Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recession Chic

Kelly Marages has a terrific piece in the Sunday Washington Post about how newsfolk have covered the impact of the recession on fashion and lifestyle choices. Like me, Kelly seems to have been raised frugally in the unselfconscious middle class manner. There are two ramifications of this upbringing. First, it is possible to feel insanely hedonistic doing something wealthy people do so routinely they no longer enjoy it. Because I eat leftovers nearly everyday (because I make lots of food whenever I cook), having a meal in a restaurant is an exquisite, self-indulgent experience. Second, while frugally-raised people are certainly capable of spending money in flush times, it's never been that hard to dial back on expenditures. I already know nearly all of the advice being offered by magazines and newsletters, and I can save a ton of money not buying them to read articles I could have written.

Marages' article raises some wonderful points about the new "recessionistas". There's the silliness of dresses and shoes being "a steal" at under $150. The breathless discovery that inexpensive cuts of meat and in-season vegetables, cooked slowly, make a great low-cost, nutritious meal. (Not to mention fabulous leftovers!) My favorite, the place in the article where I choked on my coffee:

The advice doesn't stop there. We've been told to go shopping in our closets. Cute -- but what does it mean? That I should take a shirt and pair it with some pants or a skirt that I haven't already matched it to? Call me crazy, but isn't that just called getting dressed?

I don't deny that there are some people out there who didn't have the advantage of a frugal upbringing, and who are looking for ways to economize. For them, some of this information is not only fresh and new, but necessary. As a mom, I do hope that my kids picked up some of these habits at home. If they didn't, it's probably my fault.

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