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  • ruthafarmer

Who Needs Pockets?

Updated: Jul 11







Shuffling through my nightwear, I tossed aside several bottoms simply because they don't have pockets. Now, you'd think that since it's nightwear that I wouldn't care about having pockets. But I do.


I spend several minutes each day putting together outfits that have pockets. Not those tiny, useless zipped crevices that are only good for one key or a lip balm. Real pockets, that can hold a cell phone, a set of keys, and a pen and some index cards if I anticipate capturing inspiration as I go about my day.


I own pants, dresses, and skirts I bought because they looked wonderful and they fit me very well. As intended, they present smooth lines that fashion designers assume most women want. That is, nothing that will add lumps to hips. I rarely wear those clothes unless it's with a sweater or shirt that has pockets.


People who wear pants designated "menswear" are unlikely to have this wardrobe dilemma. They just get dressed and fill their very substantial and numerous pockets with ... whatever.


If you think I'm speaking from an obsolete point of view, you might read the 2023 New York Times article Why Don’t Women’s Clothes Have More Pockets? Vanessa Friedman in her "Ask Vanessa" column responded to a reader who asked why women's clothing had few or inadequately designed pockets. The history of pockets and gender is fascinating. Check it out.


As I was rummaging through my bureau, I recalled Alice Duer Miller's 1915 list poem, "Why We Oppose Pockets for Women." This satirical poem lists several reasons why women can do without the thing that men take for granted. My favorite is "2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them."


I was moved to write an imitation. Here are a few lines:

 

Why Men Don’t Need Pockets

 

Because no one should have pockets if everyone can’t have them

Because men have big hands and muscles which makes carrying things easy

Because men don’t need to carry anything; that’s what women are for

Because this design flaw encourages collecting detritus from people destroyed by what’s hidden in pockets

Because being unable to carry what they think they need might make men value things worth carrying

 

Okay. It’s a work in progress. Like my wardrobe. My stretch goal for the summer is to clear my closet and bureau drawers of pajama bottoms, shorts, slacks, dresses, and skirts that I never wear. I guarantee you that most of those will be pocketless.


One hundred and nine years after Miller's poem was published, I filter clothing choices using the word "pockets" when shopping online. In stores, I paw clothes to make sure they have a place for me to store ... whatever. People purchasing men’s pants probably don't do this. Pockets are a given.


However, I don't want to make assumptions. If you've seen men's trousers without pockets, send a photo. Better yet, send me the pants. I'll frame and hang them in my office, as an example of an exception that proves the rule.


Ruth


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