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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
The New Paper
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Rethink, recycle, revamp
by Angeline Neo

I AM a woman with a massive shopping habit.

If I could write off my Christian Louboutin shoes and Prada bags as dependants, I would.

So when friends found out I had skipped the recent Club21 Bazaar and On Pedder sales, they thought I must be severely ill. But I laughed and said being a fashionista is so yesteryear.

To be (financially) savvy and a woman of the times, one needs to be a 'recessionista'. For those still not in the know, that's a woman of style on a tighter budget.

Okay, I'll admit. I nearly broke out in cold sweat having to give the designer-shoe sale a miss. But one must learn to walk away from your addictions or be left broke(n).

When you're living on the uncertainty of a freelancer's pay cheque, you naturally make adjustments. Mine involved cutting back on quite a number of niceties, including a shoe habit, the bill of which can feed and clothe many starving children on the Unicef programme for 10 years straight.

Thankfully, I don't look any worse for wear with the cutbacks.

So even in leaner times now, one can still be (somewhat) frugal and fashionable. And you don't need to stop shopping altogether - heaven forbid, the economy does need stirring - or wear your clothes out till they are threadbare.

Let's be realistic, not delusional.

 There are limited needs, but unlimited wants. If you can distinguish between the two, that's the first step to becoming a recessionista.

Be eco-conscious. And by that, I mean economically, not just environmentally.

How? Rethink, recycle and revamp.

1. Rethink your buys

Check the impulses at the door. It's the difference between lust and love. You may think that top with the pretty bows is so divine now, but can that play well with the rest of your wardrobe beyond the season?

If you can't see it being reworked in the years to come, you can live without it. And if you're not sure, walk away. I always say, if it's meant to be yours, it will still be at the store when you want it.

Don't let impulse-buying trip you up at sales too. It can be a 50 per cent discount. But half off $500 is still a $250 outlay. Worse, if you're not going to get a lot of wear out of an item, that's $250 mis-spent.

Think long-term and investment pieces that are going to stick around with you, through thick and thin. Classics, such as a little black dress, or staples, like a crisp white shirt, never fail a woman.

2. Recycle what you have

Thankfully, fashion is cyclical. And if you're a clothes horse like me, you're bound to have a couple of pieces sitting around that can be given a new lease of life easily with a change of buttons or shortening of hems.

I recently dug out pants that I haven't worn in ages. Relatively new, they just needed alterations, which were done at the tailor's for $15.

Savings aside, think of the sleek custom-fit and, hey, you're recycling too.

3. Revamp an old look

Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. It's the simplest and fastest way to update your wardrobe, especially if you're the sort who already wears a lot of chic basics.

Bags such as a handsome croc envelope clutch may cost you a bit of money. But you know it looks sharp teamed with your power suits and is just as sophisticated when paired with silk trench dresses. It's a look that works, season after season.

Statement bling helps too, such as bold cocktail rings that add a dose of colour to a basic monochromatic look.

What's very in at the moment too: Cuffs. Seen on many of this season's runways, like at Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, the cuffs feature huge semi-precious rocks, adding decorative polish to the austere fall fashion.

Another favourite of mine are sunglasses. I have a whole drawer full of them, in various colours. Some are vintage, some designer and others you can pick up for cheap at places such as 77th Street for under $30. They double up as headbands too.

I love big frames, for their mod chic. But minimalist frames are just as sleek, while funkier, coloured ones also help to brighten up the face.

This article was first published in The New Paper on Nov 23, 2008.

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