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the recessionista.

8 March 2009

image source: another magazine

No, duct taping oneself with cardboard constructed garments (though very crafty) is not necessary. Although the current economic state in addition to our own thinning wallets (perhaps I only speak for a few of us) could perhaps cause us to pull our hair, stamp our feet, and feel as if we should simply abandon all hopes of ever attaining that gorgeous Louboutin, extremities need not be the solution!

Hi La C! I love love love your blog I read it everyday, and even when there are no new posts, I look at all the older posts and I find lots of wonderful inspiration. You are fabulous darling!!!

I’m a college student, and it’s really hard to be fabulous on a college kid’s budget. So my question for you is this; Could you please please please give me some tips on budgeting? I’d really appreciate it. And I totally understand if you’re super super busy and won’t be able to get to it. But thank you anyway, and keep being fabulous!!!

xoxoxoxox, Jillian

Ah, budgeting. Fiscal management is indeed quite the tough job, as we are ever tempted by beautiful items in window displays that come with hefty price tags. As difficult as it may be, once knowing yourself, your budget, and your spending habits, can help – recognition is the key to the first step in successful budgeting.

The Beauty of Saving.

Budgeting can be a pain that takes a while to adjust to; treating yourself with expensive gifts ubiquitously takes the joy and rush of excitement when you buy yourself that [insert choice designer bag/dress/shoe/etc]. Make these splurges special – not everyday.


I must first begin by saying that I had grown up in a household that valued spending money wisely, one where frugality was encouraged. It then allowed for the occasion splurge or petit shopping spree; it was then, during these purchases, where the items bought were treasured and felt like little surprises. Thus said, budgeting seems to be an easier concept for me: it has been instilled in me. So to others it may be just a bit more difficult; but have no fear – it can be learned.

I adore Susie Bubble to no end.

I adore Susie Bubble to no end. Her appropriately constructed outfit for a "recession" themed party.

heart5 The basics. We all want a bit more allotted into our spending fund so we can buy more. Completely and totally human, so there is no need to feel ashamed! But in order allow our wallets to fatten a bit, we must begin by eliminating the excess stuff (for lack of a better word) from our lives. Living on a college budget (or any other, for that matter) is quite difficult. Skimp on the chips or junk food (however delicious) packed in dorm rooms for late night snacking – you’d be surprise by how much that would save you! Unplug all electronics once you’re done using them – electricity bills are quite costly. Instead of buying magazines issue by issue, order a subscription. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them. Invest in a water purifier (you can save up to a thousand or so a year in halting purchases of plastic water bottles!). Etc., etc., etc. Basics, almost common sense, but still helpful.

heart5 Join e-mail lists of online shops. The thought of the potential spamming of your inbox with updates can be quite scary; but it is indeed worth it! From Topshop to Net-a-porter, Victoria’s Secret to Barney’s, joining their email updates is the easiest way to save! Sales are alerted of ahead of time, exclusive offers given. Makes saving much, much easier.

heart5 Get invites to exclusive boutiques! Such online boutiques, offering exclusive discounts on designer pieces to members, like Cocosa, Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, ideeli, Regent’s Secret, etc. are godsend gifts to us ladies. **Leave your email address in the comment section below if you want invites (I do hope I can remember my passwords to these sites…).

heart5 Snoop around online for discount codes. Simply google “[insert store/site name here] coupon” and you will be sure to find at least one valid code or coupon for online shops.

heart5 Head to the sale/clearance racks. Many professional shoppers/stylists tell you to avoid doing so since a lot of the pieces are “unwanted, last season” items, saying that “there’s a reason why they’re on that rack and not in somebody’s closet”. True, to some extent; it might be tacky or embarrassing (who cares, really?). But many stores/companies overproduce a certain season’s collection, and thus, are left with more than a few garments that end up being reduced – it’s not unwanted. Sales and reduced prices make me giddy with joy when I see a piece I’ve coveted for the longest time and now can finally afford! They’re fun! Keep in mind, however…

> Don’t buy for volume. Buy for quality and timelessness. Just because it’s cheap or on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. Buy pieces for quality, timelessness (as in their ability to outlive a few seasons and will forever remain classic), and versatility when integrating it into your current wardrobe. The cheaper price should only act as a form of encouragement in buying a particular item you’ve always wanted.

> Check the garment for quality and perfection. Never buy imperfect pieces. Never. Check every stitching or detail!

> Think of it as a hunt for some buried but unknown treasure. Or just thrifting in a vintage store, if the cheesiness doesn’t cut it for you. Sometimes the most amazing and divine pieces in your size are simply waiting for you to find it. Proof? I’ve found sooo many gorgeous tops that have become favorites. All you need is patience.


The much loved Givenchy Nightingale. An investment worthy bag, without a doubt. Classic, simple, and practical.

heart5 Ask yourselves these questions when shopping for clothing.. Silently, of course. Since talking to yourself may arouse unwanted stares from nearby shoppers. Does it fit properly/perfectly? If it doesn’t, leave it. It isn’t worth the hassle getting a garment taken in/out, nor the extra money. Is it in pristine condition? Rips, stains, loose threads, etc. are  no-no, regardless of whether or not it’s the last one in your size. If it really is the “one”, buy it elsewhere. Not to mention, giving yourself time to think about the practicality of the purchase is always a plus. How often will I wear it? If you know that they will be well worn, sometimes a pricier tag is worth it if it is to go in the washing machine more than a few times. Does it work with anything else in my closet? Sometimes special pieces are worth it; but if you have to go out of your way to buy something to match it, perhaps it’s not worth the time or money. Can I wear it in the future? Classic, my dears. Go for classics.

heart5 Are you buying the garment/accessory/product/etc. for the designer label? Or because you love the actual piece?

heart5 Do you need it? Or do you simply want it? It’s the ultimate question really, one that I always ask myself when shopping. There’s a difference between the two. Sometimes you may find yourself pining away at this particular bag (guilty as charged). Walk away and come back much later (as in a few hours, or perhaps a day or a week). Think about it. If that particular item still lingers on your mind after that amount of time, perhaps it is worth the buy. Giving yourself time to breathe assures impulse buys from occurring.

heart5 Make shopping lists. Shopping for clothing/accessories/beauty products is no different from grocery shopping. Before every major shopping trip, I make a list of what I need. New Jeans. Some v-neck tees (my absolute favorite). A cardigan. Red dress. Etc. That way you don’t forget anything, nor are you tempted to make any spontaneous purchases. Not that they’re always bad, but for all intensive purposes, list-making is good.

Indisputably classic. Worthy of your thousand dollars or so.

Indisputably classic. Worthy of your thousand dollars or so.

heart5 Drugstore beauty products are just as good as designer brands. The ingredients in the majority of designer or name-brand products are the same as drugstore beauty products. I find that Rimmel, Covergirl, Victoria’s Secret, etc. products are just as fabulous as Chanel.

heart5 Forever 21 is your best friend. The best place for picking up basics (v-neck tees for $4.99 makes my heart giddy with joy) and of-the-moment pieces at affordable prices. Trendsters, rejoice! Though not always made of the best of materials, few things here and there will surprise you.

heart5 Embrace trends through accessorizing. It’s the easiest to (1) save money! (2) avoid looking too trendy. Through scarves, jewelry, tights, and beauty products, the season’s latest trends can be incorporated rather seamlessly into your current wardrobe without completely revamping it or infringing on your personal style. For example: if animal prints dominate the current runways, integrate some leopard print into your outfit with a printed scarf. If a certain color, say, purple (fall 08), is particularly omnipresent, add a shade of it in small doses, whether it be through purple eye shadow/liner, beaded jewelry, etc.

heart5 Look for classics; then build the rest of your wardrobe around it. You’ve heard of some, the rest are personal opinions. Black/white V-neck tees; medium wash jeans; dark rinse jeans; black high waisted pants; pencil skirt; white button-down; leather gloves; trench/peacoat; LBD; fitted red dress; black cardigan; butterfly sleeve tops; leather boots; black flats; black pumps; black tights (opaque); cocktail rings; silver jewelry; tailored shorts; black three-quarter length sweater; strappy heels; leather gloves (winter); clutch (black is lovely); leather everyday bag (most practical material). Phew. What a list.

heart5 Invest in Bags, Boots, Denim. The trinity, the holy three, the BBD. Because these three are the things that get the most wear and tear (for me, at least). So invest in something classic, sturdy, and well made.


La C.

65 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 March 2009 1:40 am

    Great tips! I agree with investing in BBD, although I would add sunglasses and eyeglasses to the list–the right pair instantly adds a touch of sophistication and polish to any outfit, plus you wear them so often they’re worth the splurge. I also agree with your assessment of the Chanel 2.55; I’ve been very happy with mine and will be happy with it until I’m 80 at least.

    For budgeting, I think a little bit of planning goes a long way. Things like brewing coffee in a reusable mug or Thermos, and packing lunch in Tupperware, go a long way in saving money (and fewer disposable food containers and coffee cups is better for the environment too!). Also, it’s never too early to look into savings options like GICs, retirement plans, and high-interest accounts.

  2. 8 March 2009 2:21 am

    I said it before and say it again: I love your long posts. You really put so much effort into covering all grounds.:)

    I feel so weird but I kind of get a “high” from saving and being money savvy hah. Or helping others to be.

    My tip would be to go to places like F21 or online shops having sales and buy accesories in bulk. I went to Londons Primark store and bought tons of bangles/necklaces all $1 each. Even cheaper then F21. And they’ve been pretty handy.

    Finding a place to neatly store earings, bangles and other accesories (shoes too) is actually cost saving too. If I didn’t have a place/way to store them, I’d constantly be losing, damaging them and needing to replace.

  3. 8 March 2009 2:21 am

    Hi La C,

    This is the useful one next. I like it. What an fantastic adviced. I adore eBay, other online auctions and second hand store (thrifted things). I think that I got onto this level already. I reckon that the timeless accessories are my “fat” friends for a long time. I like so much your blog, darling.

    Have a great Sunday!

    xoxo: Janet

  4. 8 March 2009 2:23 am

    Oh and I also make lists! Lol. Not just for groceries but what I have to do, what I want to buy in the future, etc.

    I make a budget and look for the items one by one usually. Say I need 5 make up products, I buy only one each month if it can wait.

    The only times I don’t stick to budgets is when I want to go on a “Spree” and I feel I need more pieces in my wardrobe for whatever reason.

  5. 8 March 2009 3:16 am

    F21 has always been my best friend 😉 You feel so accomplished when you get great buys!!!

  6. 8 March 2009 4:33 am

    O budgets are the pits. I’ve been saving for an overseas trip in April and it’s been utterly painful.

  7. 8 March 2009 4:45 am

    Thanks for this very useful post:)
    I think you made some good points, like buying an outfit or accesorie that is better quality and that you make a list of what you really need!

    That is heavy though! You know, when you see something and even if you dont need:)


  8. 8 March 2009 4:59 am

    Hi there-a very good post, love the parts about thrifting and buying classics and investing in denim and bags. I go by these pointers and its well worth having quality in your wardrobe.

  9. 8 March 2009 5:05 am

    Gorgeous and amazing tips as usual.
    Merci beaucoup ♥

  10. 8 March 2009 6:31 am

    great post! i love susie too, she’s great!


  11. 8 March 2009 7:52 am

    Thank you once again oh life guru for the awesome post (haha seriously)!
    The only problem is now I am soooo excited to go shopping looking for a few of those classic investment pieces you speak of that I seem to be missing (leather gloves, boots and more butterfly sleeve tops, yes please)… bank balance definately wont agree (or allow) this right now but at least I have something to look towards and save for right?


  12. 8 March 2009 9:10 am

    Thanks for the great advice :] I’m a student too and I found this really useful! Thanks for visiting my blog often 🙂 It’s very nice of you!

  13. 8 March 2009 9:50 am

    Thank you for this post, it’s spot on!

  14. Maria permalink
    8 March 2009 10:06 am

    definitely a great post. i’ve always enjoyed reading your blog, you have some of the best advice 🙂

  15. 8 March 2009 1:11 pm

    Great post! I totally agree. The BBD is a good rule allthough I would add investing in anything that is usually made of materials that require specific care like leather, silk or fur.


  16. 8 March 2009 1:28 pm

    Lovely post darling<333 And very helpful for a shopper like me. I’m trying my hardest to save my money but I always end up buying some crappy stuff the first thing when I enter a shop. Also internet shopping has made me economy quite unhealthy lately ^^ This will help me I’m sure!

  17. rossovelvet permalink
    8 March 2009 1:28 pm

    Fantastic post, with great examples and… well, I do love everything in it ;D.
    Very practical too !
    I have no problem in sparing because I live in a non-fashion city (Geneva… if you want watches for thousands of dollars I think it’s fine, but otherwise…), so I can spend the most when I go (often) to Italy or in holidays…
    The most frustrating thing though, is when you have your list and can’t seem to find ANYTHING. So you’re frustrated, and you buy other things, most of the times totally un-needed !

    X.o.X.o ! ;D

  18. 8 March 2009 1:56 pm

    couldn’t agree more–great tips!!

  19. 8 March 2009 2:47 pm

    Hello darling! Sorry I haven’t commented in such a long time, this stupid pneumonia steals all my energy.

    This was a clever post indeed – even though I’ve heard a lot of these tips before, it’s nice to be reminded of them, and to have it all here in one place. I’m terrible at budgeting, but I try to at least think about questions like yours before I buy anything (does it fit well, is it dureable etc.). The problem is usually the question: Do I NEED it? Because in 95% of the cases, the answer is no. I think I survive only because I balance my book-sprees and my clothing-sprees, which means that I usually spend the same amount of money each month anyway 😉

    I’m on the lookout for some good online clothing stores, though – I love so much of what they have at, but there was an insane amount of hassle with a package I ordered from them around christmas, and I promised myself I would never order from them again. Topshop is amazing, of course, but they don’t deliver to Norway :/ And net-a-porter and the likes tend to be a little too expensive for me. Do you have any suggestions, darling? Preferably someone located in Europe (saves me on the shipping), but any suggestions are very welcome.

    I really don’t know what I would do without your blog. It’s like having a personal stylist+life coach+best friend+blog role-model all wrapped up in a gorgeously designed package, and which can be summoned with a click. Life is magical, don’t you think?

  20. 8 March 2009 2:57 pm

    (Hm. Looks like the comment I tried to post simply disappeared in all the the ones and zeroes, so I’ll make a second attempt)

    Great post, as always, darling. I’m sorry I haven’t commented for a while – I’ve got this stupid pneumonia that’s stealing all my energy. We don’t notice the economic situation much up here in the north of Norway, but as a student, these kinds of posts are always appreciated 🙂

    Lately I’ve been searching for a good online clothing store, preferably one located in Europe (to save a little on the shipping). turned out to be horribly organized, and after all that mess about my first (and only) package, I decided to never order from them again. Topshop is fantastic, of course, but they don’t ship to Norway. Net-a-porter and the likes tend to be too expensive for me, and sizes are always tricky since I’m more of a Marilyn than an Audrey. Do you have any suggestions, darling? I’d greatly appreciate it!

    I really don’t know what I would do without your blog. It’s like having a personal shopper + stylist + best friend + blog role model all wrapped into one gorgeously designed package, that can be summoned with a click. Life is magical, don’t you think?

  21. 8 March 2009 4:28 pm

    Hey La C.

    Great post! Don’t forget to mention you can find this extended on as well…especially the same great image of Susie 🙂

  22. 8 March 2009 4:46 pm

    I have seen list like these before, the are fun to read!=D

  23. 8 March 2009 5:39 pm

    Fabulously helpful posts. I agree with your BBD mantra and have only recently discovered this. Oh, and Forever21 really is a girl’s best friend!

  24. 8 March 2009 5:44 pm

    i’d love some invites =)

    also, great advice! budgeting my money is something i need to invest more time in

  25. 8 March 2009 9:52 pm

    Very inspirational =) It’ll make my current shopping ban for the next 2-3 weeks easier to survive!

  26. 8 March 2009 9:54 pm

    that’s great advice! and that box dress is actually really cute… 🙂

  27. 8 March 2009 11:27 pm

    a perfect post for the times, darling! thank you for these lovely hopeful/helpful tips. i especially agree with quantity over quality (though you’re right about forever 21. it will have to be the exception. it’s just too much fun to shop there and so cost effective!). right now i have a special bank account where i’m saving for an investment bag or pair of boots. it may take years before i have enough, but it will be worth it! also, thank you so much for your sweet comment. it made me happy!

  28. 8 March 2009 11:27 pm

    love the “F21 is your best friend”

  29. 8 March 2009 11:29 pm

    hi, i also tagged/awarded you in my blog 🙂

  30. Alize Morand permalink
    9 March 2009 12:09 am

    This is a great post full of useful advice in these times! I couldn’t agree more with the comment on investing on timeless classics and good quality than buying cheap in bulk!

    However, in my case, if something catches my eye in a shop, I have to buy it straight away because everytime I decide to think about it and come back the next day, it is always gone! And then I end up dreaming about it for a week haha (I am so weird!)

    x x

  31. 9 March 2009 12:11 am

    Hello La C. This was such a great post. I think it was full of fantastic tips. I think many people are reexamining their expenses now. You still want to be able to buy nice things that you want, but you have to stick on more of a budget now. I grew up in a family that was never that well off. We didn’t have a lot of extra money. I learned to spot a deal from the time I can remember. Even now as an adult, I don’t have a ton of money. I still try to get the things I want. I just shop around for bargains. Have a great week. Cheers!

  32. 9 March 2009 1:28 am

    omg this is a fantastic post for me. im happy you put that chanel bag there. gives me hope 🙂 i tend to impulse buy sometmes although i’ve gotten a lot better than many years ago. I’m also selling off things that someone else could enjoy on ebay and try to buy only classic or really good quality items! thanks for this post beautiful 🙂 x

  33. 9 March 2009 6:04 am

    Wonderful tips!

  34. 9 March 2009 9:40 am

    Excellent rundown!

  35. 9 March 2009 11:55 am

    Freakin fabulous post, La C! Love your “holy trinity” and the idea of getting on exclusive boutique lists. Such great advice here – I think your readers will really benifit by your list of closet essentials, too – must get little red dress asap!


  36. 9 March 2009 12:14 pm

    awesome post as always lady

  37. 9 March 2009 12:25 pm

    Oh, those tips were great!
    They’re really helpful, and I hope they’ll save me a lot of money. 🙂
    Thank you!

  38. 9 March 2009 2:09 pm

    I love that Givenchy bag.

    I need a big black bag!

  39. 9 March 2009 2:43 pm

    Being able to define what you need versus what you want is always good! I like it 🙂

  40. 9 March 2009 2:46 pm

    This is absolutely, positively the most entertaining post I have read all day. I agree wholeheartedly – Forever 21 is your best friend!

  41. 9 March 2009 3:01 pm

    La C –

    These are GREAT tips! I too am a poor college student so I am definitely confined to just thrifting and clearance stores such as off saks and what not. But i still somehow manage to find myself with little financial resources – sadness.

    ❤ The V

  42. 9 March 2009 4:11 pm

    Love your list of classics & the BBD.

  43. 9 March 2009 4:36 pm

    Hi La Couturier!

    Thanks for great tips! I enjoyed reading them!

    Great job as always!


  44. 9 March 2009 5:40 pm

    Amazing post and very inspiring!

    Best, Jamie ox

  45. abdcforever permalink
    9 March 2009 5:57 pm

    its awesome to kno that theres actually a blogger out there who isnt ridic rich & can buy 23948023984 birkins whenev. makes u more relatable!


  46. thebaglady permalink
    9 March 2009 6:13 pm

    Amazing post as usual. You always compile the best tips into a helpful article! And you always find the best photos!

    I agree with the commenter above. Every other blogger I read is well-off. Like ridiculously well-off, able to afford this designer that & that designer this. It’s comforting to know that fashion isn’t about buying your way through.

  47. kristine permalink
    9 March 2009 8:05 pm

    love your tips. the bbd/holy trinity thing was cuuute!

  48. 9 March 2009 8:44 pm

    I absolutely believe in good investments. And the Givenchy Nightingale is something I would certainly invest in. Every time you put a picture of it up, my heart skips a beat and skips towards loving it even more. I must say that as of now, I am torn between loving the black or the lovely chocolate one. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have the moolah yet for the Nightingale…haha. :p

    Rachel would definitely agree with you on the Chanel. She believes in its timelessness and the versatility of its uses – plus it’s just so pretty! (:

    What a great post! It’s like you’re a sort of “Fashiony Aunt”, fashion’s version of an Agony Aunt!

    Lotsa love,
    Hui (:

  49. 9 March 2009 8:48 pm

    That was a terrific post! Right on!

    ~Shop In Chic~

  50. 9 March 2009 10:35 pm

    Agreed agreed! Especially embracing trends through accessorizing :).

    xoxo, Jei

  51. 10 March 2009 11:52 pm

    really good tips.
    i agree about not buying for volume. regardless of price, i dont like buying things just to buy them.
    i agree with the need/want debate. i try not to buy things the 1st time i see them. because sometimes after a day the desire for it completely goes away.
    and f21 and target are so good for those basic items that will need replacing regardless.
    and loehmann’s and ebay are my friends!

  52. Girl permalink
    11 March 2009 5:59 pm

    I really like visiting your blog, it makes me happy and gives me inspiration to be more chic and couture!

    • 11 March 2009 7:45 pm

      Girl: Aw, thank you! I’ve reached my goal then: to reach out, inspire, and influence ❤

      La C.

  53. Hannah permalink
    12 March 2009 11:29 pm

    Hey I would love an invite to those “exclusive boutiques” you mentioned! THanksss 🙂

  54. 13 March 2009 11:20 am

    kim! i have been working on a line called recessionista by korcula…fabulous and fun jewels all under around $100-$150..stay should be ready soon! xx

  55. 13 March 2009 11:59 pm

    Oh please do invite me to those wunderful online boutiques ( I am already a member of Rue la la and I love scrolling through that website.
    I have found so many great finds from thrift stores, one of which was a really nice jacket! I do, however, shop at Ross all the time, and I absolutely love that store! But sometimes I snatch something that doesn’t have the perfect stitching. Honestly though, at the price that I find some pieces at, I let it go by. It’s never anything big though, just maybe one minor little wrong stitch. Oh well…

    I absolutely love your tips! Especially BBD.

  56. Yvonne permalink
    20 March 2009 4:19 pm

    Please invite me to Rue La La!

  57. 14 August 2009 12:41 am

    excelllent tips! I always ask myself the questions. And i try not to buy things at first sight, because usu after 24 hrs i dont want it anymore.

  58. 23 November 2009 2:26 am

    Its been pleasure for me to read this post. I really like this.

  59. Candace permalink
    17 December 2009 1:36 am

    Great post! and Airam, if you still have troubles receiving items from the US I recommend I used them and they receive any of your orders and then they forward them to you.

  60. 9 February 2010 1:50 pm


    I just found your blog, and I liked it right away. I will be following you regularly in the future.
    Great job!

    Visit my blog sometimes if you have the time. And if you could invite me to an online boutique, I’d be ever so grateful. Where I’m from, we don’t have that many great shops.



  61. 16 July 2010 11:05 am

    Such a usefule blog wow !!!!


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