Fashionably fit

How politics affect fashion

Fashion cycles can be influenced by many things, two of the biggest influences being celebrities and the state of our economy.

As a new president gets ready to take office, I thought it would be a good time to look back at how the political climate and economy has had an influence on people’s clothing choices.

Let’s go back as far as the 1920s. When you hear about fashion in the 20s, you may have heard about the hemline theory. The hemline theory states that when the economy was doing well, women’s skirt lengths were shorter. As things financially got worse, the skirts became longer. Why is this?

Well you see in the 1920s it was a big deal for women to wear silk stockings. If you could afford silk stockings you wanted to show them off by wearing short skirts. However, when the market crashed, women could not afford the silk stockings so their skirts became longer so they could conceal that their stockings were not silk or that they weren’t wearing any at all.

Skirt length wasn’t the only thing that the economy influenced over the years. The height of heels on shoes was another change.

It is said that when the economy was down, heal heights increased. In, 2009, the peak of the last recession, the median height of women’s heels were 7 inches. This meant that in tough times women at least wanted their shoes to be “fancy” or used that accessory as a way to “escape.” In contrast when the economy is up, we tend to see more flat soled shoes and “ugly” sandals such as Tevas, Birckenstocks, Crocs and slides. The fact that people are spending money on not so stylish footwear suggests that we already have an extensive collection of shoes and that we can afford to expand it to these “ugly” pairs.

Of course we can’t talk about how political climate affects fashion without mentioning Jacki O. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a fashion icon in her own right. Her most iconic look is a Chanel skirt suit and a pillbox hat. Of course oversized sunglasses and head scarves contributed to her signature style. Having grown up riding horses, Jackie made wearing equestrian garb look effortlessly chic. She also was a fan of the monochromatic look and made wearing all white stylish. Jackie even experimented with some fashion risks. In the 1960s it was quite risky to wear a strapless gown to an official event, but she pulled it off.

As we enter into this next political administration, it may be too early to tell what the economic status of our nation will be. Will we see short skirts? Long skirts? High heels? Low heels? Perhaps our country will gain a new fashion icon in the next first lady. How do you see politics and economics influencing fashion over the next four years?

Fashionably Fit is published on the second Friday of each month, as part of the Sun-Gazette “Fash­ion Friday” features. Steel holds a degree in journalism and writes about fitness, fashion and style.

To learn more and view photos of the items mentioned in her colum, follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter at Meranda S and visit her website,

Steel also may be reached at the Lifestyle Department email, life@sun­gazette­.com.