They were first used with the original Levi’s “waist overalls” jeans in 1890. People don’t use pocket watches anymore, but the pockets are still around. Ever notice those little pockets on your jeans?
They’re pretty much too small to be useless. But in ye olden times, it had an important purpose: The pocket held a pocket watch.
The ubiquity of the pockets can be traced back to the design for “waist overalls,” the original name for the blue jeans made by Levi Strauss & Co. They appear on the design in the patent Strauss and J.W. Davis received for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket Openings,” way back on May 20, 1873, and were first put into mass use in 1890 with the “Lot 501” jeans, the model for Levis 501 jeans today.
“The watch pocket was a feature of our first waist overalls,” Tracey Panek, the in-house historian at Levi Strauss & Co., said in an email. “The oldest pair of waist overalls in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives [from 1879] includes the watch pocket.”
Because the small pocket was meant to hold pocket watches, you won’t usually find it on suit pants. Suit jackets already have pocket watches, which makes one on the pants superfluous. Levis Strauss himself, for example, kept a pocket watch in the vest of his business suit, according to Panek.
Pretty much no one today carries around a pocket watch. People tend to check the time on their phones or wristwatches. Panek said that the small pockets are kept on Levi’s jeans today to maintain the integrity of the original design.
Since wristwatches have almost completely replaced pocket watches, the “watch pocket” in jeans has become obsolete. However, there are several modern uses for the watch pocket you can try for yourselves:
- Use it as a coin pocket: Although it’s a bit deep which makes it difficult to reach the small change you put in here, its depth also means that these coins won’t fall out very easily.Use it as a music player pocket: It’s great to hold a small Ipod or MP3 player.Use it as a comb pocket: You can fit a small comb in there for any hair emergencies.￼
- Use it as a floss pocket: A small pack of floss can fit in there for spinach-in-teeth emergencies. Alternatively, it’s great for storing toothpicks. Just be careful not to prick yourself!
- Use it as a mouth freshener pocket: A small pack of gum or mouth-freshener can fit in there.
- Use it as a plectrum holder: Plectrums are so easy to lose. Never lose them again with your very own plectrum pocket!
- Use it for your favorite cosmetic: It’s great as a lipstick or lip balm pocket. Alternatively, it can store a small tube of mascara, or even a small mirror. A nail file also fits snugly in here but beware if you’re going to be sitting – these may snap if not strategically placed!
- Use it as as plaster pocket: Perfect for band-aids. Recommended for clumsy folks.Use it as as tissue pocket: You never know when you might need one.Use it as as lighter pocket
- Use it as a key pocket; Use it as a USB memory stick pocket; Use it as as ticket pocket: The technical tailoring term for the watch pocket is a “ticket pocket” and this is quite apt because you can genuinely use it for ticket-storing purposes. You can use it for train tickets, bus tickets or cinema tickets. Warning: Only put tickets in here if you don’t mind them getting very crumpled…
- Use it as a Swiss army knife pocket: In case you need a can opener or corkscrew at a second’s notice.Use it as a pen /pencil holder: Stick a little folded piece of paper or notebook in there alongside that pen or pencil and you’re set for all urgent note-taking eventualities. Talking of pieces of paper, this pocket is also fantastic to store shopping lists.
- Use it as a snack holder: It’s the perfect size to put a small snack bar.
- Use it as a flag holder: It’s Independence Day and your arm is getting tired from waving your flag. Never fear, flag-holder-pocket is here! Not just for Independence Day! Also useful for any everyday flag use.
- Use it as a wand holder: For extreme Harry Potter fans.
- Use it as a thumb warmer: Okay, so it’s not the comfiest of pockets for your thumbs, but it’s skin tight so will provide lots of body heat to warm those digits in no time.