Hemline theory was allegedly launched by George Taylor, an economist at Wharton who claimed in 1926 that in booming economic times many women raised their skirts to show off their silk stockings. When times were bad, women lowered their skirts to hide that they couldn’t afford stockings.
Now, with New York Fashion Week in full swing, hemlines are falling again.
“We saw a lot of longer hemlines that fell just below the knee (at Marc Jacobs, Peter Som, BCBG). It was a fairly conservative season, which seems a bit depressing,” says Jennifer Wright, editor in chief of TheGloss.com.
Brooke Moreland, of Fashism.com, agrees that the trend is “definitely longer.”
“There are a few short skirts making it down the runways, but it is overwhelmingly skirts that are hitting just above the knee and tons of ‘midi lenth’ which hits right below the knee,” Mooreland says.
If the hemline theory is right, this would indicate a mild slowdown, but not a full out recession . Or, perhaps, just continued uncertainty and mixed economic signals.
But does hemline theory work in an era when women don’t wear stockings very often? For that matter, did it ever really work or is it just one of those wacky market indicators people chat about regardless of accuracy?