Believe it or not, fashion can demonstrate exactly how well a company, or a country is doing. It's a phenomenon called The Environmental Security Hypothesis. Here's how it works.
During good economic times, statistically, men will prefer blondes. Skirts will go up - literally. They'll get so short you could... well... read a girl's license plate. Men will go clean-shaven. Both sexes will prefer people with big, wide, trusting eyes. Everything's happy in the world, and (as a guy, I really appreciate this), girls will be wandering around showing more flesh than a gynecologists convention.
Well, I'm not personally sure on the hair color. Brunettes? You're economically immune. Huzzah! Red-heads? Well, the study I was reading didn't actually cover red-heads. Consider yourselves a force of nature unto your own not bound by the space-time or the economic continuum.
Bad news for the blondes though. In harsh economic times, all of the sudden the pendulum swings the other way. Men prefer girls with dark hair. Women prefer men with beards. (Actually, men prefer men with beards too, and by that, I don't just mean bears - that goes for hierarchies of men in society too, not just men who... well.. enjoy other men). The smaller your eyes are? The more attractive, and the more friends you'll have. Even though you have little beady eyes.
It's not just beards either. Anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists and economists have all turned to that bastion of persistent cultural data - Playboy Magazine - and studied the measurements of the girls within. (I'm sure they also read the articles). The result? In times of economic strife, men prefer taller, heavier and older girls with smaller tits.
I've seen this myself. We're entering a recession. We've got about a hundred people in our office - mostly young men. Statistically, according to the studies, you'd expect the preference to shift by about 3-4% towards wearing beards.
Guess how many people grew beards over the past 6 months, since the economic downturn started to really pinch?
Yep, that's right. 4 people grew beards, right in line with the study. Or got more scruffy at least. One guy has been growing a moustache since October, and he still hasn't shaved it. He looks like a 70s (the era of stagflation, Carter) porn star. That's dedication.
I Know What You're Thinking
What can you do with this information? How can we make this useful?
Well, on a micro level, look around the company you work for. Are things going well? Or badly? What does your gut tell you? What signs can you see?
How To Tell If You're About To Get Laid Off, or if the stock market is about to crash...
- Assuming you work in an industry where you're lucky enough to see women, did any women in your office get breast reduction surgery recently? Or get taller? Or both?
- Has anyone dyed their hair from blonde or brown to black recently?
- How many guys have grown beards, or grown scruffy, 80s-style George Michael stubble? (If the reason is not that the woman or man in their life is driven wild by the facial hair, count them as subliminal converters)
- Bring copies of Playboy into work. Are the models as old as your mom? Are any of the models your mom? If so, we might be experiencing economic hard times. (Or at the very least, your mom might be).
- Has anyone switched from glasses to contact lenses, giving them the "Mr. Magoo" effect where their eyes are now just tiny dots? Lasik counts.
Things Not To Do If You're CEO Of A Company And Don't Want To Freak Out Your Employees
The Unexpected CEO Beard:
A Serious Business Faux Pas
As a leader, there are certain expectations you have to uphold. You're not allowed to hold all night hooker and blow parties unless you invite most of the senior staff. You may only have three reserved parking spots at the office for your variety of expensive sports cars, even if two of them are registered in your wife's name for tax reasons. You can't blow the morale budget on that nice set of golf clubs you saw in the Sharper Image, with the built in GPS tracker in each golf ball.
Most importantly, before calling a random all-hands meeting, you must not - under any circumstances - suddenly start sporting a full beard. Especially if you didn't have it the last time any of the staff saw you. Even stubble is out. There's a reason the bad guys in the mirror universe in Star Trek all had goatees, you know.
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).