Econowives are a class of women in the Republic of Gilead. Aside from Unwomen, they are some of the lowest ranking members of Gileadean society. Econowives are the wives of poor or low ranking men. They are forced to fulfill the roles of Martha (servant), Wife and, if they are fertile, Handmaid.
Econowives are usually very poor, so their clothes are threadbare and poorly made; Offred, at one point, describes them as "skimpy". Their dresses are striped with different colours: red, green and blue, to show that they represent the roles of all Gilead's women; Wife, Martha and Handmaid. Presumably, they wear all-black mourning dresses, the same as Wives, should they become widows.
Little is known about Econowives, due to the fact that Offred, who serves only high-ranking families, has little interaction with them. Presumably, Econowives spend their days cooking, cleaning and keeping house for their husbands. They are apparently the ones responsible for buying groceries as well. If they are fortunate enough to have children, they are likely responsible for caring for them whilst their husbands are at work. In addition to having to work very hard, Econowives, like every other woman in Gilead, are forced to submit to their husbands' authority and have no power. They cannot hold paid jobs or be educated. Given their somewhat hostile reaction towards Handmaids, Econowives seem to look down on them, seemingly envious and believing they 'have it easy', or viewing them as "sluts".