Things to Know About a Gentleman’s Chest

Beth Rice 04/02/2021

Let’s start with clarifying that as we dig into things to know about a gentleman’s chest, we are of course talking about the furniture, not a gentleman’s chest of the human kind either with or sans hair.

I like to think of a gentleman’s chest as a quiet piece full of function, quiet because we don’t often talk about “men’s furniture” and full of function because the gentleman’s chest of yesterday can be used in several new ways today.

What is a gentleman’s chest?

A gentleman’s chest is so named for its tall cabinet section that offers enough length to hang dress pants, ties, suits, and other hanging clothing. The design features a column of drawers with a large cabinet for hanging clothes beside the drawers. Some chests have a rod for hanging clothes, while others have shelves instead. Many models also feature drawers at the base of the chest as well as a small stand on top for storing hats.

Inspiration for the gentleman’s chest came during the Victorian era. Let’s think of men’s wardrobes at that time, particularly, affluent men. Their wardrobes included not only pants and shirts, but a plethora of accessories including gloves, hats, caps, cravats or neckties, and bowties, not to mention accessories like monogrammed handkerchiefs, wallets, pocket watches and pipes.

The need to organize and store the many components of a man’s wardrobe at the time brought forth the gentleman’s chest.

Is a bachelor’s chest the same as a gentleman’s chest?

Not to be mistaken for a gentleman’s chest, the bachelor’s chest features a slightly different design. Early models from the late 17th century featured graduated drawers with a hinged top that could fold outward to be used as a writing surface.

The bachelor’s chest is smaller and narrower than the gentleman’s chest, with just 3 to 4 drawers and no cabinet for hanging clothes. The original design was intended for someone who doesn’t need a lot of clothing storage, hence the bachelor title. Drawers provide room for the essentials from shirts to toiletries.  Often bachelor’s chests can be used as nightstands for their smaller size and storage. Initially they were just the right storage for a bachelor pad that was assumed to be a smaller space.

Are gentleman’s chests still made and used?

While men’s wardrobes are likely not as large as those men used during Victorian times, gentleman’s chests are still made and in use. With the storage they offer, there are new ways of using this attractive storage chest throughout your home.

What are some new ways to use a gentleman’s chest?

Storage for small bedrooms

The combination of drawers and cabinet in a gentleman’s chest can add just the right storage to a small bedroom or guest room.

As a stand in closet

The gentleman’s chest is a good storage solution to use if there’s no closet space or a small closet.

Hallway storage for seasonal clothing

This style chest offers a great space for mittens, scarves, beanies and other fall and winter clothing to be tucked away during the warmer months.

As additional storage

With the variety of small, medium and large drawers with added cabinet space, a gentleman’s chest of drawers can add storage throughout the home. In bedroom, guest bedroom, hallway, family room or living room, this handy cabinet has the room to hold items in a range of sizes.

New Ways to Use a Bachelor’s Chest

As a nightstand

With just a few drawers and its smaller size, bachelor’s chests have become a nice choice to serve as nightstands.

As end tables

Many can fit alongside the sofa or in living room corners to host lamps. The drawers can come in handy to store DVDs, music, video games and more.

As additional storage around the home

Imagine a bachelors chest set up in the hallway or foyer with a mirror, perhaps a lamp and some family photos on top? The drawers can serve well for items like keys, phone chargers and other things to grab quickly on your way out the door. Three drawers can come in handy in many spaces throughout the home.

There you have it, the things to know about a gentleman’s chest (and a bachelor’s chest). Would one come in handy in your home?

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