Ok, I'm a young freelancer who lives in a "quaint" part of Brooklyn. But those who think its adorable to add a cute little "-ista" to the end of recession to glam it up a bit (Thanks, Manhattan Storage) are the same people that come up with heinous phrases like "stay-cation" or "sandwich-ocracy." And those people make my job harder, because I am not into coining an adorable neologism to make us all feel better about not being able to afford even Samantha Ronson.
So I'm pretty much doing what I swore I would never do when I started this blog: I'm going to tell you how to save money but shop wisely. Seriously. And this has nothing to do with my ability to save money - I am completely useless when it comes to planning fiscally - its because I made the choice at a young age to dress a specific way and, as I just mentioned, I'm completely useless when it comes to fiscally planning (ie. always broke).
I can't offer helpful tips like, "Pay off your credit card" or "Stop focusing on labels" because if you haven't figured that stuff out by now, put down your Gateway and go read Marie Claire or something.
But I can tell you how I have successfully scammed and conned my way into having a reasonable wardrobe (the person I usually scammed and conned was myself...):
This little mechanism on your internet browser is genius. See, I love to internet browse. I love checking Oak and Pixie Market, Welcome Hunters and Topshop, and when I am done, I see about 70 things I like. So I bookmark them throughout the month. Then on payday (which was a once a month thing for me, but I imagine the non-rent payday for normals), I scanned my list. Most of what I liked earlier in the week kind of sucked to me now. Or now that I had my credit card out and it WASN'T a spontaneous purchase, I was a little reticent. And the stuff I did like, I reeeeeally liked.
2. Avoid shit stores:
My roommate looks good in a potato sack so sometimes she comes back from Strawberry or Joyce Leslie with a bag of things that I kind of envy. And I have a pair of jeans from JL that are amazing (a great color teal, totally keep the stretch). But if you start shopping at H&M only, you are going to look like you start shopping at H&M only - which is fine, except that garbage is so poorly made.
3. Check the content:
Labels are important. Not the designer labels, the fabric. Poly/rayon/acetate combos are not very soft and look really cheap. 100% cotton, a little nylon - thats the stuff that cozy is made of. One of the reasons I support Uniqlo so whole-heartedly - they have cheap cashmere-blends. So I can drop $20 on a cardigan that looks like a spent more on it, because its material isn't made from something that feels like old Barbie hair.
Yes, thrift stores are the best things ever, but even if you find something great that doesn't fit perfectly, tailor it. And, even better, take OLD stuff of yours to a tailor.
Ok - my tailor is magic. She makes beautiful things happen to shirts that were a bit boxy, pants that are too long, even t-shirts that were meant to be dresses. Dudes, I cannot tell you how much this applies to you. I literally know maybe one guy that doesn't wear ill-fitting jeans, and that's because he's a drag queen. Seriously. Get your hems up.
5. Google rebate codes:
Some may call this janky - I call this resourceful. See this website: RetailMeNot.com. It's a really comprehensive, un-popup-py way to research codes for stores you like. For instance, get 10% off at Urban Outfitters using the code SPRING. Get free shipping at Yoox with FREESHIPPING@YOOX. Seriously. The internet won't judge you.
But the best way to save money during the recession but not look like a schlub is to NOT SHOP. You don't look like a schlub. Go to thrift stores and buy a ton of accessories. Borrow stuff. Put a ribbon in your hair or grow out a beard. Throw out your clothing that you hate (or...even better, sell it at Beacon's Closet. But whatever you do, don't buy crap simply because its cheap.
Blame this whole rant on H&M charging $39.99 for a cotton stretch skirt. Pure rubbish.