Firearms license (depending on time of year)
$
band aidx2
reload-able subway card

4520 Joe Keegan February 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Cash
Visa
Libary cards
social security card
Driving license
Charity Raffle tickets (to sell to friends and co-workers)
A piece of straw from Christmas crib in pro cathedral, Dublin. Local superstition is that it will bring good luck and fill your wallet with money. I am afraid that I am still waiting for the this to come true!

4521 Jesse February 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Lets see,
50 Emergency bucks, 40 “gas” dollars, a debit /check card, insurance cards, drivers licence, and school I.D.
yeah i think that’s it. Oh, and also my lucky 5 leaf clover.

4522 Brian February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Nice wallets

4523 Brian February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Id, cash, 2 credit cards and business cards

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