Remember this: you are not alone in the universe. As our economic crisis causes jittery shoppers to pull back on the plastic, women are pickier than ever about what they buy (when and if). My own mantra is “ You are not the CEO of a luxury conglomerate,” which I chant as I bypass insanely–priced designer clothes and wrinkle creams, must-have “IT” bags, and boots that cost the same as a good used car.
One of my best friends (divorced but dating the same guy for three years) wears the same size I do and we now trade back and forth big-ticket items from our past inventory. We ran into each other on the street last week — she was wearing “my” Prada dress (2001) and I was carting “her” vintage Gucci Jackie O bag. Both of us were wearing “old” shoes we’d had re-heeled and platformed for a chunkier, more current look.
Recently I had a group of mostly divorced girlfriends over for a clothes swap. Everyone brought items they’d bought but didn’t wear for one reason or another. No money changed hands and it was a huge success, so I suggest you borrow the idea and start your own style club ASAP. One woman’s cast-offs are another’s finds, and this is far better than random consignment shopping.
Just checking out the way stylists put clothes together in store displays, magazine layouts, or on designer runway show websites gets your creativity going. It feels liberating and sneaky in a fun way to shop your closet and those of your friends without spending a dime. Don’t be afraid to tweak proportions at your local tailor and cobbler either. I just had a totally retro pantsuit “shrunken” to leaner proportions, the pants slimmed and ankle cropped, the jacket refitted — and plan on wearing it with a 70’s Betsey Johnson Fair Isle knit vest.
Here are five practical, cheap, and chic ways to get your clothes off life-support and back on-trend overnight. And they’re all free:
1. Belts in every width and finish from mock croc to skinny patents to studded leathers. Use that stash you’re hoarding to give straight tailored coats and dresses waists, and rein in long sweaters and cardigans over pants or skirts.
2. Feminine Blouses with Ruffles & Bows. Layered under fitted blazers and leather jackets, they add a stylish edge — the more unexpected the mix, the better. Salvage those summery florals or lacey flea-market blouses from your ”I’ll never-wear-it-again” pile. Check out Carolina Herrera’s collection online for ideas.
3. Vests, from menswear plaids to shearling, are coveted style pieces this season. Worn over body-skimming turtlenecks with narrow jeans/cords tucked into flat riding boots or Wellies, they have new-again appeal. Vests designed for boys and men also work for us in this way, so raid their closets too!
4. Big glitzy cuff bracelets from the 80s (no other jewelry puh-leeeze... practice restraint here) create one big opulent detail, especially if you’re going for a modern effect with clean-lined basics. Aren’t you glad you saved them?! And if you didn’t, your mother did.
5. Slouchy Wide Pants. Kate Hepburn-like flannels, tweeds, and herringbones are back and looking great with fitted cable crews and pea coats — so dig those out too. Just be sure you wear shoes with enough height to balance the extra width; that’s where the platforms come in handy.