Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Avoiding the Hemline Index

Pique mini
image from Boden
Are you familiar with the Hemline index? It's a fascinating theory that says hemlines follow the economy: When stocks are high, so are hemlines, and when the economy drops, hemlines drop too.

According to Wikipedia, which sites a study from 2010, this correlation was proven "suggesting that 'the economic cycle leads the hemline with about three years.'"

Considering that the market has (overall) been headed in an upward direction since 2009, I think we're on track with our current shortened hemlines to continue the trend of correlation.

I think it's a funny and interesting correlation. But for tall gals, and ladies who like a bit more modesty, this current trend of mini skirts might be something of an annoyance: I don't mind a few short skirts in my closet, but I also want more work-appropriate options.

Thinking about where I might be able to find slightly longer skirts made me remember an observation I made on a trip to London a couple of years ago...

I consider my style to be appropriately modest (hence my annoyance with the plethora of minis), but I'll usually unbutton the top button or two on a shirt or dress to make it more flattering. While on that trip, however, I suddenly felt inappropriately over-exposed in everything. I brought a shirt dress with me that I always wear with the top two buttons undone, but noticed that when I put it on in London, it only felt right with all the buttons closed.

This feeling led me to start paying more attention to the details of the way the London women were wearing their clothing. I noticed that there wasn't too much of a difference in style from New York City, but hemlines were worn just a couple inches longer, and shirts were buttoned up just a couple buttons higher than I was used to seeing in NYC's Fashion District.

When I remembered this observation a few weeks ago, I wondered if English-based clothing companies might be a bit more modest in their lengths than what we are currently seeing here, and I headed to Boden's website to confirm my theory. Take a look at the two skirts listed below...

images on left from Boden, image on right from J. Crew
I think my theory is correct. Both of these skirts are listed as mini skirts, but take a look at the difference in the lengths. The dots create a bit of an optical illusion, but the skirt on the left clearly comes closer to the knee than the one on the right. The left skirt is listed as being 3 5/8" longer than the skirt on the right.

I like Boden's designs because they're fun, but don't feel particularly suited to just one age: They seem to be just as appropriate for a 20 year old as they are for a 40 year old. I ended up getting this skirt from them, and discovered that while I'm used to English sizing being about three sizes smaller than American sizing, this is not the case with Boden's fits -- if anything, they seem to run just a little big -- so be sure to check out the sizing guide.

Hemline index or not, there certainly is no shortage of short skirts available right now. So, if you're looking for slightly longer hemlines, English companies like Boden are a great option.

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