Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recession Chic, Pt. 2

There's more food for thought in Kelly Marages' terrific piece in the Washington Post. But when the economy needs consumer spending, having frugality become a trend among people who actually have disposable income is not necessarily a good thing. Consider the case of Marie Antoinette.

For nearly two hundred years, the fashion extravanances of French royality, led by either the Queen or a royal mistress, had driven the demand for domestically-produced silks. Marie Antoinette abdicated this role in the 1780s when she adopted the "chemise" style of dress, fabricated of English cotton. The fashionable ladies of France followed her lead, despite protests from the French silk industry. We all know how well this story ended.

Living beyond your means is never wise, and I'm not saying that people should be maxing out their credit cards to boost the economy. But if you're in a position to support your local restaurants and shops, please do. And if you've got some great clothes in your closet that you seldom wear, I'd love to find them on the rack at my favorite thrift store. And if you're a journalist write style articles, consider going easier on the "rich people making sacrifices" stuff. Some of it is embarrassing. As Kelly Marages writes:

And when it comes down to it, if you need to be told that packing your lunch saves money, you're probably not someone who needs to pack your lunch. So please don't pretend that you are.

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