Before the mid-19th century, pockets were not sewn into women’s clothing, but were an accessory. Pockets, usually worn in pairs, were tied around the waist between a woman’s under-petticoat and her petticoat or skirt. Openings in the side seams of these voluminous skirts provided a discreet way for her to access their contents. Pockets were not intended to be seen while worn, and many were plain, although pockets with decorative embroidery were given as gifts. They were quite generous in size by today’s standards, and were used to hold a variety of personal items which might include money, a handkerchief, spectacles, sewing tools, a comb or small mirror, personal letters, and a snuff or bonbon box.

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