A portrait type that appeared with relentless frequency in eighteenth-century England is the familiar image of a gentleman poised with one hand inside his partially unbuttoned waistcoat. Standard interpretations of this portrait posture offer observations of correspondence – demonstrating either that it mirrors actual social behavior or that it borrows from classical statuary. Such explanations, however, illuminate neither the source of this curious convention nor the reason for its popularity. It is true that in real life the "hand-in" was a common stance for elite men. Still, there were other ways of comporting the body that did not become winning portrait formulas. And even if the "hand-in" portrait does resemble certain classical statues, what accounts for the adoption of this particular pose?