About 100 years ago, women’s clothing began to be systematically stripped of its storage capabilities
In this episode of Everything Should Be Better, Tristin Hopper recounts how women’s clothing lost their pockets, and why we should bring them back. Watch the video above, or read the transcript below.
In 2018, the U.K.’s Royal Automobile Club did a survey of British drivers and estimated that the U.K. was annually losing the equivalent of $300 million on lost car keys. The biggest key losers of all? Women.
Men were much more likely to lock their keys in the car, but nearly half of all women reported that they often didn’t even know where their keys were.
But it’s not women’s fault. It’s the fault of the psychopathic sadists in charge of making their clothes.
I’m a man, so my keys go in my ample hip pocket, along with my wallet, my phone and my commuting knife. But where is a woman to put her keys? Not here. Not here. Definitely not here. Maybe on this skirt? No, that’s just a fake pocket. Surely this baggy faux fur coat would have … no? Sweat pants? No? This dress with inspirational feminist symbols on it? No. Okay, wow.
Now, it didn’t used to be this way at all. In 14th century Europe, women walked around with a utility belt. Fast-forward five hundred years, and at the time of the American Revolution, women typically have pockets sewn into their underwear, accessible through discreet slits in their dresses.
And these were gargantuan pockets: You could fit a pocket watch, a pin-cushion, a snuff box, a nutmeg grater, a comb, a knife, several handkerchiefs and still have space for a gin flask and a pepperbox revolver. These women couldn’t vote, but they could schlep some gear.
You think Indigenous people were screwing around in clothes without storage capabilities? In the Arctic, the traditional Inuit parka comes with a built-in pocket to hold a baby. And you’d probably have a sewing kit around your neck in case the parka rips. No rooting around in their purse for these ladies.
Then, starting about 100 years ago, something horrifying started to happen. Women’s clothing began to be systematically stripped of its storage capabilities. Women started entering the work force, requiring dresses to get less pouffy and more form-fitting, and suddenly there weren’t a bunch of hiding places for booze and guns.
There are exceptions, of course. Here’s the future Queen Elizabeth II repairing trucks. Here’s some glorious space pockets on female astronauts. And look, here’s Canada’s top Mountie. But we’ve essentially decided that if a woman is doing something even remotely dressy, then storage capability is the first to go.
So what are we to do?
The fashion industry is notoriously stubborn and resistant to change, but they will notice if they start losing sales to a number of fashion startups that are openly offering pocketed women’s clothing.
Like the women’s wear brand Pivotte, which makes practical office pants that can actually hold stuff. Or the heroes down at ModCloth who can hook you up with a pocketed dress. Add to that a growing number of trend-setters that are rocking the pockets, like Marion Cotillard, and look who’s decided to recapture her pocketed youth?
The battle for pockets will be long and difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just look at the men around you ladies. Here’s how men used to have to dress. Three hundred years later, it’s all convenient black suits filled with pockets.
Our triumph can be your triumph, ladies, but you must be vigilant.