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Intimate Spaces: The Archaeology of Pockets | Archaeology and Material Culture
"Few spaces could be more familiar yet more unremarked upon than pockets. Clothing pockets are a presence of sorts, but like edges of an excavation unit their material definition may be made by their tangible boundaries and the things in them rather than the vacuum that is perhaps the actual pocket. Pockets are distinctively intimate since they are stitched into our public garments yet conceal our bodies, and they hold a narrow range of small things like coins, keys, wallets, phones, makeup, lighters, and similar objects that for various reasons are held close to our bodies and accessible to our hands. There are some idiosyncratic but illuminating insights into privacy, place, and self that can be made based on an “excavation” of pockets and the cargo that finds refuge in them.

Maybe our use of some pockets is largely functional, like a right-hander who habitually slides their key chain into their readily accessible right front pants pocket. Yet many pocket use patterns are the complicated result of longstanding practices and the vagaries of fashion. For instance, men’s back pants pockets often betray “billfold bulge,” which is even worse in the face of contour-hugging skinny jeans and similar cuts. In 1977, the Palm Beach Post assessed increasingly lean European pants cuts and pocket-less pants and recognized pocket use was a force of habit, concluding that “most men just don’t feel comfortable unless everything is in the same place its been for years.” Thirty years later Details advised that there “is absolutely no need for you to shove an engorged wallet in the pocket of your $400 jeans.” They concluded that “the contemporary pocket-stuffer is one of three things: an oblivious creature of habit, a man too insecure to carry a shoulder bag, or someone lacking the organizational skills to pare down the clutter that sits like a benign tumor on his right cheek to a couple of $100 bills and an AmEx.”

Much of pocket use is rooted in ideological notions of gender, class, and sexuality, historical fashion styles, and unexamined pocket use habits. Since the late 19th century masculinity ideologies and fashion have cast pockets as somehow distinctively “masculine” reserves. In the 18th century women’s garments included concealed pockets, with expansive tie pockets under dresses and petticoats in use for roughly two centuries. Garments began to include far fewer pockets in the late 19th century as dresses and coats became more streamlined and the handbag became the carry-all of choice for women. In 1899 a New York Times commentator noted the gradual disappearance of women’s garment pockets and remembered that “our grandmothers . . . used to have big, deep pockets in their skirts which they could get at somehow and in which they usually carried the household keys, a ball of yarn with knitting needles stuck in it, a little smooth-worn gourd for darning operations, and very often a few doughnuts or cookies and apples and a pair of spectacles.”

[via: http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2015/02/pockets.html ]
pockets  archaeology  everyday  carrying  inventories  2015  handbags  backpacks  contents  objects  history  anthropology  abrahamlincoln  clothing  wearables  wearable  gender  georgelegrady  jasontravis  erintaylor  lindaalstead  rafaellozano-hemmer  francoisrobert  hannahsmithallen  meredithbrickell 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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