5 Things You Never Knew About Your Clothes

Those little pockets are for something.

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(Image credit: Tyler Joe, design by Betsy Farrell)

Usually, we're so caught up in how they look on us that we forget someone put a lot of thought and effort into making our clothes. (You try cutting trousers that don't come out like paper-towel tubes sometime—it ain't easy.) Here, in appreciation of high design, five hidden features built into our shirts and pants.

You're not the only one who's tried to snap miscellaneous objects onto those infernal plug-like thingies. Are they for aesthetic purposes? (Could be prettier, if so.) For making it hurt more when you misjudge and crash hip-first into a corner? (Probably.) But nah—the real purpose is far less nefarious. They're called rivets, and Levi Strauss invented them in 1829 to reinforce miners' trousers (to keep them from wearing out so quickly). Most of us are likelier to rip our trousers dancing to "Toxic" than doing hard manual labor, but now we know who to thank when we get low and they stay intact.

Not for hooking your thumbs onto before you break out into some aggressive finger-snapping—in the days of cattle-wrangling and shootouts at the O.K. Corral, that pint-sized pocket was intended to hold your grandpappy's pocket watch so it wouldn't get smashed while you were roping a particularly spirited steer. Some hipster probably still uses it to carry his Vintage Timepiece (Very Rare)™, but as one Facebook commenter pointed out, a key fob fits pretty well in there too.

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(Image credit: Courtesy, design by Betsy Farrell)

Synopsis: You could be using it for more than absentmindedly sticking your fingers into the slits.

Did you take our advice and buy these jeans that are like old-school Levi's you have to have luck and skill and the time to set eBay alerts to find? But then did that make you wonder why we still struggle to suck in and button when we could suck in and just zip up, which is physically much faster and more forgiving? Aside from the fact that the XYZ came almost half a century later, your choice of fastener has become a matter of personal branding, according to the experts at Levi's—buttons for traditionalists who have the time and patience to do up buttons, zippers for everybody else. But modesty might have something to do with it too—for a while, button fly was considered too risqué for women.

Or why do I usually not notice until I try to stuff my hands in and am cruelly rebuffed? Turns out there are a few logical reasons for forcing us to snip post-purchase: 1) so the garment can be properly fitted (think about how much billow-ier your legs get after the pockets have been opened 😠); 2) so it keeps its streamlined shape on the dummy; and 3) so you don't grubby up the linings with your filthy hands. Honestly, for all the trouble and hippiness, maybe not worth it.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.