Rocking my favorite white jeans on Chincoteague Island. Image: @TheHappyTalent
I really shouldn't do this, but I'm going to let you in on a super top secret girl secret:
No, women do NOT want pants with pockets.
It's a popular quip, but unlike most jokes, this one has no basis in reality.
Do you honestly expect me to believe that there is a huge pile of money, just sitting there, but no one will take it because the patriarchy is so determined to oppress women?
That there's no a capitalist on this planet who loves money more than he wants to oppress women by means of small pockets?
Yes, women have small or no pockets in most of our clothes. But the reason is not -- or, at least, not directly -- "the patriarchy."
It's because women want pants with small or no pockets.
Big pockets means bulky silhouettes. On rare occasions, we wear pants with pockets big enough to put a wallet or cell phone in, and it is so convenient.
But most of us would rather look good and carry a bag (or fanny pack) than have big, bulky, but convenient pockets.
Portland skyline, and mountains! Image: The Happy Talent on Facebook
I have one, maybe two, pants with big pockets. The one, I bought specifically for protection from bugs in the jungles of Borneo (see also: Leggings are UNDISPUTEDLY the Best Pants — Unless Your Goal is Mosquito Bite Prevention).
Image: The Happy Talent
Although they're kind of cute, I really only wear them in the jungle. Or when I'm flying, since they have a hidden passport-sized pocket with a zipper and planes are always WAY too dry and cold.
But typically, if pants with pockets is what I want, I'm almost certainly going to pick men's pants over women's. Even when we do have big pockets, they're always shitty. They're only JUST big enough to squeeze a phone into, and the pants are still designed to be form-fitting enough that it's not actually comfortable to have a phone in your pocket.
I only wear men's shorts when I bike, because putting a phone in women's shorts makes it uncomfortable to pedal.
Image: Eva Via Music
In fact. I tried to mic up this professional female rider back in Big Sky, because I wanted to record the sound of a sick drift to include on my new Eva Via single, Three Girls (But Only Two Beers in the Car), which should be dropping any day now. (Be the first to find out by following Eva Via Music on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube -- and don't miss my last single, I Wrote My Number On His Hand.)
She was wearing all the coolest women's gear, since she's professional and sponsored and stuff...
But she could BARELY fit my phone in her pocket, and the mic came unplugged almost immediately because the clothing was too restrictive and the phone was moving around too much.
Guess I'll have to record my own drift.
But so anyway, the point is, there's not any actual demand for women's clothing with big pockets, except for a few, purpose-specific pieces. But even then, the smooth silhouette is so important to most women that these purpose-specific pieces sacrifice comfort and functionality for comfort.
The few women who actually want pockets are left to shop on the men's side.
This isn't the only "conspiracy theory" I've heard when it comes to the patriarchy and women's clothing. Another popular one is about plus-sized fashion.
Again, I'm supposed to believe that there's a huge pile of money, just sitting there, and no one wants to take it because they would rather oppress women.
As I wrote in Dear Tim Gunn: The Designers Are Right. Plus Size Fashion is Difficult, and "No Two 16s Are Alike" and again in One Model Tried On 10 Different Pairs Of Size 16 Jeans. Here's Why They All Fit Differently:
While there is a lower limit to how small a woman can be... there's really no upper limit. As a result, many retailers make their plus size to accommodate a larger range of bodies per size. In other words, a size 16 is usually more like a size XXL than an actual size 16.
In other words, human height is normally distributed, but human weight is not. There's a super long tail on the right, because while women don't get much smaller than, like, 90 pounds, we can be 200 pounds, 300 pounds, even 700 pounds.
Looking at this, it should be obvious why saying that the "average" woman is a size sixteen, so that's who we should be designing for... is kind of weird and misleading. If you want to make money in retail, you can't think about the average. You have to thinkabout the mode.
Look at this graph. What size/weight appears the most often? Answer: women who weigh 120-160 appear -- especially among the younger age groups. That's who's going to be shopping most. That's who you're going to make your money off of.
Because of the very practical matters of floor space (you can only stock so many items) and inventory management, designers and retailers who want to make money have to stock the smallest number of sizes that fit the most people.
Lots of people fit into each smaller size. Large people span a huge number of sizes, with fewer fitting into each size.
But say you're a social justice retailer and you want to stock clothing in every size.
Where are all those sizes going to go???
You've got X square feet. Now, in addition to stocking sizes 0-10, which each fit a large number of women... you also need to find room to sizes 12-30?
This could work at a store like H&M, or maybe an outlet mall, where the shopping experience is less aesthetically pleasing and more "Look how much we crammed onto one rack!"
But for most higher-end retailers, that is not the experience or aesthetic customers want.
Which isn't to mention that, to make money in retail, you need to have what customers need (a white button-down, for example)... but show them what they want (an adorable pair of shorts; a cute dress she might wear to a fancy party someday).
This skirt was DEFINITELY a want... and I didn't even buy what I needed that day. Never wore it to a party... thank god for Eva Via performances. Image: EvaViaMusic
Obviously, it would be great if plus-sized women had more, better in-store options. But it's a hard problem, and not one I believe is caused by the patriarchy.
Just like I don't think women's clothing doesn't have pockets because of a patriarchal conspiracy.
For the most part, I don't give a shit what people think when they look at me. I've very confident in my looks, and I think my beauty is the least interesting thing about me.
But even so.
I'm going to pick the pants with the smoother silhouette almost every time over the pants with pockets.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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