The Times – After a year of no shopping, women are back<br/> Michelle Obama led the way. Now ASOS sales have doubled, by Alice Thomson

Men may have got us into this recession but it is women who are going to get us out of it. Not because they are more practical or prudent but because they just have to shop.

For the past year women have been trying not to spend. They didn’t buy the black silk jumpsuit, they avoided the new chandelier earrings (so saving their earlobes as well as their bank balances), they haven’t even looked at a new handbag for a year. The only clothes to wear have been last season’s; even buying vintage appeared too decadent. Instead they have rootled around in the back of the cupboard for the dress that kept slipping off the shoulder and mended the hem on their coat. …

Michelle Obama has become the shopper’s champion. There is no need to look dowdy just because your country has a $11 trillion debt.

In my costume history class, our teacher told us that, since after the Revolution French women were wearing those thin white muslin dresses (it was fashionable to step out of parties into the snow to turn extra blue (or bleu) and pale, with the material clinging wetly to the skin, despite the risk of pneumonia, sort of like smokers these days) with a simple red string tied around the throat (representing the cut of the guillotine (French fashion has always been avant-garde)), French textile mills were going under and the economy was suffering. So Napoleon called in a bunch of mill owners and said, “This is my wife. Make the most elaborate, expensive, and sumptuous thing you’re capable of, and dress her in it.” So they did, and fashion went from this to this. Napoleon may have been a megalomaniac of the highest order, but he got women.

Meanwhile, Talbots has that stupid blue-rose print dress in both their entrances at the mall.