AS TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES ANY BODY adjacent storage seems increasingly antique. Carrying anything around but the absolute essential.'' To date no one has invented a digital form of the handkerchief,'' Carlson points out.

This has gone from a marker of prosperity to commoness. We're already well on our way to pocketlessness with smart watches and digital wallets ; in the future, maybe we'll just incline our heads at the door rather than being burdened with keys.

WHO GETS TO conceal their stuff, and why. This review of Hannah Carlson's cultural study of pockets was grievously delayed, Why? Your critic lost her keys ...... again. No, they weren't AirTagged.

Before the little jinglers were located, shoved in a side compartment of the carrier my family had used to adopt two distracting kittens, I was positive they they'd been dropped in the parking lot of the animal shelter, two hours away and was anxiously strategizing how to coax the overworked staff into conducting a search.

But a friend, whose wife is always losing things, had reassured me that the keys would be found closer to home. '' They're usually in a pocket,'' he said with the natural calm of someone whose clothing  comes generously outfitted with them. In other words a man.

'' Pocket sexism '' is a central tenet of Carlson's book, whose topic might sound as mundane as to be a parody, it is that musical number about stools in Christopher Guests 1966 masterpiece, '' Waiting for Guffman.'' Like envelopes on test tubes, pockets are defined by empty space.

Without contents they are nothing but potential : a merely ornamental pocket being commentary at best, deeply frustrating at worst. They are waiting for stuff.

Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Designs, painstakingly traces how the acquisition of pocket was - and to some extent still is - a rite of passage in Western culture for boys but not girls.

'' She has THINGS TO HOLD, like rocks and Power Rangers,'' she quotes one mother imploring clothing manufacturers in a viral tweet about the deficit in her toddlers wardrobe. '' She's resorted to putting stuff down her shirt.''

For at least 100 years, American magazines, fiction and art depicted with affectionate wonderment the oddments young lads might Tom Sawyerishly shove into the sides of their pants, from pennywhistles and knives, to marbles and bottle caps, to a live rat and turtle.

But not their own hands, authority figures scolded, as this would bring them all too close to the genitals - though such a gesture eventually came to signal ''insouciance and outlaw cool.''

Unlike female Kangaroos, women [and other historically second-class citizens] have always had a harder time securing storage close to their person. Emily Dickinson was one of the few who argued successfully with her dressmaker to get a compartment for pencil and paper. She ''had a room of her own - and a reliable pocket,'' Carlson writes.

Such modifications are rare in America, where feminine silhouette has been so sacrorsanct that even the coats of the Women's Army Corps in World War II lacked adequate storage.

And yet the small addition of a pocket can represent freedom in its most resonant sense. The author tells of runaway slaves tailoring their garments to better elude capture : adding functional space and useful in flight while also critically transforming a mean livery of slavery - pocketless coats - into more distinguished, worldly garb.''

Pockets have long amounted to privilege, and once you start noticing their presence, or their conspicuous absence, you won't be able to stop.

Book Review : '' Pockets : An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close.'' By Hannah Carlson.

The World Students Society thanks author Alexandra Jacobs.


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