July 31, 2021

The length of the skirts would say a lot about the country’s economy …

What if we relied on the length of the skirt to estimate the economic health of a country? This is what the “hemline theory” suggests. Scaffolded in 1926 by George Taylor, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the theory states that the shorter the skirt, the better the economy. And vice versa. At the time, the American economist based his conclusions on the skirt length of his fellow citizens, noting that it greatly decreased during the Roaring Twenties. During this prosperous period, women could buy silk stockings, while the lack of money had previously forced them to hide their bare legs … The crisis of 1929 would then have proved her right: shortly after Black Thursday, and until WWII, the hem of the skirt again grazed the floor.

But if the ups and downs of the economy are consistent with the length of skirts during the twentieth century, since 2000 the index seems less reliable. So skirts were very short in 2010, while the crisis was in full swing. So, what about the “hemline theory”? Two researchers from the Econometric Institute at the University of Rotterdam tried to disentangle the true from the false. They compared the change in hem height to the US economy, month by month, from 1921 to 2009. Their study published in 2010 found that “the economy influences hem height for about three years. . Thus, it is because the economy was booming in 2007 that skirts are currently short “. However, she confirms that one cannot predict the economic future by observing the models unveiled on the catwalks.

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For this, there are many other unusual indicators. Among them, the “lipstick index”, which, according to Leonard Lauder, ex-manager of Estée Lauder, shows an increase in lipstick sales in times of crisis. But also the size of the heels, which, according to Trevor Davis, analyst at IBM, would be higher during a recession. Or the underwear index, sales of men’s underwear falling when the stock market falls. By the way, this summer, the skirt will go up above the calf …

20th century: the economy seen at the length of women’s skirts …

1920 : During this prosperous period, the length of the skirts decreased, as women had the means to afford silk stockings.

1929 : In times of crisis, more money, more downs. Forced to go out with bare legs, the women wear elongated skirts.

[1945:After the war, morale returned and, in a period of reconstruction, the skirts shortened, revealing the ankles and then the calves.

1970 : Devaluation of the dollar, then oil crisis: the miniskirt of the 1960s is replaced by the long hippie dress.

1985 : Return of the short sequined skirt with the disco years, which is worn above the knee … until the Wall Street crash in 1987.

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