Hidden assets

Yesterday I wore a skirt I bought from a travel clothing catalog. I have to be very careful when perusing these catalogs, as they induce in me visions of wandering through the streets of Rome or St. Petersburg, wearing comfortable yet stylish shoes and dark, internationally-styled clothing that magically never wrinkles. In these visions I inevitably discover a tiny, chic cafe where I can lounge the day away, watching people walk by and passing for a native.

These visions send me on a buying frenzy, the result of which is often a box full of clothes that don’t look quite like what I’d expected from the catalog’s drawings: They’re frumpier, and the no-wrinkle fabric is stiff and icky, and I can’t imagine wearing them to the local five-and-dime, much less a funky bistro on the Left Bank.

In the case of this skirt, though, the vision wasn’t too far from reality. It’s a simple black wrap-around skirt, made from a mystery twill fabric that truly doesn’t wrinkle much and also somehow repels lint. It wraps around quite far, which is a huge benefit. Many, many wrap skirts don’t have enough overlap, and so when they flap open they flash quite a bit more of my nether regions than I’m comfortable sharing with the general public. So in many ways this skirt is perfect.

However, it has one odd feature: a hidden pocket. The catalog described it as a “security pocket” for storing documents and money, safe from pickpockets. Sounds great. The pocket is located on the inside of the skirt, right in front where it wraps. It’s fairly sizeable.

However, it’s completely impractical. I tried today to stash some cash there before heading into the K-Mart to try and prop up Martha Stewart’s failing reputation by buying seed starter kits, and I found I had to bend over and reach way, way inside to get the bills into the pocket. I basically had to open the wrap part, lifting it up and inserting the money upside-down into the pocket, then dropping the wrap and smoothing everything out. There was absolutely no way I’d be repeating that action at the checkout counter.

Also, I found that any item in the pocket distorts the fabric. Depending on what one tries to store there, one gets either a flat, stiff area or an unseemly bulge in a particularly awkward spot. It’s no good either sitting or standing. I can’t imagine something bumping into the tops of my thighs repeatedly as I walked around, especially on a sticky summer afternoon.

So my otherwise excellent travel skirt has this purposeless pocket. Obviously I can leave it empty and still get plenty of value from the skirt, but I’m still uncomfortably aware of its existence. It’s odd that it would bother me, but it does.