Pockets v. Purses

The last 100 years or so have proven that there isn’t a lot of distance between men and women in terms of intelligence and ability.  I say “isn’t a lot of distance,” because I think some still exists.  It is the distance between pockets and purses.

Men use pockets.  Pockets hold stuff.  They do not encumber hands, arms, or shoulders.  They keep your stuff secure, they are capable of holding surprising amounts of stuff, and you will never leave your pockets in a cab or in a restaurant.  And when you need your stuff, you reach into your pocket and you pull out your stuff.  Congratulations, men: you figured out pockets.


Pocket technology is complicated, but this gives you a rough idea how it works

Women use purses.  Purses hold stuff- tons of it, sometimes.  But purses don’t come with filing systems, search engine software, database capacity, or RFID scanners.  That means that you can stick a glow-in-the dark, soaking wet chihuahua in most purses and run the risk that you will never find it again.

I remember sitting around in slow places with my mom when I was young- places like the doctor’s office or the pharmacy.  Bored out of my mind, I would ask her if she had any treats on hand.  A lot of times she told me there was some candy in her purse, so I’d pick the thing up and dive in with my whole face and two hands.  In retrospect, maybe she was really just trying to occupy me for the next half hour.  If so, she was brilliant.  It took fifteen minutes just to get through the whole collection one time.  But that’s the thing with purses- you’re going to see everything at least four times before you find the one thing you’re trying to find.  I honestly feel bad for that dopey kid sitting in those waiting rooms 25 years ago, searching, searching, searching, through the combs and old lipstick and compacts and check books and check registers and pepper spray and scissors and sensible shoes and flatware, only to be rewarded with three busted up Neccos hiding at the very bottom of the bag.


Trust me: Sooo not worth it.

So I came to hate purses.  That was in part a reaction to my Mom’s purse and the unimaginable diversity of its contents.  The way I was conditioned, I never laughed at the Looney Tunes episodes where Bugs Bunny reaches into a bag and randomly pulls out two light bulbs and a monkey wrench.  That seemed totally plausible to me.

But this is not about my Mom’s purse, which I have since realized was completely representative of all the purses in the world.  It terrifies me when Macy asks me to grab something out of her purse.  I know every time that I will spend five minutes rummaging through the motherly detritus before giving up and handing the bag to her.  There is honestly no chance I’m going to find what I’m looking for in Macy’s purse.

So can I sell you ladies on pockets?  My pockets get emptied out every day.  Due to this innovation, there is nothing in my pockets from the year 2005.  True, I don’t usually have room for the lip gloss from three lip gloss tubes ago, but you learn to live without.  Plus, sometimes, say, after a doctor’s visit, I have to put my pants back on with the pockets already full, and I am shocked to realize I must have ten pounds of stuff hanging at my waist.  It feels very much like putting your gun-belt on after a siesta in the back of the saloon.  Why would you want to miss out on that?

There are two arguments women use to justify their insanity.  First, pockets don’t hold as much stuff.  Please turn your attention to Exhibit A:


Yup.  That’s the stuff I pulled out of my pockets after coming home from a party one night last month.  Two gloves, two sets of keys, two pens, three hefty electronic devices, a wallet, and yeah, that’s an inadvertently stolen spoon.  (What?  I took it back later).  That’s an above average load, but it didn’t give me any problems.  Ladies, you can do this.

Argument 2: Girls can’t put stuff in pockets because it messes up the lines of their feminine shapes.  Yeah, that’s true.  But so does pregnancy and people still do that.  Same with over-eating.  The point is, when something is really really worth it, women are willing to sacrifice shapeliness for something more important.  Let me be the first man to stand up and say I will happily look past the baggy look if I never have to go looking through a purse again.  Can we make this happen please?  Thanks.

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50 Responses to Pockets v. Purses

  1. Eliza says:

    Oh man Ryan so true and funny. But guess what, you missed a certain angle. I would absolutely love to just depend on my pockets only, but almost every pair of women’s pants is not made with adequate pockets, sometimes they have none at all, and if they do they are very shallow. Men on the other hand, always have pockets, really deep ones, and then they have those carpenter ones on the side and then their shirts or suits have some too. So you see there is no comparison.

  2. Andrea W. says:

    LOL, how in the world did you inadvertantly steal a spoon in your pocket?

  3. Ryan says:

    Nice try Eliza. I’m not buying it. If women wanted pockets, there would be clothes made and sold with ample pockets. Instead, women want clothes to say “I am not useful at all! Not even a tiny little bit!” In fact, they even want their purses to say “I may be useful but I am expensive enough that you know that my real purpose is mostly aesthetic!”

    But honestly, if you tell me you would lose your purse and put all your stuff in your pockets each day, I will personally come over and sew ample pockets into all of your pants. That’s how committed I am to this cause.

  4. Ryan says:

    Andrea, remember that reception a while ago with the chocolate fountain and the table full of candy and all our kids running around? I was sitting at a table with Molly who had a nasty cold and was grabbing everything. When I got up to get something, I didn’t want her rubbing her germs all over my spoon, so I took it with me. Took it home with me too. One of the nicest spoons I’ve ever owned, even if it was only for a few days.

    It sort of pains me to disclose this as I know it will be used against me in future arguments about germophobia, but I had to explain the spoon.

  5. christian says:

    This is so funny to me and so true. Reba and I have major drama all the time about me putting the car keys in her purse; the big section of the purse instead of the little pocket in it where the keys go. The problem is that if you put them in the big section the get lost. It seriously takes forever to find them. And this is actually a diaper bag, which is much bigger than a purse. Such a pain.

  6. Davis says:

    We don’t have much occasion for me having to search through Melissa’s purse, but when I do, I just hand it to her without even trying.

  7. Katie Sherman says:

    Hey Ryan! So I don’t usually take sides on weighty matters such as this but I must say I am definately on Team Purse. I am not a fan of the handbag because they are a disaster as Christian pointed out. But a normal size purse is perfect. I am a huge advocate for cleaning out purses at the end of the day (like you do with your pockets). I throw away wrappers, receipts and sometimes important documents (like the car title). Okay that was NOT good. But all in all it is a great strategy for me. Girls want accessories. I have three daughters (12,10 and 7) and when we go somewhere we all have our own purse. Complicated? Oh, yeah!

  8. Ryan says:

    See, Katie- you could be teaching these girls a new way. How cool would they look being the only girls at school with their hip pockets bulging with necessities, instead of carrying clumsy handbags around everywhere they go? Four purses in one family is a LOT of scary disorder.

  9. Alesa says:

    I heard a stat last night that the average woman buys a new purse every three months. Over her lifetime she will own over 130 purses. How is that for disorder?

  10. Braden says:

    Good post, Ry. I think I’ll just enjoy it and stay out of the fray, though.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I’ll get rid of my purse if you can figure out, ryan, how I’m going to fit 2 sippy cups, 2 diapers, wipes, nursing cover, water bottle, wallet, cell phone, keys, lotion, medicine, hand sanitizer, pen, chap stick, coupon binder, checkbook, AND planner (not even mentioning the non-necessities) in my pocket? you just show me the way and i’d be happy to abandon my purse.

    i also think men don’t carry purses because they know they’re heavy and awkward (how could they not be holding all the above?) and they’d rather let someone else (the wife) do that. plus, it also gives them an out when their kids are begging for something (that’s inevitably in mom’s purse). “oh, (insert child’s name), just ask your mom, it’s in her purse.” am i right or am i right?

  12. Carrie says:

    Picture this scenario: I’m spending the weekend in Manhattan with the girls. I have some FABULOUS purple high heel pumps to go with the amazing fake Gucci purse I bought in Chinatown. We have tix to see Wicked that night and I want to show off my lovely shoes. I don’t want to walk around in heels all day, so I carry the shoes in my purse and change right before the show. It worked like a charm. You can’t pull that off with pockets…even IF the pumps fit in your pocket, you could inflict some serious bodily harm. PURSES RULE!! THE BIGGER THE BETTER!!!

  13. Eliza says:

    Ryan, start looking on your calendar for an available come to my house and sew me ample pockets, because I promise I really would carry everything in it. All I need are keys, cell phone and lip gloss. Women’s pants are not like that not because women don’t want it, but because the designer wants it to look cute and flattering and big pockets hardly ever figure into those requirements. But then you add kids to the bunch with sippies, diapers, wipes, toys, snacks, etc.. and pockets no matter how ample are really out of the question.

  14. Ryan says:

    Not fair, Reba, we’re talking purses, not OctoMom’s diaper bag.

    Really, I understand the need for extra space in certain circumstances. Moms with multiple kids need ample room for their supplies. But take away the baby stuff and I’d easily fit it into my trusty old pockets.

    Also, when my kids ask me for something they want that Macy would usually have in her purse, I’ve found that just saying “sorry, I don’t have that” usually works out okay. (The Epipen might be the exception there . . . )

    Eliza, you’re right about the baby stuff. You need a good diaper bag. But it seems like a lot of women have both a diaper bag and a purse. Tell me that when you go out without the kids you don’t take a purse? And by the way, if it really is just keys, cell phone, and lip gloss, let’s talk. I know we can find a way for you to make the pocket thing work. Even if we have to get you some of those tennis shoes with zipper pockets. It will be worth it.

  15. Ryan says:

    Alesa, that is an amaaazing stat. But not when you compare it to how many pockets the average man buys in his lifetime. Good for men.

  16. Chelsea says:

    Ryan, you are killing me! I read the title of this post and cheered thinking for sure that you would write about how you finally saw the light and started carrying a purse. Are you seriously advocating the pocket??

    Mike caught on to the man purse during our first year of graduate school and has never looked back. In fact, he is worse than me now – always on the hunt for the perfect one.

    I should probably just let Mike write why he is so dedicated to the purse, but I’ll try and sum it up for you:

    1. You can hold more stuff. Isn’t the Boy Scout motto “be prepared”? How can you be prepared if you don’t have a wallet, check book, keys, phone/palm, flashdrive, chapstick, wipes, floss, coupons, receipts, snacks, church stuff, etc.? I have to say it’s pretty impressive when we’re with a group of people and someone needs a band-aid or a safety pin or a pair of headphones (not kidding) and Mike pulls one out.

    2. Stuff in pockets looks hideous. This cannot be overstated, and is not only applicable to women’s shapes as you mention above. Men look ridiculous with stuff in their pockets. It makes their butts look big and their thighs look thick. Never been a fan of the big butt on a guy.

    3. Pocket splooge is an eyesore. Before Mike got a purse, there was always a pile (like the one pictured) on our nightstand or mantel or kitchen counter. It’s loose and unattractive and messy. Can’t think of a good argument for that pile.

    4. Man purses are an attractive accessory. If you are looking for a good one, try Ellington leather or J. Crew or even REI. So many great options to enhance your look.

    Okay, let me know if you want to revise your post and I’ll help you. 🙂

  17. Macy Bell says:

    LIza, if that is all you need maybe you should switch to a fanny pack. Those are always in style aren’t they? At least my sister Molly thinks so.

  18. Macy Bell says:

    LOL, Chelsea. Loved your take, and I very much agree. Why don’t men want a purse? Ryan, you have to admit you look ridiculous in some of your pants with your large, and might I say Very large wallet showing through, huge wad of keys, and huge cell phone. And, the worst part is in your tighter jeans you cannot even get your cell phone out when it is ringing if you are sitting down. It is pretty ridiculous.

  19. Chelsea says:

    Aha, Macy! Ryan, you are so busted. I know exactly what you are describing. In fact, I think it was a tight pair of jeans/cell phone ringing combination that finally convinced Mike. (Plus I showed him some pictures of himself from all angles.)

  20. Ryan says:

    Chelsea, your pluck is admirable. But you need to understand that you are here on a public website advocating that a man should get a purse. And for the life of me, it looks for all the world like you’re being serious. I honestly don’t know what to do at this point. Can we just call a timeout for a couple hours for you to think about what you’ve done, and then maybe reconvene?

  21. Chelsea says:

    Ryan, please! Have you ever been to Europe or South America or any place outside the United States? Men the world over carry purses. I have no idea what the American resistance is to it, but you of all people should be more enlightened. I give you permission to call it a man bag or murse or satchel or messenger bag or whatever makes you feel like a MAN. Good grief. If anything is making you look feminine, it’s your bulging pockets.

  22. Ryan says:

    Yeah, like a pony express horse’s saddle bags make it look feminine? Like John Wayne’s holster belt makes him look feminine? Like a hot construction worker’s tool belt makes him look feminine? No. Carrying your gear attached to your person is about the manliest thing you can do. Modern haberdashery tucks such things elegantly inside the trouser, but the toughened mode of utilitarian preparedness (sightlines be damned) remains the gold standard in masculinity.

    And you know Mike has my respect (in general), but . . . as for how manly it is to always have floss and q-tips and soothing balms on your person at all times, let’s look at the archetypes: Who always has everything they need: Mary Poppins. Who just makes do with whatever is at hand: MacGyver. Do we really need to belabor this?

  23. Bryan H. says:

    No. No, no, no! That is not right! Don’t misunderstand, I am absolutely against the bottomless Mary Poppins carpetbag that is every woman’s purse, but seeing the amount of flotsam and jetsam that Ryan pulled out of his pockets and dumped on the bed made me shudder!

    Not to go all Bilbo on you, but do you know what I have in my pockets right now? A car key. And I hate that nassty little car key for being in my pocketses.

    Who cares whether or not it’s fashionable to have extra bulges in your pantaloons, having empty pockets is all about:

    1) comfort – nobody wants the monkey butt that comes with wallet sitting, to impale a hip flexor with your ring of janitor keys, to inadvertently prank call your boss because you forgot to lock your phone, or to explain to the internet community why you carry a spoon in your pants.


    2) utility – you must always be ready and able to run.

    (Seriously, Ry, TWO pens? In case one runs out while you’re not using the other one? Look, if you need to use a pen, it means you’re at a place that has pens for you to use.)

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Ryan and Chelsea,

    I am crying with laughter. I know you are both totally committed to your respective sides in this argument and I love reading the banter. Best laugh I’ve had in a long time.

    Ryan, just out of curiosity, what do you have for work? Brief case? Satchel? Or do you have a full filing system in your pockets. What is the difference between what Chelsea is describing and a bag that a man might carry to work?

  25. Chelsea says:

    LOL! So we are definitely going for John Wayne-manly, is that it? Setting our sights high…

    If you are advocating wearing a vest and cargo pants with pockets instead of a purse so you can be manly, I’m all for it. I don’t really care whether you carry a purse (setting aesthetics aside), but the bottom line is, regular inside pockets in chinos and jeans are insufficient for a family man. MacGyver didn’t have babies and if he did, I guarantee they wouldn’t think he was cool the fourth time he fashioned a diaper out of newspaper and plastic sacks. Making do is for loners or for teaching teenage kids a lesson. Otherwise, Mary Poppins is the way to go for family happiness, no way around it.

    By the way, flossing is manly and so is chapstick and do you know why? Because doing those things make it more likely that a woman will want you and that is definitely manly.

  26. Chelsea says:

    Byran H. – thank you for pointing out the other downsides to pockets! I forgot about those hazards. Elizabeth, exactly on the briefcase point. It’s the same idea!

  27. Molly P says:

    Yes, Just call me the girl with the fanny pack! Truly I have only worn a fanny pack one day out to the zoo and it was holding Ike’s Ztech Kids Camera…dos that really count. Truly though, isnt’ that the best compromised solution! Hands free, yet large enough for even the octomom. Hey, if Carry Bradshaw could pull it off, why don’t we all just give it a try. Its hard to go back…but yes, I did because my sisters would never have let it go!

  28. Ali says:

    Ryan. made it thru the post (ill expect a high five for that) but not the comments.

    i have a HUGE purse (it can be used as a weekend bag as well). i wish everyday i didn’t have any purse. but thats not possible. the one thing i would need was what i wouldn’t have. so..i just bought a back pack, which solves the small opening/searching problem.

  29. Ali says:

    random…somebody just sent me this link


  30. Christian says:

    Molly is the type to wear a fanny pack.

  31. Molly P says:

    I’ll take that as a compliment! Me and Carrie bradshaw too!

  32. Andrea W. says:

    Molly, I’m with you the fanny pack is the perfect solution, let’s me and you set that trend, shall we?

  33. Troy says:

    Ryan, purses are ridiculous. Pockets are way better. Yep. But I think you’ve gone too far in calling for an eradication of all purses. Let’s remember that we don’t carry them, and our wives do. I must say I’m grateful that it is way more fashionably and socially acceptable for my wife to carry the burdensome 5 to 7 pounds of whatever on her shoulder–and not me. When we go out… the wallet, cell phone, and keys come out of my jean pockets and go straight into the wife’s purse. My hips look sexy, my 40m-time drops (I’m able to chase down a would-be purse snacher), and I have easy and effortless access to my stuff. Oh no, I never touch the purse. I make the request, she searches, and I get said stuff handed to me like an instrument to a surgeon. So, purses play an important role in the transportation and handling of my things. The important part being that when I’m with my wife, I don’t carry my things, and she does. I have my very own caddie for personal items–and I LOVE it. Yes purses are ridiculous. So are giant heavy golf bags. But you don’t see Phil Mickelson complaining (I was going to say Tiger Woods, but, you know).

  34. Rebecca says:

    troy, you have proven my point. 1 rebecca, 0 ryan.

  35. Ryan says:

    Bryan: I’m glad comfort is paramount for you. It is for me too. Keep in mind that I wear slacks every weekday. I don’t sit on my wallet- it fits easily in one of my spacious front pockets, where I never think of it until I need it. As for having to explain why I carry a stolen spoon in my pocket? I think it adds a little ne’er-do-well mystique to my squeaky clean image, don’t you?

    As for needing to run, the day John Wayne turns tail and runs is the day I’ll make that a big priority in my daily cargo stowage schemes, and not a moment sooner.

    (Seriously, though- a key? A single key? That is really amazing. You have my admiration).

  36. Macy Bell says:

    Wow,Troy, so now we are to the point in this argument that a purse is great so “the wife” can be your caddy? How does Melissa feel about that? : )

  37. Ryan says:

    Elizabeth, yes, I have a bag I sometimes take to work. It contains a computer and often a few documents. When I want one of those things I reach in and easily remove the item. I don’t spend precious billable minutes rummaging through endless personal effects searching for that one special thing. It’s just not a hassle modern people should put up with.

    Chelsea- Lol about the newspaper diapers. But seriously, they don’t seem to mind it. Resourcefulness is actually a huge value for me, and one that is absolutely meaningless to everyone else in this house. Regardless, if MacGyver had babies, I expect he’d be very similar to the kind of dad I am- constantly unprepared, but always prepared.

    And I agree- flossing and chapstick can help with the manliness thing. Keeping floss constantly with you . . . I’m not so sure.

  38. Ryan says:

    Molly- you actually earned my respect with your admissions regarding the fanny pack. Then you completely eviscerated it when you invoked Carrie Bradshaw in your support. Seriously, let’s not do that again.

    Ali- I’m with you. If I had to lug around a huge bag everywhere I went, I’d want to strap it to my body too. I might even consider sewing it into my pants. (And congrats on reading all the way through your first DDDT post. It was the photos that got you through, right?)

    Troy- Well, if there is a good way to use a purse, you’ve found it. If your wife insists on being oppressed by it, you might as well get a free ride. (And the way you describe the purse, it’s hard to imagine a snatcher could get very far with it).

    Rebecca- You’re bothered because your husband has freed his mind and you refuse to? I’m not so sure this is his fault . . .

  39. Davis says:

    You know what, now that I think about it, Ryan you do often look a little silly because of your pocket bulge. I’m changing my vote.

  40. Ben Pratt says:

    Yes, Ryan, YES.

    Every one of my pocket items is assigned to a specific pocket. When I leave my office a simple pat of my left pocket assures me I can allow the locked door to close.

    On my birthday a couple of months after getting married, my in-laws gave me a jacket and a winter coat. I was checking out the jacket and I said something like, “Just what I like! Lots of pockets!”

    To be fair, there is one thing I don’t carry in my pocket, and that’s my mini multi-tool with LED flashlight, which lives in a tiny belt holster. I know Christian understands the need to suddenly shine a light in Crazy Transit Center Man’s eyes so you can take him down if he starts attacking someone.

  41. Christian says:

    Why doesn’t it surprise me that the same guy who drove around for 5 days in a rental car with a wild rat in it that he kept forgetting about would also inadvertently carry a fancy spoon around in his pocket for a while?

  42. Bryan H. says:

    I’ll concede the point about the spoon; it is very roguish. As for running, I guess John Wayne never went to Pamplona. Or played basketball. Or chased down a … watch this connection … PURSE snatcher.

  43. Ryan says:

    What makes you think John Wayne would run if he were in Pamplona? He would stand where he wanted to stand, even if that was in the middle of the street. It’s called the “Running of the Bulls,” not “the Running of John Wayne.”

  44. Troy says:

    Bry I already made the Purse Snatcher connection. Too little too late, Broseph.

  45. Anne says:

    I found you through mmb…
    Ever since I started carrying a diaper bag instead of a purse, I’ve gotten used to not having one, so I use my pockets for everything. I’d actually like to get back to using a purse, though, because I never have enough room in my pockets for everything I’d like to carry. Plus I don’t like things bulging out of my pockets.

  46. Valerie M. says:

    I personally don’t like purses full of junk either so I have a small purse and clean it out often–no Neccos at the bottom. 🙂 The whole time I was reading the post I thought, “Yeah, but I DON”T need more bulk on my hips or legs!” and then you addressed that. I’m glad pockets work for some, but I prefer my purse. You have a great sense of humor!

  47. Danica says:

    Oh my gosh, I was laughing so hard at the paragraph ending in only to be rewarded with three busted up Neccos hiding at the very bottom of the bag. It’s so so true. Heck yeah, I’m going to go find the pair of Jnco jeans Zack wears every Halloween and start wearing them everywhere. I’m sure Zack will contact you directly to tell you thanks – he’s always said flames are hot.

  48. Shelby says:

    Honestly I think pockets and purses have many disadvantages, but I think that they both have some great advantages.

  49. I would say these are really some good design and well written post of course.

  50. Faye Palmer says:

    it was hilarious :L but not as funny as when he was shouting at the housemates during his task. "If you wanna live I suggest you go to the bedroom!"

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