First published Huffington Post 10/3/17
As well as periods, childbirth and just general inequality all over the world - women really don’t have it that easy. If that’s not enough, we have to put up with rubbish (and even useless) features on women’s wear. It’s like the person in charge of all women’s wear said “Let’s make the clothes as impractical and low quality as possible compared to men’s clothes...just for a laugh!”
1. Lack of pockets
This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest pitfalls of womenswear design. Even the BBC once declared that “Hunting for women's clothes with proper pockets can be an exasperating experience.” Apparently, way back when, women didn’t need pockets because their husbands carried the money for them. But along came WWII and women were needed in factories, farms and other such manual industries. This meant they needed more practical clothing - so they started to wear trousers...proper pockets. But the war ended and so did the appearance of actual useable pockets on women’s trousers. Some would say, “Why don’t you just use a handbag?” But that defeats the point - more women than you think would prefer to be hands-free. That’s why sales for cross-body bags are going through the roof.
Luckily, there are a few retailers out there that sell women’s clothes with proper pockets. Nicola Hustler, womenswear design manager at Fat Face, commented "Pockets are often a key feature for our customer in her everyday, busy life. We would not consider doing 'fake' pockets on our product as we provide authentic clothing and pay special attention to every detail when we design."
Oh and ‘flaps’ - let’s not forget about them, they’re everywhere. On blazers, skirts, jeans, trousers - you name it, there’s a version featuring pointless flaps. But what are these irritating things? They’re essentially fake pockets (again with the pockets!), with the flap acting as the pocket ‘lid.’ If you lift up the flap you’ll see, well, nothing underneath.
2. See-through material
Why is women’s wear usually made of flimsy, see-through material? I’m pretty sure not all of us want to show off every part of our body (it’s fine if some women do!), it’s just I’d rather have the choice whether to show off my body with transparent shirts and sheer vests. Also, I don’t want to have to remember to wear my ‘best bra’ because it’ll be on display for everyone to see. This means women have to layer up - because see-through clothes are freezing. Come to think of it...is this a subtle way companies make women buy more clothes? Hmmmm.
3. Where are the regular t-shirts?
Some women love wearing tees depicting their favourite band, movie or even just a funny quote. You only have to go to a gig and look at the merch stall to see just how different the women’s t-shirts are to the men’s. Shorter sleeves, lower neckline and poorer quality material seem to be the norm for women’s band t-shirts. And you can’t really go for the men’s t-shirts because they either just hang off your body like a poncho or too tight in the waist or bust.
4. Impractical sportswear
Don’t get me started on women’s active wear! Even professional female athletes are having trouble with official sportswear. At Wimbledon, for example, many of the female tennis players wore the Nike Premier Slam tennis dress. While it met all requirements for Wimbledon’s strict dress code, the players found the dress to be wholly impractical (Serena Williams outright refused to wear the thing). Katie Swan ended up tucking the dress into her shorts and Šafářová just let it blow everywhere. This seems to me that women in sport, even the top athletes, still aren’t taken as seriously as men.
If you shop for running gear in the women’s department (online or in-store) you’ll more than likely find that the only colours available are pinks and purples. Sure, you could opt for a more generic grey or black - but look at the men’s section and you’ll see an array of colours to choose from. Red, blue, orange, green - it’s all there. That isn’t much of a problem when compared to the practicality of these sports clothes - we’re talking low necklines and low waistbands for gymwear. The sheer impractical nature of the cut of women’s sportswear means we’re more at risk to mooning everyone when we need to do squats, or flashing someone when we’re lifting weights.
We felt so strongly about pink in women's sportswear that we made a little video about it.
5. Deceitful sizes
Have you ever tried on an item of clothing that’s your size, only to find it’s way too small? This is way more common that you think. It makes women feel like there’s something wrong with their bodies. You’re a size 14 in Primark, but a size 18 in Topshop - what is going on? Apparently, in the last century women were expected to alter shop-bought clothes themselves. Another problem with the way the world sizes women’s clothes is they only take into account a certain body type. The industry forgets that some of us have bigger busts, wide hips, narrow hips, larger bums, flatter bums - the list goes on. That’s why some clothing companies not only offer a standard ‘size’ but also a choice of ‘body shapes’ (At GFW Clothing it’s Alex, Charlie and Billie!).