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6 Different Types of Jean Pockets

Black and white photo of jeans pockets

At first glance, jeans seem pretty darn simple. They are just pants, after all. But the truth is, there’s so much going on with jeans. There are different fits and different styles, different washes and all kinds of different leg openings. And when it comes to the pockets…well, they can actually change everything about how your jeans look on your body. It’s time to learn everything about types of jean pockets, how they change the way your jeans look and why they matter so much.

The Story So Far

Close up of jeans pocket

Jeans were introduced to the world by Levi Strauss, a retailer, and Jacob Davis, a tailor. The two took out a patent for their work pants in 1873, which were reinforced with copper rivets. The pants were an instant hit and became popular with miners, ranchers and working men of all types. Jeans have since become a staple of many wardrobes. Pretty much everyone has worn them. And since Levi Strauss introduced them to the world through his store, others have come along to make their own version of jeans.

Pockets were already part of the design when Levi Strauss created them. Levi’s helped define traditional jeans pocket styling and is known for offering five-pocket designs. But pockets go back quite a bit further in history than blue jeans. Long before that patent was filed, people were working on perfecting the pocket through generations of clothing items.

When Did Pockets Become a Part Of It?

Rear view of person wearing jeans with pockets

Nearly five centuries ago in the 1600s, pockets were not a part of clothing. They were actually an entirely separate item, a small bag that was tied on between a skirt and a petticoat, or in men’s clothing placed under or over the tunic and attached to a belt or the tunic itself. By the 1800s, women’s pockets had turned into something to wear outside the clothing. Now, they were called reticules and they were heavily embellished. These would go on to inspire purses.

For men, it was just the opposite. Pockets had become a part of their clothing and something inside the clothing, rather than outside of it, a style women wouldn’t adopt until the 1920s.

Person wearing jeans in city setting

The most common styling for jeans are four-pocket and five-pocket styles. In traditional four-pocket configurations, there are two front pockets and two back pockets. In five-pocket styling, there is one extra pocket in addition to these four: a small pocket inside one of the front pockets.

About That Fifth Pocket

Traditional jeans, and traditional pants for that matter, have four pockets. There are usually two pockets on the rear end and two front pockets. But then…there’s that fifth pocket sometimes. It’s inside the front pocket and it’s tiny. What in the world is that thing for?

The fifth pocket is also known as the patch pocket, the watch pocket and the coin pocket, which tells you what the pocket is supposed to be used for.

Different Types of Jean Pockets

Once you start noticing pockets on jeans, you’re not going to be able to stop. There are different shapes, different placements all sorts of different details and little differences that can make a big difference in the way your jeans look on your body. Which types of pockets are going to flatter your body and which ones aren’t going to look so hot? Get to know all the different types of pockets you’ll find on jeans and you’ll get to be an expert on jeans pockets.

Carpenter

Signature by Levi Strauss & Co Men's Carpenter Jean, Light, 36x32

Also known as utility pockets, carpenter pockets are on the upper thighs of the jeans, on the sides of the legs. These pockets provide extra storage space for tools. They’re sized to be larger than other sizes of pockets, even patch pockets.

Fashion

Ariat Men's M4 Low Rise Boot Cut Jean, Coltrane Durango, 32W x 32L

Fashion pockets may be in any size or shape. What makes them stand out is that they are highly embellished and decorative. They may have contrast stitching or beadwork, for example.

Flap

HUDSON Women's Collin Mid Rise Skinny Jean, with Back Flap Pockets RP, Obscurity, 29

 

Flap pockets have a little flap of fabric covering the top of the pocket. This adds volume to the rear end, which can make it appear slightly bigger. Women who are not curvy appreciate this effect. Some flap pockets may have buttons or snaps.

Oval

Moda Xpress Juniors Size Khaki Beige Mid Rise Butt Lifting Push-Up Stretchy Skinny Jeans 10840C

Oval pockets are not really oval in shape but they have slightly rounded and pointed bottoms. They have a somewhat slimmer profile than more traditional rear pockets, which can have a bit of a slimming effect on wider backsides.

Patch

Laurie Felt Women's Silky Denim High Waisted Patch Pocket Baby Bell Jeans Pants, Shaded Dark, XL

Patch pockets are larger in size than traditional pockets. Jeans may have front patch pockets, rear patch pockets or both. These larger pockets hold more items but they also add more bulk to your hips and your rear end.

Traditional

Levi's Men's 501 Original Fit Jeans, Medium Stonewash (Waterless), 34W x 30L

Traditional jeans pockets have a distinct shape that has become synonymous with blue jeans. These pockets look like squares but with a bottom line that comes down in a small, wide point. This is the style you’ll find most often on jeans and it’s considered to be a classic look.

Pockets for Your Body Type

The shape of your body can be enhanced by pockets. On the other hand, some pocket styles can be unflattering. Choosing the right types of jean pockets will make your jeans look even better on you…and isn’t that the entire point of wearing jeans?

Lee Men's Performance Series Extreme Motion Straight Fit Tapered Leg Jean, Maverick, 36W x 32L

Hourglass

If you have an hourglass shape, meaning that you have a small waist with well-proportioned curves, you can wear just about any style of jeans pockets you like. Smaller pockets will probably work best, however. Large patch pockets tend to add more volume, which women who have curvier hips and thighs may not want. Smaller pockets add less volume and bulk and make your curves just a little bit visually smaller.

Pear

If you have a pear-shaped body with hips that are larger than your bustline and an ample rear end, look for pockets that are set straight onto the back of the jeans. This creates an illusion of flattening your bottom and making it appear smaller. Stick to larger back pockets for larger rear ends. It may be tempting to buy smaller pockets but this will make your backside look larger. Also, look for simple pocket designers, rather than embellished designs. Embellished designs also tend to emphasize the rear end.

Petite

If you have a smaller backside that you’d rather emphasize, look for flap pockets. This will add volume and give your bottom a more rounded look. Embellished pockets also help emphasize this area. Pockets that have volume and bulk will make your rear look larger.

No Pockets?

Some jeans styles skip all of this and simply have no pockets whatsoever. This is the least flattering style on every single body type. The most beautiful figures in the world don’t look good in jeans that lack pockets entirely. Do your curves a favor and don’t wear jeans that don’t have pockets.

FAQs

Close up of front jeans pocket

Jean pockets are more complicated than they first appear. There are lots of different designs and types and the pockets have a different effects on you. So if you still have questions about jean pockets, we’ve got answers to the most frequently asked stuff about jean pockets.

What is the 5th pocket on jeans for?

The fifth pocket has long been a mystery even to strict jeans wearers. According to Levi’s, the pocket has been used for all sorts of tasks over the years and it’s been given multiple names. But the pocket was originally created to hold pocket watches. The little denim pocket provided protection for cowboys and other working types who needed to know what time it was.

Where should rear jean pockets sit?

Where your rear jeans pockets sit has a big effect on how you look. The pockets should end before they reach your thigh. Otherwise, they will create an effect that makes your rear end look droopy.

Can you repair jeans pockets?

Small holes, frays and rips in jean pockets can be repaired sometimes by simply sewing them up or patching them. However, repairs are noticeable. This is why some people integrate patches into the design of the jeans and make repairs look somewhat decorative.

Sources:

Denim Hunters – Five-pocket jeans

History of Jeans – History of Jeans and Denim

Joy of Clothes – Pocket types on jeans

Live About – Best Jeans Pockets for Your Butt Shape

Today – Why do we have pockets? The surprisingly deep history