It's not hard to imagine men's ties as an unofficial economic indicator: When the economy crashes, men button up their shirts, perfect their half-windsors, and try their best to look very serious and busy. It's a good way to keep a job if you have one, or get a job if you need one.
Apparently, men's underwear is an economic bellwether, too. The theory goes like this: When the economy crashes, one of the first apparel sectors to feel the burn is boxers and briefs. After all, if you're tight on cash, no one will know that you haven't sprung for new undies in awhile.
Of course, if you hold off on springing for new boxer shorts, by the time the economy turns around, your undergarments are in rough shape, so one of the first things you do is buy fresh undies. Indeed, underwear sales were up 13 percent last year, and socks were up 12 percent. And so you get statements like this: "With the economy improving, it must be the right time for men to get rid of all that holey underwear," Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, tells MarketWatch.
Another theory is that men buy fresh underwear for dates — and men date more when their bank accounts are cushy. As MarketWatch puts it, "Personal confidence typically accompanies economic confidence."
Boxers and briefs (and boxer-briefs) aside, the economy has a long way to go before it's buzzing along again. Last month, fewer working-age people had jobs than at any other time since 1979, said the New York Times.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week