As the days grow longer and the earth awakens from its long winter slumber, I nervously realize it is time not only for sunshine and warm breezes, but for one of the most dreaded of springtime occurrences as well. No, I’m not referring to that important detail, the bikini wax, but to warm-weather clothes shopping with my teen and tween daughters!
As we peruse the racks with headache-inducing “music” blaring through hidden speakers, I’m glad my heart is healthy, because not only are the shorts shorter than ever before (well, at least since the Cindy Brady peekaboo undies style of the 60’s and early 70’s), the tops are more sheer and practically cut to the navel. The fashion industry, however, assures me it’s all “the style,” and one must simply learn to “layer” properly to get the right “look.” After much back-and-forth, numerous eye-rolls, and not a few “Aaarghs!,” my daughters and I leave the stores almost completely empty-handed, with me complaining about how stupid the fashion industry has become.But, the more I think about it, the more I realize the fashion industry is actually very smart, ingenious you might say, in its methods of ensuring its own survival, even in tough economic times. According to Spending Pulse, the economic research arm of Mastercard Worldwide (as seen on Forbes.com), the apparel industry raked in $177 Billion (with a capital “B”!) in 2009 during the Great Recession!
Yes, those setting the fashion curve for the rest of us are no dummies. For example, every year, creating just the right look requires more and more pieces. Multiple layers of cami/tank/gauzy top are necessary this year, as are all the newest accessories (DON’T even think of wearing the medium-width belt that was in style last year because now it’s all about ultra skinny or big, fat belts!). Cha-ching!
The fashion industry also knows it must continue to create new looks all the time or we’d all just keep wearing the same old (perfectly wearable) clothes we already have and not be out there spending our money on this year’s latest must-have. So the boyfriend shorts of last summer have now given way to those wedgie-inducing short-shorts, and last year’s stripes are now embarrasingly outdated and replaced by bold, blocky looks and florals. In addition, last year’s gladiator sandals are still kind of okay, but only if you mix it up sometimes with new 5-inch wedge-heeled platform sandals in this spring’s perfect colors.
And if the fashion gurus are feeling a bit uninspired one season? No worries there…their pocketbooks are still covered (via ours!). They simply pull out past fashion hits such as legwarmers and tights, bell bottom jeans (AGAIN??), tube tops, pantsuits, or plaid skirts, knowing we’ll jump on the fashion bandwagon in an effort to relive our youth.
Now, so far we’ve just been talking clothes. But interior designers are also working us over! Honeysuckle is this year’s best loved color by the “color forecast experts” for furniture and household accessories (and no, honeysuckle is not a soft, off-white as I imagined, but a bright, bold, in-your-face hot pink!). So my soft rose walls, that were so hip just 5-10 years ago, now make me shudder every time I walk in those rooms simply because industry experts have trained my eye to enjoy another color this year. And my white toaster and black coffee maker are so very last year too…I should have fire engine red or hot lemon yellow to brighten things up, experts declare! But do I really want a hot pink couch staring back at me just because it’s the “it” color this year? Uh, no thanks.
So what is a semi-conservative mom, and decorator-wannabe, to do in order to keep not only her sanity, but a few coins in her purse as well this spring? I don’t think my daughters will go for wearing what I consider stylish (button-downs, anyone?), so for now I’ll just have to count on those layers to cover them up (wearing ear plugs while shopping and watching for some great sales will help), and try to repaint my walls in a more neutral color.
And in an effort to beat the fashion gurus at their own game, I may just go into the biz myself. I have the perfect name for all of my designs: “Timeless.” I predict brisk sales among semi-conservative moms worldwide!