Women's clothes had no pockets in the past, and the reason why will shock you

Did you notice how few pockets women’s clothes have? If you did, you’re not the only one. Pockets have a lot more to do with women's rights than you think, and the pocket revolution is brewing.

Women's clothes had no pockets in the past, and the reason behind this is appalling
© Photo by cottonbro Pexels.com
Women's clothes had no pockets in the past, and the reason behind this is appalling

Historically, women had to fight for many things, and pockets are just one of them. Completely lacking in the past, they are still an issue in the women's clothing business today. These shocking pocket facts will probably infuriate you.

Discover our latest podcast

Pocket inequality

Photo by Anne on Pexels.com

During the middle ages, people had no pockets on their clothes and carried around little pouches instead. But in the 17th century, someone got the idea of sewing these little sacs right into the garments to keep the valuables close to the body. The pocket was born.

But the trick is, unlike men, women still had to rely on having separate pockets that sat underneath their petticoats. The little pouch would be tied around her waist, in between her under-petticoat and petticoat. You had to undress in public to reach your belongings, making it unfair and impractical.

It seemed it couldn’t get any worse, but the end of the 18th century brought figure-hugging fashion not allowing for pockets at all. Women were sporting small decorative bags that could scarcely fit anything.

Women’s pockets essentially disappeared because their husbands would carry all their money and necessities.

Pocket revolution

The 20th century changed everything, with instruction manuals on how to sew pockets into your skirts becoming more and more popular for women. A 1910 'Suffragette suit’ had no less than six of them! The World Wars brought an even bigger need for practical outfits, with trousers and large pockets becoming the norm.

Sadly, it wasn’t the end of the pocket saga as a postwar wave of feminine silhouettes wiped out the results of years-long campaigning. Women’s clothing became slimmer and slimmer, making the pocket yet again a man’s object. At that time, designers also realised that handbags were a good business.

From the age of skinny jeans to the evolution of slim-fit jackets, pockets continue to be a contentious object for women.

Pocket facts

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Women’s jeans' front pockets are 48% shorter than men’s and only 10% of them can accommodate a full hand compared to 100% of men’s, a 2018 study by the American website Pudding shows.

Lyst reports that year-on-year searches for dresses with pockets have increased by 60%, while last year, a YouGov poll designed by the feminist campaigner, author of Invisible Women and ‘pocket activist’ Caroline Criado Perez revealed that 80% of women wanted pockets in their trousers, 95% wanted pockets in their jackets.

Some fashion companies started listening to women, but they are mostly limited by the indie brands while the big clothing retailers aren’t getting on board yet, Telegraph writes.

Sources used:

- Telegraph: 'How pockets became a feminist fashion issue'

- Verve Team: 'The Bewildering and Sexist History of Women’s Pockets'

Read more:

Save hundreds on shopping and make quick money on these pre-loved fashion sites

Are you a Fast Fashion or a Slow Fashion person? Here is the difference explained

Wear these 3 fashion items to create Victoria Beckham's classy look

Women haven't always worn high heels and the reason why will shock you Women haven't always worn high heels and the reason why will shock you