Be My Jeans Genies for Pocketses
December 18, 2019 1:28 PM   Subscribe

It's time to buy new jeans, and I would like to eschew the infuriating gender bullshit of women's jeans with no useful pockets and try men's once again. I want front pockets I can put my damn phone or a bunch of Kleenex or money in and it won't fall out. Trying to figure out a size, though, is bewildering. Lots of denim snowflakes inside.

When I was young (basically cisgender female), I wore Levi's 501s (there were only dudes', back then), but even though I've always had wide hips with much narrower waist, I was young enough that the curves didn't interfere with fit too much. As I got older and the baby machine hips came in, I had to switch to women's jeans, and I despise them because the front pockets are useless. I don't always like to carry a bag, and would love to go back to putting things in the front pockets like keys, phones, etc. (back pockets aren't always so great for phones, especially in bathrooms). I'm older, don't go out much, have gotten fat, and I don't need to have something that's designed for male gazes and skin tight. I like having them be somewhat fashionable because I still have a great wardrobe from before, but am not willing to sacrifice comfort and usefulness for a look.

Nordstrom recently stopped carrying the (regular size, not plus) jeans I have been buying for a while (Kut from the Kloth), and the last time I was in, the new ones I could find were using that sizing system that mystifies me, with numbers that supposedly correspond to the waist but that don't, actually. However, when I do measure my newly fat waist, I just get this embarrassing number (46) that only corresponds to plus sizes, and only 2 of the men's sizes they carry go up that high, but the inseam length is woefuly short. Plus-size jeans are always too big on me, especially around hips and thighs, and suffer from the aforementioned pocket issues.

I have been researching this ever since my friend suggested a men's 38, trying to ascertain if a men's size 38 waist would work for a somewhat traditionally female-presenting size 14/16, depending on the labels. But I'm baffled. I'd try them on, except the last time I tried to use the men's dressing room, I got some pushback about it. I don't know if in these days, they're better about it, but I may have to do this mail order, and I don't want to be wildly off base when I start. I can still fit into my size 14 Kuts that are falling apart, and a pair of size 16 NYDJ, but none of the sizing information I've dug up makes me feel confident about converting to the right men's size. (If you know of any good women's jeans with real pockets you can put an iPhone 6s in, though, let me know. I've heard Duluth Trading Co. does, but I can't see the actual pockets in use on their site for verification.)

Other problems--I'm taller than most afab women, so inseam matters, I have a long rise so many jeans styles cut into my crotch, the aforementioned baby machine hips affect rise, and now the belly, and I'm somewhat poor these days. I like jeans with stretch, the more the merrier. I'd ideally love some with color options, but if all I get is traditional denim and they're great, then I'm okay with that.

I just wants some pocketses.
posted by kitten kaboodle to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
With the caveat that I have a completely different body than you, have you looked at Universal Standard? They are cut for curves and the pairs I tried from them had huge awesome pockets.
They aren’t cheap, though.
posted by john_snow at 1:34 PM on December 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Dr. Advicepig has the women's Duluth Trading jeans and can easily fit her iPhone 8 with a largish Speck case on it.
posted by advicepig at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've had good luck with the curvy jeans from American Eagle Outfitters.

They have actual pockets. My iPhone 6 phone fits in them both horizontally and vertically. (Just measured my pockets...they're 10 inches deep)

Most of them are skinny or jeggings, but they do have some mom jeans and flares. All of them have multiple inseam lengths, including tall, and I believe they all have stretch.

They sometimes have pairs that are in fun prints. I scored some leopard print jeggings a few months ago.

Possibly worth checking out if you've got one nearby.
posted by burntflowers at 1:42 PM on December 18, 2019

It sounds like we are similarly-sized from your description although I am very short, which means that the Old Navy jeans I wear would probably fit you perfectly. I just deal with the over-long crotch. I wear their flex straight leg men's in a 38 or 40, and when I wear their women's jeans I look for the plus size ones with the stretchy panel in front (not sold in store I think). I can't remember exactly what it's called, but it doesn't really tummy tuck in an obnoxious way and it gives you enormous pockets in front because the whole front panel is the pocket. I'd try a women's 14 in tall. Plus their clothes go on sale a lot, never buy anything from Old Navy not on sale.
posted by possibilityleft at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you know what cut you have in your old kut from the kloth jeans, you can order directly from them (

Wit and wisdom jeans also tend to have large pockets and are VERY stretchy
posted by kumquatmay at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

After asking this question I bought Old Navy men's jeans. They are not the most flattering - on me, at least - but they are comfortable and the pockets are absolutely fantastic. Old Navy stores are everywhere and as I recall I took the men's jeans into the women's dressing room, or maybe the dressing room was unisex. In any case, it was not a problem to try them on in the store.

I'm about 5'6", typically size 16 women's pants in US, and these are size 38 men's. They are slightly too big but the next size down was slightly too small.

The pair I got is 99% cotton, 1% spandex (not all are this composition) and they have lasted since late May with almost daily wear and are only beginning to fray slightly in the thighs. I know you didn't ask about wear, but I'll throw it out there for additional info.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 2:37 PM on December 18, 2019

I (a larger cis dude) would recommend going to the local big box store and trying on some jeans. Most Target/Old Navy, etc. have unisex dressing rooms and employees who don't care, so that should make it a less intimidating situation to do some trying on. You aren't obligated to buy anything, but trying on some Target and Old Navy jeans from the men's department should help you get a good idea of sizing, cut, and fit. Old Navy's jeans in particular tend to run about 4" bigger than the waist number, and most of their jeans have some stretch. I can understand not wanting to go to either of those places for jeans, but knowing what size, fit and cut I get at those generic stores is helpful when shopping.
posted by sleeping bear at 2:37 PM on December 18, 2019

Re: dressing rooms, I've often just carried over items from the men's section of various clothing stores over to the women's dressing rooms, no questions asked. (I'm a cis woman, fairly traditionally feminine-presenting, maybe people just think I'm shopping for someone else but no! it's for me!!)

Depending on the store (e.g. Uniqlo), they also might have unisex dressing rooms, where everybody goes to the same dressing rooms and you just go to whichever number frees up, regardless of gender.

The fit of pants is often so finicky that even though it's a huge pain to go try them on in person, it's less of a pain than the trial and error of ordering and trying on and shipping any returns, imo, so +1 for going in person to try stuff on. Good luck!
posted by rather be jorting at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2019 [7 favorites]

I third Old Navy. You might also try Uniqlo. I can put my phone in the front pockets of jeans from these brands and they stay put. (Cisgender woman.) However, the phone still sticks out some. I'm especially a fan of the high rise jeans from Old Navy because I find them more comfortable for staying up over my bigger hips.

At Uniqlo, I'd try the women's size 36 and 38. Their "boyfriend cut" (when it's available) has especially deep pockets for women's jeans.

I can't speak to men's jeans but your proportions sound similar to mine and these jeans work okay for me and I haven't been frustrated by the pockets.
posted by purple_bird at 3:37 PM on December 18, 2019

I got a pair of Radian Jeans and I love them. I’m still amazed at how deep the pockets are and how much I can put in them.
posted by mogget at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2019

You can get larger pockets added to jeans from an alterations shop.
posted by amtho at 4:48 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Radian. I bought a pair during their initial fundraising on Kickstarter and will get more after the holidays. The sizing chart is true and the pockets are miraculous.
posted by danielleh at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2019

Thank you all so much--these are great suggestions and I appreciate the personal experience input. Looks like my big issue will be length--calling 32 inches Tall is absurd, that only gives you awkward high-waters instead of cute ankle pants.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 6:05 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've gone exclusively with side pockets for my cellphone, both long pants and shorts. These Cartharts have a very subtle side pocket that fits my 6" x 3" x 0.4" phone. They come in womens and mens. Con: they're not jeans, but Carthart does make jeans and shorts with side pockets, just not as subtle as these.
posted by at at 2:01 AM on December 19, 2019

A jeans alternative: Big Bud Press work pants. Enormous pockets, high waist with an elastic back. They are cut to be short/highwater. They have excellent fit guides and go up to 5x.

I have bought boyfriend jeans from Everlane with decent pocket depth, although they don’t make the ones I loved best anymore.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 5:54 AM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

you can just grab pants from the men's section and bring them over to the women's section to try on, if people are still giving you guff about that.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2019

Universal Standard jeans are great and have amazing pockets.
posted by matildaben at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2019

I think I have similar measurements to you, based on your description, and I wear exclusively men's jeans, almost exclusively from American Eagle. They fit like a dream and are so, so comfy. The first time I went in looking for men's jeans, the salesclerk was enthusiastic and helpful and told me that women buy men's AE jeans *all the time* and that it's not weird at all to want to try them! I think AE is pretty into vanity sizing because my size with them is much, uh, "smaller" than my Levi's size.

I've also had pretty good luck buying second hand at Plato's Closet. Because they curate their selection, the cuts they have are contemporary and nice... you'd likely find several of the brands recommended here, to try on, and I doubt anyone would question you for trying on men's jeans there, either.

Good luck! Shopping for pants as an AFAB person is a special hell.
posted by bibliotropic at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2019

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