|A pair of Georgian pockets
Replicas made by Embellished
In an age before handbags, ladies used pockets to carry around their personal possessions underneath their skirts. These were not the small pockets we have sewn into our garments today, but deep cloth bags which were completely separate from a lady’s dress.
Pockets usually came in pairs on a cord and were fastened around the waist over a lady’s shift and under-petticoat but below her petticoats. There were slits in the side seams of the petticoats so that these pockets could be accessed. They were often handmade and might be given as gifts, although they could also be bought ready-made from a haberdasher’s shop.
I tried on a pair of pockets made by Joanna Tyrrell of Embellished at the International Living History Fair in October last year. I am afraid that they do not look right over trousers, but it does give you an idea of how big these pockets were!
|A pair of pockets as modelled by me
at the International Living History Fair
All manner of objects might be found in a pocket including money, letters, a journal, a handkerchief, a pair of scissors, a comb, writing implements, keys, a watch, glasses, a snuffbox, smelling salts, food and sewing accessories.
|London souvenir box showing the Queen's Palace
from the Museum of London's collection
Georgian pockets go out of fashion
When dresses became more fitted in the 1790s, pockets went out of fashion and ladies started carrying their possessions around in reticules, which were, in effect, outside pockets.
from La Belle Assemblée (1812)
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée (John Bell, 1806-1837, London)
V&A Museum website
All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato