Pockets have evolved throughout history but what does remain is its practical and desirable feature to a garment.
Pockets are key. Or are they?
I'm in favour of garments with pockets, they are more than a portable storage device. Pockets in the age of ready-to-wear fast fashion is a luxury item. And they seem to have a history of luxury associated with them.
Pockets as we know them today haven't always been part of an article of clothing. During Medieval times "pockets" were more like external bags tied around one's waist or suspended from one's belt. A style worn regardless of one's gender.
A historical recreation of a Medieval "pocket"
Pockets can also have negative associations with them, especially if they carry one's hands. In Western culture when one's hands are in their pocket it can be perceived as awkwardness or disrespect depending on the cultural situation.
Often pockets are used to hold our money or wallets instead of our hands. Phrases relating to pockets have come out of these: Out of pocket refers to a financial loss. Put one's hand in one's pocket refers to an act of generosity. Empty pocket refers to being broke.
To pocket something refers to conceal or hid something.
Much as been written about the white pant suit Hilary Clinton wore at the Democratic National Convention and what one commentary saw as a pocket-less suit jacket illustrated that she had nothing to hid.
I see this analysis as a lack of knowledge on pocket construction rather than a commentary on whether or not Clinton was trying to send out a message to voters. What I do see is a beautifully tailored welt or perhaps a bound pocket on the jacket front. Hmm, does anyone else see the irony here?
Today, pockets are lacking or at least minimized in ready-to-wear clothing as an austerity measure. Details such as buttons and pockets have slowly been given less and less importance and prominence in clothing design in recent years.
Scanning the menswear department, I noticed the lack of chest pockets on men's dress shirts. The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shirts suggests that pockets on men's shirts decreases the formality of a shirt and that most men don't use them. Some questionably argue otherwise, "[w]hy are women constantly trying to feminize the American [m]ale?" Seriously, the dude needs to stop blaming women and find himself a good tailor because RTW is not going to give him shirt pockets. In the age of fast fashion, it's all about getting clothing to the racks as quickly and cheaply as possible and pockets are deemed unnecessary in the process. Sewing on the other hand [pun unintended] allows you to add all the pockets that your heart desires. But you might have to draft your own.
Scanning the offerings by Vogue patterns most long sleeve dress shirts are void of pockets with the exception of Vogue 8759. McCall's offers shirt pockets on many of their casual shirt offerings. And yet, vintage pattern finds are abundant with pockets from last century's offering.
Could this be, dare we say, another cultural shift in pockets? Are
men shirt pockets out of style, a vintage design feature of days gone by?
As long as we have devices, wallets, sun glasses and whatever else we want to get out of our fingers, there will always be the desire for pockets. The question is do we want them to be seen or unseen. What are your thoughts on pockets?