A Self-Contained History of Pockets

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You probably don’t give much thought to your pockets on a daily basis. Despite this, this handy tailoring feature adds a huge amount of functionality to your clothing. Having somewhere secure to put your wallet, phone or keys within your suit is extremely helpful… and we’re far from the first generation to think so.

The history of pockets is long and surprisingly more interesting than you might think! 

In the very early days of history, pockets were not sewn into clothing. Instead, they were separate garments that would usually be worn attached to a belt. Even Otzi the Iceman who lived around 3,300 BC wore a belt with a pouch sewn to it. The items found in his pocket (including a bowl awl, a flint flake and a piece of dried fungus) were very different to what we usually carry around today, but no doubt he thought they were just as useful as an iPhone!

In the 13th century, gentlemen began to wear these pocket belts inside their other clothing. This was to discourage pickpockets. In order to make it possible to access these pockets, small vertical slits were cut into clothing.

By the 17th century, tailors had caught on that pockets could be made rather more practical by making them integral to clothing. It’s worth noting here though that this shift only occurred in gentlemen’s clothing. Women had to continue to wear separate pockets underneath their skirts. 

Once tailors began to sew pockets directly into gentlemen’s clothing, this led to all sorts of pocket innovation! At various points over the next few centuries, different types of pockets were introduced to meet the needs of the modern gentlemen. This included fob pockets for holding pocket watches and ticket pockets for coins for road tolls. 

Interested in reading more about the history of pockets? You can find out more about ticket pockets here.