"Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration."
September 22, 2016 1:28 PM   Subscribe

"[P]ockets are more than sexist: they’re political." Chelsea G. Summers reflects on the history of pockets in women's clothing, and how the French Revolution begat a radical change in women's every day carry practices, for Racked.
posted by MonkeyToes (90 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Looks to me like there are slits in the white pantsuit where pockets might be.
That's not to say there are pockets...

I once bough a suit without realizing it didn't have flap pockets, just flaps and a slit, which I assumed was sewn up (for some reason), like most suits I've had. I needed all the pocket space I could back then, and I was not happy.
posted by MtDewd at 1:39 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually look forward to winter for the sole reason I'll have adequate pockets in my coat.
Women pant pockets are currently pathetic.
posted by threesquare at 1:42 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I had to go take a picture of our jean pockets side by side.

It's like three cents worth of cotton that makes the difference.
posted by adept256 at 1:56 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I know that this is not what the thread is about but given that there is no defense to be made of the fact that it is so hard to find women's clothing with pockets I would just like to say this:

Why do we call women's suits "pantsuits"? We don't call a suit with a jacket and pants a pantsuit when a man wears it.

Yes, women's suits can involve dresses or skirts, but wouldn't it make more sense to talk about "skirtsuits" and "dresssuits" (ok, too many ssssses) and just call suits "suits" for everyone?

Yes, the answer is sexism. But this is something that we don't need to learn how to construct our own garments or storm the International Fast Fashion Headquarters to change. We can all just agree to call them suits. Suits that probably don't have working pockets.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:15 PM on September 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


I stand by my comment from the current election thread.
posted by Mchelly at 2:19 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


It seems like whenever an article is written about women's clothing not having pockets, the writer always feels the need to bring up carrying lipstick. As if we don't have wallets, eyeglasses, and all the same things men carry in their pockets.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2016 [29 favorites]


Why do we call women's suits "pantsuits"? We don't call a suit with a jacket and pants a pantsuit when a man wears it.

Yes, women's suits can involve dresses or skirts, but wouldn't it make more sense to talk about "skirtsuits" and "dresssuits" (ok, too many ssssses) and just call suits "suits" for everyone?


I don't really call them "pantsuits" - just suits. And in fact, I've never heard the word pantsuit at my pretty conservative office. We just call them all suits, whether with pants or skirts (and in fact, growing up in India, I would say trousersuit before I would say pantsuit). So conversations could go like: think I need to wear a suit for that presentation tomorrow? And we'll say hmm, maybe yes. And then it will be a total surprise for everyone else whether I wear a suit with pants or a suit with a skirt. I haven't got the sense that one is considered better or more formal than the other.
posted by peacheater at 2:24 PM on September 22, 2016


"1. Because pockets are not a natural right.
2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them.
3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.
4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets.
5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.
6. Because it would destroy man’s chivalry toward woman, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.
7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face of nature.
8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason to suppose that women would use them more wisely."

-Alice Duer Miller, "Why We Oppose Pockets for Women"
posted by matcha action at 2:38 PM on September 22, 2016 [20 favorites]


I read a recent conversation on a parenting forum where some women were discussing putting pants on their babies, even when it was warm, to keep stuff in because their clothes didn't have them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:46 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


My wife is a clothing designer. The tiny useless pockets in women's clothes make her nuts. All the cost of pockets is in creating the pockets themselves: the extra few inches of material to make them useful pockets doesn't save any real amount of money. I personally think all pants pockets should be big enough to hold a smartphone.
posted by Cranialtorque at 2:47 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I had to do a little media thing yesterday and the audio guy clipped the lapel mic to me, asked me to run the cord down inside my dress and then there was this giant pack attached to it that was attached on too short a lead to run to the floor it or a table. I was like, "where does this go?" And he looked confused and said people usually put it in a pocket. And I was like, "by people, you mean men, right?" And the camera guy sighed and was all, "man, women really hate pockets, huh?" And the audio guy said, "yeah, you women never have proper pockets. It makes our lives harder."

Their lives, note.

I told them the minute they found professional women's clothing with pockets big enough for that battery pack, I would buy the whole flaming store full.
posted by lollusc at 2:47 PM on September 22, 2016 [87 favorites]


Because I am cynical and having a bad week, I think the pockets issue is less about a fear of women having secret things as it is promoting the idea that woman's body needs to be as pretty and unobstructed at all times. Ruining the line of the silhouette destroys her aesthetic worth.

To this day, I am always astounded and overjoyed to discover functional pockets in my clothing. It may also be why I still kind of love cargo pants despite them being out of fashion: ALL THOSE POCKETS. So nice to not have to carry a bag if I don't want to.

What a fantastically well-written piece.
posted by smirkette at 2:49 PM on September 22, 2016 [37 favorites]


The New Woman caricatured with her hands in her pockets was a Thing--this one by Du Maurier, for instance.

My fellow female colleagues and I often joke wryly about this whenever we have to don academic regalia. It's not compatible with a purse, yet we somehow have to tote keys (at the very least) and other necessities around with us. Not a problem for men who have pants pockets! Moreover, we usually need to wear light clothing underneath the robes (summer + woolen robe = HELP I'M SLOWLY BROILING ALIVE), and in women's wear, light clothing generally comes with no pockets at all. Fortunately, the robes are extremely billowy, so I've taken to wearing a waistpack to carry things.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:51 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


Inasmuch as this is about Hilary Clinton, isn't a lot of this class and power based? She doesn't have pockets because she doesn't need them. Similar to driving herself around she hasn't needed, or been able, to do so in years.
posted by ericales at 3:09 PM on September 22, 2016


That was really interesting, and this is right on the mark:
Content with their pockets, men have little to say about them, but women have been complaining about the inadequacy of their pockets for more than a century.
As a man and an attempting feminist, I think it might not have been until I was in my 30s (and watching Project Runway) that I was even really aware that women's clothing so thoroughly lacked pockets.
posted by psoas at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would never put my phone or anything else of value in a pocket, unless said pocket had a zipper. And I would not like my wardrobe to have to account for the presence of hip-level zippers. (Or wallet chains, which some men have felt necessary to call upon in the past to prevent leaping wallets. This is somehow better than a bag you can securely close?)
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2016


Inasmuch as this is about Hilary Clinton, isn't a lot of this class and power based? She doesn't have pockets because she doesn't need them.

Related: What's inside Queen Elizabeth's handbag?
posted by Mchelly at 3:16 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I oppose pockets for everyone, they're unsafe
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:16 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


All I have to do is say the words "cargo pants" to my wife ,or really any women I know,to hear them sigh wistfully.

It really is that every woman is living with a constant microaggression
posted by happyroach at 3:27 PM on September 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


just flaps and a slit, which I assumed was sewn up (for some reason)

Maybe you know this but for anyone reading who doesn't: If a functional suit pocket is sewn up when you buy the suit, it's to keep the lines smooth while the suit is on a hanger in the store. Those threads are easily removed and you can and should cut them, just like the ones that might hold the back vent together!

Entirely fake flap pockets, now those ought to be against the Geneva Convention.
posted by clavicle at 3:27 PM on September 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Pockets are awesome, more so in skirts and dresses, even though I seldom put anything in them because I appreciate having a place to stash my hands. Otherwise, what am I supposed to do? Cross my arms? (Too defensive.) Let them dangle? (Too awkward.) Flex?? (Too exercise-y.) Touch other people??? (Too gross.) I also like having items that make me feel secure like my phone, keys, cash, and ID about my person without having to carry an extra accessory. Snatch thefts and muggings were so common where I grew up in Asia, to the extent that many women my mother's age stopped carrying handbags in public altogether. While I appreciate the utility and the aesthetics of handbags, as a woman, the handbag is, on occasion, an extra item to lose and an extra item that may compromise my safety.

So I'm pretty glad that the fashion tide seems to be turning against skinny jeans. I've purchased a couple pairs of boyfriend/mom jeans this year, and being able to slide my hands (and wrists!) down the front pockets is really quite liberating.
posted by peripathetic at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Every time a Project Runway contestant puts functional pockets in a skirt or pants for women, Nina and Heidi go in and on about how they love the pockets. TAKE A HINT, FASHION INDUSTRY.
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on September 22, 2016 [22 favorites]


This is where I admit that I was well into my 20s before I realized a pants suit was not a one piece businessy catsuit for women. I attribute this to two things:

-- growing up in the 70s and watching shows like Charlie's Angels (also, in my mind a pants suit had bellbottoms)
-- the utter horror and disdain with which people used the term "pants suit"

I even owned and wore suits with pants before I figured this out.
posted by mcduff at 3:37 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


When I ride, I wear men's Wranglers. When I go to town, I sometimes wear jeans made for women. Guess which one has hip pockets deep enough to safely carry my phone?

Women's jeans are not on my shopping list, and if it's a gift, the suckers are going to be returned, got that?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:50 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pantsuit vs. skirtsuit: now, I don't know where I read this, but what I was given to understand is that back in the day when women began working in offices and more professionally than just as labor, the skirtsuit was invented as a version of the men's suit. They called it a women's suit and everyone just assumed it had a skirt because women wore skirts.

Later, women began wearing pants, again in a non-hard-labor, noncasual way in the 70's, and women's biz suits began being marketed as pantsuits to distinguish them from existing skirtsuits since there were now two categories within women's suiting and for some reason we didn't just go with "women's suit, skirt option" or whatever. So once women began having the option, the term was coined.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:51 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


From the V&A: A history of pockets
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:17 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wear mens jeans.





There's a little pocket inside my pocket for change. A pocket INSIDE A POCKET. GENIUS!
posted by Deoridhe at 4:19 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I just flat out don't buy pants or jackets unless they have adequate pockets. Fuck that, I'm not giving money to people who don't meet my needs. This (on top of my innate loathing of clothes shopping) means I very rarely get new pants because pockets are so hard to find, and when I do find a pair that actually has reasonable pockets I sometimes buy multiple pairs and end up having a closet that looks like a cartoon character's.

So long as I can keep my wallet, phone, eyeglass cloth, earbuds, and other assorted items on my person, I can live with that.

(Deoridhe, I actually have a pair of women's jeans that have that pocket inside a pocket - it's glorious! I keep a tiny bat-shaped eraser in mine at all times.)
posted by DingoMutt at 4:23 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wrote this a little while ago. This seems as good of a place as any to post it:

The eunuch rubbed his powdered hands together. "May I leave you with a bit of a riddle, Lord Tyrion?" He did not wait for an answer. "In a room sit three great trendsetters; The editor of a prestigious fashion magazine, the hostess of a daytime TV talk show, and the wife of a powerful politician. Between them stands a woman deciding what to wear, a little woman of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones offers her a dress to put on in order to be beautiful. 'Take it,' says the editor, 'for I know what will be popular next year.' 'Take it', says the hostess of the talk show, 'for you like my show and like to do as I command.' 'Take it,' says the politician's wife, 'for I am a powerful woman and am associated with power. The trends I set will become fashion in the future.' So: which dress is worn, and which dresses are cast down to the ground?"

[...]

"Fashion is a curious thing, my lord. Perchance you have considered the riddle I posed you that day in the inn?"

"It has crossed my mind," Tyrion admitted. "When choosing a dress, between the magazine editor, the hostess, and the wife, who will the woman obey? It is a riddle without any answer, or rather with too many answers. All depends on the woman choosing the dress."

"And yet she is no one," Varys said. "She has neither magazine, nor followers, nor favor from the political press; only the ability to choose her clothing."

"That choice is the power to choose what she wears. So that choice is fashion?"

"Just so... yet if common women set fashion in truth, why do we pretend that editors, hostesses, and wives do? Why should a woman who actually makes the dressing decision ever obey a woman on TV whom she's never met, or the wife of a politician who would probably despise her?"

"Because those editors and hostesses and wives set fashion, and can tell other women to judge her for dressing incorrectly."

"Then other women set fashion and decide what she shall wear. Or do they? Whence came their choice? Why do they obey?" Varys smiled. "Some say fashion is choice. Some tell us that all fashion derives from the media. Others say it derives from the powerful. Who truly decides what women will wear? Magazines? TV? Or something else?"

Tyrion cocked his head sideways. "Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head ache worse?"

Varys smiled. "Here, then. Fashion resides where women believe it resides. No more and no less. It's a trick, a shadow on the wall. But a small woman can cast a very large shadow."
posted by Hatashran at 4:28 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is a great article and I'm enjoying reading it, but I feel duty-bound to point out that those are in fact tricycles. The third wheel gives it away, to the expert eye.

carry on
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:37 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you are pocketless and just need keys and cash, may I introduce you to the rack trap? Doesn't solve the phone problem but awfully convenient for locking everything in the car but the car key and money at concerts or fairs or playgrounds.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:47 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


My fellow female colleagues and I often joke wryly about this whenever we have to don academic regalia. It's not compatible with a purse, yet we somehow have to tote keys (at the very least) and other necessities around with us.

Sleeves. This is what makes it worth it to invest in your own robes, with a fitted cuff, instead of wearing the cheesy rental ones. You can carry whatever you need up there; keys, sunglasses, paperback book commencement program...
posted by BrashTech at 4:52 PM on September 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


The lack of women's pockets is why I have a large stash of pocket belts/sporrans/toolbelts that I wear most days. Strap-on pockets for the win, baby. For those of you interested in such, Etsy usually has them (a favorite supplier of mine is here).

But yeah, few pockets in women's clothing is annoying, and I treasure the dressup clothes I have found that have them.

At one point I was making a leather jacket for a design class and got told that I had to make the pockets very small because I was small framed and thus pockets wouldn't fit in there. Since this was a college class I had to do as I was told, and they barely fit my fists in there. On the other hand, I did get away with installing a chest pocket to hold my gadgets.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


They say "supply and demand" so I just flat out don't buy pants if there are no pockets big enough to hold my wallet and phone. I once saw a fashion design student post a comment about how her teacher preached that women's pants should not have pockets because it will cause bulging and sagging. But somehow this isn't an issue with men's skinny jeans? I don't get it.

Sadly I just don't have the figure to wear men's pants (and believe me, I've tried), but if I did I'd be all over that.
posted by picklenickle at 5:21 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if my workout pants/shorts had pockets. If I go to the gym I need to at least bring my phone with me so I can listen to music, but I can't put it anywhere (can't use an armband when using weights) except in the waistband, so the phone gets all sweaty after a workout. Also when I go hiking or a walk I need to bring my car keys with me and my phone and my wallet and I have nowhere to put them.

I do use one of these running belts though, and it's pretty amazing.
posted by littlesq at 5:29 PM on September 22, 2016


Isn't it also true that women's pants tend to sit right on the skin? Men's pants (that aren't skinny jeans) have a lot more slack around the hips so there's actually room to put something in a pocket.

...

also at least speaking for myself, I always have at least one menstrual pad on my person, and I'm not about to carry it in my pocket for an entire school day. Or work day. I feel like that is relevant here.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:34 PM on September 22, 2016



Because I am cynical and having a bad week, I think the pockets issue is less about a fear of women having secret things as it is promoting the idea that woman's body needs to be as pretty and unobstructed at all times. Ruining the line of the silhouette destroys her aesthetic worth.


Lumpy, stuffed pockets are not a good look on anyone.
posted by asockpuppet at 5:39 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


eShakti has women's clothing with big pockets. Made to measure for a reasonable cost.

You guys you guys! I finally found some real, huge, lovely, useful pockets in some skirts! I haven't tried their other stuff yet, but they have jumpsuits and dresses and pants too! All made exactly to your measurements if you want, or you can order by size if you want (also shirts/blouses made to fit _all_ your measurements).

I just ordered a second pocketed skirt from eShakti because the first one is so great. Summer was super hot here, so the skirt was really helpful, and the _pockets_ are awesome.

You can also choose to specify skirt length and some style details.

Seriously, most of these skirts have nice big-looking pockets. Mine is similar to this one. It holds my smartphone, wallet, a pen, keys, glasses all at the same time with nothing falling out. It's truly awesome.

Limited fabric selection, not wrinkle-free, but the skirt I got has been great with a lot of things (I wear a chemise/short tunic with it with a belt).

Advantage over pants: can put stuff in front/accessible pockets and it doesn't have to work with a leg bend when I sit down.

Actually, I think a skirt can accommodate more commodious pockets than men's pants, possibly.
posted by amtho at 5:54 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sod what it looks like, we've got shit we need. I still have a little hesitation about my pocket arrangements because of some magazine article from a decade ago, but I remind myself that it's in some part just about whatever is currently difficult to achieve. Also change pockets are the best.

> All I have to do is say the words "cargo pants" to my wife ,or really any women I know,to hear them sigh wistfully.

Maybe it's just coincidence, but recently it seems like I've been seeing cargo pants used a lot as a leg parts equivalent of the "nice fedora, nerd" insult, from people that in any other context you'd think would be all behind the pockets flag. I hope it's just a passing trend, but then, the new must have thing is apparently inconveniently large mobile phones.
posted by lucidium at 5:57 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've said this too many times already, but please read Thorstein Veblen for a nice clear explanation of this.
To show off your status as an upper-class male, you dress in fine clothes and fancy leather shoes to show you've never worked a day in the fields. To *really* show off your status, get yourself a woman and dress her in a silk dress with a corset, high heels, and *no pockets*, to show that she's good for nothing at all except to be an ornament, which in turn shows how important *you* are.
As a male, I'm in no position to preach any version of feminism, but personally I really do believe women should get themselves some pockets and not live by the quasi-Victorian standards Veblen was describing. Pockets *rule*. I pretty much judge my clothes by how many pockets they have.
posted by uosuaq at 6:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I like e-Shakti's "Side button chambray midi skirt", amtho - still wouldn't put my phone in there. It's a roomy looking skirt, but not sure where the Advil, keys, eye drops, pads, planner, devices, etc are going to go. (Say I made it work, guaranteed I'd forget a pen or tissue in there and make a nice little laundry disaster.)

I get the take, I just don't feel personally oppressed by a relative lack of pockets. I think we use bags not because of false consciousness but because they're practical. (And pockets do mess up a look, Heidi and Nina were probably just being fashiony about it. It was probably like Here Are Pockets. Also cargo pants for women are still made, by Eddie Bauer I think, it's just not so many people are buying them).

(I think we need to go the other way, for fairness. I've gotten at least two men into bags not really, I just got them to wear backpacks. Because there comes a point at which you need to carry more than a billfold around.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:55 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


You can't have pockets, it will ruin the 'line'
You can't have clothes you can move in comfortably, you have to be fashionable.
You have to keep replacing your wardrobe to stay in style. You can't wear last year's color.
The men are wearing suits, the women are wearing shift dresses and bare legs, as fashion dictates. What are women always so cold?
You should wear heels, thigh high boots, platform shoes, etc., because they're sexy, even though you can't move in them and they are literally damaging your feet.

The fashion industry is a massive con that exemplifies how much hatred there is towards women. We are literally held back and disadvantaged by our clothing. The fashion industry is massively profitable and generates huge quantities of discarded clothing. I shop at thrift stores and some of my clothes don't have pockets. Thrift stores are also a source of small bags that I can wear as a pocket, but it's so annoying.
posted by theora55 at 6:57 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


As soon as manbags become as utterly ubiquitous as lite beer in your dad's fridge, I predict pockets on men's clothing will begin a long steady attrition.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was about to chime in and sing the praises of eShakti's POCKETS!!! In dresses!!! They have an option to remove the pocket but I cannot imagine why anyone would want to do that. Their pockets are deep and practical. I find them extremely useful for carrying my phone and keys - any more, and I'd use a purse.

The only times I've locked myself out of my office is when I don't have pockets. My other option would be *shudder* a lanyard.
posted by invokeuse at 7:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I bought a pair of jeans with shitty two inch pockets for $5 (I think they had been returned) and spent $30 getting pockets added by a drycleaners. The old woman who took them was blatantly disbelieving and disapproving that I was willing to do this (I'm pretty sure she actually said $30 to make me go away), so having an example to go on, I'll probably borrow a sewing machine and do that myself for all future pairs of stupid pocket less jeans.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:18 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I do wash the occasional tissue. It's inconvenient. Having my hands free is convenient, though.

If I know I'm going to need more stuff than goes in a pocket, then I go full satchel.
posted by amtho at 7:22 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


1) I want more women's clothes to have pockets so we can stop saying "AND IT HAS POCKETS!" when someone compliments a thing that has pockets. I'm guilty of this, too, especially because I have a lot of women's clothes with pockets.

2) a while back I recall reading about a woman designing a line of clothes specifically for tall women and in an interview she mentioned that all of the clothes had pockets because tall women sometimes awkwardly don't know what to do with their hands/arms and they should have pockets to put their hands in while standing around and I've never felt so UNDERSTOOD in my life and thought it was just me.

3) re: lapel mics, a part of my last job was mic-ing speakers and constantly, where to put it on women was a huge problem. "Blame the patriarchy, they're designed for men's suits with lapels and pockets, they don't want us to speak," I said once while trying to clip it on a (very distinguished, well-dressed) woman's sweater. She laughed but my (male, but generally very cool) coworker gave me a LOOK.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 7:56 PM on September 22, 2016 [22 favorites]


A few weeks ago I had my arm around my partner with my hand on her hip and I slipped my hand into her pocket, as one does. Except that of course it was a cruel joke of a half pocket, and I could only get three fingers in there, and only to the second knuckle. It was so absurd that we started laughing. You couldn't fit a car key in there, much less a cell phone or wallet.

The lack of pocket options in women's clothing really is kind of strange. You don't have to go so far as cargo pants (nice though they are) to have functional, normal pockets in a garment, but even clothes that should have pockets don't.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:23 PM on September 22, 2016


>>My fellow female colleagues and I often joke wryly about this whenever we have to don academic regalia. It's not compatible with a purse, yet we somehow have to tote keys (at the very least) and other necessities around with us.

>Sleeves. This is what makes it worth it to invest in your own robes, with a fitted cuff, instead of wearing the cheesy rental ones. You can carry whatever you need up there; keys, sunglasses, paperback book commencement program...


There's a moment in the Dorothy L. Sayers novel Gaudy Night* when one character comments to another about how "dreadfully unsanitary" their academic robes can be, due to the tendency to tuck used handkerchiefs into the deep, extended sleeves.

I need my pants to be able to accommodate the necessities of life (which is the self-patdown I do before I leave home every morning): wallet, phone, keys, lip balm. Other things, such as Kindle/hoodie/ibuprofen/sunscreen/notebook/etc. are negotiable.

* Quote not available online, and apparently it's been long enough since I've read it that I can't just flip to the relevant page. Guess I need to fix that…
posted by Lexica at 8:29 PM on September 22, 2016


I still wear my favorite cargo shorts all spring and summer. They may actually be men's; I keep meaning to check but never got around to it. They fit me well and I like the way they look with a fitted tee.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:34 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a little pocket inside my pocket for change. A pocket INSIDE A POCKET. GENIUS!

According to those who would know that was originally for a pocket watch. Levis calls it the watch pocket, while acknowledging that it's used for many other things and goes by many names: "frontier pocket, condom pocket, coin pocket, match pocket and ticket pocket"

I use mine for when I need to take my wedding ring off, like washing the dishes or working in the lab.
posted by bonehead at 8:43 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


The only pockets I can use are the ones in coats. I have dresses with huge pockets but I don't actually use them because the weight of the objects will cause the skirt to swing around really uncomfortably. I also have jeans I can fit a phone and wallet in, but I can't actually use the pockets because when I sit, the stuff just digs into my hips (or my butt if they're in the back pockets). I'm seriously curious how men can use pants pockets comfortably (not counting cargo shorts).
posted by airmail at 8:50 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I used mine for tampons, and a lot of the time forgot about it and so that it would end up freshly washed with all my other laundry.
posted by moody cow at 8:53 PM on September 22, 2016


I have known women who perpetually forget/lose keys, cellphone, and wallet, and both I and they have attributed it to absent-mindedness.

But I know that the only reason I'm never without those and other essentials is that every pair of pants in my closet has at least four capacious pockets, so each item goes in a particular place and I feel out of balance if something is missing. In fact, the only pocketless lower-body garment I own is a skirt that I wear when I feel like dressing up and defying gender norms.

So is pocketlessness making women appear less competent? I know my mother has a safety pin on her keyring to make sure she it's attached when her pockets aren't deep enough, and my partner uses a carabiner for a similar purpose. Women end up at a disadvantage: They have to go out of their way - finding pocketful clothing, adding clips to keys - to keep track of personal belongings. I have a storage/organization system that comes built into my clothing.
posted by sibilatorix at 9:03 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I dunno, do you think women appear less competent?
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:05 PM on September 22, 2016


You know what I want? To take the garbage out without having to awkwardly carry my keys and hope I don't throw them out. That is all
posted by Valancy Rachel at 9:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


cotton dress sock - I do not think women appear less competent than men. Sincerest apologies if my comment implied otherwise!

I had a bunch of extra qualifiers in that sentence which I deleted in an attempt to improve readability, but I think I changed the meaning slightly in the process.

Some anecdotal background on where I was coming from with that comment: Before I was aware of things like systemic discrimination and implicit bias, I knew someone who I thought of as really, incurably forgetful because she perpetually lost her keys/wallet/phone. At the time, I assumed this was a personal failing of hers. Looking back, I realize it's possible she set those items down in all kinds of odd places because she had no better place to put them. I even remember her complaining about the inadequate pockets in women's clothing. At the time, I thought she was failing (in this one very specific way - she was otherwise extremely competent). Now I realize that the failure was probably in our culture and clothing industry.

My intent was to add to critiques of the clothing/fashion industry. If it came across as criticism of women, I apologize again - that was not my intent.
posted by sibilatorix at 9:26 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I remember a thread on here awhile back about women lawyers being allowed to wear pantsuits in court, because pantsuits are considered informal. "It's right that women are required to dress formally in court just like men" was the consensus in the thread. "Why are pantsuits considered informal for women?" some of us asked. "Because courtrooms require formal dress" was the answer.

Eddie Bauer has really nice women's jeans with pockets. I've been only buying those jeans for like years. I have my phone in there, my house key, my work badge, my headphones, glorious.
posted by bleep at 9:36 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, geez. On re-re-reading that first comment I made, I think I see where you're coming from, cotton dress sock. That was some remarkably disjointed and poorly-thought-out writing on my part. I was aiming for "oh hey another aspect of this microaggression, in which I was complicit when I was younger and more naive" and hit something very different. Again, apologies.
posted by sibilatorix at 9:42 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's ok, I've made incautious edits on here many (many) times, I get your larger point. Don't stress about it!
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:44 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Clothing marketed to men has functional pockets, but is typically aesthetically underwhelming in my experience. Personally, I enjoy how decorative the clothing that's marketed to women is, and that link to pocket skirts shows clothing can look good AND have pockets.

I'd love to see more aesthetically interesting and appealing clothing with functional pockets marketed to pretty much everyone.
posted by aniola at 10:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


You guys I just wanted you all to know that I knew I had picked the correct wedding dress when I slipped my hands all the way in the pockets in the dressing room.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:24 PM on September 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


when I sit, the stuff just digs into my hips (or my butt if they're in the back pockets). I'm seriously curious how men can use pants pockets comfortably (not counting cargo shorts).

Some of it, I'm semi-guessing, is cut & pocket size. Stuff in my front pockets basically rests on top of my thighs when I sit. I think we just kinda get used to a lump of wallet in one back pocket - although it's, like, a Known Thing for guys to develop back problems due to spending a lot of time sitting with a lump under one cheek, and I'll pull mine out on long drives. The smartphone definitely digs uncomfortably, unless I'm wearing something really loose (like, um, cargo shorts), so sitting down usually involves pulling the phone out of the back pocket.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:51 PM on September 22, 2016


I'm sitting here in a pair of skinny jeans that would have adequate pockets--if they weren't so tight! Like, the fabric is there, but it is squished against my butt and my thighs. I could wear baggier pants, but I actually like being (somewhat) fashionable.

The form-fitting nature of women's fashion is just so anti-pocket. When I was a teen, though, super baggy pants were in style*, and I had pockets!

Nowadays, I feel like I've forgotten something if I manage to put everything I need in my pockets and don't have a bag with me. I'm so used to having to carry a bag. And to be honest, I like having the extra things a bag lets me carry with me (example: books).

* Well, it depended on your image, but it was a "fashionable" option.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:30 AM on September 23, 2016


Just buy yourself a few festival belts ladies. If you wish to carry more stuff in your pockets, then add bigger pockets! And it make sense set the load comfortably on hips instead of fighting an unwieldy purse.

It's true festival belts skew hippie but nobody will care because so do purses. And many can attach water bottles.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:47 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just one caveat about festival belts, there is at least one common base style with three small pouches and one zipper pocket that lacks a pocket big enough for a large form factor "phablet" phone, like a Samsung Note. This one otoh fits my wife's Note fine. Just check the pocket measurements if you carry anything big.

These belts seemed cheaper towards the end of summer as festival season winds down, but inventory might be limited and more expensive by now.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:18 AM on September 23, 2016


I don't know - I get all the theoretical love for pockets - but as someone with rather big hips and thighs proportionally speaking, the whole thing just seems rather uncomfortable. I don't like things digging into my flesh at all and haven't made much use of the pockets on the few items of clothing I have that have them. In fact, I'm probably less likely to buy a dress with pockets because of the likelihood that it will jut out strangely from my hips. So you can blame me - I'm the one not buying clothes with pockets and balancing out all your pocket desires.
posted by peacheater at 5:10 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


My mom gets skirts made for her so she can have all the pockets she wants.

As a kid I would sidle up to her when we were out and put my things in her pockets. She didn't mind much if it was lip balm, was less thrilled when it was nice pebbles or pine cones I wanted to keep.
posted by kitten magic at 5:34 AM on September 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


I love this hip/fanny pack which seems to work with almost all skirts (and bonus, works over the shoulder as a handbag too)
posted by Mchelly at 6:11 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I was at the checkout in Target the other day, I noticed that the female cashier at the next register had her phone in the back pocket of her Target-required khaki pants. But the pocket was so small that the phone was at least 2/3 hanging out, just waiting to fall out. Poor young woman.
posted by tippiedog at 6:42 AM on September 23, 2016


As a male, I'm in no position to preach any version of feminism, but personally I really do believe women should get themselves some pockets

I really hate the way you phrased this, as a feminist datapoint. Because we would LOVE to get ourselves some pockets, as if WE are holding ourselves back from having them.
posted by agregoli at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just buy yourself a few festival belts ladies

I mean, I get where you're going with this suggestion, but the point of the thread is that we shouldn't have to. We shouldn't have to buy an additional thing to carry stuff. The pockets to carry stuff should already be in the pants or jacket that we are already buying. We shouldn't have to buy separate "pockets" to hold our stuff.

This is also why I hate 3/4 sleeves and capri pants. If I'm buying something to cover my body, it should cover my whole damn body.
posted by vignettist at 7:54 AM on September 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


airmail: I can't actually use the pockets because when I sit, the stuff just digs into my hips (or my butt if they're in the back pockets). I'm seriously curious how men can use pants pockets comfortably (not counting cargo shorts).

I am a man and to be honest, I take most of my stuff out of my pockets if I'm going to be sitting down for any length of time. First thing I do when I get to work? Take my phone, wallet, keys, etc. out of my pockets and put them on my desk. The only thing that stays in my pocket is my comb, which has a curve that lets it snuggle down perfectly into the bottom of a front pocket.

I do the same thing if I'm on a long drive—my keys are already out, but I take my wallet out of my back pocket and stick it in a dashboard compartment. And when I get home at the end of the day most of that stuff is unnecessary so, again, out it all comes.

I also carry a bag if I'm going to be on foot Doing Stuff for a while. I have different bags for different activities (big laptop-toting messenger bag for work, small daypack for general playtime activities, dry sack for kayaking, hiking backpack for overnights) and I keep them mostly pre-loaded with whatever I need. If I'm going for a long walk, I move some of my pocket stuff to my bag unless I want it to be instantly accessible; so if I'm going for a walk in the woods I'll stash my wallet and keys in there, but keep my phone (camera) and multi-tool in my pockets.

I still like having pockets, though. They give me a place to keep stuff that needs to be super accessible; digging around in a backpack or a messenger bag is less convenient than reaching into the designated pants pocket and grabbing the thing that lives there. (I have a system; phone goes in the front left pocket, multi-tool and comb in the front right, wallet in the back left, keys in the back right but also carabinered to the nearest belt loop.) And if I don't have a bag about my person and I need to store some random object for a short period until I can find it a better home, having pockets is much more convenient than having to carry it in my hands.

In the winter, I get to have jacket pockets. They come in really handy. One of the few things I look forward to in colder weather.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a subject close to my heart. I once got really frustrated while out shopping with a friend and said really loudly in the middle of a store, "I wonder if women's clothes don't have pockets to prevent us from filling them with rocks and drowing ourselves like Virginia Woolf." Shocked silence.

Now I buy shorts in the boy's section at H&M.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:16 AM on September 23, 2016 [21 favorites]


Running Buddy is another option for add-on pockets. Damn if I can ever remember it when I need it though...
posted by BekahVee at 8:18 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't actually use the pockets because when I sit, the stuff just digs into my hips (or my butt if they're in the back pockets). I'm seriously curious how men can use pants pockets comfortably (not counting cargo shorts)

As others have noted, some of it is probably down to cut and fit; current western societies don't demand that men's bodies be on eternal public display the way it does for women's bodies, so men's clothes generally just aren't as tight or form-fitting as women's.

But I expect a lot of it is also just what one has been habituated to find comfortable. If I'm wearing jeans, I can feel my smartphone in my front pocket and my wallet under my butt. I'm so used to it that I don't notice it unless I stop to think about it, but I can imagine that if it were a new sensation I might describe it as "digging in." In the same way that I expect most women don't find the way a purse or shoulder bag feels on their shoulder to be nearly as annoying and objectionable as I do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:52 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pocket problems to happen to men too. I've had two close friends (that I know of) who have continuing lower back issues related to their inability to clean out their wallets. Seriously, these things were more than two inches thick for both guys. In both cases, the first thing their therapists told them was to stop keeping their wallet in their back pockets.
posted by bonehead at 9:42 AM on September 23, 2016


I (a guy who wears clothing designed for men) have never had an desire to put anything in my back pockets. I carry far too much in my front pockets, to the point where some of my jeans have stress marks at the end of the pockets. I have never cared. I know I would lose (and probably cause a terrorism scare) any purse-size bag that I carried on a daily basis.

When I sit down at work, I rotate my wallet and keys to sit on top of my thighs. My pants are loose enough that there is no discomfort. On jeans, where this is less flexibility, I find myself shifting things to make them more comfortable. On the other hand, it keeps me from using a tri-fold wallet, but that's a small price to pay.
posted by Hactar at 9:43 AM on September 23, 2016


I love wearing skirts, but one of my limiting factors has been a lack of pockets. I never got into purses (I would lose them in an instant), and often my backpack seems like overkill if I just need wallet/keys/phone. Thus far my solution has been a carabiner on my keys, and awkwardly tucking my wallet into the waistband of the skirt, where it never likes to stay for more than 5 minutes. I always plan to alter my clothes to add pockets, but can never seem to find the time.

Thanks for the links to the festival belts! I really like the leaf-shaped ones and will probably have a go at making my own.
posted by Feyala at 10:17 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just want the little inside blazer/coat pockets*. Secret pockets! Pockets for snacks! But no. No, instead my blazers have blatant but useless pockets, pockets with barely valid flaps and a depth fit for a carefully folded tissue and a single unguarded credit card. My coat pockets contain multitudes of tissues but no phone, no scarf, not even a pair of gloves. They are a tease fit for Tantalus and I hate them.


*shout-out to Northface for jackets with form-fitting wizard pockets, if teal spandex was more professional I'd wear this thing everywhere
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:23 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wore men's pants for most of my life, and have had a very hard time psychologically in the last few years because I've gained enough weight that men's pants do not fit my shape anymore. I have hated losing pockets. It's very easy to say that we should all just not buy clothes that don't have good pockets, but I'm at the low end of plus sizes and if women's jeans and suits are made in my size with pockets, I do not know about them.

In the last few years since I had to get glasses, I've started carrying a small bag. It's been a struggle for me to find a bag I can handle carrying as I'm an androgynous lesbian and most purses are much too femme for me to be comfortable with. Beyond that, it's a source of some paranoia because I carry an epipen and am not ever supposed to be out of grabbing distance of that thing, and the first thing I do at home and at friends' houses is set my bag down.

I'm thinking I will teach myself to sew well enough to alter my clothes and turn fake pockets into real ones.

I've always felt that as an androgynous queer woman I should be able to opt out of clothes that are designed for the male gaze and into something that can be about my needs, but no, pockets will apparently "ruin the lines" for any men gazing at my chubby androgynous lesbian ass.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:21 PM on September 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you don't need to be too dressed up, try Duluth Trading Company for women's pants with awesome pockets.
posted by superna at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting. I am giddy about this amazing quote from 1899 New York Times article:
"As we become more civilized, we need more pockets. No pocketless people has ever been great since pockets were invented, and the female sex cannot rival us while it is pocketless."
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:19 AM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Big shout out to the MetaFilter favorite Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans, with 5 fully functional pockets, including a change pocket, which are all I wear to work these days. I have black, brown, olive, and a nice dark wash indigo. I carry phone, wallet, personal keys, work keys, and lip balm. My life is good.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:15 AM on September 24, 2016


I wear dresses most of the time, and I refuse to buy a dress that lacks pockets. Wearing clothing without pockets is just asking to lose my keys or my wallet or my phone.

Putting real pockets in their clothes is genius on eShakti's part. It keeps me coming back to them again and again. Their pockets are typically very nice and deep and trustworthy. I noticed last week that they have recently started making blue jeans (and will custom-size them to your measurements, if you prefer), and give you a choice of full-sized or short pockets in them.

ModCloth has some good dresses with pockets. They conveniently
list all of their dresses with pockets on a single page
.

Sometimes Land's End has dresses with pockets, but you have to page through and look at every single picture to see which ones show the model putting her hand in her pocket. If you search for "pockets" on their site you mainly get garments with reviews in which customers bemoan the lack of pockets in that particular design.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 5:24 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was all ready to buy a bunch of eShakti dresses with the pockets that look all capacious and handy, then I got to the checkout and remembered why I've never bought an eShakti dress before, even though I have admired them frequently: they don't ship to Australia. Boo-urns.
posted by misfish at 5:46 PM on September 25, 2016


misfish there are a number of places that will provide a US address for you to use and re-ship to Australia - even AusPost does it now, although I think they are more expensive than the original private services.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:30 PM on September 26, 2016


When I wear historical dress, I always do the thing described in the article where I put slits in the side seams of the skirt and then wear two loose pockets attached to a waistband underneath. Yeah, it's extra work, but I actually end up being able to carry a lot more than in standard clothing pockets.

You can carry even more in a set of panniers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:32 PM on September 26, 2016


As an aside, if you often find yourself needing to pay for checked baggage on return flights, then you should probably buy a rufus roo jacket vest thing. It's a vest with like an entire second carry on worth of pockets in a light weight vest that you can pack into the bottom of your normal luggage, so you never need to worry about buying too much shit while traveling.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2016


Today's Office Conversation:

Female Coworker: "I have pockets in my dress today."
Me: "Me too."
Male Coworker: "I've noticed that this kind of conversation happens a lot, one girl will mention she has pockets and another one will be all, I wish I had a dress that had pockets!"
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on September 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


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