Pockets: Where To Stash Your Stuff

Plain-Front Non-Iron Chinos

Reader M wonders which pants have the best pockets:

I’m type I diabetic and have an insulin pump. This means I really need pockets in pretty much everything I wear. But I find that most women’s pants either have tiny useless front pockets, fake back pockets, or no pockets at all. Dresses with pockets have become fairly popular, which is amazing and wonderful, but I really am a pants sort of girl. Could you do a post on pants (or skirts and dresses, even, I can adapt!) with pockets? I can’t be the only one in the world who wishes that actual pockets weren’t always relegated to jeans.  You’ve posted a fair number of dresses with pockets lately, so even if you don’t do an entire post, I thank you for making it that much easier for me to find things to swear to the office and avoiding having to tuck the little nuisance in my waistband.

See, here’s my thing with pants:  I hate pockets.  Cuffs AND pockets.  I know, I’m crazy. I have actually sewn down the pockets in some pants if they hit at that unflattering “right on the side of your body” spot and give the pants any slight resemblance to a cobra flattening its neck. So here’s my actual best piece of advice for reader M:  Blazers!  Blazers are awesome for many reasons, but one of the foremost reasons is because they often have pockets in ’em.  (Handy for ID badges, lipgloss, and insulin pumps!)  I’m not an expert in insulin pumps, but if Reader M has the kind that attaches to her body on one end and is an iPod-sized thing on the other end, It should be pretty simple to get a tailor to “reverse” the pockets for your blazer so they’re accessible from the inside of your jacket instead of the outside.

But — like everything else on this blog — that’s just my opinion.  So let’s poke around and see if we can’t find Reader M some professional pants with pockets.

– First — and I’m sure this is obvious, but just in case it isn’t:  note that many pants are sold with the pockets sewn closed.  (Same with the vents on jackets and skirts, ladies.)  So what at first glance might seem like a non-functional pocket is really something that with some quick snips can be totally functioning pockets.  If the inside of your pant has a pocket, there’s a 98% chance the manufacturer intended you to open the pockets.  (But you may choose, like I often do, to keep ’em sewn down, because you prefer the streamlined look.)

– Second — I actually think pants with pockets can be found everywhere — for example, the Gap Perfect Trousers.  But if you’re shopping online and having trouble, I think “chinos” is the phrase you want.  They come in all sorts of colors, but I normally think of them as having pockets.  Case in point: the Brooks Brothers Plain Front Non-Iron Chinos, pictured at top, available for $89.  (See also the Land’s End Women’s Regular Fit 2 Stretch Chino Trousers.)

– Third — Think about pants that are cut like jeans — they’ll often be advertised as having “5 pockets.”  I normally advise against wearing any pants that have pockets like jeans, but in your case I think we can make an exception.  Cords, chinos, sometimes even velvet pants frequently have five pockets.  Look, here we have an Armani wool pair of pants with five pockets — here a Tory Burch pair of corduroys — either of which you could get away with for the office.  (But I’d still throw a blazer on top anyway, just to make it look more professional.)

– Finally, a note on fit.  A lot of places where you’ll find pants with pockets will have a pretty definite demographic in mind.  On one end we have things like Alloy, Victoria’s Secret, and more — where the cuts are all a bit sexier and younger. On the other end we have more utilitarian, functional clothes type of places like Land’s End and Eddie Bauer — where the cuts may be much looser and boxier.  So: I’d go shopping with a fairly open idea of what your “size” is, because you may end up two sizes off from where you normally are.

Readers, can you recommend a particular style or brand that you love because of the pants pockets?  Do you prefer to wear pants with pockets, or have you found other places to stash your stuff?


  1. Chinos? Cords? I don’t think that these are formal enough for most offices.

    All of my work pants (wool trousers) have pockets and all are from either J.Crew or Boden. Mostly J.Crew. The pockets are typically sewn shut by the manufacturer – as Kat said, you just need to snip open the pockets with embroidery scissors.

  2. MissJackson :

    Not the world’s cheapest option, but if you like straight leg dress pants, I highly recommend the Lafayette 148 NY Delancey pants. They come in a million colors, are extremely flattering, and have pockets. I literally just took a pair over to my tailor, and he commented on the fantastic quality.

    They *do* go on sale, and for reasons that I’ve never completely understood, the “full price” is cheaper at Nordstrom than it is from the Lafayette 148 website — I’ve bought from both places and can’t discern a difference, although the ones from the Nordstrom website come unhemmed and I can’t remember whether that’s the case with the ones from the Lafayette 148 website.

    Do note: this brand runs quite large. By way of reference, I am an 8 or a 10 depending on brand. I’m solidly a 6 in Lafayette 148, so you’ll need to size down.

    • A number are on sale at Saks Fashion Fix…

      • WOW – great sale.

        And much better then the $325+ pants I let the Nordstrom’s stylist talk me into buying that don’t even look as nice. Sigh…. And I can’t return them since they are tailoring them “for free”…. For that price, I hope I get my own personal tailor to walk around with me, while I am wearing the pants, to improve as needed…

        Personal stylist at Nordstrom didn’t work out too well for me.

  3. I was going to suggest Gap, like Kat did. I have a few pairs of their pants that I wear to work that have sizeable pockets and still look flattering and professional.

  4. Please can we talk about dresses with pockets? They are the best! I especially love going out in those dresses and stashing cards, keys, and a lipstick in the pockets without bothering about my purse. I was devoted to Target’s trapunto shift dress, but recent versions lack pockets. Any suggestions from other readers for cute day or work dresses?

  5. Theory Emery pants have pockets and comfortably hold my badge holder on one side and I can slip a pen in the opposite pocket.


  6. emcsquared :

    I would suggest looking at wider leg trousers. I have two pairs of Modern and Curvy cut trousers from Ann Taylor that have the most amazing, deep side pockets – they have more room in the hips (but without being saggy in the butt), so the pockets are actually useful.

    I have J Crew pants with pockets, but the side pockets are almost unusable because the legs are so darn skinny (same for the Gap Perfect Trousers). But then, I am ample of hip and rear…so maybe that’s just my problem.

    Another thought: One coworker has an insulin pump with clips so he can clip it to the waistband of his pants (like a pager). It wouldn’t be that hard to install a clip with a hot glue gun or some gorilla glue.

    • karenpadi :

      Your “other thought” is a really good point. I know wearing a visible pump isn’t fun–a close friend had a fanny-pack-sized pump that she hated–but it isn’t inappropriate in work settings. People should know better than to inquire, too.

    • +1 re: Ann Taylor pants having great, deep side pockets (when they have them – some styles do not, so be sure to check in the store/read the description o line) and the Gap Perfect Trousuer having pockets so stupidly shallow they might as well not have them at all.

  7. I know the OP specified trousers, but I will say that one of the first things I do when I buy a new dress or skirt is take it to the tailor to have pockets put in. I take new clothes to my tailor anyway to ensure the fit is as good as it could be, and when it’s something with a skirt it’s not much trouble to have the seams opened and pockets put in. And then I always have a place to keep my credit card, Oystercard and keys even when I’m not carrying a wallet or purse – which is ideal for me.

  8. I’m a T1 with an insulin pump and the very first thing I’m going to do is shoot down the blazer idea. Most pumps have a site on your body which is connected to the actual pump (a device about the size of an old-school pager) by a plastic tube. I’ve tried the jacket/blazer pocket thing with my pump, and it only ends in tubing poking out in odd ways and getting caught on doorknobs.
    I used to hide my pump in my pockets or clipped to the waistband of my pants so that the pump was on the inside, but ended up switching to mostly just wearing it clipped on the outside of my pants or skirt. It’s much more convenient for me, and pretty much everyone who I work with already knows that I have the ‘beetus.
    If you’re set on keeping it in a pocket though I can’t recommend J.Crew enough. I swear someone at that company has to have diabetes because the tiny pockets on all of their pencil skirts are perfectly sized for the Animas Ping. I don’t like cutting open the pockets on the front of their pants, as I tend to get the cobra neck effect Kat mentioned, so I tend to stick with the back pockets. It varies by cut, but most of them that I’ve tried fit my pump perfectly.

    • I second the J Crew skirts. The Super 120s wool pencil skirt has a pocket on the front right side. It fits my iPhone width-wise, and the phone goes halfway in depth-wise. I think that should fit most pumps. The pump might not go all the way in, but you should probably have a seamstress add some fabric to make the pocket deeper pretty easily (or DIY if you have the skills). Though the skirt is fitted, I can still sit comfortably with the phone in my pocket; however, because the skirt is fitted, the fact that you have something in your pocket will still be pretty obvious if you tuck in your shirt. If you have shirts are sweaters that are un-tuckable, they’d probably conceal the pump pretty well.

      I don’t have diabetes, so I know this isn’t coming from someone who “understands” but… I hope you don’t worry to much about concealing the pump. Obviously you need a way to attach it no matter what, but I’d be shocked if the visibility of your pump were an issue in a professional environment.

      @Kris- your use of “the ‘beetus” made me laugh. A local radio station is currently running an ad with multiple mentions of “THE diabetes.” Makes my skin crawl.

  9. Check out Kerri Sparling’s blog called “Six Until Me” – she posts about her fashion conundrums and even writes about how she had her wedding dress tailored so she could use her pump (she had a pocket added to her dress). http://sixuntilme.com/

  10. I personally think that blazers are a giant pain – I have never found a blazer I could wear for longer than a few minutes (large shoulders and a larger bust = blazers sucking for me).

    As far as pants – I cannot recommend enough some of NY&Co’s new styles! Their 7th Ave bootcut have pockets and are pretty decent. However, their newest – the Bleeker St. Straight Leg – have excellent large pockets that don’t look huge at all (they lie quite smoothly), but they’re big enough to fit my smartphone (Samsung Fascinate, about 4 in by 2.5in). They run around $40-$50, but I think NY&Co has a Buy-one-get-one-free sale going on right now, so if you’re interested in them, it’s worth picking them up. I just bought three pairs of them and they’re incredibly comfortable and allow for a lot of pocket capacity. I LOVE them. One of the best pants investments I’ve made recently.

    I also don’t think cords or chinos are inappropriate for the office, so if you find them more comfortable – wear ’em unless they’re prohibited by a dress policy. Comfort is really the most important thing!

    • NY&Co is constantly having sales, I don’t buy anything full price from there. If you sign up for their email list you’ll invariably get something like “Get $50 off when you buy $100!” every week or so. I like their stuff, too, but you have to be careful with sizing and the thinness of some of their materials. I haven’t yet gotten a skirt from there that was lined, and end up having to wear a slip with all of them. Which is ok for me, but something not to forget when you’re getting ready in the morning.

  11. Catherine :

    I can fit my iPhone in my Express pants pocket. BUT … not all of my Express pants have pockets, so I’d recommend checking them out in the store.

  12. SpaceMountain :

    No real advice, but I had this issue for a decade with my cochlear implant (back then it was a pager-sized device I carried in a pocket, connected by a long cord to the part that sticks on my head). A blazer did not work b/c of the cord, so I’d buy only pants or skirts with pockets, snip a hole in the pocket lining, and feed the wire through the hole. Being able to buy only clothes with pockets limited what I could buy, but I found some good luck with separates at Talbots and skirt suits with pockets at J. Crew. Then one day the technology changed, my device was upgraded to one the size of a hearing aid, and suddenly I could wear any clothes I wanted. Here’s hoping you get a technology upgrade one of these days, too.

  13. Definitely check Talbots — right now nearly all of my work pants (not part of a suit) are from Talbots, and they all have good-sized pockets (and are machine washable!). I work in health care, and strongly prefer to keep my keys, money, etc. with me because they might be stolen from my office. The insulin pumps are definitely getting smaller, but I wonder how small they can get (especially if it has a continuous glucose monitoring system?).

  14. TurtleWexler :

    I don’t know if this would work, but maybe check out SpiBelts (www.spibelt.com). I use one for my iPod and ID when I run, and I love it. I believe they have one designed specifically for insulin pumps, too. Anyway, it’s unobtrusive and would allow you to wear things without pockets or with useless little pockets if you want. It would probably show a little if you wear a tight top, but I find that mine (the “regular” version) doesn’t show much under most of my workout clothes.

  15. This is random, but what about going to a running store and getting one of those clip-on pockets they have for runners to store their id and such? I think Nathan makes them.

    • Or I could read above and see that someone just suggested the same thing !

  16. I’ve had good luck with Banana Republic pants. The pockets aren’t super large (my Droid sticks out a little), but they may be functional enough. I also prefer functional pockets in my pants (hate having to carry around a purse just to grab lunch or coffee), and most of my trousers are BR or BR Factory Store.

  17. I’ve been meaning to send a very similar question in, and was so happy to see this post. I’m also T1 diabetic with a medtronic pump and continuous glucose monitor. To respond to Reader M, I just checked all my work pants and found that 3 of my 5 favorites are from Banana Republic, all with good front pockets that fit a pump, but don’t get that “puckered” look when you cut them open. I find that I just end up doing a lot of shopping and try all pants on (I absolutely do not buy pants online). One trick I use is, if the pockets are sewn shut so you can’t check how the pump looks in the dressing room, I put the pump inside the pants at the level of the bottom of the pocket to see whether the cut and pocket size “work” with my pump.

    On a related point, anyone have suggestions for maternity work pants with pockets? I’m in my 16th week, and all of my clothes are starting to not fit. As noted above, I won’t buy pants online, and it seems like that is one of the only options for maternity work pants. So far, I’ve seen few options with pockets. Let me know if anyone has a good suggestion!

  18. Pumped about Fashion :

    Hi M,

    I’m a Type 1 Diabetic who uses a Minimed insulin pump. I’ve experimented for years trying to find good places to stash my pump, since I don’t love the way having a pocket full makes my pants fit my hips. Here are two other options to try: (1) tuck your pump into the band of your bra underneath your armpit, (2) [if you use a longer infusion set] tuck your pump into your socks (warning: super-uncool gym-sock-like socks work best for this). Good luck!

  19. I’m also a type I diabetic with a Medtronic pump and CGMS in place. Pumping since 2000, the sensors since 2006. I’ve never found any trouble at all tucking away my pump anywhere and I wear a lot of pants and dresses without pockets!

    I can agree that tucking the thing in pants pockets makes them pucker like there’s no tomorrow and it’s not a good look but the Medtronic pumps (and most other ones) come with a belt clip. I use that clip to hang the pump from the pants’ waist line, sometimes inside, sometimes outside. With dresses I clip the pump on the front of my bra, between my breasts. If you’re a C or over, nobody will notice (and if they do, your top is cut too low). Same for skirts, just clip it to the waist band.

    The one downside is that your pants/skirt/etc needs to fit properly, to prevent it from drooping, but otherwise it works perfectly, makes it easily accessible and looks like it’s not there.

  20. With the disclaimer of working in a business-casual office, I LOVE my utilikilt. (www.utilikilt.com). It is the best skirt with pockets I have EVER worn. Also, the fact that its pleated and the pleats are sewn down means it’s one of the “smartest” skirts I own, since it always looks pressed. I dress it up with sturdy heels and a military cut shirt, and I’m all set.

    I have an Original style (pockets on the outside like cargo pants), but a good friend of mine (a guy) wears his Mocker (pockets on the inside, like trousers) to court. (He’s scotch/irish and he wears is as if the kilt was just another pair of business pants.) Best story for professionalism with them, he was wearing them in the halls of Cornell Law when then-residing Supreme Court Justice O’Connor was visiting, and she stopped him just to compliment him on his business-kilt attire.

    Being a woman, I’ll occasionally I get the “Lora Croft” compliment since it’s an olive green kilt, but again, I’m business casual and creative clothing is encouraged. Hooray for pockets!

  21. Try the Julia pant by LOFT. They fit well and have great pockets.

  22. Legal in So Cal :

    I buy any pants and jackets I like and then take them to my alterations shop & have pockets put wherever I need them. Typically I have the same sort of pockets that are on the inside of men’s suit coats put inside my blazers & suit jackets. Then I can carry my cell phone, keys & business cards and still have hands free at any event. Likewise, after I buy pants, I have the same sort of pocket put right at the waistband (sometime they are called rolled, coin pockets) so that if I want I can have my cell with me w/out having to where some sort of holster. When the pocket is empty, it is undetectable. They usually charge me betwee $12 to $20 to put in a pocket. It has been great for me, if I carry a purse to meetings and networking events, I forget & leave it. This prevents that problem.

  23. I’m also a Type 1 diabetic wih the Medtronic pump and have found a neat trick for hiding it so it doesn’t ruin the line of my clothes, while still beig accessible – I hide it in my bra. This works well for everything except über plunging necklines and sheer blouses.

  24. have another way to carry the things you need…without having to RELY on clothing designers to include sufficient pockets. Add the pockets yourself. Just use my patented hands-free carrying case system and you’ll make life easier! PortaPocket consists of a lightweight neoprene band onto which any of a selection of detachable/interchangeable pockets is mounted. Simply wrap the band around your area of choice (thigh, calf, ankle arm or waist…and either under or over your outfit)…and off you go! So comfy you almost forget it’s there. Perfect for IDs, cash, cards, keys, cell phones, ipods, lipstick, tampons, inhalers, insulin pumps, EpiPens, more. Even passports too. Moisture and sweat resistant, so excellent for use at the gym as well as for travelling and going out on the town. Even for every day! See more if you like at http://www.portapocket.com best wishes to all

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