National Museums Liverpool put together this informational video about all the different pieces that went into an upper-class woman’s ensemble in 18th-century Britain. While the complete getup looks a little nightmarish to me, it does have one timelessly cool feature: pockets!
“Pocket bags were worn at the hips,” explains the narrator, “and carried around the waist on a linen cord. Slide openings in the skirts allowed access to them. They were made from plain or decorated fabric, embroidered, or – as in this [demonstration’s] example – made from a patchwork of pieced fabrics.”
But there was a real downside to these 18th-century pockets. “It was possible to lose your pockets, however,” says the narrator, “if the ties came undone.”
To this day, there are few shopping experiences I find more satisfying than trying on an adorable dress and discovering that it ALSO HAS POCKETS. Jeans and pants pockets are almost inevitably a laughable affair that I can barely squeeze my apartment keys into, but skirt and dress pockets are usually wonderfully, functionally expansive. I know it’s a cliche at this point, but if someone compliments a skirt of mine with pockets, I’m going for it. I’m stuffing my hands into those pockets, flaring them out, and announcing, “Thanks, it has pockets!”
“Thanks, it has pocket bags made from a patchwork of piece fabrics!” is a little less catchy, but it’s clear that even 18th-century ladies knew how nice it was to have functional elements to your clothing. So why do designers insist on depriving us?
(Via Boing Boing; image via screengrab)
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