Political Fashion Statements for the Politically Correct
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Political Fashion Statements for the Politically Correct

Please, my dear questioner, do not feel the least bit frivolous asking a fashion question at a time like this. No matter what the economic climate, we all must continue to dress warmly and well, yes? So your question about the effects of politics on fashion is timely, just as a brand-new Administration takes office. But, No, I do not believe fashion is influenced by political party transitions. Rather, fashion trends are a sign of the times.

I can safely assure you that just because a new political party is now in control does not mean rep ties, navy blazers and Dooney & Bourke purses will soon be a thing of the past. No, no, a thousand times no. A political party switcheroo never alters fashion trends - not directly anyway. But, incoming politicians - that's a different story, especially if their motto is Change. Combine that zeal with an economy pretty much in the tank,  and you can expect to see a transformation in fashion - but slowly (because who can afford an entire new wardrobe these days?) Fashion change, as I see it, will be reflected in colors, but also in terms of fabrics and embellishments. This year, we will see conservative simple clothing in neutral colors, with unexpected, edgy twists. Most people will be dressing down and dressing modestly. In the near future, expect very little flash, few designer logos (on jeans and  splashed across purses), and even fewer expensive shoes (but bring on the boots!).  This year, figuratively, we are all a bit lower to the ground. Those who can still walk tall are not about to brag about it with their clothing. These are Gap, not Gucci, times. This trend, if you want to call it that, is not only caused by the cash-crunch Recession, but also because of fashion karma. What comes around, goes around, in life and in fashion. So, it looks to me like the 1930s are about to re-appear, right on metaphysical schedule. Not so much in terms of long skirts and dropped waists, but Great Depression-inspired, muted colors and simple fabrics. In the 1930s, buttons were big (both size and popularity), because they were inexpensive, and they could jazz up a plain dress. I don't think buttons will make a come-back, but I see more artistic expression (handpainted clothing, for example; some of it expensive). Also, more hand-made clothing and a growing demand for clothing made in America.  Like the Great Depression, less pretension will mean more class.  In the 1930s, there were some folks who could still afford smoking jackets and satin lounging pajamas, but even then, they didn't flaunt their wealth. Understated is another word we can can borrow from the 1930s for the fashions of 2009. Which means the rep tie, the navy blazer and the D&B purse will still be fashion-worthy, but even more updated if you combine them with something vintage or rescued from the back of your closet. The slightly unmatched,  worn look is the look of 2009. (There is comfort and thrift in your old clothing).

Two more considerations: The first has has to do with skirt length. Duck and cover if skirts get really short any time soon.  If that happens, we could be in for even more economic trouble. Because it is a proven fact, skirt lengths do reflect conditions in the economy. So if skirts gets short, rampant inflation may be just around the corner. What we do NOT need now is inflation.

The second thing to consider in this down economy (with boutiques closing every minute, or so it seems) - is where to shop. I am NOT a big fan of cheap, so I have been less than impressed with the discount stores. I routinely pass on anything not made in the U.S.A. or Europe. Well-made clothing is getting harder to find for a decent price - but you still can get lucky on the internet. Shop wisely on the net, because you obviously can not try a garment on. But if you know your size, the brands you like, and what looks good on you - you'll find a lot of bargains.  Also, please forget the charming idea of thrift shopping for now, because thrift store managers and staff are routinely selling all the good clothing on eBay (for the charity, of course)or pricing it sky-high. Staff generally snags the incoming good designer or vintage clothing from the loading dock, before you even get a chance to try it  on.  Alas, some stores are also buying directly from manufacturers who design and sew poorly made faux vintage clothing expressly for thrift shops. This is not an article of clothing you want to purchase. It is a rare thrift store, today, that doesn't sift through donated clothing, resell it or mark it way up.

Trend Analysis: The 2009 emphasis is all about dumping glitz and logo-mania. Colors are muted and largely neutral. No more over-the-top fashion statements. The trend is far more Gap than Gucci. There will be a surge in hand-work,  embellishing, through hand-painting or sewing, shirts, skirts and other garments. Tattooing reaches over to fashion in a big way.   Seamstresses  and tailors  make a comeback, as more people repair and update the clothing they already own . Living in and through 2009 is all about using your mind and your hands; your ingenuity, creativity and guts.

Published Jan. 2009, updated 3.9.09

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Comments (3)

I like the money-saving idea of trading clothes with a friend or family member.

why not hold a party and have friends and family bring some of the clothing they have never worn or can't fit into anymore? Trading can be fun and economical! Especially if your friends are your age and close to your size.

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