Why do women’s pants have laughably tiny pockets?

For a long time my boyfriend would deride the tiny pockets in my RTW jeans & I’d always snarkily reply. I did not like it implied that my pants were somehow not as good than his. Silly, no?

Unsurprisingly, I was jealous of his longer pockets & frustrated that the pockets in my jeans were almost useless. I was trying to convince myself that my pockets were perfectly fine. See! My phone fit in them, even if it was bursting out. And I could fit my ENTIRE hands in them, even if I had to curl them up into fists to do it.

I could concoct silly stories about why women’s pockets are so much shorter than men’s- like they make them shorter to force us to buy purses & become dependent on this capitalist system we love! Or it could just be due to it being cheaper so they don’t have to spend as much buying extra fabric for longer pocket bags & we’re already so used to it that we don’t complain, whereas indignant men would lead an uprising against the entire fashion industry if their pockets were suddenly & systematically shortened because you know men are inherently violent & women always & only want peace so they silently put up with such indignities as short pockets.

Because of you I had to give up wearing pants. No one shortens my pocket bags & gets away with it you long pocket bag hoarder!

But that would all be wildly gross speculation based on beliefs I do not espouse. Although, it would be fun to see a little video or comic of men around the country running after pattern makers & clothing manufacturers as they tore oak tag & rusted scissors while swinging at dress forms like they were pinatas. Oooo, someone should make a dress form pinata for their birthday!

Ahhhh sewing. Thank gosh I have you as a hobby. My first few pairs of pants didn’t call for pockets. But my first two pairs of jeans, those I bequeathed with wondrously long pocket bags.

But after having sewn jeans, I’m wondering if there’s not a purpose to the shorty short pockets in women’s pants. My jeans with the longer pockets have one failing- the french seam at the bottom of the pocket bag shows through my pants. This does not a happy Mari make. It falls right across one of my largest stretches of thigh.

But none of my RTW pocket bag seams show through. None of my boyfriend’s pocket bag seams show through.

RTW jeans to the left, my 1st pair of home sewn jeans in the middle, my 2nd pair of home sewn jeans to the right. Note that the pocket bags extend all the way to the bottom of the fabric. The curved stitching higher up on the fabric secures the pocket appliqué to the bag.
RTW jeans to the left, my 1st pair of home sewn jeans in the middle, my 2nd pair of home sewn jeans to the right. Note that the pocket bags extend all the way to the bottom of the fabric. The curved stitching higher up on the fabric secures the pocket appliqué to the bag.

Is it possible that pocket bags are shorter because a longer bag would show through our tighter cut jeans? The bag is so short it often ends right where our hips bend to meet our legs- a spot that tends to a have a little more ease than the thighs do.  Does that extra ease hide the pocket bag seam?

Men’s jeans do tend to be looser overall. Is that why they have luxuriously long pockets? When you’ve had to deal with teensy pockets for years & suddenly have usefully long ones, it feels luxurious, glorious even.

One thing I don’t know is where men’s skinny jeans fit in. One of the many reasons I’m with my boyfriend is that he doesn’t wear skinny jeans, so I can’t just go raid his closet for answers.

My jeans on the left, my boyfriend's jeans on the right.
My home sewn jeans on the left, my boyfriend’s jeans on the right.

Do men’s skinny jeans also have ridiculously short pockets? I no longer work in the part of downtown Chicago that’s home to most of our art schools (universities to you ladies across the sea), which means I’m no longer surrounded on a daily basis by skinny-jean-wearing-chain-smoking hipsters. And the most I can remember from that time is being appalled- like looking at a train wreck- of pants so tight that you can see every part of a boy’s anatomy. I wasn’t really paying attention to where their pockets might fall, only thinking with horror about how even I didn’t own pants THAT tight.

Do any of you have access to or have noticed the pockets on men’s skinny jeans? Do you agree with my theory on why women’s pocket bags might be shorter due to less ease in the leg of pants patterns? Will someone make me a dress form pinata & fill it with buttons, lace & silk thread?


22 thoughts on “Why do women’s pants have laughably tiny pockets?

  1. I never paid attention to pocket differences… Doesn’t seem right! But I also lug everything around in my purse. I always figured I didn’t need any more bulges than I already had!

  2. I’ve got the long pocket bags on my jeans (I only have 2 pairs of RTW-ancient and I only wear one of them-its a Guess made in Turkey from..2008 X). Normal (well made) RTW pockets have a fold at the bottom not a seam and the side seams sit at the hip seam (on the hip side) and behind the fly facing (in the centre) so they don’t show. Just cut your pocket bags on the fold.

    • That’s interesting. Of the several RTW jeans I own, I think all of the them have the seam at the bottom & the fold along the length of the pocket bag- with the other side of the bag being sewn straight into the side seam. And that’s how I was instructed to make them in Kenneth King’s Craftsy course for cloning a favorite pair of jeans. I wonder if moving the seam to the length of the bag instead of the bottom would look better- you know vertical lines across your thighs instead of horizontal.

  3. Hmmm, I havn’t had the wherewithall to go up to a stranger and ask to see the inside of his skinny jeans….however, I can tell you I’m sewing a pair of Burda pants (not jeans, but dress pants) and I ended up shortening and narrowing the back slash/welt pockets. So, yes, now it is fairly difficult to put anything in there except for a credit card, but it is now not going to be in the way of the side seams or won’t hit that, “where my butt creases” mark. Lol.

  4. I’ve been TOLD that women shouldn’t use their pockets. It makes unflattering bulges. Not that I pay any attention. Instead of french seams, try regular stitching and zig zag the seam allowance. Or, ya know, use a serger. I don’t have a serger but the straight stitch/zig zag combo has worked for me in high stress areas (like a bulging pocket perhaps?).

  5. Ugh!! I was just yesterday cursing my shallow pocket jeans when a $20 floated out and landed on the ground. Thank goodness I saw it or I would have been very, very angry!

  6. I always figured women’s RTW pants had small pockets because we aren’t suppose to carry things in them. We have purses for that (or possibly a partner’s coat pockets). But I like to stuff my hands in my pockets. It’s warmer there (my fingers are always cold), and it keeps me from fidgeting too much… If my hands aren’t busy or in pockets, I kinda feel they are just sort of flopping at the ends of my arms. I never know what to do with them! Probably should always have a cocktail on hand for such things…

    • My hands get cold too. And I never liked the idea that I wasn’t supposed to have real pockets because of course I’d have a purse with me- I have a bad back so going purse-less & relying on my pockets is rather nice.

  7. Good questions! I think you are probably on the right track with the way the small pockets don’t show. Big pockets are SOOOO nice though. I’ve made two pairs of wide leg pants with big pockets and they don’t show. One was in a lightweight poly and the other is a heavy corduroy. The cords even have a seam in the pocket bag and you can’t see it.

    A Dressform Pinata!! Sewing meet up at my house and we’ll have a great party! Can’t you imagine all us sewing bloggers diving like little kids for all the sewing goodies spilling out everywhere!

    • I’m thinking of making wide leggged ones next. Glad to hear you had good luck with the pockets in yours. I think running for the goodies from a sewing pinata might get violent! Still, that would be so much fun!

  8. I think you have hit upon it. Small pockets so they don’t show; small pockets because women, for the most part, don’t carry stuff in their pants pockets because it spoils the line of slim pants.

  9. Hmm, I think you may be on to something! I like short pockets in my jeans because most of them end up as cutoffs and then if the pocket is too long, it hangs out. But I also don’t keep anything bigger than some lip chap in there. My phone lives in a sweater pocket. 😉

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