Pockets for All

Pockets for All

Pockets for all – what women really want from their clothing

It’s an age-old issue that women have dealt with for centuries – our clothing lacks the same access to pockets that men’s clothing does, and it’s quite difficult to work out why. We’ve had the same rights to vote for over 100 years, progression towards equality for all genders has been made in leaps and bounds here in the UK, and yet our fashion and clothing hasn’t caught up.

We’ve taken a look at the history behind why women’s clothing still lacks pockets, what women are dissatisfied about when it comes to their fashion, and our top tips for addressing the issue of a lack of pockets.

Why does women’s clothing lack pockets?

Let’s throw things back to the 17th century, when pockets first appeared in fashion – although only exclusively for men. Before this time, men and women alike used to carry small bags with them, that they attached to their waists, until crime became so prolific that it was seen as much safer to hide the bags within clothing, with a small hole to act as access to the bags. These evolved into pockets that were attached to the inside lining of clothing, and yet women were still expected to keep their bags on the outside of their clothing.

As the centuries went by, women’s clothing became more and more figure hugging, and the pockets that they had managed to acquire in their full skirts were becoming smaller and smaller, until it reached a point that women had to keep bags again because they were unable to take their possessions outside their home upon their person. Many women saw this as a means to hold them back from true independence or from concealing revolutionary material or weapons.

The turn of the 20th century saw a real change in women’s clothing – trousers, pockets, skirts above the knee and even working clothes for those who took over jobs during the World Wars! It was a revolution in women’s fashion, yet it didn’t last long. Women were expected to exude femininity with their clothing after their men returned from war, and the clothing became even more form fitting than it had in the late Victorian era. Alongside this, the handbag industry began to boom, and the need for pockets in women’s clothing was truly at the back of designers’ priorities.

So, what is the current situation with women’s fashion? Well, trousers became a staple of women’s clothing by the 1970s, but most trousers and jeans that are marketed to women now are pocketless or have pockets that couldn’t even fit a slim debit card inside. How do modern day women truly feel about the clothing available to them from the current fashion industry?

What do women find problematic about their clothing?

We spoke to a number of people who identify as women and asked them which issues they resonate with when it comes to their current clothing options.

Our findings

  1. Clothes that aren't true to size - 60% of respondents who identify as female said that sizing of clothing was one of the biggest bugbears when it comes to female fashion. This can be particularly frustrating when companies have different sizing from each other, making it difficult to know your true dress size.
  2. Pricing - 42% of respondents claim that the cost of women’s clothing is problematic for them, not least the cost of clothing that we know is made in sweatshops for less than minimum wage.
  3. Poor quality - 40% of respondents are dissatisfied by the quality of clothing available to women. Consumer pressure for fast fashion means that a lot of companies use less than desirable materials to make their clothes, making them poor quality and easily damaged.
  4. Uncomfortable clothing - 35% of respondents claimed that clothing for women was uncomfortable – either physically uncomfortable e.g., too tight, or making them feel uncomfortable within themselves.
  5. Colour fades quickly - 22% of respondents feel that the colours of their clothing fades too quickly.
  6. Lack of pockets - 21% complained that their clothing lacking pockets was problematic for them.
  7. Pockets that aren't big enough – A further 15% feel that the size of the pockets that do come in women’s clothing are not big enough for them to use efficiently, and are not practical.
  8. Practicality - 15% of our respondents claim that the clothing that is designed for women nowadays lacks practicality.

Addressing the lack of pockets in women’s clothing

Over half of our survey respondents (who identify as female) said that they often struggle to carry things due to lack of pockets in their clothing. This leads to reliance on bags, which are easily lost or stolen, and this inhibits girls and women in ways that men may struggle to understand. Many outlets have spoken out in support of better pockets for women’s clothing, and some designers are beginning to listen to these voices.

Efforts to buy more sustainable, second-hand, and vintage clothing not only goes some way to helping fight the climate crisis, but also offers the opportunity for fashion designers and clothing experts to re-evaluate what consumer priorities are, and introduce large pockets to the female fashion world. After all, to ensure that our young women and girls can be equipped for the world, we need to give them their pockets back.

Why not check out some trousers that actually do have great pockets, and are also made ethically and sustainably, by checking out all our organic bottoms and dungarees. To hear from more of our guest blogs or to find more fashion-focused fun, head over to our blog; or for more information on how we’re campaigning for ethical and climate-friendly clothing, check out our progress.
Back to blog