History of Pockets 101: Why Women's Pockets are Just The Worst

Welcome to a History of Pockets!

In this class, you’ll be introduced to the history of pockets and why pockets are important to Holdette (and women). Let’s dive into it!

The pocket inequality stretches back to the 17th century, when men’s clothing had internal pockets and women’s clothes lacked them.  But as we know, women are creative, and since they still had belongings they needed to hold women of higher class would wrap a sack around their waist with string and then tuck the sack under their petticoats to create a makeshift pocket.

As the 1600’s carried on, the sacks became more elaborate with embroidery and other adornments. Later, women’s dresses improved to have a slit where they could access their sack “pockets”. However, these pockets were only worn by the wealthiest of women during this time and often were looked at as a status symbol.

Then in the 18th Century, women’s wear slimmed down and had no room for these make-shift pockets due to the silhouette of the dress. This is where the Reticules came into show. They were dainty bags, like the ones before, that were decorative and could be held in a woman’s hand. These also were greatly a status symbol at the time. Instead of being able to move about hands-free women now had to carry items like the modern-day purses.These bags were usually small, as women at that time had to rely on men to hold their money for them. 

This historic oppression clearly demonstrates the way in which a lack of pockets existed to restrain women from reaching their full potential.

As men went off to fight in both of the World Wars, women started working in factories. As clothes for hands-on work of that kind had only been done by men previously, designers started producing similarly utilitarian clothing for women which meant women got pants that had pockets for the first time.

The end of World War II meant women were sent back into the household to care for their families. At this point the fashion industry became obsessed with the silhouette of the woman, taking away anything that distracted from her frame. This meant slim fitting clothing that had no room for pockets and so that new found freedom was taken  again much like it had been back in the 17th century. 

In a report done by the Spectator, Christian Dior (1954) said: “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” His comment reflects the women's clothes were viewed at that time, created for beauty not utility.

In the ‘70s and ‘90s women’s wear started taking inspiration from menswear. Women like Hillary Clinton wore slacks and suits as a way to gain respect among their male peers. Simultaneously, designer handbags gained popularity sending functional pockets into the distance. 

Today, we have phones bigger than women’s pockets, innovation continues to be made for a male consumer, and the fashion industry is stuck in it’s ways.

Pocket history, represents the inequality between genders. Women have had to rely on men to carry their belongings or be bogged down by a purse. “Pockets are political”. Pockets demonstrate the lack of  freedom women have as they are forced to carry fewer items just due to a lack of functionality.

Think this is all B.S.? Us too. Join our waitlist to be part of a pocket revolution!

History of Pockets 101: Why Women's Pockets are Just The Worst


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