History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

14 December 2006

Nasty Little Pocketses

I’ve been teaching a class for the last month called How Clothes Worked: The Regency. In it I’ve been showing tons and tons of pictures of extant garments or period drawings and talking about the details of the clothes (where the buttons are, how the dress closes, etc.). One of the big revelations for lots of folks has been where there are (and are not) pockets.

For men, there are lots and lots of options. Most coats have pockets in the tail (inconvenient, yes), and after about 1813/1815 they might have had a breast pocket on the inside (though this remained rare). The pocket flaps on the outside of the coat are merely decorative.

Breeches/pantaloons had pockets, too. There is usually a small watch pocket up near the waistband, and another pocket just outside the fall (about where the side-pockets are on a pair of jeans). There are no back pockets, however, and the front ones aren’t big enough to accommodate a period wallet (that’s what the tail pocket in the coat is for).

The picture here shows a gentleman, c. 1809, wearing a great coat, with his hand shoved into the pocket of his pantaloons.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kalen, I was recently blown away to learn that some of the pockets on women's gowns were detachable. Where else did women have pockets?

Did the different types of pockets for the men's and women's clothes have different names, or were they all called pockets?

10:33 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Kalen, any idea when pockets did become common in women's or men's clothing?

Tudor England?

I know they didn't generally seem to have them in the Middle Ages.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathryn, in the Middle Ages didn't the men and women wear a small pouch attached to their belts on the outside of their costumes in lieu of pockets?

4:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ok, I'll cover Georgian/Regency women's pockets on Monday (or maybe over the weekend if I have time). Cause it wasn't so much that the pockets were "detachable", they simply weren't a part of the garment at all, but were worn under the gown as a kind of accesory. I'll show you some examples in my next post. Promise.

The earliest pocket I've ever seen is a drawstring pocket on pair of extant German "pluderhosen" from the late 16th century. Most people to then, and many people long after the 16th century) carried a pouch, though. This garment is featured in Janet Arnold's book, Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women C1560-1620

5:21 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Fascinating stuff, Kalen. As for the closings of garments, I've just finished the awesomely-researched THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE, where there's a reference to Victorian prostitutes altering their clothes, moving the hooks etc, so they could reach them in order to dress themselves. Seems very plausable to me.

11:57 AM  

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