The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 April 2008

Who wears short shorts?

You do, young lady, if you care anything about the nation's economy:

Although there are scoffers, the hemline theory of market fluctuation has always been remarkably accurate. In the twenties and sixties skirts were high, and so was the economy. In the thirties and forties, as women tripped over their dresses, the market was in the tank, and the economy sputtered in slow motion.

Miniskirts and short shorts were all the rage in 1987. The designers then decided that short skirts were ridiculous and we had Black Monday.

And evidently we haven't learned:

This year long dresses are all over Milan, Paris, New York and London. Mid-calf skirts and floor skimmers are definitely the trend. And short shorts are far and few between.

This won't necessarily actually work, of course — correlation and causation have only a passing acquaintance with one another — but it couldn't hurt, could it? Besides, our leading hysterics scienticians say it's supposed to be hot this summer.

Posted at 2:28 PM to Common Cents


Or, here's an alternate hypothesis:

Decades where hemlines were high were followed by decades of malaise. So here's how it worked: Women adopted shorter skirts. The predominantly male (and predominantly hetero-male) workforce got distracted by all those legs, productivity dipped, and the following decade, the economy tanked.

And as for eras (the 60s and the 80s) when women were actually a presence in the workforce?

Well, if you wear short skirts you have to be more careful on the leg-depilation duty than you might otherwise. And you also have to be careful getting in and out of cars, on windy days, climbing open stairs...so women were distracted as well by the short skirts, but for another reason.

Then again - I thought ration restrictions in the 40s limited the length of dresses women could wear, and so the 40s was a "shorter" decade?

I'm wearing a slightly-below-the-knee skirt today but I doubt I have the power to distract anyone...

Posted by: fillyjonk at 2:34 PM on 8 April 2008

P. J. O'Rourke has noted a similar correlation between women's shoe styles and American foreign policy. In particular, he says, beware Earth shoes and "sensible" shoes; the former hints at Carteresque inanition, while the latter signals that all-out war is near at hand.

Works for me, but I must run it past Fetiche.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 4:24 PM on 8 April 2008

When I worked at the nation's worst Oklahoma-based clothing retail chain, we noticed a similar trend with men's business fashion.

After the dot-com bubble burst, 9/11 et al companies began adopting stricter dress codes, doing away with casual Fridays, etc. in an effort to increase productivity and professionalism. Not sure how effective it actually is, but for sure corporate dress codes are much stricter during times of economic downturn.

Posted by: Nate at 4:56 PM on 8 April 2008

As Dr Peter once noted, an ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.

Fortunately, I work behind the scenes and can dress as badly as I like.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:13 PM on 8 April 2008