The lack of pockets for women: a sexist clothing industry

The sexist approach to women’s clothing

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke


Although it is the 21st century, women still seem to face the same sexist problems when it comes to pants.

It was the beginning of high school when I got my first iPhone. I faced the problem that no girl wants to face: what do I do with my phone?

My old flip-phone fit into my pocket easily, but the new, larger phone with a super wide screen definitely wouldn’t. Not to mention, I didn’t want to have to worry about lugging along a purse. Some people don’t mind it. However, I do.

My guy friends would rub in how big their pockets are and how many random items they can fit into them. This really pushed me to start questioning: why don’t girls have pockets like that too?

It turns out the history of women’s lacking storage in clothing has gone back for years, beginning, according to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, around the 1600s. Women would wear little satchels in their clothing that could hold items, but were difficult to access without stripping down.

In the 1700s, women had what were called “hanging pockets” or little bags that were put beneath their dresses. Sometimes they would cut slits into their dresses to reach their things easily. Since they wore pretty big dresses, nobody really noticed a little extra bulk there, so all was well.

In the 1800s, dresses started getting more slender, meaning that there was less room to hide pockets. Thus, the purse was born. Then called a “reticule,” women carried these tiny bags more as a status symbol than anything, because it could hardly even carry money. (Money-handling was for men, anyway). This developed into the painful twentieth and twenty-first century struggle of a lack of pockets.

Once women started wearing pants, they rebelled and sewed pockets into their pants. Here’s the problem with that, though: Pants with pockets are bulkier, and many (men) thought that it was unflattering to women’s figures to have pockets. (Heaven forbid).

Considering at least fifty years of sexist dress codes, I think it’s about time that women stand together and take back what is rightfully theirs: equality of opportunity. Oh, and the pockets, too.

It’s about time that we had someplace to put our phones, drivers licenses and credit cards.

I knew things were getting bad in the women’s clothing department when I had a friend recommend to me that I should look in the men’s section for skinny jeans because they fit nicely, were cheaper and had big pockets. Don’t even get me started on how things for men are cheaper. Really, just don’t.

I don’t even understand why it’s a big deal. We can’t really still be sexualizing women and girls to the point where we feel we have to restrict their choice in pants to only ones without pockets to make their thighs look a little cuter?

Pathetic, really.

If we are going to continue advocating for the rights of women, I think we also need to speak for the pants. I’ve had enough of this “pocketless pants” business.

It’s time to have the ability to put my phone in my pocket and have it fit. It may not secure us all of the equality that we hope for, but at least we can put things in our pockets while we make less money than men and work tirelessly for more influential leadership roles.