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(Courtesy Of Barneys New York - Courtesy Of Barneys New York)
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recessionista Diaries, Part 4: Wherein we step back from the budget-crunching and get all aspirational on you.

For sure, this is a year of making do with what you've got, of scaling way, way, way back. But if you're going to throw caution to the wind and spend a little cash, you should be spending it on something fabulously distinctive.

These days, quality basics can be had for a (relative) song, thanks to savvy mass retailers who figured out that there was gold in them thar hills: The average fashion-focused woman might not be able to afford Stella McCartney, but she sure wants to roll out of the house looking like she could. For cashmere, hit up J. Crew. For a LBD (little black dress), haunt Banana Republic or Tar-jay. For clothes with a vintage, Marni-esque flavor, raid Anthropologie.

But life shouldn't be confined to just the basics. Everyone's life -- and wardrobe -- benefits from a little sartorial sunshine. Perhaps you find it in the guise of an artfully crafted bag. (And no, we're not talking about those gaudy "It" bags.) A marvelous pair of boots. An amazing pair of earrings. A miraculous pair of jeans that work wonders on the rear view. A classically beautiful coat. A to-die-for cocktail dress.

There's a difference between a splurge and a wise investment. The investment pays off season after season, long after the sell-by date on those here today, gone tomorrow trends. Quality is the operative word here.

So, if we had our druthers -- and a really fat bank balance -- we'd be running out to grab these little numbers. The swoops and curves of cashmere can't be duplicated on the mass market level. We're loving the mix-and-match patterns of Rachel Roy's dress. And those Prada ruffled booties? All we can say is, we want 'em.

Sigh.

-- Teresa Wiltz


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