How come men’s clothing comes along with a lot of pockets, and those with a distinctly feminine fashion, such as skirts and jeans, can only have useless pockets?
The boys go out and stuff their cell phones, wallets, and all sorts of stuff into their pockets, while pockets designed for women are so small they can’t even fit their cell phones inside, and to get anywhere they must carry a bag. How can there be such a huge difference?
According to a study by Pudding.cool, researchers picked 80 pairs of jeans from the 20 best-selling fashion brands in the U.S., including brands we know as H&M, Levi’s, GAP, etc. By measuring the pocket sizes of different jeans, they found that women’s pockets are indeed smaller than men’s.
On average, the pockets of women’s jeans are 48% shallower and 6.5% narrower than men’s jeans, and the pocket depth is only about half of the men’s jeans. If you have no idea about this difference, let’s take an Apple iPhone X phone for example. 100% of men’s pockets can fit the iPhone X, while only 40% of women’s pockets can fit it.
This difference is prevalent whether it’s skinny jeans or straight pants. Initially, the detail of pockets was not part of the definition of women’s wear, and this is a detail that has been historically overlooked. Men’s clothing had pockets as early as the 1600s, but women’s clothing never had them, or they were placed in more obscure places. According to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, historically, men’s pockets have always been sewn into clothing, but women who wore skirts could only tie pockets made of linen around their waists and then hide them under petticoats.
The exaggerated petticoats that were popular at the time were probably a major reason why women’s pockets could exist. They are like an umbrella and the lower half of the body looks like a bottle, also making the waist slim. This large space gives women the possibility to have pockets in the skirt. However, because it is placed in a hidden place, it also creates a lot of trouble to grab something from the pockets because you will have to take basically all your clothes off.
But this very perfunctory pocket didn’t last very long. Around 1790, when women’s fashion changed and petticoats were no longer popular, skirts were designed to fit better and raise the waistline, the pocket under the petticoat slowly disappeared from use.
Without the petticoat, a pocket could no longer be hidden under the fitted skirt, so the “inner bag” became the “outer bag” and the design details of a dress became a separate accessory category, which was later the prototype of the handbag. Women also liked to do embroidery decoration on these bags.
Tote bags (considered ugly in a conventional way but very practical) were not popular at the time because they could imply that you were in a difficult financial situation and that you had to work to support yourself and not be pampered. In her book Pockets of History: The Secret Life of an Everyday Object, fashion historian Barbara Burman writes: “The handbag reflects a woman’s life situation. ” It was a long time before anyone looked back at the functional development of women’s pockets and asked: Why do men have pockets on their dress pants and we don’t?
This introspection accompanied the feminist movement that occurred after the mid-19th century. The most direct expression of this was when some people made pockets directly on their skirts – not on the inside, but on the outside – to express independence. By the 1900s, when women could wear trouser suits, the right to make pockets on pants was expressed even louder. By the Second World War, the war allowed women to wear practical clothing with pockets on shirts and pants.
And then, everything changed. In the late 20th century, women were able to express their right to “sew two more pockets on their dresses and skirts”, and women’s fashion designs began to seriously consider this detail, but the fashion industry took away the pockets on pants in pursuit of slim beauty. Because they believe that too many pockets on the pants will affect women to show their curves.
Christian Dior was not a fan of women’s pockets, and in a 1954 interview with Spectator, he said, “Men have pockets on their clothes to put things in, what do women use them for? It’s all for decoration.”
Between the 1970s and the 1990s, it became popular for women to wear men’s clothing again, which seemed to automatically settle the debate on whether women’s clothing should have pockets – because men’s clothing already had plenty of pockets.
Then came the rise of luxury handbags, which diverted women’s attention from thinking about what bags to buy and how many to buy, rather than whether or not to have pockets on their clothes – at least no more women were rebelling against patriarchal society by having pockets on their dresses.
In the fashion industry, it is usually male designers who dominate the field, with only 40.2% of the 371 designers at the four major fashion weeks in 2017 being women. According to a survey by Fashion Business Review BoF, There are more female designers for relatively young brands, but only 31% of these traditionally well-known brands like those participating in Milan Fashion Week are female designers. This phenomenon leads male designers to focus only on how the clothes look, not the practical needs.
This may be one of the reasons why women have small pockets on their clothes. The fashion dominators don’t see people with actual needs, they don’t know that some women really want that pocket that is more functional than decorative. To them, it is more important than the clothes look good. So the question is, if all the male designers are concerned with whether the clothes look good, then why can the pockets on men’s clothing be so big, but instead the pockets on women’s clothing are so small? Don’t men’s clothes need to look good and stylish? Or do male designers put their actual needs of men’s clothing while neglecting women’s practical needs?
Behind a small pocket, there may be a long-standing hidden gender bias. Women don’t need big pockets because they have handbags. Now, many women themselves have fallen into this mindset, treating “buying another bag” as a necessity.
The handbag was initially born because there weren’t enough pockets, but over time has been defined as women’s fashion and even a dress-up rule that has ladies throwing their money away for a designer bag. How much of this is true comfort and decency, and how much is the trap of business consumerism? In fact, imagine if there are large enough pockets to carry items around, would you still want to spend thousands of dollars on a bag?