How the unnecessary becomes necessary: handbags, wallets and pockets…

I want to discuss market manipulation of women’s fashion today. In particular, the case of handbags, pockets, and wallets.

Where are the pockets? I see no pockets!

Women’s clothes don’t generally have useful pockets, have you noticed?

Whereas virtually all items of men’s clothing will have useful, deep pockets in trousers, in jackets, even in shirts, women’s clothing items have few pockets, if any at all.

Sometimes the pockets on women’s clothing will be decorative, other times real pockets will exist but be sewn up. I’ve often encountered jackets that have just a flap covering – nothing. A space where a pocket should be but isn’t.

An example of a women's jacket with "faux" (fake) pockets. As neither her skirt nor her top has pockets either, she will need a handbag.
An example of a women’s jacket with “faux” (fake) pockets. As neither her skirt nor her top has pockets either, she will need a handbag.

One wonders what would have happened had Bilbo been a female! The whole of “The Lord of the Rings” could never have happened! 😉


But seriously, I’m cynical about fashion. It exists to sell. And I think that women’s clothing doesn’t have pockets so fashion can sell us that expensive, rapidly outdating, eternally necessary but not really necessary if you think about it item – the handbag.

Think about it. If women had pockets that were actually useful, we could carry all our stuff in our clothing, and we wouldn’t need a handbag with us much of the time.

So – sales on handbags would drop. Oh my!


Let’s nail that fashion coffin shut!

Have you ever noticed that not only are handbags and women’s wallets made by the same manufacturer, they’re often sold in tandem, as matching items.

Don't even get me started on how butt ugly this is!
Don’t even get me started on how butt ugly this is!

So…you buy the bag…and get the new wallet to match. A double sale.

And have you ever noticed how much bigger women’s wallets are than men’s? This really stands out in the fashion world as an oddity, because in every other instance in the fashion world that I can think of, women get mini versions of the male item. But in this case, women’s wallets are typically double or even triple the size of the male version.

Take a look here, at a typical female wallet versus a men’s style wallet:

A "men's" wallet (top) and a "women's" wallet (bottom). The male version can easily be slipped into a pocket, the female...not so much.
A “men’s” wallet (top) and a “women’s” wallet (bottom). The male version can easily be slipped into a pocket, the female…not so much.

Women’s wallets are designed to need a handbag. So even if you wanted to slip your wallet into your pocket (assuming you had any pockets), you couldn’t. It wouldn’t fit.

How the unnecessary becomes necessary

It’s lions and tigers and bears all over. The system works beautifully together, the various parts of the fashion industry all working together to ensure women need to buy handbags. The strategy is actually even quite beautiful in a perverse kind of way. We aren’t given pockets, so we need a handbag. We can’t fit our wallets in our pockets (which we don’t have anyway), so we need a handbag.


Do we need handbags? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, fashion doesn’t give us a choice. Fashion forces women to need handbags. The unnecessary item becomes necessary.



Breaking the cycle is actually quite easy. Don’t want a handbag? Buy a men’s wallet. See the photo of the two wallets above? The coral wallet (the female wallet) is my old wallet. The brown wallet (the male wallet) is my new one.

Now I won’t need that handbag.

My new wallet is slimline and fits neatly into my jeans pocket. Jeans, interestingly, are one of the few clothing items that women wear with decent pockets – because they were originally designed for men. My smart phone and keys fit in my other hip pocket. I’m good to go.

Sometimes getting off the consumer trail is just a matter of thinking outside the box…or outside the handbag! I needed a new handbag because my old one had broken its strap (a case of planned obsolescence – it was only a year old). Instead of buying a new bag, I opted for a men’s wallet and have saved myself a large expense.


  1. OMG, this is a brilliant post. Women earn less money and spend more of it on just about everything, haircuts, clothing and…handbags, all thneeds! In the US, women had to pay more for health care too until Obamacare became law. (My blood is starting to boil…) I’ve shared this on Twitter.


  2. I just read this and it was a revelation!! That reminds me so much about a concept I heard recently, called ‘manufactured demand’, where you get sold something you absolutely don’t need, but are being manipulated into believing that you can’t live without this item. Bottled water is the worst devil of this, but I can now find so many more things that just nobody needs! I just wish we could stop this madness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish we could too, but I can’t see it happening. It’s insane. But women’s clothing is STILL being sold without pockets, and women’s wallets are STILL twice the size of men’s. I only wish we had twice the money to put in them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s