Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Anna Jean Treece

Committee Members

Rowena Dowlen, Mary Fran Pasnak


The purpose of this research was to study selected economic factors underlying the fluctuations of hemlines and stock market averages from 1921 to 1971, and to determine any effect of these fluctuations on the upper and middle classes of society who wore these hum lengths. Hypotheses were:

1. There will be a relationship between fluctuations in hemlines and stock market averages from 1921 to 1971 which will be affected by prevalent economic factors operant at the time.

2. A study of hemline fluctuations of both the upper and middle classes from 1921 to 1971 will reveal a time lag between the two classes as affected by selected economic factors, and will indicate the reaction of the middle class to be slower to accept fashion hemline innovation than the upper class.

Data were collected by several means. A measuring technique was developed for use with illustrations in four fashion periodicals, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, and Ladies' Home Journal. These four fashion periodicals were assumed to have been read by women of the upper and middle classes and to have contained illustrations of the typical dress worn during the time period studied. Data on stock market fluctuations were secured fo each of the 50 years under examination from the Dow Jones Stock Averages Chart 1921-1970.

Selected economic events occurring during the 50 year period from 1921 to 1971, including depressions, recessions, inflationary periods, and wars, were reviewed. Information was obtained from current economic histories of the United States, up-to-date accounts of the economic affairs of the nation in the twentieth century, and analyses of American economic development.

Fluctuations of both hemlines and stock market averages were compared graphically to determine any relationship between the two and to discover any time lag between the two social classes studied. Coefficients of correlation (r) were employed in the analysis of data. Z differences were also determined and tested for statistical significance.

Findings indicated a positive relationship between selected economic factors, as measured by stock market fluctuations, and hemline fluctuations for the 50 years of the study. A time lag between the upper and middle classes concerning acceptance of hemline innovation was revealed for the last two decades of the period under scrutiny.

In conclusion, the findings substantiated hypothesis number one as stated but only partially substantiated hypothesis number two.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."