I Just Want to Put Stuff in My Pants: A brief history
-Written By Justin Marley, resident pocket user and writer
5 inches by 3 inches are the rough dimensions of an iPhone 6. 0 inches by 0 inches are the perceived dimensions of a woman’s jeans pockets. As a guy, for as long as I can remember I’ve been pulling random junk out of my pockets at the end of the day. Right now I have a pen, a piece of gum, my phone, and my wallet, all tucked safely away in my pockets. Why? Because the fashion industry doesn’t hate Men’s pockets, unlike the dreaded Female pocket.
Pockets should not be debatable. They’re useful, out of the way and seem to be an intuitive and practical choice. So why, then, don’t women get the opportunity to put stuff in their pockets? Easy. The fashion industry prefers men’s comfort to women’s. The fashion industry reinforces gender segregation by denying women the beautiful right of carrying useless garbage, much like the piece of gum and multiple pens that are in my pocket right now. Why is this elusive pocket so hateful to all of fashion, and why have women been denied the right of pockets for so long? A brief look through history might show us.
Pockets should not be debatable. They’re useful, out of the way and seem to be an intuitive and practical choice.
In fashion terms, the 1700’s were filled with the glory that was steel hoops, rib crushing corsets, and lice filled wigs. Unfortunately, proper pockets were absent from this extensively ostentatious wardrobe. Desperate for a way to carry their jewelry, money, and other random junk around with them; clever women would create their own pocket bags, and tie them around their waists. Hidden safely underneath their perfectly pressed dresses, they concealed the taboo fact that women, in fact, felt the need to carry belongings.
As time passed, instead of moving towards clothing that would include the pockets fashion moved in the opposite directions. With the fall of aristocracy during the French Revolution fashion designers turned back towards a more Roman figure, women were placed on a carnal pedestal for all to behold and lusted after as objects rather than actual people. As all travesties are born, their need for pockets was to be ignored. With a natural flowing dress design and empire waist, there was no place for a pocket, thus the Reticule shone down from the heavens like a shimmering Goddess of almost-pockets. Known today as the grandmother of modern handbags.
Born in France in the 1800s, these handbags spelled utter doom for pockets! Made of either velvet, silk, or other fine fabrics, with cute little straps for accessibility, women everywhere carried one. Men, who wore fashionable trousers with pockets were able to sleep happily never knowing the pain of praying to the pocket Goddess to rain down her tender mercy in the form of pockets. It only makes sense that in such the patriarchal world of the 1800s that men would have advantages like, voting, military duty, heading the household, and POCKETS! While females were forced into pocket-less servitude. They were raised into a group of home making and pocket missing people. Then, as it tends to happen, fashion industry and this sudden fashion change of the 1830s went full Nazi on women’s fashion.
All of sudden the artistic wonder that is the female body was covered from head to toe. From the random and arguably strange hair curls down to the broad, high necked, thin waists. The natural dress was gone, and the dreaded rib cracking corset was brought back from the darkest pits of hell. Even with this abrupt change, the pocket never did make an appearance as a design or necessity for women.
All of sudden the artistic wonder that is the female body was covered from head to toe.
Luckily the century turned once more and the conservative fashion started to calm down. Corsets were thrown to the wind and replaced by the idea of the Gibson Girl. With her hair done up in a gorgeous bouffant mess, fully lips and a long S-curve figure, the Gibson Girl was the pinnacle of upper class beauty at the turn of the century.
For the first time in centuries, women were seen as a Gibson girl was an equals, and in some situations superior to men. A prime example of this can be seen in Charles Dana Gibson’s pen and ink drawing “The Weaker Sex.”
Women staring down at a insect of a man, beginning to truly take charge of the world. Regardless of these bounds and leaps, pockets were never seen as a cultural or fashion need.
Pockets were still absent all the way through the suffrage movements and into a World War. Not a pocket was seen in women’s fashion, even with a growing need for women to carry things around with them. Pockets remained missing from women’s fashion. The 40’s came along and a cultural phenomenon of an outrageous idea came to be. Women wondered, what if I wore pants? How much more convenient would that be? With them women’s slacks became more popular than they had ever before.
With many women working in factories, working in the business force, or casually working around the house or gardening, skirts and dresses began to be less of a statement and more of a nuisance. At first women would wear their husband’s POCKETED trousers, but the fashion industry quickly picked up on this trend. Finally women had half-acceptable pockets. Pockets that were designed to do a very exciting job. Hold things. A novel idea. However, instead of using the next 30 years to perfect a feminized trouser with acceptable pockets that could actually do the job it was designed for, the fashion industry yet again did away with them.
Finally women had half-acceptable pockets. Pockets that were designed to do a very exciting job. Hold things. A novel idea.
As the years progressed, people seemed to forget the convenience of carrying things in pockets as handbags and purses became all the rage. From the ashes of their parents the Reticule and pocket bag, came the handbag, clutch, and purse. The dreaded nemesis of the Pocket. With the rise of Louis Vuitton, Couch, and Hermes, purses became the forefront of fashion. Expensive bags to hold all your junk with pride.
Purses became the social standard of accessory, completing an outfit and providing the perfect place to lug everything a women could possibly need, and a lot of stuff she didn’t. Effectively destroying any chances for female pockets becoming both a fashionable and functional part of clothing. With the rise of the purse industry, the malnourished female pocket was left to shrivel up and die, and for a time the world forgot about female pockets.
With the rise of the purse industry, the malnourished female pocket was left to shrivel up and die, and for a time the world forgot about female pockets.
Jump back to the present. With new technology in every corner and fashion going places we sometimes wished it wouldn’t (thank you naked dresses, heelless heels and tan leggings ), we live in a world filled with absurdly sized Smartphones and ridiculously small pockets. Purses are still flying high with both women and men users, myself included. Even with bags created to hold literally anything, the space between women’s pockets are getting absurdly small. Now, not only are pockets made completely unusable in women’s clothing, they are seen as decorative. Useless, tiny, decorative pockets. Apparently, fashion designers everywhere are having the same thoughts. “You know what these pants need? Pockets? You know what women wearing these pants need? Completely unusable pockets.” Why do men get to carry crap in their pockets, and women can’t?
It can definitely be linked back to the amazing journey women’s fashion has taken in the last 3oo years. Women have been fighting for equality for a long time, and there is still a long way to go. Feminism is dragging down the gender role wall and replacing it with freedom among all sexes. However, one thing has remained missing from this world, one thing that is keeping the fashion world in the past. Proper Female Pockets are still missing from our modern society. Women are not on the same level as men.
Yes, there are brilliant displays of Anti-fashion establishment clothing lines—such as the amazingly pocketed dress an old girlfriend of mine owns. However, these lines simply reinforce the atrocious fact that despite our best efforts the fashion world still remains segregated, and until we can accept that pockets are necessary for all genders the fashion world will remain split and the female pocket will remain the thorn in the Fashion world’s side.
Written By: Justin Marley
Edited By: Dressing Optimistically
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