In an era where you need to carry something you necessarily don’t want to put in a purse or bag, it’s surprising that most women’s clothes don’t have pockets like men’s.
The ones that do are few, and sometimes such pockets are too small to be functional or only for decorative purposes. Why don’t women’s clothes have pockets? Is there something more to it than meets the eye?
A Brief History Of Pockets In Women’s Clothes
Pockets were not always sewn into clothes. Men and women mostly used pouches and bags to carry their stuff. However, during the middle ages, fashion designers became more innovative by introducing pockets in clothes.
Instead of carrying a pouch tied to your clothes by a rope, or a bag, you could just put your things in your pocket. As such, trousers, shirts, waistcoats, etc., started having pockets.
However, these pockets were only restricted to men’s clothes. Women still had to use pouches or bags if they had any stuff to carry around. Why was this so? There are some possible explanations.
Before the advent of feminism, societies were mainly patriarchal. Most of the benefits men enjoyed weren’t accessible to women. Even when these benefits were made accessible, men were the first participants.
Since society didn’t consider men and women equal in bigger things such as controlling inheritance, civic duties, etc., why would such a society deem it fit for men and women to be equal in terms of clothes’ functions – pockets?
Secrecy and privacy
It was believed, during the middle ages, that women weren’t entitled to their secrecy and privacy. However, men were entitled to such. After all, a woman’s work was to tend the home and care for the children; what’s there to be secretive or private about?
Since men were in charge of more significant matters like controlling properties, government, social contribution, security, etc., they had the right to be private and secretive, and pockets can be helpful in this regard.
There were also fears about women becoming immoral when they have pockets. Societies that existed before feminism held women to higher moral standards than men.
A man could have concubines outside his marriage or have lovers before he eventually gets married, but a woman was allowed none of such. Having pockets could mean women keeping secret notes, amongst other things, from lovers.
However, things changed in 1891 when The Rationalist Dress Society started fighting to abolish restrictive clothing for women. Besides, the world wars re-engineered the work landscape, and women had to do works previously done by men for survival.
More functional clothes were produced for women, and some had pockets. If you want to learn more about the history of pockets, watch this video :
Why Are Pockets Important In Women’s Clothes?
What exactly is the hype about women’s clothes having pockets? Are pockets that important? Do they serve a need beyond decorative purposes? Read on to know why pockets are essential in women’s clothes.
Pockets store your valuables like your phone, keys, etc. You don’t have to carry a bag or a purse all around because you want to hold a few things.
Even though bags and purses are accessories that make our outfits classy, they can be a burden sometimes. It’s not every day you want to hold a purse or sling a bag over your shoulder.
Hold your hands
While pockets make your hands free, they can also help hold your hands. You can easily put your hands inside your pockets if you aren’t doing anything serious with them instead of leaving them hanging by your side awkwardly.
The caveat is that you can only put your hands inside pockets big enough to contain them, not faux pockets!
Pockets can also be used to create beautiful designs on women’s clothes. Some pockets aren’t just functional; they spark a conversation!
Imagine people walking up to tell you how your clothes look more stylish because of the thoughtfully-designed pockets; it’ll surely make you feel more confident.
Different types of pockets can be used to design your clothes. They include flap pockets, patch pockets, side seam pockets, etc.
Beyond being functional and decorative, pockets have quite a history. Long before now, many mainly patriarchal societies saw pockets in women’s clothes as something women didn’t need because nothing they did warranted it or as an avenue to fan flames of immorality.
In light of this, it’s possible for women to feel less than men. But with pockets being in women’s clothes, women don’t have to feel less-than. They can confidently stand on an equal footing with men where it matters.
Sometimes, women’s clothes can be tight to create a perfect silhouette. But pockets make your clothes breathable and spacious enough. You won’t have to feel choked in the outfit, which can ruin your mood and spoil your day.
5 Reasons Why Women’s Clothes Don’t Have Pockets
Women’s clothes not having pockets doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are reasons attached to it. Below are some of them:
Many fashion designers don’t intentionally make pockets in women’s clothes because that’s mostly how it’s always been.
There’s a long history of women’s clothes not functional enough to contain pockets, and many producers don’t see the need to change the status quo.
Another reason women’s clothes don’t have pockets is that some societies see it as a sign of revolution against a longstanding order.
They believe that while pockets themselves are no big deal, the intention behind demanding for them is. Following this, it’s less likely for women’s clothes in such societies to have pockets.
Some major, agelong perceptions about women’s beauty hold that pockets ruin a woman’s silhouette. The chances of putting things in your pocket if it’s functional are high, and this makes that part of your body bulge, spoiling the perfect silhouette you’d have had.
Some people also believe that carrying things that make your pocket bulge as a woman flouts the rules of etiquette and insults your femininity. As such, some designers think, “why ruin a silhouette or insult femininity by adding pockets to women’s clothes?
It’s touted that pockets in women’s clothes will reduce the handbag industry’s sales. Many women buy extra handbags and purses for things they can carry in a functional pocket.
However, while this is true, it’s crucial to remember that handbags, beyond carrying stuff, are a part of a woman’s fashion statement. Therefore, they are accessories that will always be needed.
The cost of production affects pockets and other essential things like stitching, buttons, hems, fabric, etc. Manufacturers who produce large quantities of clothes factor in how much each item in a piece of clothes costs, multiplied by the number they intend to make.
If the production cost weighs too much on the selling price and the profit margin is too low for their liking, they remove some items from such clothes.
Pockets fall within the first range of things to be scraped from women’s clothes. In dire situations, other items like stitching, buttons/zips, fabric, etc., may be tampered with. If you want to learn more, watch this video :
Is The Narrative Changing?
Ever since The Rationalist Dress Society, amongst other movements, began lobbying for more utilitarian fashion options for women in 1891 and beyond, it’s safe to say that the narrative is changing.
More than ever, fashion brands looking to have a major share in the market are more responsive to customers’ needs, including making pockets in women’s clothes. You’ll find pockets in most women’s clothes such as gowns, trousers, shirts, suits, skirts, coats, overalls, etc.
However, the change in the narrative might not be as fast as many want, as it can be pretty challenging to break down agelong perceptions.
As a woman, it can be challenging to get clothes with pockets in some areas. But here are 3 things you can do if you want to lend your voice to the narrative and have more pockets.
Shop brands who make women’s clothes with pockets
If you’re disappointed with your clothes because they don’t have pockets, it’s time to change your fashion brand. Research fashion brands inclusive enough to add pockets to a wide range of women’s clothes.
Amazon is an excellent place to start. There are many brands in the market that provide what you want.
Sew pockets in your clothes
If you are very good at sewing, you can sew pockets into your clothes. Besides making those clothes more functional and comfortable for you, sewing is an activity that you’ll enjoy.
If you don’t have the time to sew, find a good tailor. If you mostly wear tailor-made clothing items, you can tell the tailor to include pockets in your clothes. You can also decide the design, size, and location.
Register your opinions in fashion surveys
Customer-centered fashion brands always ask for feedback from their customers for better service and higher quality. This can be commenting on a social media post, filling a survey, sending an email, posting a letter, etc.
Whichever form it takes, ensure to register your opinion that women’s clothes need more functional pockets. This goes a long way in reshaping the products of the fashion brand in question and influencing other fashion entrepreneurs to follow suit.
Women’s clothes have had a long history of being without pockets, but thanks to the change in the economy and movements championing more utilitarian fashion choices for women, the narrative is changing.
You can also be a part by intentionally looking out for clothes with pockets when shopping, sewing pockets into your clothes, and registering your opinion as feedback for fashion brands.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.