To those who are interested in quarreling, nearly any subject will do as far as the start of an argument. It is not uncommon in mixed company for me to hear complaints about the difference between pockets for men and women’s clothing. In the West, at least, men’s clothing frequently has far more in the way of pockets than women’s clothing. It is interesting to note, though, that this is not necessarily the case everywhere. If in the West, even those pockets which may exist in women’s clothes are often decorative and completely useless in actually placing anything, a frequent reader of this blog from another country has shared that sometimes there are pockets on the upper sleeve of dresses there that are useful for putting pens.
This is by no means a worthless thing. I have commented at length before about what I have found in my pockets, but it can be just as important to note what falls out of pockets as what one finds in them. And for me, the most obvious things that fall out of my pockets with alarming frequency are pens. It is not at all obvious why this should be the case. Generally speaking, at least, my wallet finds a secure place in my pocket, as do my keys and cell phone, but yet it is my pens which are always having trouble in my pockets. Sometimes they get tied up with the keys and fall out when I am pulling my keys out to unlock the car, sometimes they fall out of my pocket onto my seat or in between the seat and the center console while I am driving, and they also manage to find a hiding spot near the cell phone so that it is difficult to know if the pen is actually in the pocket or not. Sometimes they are so unobtrusive that I leave the keys in the pockets to a pair of pants or shorts not realizing that they are still inside until I put them on later.
The potential usefulness of pockets seems pretty obvious, as they are a storage feature on clothing that make it possible for people to keep things that they want to keep close to them close to them and at least somewhat secure. As with any feature of any good, there are trade-offs involved in the design of pockets. By and large, having secure pockets is going to make clothing appear at least a little more bulky, because it requires additional layers of fabric to create useful pockets. Where fabric is too weak, pockets will rip easily and not be able to store things, thus letting things fall out of the pocket and onto the ground. Where pockets are too shallow, they cannot really store very much and items find it easy to fall out of the mouth of the pocket. On the other hand, sometimes pockets can be so keep that it is difficult to retrieve items out of them. Those pockets which are more accessible to the user are more accessible to others, while those which are more secure are also more difficult to use. This sort of dilemma is fairly common when it comes to the design of features.
As might be readily imagined, pockets themselves have had a notable history in clothing. For thousands of years, at least, people used pouches to store their items, and often slung such pouches around their bodies to preserve small items while traveling. A few hundred years ago, at least so far as we have historical record, pockets were sowed into clothing as a means of increasing its storage, and to this day pockets and their qualities have been the source of debates. A frequent debate at present is the comparative lack of utility of women’s pockets as opposed to men’s pockets, though there is no reason why pockets could not be made equally easily for both. There are, of course, a lot of design elements to consider when it comes to pockets, and for clothing designers, aesthetics and practical concerns as well as the constraints of the articles of clothing themselves have all played a role in the development of different kinds of pockets. Given their obvious utility, we can expect further developments on the pocket to make them serve the purposes of those who want them on their clothing.