Tall Tales: The Higher the Heel, the Worse the Economy?

According to the newest economic indicator, we may soon be headed toward an economic recovery. That is, if you believe women's high heels have anything to say about it.

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First there was the lipstick index, then economists looked at hem lengths to gauge our economic standing, and now women’s fashion is taking their prediction to new heights — heel heights that is.

Researchers from IBM say that the height of women’s heels has been a gauge of economic stability (as well women’s steadiness) for decades, claiming that the higher the heels, the worse off we are. Cases in point: the low-heeled flappers of the early 1920s and the towering stilettos of Sex and the City during the early 2000s after the tech bubble popped.

“Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up — as consumers turn to a more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” Trevor Davis, a consumer product expert with IBM’s Global Business Services unit, said in a press release. And just how was this incredibly scientific discovery founded? By analyzing fashion trends on social media and blog posts, of course.

(VIDEO: The Hazards (and Power) of Higher Heels)

Judging by what we saw on the runways for the spring and summer of 2012 — and what has been covered on these blogs — all heels point to a rebound. The kitten heel is back, women are opting for flats instead of sky-high stilettos at the office and even the heels you see on the street are lower than the six-plus inches women were sporting a few years ago.

But don’t be too quick to push your heels to the back of the closet. According to Davis, the economy might not be recovering after all. “This time, something different is happening — perhaps a mood of long-term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings,” he said.

We have another idea: Maybe the ladies just want to be comfortable? After all, as Michele Bachmann led us to believe, high heels might trigger migraines (although science says they don’t), and they certainly cause other health problems not to mention, they can be extremely uncomfortable. If only they weren’t so darn cute.

MORE: Men Don’t Notice if Women Wear High Heels