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Words: Liza Corsillowww.gq.com
Right now you can pay for everything with a card and get miles in the process, scan business receipts and expenses with an app, and connect your Starbucks gift card to another—yet we still see guys cramming bulky wallets thick with useless bits of paper and cardboard into their pants. The only way to break the cycle is to ditch the bifold for something that lets you carry only the essentials. That something is a card holder.
The best card holders succeed at four tasks: They snugly hold credit cards and office I.D. They give you easy access to all that stuff. They have a slot for stashing some cash (because you still can't tip a bellhop with an Amex). And they look great. Smythson's Mara card holder is our favorite, bringing together sophisticated British style with precise Italian manufacturing.
It's like your wallet went on a diet: Smythson's Mara card holder is incredibly thin, so much so that it practically goes unnoticed when slid into pants, shirt, and jacket pockets. (Carrying around a fat wad of bills is no longer the sign of a rich man, it's the sign of a man with a weird bulge in his pants.) We like that the two pockets on the front let you divvy up credit cards and the rest of the lot.
Its efficient design makes life easier: Notice how the wallet is built around that center pocket and the wallet notches in at the top? That notch makes the deep center pocket more easily accessible, so you won't struggle in front of your date when pulling out a fiver for the valet. It also frees up a few millimeters on either end where your cards go, ensuring a quick draw everywhere from the subway to a five-star restaurant.
It's equally impressive under the hood: The holder's durable mahogany brown leather hails from Italy, where it's stretched, embossed with a subtle (yet swervy) crocodile pattern, and carefully turned into a wallet with reinforced stitching at the top corners and waxed edges to avoid splitting. They're small touches that'll ensure your card holder lasts almost as long as that half-punched Sweetgreen rewards card.
$195, buy it now at smythson.com
Swipe forward for a three more card holders we like.
Maybe you're the type of guy who hands out a lot of business cards, or maybe you want a slot in your card holder just for your Soho House membership card. Whatever the reason, the extra two card slots on the taller-than-normal Jack Spade Grant Leather card holder offer a little more room for your most important pieces of plastic. Like Jack Spade's bulletproof bags, it's built to withstand years of everyday wear. Plus, the warm gray leather is a welcome change from a market full of generic black and brown.
$78, buy it now at amazon.com
At $35, Skagen's caramel leather card case is your best bet if you want to overhaul your wallet, but don't want to spend everything in it to do so. The minimalist design and stealth branding are what we'd expect the Danish brand behind some of our favorite—and affordable—sleek watches, but it's not only for looks. The Skagen's demi-lune slot (half-moon if you don't want to sound fancy) makes pulling out a card lightning quick, so you won't hold up the line at Chipotle during lunch rush.
$35, buy it now at nordstrom.com
Like any product wearing a Tom Ford logo, this grained leather holder feels rich. And exquisitely made. And almost too nice to shove into the back pocket of a pair of jeans. Like the Jack Spade card holder above, this one comes with extra space, the back boasts a convenient zip pocket just right for storing change or a condom (but not both), and a cleverly designed bottom card slot shaped like a T. If you want a piece of the TF experience but aren't yet in the position to drop $5,000 on a suit, this is the best way to satisfy your label thirst.
$250, buy it now at mrporter.com