When I was growing up and a young adult (1960s through 1980s), stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom, which catered to the carriage crowd, had the more restrained stuff. If you wanted sleazy-wear, you went where the “poor” people shopped: Sears, Mervyns, Penny’s, and Target. We were poor, but my mother would rather have died than allow us to dress in a trashy way, so we nickeled and dimed our way through the more expensive stores.
Today, the reverse is true. Macy’s and Nordstrom are still more expensive, but I won’t dress my nine year old girl in the clothes from those stores. The clothes are off the shoulder, above the belly button, low on the bottom cheeks and heavy on the attitude logos (with “cute” sayings that can all be summed up as “I’m sleazy, I’m easy”). The contrary is true at Mervyns, Sears, Target, etc. The clothes there are affordable and appropriate for little girls: cut modestly, made to play and, if they have sayings, rather innocent, along the lines of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” or “I’m an angel.”
From a consumer’s point of view, it’s an optimal situation: For cheap prices, I get clothes for my daughter that I’m willing to let her wear. The whole thing also reflects an interesting demographic shift and one, I think, that exemplifies the trend away from rich, conservative Republicans and poor, free-spirited Democrats, to a new trend of rich, socially loose Democrats, and cash-strapped, conservative Republicans.