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No pockets in women’s clothing isn’t high fashion, it’s sexist

As we find ourselves in the midst of the fourth wave of feminism, here’s hoping that bringing pockets to everyday women’s clothing will become a glorious moment of victory for this movement.

editorials Updated: Aug 03, 2018 19:12 IST
Hindustan Times
It has been argued that the absence of pockets in women’s garments is one of the important reasons for men having so effectively maintained their superiority. But all of this talk, alas, has not influenced the fashion industry as one would have hoped.(AFP)

It’s ridiculous, really. Here we are, 18 years after the turn of the century, talking about the viability of terraforming on Mars, and we still haven’t fixed one of the most fundamental problems right here on earth. Women’s clothing still has a glaring lack of pockets. Even Hillary Clinton’s famous white pantsuit (that was seen as a hat tip to the suffragette movement) at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 had no pockets. It was pants and a blazer, like any man, except with no pockets. She has been called a “power dresser” and credited with having “looked presidential” in her signature pantsuits. But they have no pockets.

This is not just a question of sartorial aesthetics. Where would she keep her phone? Or her notes?

When the iPhone finally embraced a larger screen size, women wrote hopefully about a shift in fashion design, hoping that the ridiculously small, decorative, horribly irritating pockets in women’s jeans would finally have to adapt to the changing design of the iPhone. Right? Wrong. Jeans manufacturers and designers still didn’t think women would want to carry phones, or indeed anything else, in their pockets.

Much has been written about the politics and sexism of pockets. Christian Dior in 1954 reportedly said, “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” This extremely sexist and patriarchal notion of what women’s clothes should be like has persisted through many shifts in high and low fashion. Saville Row suits meant for men apparently had up to 17 pockets, even in the 19th century. Women, alas, have been condemned to constantly having to cart around luggage. Even Indian clothes such as the pyjama-kurta have pockets — always in the men’s section; and sometimes, if you’re lucky, in the women’s. Women must give special instructions to tailors to put pockets on kurtas. Even academics have discussed the ingenuity of the Victorian patriarchy in denying women the convenience of pockets. It has been argued that the absence of pockets in women’s garments is one of the important reasons for men having so effectively maintained their superiority. But all of this talk, alas, has not influenced the fashion industry as one would have hoped.

As we find ourselves in the midst of the fourth wave of feminism, here’s hoping that bringing pockets to everyday women’s clothing will become a glorious moment of victory for this movement. Here’s wishing that the “slimming silhouette” and the “professional looks” for women will — in our lifetimes — come to incorporate pockets, so that we can all finally carry our keys, phones, pens, and money on our persons without having to lug around extra baggage all the time.

First Published: Aug 03, 2018 19:12 IST