You might not often think about women’s pockets, but it might be time to change that. There are a few issues with women’s pockets, the main being that you can barely fit anything in them.
This isn’t a new problem for women. Women’s skinny jeans have incredibly tiny pockets, with barely any room in the front, and useless back pockets that everyone knows are just an invitation for your phone to slip into the toilet. Purse compartments don’t always fit cell phones, and it can be a risky move throwing it into the main compartment.
But it’s not just skinny jeans. Women’s trousers, dresses, blazers, and skirts share the same problem. Even worse, some items have fake pockets that look like pockets, but are really just some sort of deceptive, decorative trickery.
Long ago, everyone carried bags – even men. In the Medieval era, bags were tied to the waist or suspended from belts, and soon people started hiding the bags under layers of clothing in order to hide certain items.
In the seventeenth century, pockets permanently became part of men’s clothing, while women’s pockets failed to make the transition. Women continued to wear bags, which could surprisingly fit a lot, but they were very heavy. They were also highly decorated.
A 1954 Christian Dior statement suggested, “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” This quote is essentially just an example of how gender roles appear in clothing. Men’s clothing is designed for effectiveness; women’s clothing is designed for attractiveness. This clearly illustrates how pockets reinforce sexist ideas of gender.
But pockets are more than sexist. They’re political, too. During the French Revolution, women were gaining increasing freedom, but clothing designed for women seemed to be preventing that. By limiting the amount of space women had to carry private items, women were, in turn, limited from navigating public spaces by themselves. Smaller pockets meant less freedom.
Camila Olson, creative director of a high tech fashion firm, believes that the fashion industry is too focused on the visual appeal of women’s clothing rather than its functionality. She says men live simpler, easier lives, and their clothing represents that. On the way to a meeting, a man can easily throw his phone and keys in his pockets. But a woman on her way to the same meeting has to either carry those items in her hand or in her purse. Either way, the man has it simpler.
As far as a solution, there is definitely hope. Chanel recently came out with a leather holster accessory meant to be worn at the waist. Fanny packs could make a comeback if designed well enough. The good news is that brands have started to join the conversation on women’s pockets. We’ll all just have to stay tuned to see what they come up with.
Featured image via Wikimedia