The Fake Pockets On Your Jeans Have Existed For Centuries And Here's Why

The history lesson you never knew you needed.

Cover image via Reddit & Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

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It's annoying sometimes when you find the perfect pair of jeans that fit just right and look so good on you, only for you to find out that the pockets are non-functional

Image via Reddit

Even the legendary designer Christian Dior said, "Men have pockets to keep things in, women have pockets for decoration."

It really makes you wonder why, of all decorations to put on a pair of perfect pants – would designers put fake pockets?

You'd be surprised to know that there is history behind the practice... which actually makes quite a lot of sense.

Fake pockets exist quite literally to keep you looking good in your clothes

Yes. They are purposely made impractical to keep you looking good.

If a garment has a specific form or cut to maintain, having functional pockets might ruin the overall design. Having functional pockets would cause people to shove their hands in them, causing the fabric of the garment to bunch up.

Designers didn't like that. So, to avoid the aesthetic profile of the garments from being destroyed, functional pockets were simply replaced by the fake pockets we see all too often today.

You might also be wondering, why even put them if they are fake? Especially on jeans? The answer is simple: it'd be odd to see jeans without pockets. 

After all, what is a little impracticality compared to looking snazzy, right?

Fashion historians date the practice back to the 17th century, where the first 'pockets' were actually detachable pouches on dresses

Back in 1600s, women used something called 'pocket bags', which were small linen pouches that were tied under skirts and petticoats. The bags were accessed through a slit in the fabric.

Then, when Greek-inspired silhouettes rose to fame in the 1800s, pockets were left out of the design in clothes, especially for wealthy women. Elizabeth Morano, a professor at Parsons School of Design said to Marketplace, "Women would study the ancient texts and couldn't find pockets, so they didn't use them in the dress."

Instead of pockets in their dresses, wealthy women carried an external 'reticule', the ancestor to the modern handbag, and pockets were only included in clothing for lower-class women.

Pocket bags used in the 17th century.

Image via Victoria and Albert Museum

When modernity started to go full-swing in the 1900s, more and more women wore trousers as they were more practical for them to work in, especially during the World Wars.

Even after the war, the trend of wearing pants among women stuck around, and famous fashion houses, such as Coco Chanel, began designing them to cater to the daring movement.

However, socially acceptable trousers for women still needed to be feminised as they still looked too masculine, which is why pockets were not included.

The practice then continued for decades up until today, where fake pockets are still prominent, despite the complaints over impracticality.

In other words, because women had handbags and needed to look good in their clothes, pockets were rendered almost useless.

Today, however, you'd be surprised to know that your fake pockets may not actually be fake at all, but are just sewn shut

Yes, those 'fake' pockets you see on some of your clothes may not be fake at all.

They might actually be functional pockets that are sewn shut for the same reason fake pockets were created. Only this time, you have the option to keep them fake or use them to your heart's content.

'Fake' pockets on clothes that are actually functional can be easily identified by the difference in stitching, or an easier way, by turning the garment inside out and looking out for pocket space were the 'fake' pockets are supposed to be.

Better start checking your clothes!

Aside from fake pockets, here is another explanation on why that tiny pocket on your jeans may not be as useless as you think:

And another 'pointless' fashion detail you may not have known has an actual purpose behind it:

Here are more fun facts you might have questioned at some point of your life:

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