Read time: 5 minutes
I realized my mistake when I heard my phone crash to the ground. I had reflexively put my phone in my pants pocket, like I do so often, except that day I had forgotten that I was wearing one of the few pieces of clothing I own without pockets. So the screen on my phone ended up in tiny slivers of finger-cutting glass. Note to self: Get rid of those pants.
I mean, you’ve got to stash a smart phone somewhere.
I love pockets. I need pockets. I want to go hands-free, but don’t want to be a slave to handbags. I’m the kind of woman who will whoop and cheer when I find pockets cleverly tucked into a garment. On the other hand, I will walk away from a dress, tunic, pair of pants, hell, even workout wear, if it doesn’t have that extra little bit of fabric sewn into the side seam or patched onto the outside panel of a pant leg or skirt.
Pockets are essential these days. I mean, you’ve got to stash a smart phone somewhere, and most designers are becoming amenable to pockets in all kinds of garments. “I would say unless it strongly interferes with the line of a dress, we pretty much have pockets in everything,” says Loup Charmant, founder and designer Kee Edwards.
The Pocket Past
Historically speaking, though, women’s clothing did not incorporate sewn-in pockets. In the 17th century women wore pairs of pockets, a girth-encompassing garment tied around the waist that was very much like a handbag tucked underneath their petticoats.
Men, too, carried or tied their “pockets” under their garments, until sometime in the 18th century, when tailors began sewing them onto vests. Men’s pockets showed up on a wide range of garments. Women’s pockets, though, not so much. Small drawstring hand-carried “reticules” became the vogue, instead.
The little jigger of fabric can add to the manufacturing cost of a garment, but designers have held back for reasons other than price. There’s the aesthetics at hand. Pockets often interfere with silhouette. Which seems silly today, because so often pockets are the silhouette. Cargo pants, anyone?!
Edwards added pockets to Loup Charmant’s “Gather” dress, a sexy style that scoops low in the back and features a lot of fabric. “Originally the fabric was a thick gauze,” meaning it was too bulky with pockets. “Then we made it in a lighter weight fabric where it was a no brainer, and after that we figured out a way to add pockets to the gauze.”
Hands Free, Care Free
“Everything we do is about comfort and what makes sense for the wearer,” continues Edwards. “We have tiny pockets that have room for a hotel key in a lot of our pieces…since everything is made for travel. I might be going down for breakfast and need a little spot for that hands free, carefree lifestyle. I think women just generally love pockets.”
Edwards craves pockets in her personal wardrobe, too. “I do have some pieces—vintage or from other designer friends—that might not have pockets but then I think, ‘this would be great if it had pockets.’ So, sometimes I sew pockets into it myself.”
Another great pocket push is coming from Positive Impact Movement, or Pi Movement. Travis Brewer, a “movement artist” who has competed on American Ninja Warrior, started the company with his friend Peyton Wallace, an original member of TOMS, because he wanted work out pants with pockets that could securely hold his essentials even when doing handstands and such. “The pockets have become the best feature of our pants,” says Wallace. “They’re pretty well hidden, so you don’t really know they’re even there. But they’re large enough to carry keys and phone.”
I was fortunate to be given a pair for a yoga workout test drive. When I wore the Flow Flakes pattern, a geometric Rorschach of Navajo reds and turqs on white, to yoga class, my friends raved about them. My husband complimented me on the look and the fit. I carried money, keys, my phone into the yoga studio in the Ninja’s invisible zip pockets on the side seams. And they’re incredibly comfy to wear—such soft material, with a wide elastic waistband, a super cool silhouette, and an easy-to-move-in gusseted crotch.
Pockets: From Organza to Om
But workout wear isn’t the only unexpected style to be pumped with pockets these days. This past New York Fashion Week, designer Christian Siriano floated a model wearing an extravagant ruffled organza evening skirt down the runway, her hands tucked firmly into pockets inside folds of meringue. Apparently the former Project Runway winner has been a longtime proponent of incorporating pockets into evening dresses. Carolina Herrera is another pocket fan, with many evening gowns and skirts allowing purse-free wearability.
Now many wedding gowns, like those from Anthropologie’s BHLDN label, in particular the Kennedy Gown, sport pockets. Because, what bride-to-be wouldn’t need a hands-free place for her phone or lipstick?
Other looks that indulge my pocket fetish: Free People’s harem sweatpants, Old Navy’s yoga pants, 90 degree by Reflex’s phone pocket legging, designed, I’m sure, by someone like me, who has unexpectedly smashed one too many phones.