I saw this amazing post floating around the internet last month. Besides having great D3 animations the post brings real data to the question "Why are women's pockets so small?" From their findings:

On average, the pockets in women’s jeans are 48% shorter and 6.5% narrower than men’s pockets.

Yes, I did know that women's pockets were smaller, but knowing and experiencing aren't the same thing.

Last week I was at brunch and I decided to try wearing women's jeans for a week. So we went into the nearest clothing store, Urban Outfitters, and I bought a pair of "Twig High-Rise" women's jeans. And like any good researcher I compared my new jeans with a pair of men's jeans I own.

Women's jeans in the front. Men's jeans in the back

When not on anybody jeans look almost the same from the outside, but it's apparent the men's jeans have a straighter cut than the women's jeans. But what I really cared about were the pockets.

Yeah, that's about 50% less pocket

Comparing the pockets from the inside gives a pretty clear look at how small women's pockets are. But this picture is actually misleading, because pockets don't start at the waistband but actually start an inch or so lower, they have less space than this picture makes you believe. So I started putting stuff in them. Every day I always carry three things in my pockets:

  1. My phone, a Lumia 950 with a 5.2 inch display. I would consider it to be a medium sized phone.
  2. My wallet, a small front pocket wallet.
  3. My keys, which includes a house and mailbox key, a couple of small membership cards, a bottle opener, and a SIM ejector tool (nerdy but useful).

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up.

They take up the entire pocket

My keys fit, but only just. The first few days I wore my new pants I kept my keys in my bag because I was worried about my keys somehow falling out of my jeans. By day 4 I got annoyed enough by having to fish my keys out of my bag that I just kept them in my jeans.

Everything you try to fit in your pockets feels like a square peg, round hole problem

I've kept my wallet in my front pockets for many years at this point. One week of women's jeans wasn't going to change that. My wallet only fit in one orientation, sideways. It felt secure enough and was only slightly difficult to retrieve when I needed it.

One last item, my phone. I've been asked my more than one friend to hold their phone because it doesn't fit in their pockets. The last small smartphone is probably the iPhone SE with a display size of 4 inches. Tiny compared to modern standards but it probably almost fits into a women's front pocket. My phone?

It doesn't fit, who would have guessed

So for a week I kept my phone in my back pocket. When I needed to sit I had to take it out and hold it or put it next to me. I almost forgot my phone at a bar during the week because it wasn't in my normally large pockets.

Nice, big, roomy. The 2018 Men's Pocket.

Here's my hand inside both pockets for comparison.

So what's the answer to why are women's pockets so small? My girlfriend gave a reasonable explanation: since women's pants are usually tighter than men's pants any items inside women's deep pockets would be much more visible. At the same time I am sure there is a large market of women who would love reasonably sized pockets on their clothing. I will be switching back to my "large" pocketed pants. After a few days I got used to wearing my new jeans, remembering to put my socks on before my pants, and remembering to not crush my phone when sitting down.