May 5, 2007

Pockets are a feminist issue.

That's what I say in this Bloggingheads segment. Really, why don't women's clothes have pockets? A Dress a Day offers some history and opinion:
It was amazing how freeing it was, to not have a bag to deal with, to shift, to move around to the front of your body and then to the back, to switch from arm to arm. Your arms swing unencumbered; you walk differently, faster. You can shove both hands in your pockets; you can put your hands on your hips while waiting impatiently for a light to change. I also noticed that some people gave me funny looks; whether it was "There's a woman without a bag!" or "Why the hell is she wearing a circle skirt in a grass-green camouflage print?" I couldn't tell.
Ha! A Dress a Day is a good blog. I'm adding it to the blogroll. And here's a pretty cool old post about prettiness:
But what does you-don't-have-to-be-pretty mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that you don't have to apologize for wearing things that are held to be "unflattering" or "unfashionable" -- especially if, in fact, they make you happy on some level deeper than just being pretty does. So what if your favorite color isn't a "good" color on you? So what if you are "too fat" (by some arbitrary measure) for a sleeveless top? If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy.
Yeah, it is wrong to let your open wounds show, isn't it?

52 comments:

AllenS said...

Why not wear what I, a man, wears most of the time? Bib overalls. Pockets galore! You could carry a large comb in the right side leg pocket, where I put a screw driver and pliars. The top pockets are where I carry my ID container (wallet), which also contains the credit card, and on the right side, my money clip holding the cash. My reading glasses go in the pocket with the ID. Car keys in the front left pants pocket, loose change in the right side pocket. That leaves both rear pockets open, and don't forget, I you want to carry a hammer, it has a loop of material on the left side leg for it. Oh, and I almost forgot, in the middle of the top pockets, there is a place for your ink pen, or air guage.

vet66 said...

The obvious answer is that it is unfeminine and makes women look fat! I don't agree but then women dress for other women and not men so my opinion doesn't matter.

The Annie Hall look died years ago and was replaced by next-to-nothing. Instead of pockets, most women are opting for purses the size of eyepatches and a place to hide whatever minimalist/necessary items formerly secreted in that "Cute little slice of heaven" accessory whose only role is to match the strappy shoes!

Bruce Hayden said...

Awhile back, I had a girlfriend who made it a practice of using the guy she was with for his pockets. It worked great - for her. She could wear the tight fitting clothes, but not have to worry about carrying a purse.

I thought this was quite weird, until I discovered that my mother had been doing that to my father for years, if not decades.

As to overalls, that brings back memories of college. My girlfriend of the time (about 1970 or so) preferred wearing overalls. She shared them with one of her best friends. Only problem was a weight differential of about 50 lbs. What was amazing though is that they didn't look that bad at the time on either of them.

Meade said...

"Yeah, it is wrong to let your open wounds show, isn't it?"

Yes. Showing open wounds is a fashion don't. Even I know that.

sbutler said...

Awhile back, I had a girlfriend who made it a practice of using the guy she was with for his pockets.

Ha! My mother has been doing that to me for years :). If I take her to church, an opera, or any event that requires her to dress up, it's always, "Stephen, would you keep these things for me?"

Other than that, my mom is usually in jeans, so she has pockets of her own.

Galvanized said...

I remember Sandra Bullock wearing this really cute blue, full-skirted dress with pockets (reminiscent of the '50s) to some big awards show recently. It was adorable. However, she kind of went overboard on the hands-in-pockets thing and got some flack for it. But it was really cute. I, for one, LOVE big pockets, but you really don't see them much anymore for the sake of looking thinner. Yes, pockets are eschewed for a more streamlined, slimming effect. Some of us women don't really care and side with function/fun.

Steven Donegal said...

You should get the proprietor of A Dress A Day to do a bloggingheads with Tracy London from What Not to Wear. Now that would be a good show.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Althouse wore purple overalls. And she also owned pink ones. It was the 80s.

Mike said...

Women's pants don't have pockets? That's really dumb. Why do you put up with that?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My pants have pockets as do some of my skirts and dresses, but still how can any woman get away without carrying a purse? I would feel lumpy and overburdened if I stuffed all the things I have in my purse into my pockets. Probably would have to walk like Robbie the Robot.

HPC12 Calculator, pens, pencils, highlighters, small spiral pad for notes, contact lens solution and cases, prescription glasses, hand sanitizer, business card holder, fold up hair brush, small mirror, a few cosmetics depending on the day (work or weekend), wallet with credit cards and other IDs, money, gum or tic tacs, tissues, magnifying glass and small tape measure for antique shopping, cell phone....to name just a bit of the junk I haul around with me.

Pockets are not going to make anything better here. I don't think of it as a feminist thing. It is logistics for me.

Sissy Willis said...

I despise side pockets in trousers. Who wants an extra bulge on your hips, fergossake?

tjl said...

"HPC12 Calculator, pens, pencils, highlighters, small spiral pad for notes, contact lens solution and cases, prescription glasses, hand sanitizer, business card holder ...etc."

Why do women feel they have to carry so much stuff around with them? Simply read this list and you add new shades of meaning to the word "impedimenta." One of the many advantages conferred on men by pockets is that they force you to weed out the nonessentials, plan ahead, and take only what will fit.

Women, rise up, throw off the shackles of handbags, and demand pockets of your own.

George said...

Men don't make passes
At girls wid' bulgin'.......

Mike said...

Take up backpacking. It teachs the difference between necessities and indulgences.

Having said that, it you don't mind lugging around a purse, great. More power to ya.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, the idea is that the pockets would be brilliantly designed so it wouldn't be unsightly. And then you also have to limit what you drag around. For years, I found dresses and pants with pockets, and all I carried with me was the thinnest wallet and two or three keys. Not even a comb! I have fingers, so why did I need a comb. I didn't wear any makeup. Not sure how I got by without even chapstick but I did.

Daryl said...

Of course feminists are going to come out in favor of pockets, given how they seem to idolize everything that's even just vaguely reminiscent of their genitals. Or should I have said everything reminiscent of "core imagery," or "the nurturing chalice" or whatever they're calling it this week.

Someone should just design a purse that looks like an "open wound," tell women it's a potent symbol of feminism, and sell them for $300 apiece.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why do women feel they have to carry so much stuff around with them? Simply read this list and you add new shades of meaning to the word "impedimenta."

I use all of those things every day, some of them several times a day. I would feel impeded if I didn't carry that list of stuff with me. I disagree that having a lack of pockets or carrying a purse is a feminist issue. A purse is a utilitarian vehicle for me. I buy one purse and use it until the strap falls off and then try to find another one with similar functions.

Synova said...

Purses are like closets.

I've had huge purses, tiny purses, no purses, fanny packs, etc. Once you've got a purse, you fill it.

My husband would scandalize the "what not to wear" lady. He does the utility belt thing... Gerber multi-tool on one side, cell phone on the other side. Fat wallet tearing a hold in his right rear pocket and a janitor's worth of keys tearing a hole in the right front pocket.

I had a great purse when I finally got to get rid of the diaper bag... a wallet with a cell-phone pocket and a long strap. I'd get boggling looks from ladies who couldn't imagine that I just needed my checkbook, driver's license and phone. It was cheap and wore out though and I had a big one for a while... *hated* it. And it got full! Years without needing to carry anything but a wallet on a string and suddenly I've got all this *stuff*.

Where did it come from?

So I got rid of it the big thing and got the smallest purse I could find. It fits my wallet and checkbook, sunglasses, and cell phone. Nothing else will fit. And it has a long strap so I can wear it (scandalously unfashionably) across my body (*nothing* stays on my shoulders).

It's amazing how all the *stuff* doesn't build up when it just won't fit.

bearing said...

I love the cargo pants with the pocket on the thigh. Especially for the cell phone. When I don't have a diaper bag, I carry nothing but wallet, phone, and keys. I don't mind wallet and phone in my pocket. The keys are bulky but I have a lanyard on the keychain so I can hang them around my neck in a pinch. Maybe I should get a wallet with a grommet for the lanyard.

I have this weird problem: I hate carrying bags, but I am constantly tempted to buy them. Not fashionable ones --- bags made of ripstop nylon with pockets for water bottles.

Mike said...

It's amazing how all the *stuff* doesn't build up when it just won't fit.

Ain't that the truth. Like I said, backpacking is a great teacher.

I carry nothing but wallet, phone, and keys.

Lose the phone, and you have everything you need.

Not even a comb!

LOL

Well, the idea is that the pockets would be brilliantly designed so it wouldn't be unsightly.

Yes, but then you'd put something in them.

Seems to me, the real issue here is vanity, not the inability of designers to create magic pockets.

lurker2209 said...

You know what's really silly? Being a grad student and carrying around both purse and messenger bag. I finally ditched the purse for a slim wallet with my ID, bus pass and debit card. I keep mascara in with the pens and pencils.

A messenger bag or backpack is a perfectly androgynous way to carry around the essentials, from laptops to lip gloss. It kinda blurrs the distinction from the girlie things I carry around and the other stuff. Is that feminist or not?

Kirby Olson said...

Bag ladies use grocery carts. I guess the class distinctions would keep feminists from using grocery carts, but something like that might be more functional than pockets.

downtownlad said...

This is all determined by the free market. Obviously women don't want pockets or designers would be producing them.

downtownlad said...

I can also verify that women do want their handbags. My good friend owns over 200.

Insane.

halojones-fan said...

downtownlad: Hardly insane. Handbags are as much a part of the outfit as any of the rest of it, which means that they have to be coordinated. This is also why women own so many shoes; they're part of an ensemble, which means that you need as many options as possible. Indeed, it might well be that the only difference is the color of pantyhose...but that different color requires different shoes to match it.

It's like tools. I suppose I don't need eight different sizes of cross-head screwdriver...but it's as hard to drive a small screw with an oversized driver as it is to drive a large screw with an undersized driver. It's all about The Right Tool For The Right Job.

anyway, as for the OP article: Bleh. Lady, there's a reason that we don't want to see fat people in revealing outfits, and it's as disgusting to see men bulging out of their clothes as it is to see women.

Peter Palladas said...

If you're not equipped to play 'pocket billiards', you've no need for or right to pockets.

Seven Machos said...

I feel your pain, Althouse. Many times on the occasion I have to wear shorts (and it's always, always at the beach or a smilarly appropriate venue, by the way, so relax) I am appalled at the shortage of pockets. You are lucky to get one. Naturally, I never bother to check this when I'm buying them.

And I can only imagine how crappy it is for women because, we really ought to face it: women have more stuff to lug around for all kinds of reasons.

On the other hand, women's clothing is more about fashion than comfort. For example, I never buy clothes for women for many reasons, but not least because I cannot visualize how the tiny stuff on the rack is going to fit on any woman's body over the age of 11. Maybe it's a fashion-over-practicality issue shrewdly made by designers who, after all, want to make money.

David53 said...

My wife always carries a bag at least as big as 3 laptops stacked on top of each other. Sometimes she carries a bigger bag and puts her 3 laptop bag in it when she wants to carry extra stuff. If we walk a long way sometimes I have to carry it for her. Twenty pounds of stuff. She is about the same size as Ann, well educated and has a great job. I don't get the whole bag thing. All I need is a pocket for my keys, my wallet, and my chapstick.

Machos---I often buy dresses for my wife when I am out of town. She loves it. Always buy them a size smaller than they really wear. It doesn't matter, most women like to shop and returning items is part of the shopping ritual.

Ron said...

In this era of No Visible Panty Line you're talking about pockets? Odd!

TMink said...

Marga Gomez has a comedy routine about pockets that is rip roaring funny. Anyone else heard it?

Trey

Kirk said...

tjl,

So what do you carry in your pockets?

halojones-fan,

Your comment about coordinating ensembles reminds me of one of my favorite Dilbert columns. His colleage (the really high-strung one) ask him what he's wearing to another colleague's wedding. "Whatever comes up in the rotation," he replies. She starts shrieking and pummeling him, and says, "You #$@%$@!!! I spent 6 months shopping just for the right shoes!!!"

Galvanized said...

bearing -- Yes, cargo pants are the bomb! ;)

reader_iam said...

Well, color me f'n nuts, but I just do what works at the time, within the current of my life in time, and always have.

WTF?

And in these days of toting around laptops, digcams, cell phones, and so forth (and of our kids having "backpack" listed as a requirement from pre-k or k on, as a "basic" school supply)--what the hell?

We're all toting around some damn thing, which, if we were truthful, we could "do" without for a significant portion of the time.

If ever there was an over-taken-by-time feminist issue (whether one thought it was trivial or not, at the outset, now, or anywhere in between), this, by God, is it.

If we want to bother with this at all, it seems to me, the issue is:

Bags vs. baggage: which matters more?

(And all the implications, thereof, the detailing of which I've spared you all.)

Also ...

Nah.

reader_iam said...

You carry your laptop in a pocket, Althouse?

reader_iam said...

Also, why would you want to have the different things you might want/need over the phases and ebbs and flows of a particular day, but only at specific times, attached, essentially, via pockets, to your very body throughout the entire day?

How very unfree!

Galvanized said...

I notice that I like big pockets at the waist out of self-consciousness, too, because I don't know what else to do with my hands, and it's a safe body language expression to reach inward and hide my hands rather than place my hands on hips (too cocky) or just hanging at my sides (dull), and doesn't seem so hypervigilant as clasping them behind or in front. Just an observation. LOL Maybe women also like deep pockets because they give us a rest from presenting ourselves and can even hide a woman's silohuette if she's uncomfortable being physically scrutinized, as well. I could go on and on about this subject.

Galvanized said...

*silhouette...sorry

Ann Althouse said...

"You carry your laptop in a pocket, Althouse?"

My complete avoidance of handbags in daily life lasted from 1969 to about 1990-something. I did have some bags that I used while traveling to have maybe a book and a map, but most of the time I would probably have carried a book in my hand and stuck the map in the book! I've only used a laptop since 2004, so that was an irrelevant factor. A digital camera and a cellphone are two other things that I started carrying almost all the time, and those require bags. But even now, I sometimes leave those things behind and just take my keys and a couple cards with two twenties wrapped around them with a rubber band and go bagless. I also have a wallet with a handstrap that I can put my keys in and use without a real handbag. Generally, my bag is a bookbag that I can fit my computer in, along with that wallet and assorted things, but I often leave the laptop out. It's too heavy. I'm constantly looking for solutions to the problem of daily luggage. I have a rolling computer case, but it's annoying to drag around, and people will constantly ask where you're traveling. I'm hoping that the iPhone will transform the situation and make it possible to go all small and light again. But the no-handbag thing is only occasional -- if I'm going to a party or if I'm going on a walk.

tjl said...

"So what do you carry in your pockets?"

A pen, house & car keys, cell phone, & wallet. Nothing bulky enough to detract from my sleek silhouette.

Full disclosure: as a lawyer, I belong to one of the relatively few professions that still expect coats and ties at all times. Of course, the suit jacket has two more pockets which are perfect for a checkbook, PDA, or card case.

But when off duty, it's keys, wallet, & cell phone only.

peter hoh said...

I love bib overalls, too.

Anyway, the title of this post put me in mind of one of my childhood books, Katy No Pocket. Except that book would probably not pass muster with feminists, as the plot revolves around Katy Kangaroo's dismay that she doesn't have a pocket in which to carry her baby.

reader_iam said...

I'm now stopped dead in my tracks by the realization, off-topic, that I'm in my 11th year of experimenting on how best to tote a laptop (with a year-ish off when I was more concerned with juggling the baby/diaper bag combo).

Damn. Time flies.

Beth said...

Worse than no pockets are those strange little fake pockets on some women's clothing. What's the point???

bearing said...

Oo, I like the idea of two twenties wrapped around a couple of cards with a rubber band. Why didn't I think of that?

Frankly, I look forward to the day when phone, GPS, Internet browser, camera, garage door opener, TV remote, remote house key, remote car starter, and credit-card-info-beamer are all one pocket-sized device.

Synova said...

I just thought of a reason for purses...

...periods.

I remember high school. If you were smart a couple tampons went in your socks. If you had a purse you didn't want anyone wondering why you were carrying it *today* and not every day. So... carry it every day.

But then... we didn't have back packs. Not even in high school. The back pack thing was for going to college when you couldn't get back to your locker between classes.

So.. these backpack/messenger bag days *might* be the end of the "purse". It's too easy to stick what you need in those huge bags. And when you don't need your backpack why carry extra crap?

It does seem to me that the "clutch purse" is about as crippling as those funny little chinese toe shoes except that they take your hands completely out of action instead of your feet.

TMink said...

OK, the Marga Gomez piece is called "The pocket crises" and it is off her cd Hung Like A Fly. I only heard snippets of it online, but it reminded me just how funny she is and how funny the bit it.

If you have Rhapsody, you can hear it there, and there is a tiny taste at

http://www.ladyslipper.org/rel/v2_play_song.php?storenr=53&muzenbr=300623&disc=1&trk=4

She cracks me up, give her a listen.

Trey

Jonathan said...

"Frankly, I look forward to the day when phone, GPS, Internet browser, camera, garage door opener, TV remote, remote house key, remote car starter, and credit-card-info-beamer are all one pocket-sized device."

It's closer than you think - with COTS technology (and a bit of hard work) you could have all of that today in the US except for the credit-card beamer (and Japan has that today).

I have everything up to and including the TV Remote in one package on my belt right now - and I've had it for 2 years now. It's called a PDA/Phone combo, and you don't have to wait for the iPhone to have it today. (In fact, if you want a good web experience, the iPhone may not give it to you - it will have rather slow speeds in the Gen1 - no 3G data service).

Remote House Key and Remote Card Start require additional hardware in the house locks and car, respectively, but are currently within your grasp. And, as I said, paying by cell phone is in trials in many palces, and commercial in Japan.

Once they get a good wearable display and can cram Dragon Naturally Speaking into a PDA, the laptop as we know it is doomed, IMHO. (It will morph into what the high-end gaming desktop is now).

bearing said...

Homeschooling mom of 7 (I think) shows the contents of her bag.

Try to get that in your pockets.

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jake lee said...


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