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Finally, frugality prevails in fashion - Curt Yeomans

I guess someone finally reminded the fashion industry about a key bit of information -- People do not want to look like an over-stylized bum, when the economy is headed into the toilet.

Jan Paschal, a writer for the Reuters news service, recently asked the rhetorical, but infinitely appropriate question of, "What do you wear to a recession?" in an article she wrote on the fashion industry, skewing designs to fit a world filled with economic uncertainty.

It's a good question, and it's long overdue for the industry to pull itself back from the out-there, spaceman/woman designs that are oh-so cleverly mocked in films like "The Devil Wears Prada," and on television shows like "Ugly Betty."

In her article, Paschal points out that fashion is shaped by the era we live in, which is a true assessment, if you look at some of the styles of the last few decades.

In the late 1970's, it was all about the leisure suits and dance dresses, because everyone was into dancing and having a good time.

In the 1980's, everything was big, and over the top, hence super shoulder pads, mascara and a sea of sequins. The early 1990's were a period when social sobriety prevailed, and it was reflected in the toned-down, grunge look.

In the early-to-middle portion of this decade, showing off what you've got was everything, so we saw bling, bling and more bling. It was also a period of individualistic expression, so people went all-out crazy with the $5,000 outfits that looked like they were barely stitched together from clothes discovered in a dumpster.

It's now time for a kinder, gentler, and simpler fashion statement. It's a long overdue shift, because the economy has been heading in this direction for several years, and designers are only now beginning to take notice.

But, c'est la vie. It's better to be late to the party than to never show up. At least they've arrived, and are thinking about frugality. In other words, think more Target this year, than Saks Fifth Avenue.

I say welcome to the new, toned-down fashion industry, because it will only be a matter of time before clothes get crazy again.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.