Why Are There No Pockets on My Leggings?


Published: 12/12/2021

By Connie Phillips

Do you ever wonder why women’s sports clothes don’t seem to have pockets? It’s a pain because my favorite pair of running shorts don’t have any. Every time I want to run to the grocery store I have to haul out a purse. And don’t even bother complaining to your guy friends about it. They’ll give you a blank stare as they fit an entire hand, a bottle of wine, their keys, wallet, and favorite pocket knife inside their pockets.  When did workout pockets become such a holy grail of clothing?

Photo Courtesy of RMK Visions

Exchanging Pouches for Pockets

Historically, pockets used to be gender-neutral bags that people hid under their clothes. Pickpockets would slash the strings attaching the bags to the clothing which helped Male clothing evolve so that pockets eventually were integrated within the pants. Women’s fashion went the opposite route and instead, maintained their pocketless skirts, and began using handbags or purses.

The Present Pocket Dilemma

Presently, women’s pants pockets are tiny to nonexistent. The Pudding did a study on women’s jean pant pocket sizes stating, “On average, the pockets in women’s jeans are 48% shorter and 6.5% narrower than men’s pockets.” In fact, they mention that:

  • For a woman’s hand: “10% of women’s pockets and 100% of men’s pockets can fit this item.”
  • For an iphone X and Front Wallet: “ 40% of women’s pockets and 100% of men’s pockets can fit this item.”

What happened?

Well, it has to do with the event of vanity sizing (covered in a previous Lifting the Dream article) and the sliming of clothing styles. As women’s clothing became tighter, the form of a small hourglass figure became ideal. Consumers were already buying purses so, in order to help boost sales, pockets shrank.

The Rise of Athleisure

Then 2007 saw two important trends. The iPhone and the rise of athleisure – AKA leggings. LuLulemon, created in 1997, launched leggings into the spotlight. In 2019, Maya Singer wrote a Vogue article on the staple clothing item of the 2010s saying, “And, thanks to the rise of athleisure (which I would date from the Lululemon IPO in mid-2007), leggings are cool.”

Photo Courtesy of artursafronovvv on FreePik

Thanks to the financial crash of 2008, plus the excruciating prices of higher education, the average middle-class didn’t have a lot of spending money. Consumerism started to see a shift from multi-layered clothing to more multipurpose clothing. People were looking to spend less money and maintain a smaller minimalist wardrobe. According to The Active Way from the open digital publishing platform, The Medium, “Between 2012 and 2019, the global athleisure sector increased by 42 percent to a total value of 270 billion dollars.” 

Leggings Replace Pants

Now, we could wear the same outfit from a relaxing day at home to a romantic date. I remember going to college in the early 2010s, and it was the first time I wore leggings in public. Now, everyone could see the curves of my thighs and butt. My mother thought they were too scandalous for anything outside of a gym. Hand to forehead.

What does this have to do with pockets though? Well when leggings first came out, they didn’t have pockets. Raise your hand if you’ve ever remembered stuffing your bra before a workout because you didn’t want to carry a purse.

And that was the problem. iPhones became an essential item for everyday use. Women who wanted to go for a run and listen to music had nowhere to put their phones. Sure we can stuff our bras but no one wants a sweat-covered phone. Men could put their iPhones in their pockets. So, at last, the fashion companies started putting in pockets.

Lifting the Dream is no newb when it comes to activewear and pockets which is why these gender-neutral classic hoodies and zip hoodies provide everyone the ability to carry any personal items needed. Your phone, keys, and wrist wraps will all fit nicely in these guys.

Lifting the Dream Petal to The Metal Wrist Wrap

In Search of the Perfect Pocket

Although, pockets have come a long way in women’s fashion, they are still nowhere near perfect. I own a pair of leggings that claim to have a waist pocket for an iPhone, but it can barely fit my iPhone X, which falls out after a dozen steps. Some pockets are made to hold only one item. Today’s leggings’ pockets line up with the natural curves of the female body in order to try to minimize the bulky items taking away from the form. 

Nowadays, leggings with pockets are commonplace. I personally refuse to buy any leggings without pockets so I can get the most use out of them. It will be interesting to see how pockets and leggings progress in the new decade, post-pandemic. I for one, hope that we can see a rise in deeper more functional pockets for female clothing.

Would you prefer more women’s sports clothing to have functional pockets?

If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at hello@liftingthedream.com

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  1. Pingback: The Stigma of Women’s Gym Clothes – Lifting the Dream

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