The Washington Post recently hypothesized that you can gage the state of the economy by the state of men’s underwear drawers. That’s because we’re supposed to assume that men will purchase underwear at a relative steady and stable rate. The theory, as quoted in the Post article: “Sales of men's underwear typically are stable because they rank as a necessity. But during times of severe financial strain, men will try to stretch the time between buying new pairs, causing underwear sales to dip.”
So apparently we are to believe that we got into this recession at the consumer level because people were splurging on homes, cars, and vacations they couldn’t afford. However, when it’s time to cut back, American men will cling to that old pair of underwear for as long as they can. Alright – that actually does pass my sniff test (I mean the theory, not the underwear). When men see $45 underwear on a male model in a Hugo Boss ad, what he’s likely thinking (besides “he looks gay”) is that the guy’s wearing the fiscal equivalent of his next beer keg. This is why the underwear purchase loses out.
Women would never do this – perhaps with the exception of women who make their own soap and take home the shampoo from a stay at a Motel 6. There’s no way women’s underwear – or any other items made exclusively for women – could ever be used as a reliable economic indicator. Women will remortgage the house to fit a few more lingerie purchases onto their various perpetually-juggled credit cards. I know of a few who have personally done so.
Women’s purchases are also difficult to gage because – and I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but it’s the truth – they aren’t always paying for the things they buy. They may be living “Vegas style”. And by that, I mean they’re blowing some other guy’s money like pretty girls do at the Blackjack table. Some women live like every day is a lottery jackpot spending day. Men don’t have the luxury of doing this -- unless they were once married to Britney Spears.