For years, women's pants pockets (particularly the front pockets) have been the most frustrating part of women's clothing. There's barely any room to fit much more than lint, which leaves smartphones like the iPhone X relegated to back pockets rather than have any chance of fitting in the front.
Despite years of anecdotal evidence (and a growing trend of dresses adding bigger pockets for increased functionality), there hasn't been anything remotely scientific about how common this frustrating occurrence is. A team with The Pudding -- an in-depth visual essay resource -- finally collected data.
48 percent shorter
Writers Jan Diehm and Amber Thomas compared popular jeans from 20 well-known brands of jean makers. On average, pockets in women's jeans are 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than the average man's pocket.
Their research and methodology for the study can be found on Github.
"Only 40 percent of women’s front pockets can completely fit one of the three leading smartphone brands," the team wrote. "Less than half of women’s front pockets can fit a wallet specifically designed to fit in front pockets. And you can’t even cram an average woman’s hand beyond the knuckles into the majority of women’s front pockets."
Diehm and Thomas even tested a number of everyday items both sexes would want to carry with them during travel. The iPhone X, for example, only fit in 40 percent of the women's pockets they analyzed. It fit in 100 percent of men's pockets. The Samsung Galaxy fared even worse, only fitting in 20 percent of women's pockets and 95 percent of men's. And the massive Google Pixel? It squeezed into just 5 percent of all women's pockets measured.
But what about just walking with your hand in your pocket? Only 10 percent of women's pockets could even fit the wearer's hands. Men could comfortably fit their hands in 100 percent of the jeans studied.
Back pockets evaluated too
The team, wanting to make sure all pockets were covered, also took a look at the disparities of back pockets. In skinny jeans, women's pockets were only 5 percent shorter and a tenth of an inch narrower than the average men's skinny jeans. In women's straight legged jeans, the pockets were 7 percent shorter and 2 percent narrower. Men's straight-legged back pockets were slightly deeper but roughly the same width.
As Diehm and Thomas pointed out, the entire issue of women's pants pockets boils down to equality.
"For women, it was (and still is) about equality. Pockets, unlike purses, are hidden, private spaces," the pair wrote. "By restricting the space in which women can keep things safe and retain mobility of both hands, we are also restricting their ability to “navigate public spaces, to carry seditious (or merely amorous) writing, or to travel unaccompanied.”
"If you think this idea is outdated, think about the last time a woman asked her boyfriend/male friend/anyone in men’s pants to carry her phone/wallet/keys on an outing," the researchers added. Like any human, women travel with items -- from wallets to keys to phones to gum and more.
However, the concept of women also having the same storage in their clothing as men has historically been inconsistent. Medieval times saw both men and women using exterior pockets under their waist -- like a medieval fanny pack.
That changed in the 17th century when men's pockets (namely the jacket pockets) became sewn into garments directly. Women kept using the external pockets.
By the 18th century, external pockets had fallen out of favor given the rise of corsets and slimmer figures. External pockets morphed into purses for women while men continued to enjoy the freedom of having storage directly into their clothing.