Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Feminist and the Handbag


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, but I guess what triggered me to start writing about it was a conversation between two of my friends on twitter. A female friend tweeted her delight in finding internal pockets in the (men’s) jacket she was wearing. A mutual male friend of ours replied, ‘wait women's clothing don't have them? No outer pockets on a lot of stuff too?’ He was surprised. No one who frequently wears women’s clothing was. I decided to bring him up to speed, responding with: ‘This is why women carry handbags. There is very little utility to women's clothing.’ And suddenly I felt the familiar, bitter taste of having been duped.

Why is there very little utility to women’s clothing? Why don’t we get pockets which actually open? Why do we have to put up with the ‘false pockets’ that are frequently sewn onto women’s jackets and pants to give visual interest without ruining the ‘line’ of the garment? Why, when pockets are actually present, are they so rarely large, stable, or loose enough to accommodate a phone or a wallet? And why, given this is the case, do women go on to cop so much flack for carrying handbags around with them?

Oh wait. Is this one of those double standards which we feminists are always going on about; one of those innocuous little things which everybody just accepts because it is the norm?

Women carry handbags. It is known.

But why? I have watched my male friends get ready to go out. They slip their wallet into one pocket, their keys into another, their phone into a third pocket, and some of them even still have spare pockets large enough to carry a novel for the journey. Those of my friends who wear women’s clothes, though, face an entirely different situation. If they are wearing the right jeans or jacket, they may have up to two usable pockets (not at all guaranteed). However, in most cases they won’t have any pockets at all. Utility and style rarely meet in women’s fashion, so they grab a bag.

Contrary to all the jokes, most women don’t ‘have’ to leave the house with everything they pack in their day-to-day handbag. Most of the items in a woman’s everyday handbag are in there because, if she’s going to have to carry it anyway, she might as well make it worth her while. Excuse us for making use of the one useful item we find in our wardrobes.

Choosing the right bag for other occasions is also an important decision. When going out, women usually carry the same sorts of essentials men do, with the addition of lipstick, tampons, and, perhaps, a small roll of Hollywood tape.  Not wanting to be weighed down, a woman may forego the bag with a shoulder strap for something smaller with a handle, or even a clutch. This is where the problem of a lack of utility gets pricklier. Men’s clothing would provide ample space for the few items a woman requires for a special occasion.
Unfortunately, the number of pockets in women’s clothing actual decreases as the need increases: when she’s most likely to want her hands free – like when drinking, dancing, or balancing on oddly-shaped bar stools – she’s least likely to have them free. When she’s carrying only her most valuable essential items – money, phone, cards, keys – she is more in danger of losing them. On top of this, the lack of utility in her clothing is making her vulnerable to attack. She is down to one hand to defend herself and no ready access to items like her phone which may be used to call for help. Her clothing, because it is designed to do just one thing (cover her body), is putting her at risk.

If one is in a relationship with a man, or someone who is likely to dress in men’s clothing, there is another option:  handing over the few items one wishes to carry to one’s partner, to be kept in his pockets. Convenient as this seems, a tiny, rebellious part of my brain screams that it is terribly old-fashioned and means that one must be constantly asking permission to access one’s means of communication and finance. It also means that one is tethered to their partner and still without means of calling for aid if the situation requires it and the partner is not present.

So suddenly I’m looking at my handbag with suspicion wondering if, somewhere along the way, someone should have thrown her beautifully designed bag to the ground and demanded that someone make her beautifully designed clothes do something a little more, well, useful.

But maybe she couldn’t. After all, all her stuff was in there.

In order to be concise and clear, I have used the term 'women's clothes/fashion' to refer to clothing found in the 'women's' section of, for example, a department store. It has nothing to do with the gender/sex of the person wearing the clothes. I speak of it as a 'women's/feminist's' issue as the overwhelming majority of people who face this are female or identify as such.

71 comments:

  1. this is such a great article that ones again points out why we need more critical feminist conversations about fashion. i feel like we focus so much on the hot button issues like high heel shoes or religious garments and forget about all the little ways in which clothing is gendered and upholds double standards like the ones you point out. great article. definitely sharing with my readers!

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    1. First of all: Thank you! I'm glad you found this interesting and I hope your readers do too.

      I did worry that I didn't cover enough ground here - it seems like as soon as you examine one little fashion item, the floodgate open. There is so much more to what we wear, and how and why we wear it, than most of us think of everyday. Every once in a while, it's worth stepping back and really questioning what's going on.

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  2. I really enjoyed this article, and also I thought you might be interested to know that a quote from it has a ton of likes/reblogs on tumblr (which is where I found it).
    http://sasslock.tumblr.com/post/26065845637/why-is-there-very-little-utility-to-womens

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      Thanks for letting me know that it's floating around tumblr too! So much more of a response than I ever thought such a little piece would get!

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  3. Your rant is so full of misandry, I think I’m going to need a brown paper bag because my stomach is feeling a little queasy.

    In fact, you seem to agree with men. It’s stupid that you have to carry around a whole bag of shit you don’t need. Apparently, you agree! You complain to men about the fact that your stupid clothing isn’t adapted for carrying personal items with you, but yet you don’t bother to inform us men who are reading your filth, why exactly your clothing inadequacies are our fault. Instead, you just use your disfunctional wardrobe anger as some radical justification to attack men.

    If you don’t like the way your clothes are made, here are three great ideas from the male perspective:

    # Buy a sewing machine. Fix it yourself.
    # Purchase clothes that have an element of practicality to them. Your clothes are like Apple computers - they’re all style with nothing inside.
    # And speaking of companies, you could start your own clothing company and sew big, purse sized pockets into all of your panties. This way, you’ll have twice as much panties to twist up your male-hating, feminist ass.

    GOOD DAY, MADAM!

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    1. I do not at all agree with any of your arguments ( which is probably not surprising to you as you must see we already have two entirely different opinions on this issue).

      I will only say that not once did I blame men for this. Nor did I say I hated them or that it was their fault. It is a social problem, but it is one which men don't face on a day to day basis.

      We do not agree about handbags at all. I argue that since they are so often needed, it is reasonable to put them to good use. You, on the other hand, seem to think that putting a handbag to use is a silly thing to do?

      As to your idea about sewing, many people who wear women's clothing do this! I simply argue that if one wears clothing society designates to be 'men's' clothing, one usually doesn't have to! This is a double standard.

      In short, I reject your charge of misandry, but I see that you, too, have given the issue a great deal of thought and are willing to search for a solution. Your solutions are very practical and quick, mine are more focussed on the social change required to find long lasting solutions.

      Good day, Sir.

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    2. Much as I hate to feed the MRA troll, he's actually got a (small) point - why don't you just start buying looser pants with pockets? Or make a Kickstarter to produce them yourself if they truly don't exist?

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    3. My point is not that there is no solution, in the long term, but that it is a problem that exists and that the problem is partially social.

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  4. fantastic article! when i was a kid, nearly all of my pants had pockets. even the little pink shorts that got me picked on in gym class had pockets. i start shopping in the "women's" areas of stores and suddenly pockets are decorative details, false flaps, or too small to even keep money in. if a decent pocket is even included, you get like, one, and nowhere near where you want it. my jeans have almost-decently sized pockets but only on the ass, and none at the hips, where pockets normally go, where pockets would be incredibly convenient. also, that dingle crying "misandry" is probably one of the funniest things i've read all week.

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    1. That'downgrade' from clothes with pockets to clothes without is particularly frustrating! I remember when I first had to start carrying a bag when I was about 13. Suddenly I couldn't do anything fun, because I always had this bag of stuff to think about. Ugh!

      If there was one thing that 'misandry' comment taught me, it's that the spelling checker in Google Chrome doesn't recognise the term 'misandry' as a word. Is that what the commenter intended? Perhaps not.

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  5. Hello Kara,
    I recently read your article and liked it so much I posted an extract of it on tumblr. It's gotten such a good reception and there's so much support garnered for this argument. Just wanted to say thanks for elaborating on this point and you're definitely not alone in thinking this! Keep up the great work :)
    http://sasslock.tumblr.com/post/26065845637/why-is-there-very-little-utility-to-womens

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    1. I'm also on tumblr and that post popped up on my dash just yesterday! I was very flattered! Thank you! Let's hope it has crossed the dash of someone with the requisite skills to start doing something about the problem!

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  6. wanted to come and send my love your way! i saw the excerpt on tumblr (and reblogged) and am glad i came to read the rest!

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    1. I'm glad you came to read the rest, too! Thanks for taking the time!

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  7. this makes sense. However even if I had pockets, I couldnt carry the things I need for daily work tasks in them. Purse, keys, 2 phones, meds, notebook, diary, pen at the very minimum. Plus a small umbrella for this delightlful british summer, unless I want to look like a drowned rat. I do take a whole load of other crap like lip balm, tissues, mints etc which I dont technically need but take anyway because I do need a bag.
    I do find though, that when I am out with my partner, he cant fit his stuff in his pockets (phone, wallet, car keys) and tends to give them to me to put in my bag. So I guess it depends what job you do as to whether you need a bag

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    1. I was thinking more generally. Of course there will be a few contrary examples in individual cases!

      I also carry a lot of similar, technically unnecessary things, since I'm carrying a bag anyway.

      Still, I would argue that if your partner carried a bag for his stuff it wouldn't be ridiculed, whereas people feel comfortable making fun of women's 'obsession with' (which I thought was simply 'use of')handbags.

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    2. A Twitter friend and I have been discussing this and I brought up the exact opposite of your point here. A man could not carry a bag for his stuff as convenient and fashionable as a small purse or handbag, at least not while retaining his masculinity. Sure, we can bring a messenger bag or the like, but the convenience is lost. Personally, I hate having things in my pant pockets, they fall out, are easily stolen, look lumpy and, yes, ruin the "line" of my overall look.

      I would almost make the entirely opposite argument than you (EDIT, now that I've written it, it's more of an expansion to your argument). If one is focused on one's look to the point that certain conveniences are suspended, then fashion should provide a practical alternative solution. Men should be able to carry something small and simple in a variety of styles if they don't want to use their pockets, or if their pockets are (rarely) sewn up. Likewise women should have options which maintain a feminine quality while providing practical "storage" for small essentials. A major problem, and here I am complaining in a manner the previous "misandry" commenter deplored, is that if a man is seen carrying something like a handbag, he's automatically discounted by an arguably large percentage of the women who see him, the same could be argued for women who choose cargo pants and a slightly larger jacket to accommodate her needs. Fashion could help by making the small bag more masculine and pocket-ready feminine attire, but it also takes a shift in perception on both ends of the fashion choice, the chooser and those who will be looking.

      I'm (mostly) an outsider. I'm gay and things are extremely different and yet oddly the same for us.

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    3. Oh, also, I've found that since I've stopped putting my wallet in my back pocket, I have far less back/neck/ass pain. Back pockets are evil.

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    4. I think I responded to a similar point somewhere below, but I'll repeat it here.

      Part of the reason I see this as a feminist issue is because of those jokes about men who carry handbags. I think those jokes are made because handbags are still considered a frivolous accessory despite the fact that many women have very few options when it comes to fashion items with utility. Because they are so strongly associated with women and fashion, the utility of handbags is dismissed and anyone carrying them is thought to be somehow 'feminine' (in a society that codes feminine as weak and silly and generally undesirable for a man to be). I think once it is recognised that handbags are made necessary by clothing design and are useful, AND once the idea that a man shouldn't do or wear anything that could be associated with the feminine, we'll all be happier!

      I certainly didn't write this blog with the idea that carrying a handbag should be an exclusively female thing, just that women shouldn't be forced by lack of options to do it if they don't want to. By the same token, I am 100% in favour of men carrying any bag they want, but I think they are more likely not to have to. It needs to be balanced out both ways!

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  8. and also, although most men may be able to fit their stuff in their pockets, squashing a phone, wallet and keys in there probably isnt a very comfortable option, particularly if you plan to sit down at any point.

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    1. I have to say, I've never noticed any of my male friends squashing things into their pockets - they seem to have enough pockets to give each item a separate space! Also, I'm not arguing that menswear is completely perfect in regards to utility, just that women's clothing fails to even come close, perhaps even fails to try.

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    2. Phone in left front, keys in right front, wallet in back right. All get tossed on the desk if you're going to sit for any length of time, but sitting, e.g. on the subway isn't uncomfortable at all. And if you're wearing a jacket (suit or otherwise), you've got many more options. Those inner pockets are, indeed, the best thing ever.

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  9. Have any of you noticed that a movement is underway to also impose the norms of in-utility, pocketwise, for women, on the clothing worn by men?

    I've had women advise me on buying shirts without a pocket, and tight pants with miniscule pockets that are virtually unusable. I've had people tell me that I shouldn't put so much in my pockets as it is not esthetically acceptable. I've even had women tell me it is the thing now for men to also have a little bag for their stuff. Or an apparently fashionable version of the nerd-bag attached to the belt.

    .. if this development is allowed to continue: women can forget about pockets for ever.

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    1. It sounds to me like women are finally getting a say in what they find attractive on men rather than the other way around all the time. There should always be a choice about what clothing you wear, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with women wanting to wear really nice clothing that's only purpose is to look nice, if that's what they want. And men should have the option to look attractive as well. I think it's nice that it's finally not just only the women who have to "try" in the fashion department anymore.

      So instead of considering it a loss of something (it's not really), consider it new-found equality.

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    2. Let's keep moving towards having equal amounts of choice, rather than equal amounts of inconvenience, though! Wouldn't that be nice?

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  10. Great article, this has been an issue I've always been concerned with for 25 yrs. My bf, who is very into clothes serving a purpose is always flabbergasted by women's useless pockets.

    I hate handbags because they are fiddly and dangerous (easy to snatch, slip hand in) and really incovenient.
    1. Take up a hand
    2. Take up a shoulder
    3. To secure it, across the chest is very awkward over boobs
    4. Can carry lots of little things but not big things

    So I always use rucksacks. But that is a pain in the ass. Bulky, can be sweaty, and you end up then using more space, I like to be prepared for anything (change in temp/weather, headache, bird poop, sweating - change of top, water, snack for low blood sugar etc etc). So I always end up carrying loads.

    Also depends how far you're going. My work place was 60 miles away from my home, train journey. The weather might be the complete opposite to where I started from so I had to cover all bases. Dread to think what extra items I would have to carry if I wore makeup.

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    1. That list of problems with handbags had me shouting, 'yes! I know! UGH!'

      I used to carry a backpack, but I had my walkman (oh, yeah, it was back in the day of walkmans!) stolen from it while I was wearing the pack because I couldn't see or feel what was going on. I would have given anything for a pocket that fit my walkman in it!

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  11. I always wear a horrible, ugly waistpack. My hands are free and essentials are at hand. It's not pretty. There are ALWAYS tissues in my bag; you can never be sure there's toilet tissue at your destination.

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    1. My mum used to do the same so she had her hands free to manage us kids and could carry the various things children always seem to need whenever they leave the house. It's a pity they're such ugly things, but at least they're convenient!

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  12. What maddens me most about women's clothes with absent or inadequate pockets is that they have FAKE pockets. Sometimes it's the work of a few minutes to open them up but often they aren't a pocket at all.

    At home I almost always wear jeans with 4 pockets and belt loops and my outdoor winter coat has ALL the pockets in the world. Work clothes however just don't have pockets and it's maddening as I have no where to put a pen, or a piece of paper, or a note.

    I have disabilities which affect my hands so I can't hold or manipulate objects easily. I find pockets are a good way of getting things out of my hands quickly - I'll put change from a shop in my pocket and count/sort it/put it back in my wallet later if I'm wearing home clothes, but with work clothes I have to faff about with a bag or take longer at the till while I sort my stuff out.

    I am told the reason women's clothes don't have pockets is because of the lines of the clothes - but men's clothes seem to be perfectly adequate and don't look distorted so I call that bull.

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    1. Fake pockets are an absolute insult, especially when you go to the effort of unpicking the seam thinking there'll be a real pocket under there somewhere!

      I think pockets would definitely ruin the line of, for example, a ball gown, but half the time this excuse is used for pants or jackets. If a pocket is disrupting the line of a jacket, that jacket was designed by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Simple.

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  13. This is brilliant. Brilliant brilliant. You should submit it to heartifb.com's weekly roundup. It needs to be over there.

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  14. I've never understood why women accept this (and skin-tight, super revealing bathing suits, ridiculously uncomfortable shoes, etc) as the norm. It's almost as if many of you are conditioned from birth to value appearance and conformity over all else!

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    1. I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but yes, there is a billion dollar fashion industry very invested in conditioning us to accept these things as the norm. And there's a billion dollar diet industry invested in keeping it that way. After all it would be gross for a fat woman to wear those "normal" clothes, right?

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  15. I have nearly these exact thoughts every time I go shopping. I get so frustrated and angry - shirts are almost always designed to be tight, t-shirts have tiny sleeves rarely covering yoru armpits, designs drawing attention to the boobs, and with pants there are no pockets, sometimes no belt loops, no nothing. So much of womens clothing is just not functional. Which is why I end up buy mens pants most of the time, which never fit right and look awful but at least have pocked and functionality.

    I've ranted about how this and the impact/reflection of societies gender roles via clothing, but people rarely listen. Glad to see someone else having the same thoughts - if vastly more coherent. ;)

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    1. It's always a compromise, isn't it? I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one thinking about this!

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  16. By suggesting that you require lipstick and other items for a special occasion, you instantly negate all the positive points you made in the article. Here's an idea for you:

    ONLY BUY CLOTHES THAT HAVE POCKETS!

    If you continue to only buy clothes based on their aesthetic appeal, you can't be surprised when practical garments don't sell, and then subsequently don't get made. And you can't then go on to complain that you are being treated differently to men, because you are acting differently to men. Why the hell do you need lipstick? You don't ever need it. (And I mean ever, not just for emergency touch-up purposes.)

    I don't even know what Hollywood tape is, but the sole guess I can hazard suggests that it is a pure vanity item. Why is it so important that you look so attractive all the time? I am not suggesting that you take no pride at all in your appearance, but get some perspective. And remember, it is market forces that made things the way they are. As long as women are buying clothes because of how pretty they are above other concerns, they will be the clothes that the shops will be stocking.

    It is not a feminist issue. It is a supply and demand issue.

    Personally, I am man who carries a bag. I have one bag, with a shoulder strap, and if it doesn't match my clothes? I don't care. It is there for utility, plain and simple. It generally contains my wallet, an umbrella, deodorant, my 3DS, and a pile of receipts that eventually make their way to a wastepaper bin. If I happen to not have decent pockets available, my phone goes in there as well. Sometimes it has a jacket/raincoat in there, too. It's awesome, and all men should get themselves one.

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    1. In what world do you live where clothing started out entirely equal and was only driven by who bought what?

      Instead of, you know, male businessman working in a world where most women weren't allowed to work. And then advertising to those women that they need to look pretty above all else. And then designing pretty clothes that weren't very functional and marketing those to women, creating a lot of social pressure for them to comfort and buy them.

      Market forces aren't the sole cause of and solution to all of life's problems.

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    2. There aren't two different types of clothes sitting next to each other at every turn and we silly wiminz choose our vanity over comfort and then complain about it later. There's rarely an option and that's the problem, and we barely think twice about it because OF COURSE we need to look pretty.

      No. What influences these garments to be made starts way further back than just when a woman walks into a clothing store. It starts with society telling women that they should only value their appearance. When she was a child, she was told she was supposed to being play with dolls, etc.

      This is why it's a feminist issue and why it needs to be discussed. It's a no-win situation. Either look pretty and be called vain, or become invisible or lambasted for not meeting those standards of beauty.

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    3. Personally, I don't need or wear lipstick, I was listing the things that others might find they need. Even if lipstick wasn't on that list, there would still be nowhere to keep the rest of the things (keys, phone, cash/cards).

      As to the other points you have made, I feel the other replies here cover that. In fact, Aleema put it perfectly: 'Either look pretty and be called vain, or become invisible or lambasted for not meeting those standards of beauty.' Those are the choices women get. It's not a 'pockets or no pockets' decision.

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  17. So agree with this. I went to Lululemon to get some pants for jogging / yoga. None of them had pockets, just a tiny little space (I won't even call it a pocket, it was so small) in the back of the pants without a zipper (because I love to feel my own butt in public, and I am looking forward to losing my keys when I am out for a jog). What, do the fashion gods want me to wear a fanny pack?
    They had one pair of pants with pockets, that weren't for jogging, or yoga, just for "lounging". Screw you Lululemon, I will jog in my lounge pants !!

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    1. I have had the same problem! When I jog I wear men's shorts over my yoga pants because I need somewhere to carry my house keys (I'm certainly not leaving me house unlocked while I'm out) and men's shorts have amazing deep pockets!

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  18. Ok, so though I agree with the premise of the article, something rubbed me the wrong way. This paragraph " handing over the few items one wishes to carry to one’s partner, to be kept in his pockets. Convenient as this seems, a tiny, rebellious part of my brain screams that it is terribly old-fashioned and means that one must be constantly asking permission to access one’s means of communication and finance. It also means that one is tethered to their partner and still without means of calling for aid if the situation requires it and the partner is not present."

    Is only a half-truth. It would be old fashioned if your partner TOLD you he was going to carry your stuff. Instead, you are pushing your stuff on him, making him more a pack mule than a partner. Though I completely agree, women's clothing needs pockets. On the flipside, men should be able to use handbags and not be looked at sideways. I am straight, and sometimes I find myself in want of one for when I carry my pipe and tobacco.

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    1. I do agree that it would be worse if your partner told you you had to do that, but I have seen a friend go to retrieve her credit card from her (lovely, forward-thinking, feminist) boyfriend and have him comment 'What? Again? What do you need it for?'. Although this is hardly an interrogation and he certainly didn't mean anything particularly negative by it, it still irked me enough to make the idea of handing over your possessions (even willingly) a little upsetting. Even if it wasn't a bit upsetting, it'd still be inconvenient for both people. I do also think it's a bit extreme to think handing a phone, some keys, and a few cards or cash to your partner makes him a pack mule! I'm sure if he didn't want to carry it, he'd tell you he couldn't!

      I absolutely agree that men should be able to carry handbags! I believe the 'stigma' (a bit of a strong word for it, but I can't think of a better one) around men carrying bags springs from the fact that handbags are considered a 'women's' accessory (and only an accessory at that, not a useful item). Let's get everyone some comfort and convenience, eh?

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  19. I have two coats from these peeps (am not affiliated with them at all, just love their clothes of many pockets) - they have heaps of really practical pockets! I am wearing my warm coat from them today (it's winter here) - it has 20 pockets and I definitely don't need a handbag, despite how much crap I carry with me: http://www.scottevest.com/v3_store/subindex_womens_products.shtml

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    1. OH, WOW! THE CLOTHES ARE LISTED WITH NUMBER OF POCKETS! Sorry about the caps, but that is really exciting! Also it is proof that pockets don't have to mess with the line of the garment!

      I'm from the southern hemisphere, so it's winter here too. Looks like I've found my next winter coat!

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  20. Putting bulky stuff in my pockets always feels like a trade off against fashion to me. It makes me feel slightly more self conscious. That's why I enjoy wearing big coats in winter. I can keep all my bulky stuff up near my chest.

    When I need to be able to move (ie. when I'm performing on stage) I carry a small shoulder bag that I can easy put down somewhere safe, but I avoid carrying on the same shoulder that I'm carrying the bag because that looks a bit effeminate. I hook it to the opposite shoulder so it looks like a bandolier. This is an absolutely ridiculous preconceived notion but one that is so engrained it affects how I feel about myself.

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    1. One of the saddest things I've picked up from the comments is that nobody seems to want to feel this way - women don't want to feel that they have to look pretty all the time, men don't want to feel that holding a bag makes them seem effeminate (or that seeming effeminate is even a bad thing) - but so many of us are conditioned to feel that way. I guess this is one of the reasons that feminism (or equality if you're not comfortable with that term) will help everybody.

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  21. I have been complaining about this for at least 35 years. I blogged about the difficulty of buying skirts and pants with pockets a half dozen years ago. I do not dress fashionably. I dress functionally. I've been carrying my wallet on me since the mid-'70s. Whenever I try on clothes, which must have pockets before they get that far, I test to see if my wallet and keys will fit. If they do, and the clothes fits, I buy it. If not, I don't. When I was working, finding a functional skirt could take months and I'd buy more than one if needed.

    Jackets and coats were similar. I would hunt for brands that put inside pockets in women's outerwear. The only things I needed my shoulder bag for (and never a bag with handle or a clutch because I lose those) is a bottle of water and a book. These days I have a smartphone, and I stuff that in the pocket with my keys.

    We can rant and rave about the lack of utility in women's wear, but as long as women keep buying the non-functional wear there's no incentive for the clothing companies to change. I'm not sure how to effect that change. I know most women aren't as willing to sacrifice style for function, and now that I'm retired, I can get by with jeans and not bother with a bag.

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  22. yeah... Half a year ago, while searching for a new jacket, was the day I realized this sad fact about women's clothes. I searched and searched, but most of the jackets I found either had no pockets at all or "fake pockets" (oh god how I hate those things), tiny pockets with barely space for anything, or side pockets you can't close, at an angle which I suppose would make things fall out easily... I think it took 1 or 2 hours in all the different shops at the mall before I saw a jacket with proper big pockets. (sadly I seem to have lost it now... luckily I had a similar jacket at home already) I just wanted a jacket I could put my wallet, keys, phone, cards and 3DS in, is that so hard? Apparently, it is... I've seen more and more of this after I've switched over from "children's" to "women's" clothing... the only times I wear a purse now is when it's too hot to wear a jacket, and I can't fit everything into my pants' pockets. A purse for me is just an extra item to drag around, something that gets in the way, and can be easily lost or stolen if not careful... putting your stuff in your clothes is much more handy, and safer, so for me it's more practical

    I must say I value function over style, and I can't imagine wearing and using impractical clothes like pocketless jackets just because it looks good. Then again, my personal idea of what looks "good" on me tends to go with what's more functional, so there's that - I have no idea what's "fashionable" currently, and honestly I couldn't care less. So it's annoying that it's so hard sometimes to find the kind of clothes I want... also, for those who care more about style, it's sad that there aren't so many "functional" choices...

    Also this reminds me of a story I read once... someone was designing clothes for a fashion show, and made some pants(or was it a jacket?) with pockets - as in good-sized, functional pockets - and said pockets were purposefully put in as one of the selling points(great idea!). Sadly, the designer was ridiculed by the others for this, and apparently got told that "women don't want big pockets because having things in the pockets makes them look fat" or some crap like that. I just... what? First of all, you can't decide what "women" want. Also, there are ways to incorporate pockets into clothes like pants and jackets without ruining the shape of them, which I guess was what they meant. So this is the shit that goes on in the fashion industry...

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  23. This is fascinating. I essentially refuse to buy certain clothes without pockets. I'm not a high fashion shopper and I usually manage to find clothes I think are elegant with pockets, but it is frustrating when I find somethign that's *almost* perfect, but without pockets. Part of me has to think you're shopping at the wrong places. This is one reason why a lot of my clothes are from REI, but I agree that their aesthetic is only sometimes appropriate. But yeah, I definitely see this as a start-a-business problem.
    I'm super ADD and also have a very complex life that involves a lot of running around and staying in different places, so I do need a lot of stuff and am kind of crazy about my purses. (I don't wear or use leather so I guess I get my accessory expression out in handbags rather than shoes?)
    i think it's terrible that guys get ragged for carrying bags. I see that less and less now, b/c they have to carry computers and iPads, so now it's cool, and there's a lot of great stylish unisex and 'masculine'/butch bags, but of course I think guys should be able to carry fancy bags to. I actually had a really great 'style' based conversation with a straight male colleague surrounded around his elegant, functional shoulder bag yesterday at the water fountain. We sometimes butt heads over work, and it was a good way for us to bond and socialize over something safe.

    *I* end up being the packrat for my male companions if they don't have a bag!

    ReplyDelete
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  27. This was an interesting read! Although I'm not sure I fully understand the point you are trying to make. As a man I sometimes face this issue, wearing slimmer fit jeans (not skinny) leaves the only real pocket space on the bum, which is perfect for a wallet. I can fit my phone in my front pocket but that gets pretty uncomfortable. Then on top of that I have to find somewhere to put my keys (Jeans will not do unless i want a constant stabbing sensation) and Inhaler. (That one is actually real life tetris.) If I'm bogged down i can throw on a baggy jacket or something, but it won't be what I consider my best looking garment. My point is that if you're fashion minded, you are often going to be exchanging utility for appearance. From my experience men dressed with the best carrying space often aren't the best dressed, and if you're dealing with a fairly heavy amount of stuff to carry, it never looks good bulging from a pocket. There are looks out there which are pretty cool which have a decent practicality to it, I'd like to know weather you maybe aren't willing to sacrifice the favorite look for say, a denim jacket with an inside pocket? A good suit has sewn shut pockets.

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