BY KAY SEVERINSEN
Not long ago, while waiting in the lobby for a job interview, I realized my cell phone was gone. Most likely it fell out of my purse on the bus. I tried to put the loss out of my mind to focus on the interview but I didn’t get the job.
Employment prospects are one thing, but the lack of a fashionable place for women to keep their cell phones is a problem on an entirely different plane – a monumental, world-wide phenomenon that like every other gender-based inequality, threatens to keep us tied to the kitchen, where there may be a landline, or at least a countertop on which to put your cell phone.
Take a look at the average male cell phone user. No matter how large the Samsung Galaxy or the iPhone gets, it always fits snugly into the back pocket of the average pair of men’s Dockers, dress pants or shorts. There it vibrates coyly whenever a call or text comes in, that gentle butt cheek vibration keeping men in the loop. No matter what they are wearing, it almost always has a back pocket that they can reach before the message goes to voicemail.
Not so for women. Aside from traditional jeans, almost none of our clothing has a good place for a cell phone. Unfashionable pleated trousers with side pockets work sometimes, but typically the pockets are too shallow to safely hold a phone. It will fall out whenever you least expect it, but definitely just before you are expecting a call.
The fact is, ladies, while the behinds of your male friends gently vibrate, we are being left behind. It is time to rise up and demand either improved fashion choices or better cell phone technology.
Let’s face it, our currently fashionable skinny pants and tight-fitting tops leave little room for a rectangular bulge. But even clothes that are designed to fit a little more loosely make almost no accommodation for cell phones. Most women have to carry it in their hand, or as I did, find a place in their purse. But to keep it safe, it has to be buried in an inside pocket where we will never feel it vibrate or even hear it ring. Even if you carry your purse with you 24/7, it’s not a solution.
The fashion industry could help by accommodating the tech world. Perhaps we can gather some ideas from the fashionistas of past decades. For example:
Pillbox hats a la Jackie Kennedy – She looked so chic in her pink pillbox, but imagine if it cleverly had also hidden her cell phone. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ambass –“ Ring ring! And just like that, she unpins her cute little hat and talks to John-John.
Enormous shoulder pads a la Lauren Bacall – Here’s the scene : You are interviewing a private eye with a startling resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. You light a cigarette. Suddenly, your shoulder pad begins to vibrate. You toss the cigarette onto his desk, unsnap the epaulet and whip out your cell phone. “The money?” you snarl in a throaty voice. “Show me the money!” Oh wait, wrong movie.
Full-skirted dirndls a la June Cleaver – Whether you are happily vacuuming the living room or presenting in the board room, your flirty skirt would hide a deep pocket within its gathers. The problem with a dirndl is that it’s loose and you won’t feel the phone vibrate when the noise of the vacuum cleaner also is drowning out the ringtone. Perhaps your pearl necklace could be a remote sensor device?
The fashions of yesteryear offer more options. Think how easy it would be to have felt that butt vibration if the phone was tucked into a bustle. A false pleat in your mutton-chop sleeve could have stowed a device. Marie Antoinette could have slid her phone, heck, even an iPad, into her up-do.
The issue with these otherwise-sensible suggestions is that they are still dependent on clothing construction that changes based on what you’re wearing. Men are always wearing pants. Well, almost always.
While there’s certainly an advantage for phone manufacturers to have half the population regularly losing and replacing their phones, companies could also capture the market of satisfied phone buyers if they made a phone for the rest of us. What might this tech solution look like?
I have a half-baked idea that it will look something like Dick Tracy’s wrist phone, with a difference. Tucked fashionably inside a cuff bracelet, when the phone rings the user releases a mechanism to stretch the entire phone across the palm.
Samsung, Motorola, iEverything – this is your moment. Give me a phone I can use and not lose.