Did you know pockets are political? Me either! Sexist even? I know!
Much has been written about how sexism dictates whether a garment gets usable pockets. While class unquestionably plays a part, men’s clothing tends to have capacious, visible pockets; women’s clothing tends to have small pockets, if any at all. Content with their pockets, men have little to say about them, but women have been complaining about the inadequacy of their pockets for more than a century. “One supremacy there is in men’s clothing… its adaptation to pockets,” Charlotte P. Gilman wrote for the New York Times in 1905. She continues, “Women have from time to time carried bags, sometimes sewn in, sometimes tied on, sometimes brandished in the hand, but a bag is not a pocket.”
We all go bananas for dresses with pockets, because you get the freedom and the utility without a handbag. Imagine not having to be a packhorse, just dipping into your pocket because you need a tissue or lip balm. Luxury!
So, why don’t we have pockets?
Pockets weren’t a thing until the Middle Ages. Before then, everyone has little tie on purse things. Then they figured out you could tie on the bag under your clothes if there was an access slit in the side seam. Then came the pocket: a place for brigands to hide poison and knives.
Consider this : when you wear super fitted clothing, no room for pockets. Thanks, French Revolution. The less you can carry, the less freedom you have. You need to ask The Man for money, for assistance, for because you can’t carry it. Heck, you might even have something dangerous. Well, shit. We don’t want the wimmins having the danger things.
Buzzing with new thought, I caught up with Suki for a drink at Miss Jane. All excited with my new found knowledge I challenged the contents of our pockets. I had a lipstick, a shopkin, a dog treat, and a hair tie. Suki had lollies left over from Essie’s birthday party, two lots of bubbles, and a hair tie. Evidence of children, life, stuff we need for ourselves.
Clothing is still designed for women without pockets to keep the bag trade rolling and because it makes weird bulgy things on those nice lines we are supposed to have.
Poo to that.
Part of the love we have for design is breaking these sorts of ‘rules’: comfort, function, ease, celebrating beautiful textiles and having FUN is so bloody important. If our clothes don’t serve the life we have, then what’s the point?
You’ll always find pockets in our patterns, whenever they fit in. You’ll never know when you’ll need that shopkin.