Pockets in the V&A collection

Pockets could be worn singly or in pairs. Some were very decorative, embellished with embroidery and ribbons. Others were quite plain.

What do they tell us?

Surviving examples of historical pockets are very important for showing us their physical characteristics. Without these we wouldn't be able to say what they were made of, how they were decorated and how they were sewn. By searching through the pockets from the V&A's collections you can look at the changes over time in the appearance, size and shape. The embroidery styles and designs are very important. Comparisons can be made between not just the pockets themselves, but also other embroidered textiles and dress of the same decade.

What can't they tell us?

It is difficult to tell what people carried in their pockets from the surviving examples, although an ink spot on one does give us a clue. Nor do we know what people thought about their pockets. For this type of information, what people say about pockets is very helpful.

We can't tell exactly where pockets were worn in relation to other garments or whether they were tied in front or behind. For this information, pictures can be a better source of information.

 

Pockets in paintings

Each of the paintings below contains an image of a pocket.

William Frederick Witherington, 'The Hop Garland', 1834. Museum no. FA.233
William Frederick Witherington, 'The Hop Garland', 1834. Museum no. FA.233
David Wilkie, 'The Refusal', 1814. Museum no. FA. 266
David Wilkie, 'The Refusal', 1814. Museum no. FA. 266
Thomas Unwins, 'Haymakers at Dinner', England, 1840s. Museum no. 3027-1876
Thomas Unwins, 'Haymakers at Dinner', England, 1840s. Museum no. 3027-1876
Edwin Landseer, 'The Drover’s Departure', 1851. Museum no. FA.88
Edwin Landseer, 'The Drover’s Departure', 1851. Museum no. FA.88

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.

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V&A '80s Fashion Pocket Mirror by Lesley Barnes||EVAEX

V&A '80s Fashion Pocket Mirror by Lesley Barnes||EVAEX

Pocket mirror featuring fabulous fashion illustrations by Lesley Barnes, specially commissioned by the V&A. Lesley has created exclusive fashion …

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Event - Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Sat 14 March 2015–Sun 19 July 2015

EXHIBITION: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will showcase McQueen’s visionary body of work. Spanning his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen’s designs will be presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows.

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