Modesty Makes a Comeback
- Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Further, it now appears that a perfect storm of factors have collided to usher in a recognized trend of modest clothing in pop culture. According to the latest research, factors like the economic recession, role modeling by tween celebrities, and a closing of the generation gap between parents and kids are the components that have dynamically turned modesty into haute couture.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these influences:
Recessionary Times. I don’t personally know anyone who is celebrating the bad economy. But, at least when it comes to fashion, modest-minded parents have reason to offer up a little “Woohoo!”
Clothing sales to teens are down 19% over last year, according to a recent survey conducted by Piper Jaffrey. The downturn in sales has caused retailers to fight for dollars, and with the recession, people are more interested in clothing that can be worn for different occasions, rather than the recently popular-yet-skimpier selections that kids would wear in fewer settings. As a consequence, fashion designers and retailers have moved to more modest apparel to meet consumers’ demands for a wider variety of more versatile clothing.
So, have tween and teen retailers had a conversion experience when it comes to the values that drive their product sales? Have they repented for having sold skimpy and girls-as-sex-object clothing? Have they rediscovered the soul of American consumerism? Uh, that would be no, no and no.
Never forget that retailers’ chief value is making money. I have no doubt that some corporate fashion designers and retailers would offer even skimpier apparel to tweens and teens than we’ve seen to-date if they believed our culture would accept them and that consumers would buy them en masse. Thankfully, whatever the factors involved, it appears we are at least temporarily safe from pop culture pushing the limits of decency past the current status quo. Still, if our culture’s past is any indication of how it will develop in the future, it’s just a matter of time before the line of acceptability will shift again.
Role Modeling by Tween Celebrities. According to TrendCentral, when Hannah Montana the Movie debuted in theatres in April, modesty as fashion trend became official. The Chicago Tribune (“Tween Style Takes a Modest Turn”) reported “star Miley Cyrus wasn't even allowed to wear leggings while the cameras were rolling. Spaghetti straps were verboten, as were bare bellies, micro minis, one-shouldered tanks and anything resembling a camisole.” Other tween pacesetters have also moved to modest apparel (notably iCarly and High School Musical.) When tween celebrities pronounce a blessing upon a fashion style by wearing it (be it Britney Spears a decade ago, or Miley Cyrus today), kids clamor to dress like their idols.
A Closing of the Generation Gap. Trendcentral reported recently, “tweens these days are much closer to their parents and are hyper-conscious of anything that could upset them. As the generation gap closes, tweens are truly looking to their parents for second opinions and are seeking parental approval in their clothing choices.”
I freely admit that I didn’t see this positive factor emerging. I don’t know if it’s a fleeting trend, or if the pendulum has truly swung toward an ongoing, overall improvement in parent-child relationships. I certainly hope for the latter. But, the result has been a pronounced movement towards more modest clothing.
Also, it’s worth noting that parents often have more influence on their tweens and teens than they realize. No matter what pop culture and retailers may say or do in the future, keep building positive relationships with your tweens and teens and don’t underestimate how much of an impact you really can have on your own kids.
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