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Why women’s pockets suck

Women’s pockets favor fashion over function — and it’s terrible.

Kimberly Mas is a senior producer at Vox video focused on science explainers.

Have you ever been in the presence of a woman who’s just discovered her dress has pockets? Her eyes light up, she breaks into a smile, and then she announces, “It has pockets!” It’s the first thing she’ll tell anyone who compliments the outfit, as if these pockets are the most defining and important part of the look.

If you’re not part of the population that wears women’s clothing, this might seem weird. You might ask yourself, “What exactly is the big deal here?” But as someone on that other side, let me assure you, pockets are a big deal for women — or for anyone, really. The particular obsession women have, though, is based on the fact that we’ve largely gone without them for decades.

Take a simple pair of women’s jeans. A data visualization website called the Pudding recently measured the pockets on 80 pairs of women’s and men’s jeans and found that on average, the pockets on women’s jeans are “48% shorter and 6.5% narrower than men’s pockets.” That’s the drastic difference between a pocket created for fashion and one created for function.

Women’s clothing used to have large pockets. Ariane Fennetaux, a historian who recently co-authored a book on the topic, The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660-1900, told Vox that from the 17th to 20th century, women used to wear large detachable pockets, which are now called “tie-in pockets.” They had several important functions and offered women a place of privacy at a time when they weren’t allotted much at all.

But in the 19th and 20th centuries, these large pockets fell out of fashion, and ever since, women have had to resort to purses and bags as a substitute. But it’s 2018. Women have been been demanding better pockets since before they were granted suffrage. What’s the holdup?

Watch the video above to learn more — and check out this article from Racked, which dives deeper into the long struggle for better pockets. You can find this video and all our videos on our YouTube channel.

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