Your Phony Pockets May Not Be Phony Besides

woman smiling with hands in blazer pockets

Image: Cemerlang Pictures (Shutterstock)

I still remember the time I was in a parking lot after work, absentmindedly shoving my hand into a fake blazer pocket, when I realized there was a hole in the stitching. Great, I thought, there’s still no place to put my phone and now I have a hole in my blazer. I fiddled with the loose thread and realized that’s not what was going on: Beyond the stitching was a full pocket lining. I picked out the remaining thread found myself with an entire pocket. Two, actually: there was another on the opposite side.

I really felt silly, since I recognized that pockets as well as pleats are frequently attached closed to maintain them clean while they’re awaiting the shop, as well as yet I was so utilized to locating phony pockets on my garments (ladies’s pockets are so often bullshit) that I neglected this can take place to me. So consider this your pointer to check the sewing at any time you try out a garment with phony pockets.

Where you’ll find these mystery pockets

Pockets tend to be sewn shut on clothes that are formal or business-y, especially suits. Keep an eye out for:

  • breast pockets on men’s suit jackets
  • front pockets on lined blazers
  • back pockets on dress pants

While you’re at it, also look for a big “X” of thread on the vents at the side of a suit jacket or the kick pleat at the back of a skirt or dress. That thread is meant to be cut so the vent or pleat can open. Suits may also have a fabric label on the sleeve, near the cuff, which is likewise intended to be removed.

How to tell if a pocket is real or fake

First, if the garment has no lining, your job is easy. Just look at the opposite side of the fabric to see if there is a big square piece of pocket lining, or if you’re just looking at the back side of the fake pocket slit.

If the garment is lined, though, you may need to feel around for that pocket lining. Can you detect an extra layer of fabric?

You can also do a plausibility check: is there enough room for a pocket in this space? If the blazer is short and the fake pocket is close to the bottom, it may well be fake.

But most importantly: what is the stitching inside the pocket like? When a pocket is sewn shut, it’s usually not stitched tight. It’s often loose, so that it can be easily pulled out. Poke at the corners of the pocket opening and see if anything gives.

How to liberate your not-fake pockets

If you’re thinking about this while you’re still at the store, ask the cashier or salesperson if they can open the pockets for you. Stores that sell suits will be familiar with the not-fake pocket phenomenon and will be able to open them for you.

If you’re on your own, the easiest way to get started is to bring the garment to a place with good lighting and peek inside. Gently pull the sides of the pocket apart, near the corners, and you may notice something start to give.

You often can use your fingers or a handy tool (like a pin or pencil) to unpick the first few threads, and the rest should easily follow. But if the pocket seems to be securely stitched, you’ll need to cut the thread.

The very best device for that task is a seam ripper, which you can purchase any type of shop that markets embroidery or craft products. It has a small spike that you can put beneath a stitch, as well as a U-shaped blade that reduces the string. Cut a stitch or 2 in this manner, et cetera must come right out.

If you don’t have a seam ripper, any fine-pointed scissors will do the job as well. Just be careful you’re only cutting the thread that sews the pocket shut, and not the neighboring fabric.

 

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