The 2020 Long Frocks Forecast

Over the last century there has been an amusing notion in the West that the length of women’s skirts is seen as an indicator of the state of the wider economy – the Hemline Index. A quick perusal of a variety of contemporary news and blog commentaries discussing this idea would suggest that slightly more commentators concur with the original proposition that skirts get shorter in good times than the reverse. Although the counter view that skirts actually get shorter in challenging times also had its supporters with more than just economic explanations for the perceived phenomenon.

It is just as you would expect, for every set of data there is a different interpretation of the data with as many different explanations as people doing the interpreting.

But I like the old, traditional version. The roaring twenties gave us higher hemlines around knee-height, with women’s calves on display for the first time in millennia. This period of affluence (for some anyway) was followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s with hemlines sinking back to around the ankles. The decades past until the Swinging Sixties brought us Mary Quant and the mini skirt, a truly short skirt for a time of optimism and booming markets.

Even mini kilts for wee girls – my sister and I 1969

Naturally, within a decade the hemlines dived again along with the world’s economy as the 1973 Oil Crisis hit. It was the era of the maxi skirt, and the hems of the Laura Ashley dresses, for example, hit the ground at the same time as major world economies tanked.

This all brings me to my recent observations regarding the latest fashion shows for 2020. Just when you think the Climate Crisis is finally at the top of the world’s agenda and the fashion sector is surely facing a time of moderation and sustainability, the runways are bedecked with strangely voluminous, outré and frivolous frocks, but at least as predicted by the Hemline Index, the frocks are indeed floor-length.

It would appear we are heading for some seriously choppy waters. And, as if to confirm this gloomy outlook we have tough and resilient from Jean-Paul Gaultier. In Paris last month he gave us the final show of his 50 year fashion career ending with the closing pair walking down the runway dressed as if they had just arrived from a ‘Mad Max’ dystopian future of climate chaos.

Paul Mason aka Fashion Santa pictured above in final look at Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Show Jan 22., 2020 alongside fellow model Catherine Loewe. Photo Credit: Jonas Gustavsson/Sipa USA)

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

12 thoughts on “The 2020 Long Frocks Forecast”

      1. For a long time I only wore skirt-suits at work, being that it was a conservative farming co-op, where I occasionally had to give presentations to the board and frequently to senior management, and I came from the era when women were discouraged from wearing trousers in the workplace. It was not until the early 2000s when my male boss pointed out that the female PM of NZ (Helen Clark) wore them, that I was freed at last. 20 years later, my former protege, still single and firmly feminist, tells me that now it is not even permissible to comment on a woman’s appearance in the workplace, let alone dictate skirts over trousers.

      2. It is so good to see that things have loosened up, but the one area where there’s still some problem here is some City firms still seem to expect women to wear high heels.

      3. Wow! In Sydney, you’ll see women wearing sneakers on the commute, and then changing at work, but usually into flats or low heels. You’d think requiring high heels could breach OH&S given what they do to posture, and the potential trip hazard.

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