FACT CHECK: Were Pockets On Dresses ‘Phased Out’ So Women ‘Could Prove They Were Not Witches’?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims pockets on dresses were “phased out” so women could prove they were not involved in witchcraft.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence to support this claim. The removal of pockets was historically linked to changes in women’s fashion.

Fact Check:

A Facebook post, which has garnered over 430 reactions and 150 shares, features a screen grab of a tweet that claims pockets on women’s dresses were “phased out” so that women “could prove they were not witches and carrying ill intentions and spells.”

“This is why women love pockets in skirts and dresses now,” continues the tweet. “We carry our spells and curses without purses and you won’t see us coming.”(RELATED: No, British Parliament Didn’t Ban Lipstick In 1770 For Fear It Had ‘The Power To Seduce Men Into Marriage’)

There is no evidence linking the removal of pockets in dresses to witchcraft, however. Check Your Fact found no credible news reports or academic studies to corroborate such a claim. The rumor regarding the connections previously circulated in March 2021.

“I have seen this claim in several places,” said Rachel Christ, director of education at the Salem Witch Museum, in an email to Check Your Fact. “It is completely untrue. Myths like this become popular and circulate every few years on social media.”

“To my knowledge this statement has no historical evidence for it,” said Ariane Fennetaux, co-author of “The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives 1660-1900,” in an email to Check Your Fact. “Women did not have pockets in their garments but had detached pockets that were tied around the waist and accessed through openings in the side of garments. Women’s pockets were not ‘removed’ from female garments.”

As Fennetaux states, women commonly wore “tied-on pockets, which were large, often pendulous bags” hidden beneath “their petticoats, panniers, and bustles” through much of history, Vox reported. Around the turn of the 19th century, however, fashion trends changed and detachable pockets fell out of favor, according to ABC Radio Melbourne.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter

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