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Twenty Minutes Into the Future, we've gone Crystal Spires and Togas, everything is decked out in this nice futuristic Zeerust, and everybody wears spandex that has no pockets.

Why? Surely fashion hasn't changed so much that we've outmoded all methods of carrying things aside from our hands (or Victoria's Secret Compartment / Trouser Space), right? Wouldn't the engineers at least want a nice, functional Utility Belt? Why not The European Carry All, especially in parody settings?

This isn't as outlandish as you might think (see the Real Life examples below). Still, the lack of visible pockets in future clothes is a near ubiquitous trope in Speculative Fiction.

Examples of We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future include:


Comics

  • This was quite common in Silver Age superhero costumes to the point where The Tick's mind was blown when he discovered he had them (he wasn't even concerned about the huge roll of cash he produced from one of them).
    • Silver Age Superman's cape contained a hidden pocket where he keeps his (compressed-by-his-super-strength-somehow) Clark Kent clothes.

Film

Literature


Live Action TV

  • Word of God is that the creator of Babylon 5 made sure the uniforms had visual pockets as this trope has always bugged him.
    • However, one episode featured a pickpocket stealing a pouch hanging from a person's belt in a market, which would have been a lot more at home in the Middle Ages, as would the method of the theft (literal cutpursing).
    • Lampshaded in the Crusade spin-off, when a clothing designer comes aboard the Excalibur to make new uniforms for the senior officers. Gideon complains that these uniforms lack pockets, to which the designer replies that a captain shouldn't have to carry things around. There are subordinates for that.
  • Star Trek: The actors, at least, have wondered about this very impractical lack of pockets (sure, most of the time they're only carrying around their phasers, and the science officer gets a Tricorder, but still).
    • The justification being that there's no money in the Federation, or keys when you have voice-activated doors, thus no need for pockets.
    • It was mentioned in at least one Star Trek book, however, that the lack of pockets in uniforms is done for security reasons; it prevents anyone from being able to smuggle hidden weapons without great difficulty.
    • Some officers, however, are seen with vest pockets; also, "The Cage" and the TOS movies gave us field jackets with visible pockets. Otherwise, Starfleet tends to stick to hard-sided cases and the odd tool belt. Miles O'Brien of Deep Space Nine was occasionally seen with a bunch of tools (or dental implements, it's hard to tell) stuffed into a breast pocket. No one else seemed to have this pocket.
    • Especially bad in one Deep Space Nine episode that featured a Starfleet infantryman (or possibly Marine; in any case, apparently not just a shipboard security officer) deployed in combat on a planet. Not wearing any kind of armor might be understandable; the same with not carrying any secondary weapon or "ammo"/energy cells for his phaser rifle (who can say how many shots it could fire, or if it could be recharged in the field)...but he didn't have any ability to carry anything without holding it in his hands, or over his shoulder. Not even a canteen.
      • Averted in the Elite Force video games, as the Hazard Team combat squad would definitely need to carry stuff around, in addition to their guns. So they were all given portable personal transporter buffers, which keeps items in a state of perpetual atomic dis-assembly, until they are needed. It's basically a futuristic version of a Bag of Holding.
    • The jumpsuits on Star Trek Enterprise, being based on NASA jumpsuits, had zipped pockets.
    • Some uniforms do have pockets: the one-piece coveralls from Star Trek the Motion Picture, and the cadet uniforms seen in the later series both had cargo pockets. Also, on several occasions we see characters removing things from their pockets, usually small hand phasers. In "The Mind's Eye" Geordi LaForge clearly has a phaser hidden in a small hip pocket. It was implied that the futuristic materials made pockets (as well as fastenings) virtually invisible until they were needed. Somehow.
    • The second uniforms of TNG did have small pockets roughly near the hip with the openings facing outward toward the camera so you could quickly tuck a phaser or a tricorder in there, but half would stick out. Picard's later "Captain's jacket" uniform had pockets in the lining.
    • On the DVD Commentary of Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, Nicholas Meyer says that he wanted the new uniforms to have pockets, but the budget wasn't high enough as they would have had to make pockets for each individual uniform. The field jackets Kirk and Bones wear on Regula, though, do have some hefty pockets in that movie.
    • In the fourth season of Voyager, B'Elanna Torres was often wearing a vest with tool pockets while in engineering. However, this was only used because Roxanne Dawson was pregnant at the time and it couldn't be realistically worked into the plot.
  • Buck Rogers (with Gil Gerard) suffered from this. Men and women wore skin-tight uniforms that didn't permit pockets.

Tabletop Games

  • In GURPS Transhuman Space pockets are out of fashion, because things like keys and wallets are entirely virtual.


Video Games

  • Averted in Mass Effect. While there's not really visible pockets, Tali mentions that her exosuit has "more pockets than you'd think", apparently with sufficient space to allow her to cart around a significant amount of geth parts.


Real Life

  • Pockets are a fairly recent invention made possible in mass production thanks to the sewing machine, so lots of traditional cultural garbs come with carrying pouches and belts.
  • Most off-the-rack vests have decorative-only pockets, since most modern men don't carry pocket watches anymore.
  • Figure that pocketing items tends to disrupt the lines, and can stretch the fabric making the cut of the clothes even less impeccable. The finer the clothing, the less the designers want to encourage the use of exterior pockets. Contrast any clothing with pockets pleated specifically for expansion, such as cargo pants.
  • The uniforms for some fast food chains have fake pockets, presumably because they don't trust their employees. Others do not.
    • The uniform for at least one credit card manufacturer does not have pockets, and it's definitely for security reasons.
  • Employees at theme park games will usually only have one pocket in the rear. Probably so they wont have anywhere to steal handled money and to prevent them from sitting down.
    • Goes for plenty of other theme park workers as well, including those that never get near money.
  • Both pants and suitcoats used as theater props frequently have the pockets sewn shut to prevent actors from putting their hands in their pockets.
  • Academic robes, of the kind worn at graduation ceremonies, typically lack pockets, and only rarely have slits through which to access pockets in one's regular clothing. This is especially hard on photo-seeking graduates who have no place to carry a camera (however, some versions make it possible to carry things in the sleeves). Graduate students usually get generously pouched sleeves as well as a hood that is great for carrying lightweight items. Using hoods as pockets was actually pretty common among monks and academic people wearing robes in the long long ago.
    • This is particularly difficult for female students at Oxford, who have to sit all their exams (and there are many) wearing academic gowns (with no pockets) and a white blouse and formal dark skirt or trousers. As mentioned above, women's smart trousers often don't have any pockets, and you can't take a handbag into the exam. Most women carry pens and their keys in their mortarboards, which traditionally you have to carry but not wear. (Men get to wear a suit, so most do have pockets.)
  • Inverted with KangaROOs, a brand of shoes which incorporate a tiny zippered pocket for keys, change, or a handy condom. When they became a fad in the 80s, they were hyped as a brilliant new innovation, and their design actually did influence later designs of (pocketless) athletic shoes.
  • (Open) pockets don't work very well in zero gravity, so it's not unreasonable to imagine that anyone who expects (or wants to appear as though they expect) to live in orbit will wear garments that have pockets that are sealable, and possibly located on the inside rather than the outside of their clothing.
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