The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

What Does Recession Style Mean to You?

Yesterday I was interviewed by a journalist at the University of Florida, who asked me to define "recession style." And it got me thinking: There are those who are new to the world of fashion on a budget, and then there are those of us who've been following a mantra of "fab without a fortune" for quite some time. Personally, I have never had the luxury of just buying whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it. I have always been frugal out of necessity, but I think it's made me a stronger person and has taught me valuable lessons. Like, spend within your means. Save a little each day. Be grateful for what you have.

It hasn't always been easy, and yes, I have racked up my fair share of credit card debt in the past, and yes, there were times when I was secretly envious or resentful of those who had more than me, but honestly, those feelings never lasted very long. I think I have my parents and grandparents to thank for this outlook. My dad was the classic immigrant-with-one-suitcase story. My grandparents had to leave their native country during WWII, and came to the states in hopes of providing a better life for their children. My story is hardly unique, but it's kept me somewhat grounded and in touch with what I like to call "reality."

So while the media is in a frenzy over recession style—women who've had to give up their Manolos for a trip to their local Payless—I simply would like to provide a reminder that countless more Americans have been living this way for years (without the Manolos). When money's tight, as I know it is for most of us right now, holding back a little on fashion isn't the end of the world. Finding bargains will continue to be a fun challenge and provide us with that occasional, well-deserved treat. And striving to live within our means, always challenging ourselves to think about what we truly want and what we truly need, ain't gonna be easy, but it is one of the best ways to treat yourself right.

Sorry if I am sounding a little preachy today, just wanted to put that out there and see if anyone feels the same way? P.S. Yes, I'm still going to write about tempting fashions every day, but I'm not forcing anyone to buy anything. I think we can have fashion blogs and be responsible with our finances, too!

Amen. Recession style for some is just every-day style for others. It means laboring over what pieces one will invest in (read: anything over $60 is an investment that should last more than a few seasons) and reducing the P3 (price per piece) one is willing to spend on 'trend' items.
#1 Jeni (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 11:25 (Reply)
I agree 100%. Not too preachy - just truthful. Times have not only forced me to make more budget conscious buying decisions, but have reminded me that there are people with less than I have, so I'm packing up those things I don't wear to donate them.

And for those of us that love fashion, being in a recession doesn't mean we stop wanting to hear about the latest trends and the latest styles. We just have to get more creative about how to get them!
#2 janelle (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 11:25 (Reply)
Money doesn't equal happiness - and neither does a pair of Manolos! Dressing in a way that makes you feel good is important, but you don't have to be extravagant in order to do so. :-)
#3 Leia (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 11:45 (Reply)
Totally with you, BB. Now, I have to admit that my closet is packed to the gills, but I paid full price for very few of the items in it, and that's always how it's been.

And I'm always perplexed by the "bargains" and "cheap thrills" that most fashion magazines highlight -- since when were Banana Republic and J. Crew considered bargain basements? Those are my "splurge" stores for classic pieces!
#4 Nikki on 2009-03-04 11:50 (Reply)
I totally agree with you Nikki! Even a lot of bloggers consider these stores to be "bargains" and yeah they certainly are if you're comparing them to buying designer!! I think a good dose of reality and priorities is essential for everyone. It's one thing to love fashion, but the moment I'd rather spend money on a purse over spending it on a flight to an exotic locale, I'll know I've just gone crazy.
#4.1 MizzJ (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 12:32 (Reply)
Not preachy AT ALL! I 100% agree, before all of this "recessionista" hype, I am and have been a proud budget diva. I make a comfortable living but it does not permit frequent and expensive splurges on shoes and handbags. I've never been able to just go to Banana Republic and purchase a new outfit without thinking about how much other stuff I could by at Target or Penney's for one $150 skirt. In my world if I can get that same BR skirt on ebay for $40 bucks (or less!), I'll love it more.

I love your site now and when the economy bounces back, I'll love it still. And they'll be even more bargains available because everyone else will be back to shop at Nordstrom's and Bloomingdale's!
#5 Lovelee_79 on 2009-03-04 12:17 (Reply)
I couldn't agree any more. The upside to the recession, is that I have always been a money conscious shopper. With more bills to pay than Money to play with. With the economy suddenly at the same level that I have lived at for years, it seems retailers and dropping their prices and hosting great promotions meaning I can find better deals are better products. Suddenly my budget amount hasn't changed, but what I can get for it has.
#6 Kayla (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 12:29 (Reply)
My friend has a whole new perspective to the recessionista thing. She would rather buy 3 quality but expensive pieces for the whole year that will add up to the cost of 10 cheaper alternatives. She says the quality pieces will last her longer, thus her money is well spent in recession.

I think you can also get quality but cheap pieces if you look closer. It's not always F21 or Old Navy that's the alternative buy. The diffusion lines are a good way of buying cheap but getting quality (hopefully). This is why I'm going to Target today to check out McQ! :-)
#7 Superwoman (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 12:49 (Reply)
WORD. I've seen the recession hit people hard: Jobs lost, pay cuts, homes in jeopardy. But I've got no sympathy for those who are having to limit their luxuries because their investments have taken a hit. Most of us have been watching our spending our whole lives - and I agree that doing so builds character and breeds gratitude.
#8 Sal (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 13:15 (Reply)
You hit the nail on the head! Shopping on a budget is something that many of us have had to live with for years. I dont mind it at all.I find a thrill out of landing a pair of shoes for hald the price or that trendy new item from Target that other women are paying alot more money to get. The upside to the new popularity of "recession style" is that hopefully alot moew women will get smarter about shopping on a budget and being more practical with their money.
#9 Miss B on 2009-03-04 13:19 (Reply)
I've always been a bargain shopper!!! Not alot of money but wanting great style means hunting! Sometimes I wish for wealth beyond belief, but most of the time im thankful for the lessons my parents taught me and am SO happy to find great style for cheap!
#10 Danielle (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 14:06 (Reply)
Thank you Budgete Babe for your reply on the Longchamp Bag.

When money is tight, I become even more creative on putting together new looks from existing wardrobe items. Recently i put up 7 looks for 7 days of the week with one long cardigan bought at $15 in H&M. It was fun.
#11 Daniela on 2009-03-04 14:37 (Reply)
Well put, BB. I was in Target last night and overheard a woman telling her friend that since times are tough she's "forced" to shop there now. Hearing things like that gets on my nerves because she was making it seem like shopping at Target (or any budget store for that matter) was a bad thing.
#12 The Cheap Chica (Homepage) on 2009-03-04 14:38 (Reply)
Well said. I have always, ever since middle school found it exciting and even like a thrill to deal hunt. I couldnt wait to brag about how I got a desginer piece or orginially high priced item for super cheap. Yes, at times you want to splurge and be able to just pay for something full price or buy a high end name and have no regrets, but like you said in the long run that feeling goes away and the fact that you still look good in what you wear and didnt hurt your wallet looking like that is 10 times better than that splurge.
#13 Dina on 2009-03-04 16:17 (Reply)
Very well said! I wish I had more to add, but you pretty much articulated everything I feel about the issue. I have immigrant parents who are STILL scraping by a couple of decades later, so I truly was raised to understand the value of a dollar. I've always bargain-shopped because that's the only way I CAN shop. But I love it. I love knowing where my priorities lie.
#14 Joann on 2009-03-04 23:44 (Reply)
FAB post, not preachy at all! And reflects my experience with money and style too (I'm also an immigrant like your grandparents!). :o)

I've only recently been able to shop for myself more, after paying off a car loan and two student loans, and while I too have my moments of wishing I could just buy whatever I wanted, whenever, I'm grateful that I can't because I feel this makes me a lot more shopping-savvy!

I'm truly grateful to live in the U.S., where we have such great fashion choices at so many different prices. I mean, I have nothing against expensive, high-end style, especially because I think it gives a lot of inspiration for creative, lower-priced designs, but I'm always thrilled by how well women on a budget dress. And the way I look at it, isn't creativity in putting things together what real style is all about?
#15 Anusha (Homepage) on 2009-03-05 11:12 (Reply)
AMEN again. I too am an immigrant, but that's beside the point. I am 54 years old and have always been complemented on my style. Style is about taste, not the amount of money you spend or whose brand you buy. Thos that have to have a certain brand name are just paying big money to advertise a designer's product.
#16 OR on 2009-03-05 20:35 (Reply)
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