Smythson Mara Flat Card Holder Review 2023


The Smythson Mara flat card case was the best wallet overall in my larger tested review best slim wallets for men. Learn more about why this sleek and sophisticated case was so impressive here.

Here’s a controversial opinion: A “digital” wallet is convenient, but cumbersome. Yes, you can pay for your latte (and most everything else) with your iPhone. But do you feel good doing it? Where’s the romance? Where’s the style? And while using a digital wallet can save you time—although I’m not sure it does—are we really so busy that we need to optimize every purchase?

The wallet is an accessory. It’s fashion. It’s a way to express yourself. And I like to change my wallet like (I imagine) Elton John chooses his glasses: according to my mood. Some days you want to announce yourself by throwing a large wallet on the table. Sometimes you want to travel light with a stylish card case that feels like luxury in an otherwise brutal time. The world is your oyster. And sometimes you want a wallet that can hold an Oyster card.

In the age of Venmo, a wallet makes a statement. That’s what the Smythson Mara Flat Card Holder does, which made it an easy choice for the best slim wallet for men. The Smythson is a handsome, stylish card case that feels as good in the hand as it slips into your pocket – a small miracle.

Type: Card case | Material: Crocodile embossed calf leather | Keep: 5 cards | Dimensions: 4.1″ x 2.75″ | Thickness (blank): 0.2″ | Thickness (full): .75″ | Warranty: Nothing


  • The man who wants to impress with a crocodile print look
  • Travel light with a couple of cards without change
  • A history buff who wants a heritage brand backed by the British Royal Family

Skip if

  • You don’t use your smartphone to save your vaccination card and boarding pass
  • You oppose the money clip and insist on stuffing your wallet with too much cash

A luxury wallet with a history

Great British brand Smythson has been in the leather goods business since the late 19th century and earned its first Royal Warrant from the Queen in 1964. I’m not sure what the Royal Warrant is, but presumably the Queen (may she rest in peace) knew quality. And this is well-made luxury at an affordable price. At just under 0.25 inches thick, the Smythson Mara case is also beautifully slim, with slots for five cards and enough cash for a driver. I would recommend a separate money clip for carrying anything other than a few bills; Too much cash sticking out the top ruins the clean lines of the wallet, and this is what elegance is all about.

Form and function

Let’s talk about ease of use. While I’m rarely in a rush, there’s nothing worse than going for a credit card (or ID card) with 300 pairs of eyes burning a hole in your back. I’m happy to report that wasn’t a problem here: the Smythson case manages to be slim without sacrificing functionality. The wallet is only 0.75 inches full, but I was able to get it out of my pocket and remove my American Express card in two seconds—both at home, where I ran these science tests, and at the local bookstore. before closing.

Most of Smythson’s wallets are made from Italian leather, which according to Nick Horween, a fifth-generation leather maker in Chicago, is noteworthy. “If a company is willing to tell you where the leather comes from,” he says, “it means they’ve invested in good raw material.” And although I’ve only had the Smythson for a few months, Michael Williams, who writes the influential men’s fashion newsletter A Continuous Lean, assures me that the leather softens over time (also a sign of quality). Although it pained me to run such an attractive wallet through the laundry as part of my testing process, I was relieved to see it survive with only a small amount of embossed leather, but no noticeable dull shine.

If looks could kill

Buying a wallet is an emotional choice. “At the end of the day,” says GQJim Moore, “a card case is fashion. It’s an extension of your personal style.” And if I’m honest, the crocodile-embossed leather – Smythson’s calling card – made me take myself a little more seriously and stand a little straighter. This card case is a beauty that would look at home in a trendy restaurant serving a $98 rib-eye, like the one at my local coffee shop, where the barista proclaimed it ” I was hoping he was talking about me, but I’ll take the compliment if I get it.

My expertise

I’m a wallet obsessive who has lost nights in line buying vintage Louis Vuitton wallets online, searching for the perfect second-hand heirloom (from someone else’s family history). I’m also obsessed with quality. For more than 20 years as a journalist, I have toured factories and interviewed leather manufacturers on several continents. The great gift of this job is the opportunity to get real experts on the horn. This assignment was no exception. To measure the best wallets for men, I interviewed a panel of experts, starting with Jim Moore, the legendary creative director. GQ -magazine and author of a coffee table book that happens to be on my coffee table, Hunks & Heroes –of his over 40 years in the magazine. I also interviewed Michael Williams (who writes an influential men’s fashion newsletter Continuous lean) and Nick Horween, vice president and director of quality at Horween Leather Company, a fifth-generation family business in Chicago.

How does it compare?

Both of the winners in my review – the Smythson Mara for Best Overall and the Bellroy Slim Sleeve for Best Value – are compact. Although it included four cards and $100 in $20 bills, neither was more than 0.75 inches thick. The difference comes down to looks, purpose and price (which are really all tied together). Bellroy (which is fun and well done) is running a daily shuttle at a great price. Smythson is a luxury product that feels luxurious in your hand; it tells the world (and yourself) that you care about aesthetics and taste. And it gets your heart racing, which elevates the otherwise harsh price of paying for a pint.

How I tested the best men’s wallet overall

When it came to testing the Smythson Mara Flat Card Holder, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just pretty to look at (although it certainly was). The case was so thin that I was afraid it might not work well; At 0.2 inches, it was the thinnest wallet I tested. While I wanted to avoid the George Costanza problem, I also needed it to double as a card case. But even with four cards and five bills inside, the wallet was still only 0.75 inches thick. I also drove myself to reach for my wallet and get my Amex card; The Smythson got the best result (although the task took less than 3 seconds for all the wallets I tested, so really it’s splitting hairs, or rather hiding).

The wallet was so small I was afraid I might forget it in my pants only to find it in the washing machine the next morning. But the Smythson’s sharp corners reminded me of its presence in my pocket. And while I don’t recommend sending it with the laundry, it made it. I ran mine through a 33 minute speed cycle and found cracks in the embossed leather, but the wallet’s shine remained bright. Less important, but worth mentioning: I also drove my car over the Smythson a dozen times in the driveway (to simulate wear and tear) and it worked fine. The stitches stayed tight and the leather didn’t scratch.

But so much was left of aesthetics. This was kind of my own test: which wallets did I reach for and which ones did I ignore? If I was going out for dinner or drinks or really any situation where I wanted to impress a guest, I always chose Smythson.

Can I monogram this wallet?

Yes, Smythson can be customized with embossed lettering (various fonts) for about $40. Put the wallet in your online cart, start the Purchase Process and receive customization instructions. Following his newsletter, Williams has several Smythson card cases, one of which is monogrammed with ACL. Translation: Have fun.

Should I buy a Smythson wallet on eBay?

“I wouldn’t buy,” Williams says, for the same reason he says. “I would never buy a camera on eBay. Authenticity is not guaranteed.”

Is the card case really big enough?

When it comes to size, Moore doesn’t mince words: “Nobody should carry a classic wallet. Block the wallet.” He wasn’t kidding. “You need your medical card, your driver’s license, a couple of cards. It’s time to move to the card holder. How does it slide into my pocket? It’s life changing.”

This wallet does not have RFID blocking technology. Is it a problem?

RFID refers to radio frequency identification, which allows fraudsters to steal your credit card information – like a digital pickpocket. Some wallets (like the Ridge and Leatherology in my in-depth review) are equipped with RFID blocking technology; this is not. I think this is due to your paranoia. As Williams says, “I don’t think anyone’s going to read things from my wallet.”

How much is too much to spend?

“Update your card case,” says Moore. “Do it for yourself. It sits in your pocket; it’s personal.” Moore revealed that he had recently convinced two people to give up a high-end card case. Both were apparently kicking and screaming.Now they say there’s never been anything in their wardrobe that they get more compliments on,” he said, adding, “I have the same philosophy when it comes to jackets: invest in a jacket. People will see you outside.”


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