A recurring question I’ve heard from coworkers, seen on Twitter, and been asked in the comments here at Gizmodo is: Who on earth wants a flip phone like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or Motorola Razr?
“It’s an answer in search of a problem” is a common refrain. These skeptics say tablets are much more useful, making the folding phone form factor popularized by last year’s foldables, including Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, far more necessary than the flip phones launched this year.
Every time I hear this line of thinking, I shove my phone into the pocket of my jeans (because I almost always wear jeans) and glare at it as a good three inches or more juts out of the joke of a pocket. I’m a woman with a traditional woman’s build, and thus I prefer to wear woman’s pants, but, as we’ve mentioned a lot lately, women’s pants pockets are terrible for fitting anything beyond a single Mentos you forget and accidentally wash with said pants.
A large phone that folds in half is ideal for people who wear women’s pants, because women’s pants either eschew pockets altogether or supply pockets so tiny they’re insulting. I’ve always assumed the pockets are so crummy because stuff in pockets makes pockets bulge and bulges are unattractive. Fashion historian Sara Idacavage dissuaded me from this idea.
“It’s important to remember that the reasons why women choose to adopt certain styles isn’t always related to their appearances or linked to the concept of being more attractive,” Idacavage told me in an email.
She noted that “some scholars believe that women’s pockets are smaller because women have traditionally been expected to carry more with them.”
Basically, women don’t need larger pockets because we typically carry purses that can hold everything from a wallet, keys, and a phone to makeup, baby stuff, and the 20,000 receipts I keep forgetting to file.
But that kind of thinking was more applicable before the ubiquity of the smartphone. In the early days, phones sat in a pocket or purse unless needed to make a call. Now they tether us to social media, text messages, and a slew of tools like the built-in camera, flashlight, and GPS. We reach for them a lot more than we used to, and the pockets sewn into women’s pants haven’t quite kept up. That may not be the case forever. Idacavage notes that “fashion is continually evolving to accommodate changes in technology, or to make the most of technological advancements.”
But I needed to solve my pants problem more quickly than fashion has evolved. Recently, I picked up a pair of Carhartt overalls that I can quickly toss on when my pup needs an urgent potty break or if we head over to the very muddy dog park. The pants make me look like a British farmer heading out to tend the sheep and are perhaps the least flattering item of clothing I own (which is impressive when you consider the snakeskin pleather cowboy hat in my closet).
But the overalls get the job I bought them for done perfectly, and the pockets on them are exceptional. I fit a whole can of beer in one of those pockets with barely a bulge. I crammed a book in there. Glasses, a camera, a wallet, a phone, and headphones have gone in these pockets. Wearing the overalls has given me what I assume is the same powerful feeling everyone who wears men’s pants possesses.
That’s because Carhartt is a company that tends to focus on utility over fashion. I mean look at these hideous tights I will probably buy. They have pockets!
Two weeks ago, curious to see if Carhartt’s commitment to utility carried over to skinny jeans, I took the $50 plunge and bought a pair of Carhartt skinny jeans for women. The day they arrived I immediately whipped off the more expensive and less durable-feeling skinny jeans I had on and shoved my body into the Carhartts. Then I pulled that pocket open wide and dropped my iPhone 11 Pro in.
The phone just disappeared. The pocket was the perfect height to swallow up the entire phone when dropped in vertically. A Pro Max, the taller regular iPhone 11, or Samsung’s new gigantic batch of S20s wouldn’t fit as well in the vertical position, but the pockets would work when the phones are placed horizontally.
I’ve spent years watching people wearing men’s jeans with smartphones in their pockets. The effect resembles a 6-inch rectangular tumor growing out of the thigh. As ugly as I’ve thought the look is, I’ve also been enamored. And now I’ve found a pair of pants tailored to the narrower waist and wider hips of many women that lets me look like I’ve got a tumor in my pocket, too.