Monday, January 19, 2009

"Dressing Up In Down Times"

The Wall Street Journal had the title of their article just right, so I used it in quotations. Couldn't have said it better. As our nation is captivated by the newly elected president and all the inauguration festivities, we wish to celebrate but do so in keeping with the times.

Michelle Obama has set a clear tone that her fashion sense will be moderated by these tough economic times. While she may be our new fashion barometer, so too will be her fondness for affordable style.

Dressing for the inaugural balls has long been complicated terrain for first ladies arriving during an economic downturn. Too much glamour and the incoming administration will be accused of excess, not enough glitz and the first lady may be branded dowdy.

Michelle Obama, who became a focus on the campaign trail for her style mix from J. Crew to Narciso Rodriguez, hasn't yet disclosed what she will wear to the 10 balls she and her husband plan to attend. Just days after Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech, designers began submitting sketches to Mrs. Obama's team for potential inaugural gowns.

During the 1930's Depression, our nation welcomed another President who chose to skip the inaugural ball as a symbol of the era's new austerity:
In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt skipped his inaugural ball due to the Great Depression. Eleanor Roosevelt attended alone wearing a simple lavender velvet dress with detachable sleeves. (The president didn't attend any inaugural balls during his four terms in office.)
Not all presidential parties were so in-synch with their economic times, while some were in keeping with the mood of the nation:

Calvin Coolidge insisted his wife not repeat outfits, says Ms. Caroli. And while he had a reputation for being stingy, he spent lavishly on his wife's clothing. In 1923 Grace Coolidge signaled a return to glitz in the White House with her bright red flapper-style inaugural gown, the height of roaring 20s style.
Too much glamour during tough economic times can spark criticism. In the midst of recession in 1981, Nancy Reagan wore a range of outfits worth more than $45,000 for inauguration festivities, by most estimates. The former Hollywood hostess chose a one-shouldered cream gown with a sheer beaded overdress designed by James Galanos and borrowed diamond drop earrings and a matching necklace valued at more than $100,000 from jeweler Harry Winston.
Depressionaire Divas, though, don't need to shape their fashion sense to such strict standards. A bit of moderation, toned-down glamour, and practical style are always in fashion. Taking our clues from Michelle Obama will make our fashion decisions so appropriate that we won't have to worry about too much glitz!

Inauguration Style for Depressionaire Divas

Celebrate! It's time to get dressed up and party for all those inauguration balls. Looking glamorous doesn't mean you have to spend a lot.

Blogger Kate Michael was put to the task and came up with an inaugural-ball-worthy outfit that she herself would consider sporting to an upcoming event, all for less than $200.

Here’s what she found:

Black-and-gold strapless Jessica McClintock dress: $99.

Black splatter hoop earrings from Forever 21: $3.80.

Textured gold bangle set from Forever 21: $5.80.

Retro black-and-gold necklace from Pilgrim: $46.50.

Evita black satin clutch from Forever 21: $15.80.

Total: $170.90. ** Our first frugal fashionista to come in under budget! has done all the shopping for you if you're in Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Frugal Shopping Back in Vogue

Just because we're all shopping with a much smaller budget doesn't mean we have to forego the pleasures of the adventure. Even if your target purchase must come in under $20, there are bargains galore. Retailers have responded with price slashing, two-for-one deals, and other enticements to see that you part with your dollars.

The Newsweek article points out the advantages of these economic times for the hard core shoppers (doesn't that include all Divas?). Discount retailers will continue to dominate the market, as noted below, but even the traditional retailers will take cues and respond accordingly.

Among the few shops on High Street reporting increases: shoe menders, pawnbrokers and
down-market discounters like the Aldi no-frills supermarket chain.

"A make-do and mend mentality is taking hold." Andy Bond, CEO of Asda, another supermarket chain, has compared Britons' increasingly frugal habits to the post– World War II rationing era.

With spending unlikely to recover fully as Americans and Brits are forced to save again, discount companies like Asda, Wal-Mart, JetBlue and McDonald's look set to outperform their upmarket competitors for many years to come.

As an example of traditional bargains, I found these on-line this week. My $20 planned expenditure will be wisely spent, and here's some ideas for additions to my wardrobe:
This darling tee is $13.90 from Nordstrom. It can be matched with any of your existing jackets, worn over a camisole, or be used to sleep in. Delightful!

Can you believe this trendy trench coat is only $9.99. This Mossimo design is at Target.

Happy shopping, Depressionaire Divas!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Red Carpet Hairstyles and Makeup Reflect Economy

Style and beauty for this year's Academy Awards red carpet will likely reflect the somber economy, so says the New York Times:
As the economy has taken a turn, so too has the public’s tolerance for extravagant display. And this year stylists expect celebrities to take their cues from stars popular during the golden age of Hollywood, edging toward classic looks and away from any trend that smacks of ostentatious consumerism.
What might red carpet hairstyles look like?
Stylists agreed that curls will frame necklines, replacing jewel-crusted chandelier earrings, as the newest fashion accessory. Kohl-ringed eyes, like those peering beneath the Bond girl Eva Green’s bouffant at the 2007 Academy Awards, will be replaced by softer, smoky colors.
Here's Depressionaire Diva's favorite look for the times, Jean Harlow's glowing curls:

For divas who love hats, you're in luck. These hairstyles lend themselves to fabulous hats:
Of course, women wore hats in the 1930s and ’40s, which is why hair was shaped to their heads. Actresses, too, sought to evoke a sultry innocence, something that is absent in this era when cover photos of pouty-lipped, nearly naked actresses populate magazine racks.
Even make-up is going to be more subdued in this economic period:
For the face, understated but tasteful is key. “You don’t have to wear sackcloth and ashes,” Ms. Tollman added. “You don’t have to stop enjoying yourself.” What that means is matte lips, perhaps red — shiny glosses will be tucked away in the makeup drawer this year — and skin that is nude, softened with pink blush on the cheeks. For those actresses, though, who are looking for a more dramatic look, stylists are recommending smoky eye shadows and liners — gray, purple and brown, but no black. The mink eyelashes won’t fly, either.
All in all, despite the economic turbulence, it's a great time to be a fashionable, sultry, diva.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Depression Fashion Is In!

So says the LA Times, with a recent article pointing to the new trend in fashion and design focused on Cheap Chic and on-line discount shopping. But we depressionaire divas are way ahead of the crowd, aren't we?

Here are some great tips offered in the article:
Gilt, Hautelook, Ideeli and -- new online sample-sale sites are cropping up at lightning speed, promising "insider only" bargains on items such as Judith Ripka fine jewelry and Habitual jeans.

These sales are anonymous, meaning that shoppers don't have to feel guilty about spending. And they also offer good prices and value, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for market research firm NPD Group.

The on-line shopping opportunities keep getting better:
Before cheap chic was, well, chic, Topshop brought inexpensive, up-to-the-minute trendy clothing and accessories to the masses. Topshop also recently launched a U.S. website,, that makes it much easier to order products on the Web. Quirky fashion darling Zooey Deschanel already has her favorite picks up on the U.S. site.
The new mantra for depressionaire divas for 2009?
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," was the mantra of the post-Depression set, and a modern-day version is likely to be the 2009 rallying cry -- what "eco-friendly" was for 2008 -- even after the economy comes back to life. If there's a "dollar-saved" equivalent to the carbon-offset credit, expect that to be the next metric by which we'll all be judged. Conspicuous consumption in the form of wearing a status watch or carrying a luxe handbag will be as gauche as driving a Cadillac Escalade in a gas crisis.