Recession Fashion

The depressing economy may be prompting us to keep our wallets shut, but so far it's doing very little to curb our fashion obsession. Amidst widespread corporate layoffs, our nation elected a new president, and subsequent fashion coverage followed the historic event.

The depressing economy may be prompting us to keep our wallets shut, but so far it's doing very little to curb our fashion obsession. Amidst widespread corporate layoffs, our nation elected a new president, and the subsequent fashion coverage follows: This is how you can get Michelle Obama's look, and this is what you should purchase for your next job interview.

Not that there is anything wrong with it—I like admiring Mrs. Obama's nicely tailored wardrobe just as much as the next pop culture connoisseur, but there is something inadvertently amusing in The New York Times telling me that "a beautiful, chic tote" and a brand-new white shirt are requirements for a job interview. What if we don't have the cash to replace our frayed shoulder bags or our slightly yellowed button-ups during these economic times?

Assuming that the average American will never be able to forego shopping entirely—and that the economy is hungry for their contributions—most media outlets are focusing on affordability.

"You can look like you are wearing designer for not a lot of money,” designer Arthur S. Levine told The Times, and made reference to the less-than $200 suits of his that Sarah Palin wore during the campaign.

Affordability is, of course, relative. New York Magazine, for example, included a $145 J.Crew cashmere sweater under a headline that read: "Embrace Low Fashion."

Sameer Reddy of Newsweek, however, suggested a solution beyond just opting for cheaper fall looks; perhaps we should, in an effort to be truly conscious of the times, stick to our personal styles rather than rushing to buy the latest "must-haves."

"Get ready for a chirpy stream of annoying advice on "how to get 'The Look' for less" and tips about "fabulous finds for less than $50"," Reddy writes. "Given the shock we're about to go through on a global scale, it seems a little strange, if not downright delinquent, to continue doing things the same way as in the days of overtly conspicuous consumption."

"Perhaps a more appropriate philosophy for these soon-to-be-hardscrabble times is the uplifting mantra of personal style, which is based in confidence about who you are and what you find beautiful, as opposed to adopting an external prescription for fitting in," he continues.

Reddy continues by pointing out several fashionistas with famously eclectic styles (Vogue Italia contributing editor Anna Piaggi, for example), but the piece ultimately encourages us to wear what we always have and not let the whims of the fashion world dictate our self-worth.

Even more importantly, these tough times might give us the perfect opportunity to look inside our closets. Our wardrobes from last season may lack the peep-toe boots and mustard-colored cardigans of this fall's fashion pages, but they should do just fine.

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