Behold, three of the most perfect words in the English language: “It has pockets.”
A dress can be beautiful, comfortable, elegant, finely made, and unique, and yet it might never elicit the joyful response that a less stunning dress might on the discovery that it has pockets. “I got it at Target” and “I got it on sale” pale in comparison to “it has pockets.” “It twirls” is good, but it’s no “it has pockets.” Come to think of it, “it has pockets and it twirls” makes for a pretty decent upgrade, but Gemma Chan of Crazy Rich Asians has a better one: “It has pockets, and they’re filled with snacks.”
The Academy Awards, always a long ceremony, don’t include a dinner portion (unlike the Golden Globes, where celebrities eat a whole lot of alcohol). That’s why food is a go-to bit for Oscars hosts. So Chan wisely lined the pockets(!) of her voluminous, Killing Eve-esque pink Valentino gown with snacks. It’s not her first dress-with-pockets experience, but it is perhaps her most well-stocked. In one pocket: rice crackers. In the other: big cookies.
Danai Gurira, Sarah Paulson, and Best Actress winner and walking delight Olivia Colman all also wore dresses with pockets. No word on their snack situations.
If you weren’t aware, “it has pockets” is such a lovely thing to say that it’s a bit of a meme:
Here’s my favorite:
If this joy over pockets bewilders you in any way, a quick word: Lots of clothing made for women doesn’t have pockets. When there are pockets, there’s a decent chance that said pockets are either 1) extremely small and mostly useless, like the pockets in women’s jeans, or 2) not actually pockets and just things that look like pockets but are just seams that don’t open with no actual pocket inside, there are days I just hate everything, why is this real, why would anyone do that. And why is that?
Writing for The Spectator in 2011, Paul Johnson offers a witty, thumbnail history of the sartorial convention of the pocket, and he caps his piece with a 1954 Christian Dior bon mot: “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” Tease apart that quote and you get a fairly essentialist view of gender roles as they play out in clothing. Men’s dress is designed for utility; women’s dress is designed for beauty. It’s not a giant leap to see how pockets, or the lack thereof, reinforce sexist ideas of gender. Men are busy doing things; women are busy being looked at. Who needs pockets?
This thorny history also got quite a lot of attention thanks to a viral Twitter thread from artist Jared Pechacek in 2017:
Worth a read, if only for phrases like “Brobi-Wan” and “Jacques Dudesteau.”
In closing, pockets are amazing, snacks are amazing, Gemma Chan’s pink dress is amazing, and we should all smuggle cookies into our high-profile professional engagements.
I should note that Chan’s dress for the Vanity Fair party probably did not have pockets: