Recession Mama

{April 27, 2009}   Do Recessionistas Shop for Groceries, too?

By Katy

You may have heard the term “Recessionista” thrown around lately. It’s a combination of the words “fashionista” and “recession.” In Los Angeles, hot mamas still have to get their shopping on, but they’re doing it in a much more budget-savvy way — seeking out sample sales, swapping clothes with their BFF’s (Best Friends Forever, if you’re not up on your girly lingo), joining designer handbag-of-the-month clubs, and looking in their own closets and re-vamping what’s already in there (with maybe a cheaper change of accessories.) I’ve always considered myself a bit of a “Recessionista,” even when there wasn’t a recession, to speak of.

To this day, my favorite bargain was a 100% silk, Italian made, Miu Miu cheongsam-like top I had seen in the actual designer’s store on Melrose, that same season, for thousands of dollars. I bought it for maybe $75 at a second-hand store, and I could not believe my luck when I spotted it that fateful day in 2003. My friends Lynn and Sarah were with me, and I think they heard me shrieking with delight and astonishment across the entire store. It was in pristine condition. Someone must have needed the money desperately, I thought.

2003 Miu Miu

2003 Miu Miu

These days, I haven’t shopped much except for a dress I bought recently for my engagement photos. And I actually paid full price for it because it was so last minute. (When people tell you never to shop for groceries on an empty stomach, I think the same idea applies to shopping for clothes. Never shop for clothes at the last minute when you desperately need something because you may blow your budget.) Well, I’ve been regretting the purchase every single day because I, honestly, hate buying anything for full price. I bought this BCBG Max Azria dress in a petite the morning of my engagement photo shoot because the dress I ordered from Bloomingdale’s was on back order (and no one called to tell me). I had thought originally that I’d try and return it after the shoot, but they put tags on the OUTSIDE of the dress nowadays to ensure that doesn’t happen.


Sorry, Fiance! You've been outted, but I had to show the dress and you're in every shot.

I spent $246 on the dress, and what really gets to me is…it’s made in China!!! If I wanted a dress that’s made in China, I would’ve just gone to Target, K-Mart, or even Wal-Mart. I didn’t need to spend $246 on a “designer” dress that was possibly made in a sweatshop in China. OK, OK…don’t write me hate letters. I don’t know if it was really made in a sweatshop. But I just don’t understand designers who have to take their clothes to Chinese workers. If I’m going to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a dress that you designed, I would like it to be made right here in the U.S.A. On the other hand, I bought it at a department store that, I understand (on very good authority) is hurting for business in this economy right now. So…maybe it’s a good thing? What do you think?


Heather B. says:

I think the dress is beautiful! You could actually wear it as your wedding dress if you head to the JOP (justice of the peace) or do the Elvis thing. Also, it can be your official “dress” for engagement parties and such. The price isn’t that bad, for a really pretty dress that you can wear A LOT.
I’m facing a similar problem. I’m attending a gala this weekend and I need a dress. The one I borrowed for a function earlier this year won’t work, because I won’t be able to wear the jacket with it. (jacket is winter, this is spring)

I think I’m going to wear something I already have except I’m having some body issues. One would hide my legs, but show my arms. The other would hide my arms, but not my legs. I may go with option two and just spray tan my legs. Except I have to wear my “big girl shoes” with option 2. I’m pretty clumsy and my husband walks fast. That’s never a good combo. And yes.. I have fallen down in public and no alcohol was involved.

I’m also a pale girl, but not in the pretty Nicole Kidman way. Mine is more like a “oh she has spider veins and a nice green tinge to her.”

So I was toying with the idea of getting something new that would cover my “bad” parts and show off my “good” parts. I’m not sure that dress exists. But frankly I should just get over myself and wear what I’ve got. I don’t need to spend money. Right?

recessionmama says:

You are not green tinged, Heather! And what body issues? The last time I saw you, you definitely did not look like you’ve had two kids. You’ve got great arms, legs, and everything else! I totally understand the dilemma between buying something new or just wearing what you have. If I could see you in the two dresses, that might help. Maybe you should post photos this week.

Carla says:

Your dress is amazing, but I can totally understand why paying full price hurts. We’re the same way like that! And the whole “Made in the U.S.A.” thing…well, don’t get me started. I’m beyond sick of reading about this toy or that toy being tainted with lead or being unsafe or whatever. As for the clothes, I don’t understand why American workers (all these people out of jobs) can’t be doing the work!

Heather B. says:

I will try to post photos of the dresses and maybe y’all can help me decide which one. Buying a new one is totally out of the question now. Thanks to the storm, my lovely tree in the front yard decided to fall down. It fainted like a prude at a whorehouse. TIIMMMBER!

recessionmama says:

Sounds like your next post!!

Heather B. says:

Maybe. Except I just received two notices from my son’s school. One was about swine flu… the other about head lice. Now I’m too itchy and freaked out to even think about cocktail dresses.

recessionmama says:

Yeah I’m such a hypochondriac, I think I have the swine flu (after reading a memo about it.)

Sarah says:

It’s definitely true that the timing of the dress made the purchase painful, but I think that you’ll get many years of use from it. The design is classic enough to weather trends and it really suits both your style (the pockets are fab) and the SoCal climate, so I don’t think that you should kick yourself further. You’d done all the appropriate planning, the breakdown was on the part of Bloomingdale’s customer service. I think that, for an emergency investment, it worked out beautifully!

recessionmama says:

Yeah but you know me…paying full price for anything kills me. And it’s especially painful in a recession.

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