Market Research Helps Retailers Keep Up with Cultural Changes

Market Research Shows Girls' Twirly Skirts Pair Well With Fancy Shorts

Active Little Girls Jumping Off a Bench
Girls Shouldn't Have to Worry About Their Fairy Wings or Underthings - Market Research Shows Shorts Under Skirts Are Fashionable. Getty Images | Russ Rohde | Cultura

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Skirts contribute a fun, festive feeling to fashion.  Even the most active little girls will elect to occasionally wear a skirt.  Apparel manufacturers continue to create cute outfits with frilly skirts that have broad appeal to little girls, and to their parents and grandparents who often purchase dressy or dress-up outfits for their daughters and granddaughters.  

In recent years, casual dressing has pervaded adult settings.

This cultural trend readily spills over into children's fashion.  For instance, while a tutu was once the de rigueur outfit of dance recitals, tutus have become a popular fashion choice of young girls.  Indeed, versions of the tutu can be seen on young girls in nearly every social setting. 

Girls like to dance and twirl, turn cartwheels and do headstands. Girls like to swing on monkey bars and jump on trampolines.  And teachers ask students to sit "criss-cross applesauce" on carpets during circle time in their classrooms.  It's hard for girls to maintain propriety and modesty while wearing skirts or dresses when they are engaged in these fun activities.  So what's a girl to do?

Insight Into Consumer Preferences Through Cultural Tracking

Retailers who have been tracking this cultural trend of modern standards of modesty have created a marketing niche to meet the needs of the girls and their parents.

The under skirt shorts are billed as "modesty," "privacy," or "tumble" shorts and come in a rainbow of colors and patterns.

Market research collected from girls clearly points to a need that is recognized by these young consumers.  One six-year old in the first grade in Chevy Chase, Maryland, loves riding the school playground zip line and practicing turning cartwheels.

 She explained:

"If I jump up, my dress goes up and people can see my underwear." 

Manufacturers of children's apparel readily provide their rationale for the product line.

Francie Pants in Carlsbad, California

Francie Pants references the childhood taunt commonly heard on playgrounds in the times before girls wore shorts under their skirts.  

"I see London.  I see France.  I see [fill in girl's name] underpants."

It is a curiosity that these embarrassing chants are passed down from generation to generation in a manner that essentially teaches and encourages teasing behavior.   Researchers who study the influence of culture on child development believe that many of the rhymes children repeat, such as those chanted during Double-Dutch or other jump rope games are "passed down for six or seven generations from grandmothers to their children and grandchildren" (Kozol, 1995).  Researchers on children's beliefs, folklore, and mythology argue that:

"...the singsong voices and rhythmic clapping of children as they recite familiar rhymes and chants. But they are more than child's play. Many of these chants, a mainstay of playground entertainment, have been passed down for generations and reflect the traumas and social trends that shape the lives of the children and their families..." (Seipp, 1988).

The tagline on the Francie Pants website reads: 

Girls are "free to twirl, do a handstand or a high kick, because we've got them covered."

Monekybar Buddies in Portland, Oregon

Monkeybar Buddies was founded by Gina Wissmiller when her daughter's pre-school sent notes home to parents with a request to have the girls wear shorts underneath their dresses.  The company now offers over 20 different prints and colors, including a pair of shimmering gold lame-like shorts for the holiday season. 

TwirlyGirl in Los Angeles

TwirlyGirl is an online boutique that specializes in colorful dresses with skirts that are perfect for twirling.  Underneath a TwirlyGirl skirt, girls wear matching or complementary UnderTwirl shorts

Other retailers that have gotten into the underskirt shorts include: Lands' End Kids twirly skort; Old Navy KidsJockey International, Inc.; HanesBrands, Inc.; Sears Holding Corp.

; and JCPenney Co.

Sources: 

Coffin, T. & Cohen, H.  (1968). Folklore in America.  Voice of America Foreign Lectures.

Kozol, J. (1995, October).  Knocking on heaven's door.  Education Week Teacher

Rohwedder C. (2015, September 9).  In case of cartwheels, girls want to wear shorts.  Personal Journal, D1.  Wall Street Journal.

Seipp, M. (1988, December 08).  Playground chants tell tales of life and learningLos Angeles Times.