A lawyer wrote in, wondering where she could find stylish wear to work pants with pockets. It’s a great question, and we haven’t discussed the pants pocket problem in far too long (2012!), although we did discuss dress pants with pockets a teensy bit in our post on looking professional but prepared for workplace emergencies, where at an active shooter training a reader had been advised to carry her keys and cell phone at all times and wondered how the heck to do that with women’s workwear. But back to today’s problem: what are the best work pants for women with pockets? Here’s Reader K’s email:
I need work pants (am an attorney so some suits would be nice but not necessary) that have actual pockets that hold more than 50 cents. Who makes pants for women with actual functional pockets?? It is so aggravating. I need to carry my cell phone and I don’t carry my purse around the office or wear a suit coat so I need pockets in my pants. Help.
Let’s start the hunt with our recent roundup of the best pants for work — and the problem is immediately apparent, almost none of the pants have pockets. (Obviously, if you work in a business casual office, five-pocket pants that are cut like jeans are an easy solution… but those can be too casual for most conservative workplaces.) So let’s start the hunt for the best dress pants with pockets…
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1. Usual Suspects: The Best Women’s Brands with Pockets
First, let’s round up some great brands that make women’s clothing with pockets — these are unicorns in and of themselves! Check out Theory, Boden, Betabrand, MM.LaFleur, and Leith — I’ll keep thinking about this and adding more. These brands generally make a ton of dress pants, office dresses, and blazers or sweaters with pockets. (There’s actually a pretty big overlap with our recently-updated list of the best brands with washable workwear — just saying!) If you’re looking for suiting options with pockets, I would check out Theory, MMLF, or Boden first.
2. The Unicorn: Flattering, Washable Wear to Work Pants With BIG Pockets
Betabrand’s dress yoga pants now come in a ton of cuts and styles; these new bootcut options look like their pockets are big enough for a cell phone — I think this might be our unicorn here. I wouldn’t walk around with my hands in the pockets, but the picture does a nice job of illustrating how big the pockets are; I also like that they’re at an angle but not on a side seam so your stuff won’t fall out.
2. Stylish Wear to Work Pants with Pockets, Side-Seam Edition
These are the most common ones that you’ll see all over — personally I find these not only unflattering, but generally not that functional unless you’re just carrying something super small. But they are easier to find — and they often have functional back pockets as well (you may need to gently rip your seams!), although the back pockets may also be intended for something smaller than a cell phone. This is a great example from Halogen. (Pro tip if you like the look of the pants but not the pockets: it’s a pretty easy request for your tailor to stitch the pockets closed; they may also come that way!)
Trousers and wide-leg pants may also offer larger pockets, like this pair from NYDJ (I don’t have this pair but I love my NYDJ pants for comfort!):
3. Other Options: Where to Stash Your Stuff If Your Pants Don’t Have Pockets
Of course, there are a ton of other options here for carrying your office cell phone:
- keep a lightweight jacket or jardigan with pockets in the office, and throw that on if you leave the office — this is my preferred way of doing things, and in fact is one of the big things I’m looking for when I buy a blazer to keep at the office. (“Patch pockets” are almost always big enough for a cell phone; other pockets depend on the phone of course). This reader-favorite jardigan has pockets, for example; if you overheat easily you may also want to consider a year-round option from a breathable material like this long linen cardigan with pockets.
- wear dresses with pockets — the selection here has really come far! (They’re often paired with washable, easy-care fabrics, too.) MM.LaFleur, Lands’ End, and Boden all have a ton of options with pockets.
- ask a tailor to ADD pockets — one commenter on our last post on women’s work pants with pockets (where someone asked for pockets big enough to fit an insulin pump) noted that she takes ALL her new dresses and skirts to a tailor to add a pocket on the seam. Might be worth looking into! Here’s her comment:
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.
- get a runner’s phone belt — if none of these things work, here’s another suggestion from the readers on our 2012 post: get one of those phone belts that runners use and keep it with you at work. Amazon has a ton; readers also suggested SPI Belts. If I saw someone in the office using one I might wonder for a second about it, but it would ultimately seem smart — but I could also see that if you get one in your preferred base color (such as black, but as we discussed in our post on capsule wardrobes for work, almost any neutral works!) then they’d blend right in and wouldn’t be noticeable.
Readers, do you carry your cell phone with you at work — and if so, where do you put it? Do you hunt for dress pants with pockets, or do you prefer to use a sweater or blazer with pockets instead? Have you bought any great pants for work with pockets lately?
Some social media images via Deposit Photos / GeorgeRudy.