Someone once asked me if there was a shop that sold just ONE item of clothing, what item would I choose? And out of my mouth, quite naturally and without hesitation, came “dresses with pockets”. It can be seen as one of those silly things that women love. I mean, there’s a meme about it so must be true, right?
Throughout the last few years, my favourite subject for a rant has been “things without pockets”. Because I feel that manufacturers have completely ignored the necessity of those little pouches of heavenly goodness. Case in point; workout bag. My beloved Jigsaw decided to let go one of the handles the other day, and now I’m desperately hoiking the poor pensioner on my shoulders whilst scouring the web for a replacement. And time and time again, the same issue repeats itself; I can get something cute [ban.do] or something practical. These two do not for me combine. The cute bags have one main pocket and two teeny side pockets for things like credit cards and oh-I-don’t-know earrings? And the practical ones come in all shades of black, grey or screamo pink. And as much as I love pink, it doesn’t really tickle me this time. I want something cutesy, a basic white girl bag that I can proudly haul to the gym and that can support my needs. Mainly, it needs to be huge (work outfit, clips, hair dryer, makeup bag, bathroom bag, two towels, shoes and other accoutrements really do add up), it needs to have an internal bag for wet stuff as well as a separate shoe compartment. Because I do not want my work outfit to come out of the bag covered in mud. I know, picky eh? I could even live without the wet bag and get a separate one, but an integrated shoe compartment is a must. And so far, none of the cute ones have it. And unfortunately, Caboodle no longer sell the Jigsaw bag.
In the more universal domain of clothing, I have a similar gripe. Because for some reason, very few items of clothing designed for women have pockets. For an example, I went looking for trousers for work the other
day week month, and there were a fair few pairs that looked kind of cute, but no pockets. Now, if you’re sitting there thinking that it’s just a cheap clothing thing (because we all know that George is my holy grail of outfits. Classy as anything.) and that designing clothing with pockets, or doing more stitching with pockets would run up more expensive, then explain this: most of the black trousers – you know, the very regular boring kind – have a spacer for the pockets. The manufacturer has done the stitching, they have gone through the trouble of designing the pair thinking “a pocket would look good right about there” and then SEWED IT SHUT. I’ve even gone as far as finding a small sliver of lining flapping about the mock pocket with the opening sewn shut. And I’m not talking “it’s a suit trouser so we’ll sew it shut so you can open it up at home” shut but clam-wham-whop-wallop-chastity belt shut. Even my beloved Betabrand has pants with the slightest whisper of a pocket, yet no banana.
And I’m not the only one in this confusion. The search “pockets women’s clothing” brings up over 21M hits. The discussion boards at Quora are continuously barraged with this discussion.
Even BuzzFeed, the holy grail for us white girls all over the world, has got in on the action.
It would be easy to blame history on this one. Back in the day, it was a standard for women to wear dresses with huge petticoats under them, and to a modern-day eye (at least mine), pockets don’t go well with that. But if the Victoria & Albert museum is anything to go by, pockets were a thing that women wanted, didn’t get and improvised. During the Suffragette era, we got us some pocket and promptly even carried weaponry in them.
In a BBC article, a concern for the lines within a woman’s clothing as well as the cost of producing the pocket in mass scale is mentioned. But what happened to pure practicality?
“But you carry a handbag the size of Egypt everywhere!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, I do. For essentials like four bottles of perfume, study notes and a pair of socks. But I’m not going to take my handbag with me every time I get up off my seat to go for a cigarette. Instead, even on the hottest days of the summer, I’m forced to take my jacket. Because carrying my cigarettes, phone, lighter and badge whilst having a smoke isn’t my idea of comfort. If I was a bloke, I could shove all these in my pocket and be done with it. And what if I’m at home and just want to nip to the shops? Technically all I’d need are my car keys, license and a debit card. But because I lack pockets, I’m forced to take a cumbersome bag with me in order to comfortably carry everything whilst I mosey on down the aisles of Sainsbury’s.
If you’re even about to suggest that nature created us a pocket, well then go to your local shop and try to pay after pulling money out of a furry purse and see where that goes.
This whole thing with clean lines and keeping our hips as small as possible is something I point blank refuse to understand. If a man can pick & choose when they wish people to see what’s in their pocket, surely we can too? Even with our itty-bitty-brains that constantly think about makeup and puppies and cooking, we can at times understand that shoving something bulky in a pocket will bulk the silhouette.
To add insult to injury, I have zero work trousers with actual functioning pockets. I have no dresses with pockets, no matter how flowy they are. But the one item of clothing that I have multiples of with pockets is…. Underwear. Yeah, not kidding. I have at least five pairs of shorts with either a back pocket or a small pocket at the front. What am I going to do with those pockets? Naff all. They’re cute though.
It’s time that clothing manufacturers start thinking less of penny-pinching and more of marketability and turnover. Selling at a low price doesn’t always mean more profit to the company. Selling at a lower margin, but at a higher volume will create more profit. And as you sell more and more, you will reach economies of scale and the CPP (cost per pocket) will decrease.
Pockets of Change had the right idea. This was a pop-up event in Australia, where Australian designers sold items strictly sticking to a theme; they all had pockets. ModCloth has a section dedicated to dresses with pockets although none of them I could wear to work; more work-appropriate clothes with pockets can be found at Boden. But the sad thing is that you will need to search for them before you find them. Mainstream shops like H&M and Dorothy Perkins do every now and then have little pockets of goodness, but it’s more of an exception than a rule. You would think that these companies producing clothing in China for very little cost could add a pocket to the clothing without it completely bankrupting them.
I for one would like to be able to step into any shop on the high street and be able to buy at least one dress and a pair of trousers with pockets. If guys can, why can’t we?
How about you, do you get incredibly irate at the slightest mention of pockets?