Recessionistas: Is Cheap now Trendy?

By Sara Shea


As the country begins to recover from the recent economic downward spiral, Americans are continuing to pinch pennies and cut corners wherever they can. As a result the fashion industry is not necessarily suffering, but rather changing to accommodate the new frugal attitude sweeping the nation.

Blogs such as and make looking great on a budget easy for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. According to an article published in The New York Times, “The use of the word recessionista is making light of a situation that isn’t so favorable for the consumer-driven industries of our nation… It is more lighthearted to say ‘I am the Recessionista, and I don’t really go for that,’ instead of saying ‘I can’t afford that or I don’t want to spend the money,’ ” said Mary Hall of


Creator of, Mary Hall stands amidst piles of cheap trendy finds. Hall created the site to encourage women not to give up on looking good even during the hardest of times.

Creator of, Mary Hall stands amidst piles of cheap trendy finds. Hall created the site to encourage women not to give up on looking good even during the hardest of times.

As a result of this “less is more” mindset, a more European inspired style is gaining popularity here in the States. According to several fashion blogs staple pieces such as simple chic black dresses and suites are items consumers are still willing to spend money on. These few big-ticket items are still deemed acceptable to purchase because they are constantly on trend.

“Staples like little black dresses can be worn to any occasion with any accessory,” said sophomore Fashion Merchandising major Christopher Traina. “Women are willing to drop a decent chunk of change on a dress that makes them feel good despite the state of the economy.”

Women rationalize spending a lot on staple pieces because they are timeless. European women have been employing the quality over quantity style for years now – buying a few designer pieces and using trendy accessories to create a new look. The American idea of living in opulence and excess is slowly dwindling.

According to The New York Times, we are being ushered into an era of “recession chic’ and its personification, the ‘recessionista,’ the new name for the style maven on a budget. That the word represents the times could explain why Sarah Palin’s new wardrobe ($75,000 at Neiman Marcus and nearly $50,000 at Saks) struck some as distasteful.”

This new frugal sense of style is not necessarily bad. This is not the first recession the country has ever gone through, and by no means is it the worst. During the Great Depression, retailers drastically dropped prices and advertised clothing as “economy chic.” Advertisements encouraged consumers to be “smart and thrifty” during hard times. According to The New York Times, “In the wake of the stock market crash of 1987, designers began to offer less-expensive second lines. In 1989, for example, Donna Karan introduced DKNY.”

If the entire nation adopted the mindset of less is more when it comes to clothing and material goods it could actually help the economy and the environment. If the demand for cheap products decreased, the production would also decrease, thus shutting down many third world sweat shops. Consumers would still be purchasing material goods, therefore the economy would still be stimulated – the goods would just be of a much higher quality.

Though higher quality goods usually come with higher quality price tags, they are usually more durable and worth the extra money. “Think about it,” said sophomore Pre-Med major, Abbey Ketner, “If less disposable or cheap products are purchased, less will end up in landfills, which means there will be less harm done to the earth each year.” Therefore not only are you saving money in the long run, your saving the planet as well.

So even though not being able to buy that trendy new bag that costs more than you make in a month seems like the end of the world, fear not frugal fashionista, you are not alone. A new era of fashion is upon us – recession is “in.”


One response to “Recessionistas: Is Cheap now Trendy?

  1. Cute piece, and yes, it’s now Chic to be Cheap.

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