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Posted at 6:47 PM ET, 02/25/2011

I want pockets, and I want them now

By Alexandra Petri

Spring is coming. And I am wearing a full-length wool coat. Wearing heavy, full-length coats in warm weather generally sends a message: "I am a Kennedy wife" or "It is a non-negligible possibility that I am about to open fire on the building." So people shy away at my approach.

I don't blame them, but I can't help it. I have to wear this coat: It has pockets.

If you have ever been a woman, you know that there are not enough pockets to go around.

Menswear contains pockets. That's why men who carry bags are, by and large, mocked. If you are a man, you have enough room in your pants to store a live aardvark and a scale replica of the Petronas towers. So it's silly for you to carry a bag, unless that bag contains a small dog or a computer.

Sure, some articles of women's clothing include "pockets." But these pockets are tiny. I put my cell phone in my pants pocket occasionally, but it comes flying out whenever I bend over or sit down. I once successfully stored an entire tic tac in a shirt pocket, but I had to spend about an hour wedging it in there.

No, these are not real pockets. Whoever designs most women's wear decided that allowing you to store your keys on your person was less important than your "silhouette." "With commodious pockets," they warned, "instead of looking sleek and classical, you'll look like someone squeezed the Michelin Man into a ballgown." Maybe. But that's what everyone looked like in the 1980s, so it can't be that objectionable.

I acknowledge that skirts sometimes have pockets. But there are only two genres of skirt that contain pockets of a size you can use: The flowing, hippie skirt or the Cargo Skirt. Neither of these are things I can wear to the office without attracting weird looks.

So I carry a bag.

I mention this frequently - in elevators, on dates, during Elevator Dates, a genre I am working to perfect. I call it the great Pocket-Bag Conspiracy.

For women, a bag is a necessity.

But get one, and there's a problem. Women's bags and purses come in two sizes. Too Small, and Twice The Size of the Head of Moammar Gaddafi, In A Hat. Too Small bags are the ones that you leave on the subway because you forgot that you were holding them, resulting in several years of identity theft by someone who spends your money more responsibly than you do. 2x Gaddafi Head In Hat bags are impossible to forget, if only because they bear an uncanny resemblance to elephants, and you never forget an elephant.

And this leads to the conspiracy. As long as you're carrying a bag large enough to contain the head of the Libyan dictator, you feel silly just putting your wallet and cell phone in it. "There must be at least half a dozen other things I require," you say to yourself. Suddenly you are carrying gum, a hairbrush, a tube of toothpaste, a change of clothes, and Spam in case there is an air raid. How about a notepad? Oh, and lipstick! And a book, in case you get bored during the air raid. And another book, in case the first book is less gripping than you'd hoped.

Suddenly you are One of Those People Who Carries A Bag, and hack comics are mocking you in their stand-up routines. "How come women take years to get ready?" they ask. "And why do they carry entire continents in their bags?"

So if any women's clothing manufacturers are reading this, I have to say: I want pockets.

I don't want decorative pockets. I want functional pockets in which I can safely deposit a cell phone and a wallet. That's all I'm asking, because now, it's ridiculous. When you are a woman and you go out barhopping or to a restaurant, you have something that you must hold in your hand at all times. "This is good practice for child-rearing," your friends say, optimistically, "because you have to remember something that you have brought with you and not abandon it in the cloakroom, a careless action that generally results in The Importance of Being Earnest."

But this has to have geopolitical implications. Philosophically, your outlook shifts. You can't just up and go places. You are holding a bag. You can't gladiate! You're holding a bag! Run for president? You can't run anywhere, you're holding a bag!

Maybe that's a bit far. But, still, enough is enough.

I want pockets. And I want them now.

By Alexandra Petri  | February 25, 2011; 6:47 PM ET
Categories:  Epic Failures, Petri, Seems Suspect  | Tags:  argh, bags, pockets, women  
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THANK YOU! My purse is a burden I can not stand! Particularly when digging for the ringing cell phone and finding it just in time for it to stop ringing. And when you have a family, your husband and kids decide your purse is a garbage bag. After a family outing I find wrappers, apple cores, discarded tickets, etc. And nothing is more irritating than to hear my husband say, "Can you put this in your purse?" Urghhhh!


Posted by: pwelander | February 26, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Since I'm retired and no longer have to dress to please anyone but myself, I wear what's comfortable, which quite often means men's clothes with lots of pockets.

Boy do I understand pwelander. When my husband was alive and my kids were young, my huge bag became the carry-all for everyone. They didn't put junk in it, they just asked me to carry all their junk. It took me ages to realize that I no longer have to carry a huge bag!

Posted by: orawh | February 26, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jimward21 | February 27, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The Importance of Being Earnest? WTF?

In my anatomy class, we named our cadaver Ernest, because we always worked in dead earnest. But I don't think that's what you were talking about.

After a some obsessive Googling, I came up with this excerpt from the play:
Lady Bracknell. ... Prism! Where is that baby? [A pause.]

Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell, I admit with shame that I do not know. I only wish I did. The plain facts of the case are these. On the morning of the day you mention, a day that is for ever branded on my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. I had also with me a somewhat old, but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette, and placed the baby in the hand-bag.

Jack. [Who has been listening attentively.] But where did you deposit the hand-bag?

Miss Prism. Do not ask me, Mr. Worthing.

Jack. Miss Prism, this is a matter of no small importance to me. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant.

Miss Prism. I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London.

Posted by: divtune | February 27, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

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