A Pocketful of Nothing

Why women’s clothing so often lacks pockets–and what we can do about it


Alexis Otterbein

For those who don’t know, this is a “woman’s pocket,” a fake pocket often found on women’s pants. It holds… nothing, as if women don’t have cell phones or money or anything else to hold. This fashion oversight has a long history–and we should make pants without pockets just that: history.

Alexis Otterbein, Staff Illustrator

Let’s all admit it–women’s fashion is probably the worst thing in the world. Most clothes are low quality, way overpriced, and have inconsistent sizing. But perhaps the most insidious way women’s clothing fails is the lack of pockets. Pockets are considered an option on women’s clothing, and most manufacturers believe they don’t need to be mandatory or even practical (I have wished a special painful death on the man who created the fake pockets on women’s pants more time than I can count).

But why? How did it get this way?

It starts back in the 17th century when women had little to no rights. Pockets were very gender-based, as they were mostly used for money, and women were expected to have their father or husband pay for them. The only pockets women would have would be under their garment–or none at all. Women finally had pockets when WWII had hit and they needed to work more than usual.

But that’s not really satisfying, is it? You’d think in the fashion industry, especially for women they would add pockets so it’s a tad bit useful. It’s 2022 after all. Instead, a lot of fashion industries still go by the maxim of “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.”

According to kirrinfinch.com, “One theory is that the male-dominated fashion industry continues to drive this preference for aesthetics over function. Men are designing the garments, and so their focus is “driven not by form and function, but by design and how fabric best drapes the body.” Basically, the shape of the pocket or what you might be holding in that pocket may ruin the “look” of the pants.

And that look? Sleek and hugging a woman’s body so you can see the shape of her legs. Pants for women then become more of a way to attract men than something for their own use… and that’s really gross.

But women carry purses and bags, one may say, so they don’t need pockets. Why do you think we do? Because we don’t have pockets. A purse is not a good replacement either. For one thing, it’s easy to lose or forget a purse while no one loses a pocket. Worse, it’s much easier to steal a purse than to pick a pocket.

Purses also require coordination. Purse A goes with Outfit A but not Outfit B, and while Purse C can go with Outfits A and B, it’s a little too bulky, and so on. Accessorizing can be frustrating and complex, especially when pockets always match the outfit. There’s also the price of additional accessories like purses. Sophomore Bailey Lang expressed her frustration with this, saying “I think it’s very dumb, it’s more expensive than it should be”

Let’s also not forget about the poor quality of women’s clothes. One theory many women have as to why their clothing is of subpar quality is that it is considered less important than men’s clothing. Others believe that it’s a scheme to make women buy more: if after a month your pants are ruined, stained, ripped, or whatever, the chances of you buying a new shirt is high. This gets into the idea of fast fashion, where clothing is made very cheap because it will fall apart by the time the next fashion trend comes along. According to The List, “These conditions make it easy to see how and why fast fashion is cheap, and why clothes often cannot survive more than a few items of washing […] You see some products and it’s just garbage. It’s just crap. And you sort of fold it up and you think, yeah, you’re going to wear it on Saturday night to your party — and then it’s literally going to fall apart.”

However, I think there’s a more subtle reason why women’s clothing is so flimsy: the lack of pockets. In order to attach pockets to pants, the pants have to be thick enough to support the pockets. Moreover, the actual sewing of the pockets helps reinforce the waistline, making it last longer.

We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but putting pockets on women’s clothing is an easy idea that we can impliment now. So women, make your voice heard! Tweet your favorite brands and make it clear on social media: we want our pockets!