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A Recessionista’s Guide to Fashion by Raz

by Prince Of Petworth — December 16, 2008 at 11:00 am 9 Comments


People are quick to size up others based on their appearance. Most people want to portray a positive message to the world, and clothes and fashion are an important means to accomplishing this. Ed. Note: I now wonder what message I’m conveying to the world… Whether at work, out with friends or just walking around, everyone is taking some notice of your outfit.

For this Recessionista Guide, I have some tips on improving your wardrobe while minimizing spending.

  1. Clean out your closet – Donate. Go through the clothes, shoes and accessories you currently have and determine what you actually wear and like. For the items you no longer want, donate them. Bread for the City (on 7th and P in Shaw) and Martha’s Table (on 14th between V and W) are convenient places to go. Now you have more room in your closet and a tax deduction. Make sure you get a receipt for your donation.

  2. Clean out your closet Revive. Next, for the clothes and shoes you still like, but have seen better days, revive them. Take your battered shoes to a shoe repair place. I took about 8 pairs of shoes to George’s Shoe Repair (16th and U), and for about $120, they all have a new life. That is a lot cheaper than replacing all of them. Also, take a visit to the tailor. If your clothes are too big or small, get them sized so they fit your properly. I took a few dresses to Mt. Pleasant Cleaners – I got 2 hemmed and 1 tailored – and avoided replacing them all.  Continues after the jump.

  3. Organize Your Closet. Now that you have gotten rid of items you don’t wear and revived those you do wear, organize your closet. Actually seeing all the clothes you have might inspire some new outfits. You might also find things you forgot you have, depending on how messy your closet was.

  4. Hit the Discount Stores. If you are feeling patient and in a shopping mood, discount stores are a great place to go. Digging through the racks can be tiring, but there is usually some treasure to be found. Marshall’s and Filene’s Basement are great options that are convenient to get to. There is also a lot of discount shopping in Friendship Heights, in addition to some very expensive shopping, although that is more of a trek.

  5. Shop Secondhand. Thrift stores are another great way to score inexpensive clothes and accessories. There are some more boutique-y places – Meeps, Secondi, Current Boutique (in Arlington), etc, and there is the traditional Value Village, Goodwill, etc. I just read yesterday about the opening of a new thrift store in Georgetown. I know there are a few on the Hill as well. These stores are usually hit or miss, and also require patience

  6. Hit up Target. I have found a lot of great pieces here. I actually purchased a bulk of my work wardrobe from Target. This is also a great place to buy workout clothes.

  7. Buy Multipurpose Pieces. I try to buy clothes and shoes that I can dress up and down, and wear to work or out. Also, buy multi-seasonal pieces. You will get a lot more wear out of them.

  8. Shop Sales. There are a ton of sales going on with the holiday season right now. There are also some good local sale days. There are discounts at many Adams Morgan stores on the first Tuesday of every month and in the U St Corridor on the third Thursday of the month. I got a great skirt over the summer for half off at Nana on a Third Thursday. It is a lightweight material in a dark color, so I’ve been wearing it all year. It is also something I can wear out or wear to work, depending on how I complete the outfit. Remember the rule of thumb with sales though; it’s only worth buying if you would buy it were it not on sale. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few pieces that I bought on sale and have barely worn.

  9. Coupons. Yes, I preached this in my Dining Guide, but they really are a great way to save money. The Post usually has coupons for local stores, especially Macys. Also, a lot of the neighborhood places carry coupons for each other. Be on the lookout for those when you are out and about. For example, I grabbed a coupon to Nana when I was at Quiet Mind Yoga. You can also find coupons and coupon codes online.

  10. Embrace Accessories. This probably applies more to women, but you can give your old clothes a whole new look with accessories. From necklaces to earrings to scarves, your outfit can take on a new vibe. These do not need to be expensive. I recommend H&M, Forever 21, Filene’s Basement and thrift and antique stores, among others. I also like to buy accessories when I’m traveling. Every time I wear them, they bring back memories of the trip.

  • All good pointers.
    I shop at Tarjay (Target) all the time…
    I donate to the Salvation Army at least every season change when im converting gear.
    Multipurpose is my middle name.

    I had to do less accessorising. I think i was scaring the “New” peps to DC urban life. mainly my spike wrist bands.

  • Irving Streete

    All good tips, but recessions are also a good time to buy one or two expensive pieces to complement your Target haul. I mostly live in Levi’s and button-down oxfords, but Saks and Polo are already mounting massive pre-Christmas sales, as are Macy’s and Nordstrom. Even then, a lot of things are out of reach, but a little effort can turn up a the few gems you need for that big night out or your first post-recession job interview, even if it’s just a new tie or a decent sweater.

    The day before Christmas (scouting, but some big discounts) and the day after (early) are excellent shopping days to get a present for yourself. Also, about mid-January when they’re really trying to move stuff out. Also, if you sign up for a credit card, you can usually get an additional discount, but I’ve found that this strategy can be expensive in the long run.

    PS: If you sign up on line, you get all the sale notices e-mailed. Just got one for 70% off at Saks. I think Santa’s going to bring me a sweater this year.

  • Anonymous

    It might be a little out of the way, but the Mustard Seed in Bethesda is a WONDERFUL consignment shop. Really good prices, cute clothes…probably half of my wardrobe has been acquired there.

  • Hey Raz-

    Thanks for the shout-out. Bread for the City is gearing up for Christmas, so coats, scarves, gloves, and warm clothes would all be a huge help. We also have a center in Anacostia (1640 Good Hope Rd. SE, 20020) where people can drop off donations.

    Hope that helps, and happy holidays,


  • MPinDC

    I’m a long time thrift store shopper – although I haven’t been there for awhile the Opportunity Shop on Wisconsin was good.

    I’ve recently discovered Martha’s Table – after you donate (call first to be sure they are taking whatever it is you want to donate) check out what they have to sell.

    Also Value Village on University Pkwy.

  • [Irving Streete ]

    Oh true also…
    I normaly snatch up a decent medium to cold weather coat from the upscale places when prices drop.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll post the name of my absolutely favorite thrift shop in the world. I dress well and no one would ever guess that I get a ton of stuff from Value Village on University Blvd, in Hyattsville/Adelphi or the one on Connecticutt Ave and Randolph Road in Wheaton or even the one on Annapolis Road in Bladensburg/Landover. When I feel like I want to go shopping, I skip Norstrom or some high end store and take my shopping jones to VVs. I get socks, shower curtains, tennis shoes, sweaters, blouses, shirts (I got a bunch of clean like new LLBean thick cotton shirts for my husband for $2.95 each), children’s books, dish towels, bath mats, place mats, please stop me… On federal holidays, everything is half price.

  • anonymous

    I’d just add that buying at sales when a store is trying to get rid of seasonal merchandise (sweaters and coats, or tank tops and bathing suits) can also land you some great deals.

    I tend to have good luck scouring the clearance racks at Macy’s — sure it’s a pain to have to dig through all the ugly and/or ill-fitting stuff that makes it there, but you can wind up with some gems (like the $99 shirt I’d been coveting a few months ago, marked down to less than $20!)

  • Allinjtown

    These are great tips! I also trade with or borrow from friends, especially accessories. When you are each bored with your wardrobe, it’s a great way to spice things up!


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