got my hand in my pocket
September 8, 2005 10:42 PM   Subscribe

What is that small, long pocket inside the large right hand pocket of jeans for?
posted by stray to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:48 PM on September 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've always called it the change pocket, but my boy says, reading over my shoulder, "Does she mean the watch pocket?" He's probably right
posted by librarina at 10:48 PM on September 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Trapping my keys.
posted by showmethecalvino at 10:52 PM on September 8, 2005

watch i think. but nowadays, my cell phone is my watch. coincidentally, that fits damn well too.
posted by quadrinary at 11:01 PM on September 8, 2005

Pipes, lighters, keys or a watch.

Never ever coins though, they get stuck unless you have super long fingers.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:17 PM on September 8, 2005

I use it for AAA batteries for my mp3 player. It's been far too many times that I've had to empty my pockets in a hurry because I've had boiling hot batteries shorting out on change/keys in my pocket! ...well, that's my use for it anyway.
posted by rc55 at 11:21 PM on September 8, 2005

For those with Nokia Communicator!
posted by webmeta at 11:22 PM on September 8, 2005

iPod nano, according to His Jobsness
posted by DannyUKNYC at 11:26 PM on September 8, 2005

it's the penny pocket, dogg.

they're hard to get out, but the point is you never put anything in them.

in fact, if your pair of jeans fits properly, you shouldn't be able to put anything in any of the front pockets at all.
posted by fishfucker at 11:43 PM on September 8, 2005

Librarina's boyfriend is right. It's a watch pocket -- used for pocket watches. However, in 2000, Business Week reported that Levi's jeans had been restyled so the watch pocket would fit a pager.
posted by acoutu at 11:43 PM on September 8, 2005

It was originally a pocket for a watch (a pocket watch actually). Back when jeans were invented, watches were worn on the end of a chain or fob and there was a pocket either in your vest or your pants to hold the watch.
posted by qwip at 11:44 PM on September 8, 2005

er..., what acoutu said.
posted by qwip at 11:45 PM on September 8, 2005

It is the watch pocket. Let's talk about that. At length. At great, great length.

The principle of keeping one's timepiece in one's waistcoat pocket is well-founded in protecting your valuable piece of technology from keys and coins and such. You'll no doubt recall Sherlock Holmes drawing inferences on the character of Watson's late brother based on the condition of his watch in the introductory chapter of "The Sign of Four."

Anyway. The integral watch-pocket in pants, then, provides the same protected environment for the gentleman who's daily affairs contraindicate full formal attire. Levis 501s, introduced in 1890, were the first Levis (and I believe, but can't verify, the first pants) to include a watch pocket.

Apparently people have found uses for the thing all these years, given the decline in popularity in the pocket watch dating from the early 20th century (the waistcoat never recovered from cloth rationing in WW II).

Though pocket watches are now largely restricted to the realm of novelties, symbolic gifts, and antiques, the watch pocket persists in the realms of pant design. Indeed, oversized watch pockets have become common to accommodate all the little electrical geegaws that have replace the watch as must-have undersized, overpriced miniaturized technology for the hep person on the go.

You may recall the 1996 award-winning Levi's television ad where a young man uses it to stash condoms in a retelling of the old chestnut about the blind date and the pharmacist, for example.

Some people refer to it as the coin pocket. Those people are heretics and must be burned.

This ends our class in obscure throwbacks to vanished times. Tomorrow we will discuss the pen-knife.
posted by nanojath at 12:00 AM on September 9, 2005 [16 favorites]

Right, well Nanojath is just _fishing_ for a Best Answer, and who am I to deny him? Brava!
posted by stray at 12:36 AM on September 9, 2005

I always put my change in there. It works great, except for when I take my jeans off and get change all over the floor.

Many cheap jeans don't come with them now. That is sad.
posted by wackybrit at 2:27 AM on September 9, 2005

nanojath writes "Tomorrow we will discuss the pen-knife."

Pen-knife? Wow, I had never heard one of those until this thread... I've heard of pocket knives and swiss army knives, but a pen-knife? Looks cool but I'd be seriously worried about forgetting one in your briefcase and then trying to walk through the airport check-point.
posted by tuxster at 3:42 AM on September 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

You mean it's not for storing drugs in? @_o
posted by anagrama at 3:52 AM on September 9, 2005

Where will we find the pen-knife article? Or must one of us post a new question?

(Hadn't heard a reason for the decline of the waistcoat. Interesting. Credible. Any footnotes?)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:38 AM on September 9, 2005

Many year ago I hear it refered to as a "pick" pocket, to hold one's guitar pick. Everyone knows if you wear jeans, you are cool enough to play the guitar.
posted by Classic Diner at 4:50 AM on September 9, 2005

When I was a smoker I loved that little pocket because it was exactly the right size for my Zippo lighter, which kept if from getting scratched up by my keys and such.
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:33 AM on September 9, 2005

For carrying Vicodin, Cialis, know, all the stuff you need to get through the day.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:11 AM on September 9, 2005

I always use it for movie ticket stubs because where I live, they check one's stub for re-entry into the theater if one steps out to use the restroom or goes to the snack bar.
posted by superkim at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2005

tuxster: That gewgaw you linked to is not what a 19th-century gentleman would have recognized as a penknife, to be certain. Here, for example, is a picture of George Washington's penknife.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:51 AM on September 9, 2005

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it as the drug pocket - I discovered it was for the pocket watch when I bought a pocket watch in college, and it fit so perfectly that I had to discuss this revelation with everyone. But my sister laughed at my naive use of it, since it was clearly a perfect little hideaway for your stash.
posted by mdn at 7:24 AM on September 9, 2005

oh whoops, missed anagrama... sorry :)
posted by mdn at 7:27 AM on September 9, 2005

I'm not fishing for best answers, (I will admit I get a sad little sense of accomplishment from receiving them) - the actual issue is that I have a research problem. A problem, like a drug problem. I didn't know diddly about watch pockets before last night. Can't... stop... searching...

As to pen knives, this term is sporadically used - but in my family, for instance, it was the generic term for a small-bladed folding knives. I distinctly remember wondering about the term as a youngin', comming to the erroneous conclusion that they were so-called because they were small, like a pen. Years and years later I was thinking about quills for some reason and had that ah-hah moment. Of course. Gotta sharpen your quills. Pen knife. Sure.
posted by nanojath at 8:01 AM on September 9, 2005

Pen knife, penknife, pen-knife -- why does the third one seem so much more archaic?
Like "Mr Milkman, no deliveries please to-day".
Makes me want to take up mumblety-peg.

posted by Aknaton at 9:42 AM on September 9, 2005

At least on pants made for an average-sized woman, those pockets are way too narrow for a watch. Mine are even too small for any type of electronic device. Barely wider than a quarter. But they are the perfect size for an OB tampon. It's a tampon pocket!
posted by peep at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2005

I can't believe it hasn't been mentioned yet. That little pocket is for CHAPSTICK, for those of us addicts.
posted by MrZero at 11:28 AM on September 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

I, too, once used mine for my zippo, it was a perfect fit. Now that I no longer smoke cigarettes, I use it for my volkswagen key, which also fits perfectly! I love my little pocket.
posted by Richat at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2005

and they are pretty much useless for a southpaw. All the useful stuff goes in the left pocket. (But then, most pockets on women's clothing are decorative instead of utilitarian, anyway.)
posted by luneray at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2005

I think the people who make the motorola Razr and women's jeans are secretly in league, there is just no comfy way to have a cell phone in any of the pockets in my jeans...
posted by nile_red at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2005

BBC has a wonderful essay on the history of the pocket. It appears that people started sewing pockets into pants around 1784 -- fob or watch pockets emerged. This article suggests that watch pockets were popular throughout the 19th century. However, I wouldn't doubt that Levi's were the first jeans to feature watch pockets. Levi's were the first jeans made in the US and one wouldn't expect workers to have waist coasts.
posted by acoutu at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

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