Written by Gretchen
In bridal, wedding dresses with pockets have gained popularity within the last five years or so. And it's easy to see why. First of all, convenience! But also, when a bride tries on a dress only to discover it has hidden pockets, her excitement cannot be contained. She is bound to let her entourage know: "OMG... IT HAS POCKETS!"
There is nothing more wonderful for a woman than a dress with pockets. Men, I'm not kidding. Compliment a woman in a dress and you will inevitably hear: "Thanks, it has POCKETS!"
We here at Edith Élan feel exactly the same way. We love pockets! 99% of the time that one of our wedding dresses has a voluminous skirt, pockets they are there. A mermaid gown too tight you say? We beg to differ. I mean, have you seen Samar?
But where did this modern fascination with pockets in wedding dresses come from? Well, pockets in women's skirts and dresses have been around for much longer than you think.
The Earliest Women's "Pocket" Wasn't a Pocket
The earliest form of a "pocket" for women actually came in the form of a handbag. As early as the Middle Ages, women carried their small essentials in a satchel drawn around their waist or tied to their belts. These were mostly utilitarian pieces, and were not necessarily for show. But those are purses you say. Yes they are. As women realized how easily they could be stolen or ransacked, they fell from favor.
The Evolution of Women's Dress Pockets
Starting in the 17th century, the concept of pockets as we know them today became more prominent. Sewing them into clothing helped protect your things from thieves. Pockets were now sewn into linings of coats, breeches, waistcoats… oh wait, that's for the men.
Women's pockets of this period actually stayed in a purse-like form. Even though the full skirts had way more room to have pockets sewn in than the mens breeches if you ask me.
These purse-like pockets were hiding under layers of skirt. Since they tied to the waist, they were accessible through the slits in the side seams of the skirt layers. This is assuming that the slits lined up. Because if they didn't, good luck getting to your pocket ladies! Sound complicated? I couldn't agree more.
For as complicated as that was, women were able to hold many things. This included: money, jewelry, keys, a pair of spectacles, a watch, sewing notions, a pencil, pair of scissors, a mirror, snuff-boxes, combs, food, and sometimes even booze! Almost sounds a little like my own purse... except for the snuff-box part.
Fun fact: these pockets were often decorated even if they were never seen. It was a way for ladies to practice needlework.
Goodbye, Large Pockets. Hello, Tiny Purses!
In the early 1800s, the slim, empire silhouette hit full force. Dresses are minimal in shape and size, and the pockets disappear all together because of it. Women now must accessorize with small purses called "reticules," which draped over the arm. From here on out, the purse is a part of the woman's wardrobe, and pockets are out!
We Want Pockets! When do We Want Them? Now!!!
With the turn of the 20th century, ladies were over it. We wanted to vote... We wanted equal rights... We wanted POCKETS! A 1910 Suffragette suit with at least six pockets became all the rage. In fact, there were instruction manuals on how to put pockets into your own clothing.
According to the gazette published by the Rational Dress Society (est. in 1881 in London), these were the attributes of a "perfect" dress:
**What's more convenient than pockets in your dress?? Sounds good to me!
Fun Fact: We asked our Instagram followers what they would put in a wedding dress's pockets. Besides a cell phone and snacks, the next most popular answer was chapstick/lipstick. Followed up by a handkerchief.
Pockets Through the 20th Century
Women's fashions ebbed and flowed throughout the 20th century, but pockets never went away. 1920's flapper dresses had pockets slipped into the side seams of dresses. While the 30's and 40's included flourishes of pockets sewn on top of dresses. Pockets became a staple in the full skirts of the 50's. The 60's celebrated pockets on top of the modern mini with florals and buttons as decoration.
Needless to say, we are so happy that pockets are still around! We’ve all had clothing with pockets in one form or another. Sure, they are usually in pants or outerwear, but you can’t deny that they are convenient! So, then why wouldn’t you want that for your wedding as well.
We understand how fashion works, and it was only a matter of time before pockets found their way over from everyday fashions into bridal fashions! Even though women's jeans pockets continue to be annoyingly small, we can still put nice-sized pockets in our wedding dresses. Go ahead, throw your phone in there! Snacks? You do you!
So what knick-knacks will you put into your pockets?
And for a little fun, see if you can correctly guess which decade these pockets belong to:
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