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What are Besom Pockets?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated May 21, 2024
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Besom pockets are pockets that are cut into a garment, rather than being sewn on. They generally have reinforced edging or piping along the slit of pocket. This edging can take the form of an extra strip of fabric or stitching. Besom pockets are commonly found on garments such as tuxedo jackets and men's slacks, but can be tailored into almost any piece of clothing.

Pockets on casual wear, such as the back pockets on denim jeans, are known as set-out. This is because they are attached to the outside of the garment and stitched around their entire edge. Besom pockets, on the other hand, are known as set-in, since they are attached to a point inside the clothing and only stitched at their top edge.

The reinforced stitching or edging along the opening of a besom pocket can take several forms. It can be a functional stitching; a decorative strip of fabric, such as satin; or a more elaborate pattern for decorative clothing. A satin strip is most often used in tuxedo jackets, or men's suit jackets, for a more formal appearance. Besom pockets can have a flap or button closure at the opening, or can simply be plain.

It is also possible to have a double besom pocket, which has two strips of reinforced edging. The first strip is along the edge of the pocket that opens, and the second is just above that. When the pocket it closed, the double besom will appear as two lines running parallel to each other.

Besom pockets are alternatively called bound, welt, piped, or Reece pockets. This is named for a sewing machine, developed in 1958 by John Reece, that was able attach the pocket, cut the opening for it, and stitch the top edge all in one cycle. Reece was a French Canadian who founded the Reece Corporation, a sewing company. In 1991, his company merged with AMF Sewn Products to supply industrial sewing machines to the fashion industry.

One drawback to the besom pocket is that it is not as functional as a set-out pocket. In part, this is due to the lack of stitching along the bottom edge of the pocket. In addition, the inner pocket liner is usually made of thin material, to preserve the smooth look of a garment. This limits its ability to hold items or endure repeated washings. For this reason, Besom pockets are most often sewn in for appearance rather than function.

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Discussion Comments

By seag47 — On Jun 30, 2011

I have noticed that both my waterproof shorts and my husband's swim trunks have besom pockets, and they can be quite handy. The inner lining of these pockets is made of mesh material.

His pockets do not have a button, but mine do. I wear these shorts on the beach when we stay at a hotel that actually still gives out room keys instead of cards to its guests, and I put the key in my pocket. The spaces between the center button and the edges of the pocket are narrow enough to keep the key from slipping out into the ocean.

By orangey03 — On Jun 30, 2011

I bought some great black capris several years ago that had besom pockets on the back. I never used my back pockets for anything but to sit on, so I didn't mind that they weren't that strong or deep.

The rear pockets had satin strips sewn onto their edges. They also had one button per pocket and a single tongue flap containing the button extending over each one. The buttons were so flat that I really did not notice them when I sat down.

These capris also had side besom pockets with similar satin strips. I'm not sure what they were made of, but the material definitely had some cotton in it and some sort of fabric with a sheen to it.

By wavy58 — On Jun 29, 2011

When I buy clothes, I normally don't stick my hands down into the pockets to inspect them. On more than one occasion, I have been disappointed to find that I bought pants with besom pockets.

I like to carry my cell phone in my pocket, and sometimes I will carry my car keys in there as well, if there is room. I usually don't notice besom pockets until I try to stick my cell phone into one and it won't go because the pocket isn't deep enough.

I can see how this type of pocket could be more attractive than outer pockets, especially on dress pants. I just prefer function over form.

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