SNP’s word of the day: Austerity

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett
Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Austerity

Meaning: In economics, an un-fun time of deficit-cutting through strictly curbed spending; in fashion, a modest, almost severe style of dress.

Usage: “The public will only accept continuing austerity if it is seen to be fair.” ― Vince Cable, U.K. business secretary, via the Guardian

You should know it because: it’s helpful to be able to describe the current economic mood in a word besides “dire.” That word would be―and has been all year, nearly―”austerity.” Greece, Italy, and other troubled EU countries are instating stringent measures to tackle dreadful debts; the U.K.’s struggles are lesser but even more whinged about. One of the things I do when I’m in London (and nowhere else) is read the Financial Times, which is mostly business news, a.k,a. the worst news there is and the kind most beloved by the British people. If ever there were cause for economic optimism, I believe newspapers here would shut down entirely.

As the headlines go, so do the hemlines. The old saw proves true, at least in London, where pleated maxis and strict midis prevail. The mood on the street is more sedate than in seasons past; even heels aren’t as high. And on the runways, austerity shows few signs of abating. Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab, Peter Pilotto, Giles, and most other designers went long-ish, as they had for fall. Thank god for Mary Katrantzou‘s show this morning, where skirts came in short bursts, colours screamed happiness, and the runway literally came up roses (she’d planted a bed of flowers down its centre). While workers strike in austerity-stricken countries, Katrantzou stages her own kind of riot.