matthew_williamson-for-h-m-silk-dress-150With so many designers jumping on the “high-low” bandwagon, there are a lot more ways for the budget-conscious to get big names at small prices. (Thanks, Target, for starting the trend.) But it’s hard to keep track of who’s designing for who and what to get where. Here are the nine best designer collaborations this spring, a look at what you should get now, and a sneak preview of what’s to come.

Matthew Williamson
The most exciting collaboration this spring is by far Matthew Williamson for H&M. Available April 23 in select stores and May 14 in all locations, the offerings are truly inspiring—and not for the fashion-timid. His bright color palette, including electric blue and shocking pink, screams for attention. The silk fabrics and bold prints will having you running back for more. Price points are a bit high for H&M, but still manageable. Silk short-shorts come in at around $50 and the best silk party dress retails for $129…

boy-making-muscle-150Our friends at the 405 Club point out that New York Underground Fitness, on West 57th Street, is offering free access to people who can prove they’ve been laid off.

“There’s more to this business than just counting how many memberships you can sell,” said owner Eric Slayton.

According to a Bloomberg story out last week, people are taking advantage of down time by going to the gym…

blogger-layoff-chart-250Why didn’t we think of the hilarious chart over at Unemploymentality.com? On notebook paper, it “graphs” the number of blogs against the unemployment rate. Jobs down = blogs up.

We don’t have numbers to back that up—as wordyard explains today, it’s hard enough to tell how many people are professionally blogging—but it at least feels true. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of new websites about budget living, job hunting, economic policy, layoffs and more. A Google search for “ unemployed and blog” turns up more than 3 million results. “Laid off and blog” gives you more than 7 million.

So how to distinguish the smart, funny and useful from blather about not having a job? Last week, we compiled a list of the Top Ten Blogs for Surviving the Recession for our friends at Blogs.com. Here’s an expanded version of that list to bookmark if you want to understand the latest news, cut your spending, or get a damn laugh.

haircut and scissors 150Clothes go on sale, cars go on sale, even food goes on sale. But when was the last time your hairstylist offered you a discount?

Well, maybe now. As a way to serve their communities (and, of course, bring in business) salons around the country are offering recession specials. In Los Angeles, some are offering donation-only services, or complimentary bang trims for current customers. In New York, a few deals are specifically targeted at people who have lost their jobs. Here are a few high-end spots trimming prices:

The last time we looked, a new pair of Manolos cost about $650 and Tod’s loafers ran at least $400. Maybe last year we could afford to splurge on the newest and nicest, but for many of us, this season the shoe budget is now the rent payment. So how to make do with the shoes you have or at least find new styles that won’t put you in the red? Check out these seven ways to get the most out of your kicks this spring—without getting kicked out of your apartment.

starbucks coffee cupLaura Yona, 36
Glen Rock, N.J.

Keeping: Starbucks ($5 per cup)
I used to commute into NYC before I got laid off from my management position at Tutor.com. The one real just-for-me splurge that I’ve kept since being laid off is Starbucks in the morning. I have cut back to 3-4 times a week instead of every day, but it’s still $15-20 a week on coffee. For me, though, a lot of it is about actually going to my local Starbucks. The people there know me and are super nice to me and chat with me about what I’m reading. They are really the only people I get to talk to these days that I’m not related to or talking to about my kids. I always walk out of there with a smile on my face—totally worth the $5 or so I’ve paid for the coffee. (I also justify a little because I get four shots, so I’m really paying $5 for four coffees…they’re just all served in the same cup, right?)

Ditching: Salads, manicures, sitters, yarn and more
After being informed that my position was one of 13 being eliminated at the end of October, the second phone call I made was to cancel my cleaning service (the first was to my husband)…

What are you keeping and giving up in the recession? Email us, or discuss it in the comments section.

Stylist Julie Greene offers expert advice on looking fierce in a financial crisis.

shopping-bag-and-moneyIf you are like me (and lots of other people) your spring clothing budget isn’t what it used to be. I’ve had to accept the fact what I already own will, for the most part, have to get me through summer. Any dollars I do drop, I want to go as far as possible. And, I want to be sure every penny is well spent—on clothes I’ll love and wear, not items that I’ll find in a year with the tags still on. That means shopping thoughtfully and strategically, using these nine tips for getting the most out of spring spending.

Stylist Julie Greene offers expert advice on looking fierce in a financial crisis.

raybans 150Spring has finally sprung, and the urge to shop for new clothes is almost as strong as the need to find a way to pay for them. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot to look great this season. The biggest looks combine versatility with all-American style, and you only need five must-haves to update your wardrobe. Armed with these lists of essentials for him and her (and where to get them), you can even sneak your look into fall without spending a fortune.

1. Cool Cardigan
Grandpa’s cardigan isn’t what it used to be; find one that flatters your shape and wear it all year round—the layering trend isn’t going anywhere. H&M, Bannana Republic and The Gap all have great options.

Recession Dictionary Entry 150Finding and using smart strategies and ideas for dealing with the downturn—whether it’s saving money on your cell phone bill to dining for less. We don’t know where this one started, but there are already a few websites using it, including Recession Hacking and Recession Hacks. Without realizing it, you’re probably looking for recession hacks every day.

Frugal Fitness

by Sara Clemence on March 24, 2009 in Lifestyle,Money

weights-150Maybe you’re finding it hard to justify your expensive gym membership. Or maybe, like me, you’ve lost your sweet corporate discount on said expensive gym membership.

Either way, lots of us are looking for less expensive ways to work out. There are some obvious options, like walking or running outside, doing crunches in front of the television, and taking the stairs. But if they were so effective, you probably wouldn’t have joined a gym in the first place, would you?

We’ve found several ways to get a yoga/cardio/muscle-building fix on the cheap. Our promise: None involve using soup cans for bicep curls.