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From the Bloomberg Report to the images of stockbrokers on Wall Street to the recent film Confessions of a Shopaholic, it is easy to see that this is not the best of times for the economy. However, just because we're in a recession doesn't mean your wardrobe has to look depressed. There are plenty of ways to wear stylish and, yes, even designer duds without breaking your bank account. As Yves Saint Laurent once said "Style is eternal," and any recessionista can keep looking like a fashion icon if she follows a few simple guidelines.
1. Make a Budget
Perhaps the least fun but definitely most vital step to becoming a recessionista is a budget. Figure out how much it costs you to live, and then figure out a monthly allowance for fashion. Before you go shopping, set your spending limit and stick to it. This will save you money, and help you determine the must-haves from the mere wants. If you follow the recessionista guidelines correctly, you'll be surprised how many great pieces you will be able to afford.
2. Work With What You've Got
After cleaning up your finances, it’s time to clean out your closet. You may find some great pieces you had forgotten about entirely! Organize your closet, and then mix-and-match things up a little bit. Try different looks that can make your old wardrobe seem brand new. And remember, it's not even old; it's "vintage."
3. Shop Online
The internet has brought the world some pretty amazing things, among them a new and improved way to bargain hunt. You can shop for top designer goods while still in your pajamas and not be embarrassed. Apart from sales, bidding sites like eBay, and coupons many independent fashion companies also use the internet to promote their brand and selling their fashions. Check out sites such as and which compile designer stuff in a wholesale type atmosphere. Other sites like and provide great discounts on great fashion. Check out for handmade, one-of-a-kind items, and most importantly at recession-friendly prices.
4. Start Shopping Consignment
It may weird some people out to wear clothes that have been worn by someone else, but consignment stores such as Phase II, Plato's Closet, Goodwill, and other local stores deal in lightly used clothing that are in good condition, and still currently in style. It is possible to find amazing designer items for the lowest prices imaginable, because even the super-rich get fat sometimes. And if you have some clothes hanging in your closet that you haven't worn in the past five years, you can sell them to these same stores for a little profit of your own.
5. Good Friends Make Good Fashion
One of the many benefits of having good friends is getting to borrow some of their more inspired fashion choices. Another great way to get some hot new fashion without having to pay anything is getting some of your fellow fashionista friends together for a swap party. At the party, everyone exchanges the clothes they don't want to wear for items that their friends don't want to wear. Everyone leaves with space in their wardrobe and great new clothes to wear. You may never have realized what amazing style lay hidden in the back of a friend's closet or how much your friend loves that sweater you only wore once!
6. Pick Up the Needle and Thread
Just because something has a rip or tear doesn't mean you have to throw it away. Likewise, you don't have to waste money on alterations if you learn how to do it yourself. Get grandma's sewing kit out of the attic and get to work! If you become proficient enough with a needle and thread, you might even be able to make some pieces on your own. After all, clothes have been handmade for centuries and, who knows, you might put yourself on the path to make your own couture.
7. Shop Local and Shop Smart
Local stores, especially small, out of the way boutiques, can sometimes offer the greatest fashion finds in the world. Vintage shopping especially can provide you with some great new pieces. If you can't shop local, at least shop smart. Chain stores like Dress Barn, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls do what is called wholesale, which means they take the designer pieces the big department stores like Barneys of Bergdorf’s over-ordered and sells them at a discount price. Also, always make sure you shop in the back of the stores too, to catch the deals lazier shoppers might have missed.
8. Accessorize! Accesorize! Accessorize!
If you can't afford a lot of clothes, you can make up for it by accessorizing properly. Stores like Forever 21, Wet Seal, Charlotte Russe, Icing by Clarie's and many others offer amazing accessories and even amazingly lower prices. Gorgeous necklaces, luscious leggings, eye-popping earrings, beautiful bracelets, or even a cute ring or two complete your look without your having to go on a huge splurge.
9. Shop the Sales
You can still shop big department stores or your favorite exclusive boutiques if you know when to do so. Keep your eyes out for sales anywhere you like to shop and clip coupons if you can. Make sure to take the ad with you or pick up a copy in the store so you know what is on sale and what is regular price. Don't forget that the clearance rack is your best friend. When stores need to make room for next season’s fashions, all of the old stuff goes on clearance anywhere from 5-75% off!
10. Read Up Before You Strut Your Stuff
There are tons of successful recessionista's out there who know how to shop and look fabulous, even during a money crunch. They offer up some great advice on how to dress, how to shop, and most importantly, how to save. Blogs such as,, and teach recesionistas-in-training how to enjoy all of the finer things in life from fashion to dining to entertainment, without paying the price. Learning tips of the trade and other valuable information will have you well on your way to being the best dressed woman on the block without also being the most in debt. / Issue 107 - September 2018
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