A few weeks ago, a relative sent us a link to a radio show on France Inter. The host, Giulia Foïs, broached a topic which immediately caught our attention : the size of our pockets.
Are you taken aback whenever you find out that you can slip your entire hand into your pockets? Let’s get even crazier here, how about your pockets being able to hold your keys, even your phone ?! Don’t you feel like the luckiest person on earth when that happens ? Funnily enough, we don’t really find our male counterparts rejoicing about their pocket size when they get a new jacket or pair of jeans. Why does our simple gender decide whether we get to find practical clothes or not? Chelsea G. Summers, a militant columnist for the Guardian, correctly points out that in 2018, women need to carry as many things as men. Afterall it’s not that difficult or costly to make correctly sized pockets. Then why are they so difficult to find?
Are women really getting the shorter end of the stick or is it some rant that isn’t backed by evidence? The Pudding, a US based media company, analysed the pocket sizes of 20 brands of jeans and found out that, on average, women’s jeans are 48% shorter and 6% smaller than men’s jeans, proving that the disparity is real. The study took into account the difference in build between men and women, so the different pocket sizes are not explained by the fact that men are bigger and taller than women.
In and of itself, it matters little what size our pockets are; what we really care about is what they can hold. This is when the data gets even more interesting:
only 10% of women’s jeans can actually hold an entire woman’s hand versus 100% of men’s jeans.
A big smartphone can slip into about 5-40% of women’s jeans and into 85-100% of men’s jeans. Even a medium sized wallet can only slip into about 40% of women’s pockets compared to 100% of men’s pockets. The data is quite stark, but if you still need convincing, here’s a famous quote from Christian Dior, who back in 1954 said ‘Men have pockets to carry things, women for decoration’.
a brief history of pockets
The size of our pockets today is actually a reflection of the social construct from several centuries ago. In the middle ages, men and women alike used to carry detachable pockets that they would tie around their waists and hide underneath layers of clothing (see illustration below that we found in an article on Slate).
In the 17th century, men started to have pockets directly sewn onto their clothes while women continued to carry around the detachable pouches, which were perfect for their little survival kits (and big enough to carry an iPad... we’re just sayin’). Gradually, pockets were transferred to men’s trousers and jackets but not to women’s dresses or skirts. The women were hence forced to either have their things carried by their fathers, brothers or husbands, or to place them in an external bag that they had to lug around, making it less comfortable or practical for them. Great.
As for us, we are super happy to have pockets in all of our dresses. We are after all mobile, busy women who have to juggle with changing schedules and shifting priorities all the time, and not being able to find practical, functional clothes that really fit our lifestyle can be a frustration. Pockets are the little detail that go a long way in making sure we are functioning at our best. And you can count on us to keep designing clothes that make sense, whether it be from a practical, political or ecological standpoint.