I love the word pocket. Pockets can hold everyday items, things of necessity…maybe even the hopes and dreams of a heart. These cloth pouches offered a private place to keep personal items. Pockets can be any size or shape.
Prior to the 1790s, pockets weren’t attached to their clothing, instead tied around a woman’s waist under her skirt or petticoat. A slit at the side allowed room for her to slip her wrist inside and into the detachable pocket that she sewed by hand, even embroidered with a pretty stitch.
On the other hand…males’ pockets were attached to the waistband of his trousers and into the lining of his coat. So, they pretty much always had the same thing. Theirs were easily accessible and THEY didn’t have to fumble around, trying to get into something hidden. Like it was a sin to wear.
There were watch pockets, flap pockets and even breast pockets. Yes, the men had it all. Easy and accessible.
But maybe women wanted theirs hidden. At least she didn’t have to explain to anyone what she carried or why.
And what did she find important enough to put inside? Let’s see.
The Victoria and Albert Museum have these listed as common items:
Keys, spectacles, a mirror, a watch, a diary (smart thinking, no one could read it,) pencil case, a snuff box, knife and scissors, a thimble, a pincushion.
Okay excuse me, now why on earth would a woman carry around a pincushion? Or a thimble? was she going to whip those out and start sewing? Or maybe she wanted to keep pins handy so she could jab someone who annoyed her. Lord knows there were probably plenty people who did. After all, every time she turned around someone was telling her what to do, say, or where to go.
I found it interesting that some women carried food–oranges, an apple or some biscuits. I think it hilarious to carry biscuits in your pocket. I assume in case the wearer got a hunger pain. But then food was a bit scarce.
This is from Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield: ‘Releasing one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put in my hand, but not one word did she say.’
BAGS OF CAKES!!
If you’d lived back then and made yourself a pretty tie-on pocket, what things would you have put inside?
This is Book #1 of my new Men of Legend series. I’m so excited about this.