What’s the Deal with Women's Pants?

Anne Vaeth
4 min readMay 4, 2021

Note: This was written 5 years ago, and recently found while doing a clean-up of Google Drive. I still agree with every single word, but I’m pretty sure my writing has improved since.

three pairs of denim jeans on an off-white background
Photo by Mica Asato from Pexels

What’s the deal with women’s pants? All the wearers of women’s pants understand the struggles. Not only do the sizes make no logical sense, and not only are sizes inconsistent, the lack of decent-sized pockets is just the icing on the cake.

For 20 years of my life, I have been wearing pants. For many of those years, I have been wearing women’s (or “ladies” or “misses” or whatever the stores call them) size pants, and nothing makes sense. There are three main problems with women’s pants: sizes, inconsistency, and pockets.

The last time I bought pants was a couple of weeks ago at Target. First problem: sizes. Women's sizes are numbers, but the numbers don’t seem to follow any logic. Sizes range from 00 to 16+, the question is -“5 what?” Unlike men’s pants, the answer is simple: a size 32–34 pair of jeans has a 32-inch waist and a 34-inch length. So simple. A women’s size 5 does definitely not have a 5-inch waist, and as for any indications of length, women rely on subjective measurements such as “short” and “tall.”

Recently, women’s pants, as seen on store-brand jeans at Target and JCPenney, having been including other size measurements, so the pair of jeans I ended up picking up at Target was labeled “10/30S”…10 of whatever the hell women’s pants are measured, or 30-inch waist. The S is meant to mean short, but I’m 5’3”, which is pretty average. So that doesn’t make sense either.

The second main issue is the lack of consistency. Not only does the fit of a size 10/30S vary by brand and style, the same brand and style of pants fit completely differently. Like many other human beings, I like a variety of colors of my jeans, so I went to grab a darker pair as well, same brand, style, and size. Just to double-check, I tried them on, and — of course — they do no fit.

I ended up leaving Target after way too long, with a size 10/30S pair of blue jeans, and a size 12/31S, of the same style and brand, in black.

Bottom line: women's pants sizes are an infuriating guessing game.

The next problem is the pockets, as in — where the hell are they, and why are they so small? Jeans used to have five pockets. There were two in the back, two in the front, and that little mini Chapstick-sized pocket inside the right front pocket. These pockets were big enough for a wallet, your hands, notepad, or even a graphing calculator.

This is not a new concept, there has always been a level of sexism in the world of pants pockets. In fact, women’s clothing didn’t have any form of pockets until much later than men’s clothing. Pockets began appearing in men’s clothing in the 1600s. Women, on the other hand, utilized hip pouches, and then purses, and it wasn’t until the 1900s that women began to enjoy the genius invention that is pockets. When women did finally receive pockets, they were more decorative them useful.

Now, of the seven pairs of pants I own (including five jeans and two other pants) two of them have fake pockets, four of them have pockets that can’t fit much of anything, and only one of them has front pockets large enough for an ID or a phone. I even took into account that my phone is on the larger side, so it cannot really fit in any pocket. Side note: fake pockets are an evil mind trick.

The microscopic nature of pockets makes them basically useless. Now in order to compensate for this uselessness, women are forced into other options, namely purses or wallets. Of course, women’s wallets are too big for pockets, but that’s not even the point. Purses and wallets, although they are cute, they can get in the way. Do you know what’s really fun? Asking your brother to put your phone in his pocket because it won’t fit in yours and you really didn’t feel like lugging a purse around the county fair. All you really needed was your phone and wallet, and that’s what pockets are for, right? Wrong. That’s what men’s pockets are for.

The point is that women’s pants make no sense, from sizing to style to evil fake pockets and useless small pockets. Women are forced into storage-less pants, and then it becomes a necessity to purchase a purse, wallet, or something similar (or just have your hands full all the time). In addition, I have noticed that women’s pants tend to be made of thinner material than men’s, so they tear easier, causing women to buy even more pants, but that’s a topic for another day.

Bottom line: pants are too much of a struggle and the emotional and physical cost is just too high for the basic need to be clothed. I do enjoy a good shopping trip, but never have I ever enjoyed shopping for pants.

So I ask you this, pant industry: What gives?



Anne Vaeth

A communications professional trying to turn the jumble of thoughts in my brain into actual words.