The Hemline

I don’t know when it was exactly that the hemline, or fashionable length of a woman’s skirt, was declared to be an economic indicator. I’ll guess that it was probably shortly after the invention of the miniskirt. In theory, when hemlines go up, the economy is booming, whereas when they go down, the economy is contracting. I suspect that simply stating the theory in the first place gave rise to clothing manufacturers and fashion designers making declarations that ‘skirts shall be short’, as a means of attempting to persuade some demographic or another to spend money on something. Since stock portfolios and mutual funds tend to be diversified, the world is loaded with exotic speculative financial instruments, and corporate board members tend to sit on each other’s boards, I do not assume that some development in fashion is independent of an economic indicator such as a resource extraction, human capital migration, or manufacturing lead elsewhere, for example.

My measure of prosperity of a town, city, or country tends to be in opposition to the hemline economic theory. Specifically, if I come into a place, and notice that women on the street are all tarted up, exhibiting whatever their best assets may be, whether by short hemlines, deep decolletage, skyscraper heels, or all three, I’ll assume that some of them are offering the possibility that morals—or sexual selection standards—can be bent in exchange for supper. Casting aside one’s morals or standards isn’t something to be done lightly when one has plenty of food to eat/clothes to wear/blankets on one’s bed; that is, if one is nutritionally, gastronomically, and economically satisfied, one can drive a harder bargain. Gluttony is a whole different thing and may perversely mean a dearth of something, to include food for the soul.

Some women pretend to be of a higher economic class than they are in order, supposedly, to blend into a class in which they do not rightfully belong. This is one way with which to snag an upwardly mobile or landed gent, by trickery. At least that’s a method that all the women’s fashion magazines promote, for obvious reasons. Another reason to jump on a fashion trend is to appear to one’s female peers that one is invulnerable, whether for purpose of rivalry or to reassure each other that each other’s men are safe from poaching, (because both dinner and fashion budget are secure). It is as complicated as any sort of seduction and subterfuge, which is to say multi-factored if ripe for facile analysis.

I don’t care. I’ll wear whatever I think I look good in and which, ideally, causes the intended result in persons around me or is comfortable, depending on all sorts of things. If I am trying to appear seductive, I might accept a little discomfort. If I am trying to appear cool and casual, I’ll go for something that doesn’t cause me discomfort. There just isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, particularly as one moves about various geographic coordinates. Moreover, I don’t have a whole lot of clothes, and so, I have to compromise. Therefore, if once again, fashion decides it is going to be dictatorial, I’ll have to decide whether I want to appear to be the eccentric that I am or if I need to start either taking away or adding fabric. My own body is also subject to some fluctuation, depending on how I feel about the world. A little extra padding here and there will raise a hemline.

Whenever I am tempted to wear a skirt that might be a bit too short, I think of a coworker of mine many moons ago.

She had the body of someone who had vacillated between the extremes of mildly obese to extremely obese and therefore her skin hung in folds. Then she had the utter lack of consideration to wear sleeveless, short, breezy, loose dresses. I noticed, to my horror, that folds of the skin of her butt drooped and waddled below her hemline. The reason for this sudden elevation of her hemline was soon made clear throughout the company. She was pregnant.


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