Recessionista Chic: A Stress Free Shopping Guide To Surviving The Recession

by Daisy Lewellyn

recessionista.jpgWith more pockets deflating like party balloons, girls of style are tragically faced with major shopping dilemmas: Do I have to stop my lunchtime shopping fixes? Will I have to wear the same clothes forever and a day? 401k or $400 Luxe Shoulder Bag? Never fret my pet, I have your pink cape (sequin trimmed of course) ready to rescue you from shopping blunders and blows. Style will no longer be sacrificed, as we poshly pinch pennies, and make them count for more than you imagined.

Style Rule # 1: Patience is a virtue.
A designer shoe may retail for $700 at the beginning of the season, but by the time it goes through department store markdowns, you can easily get them for a fraction of the cost if you are willing to wait a couple of months. Buy off-season, and watch your wardrobe swell. If you are able to, shop for seasonal items in non-seasonal zones. Boots are always cheaper in LA, especially in the middle of June!

Style Rule # 2: Bargain sites, your new BFF.
There are great websites that offer you discounts and deals on your favorite brands like StyleBakery.com (natch), Sweet-Savings.com, thebudgetbabe.com, and thebudgetfashionista.com. Really special sites like shopstyle.com even offer you sale alerts on your favorite items and will notify you when your must-have selection has gone down in price. I really like bluefly.com as well for their designer labels on the cheap.

Style Rule # 3: Read the fine print.
Surprisingly, many of your favorite stores treat you better than you even know. Major chain stores, and even some department stores like Macy’s and Banana Republic will refund the difference of items if they go on sale within 14 days after your purchase. Every store has a customized policy, so check the back of your receipt and signs at the register for details.

Style Rules # 4: Recycling is no longer limited to just plastics and glass.
Wardrobe recycling is the new black! Instead of retiring that old boxy blazer or skirt with the awkward calf length, have a coming out party for them! All you have to do is land a great tailor and take a walk down Save Money Lane. Bring your tailor pictures of silhouettes that you like, or even show her an example from your closet. Stick with shapes that work best for your body, and allow her to transform items that you thought had seen their final day into new found favorites.

Style Rule # 5: DIY, even if someone else does it for you.
Even if your inner Martha Stewart is not there, you can still DIY. Go to fabric and notion stores and revamp easy separates directly from your closet. Spruce up an old cardigan with fun embellishments or trim. Update the buttons on an old blazer and remove the shoulder pads for a more modern look. You can do these fun projects yourself or enlist a friend, or even your creative teenage cousin. You’ll soon be addicted to quick runs to the fabric store for the next little fun find.

Style Rule # 6: Shop smarter, not harder.
Get to know your sales girls and simply ask questions. When is the coat that you adore and love going on sale? When will the next shipment come in? Items have to go on markdown so that retailers can make room for new merchandise. Also, start an anti-retail movement. Be resourceful and go to events where you can score designer items for less, like Billion Dollar Babes, Super Saturday, Shop Til You Drop and more.

Style Rule # 7: Kid sisters need love too.
There is absolutely no excuse for women to be without style, no matter her budget. Practically every designer has an affordable lower priced line available. These collections are trustworthy since the designers have a reputation to maintain, no matter how high or low the price tag is. Some of my favorites are Simply Vera for Kohls, Isaac Mizrahi for Target, and Anya Hindmarch for Target.

shoppingbagshoes.jpgStyle Rule # 8: Embrace your tough side.
No more sensitive shopping! If this sounds like you, beware: “Aww, look at this dress, it is sooo cute, just like the one Halle Berry wore.” I cannot tell you how many closet makeovers I have conducted where my clients make similar declarations about items that still have the price tag hanging on them. Perhaps it is cute, but if it does not work for you, you are just paying for it to hang in your closet. Be strong and purchase what works for you, and you only.

Style Rule # 9: Supreme signature style.
Personal style should be the goal of all women. Reaching the point where you know what works on you and why is absolute perfection. Signature style takes it to the next level and gives you identity. Maybe you love your black cashmere turtleneck, or could live in your flat riding boots. The beauty is that you will not be charged with being a repeat offender, but will be applauded for having signature style. As long as you take great care of your pieces, it is fine to wear them often, simply because it is your signature style. Be inspired by style icons like Audrey Hepburn and her cigarette pant, or Jennifer Anniston and her classic LBD.

Style Rule # 10: Experts only apply.
Instead of asking for traditional gifts for the holidays or your birthday, why not ask for a certificate for a Closet Makeover. Some girls have great closets and don’t even know it. An expert can approach your closet with a fresh eye, show you new ways to wear your clothes, and get the most mileage out of pieces that you practically forgot existed. A style expert or closet specialist can also help you “edit” your closet and get rid of pieces that are simply adding clutter and chaos. Start a mini business with your edits and have a yard sale, clothing swap, or sell on Ebay or to local consignment shops.

Style Rule # 11: Classically trained.
By definition, classics are timeless and never go out of style. Trends are short lived, anywhere from a few months to a year max. The majority of your closet should include quality classics, that can last and transition very well. A great pencil skirt, crisp belted trench, tailored collared white shirt, great fitting trouser jean. These are great examples of classics that every woman should have. Have a little fun with trends that work for you, being careful to not overspend and be hypnotized by the status of the label or because “everyone” has one. About 70% of your wardrobe should be timeless pieces and 30% can be trendier items.

Style Rule # 12: Private practice.
All stores have a private label, Macy’s has INC, Bloomingdale’s has Aqua, the list goes on. Private labels are always less expensive than the other brands in the store and are often just as appealing. Become familiar with your favorite stores’ private labels and your pockets will thank you.

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