Pockets or the Lack Thereof

Image: A man and a woman standing next to each other, both with their hands in their pockets. Photo by Nayiri Hovsepian.

If you are someone who usually wears clothing tailored for women, you may have experienced that wonderful discovery that your dress has pockets. And not just any pocket, but big, roomy pockets. You can actually put your phone and your wallet into them. Suddenly this is your favorite dress.

In today’s society, it’s impossible to leave your home without certain essentials like your phone, wallet, and keys, as well as those items you don’t necessarily need but want to have like gum, lip balm/lipstick, or eye drops. Unlike most clothing tailored for men, women’s clothing have no pockets or have small and impractical pockets that can’t carry any of these items. Or worse, some of the clothing made for women have fake pockets that provide the purchaser with some glimmer of hope that’s immediately taken away once they discover that what looks like a handy place to stash your belongings is just a big, useless lie.

The majority of pants tailored for men have large, roomy front pockets in which one’s entire hand can fit. People who wear these pants can place all the previously mentioned essentials into their pockets, including the relatively new 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus, as seen at the end of this video. On the other hand, not even the back pockets of pants tailored for women could fit these items.

Clearly, there is a disadvantage here. People who prefer buying clothes tailored for women are forced to deal with the glaring lack of useful pockets. To put it simply, it’s unfair.

Of course, there is going to be that person who says, “You can just carry a purse!” Ok, sure, but not everyone could spend money on a purse when clothes could very well do the same job. Most purses tend to be pricey, and even if you find one reasonably priced, it’s still an extra thing to spend money on.

Secondly, while admittedly a fashionable accessory, handbags are usually a nuisance. Everyone who often needs to carry a bag knows that it is extremely inconvenient to have at most places. You don’t want to have to worry about where to put your purse at a party, or whether someone is going to steal it from you at a crowded concert. Of course I’m not saying people should not buy purses if they enjoy carrying them, but in general, a purse can be an annoying and uncomfortable thing to carry.

So, why do women’s clothes lack the large, useful pockets most men’s clothes possess?

One reason may be that there is a capitalist conspiracy to make small or nonexistent pockets in order to force women into spending money on designer handbags, which as mentioned above, are not cheap. Another reason is that the fashion industry insists upon producing clothes for women focusing on visual appeal over practicality. As The Atlantic states, “Mid-range fashion is a male dominated business, driven not by form and function, but by design and how fabric best drapes the body.” The fashion industry is focusing on how their models look wearing their clothes on the runway over how real people live their lives. In the fashion world, practical pockets on women’s clothing are bulky, masculine and take away from the need to look slim.

Not only does this perpetuate the harmful idea that beauty equals thin, which is another article in itself, but it puts pressure on women to place their looks above anything else, like their comfort and happiness. While people who wear clothes tailored for men are able to get both fashion and practicality in one purchase of a pair of jeans, people buying clothes tailored for women are forced to feel like they must purchase only what looks best and not what works best. This is the same force that drives people into getting blisters wearing stilettos or marks on their bodies wearing spanx. The idea that practicality and beauty do not work together is equivalent to the awful yet popular “beauty is pain” paradigm.

Luckily, due to the stronger demand for larger pockets because of increasing smartphone sizes, some fashion companies are considering accommodating designs for the large phones. However, according to The Atlantic, changes in pocket size won’t happen anytime soon, as “most designers don’t consider pockets as part of the functionality of women’s clothes just yet—they’re still looking at purses as the way for women to carry their smartphones and other technological devices.”

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