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SEXY OR NOT SEXY?   That is the question!  Whether the “new modesty” call wafting over the teen fashion scene will actually take hold has yet to be seen, but that it is beginning to be taken seriously…well, that is for certain!


A recent copy of USA Today newspaper suggests that the economic downturn may be responsible for pulling necklines up and bringing more modest clothes to teens and tweens.  Even flashy Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, the paper says, has declared “bling is over.”  In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, Lagerfeld said the “new economy is prompting a new modesty.”  Hmmmm.  What’s it all about?


                                    Less Risk Taking


FOR ONE THING, people are spending less money.  And when they do spend, they want things that are less trendy (translation:  sexy) and that can be used for many different occasions, USA Today opines. “People want to be more comfortable and more covered,” says Meredith Barnett, CEO of the retail website StoreAdore.com.  “You’re not seeing nearly as much risk taking.”


The new modesty trend is also forcing a shift in the way retailers do business.  Suddenly, they must realize that “skin” is not always in. That, of course, is the way most adults see it.  But what about teens and tweens?  What about looking “hot,” “hip,” and “with it?”  Doesn’t that take lowwww cut jeans, high cut minis; lowwwww cut blouses and plenty of cut-outs and see throughs?  The kind of apparel stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel have successfully pushed to the limit?                



  • Water-wonderful silver plated link choker with fringe of colorful beading and painted sealife of fish, shells, and seahorses.  Spectacular!





  • A necklace of electric colors to attract any young suitor.  Wow!  This is blinding with its brilliant, multi-colored discs of varying sizes.





  • A fab neck combining a candy stripe twist choker with an irregular disc pendant in bright red with silver pieces. Real fun!



                                        Gutter Fashion


MANY INDUSTRY OBSERVERS SAY the big problem is that we have fallen so far into “gutter fashion” it is hard to get back up.  Young girls like the attention they get from looking “available.” And, if that’s not enough, stores and manufacturers are constantly pushing the “hooker” ideal. 


For example: Robert Cavalli and Dior ads are replete with super short dresses and skirts with sexually suggestive show-off half-bare backsides.  Paul Gautier promotes an ad with a guy and gal in a sex position with his hand on her bare breast – he’s dressed, she’s almost fully undressed. And True Religion wouldn’t exist without ads for its itsy bitsy shortie short denim cutoff jeans that are low cut, high cut, almost not there. These ads would have been scandalous just a few years ago.  Today, they are close to ho-hum.


                                 Jewelry versus Cleavage


A&F FEATURES A STORE shopping bag with a near-naked man on it.  Mattel has developed a Bling Bling Barbie, who looks disturbingly like a street prostitute.  Many visitors to one local A&F store are greeted by a photograph of a young man with his pants unzippered.


And all this advertising backs up and supports “questionable” clothing, the kind more and more moms are reacting against. The kind groups like Pure Fashion and the evangelical tween group Secret Keeper Girl are trying to erase from runway shows and teen advertising. 


It’s a tough uphill fight, mainly because kids still find all this bizarre sexual pandering thrilling. To store management, it is even more. USA Today points out that A&F store records show sex does sell. Modest fashion?  Well, what do you think?


                                          Perfect Flirtation


THE GOOD NEWS, however, is that if you’re not going to show cleavage, how about jewelry?  Think it can’t compete? Think again.  Jewelry can “modestly” suggest.  It can

literally vibrate with energy – think about fabulous native pieces, or lavish Italian gemstone designs.  It can excite with intense color and intrigue.  And, best of all, it can turn an otherwise quiet outfit into something wild, unrestrained, and even “bad,” in teen terminology. 

   –All, without offending moralists or corrupting the young. 


Try adding jewelry like this to your wardrobe, or that of your clients: 

  • Elongated inlay earrings with exotic Zuni look. These earrings feature precision cuts of dyed shell with raised silver plated bezels. Primitive!



  • – Brilliant concentric oval hoop earrings direct the eye to a pretty face or flashing eyes. Perfect flirtation!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, March 12th, 2009

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