Why don’t women’s clothes have proper pockets?


We had a brief English heatwave here in Essex this week with temperatures soaring over 30C. The sunshine has brought out summer skirts and dresses and with it, the problem of where to put things because women’s clothes and especially summer clothes don’t have pockets. Am I the only one who has to stuff her handkerchief in the leg of her knickers?

When I walk the dog I usually take my phone with me. I don’t want to hold it in my hand; I don’t want to be hindered by a bag; I just want to slip the phone in my pocket. And if I see something interesting on the walk, I want to pick it up. And slip it in my pocket. A proper pocket. Not a tiny pocket barely three fingers wide or so shallow that everything falls out.

Will somebody please tell me – why don’t women’s clothes have proper pockets?

Is it because our pretty clothes won’t fit? Well, it’s true that if I put too much in there may be an unsightly bulge or two but I just want to put in a couple of things, not use my pockets instead of on-board hand luggage. There just needs to be some logical thinking in the design. I know it may take a little more time to make and a bit of extra fabric, but surely it can be done.

Maybe it’s because women keep so many things with them that they need a handbag. No, we don’t. I have to take a handbag sometimes because I don’t have pockets or if I have pockets they are pathetically small. Handbags are a little like cupboards; the more space there is, the more they fill up with unnecessary clutter. No handbag, no clutter.

But darling, I’ll buy your dinner and you don’t need your car keys because my car’s much faster than yours and I’m a far better driver. Your phone? Don’t worry your silly little head about that. I’ll just slip it into one of my many man-sized pockets and look after it for you. Yeah, right.

I partially solved the problem in winter by knitting the  Warriston sweater from Kate Davies Designs that has two pockets in the front and of course there’s always a coat with capacious pockets to wear outside. Last summer, I made a little shoulder bag to wear across my body but it cut across, below or above my bosom (depending on what was in my bag and what I was doing) and was as unflattering as it was uncomfortable.

Perhaps the solution is to skip back in time and make a tie-on pocket. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, women didn’t have pockets sewn into their clothing though it may come as little surprise to know that men did have them. Instead, women had pockets that were sewn onto a tape and tied around the waist, usually worn underneath their skirt or apron. I suppose they were the forerunners of the money belt or the bum bags of the 1980s.

tie on pocket purse


Small enough not to get in the way but large enough for a few essentials. Another reason for my family to roll their eyes and snigger. It works, but it needs some modification.

I could go retro and wear one of those wraparound aprons so I can do an impression of Mrs Overall. But obviously I’m not going to do that.

So, the seemingly age old question remains – why don’t women’s clothes have proper pockets?

Do you need pockets? Have you found a solution?

And while I’m in this mood, why are men’s handkerchiefs and tissues so much larger than women’s?


You may also like to read:

Pockets of History

The History of Tie-on Pockets