Monday, Sep 15, 2014
Joyce Minor

We fall for it every time


Looks like Floridians are beginning to realize that fall will soon be upon us.

Of course, in Florida even the term “fall” is misleading, since very few of our leaves actually fall. But that’s not the only thing that’s misleading. This season, as every season, our stores are stocked to the rafters with jeans, T-shirts, tennis shoes, and a few dressy things, all at some very misleading prices.

When you actually look at what’s offered, and especially at the prices they want for it, I can’t help wondering why, season after season, we fall for this bait-and-switch game all over again. In fact, for fall 2014 it seems designers, manufacturers, and Madison Avenue advertisers are misleading us even more than usual.

Fashion history proves that economic recessions always result in clothes that use less fabric and less expensive decoration. The current decade is no exception. Today’s jeans are skinny and shorter, not because that’s anything new or special, but because they take less fabric. The only thing not skinny is the price, which still goes up every season. And jeans are just the beginning.

At the other end of the spectrum, prices for business wear have also skyrocketed while giving consumers less. Hemlines are shorter every season, and it’s almost impossible to find a ladies’ suit these days. Why? Because suits require more tailoring than dresses do, and tailoring adds cost. In addition, today’s dresses are sleeveless or strapless, even in fall and winter lines. Why? Because short dresses with no sleeves use less fabric, yet they can still be marketed for big money, as long as they are the latest style.

Formal wear and wedding gowns used to feature high necklines made of expensive Chantilly lace. They had long pointed or bishop sleeves, and they were made of satin or silk. Today’s gowns are strapless or sleeveless which requires less fabric, and they are made of polyester or nylon — fabrics much cheaper to produce.

Gowns used to be decorated with rhinestones, seed pearls, and lace, all of which required hand stitching. Today they use machine-sewn ruching and ruffles, which require no expensive hand labor. By all rights, today’s gowns should cost less; instead, they cost, on average, three to five times more than gowns made just a few years ago.

Who do the designers, manufacturers, and advertisers think they are fooling? No one; in fact, they don’t even try. They know Americans will pay whatever they ask just to be in style.

And lest we come down too hard on the fashion industry, let’s remember that they are not the only producers taking advantage of us. Hershey’s now sells “aerated” chocolate kisses under the claim that they are lower in calories, when in reality they just use bubbles of air to make kisses the same size but with less chocolate in them.

In fact, almost every food processor now sells smaller cans and packages for higher prices, hoping we won’t notice, yet not caring even if we do. What American cook has not been frustrated trying to use time-tested favorite recipes that call for a twelve-ounce can of pumpkin or pineapple or tomato sauce, only to find that today’s cans come in 9.2 or 16.5 ounce sizes? So now we have no choice but to buy more than we need, measure it out, and have a dab left over, rather than just dumping in a whole can that’s the right size. Arg!

Am I the only one who feels insulted, used, and abused by today’s “gotcha” marketing?


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