How come women’s jeans still lack pockets that are big enough for everyday items?


Shopping is an extremely hard task for me. I want specific things, and if I don’t find them I don’t buy anything. Recently, I’ve been in need of a new pair of jeans, and wanted one with proper pockets: big enough to fit my phone and wallet at the minimum. Simple, right? Not really.

A lot of jeans for women these days have little to no pockets – usually made to give women a slimmer-looking figure. Especially in skinny jeans, pockets, if they even exist, are only big enough to fit credit cards. With smartphones, the pockets are useless, requiring women to carry bags or purses.

An ad for jeans in 1977.

According to a study in 2016 by Business Insider, women’s jeans cost 10% more then men’s. Women also have to pay a minimum of 15 dollars for a purse. So they have to spend more money on clothes in general.

I personally hate carrying a bag when I have almost nothing to carry with me. It also slows me down: when I am in a hurry, carrying a bag feels restrictive. Women’s jeans do usually have bigger back pockets, but it doesn’t make sense to put things there, because of theft and general discomfort when sitting down.

The first pockets for men were sewn onto trousers in the 17th century, while women had to tie small “pockets” (pouches) around their waists, under their skirts called “petticoats.” These pockets were filled with many things, they were more like a bag in that manner: money, jewelry, pocket watches, food, pencils, even knives and scissors.

How did women reach into their “pockets?” Women’s petticoats had openings at the seams. So instead of sewing pockets to the dresses, they tied one around their waist and opened a hole in their dresses. Huh.

An ancient “pocket.” /

As skirts got slimmer, women started carrying “reticules,” tiny handbags with drawstrings, decorated with beading and embroidery.

The first women’s jeans were introduced in 1934 by Levi’s, which had proper pockets and were mostly used by farmers. As they started appearing in movies, the jeans went from a farmers item to fashionable and rebellious pieces. Women in the public eye, like Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, and Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Princess Alexandra started wearing jeans. A vintage model, the Levi’s 501’s still exist and are sold in Levi’s stores with pockets but the denim is so rigid that buying the jeans is not worth it. As jeans got tighter in the 70s, pockets started to disappear.

Princess Alexandra wearing jeans, 1954.

In my search for jeans with pockets, I gave up and handed the job to my sister, an aspiring fashion designer. She came home that day with a pair of Anthropologie jeans. The pockets left an eighth of my iPhone 6 outside, but they did the job. Oh, and did I mention that they were “boyfriend” jeans?

Women, unfortunately, frequently encounter fake pockets: whether it’s in jeans, jeggings, or coats. But men clearly don’t.

A reader asked GQ in August 2008 why his off-the-rack wool trousers had sewn pockets that couldn’t be opened. The men’s magazine answered: “Whenever pockets are sewn shut, it’s so people trying on the garment don’t shove their hands into them. Pockets are for owners only.” Even the reasoning behind the shut pockets is different. While women’s pockets are sewn shut for a slimming effect, men’s pockets are sewn shut because the pockets are for owners only. The answer continues: “Cut the threads very carefully. If you think you might not be able to, which may be a possibility given the nature of your question, get a girl to do it for you. They come in handy in such matters.” Sure, I’ll just grab my scissors from my pockets – oh wait, I don’t have any.

New York Times bestselling author Rabia Chaudry wrote on Twitter on July 1st: “I am a […] woman who wishes her clothing had as many pockets (NOT FAKE POCKETS) as my toddler’s clothing does because surprise he doesn’t even know how to use them.” Many were quick to comment about their own experiences with fake pockets.

Doesn’t this hand seem a little forced? Photo from Fashion Jackson.

In May this year, another Twitter user wrote: “Ladies, the pockets on these man jeans go on forever. They are like wells. We are so happy when they throw any pocket at us but I am telling you we need to demand more.”

She is right. We should demand more, especially when the demand is this simple, and has been talked about for a long while. An article published by the New York Times on August 28th, 1899 read: “The world demands more pockets than it has. The women have none, and if they ever get within hailing distance of equality with men must have dozens.” Of course the article wasn’t talking about jean pockets, but it’s still pockets.

“I think they’re going to start making pockets with thinner materials in skinny jeans so it doesn’t look weird and it’s also functional.” said my sister, the upcoming designer. I hope so, or I’m shopping in the men’s section.


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