Have you ever wondered why pockets are so special to us? To women specifically. Buckle up – it’s time for a history lesson!
The tea on pockets
The lack of pockets in women’s clothing is more than just annoying – it’s actually a sexist and political women’s rights issue that dates back centuries.
Traditionally throughout history, women stayed at home while the men worked outside. Since men were the ones who carried all the $, paperwork, and the keys to and from the house, tailors thought they were the only ones who needed practicality in their apparel.
So what did women do?
They had to tuck their handbags under the poof in their dresses! (Smart! We love a hidden pocket!) Except back then a pocket under a skirt had fatal implications. During the 16th & 17th century witch hunts, women who were burned at the stake for “being witches” were also accused of smuggling herbs, potions, and poisons in their, you guessed it, hidden pockets.
Women were banned from having pockets
Then during the French Revolution, women were banned from having pockets because they were seen as a secret way to hide revolutionary material! The idea was that if we take pockets away from women, we could take away their participation in politics too!
At the beginning of the 17th century (think corsets and bustles), hidden pockets didn’t work anymore because you’d have to basically get undressed in public to access your belongings. Therefore, tie-on style “pockets” (aka mini pouches aka purses) were introduced.
Fast fwd to the Victorian era.
Women’s fashion was focused on tiny waists and looking ornate & delicate. Pockets were deemed too bulky bc they detracted from a woman’s figure, so this time around, pockets simply were not in style. Eventually, during the women’s suffrage movement, pockets actually became a symbol of women’s rights!
In 1954, Christian Dior cemented the patriarchy of pockets by saying “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” So that explains the superficial pocket stitchings on my middle school jeans and the super shallow pockets that I could never fit anything in.
No wonder that in 2023 women still get excited over pockets! We’ve been denied them for centuries! I’m gonna keep celebrating my love of pockets not only bc they’re functional but bc they’re also a symbol of our autonomy & freedom.