Hemlines and the economy

Date posted: April 26, 2011

There is an old adage that says there is a relationship between women’s fashion and the economy. Hemlines rise when the economy improves and they fall when the economy sinks. Host Mary Walden asks her husband, N.C. State University economist Mike Walden, three questions: Why would this occur? Is it true? And can she get some new clothes out of this?

“Well, the first, the why: Actually Mary goes back to the 1920s. And women wore silk stockings then, and the idea was that when the economy was good and more women could afford silk stockings they wanted to show them off so they raised their hemlines. And then in bad times when incomes went down and many women couldn’t afford silk stockings, in order to cover up the fact they didn’t have the silk stockings, they lowered the hemlines. So that is where this notion came from.

“Is it true today? No, it doesn’t really hold today. We’ve got so many different styles. Women quite frankly don’t wear stockings anymore. We’ve got all kinds of fabrics and choices, and one star doesn’t really dominate. So I don’t think you can use women’s hemlines anymore in terms of a barometer for the economy.

“And as far as your last question, Mary, you are on your own in terms of getting your own clothes.”

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