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Up, down, up, down. The hemlines on skirts are a moving target–mini, midi, maxi. When times are great, hemlines rise–short shorts, mini-skirts, freedom, open.

When times are tough, hemlines drop. I once read that the need for more material to make a skirt was one way to counteract not having enough. I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that they’re more constraining and that, somehow, goes with the idea of constrained finances.

These days, hemlines are all over the place. That makes sense to me, reflects the disparities in income in our society. There have always been disparities, but never more so than now.

The rich woman, arrayed in a sheath dress, mid-thigh, walking down the street to lunch with equally rich women friends. She wears bling earrings, a bling necklace, a bling bangle on her wrist. In summer, an ankle bracelet, painted toenails peeking out of her open-toed sandals.

The poor woman, wearing an ankle-length skirt that’s seen better days. She got it from the goodwill in a free hand-out and she hitches it up periodically as it slips from her waist to her hips, since the skirt’s too large. She trips periodically on the hemline when it hits the ground, her sloppy sandals catching the material and adding another small rip in the cloth.

And everything in between. I live near a high school and I see more variation than I could have imagined, from daisy dukes to hijab, girls chattering side by side as if hemlines meant nothing.

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