You might think pockets need no vindication--after all, they exist, they're useful, and some articles of clothing seem to have a surplus of them. But you'd be wrong, because there are people who HATE pockets.
I encountered one such person at that absolute bastion of absolute evil, the Missionary Training Center. One evening a week all sister missionaries had to attend some lecture on clothes, hair, makeup or some other aspect of personal grooming. With one exception--a really useful demonstration on the best way to pack a suitcase (something you really need to know before you try to cram enough clothes to last you 18 months into two bags with a 44 lb weight limit and still have room for all the books the church makes you take along on a mission)--the lectures were not only useless, but insulting.
The worst one was courtesy of some superannuated former beauty pageant winner, who showed us slides of "acceptable" outfits--lots of blouses with shoulder pads and big bows at the neck, this being 1985. She gave us all these rules for buying clothes--including the fact that we should never purchase clothes with pockets.
"Why?" I asked, mystified.
Despite the fact that she had claimed she welcomed questions, she clearly wasn't used to having to defend any of her assertions. "It's more slimming to carry a purse," she said. "Besides, you need the purse so you can carry an extra pair of pantyhose and a little spritzer bottle of mineral water, so you can lightly refresh your makeup on hot days."
"I like pockets. They're really convenient. I've got my room key, a tube of chapstick and my meal card in my pocket right now," I said, producing the items I mentioned and holding them up as proof. "I don't need a bag just for these things."
The woman paused to take a good long look at me and my outfit before shaking her head and shrugging a little. Clearly I did not pass muster, but the important thing was to resolve the issue and move on. "Well," she said grudgingly, "if you must wear pockets, make sure that you never put your entire hand all the way into the pocket; always leave your thumb out of the pocket." And she put her hand on her hip, thumb splayed away from the fingers, elbow thrust out at an angle, to demonstrate.
"But why?" I persisted.
"Because!" she exploded. "It just looks better that way!"
The problem, of course, was that the woman had no real conception of clothing as practical items; to her, it was entirely about the way they looked. But I thought she was an isolated pocket-hating extremist until a few years later when I saw some tv show about fashion and style in which the man responsible for dispensing advice to women lamented the fact that any clothing maker ever put pockets in women's clothes. "Every woman I know just cuts them out of their clothes and sews them up," he said. "They just add bulk and make you look fat."
And indeed I lamented how hard it was to buy clothes with pockets in them, though I suspected that the main reason so many clothes lacked them is because they require extra time and fabric to insert, thus raising the cost of the garment. I know this well because I put pockets in almost every garment I make--in fact, one reason I sew is so that I can make sure most of my clothes have pockets. I prefer to hide them in the side seams but I have also used decorative pockets from time to time. Before my mission I had a skirt I loved with HUGE patch pockets--like, 16 inches square--on the sides of the skirt; they ballooned away from the skirt and I thought they looked really cool.
And for the past 20+ years I have been content to be a pocket-loving freak who risks looking fat because I actually USE my pockets--there is usually a set of keys and maybe some change jingling in my pocket. But I am glad that others are recognizing the practicality if not the downright necessity of pockets. And I agree with the person who argues that one reason for the proliferation of pockets is that "we need to find an increasing number of places for all the technology we have to carry." Seriously: where do you stick an ipod if you don't have a pocket?