Dressing down gets the kiss-off. When times are tough the 'lipstick effect' sees women spending on clothes and cosmetics to enhance their dating chances
15:43 GMT, 12 July 2012
In the money-making eighties mini skirts and fat wallets were all the rage.
In the cash-strapped nineties hemlines plunged as fast as the stock markets and the scruffy ‘grunge’ trend reflected a dreary economy.
Skirt lengths and glamour levels have often been cited as indicators of our economic prosperity (or not).
The lipstick effect: As unemployment rises so does the sale of cosmetics
But modern women are re-writing wardrobe trends.
Today, faced again with tough economic times, females are dressing to impress as they fight for the attention of eligible men.
New research shows that consciously or
not females are seeking to make themselves more attractive to the
dwindling pool of men with good jobs, and dressing for the double dip means
spending what little disposable income they have on tight jeans, bright
lipstick and curve-kissing LBDs.
A research team a Texas Christian University are dubbing it the ‘lipstick effect’
‘We may not consciously think we’re buying them to make ourselves more desirable to men. But our lizard brains go after these things even when we think we’re too smart to be lured in by manipulative advertising claims like, ‘these jeans will help get you a man.’ Says Sarah Hill, co-author of the study.
Tough times, short skirts: When the economy is bad women spend more on their looks
Hill and her team looked at 20 years worth of data to establish a relationship between employment rates and sales of glamourizing products including cosmetics, perfume and designer clothing.
'I was expecting to find sales of these products to at best be flat when unemployment was high,” she says. “That would have been interesting enough. But when we found that people were actually spending more during times of high unemployment, I thought that was fascinating.'
And sales of makeup, skin care, and fragrances in department stores echoes the trend identified by the University reserach, increasing when unemployment has been on the rise.
Unfortunately the lipstick effect doesn't translate to men because, consciously or not, men generally don’t care whether their partner make a lot of money.
“There’s no impetus for men to make themselves more physically attractive to potential mates,” says Hill.
'But perhaps if they have a good job in a
recession they might do things to advertise that, such as wearing a flashy
wristwatch or buying a fancy car.”