THE mild-mannered Rev Richard Coles must have been taken by surprise when he caused a Twitter storm by posing a seemingly innocuous question.

Posting the latest official photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge looking more relaxed and confident than we’ve seen her before with her hands in the pockets of a gorgeous red ball gown, BBC Radio 4 presenter Rev Coles asked: ‘Forgive my ignorance, but are pockets in skirts a thing?’

More than 3,000 people – most of them women – piled into assert loudly and repeatedly that if only it were so, and to argue that while the personal is political, the slogan adopted by the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s, pockets are too.

TV presenter Kirstie Allsop said: “All the best dresses have pockets.” Fashion and beauty journalist Merle Brown said: “Pockets in skirts and dresses are a wonderful thing. I even had them put into my wedding dress.” Television’s Davina McCall said: “Best ‘thing’ ever!!! In your défense (sic) quite a new thing.”

READ MORE: I just don't care

A photograph of the Queen looking delighted, hands in the pockets of her dress, was posted to prove how much we women love and long for pockets. And, to prove they do not in fact spoil the line of women’s clothes, as some designers insist, someone put up a stylish black and white photograph of Audrey Hepburn, hands in the pockets of her full skirt, looking joyful. And there’s another photo, of Bette Davis, carefree and laughing with her hands in the pockets of her evening dress.

Because pockets do make women happy – it’s somewhere to put our hands, making us look confident and at ease, and of course to stow our stuff.

But when we do get pockets, we feel cheated as they’re usually too shallow to be of any use. I wear the same make and size of jeans as my 15-year-old son and one day he accidentally pulled on my pair. He was surprised by two things: how comfortable they were (the heaven of Lycra), and how the pockets were half the size of those in his jeans.

“How can you fit anything in here?” he asked before hastily changing them for his own. I reluctantly handed back his with their roomy pockets. He finally understood why I sometimes don’t answer my mobile phone right away – there’s nowhere to put it when you’re a woman.

At home you don’t want to put it in your back pocket because you can’t sit down, and when out it usually goes into the depths of a handbag where the ringer is muffled, and you spend so long rummaging for it that you inevitably miss a call. We could use coat pockets if they’re deep enough, but there’s the risk of the phone falling out when we take our coats on and off.

Women on Rev Coles’ Twitter feed complained about having to lug handbags about with keys, wallet and phone, whereas men go about unencumbered, with these items stashed in numerous handy, practical pockets. In the 19th century a man’s outfit would have up to 15 pockets. Today, our jackets don’t even have an inside pocket where you can safely put a wallet.

Even then, men sometimes ask if they can put bulkier items like chargers in our handbags as we have ‘more room’.

The lack of pockets for women may seem a trivial issue but it’s not. Pockets are for practical, hard-working people who need to keep important items safe and easily accessible.

Standing with your hands in your pockets is a power stance that says you’re relaxed and don’t care – which is why schoolboys are told off for this ‘insolence’ – as Paolo Roversi captured in his photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Pockets, done right, are a marvellous invention. In the Middle Ages, everyone, men and women, carried bags tied to their waists or suspended from belts. These ‘pockets’ ended up hidden under clothes to deter thieves, with jackets and petticoats fitted with slits for the wearer’s access.

It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that men got pockets as we know them now, while women carried on wearing cumbersome tied-on pockets under their skirts, until fashions changed to a slimmer silhouette and they reverted to decorated ‘reticules’, the precursors of handbags.

In 1891, the Rational Dress Society called for proper pockets in women’s clothing, a call that has yet to be heeded by the rag trade, who presumably fall in line with Christian Dior when he said: “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.”

It’s time for a pocket revolution. We have nothing to lose except our handbags.