This summer I was sitting on the beach with a group of girlfriends reading a fashion magazine when I blurted out “Well, we’re in for a double dip recession!!” They looked at me quizzically as I began to explain the correlation between hemlines and the economy. I tried to maintain my confident tone as I scanned their smart, well-educated (and appropriately skeptical) faces. I am no economist by any means, and they all know that. I do read The Economist alongside my Vogue if that counts for anything. Fine, I admit to not really knowing what I’m talking about, but my source on the theory was good (my friend who is a fashionista, and whose husband worked for the Harvard Endowment). So on that particular beach day as I flipped through the pages of models shrouded in full ankle skimming frocks, an economic dread overcame me. I just thought they should know my prediction. There is a real economic theory called the Hemline Index that was developed in the mid- 1920s by the economist George Taylor. He found that longer skirts correlated with a downturn in the economy, and vice versa. It has more recently been tested by researchers and proven to maintain some validity. Since learning about the link, I have noticed skirt lengths rise and fall with the economy. If you think about fashion history in broad strokes the 20’s brought on the mini-dress, the 30’s and the great depression had women in full, long skirts. The 40s & 50s women wore knee or calf length skirts while the country recovered from the war, and then in the booming 60s the mini skirt was all the rage. I don’t know what the pants in the 70s meant but by the early 80s short skirts were back (thank you Madonna!). Late 80s, early 90s we wore long again. Late 90s and early 2000, lots of leg was showing, until the more recent economic crisis that brought down more than just hemlines. Hasn’t your head been spinning with the bipolar hemline swings in the past couple of years as our hope waxes and wanes?! I think our faltering economy is responsible for the ambiguity in our hemline trends, but I would be happy to be wrong. So just in case, pull in your purse strings and pull down your skirts girls, we may be going for another dip!
Are there any real economists or fashionistas out there who can help our forecast?