One of the upsides of the recession is that it cut back on the amount of unnecessary spending in America. We were shelling out too much for clothes, appliances, video games, cosmetics, car accessories—you name it. And then we were spending on stuff to store all the stuff we’d bought but didn’t have a place for.

But all that stuff, ironically, has been a boon in the recession, argues Virginia Postrel in an interesting Wall Street Journal story this weekend. When we had to cut back on spending, we could turn to our personal storehouses of tee shirts and tube socks…

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Take 15% off the women’s tees and accessories at Michael Stars. (See more Michael Stars coupon codes.)…

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The End of the Trend

by Sara Clemence on February 1, 2010 in Lifestyle

Bid goodbye to waiting lists for nail polish colors (at the risk of dating myself, remember Chanel’s Vamp?), figuring out how to work mustard yellow into your wardrobe, and short-lived fashion trends in general.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, the past few years have seen the death of the trend. ( has a pay wall, but you can get around it by Googling the headline.) “Everything is in style,” the creative director of Doneger Group consultants told a group of retailers.

Christina Binkley reports that we’re in an age where women can more easily wear what looks good on them. The must-have of the month is gone. And before you bring up gladiator sandals and harem pants — gladiators had a good long run given how damn distinctive-looking they are, and harem pants seem to have died in the desert. Thank God…

Makeup is about beauty, and that extends to the packaging. We love shiny lipstick cases that snap shut, perfect eye shadow palettes, pretty bottles and boxes.

So you might think there’s nothing beautiful about an eye shadow compact held together with duct tape or a nub of concealer mashed into a jar. But especially if you buy high-end beauty products you can save a pretty penny by squeezing every bit of use out of them.

Here are five ways to save money on your gorg-ifying regimen. And if if makes you feel better, I’ve never seen a professional makeup artist lay out a row of pristine cases to work their magic. They mix, smash, drip and re-package.

Mend your broken makeup

When I was more free-spending, a dropped eye shadow would result in some mild cussing and another $15 charged at the makeup counter. But when I was unemployed and smashed a favorite MAC powder, it seemed crazy to spend so much on a little circle of pigment. Turns out, you can fix a broken shadow with a few drops of alcohol and a few other household items.

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In New York, frugal women know about Encore, the consignment shop where Jackie O. famously sold all of her unwanted clothing for extra cash. And since the recession hit, such stores have seen consigners come out in discreet droves to pare their closets and pad their wallets.

What you may not know is that holiday time is the best time for closet cleaning — which means that the start of the year is prime for scoring bargains. And most of America doesn’t think to resell Grandma’s Chanel bag at Encore; often, great goods go straight into the hands of non-Vogue reading volunteers at charity thrift stores, who price them way below market.

Don’t believe me? Good. More cheap Valentino scarves to adorn my unemployed neck.

If you’re fashionable but poor, consider dropping the pride and checking out these four thrift shopping venues. For $3 you may be walking home in a pair of never-worn Florentine leather boots.

1. Estate Sales

The only thing sadder than the death of an elderly person is watching families hold estate sales so they don’t have to clean out closets. Luckily for the recently laid-off, you now have time to rummage through those boxes to find that pre-war handbag from Paris…

With all the sales taking place and New Year’s just days away, it can be tempting to hit the stores for some new party duds. But face it (as I recently did): You have plenty of clothes. You just overspent on holiday gifts. And even the gainfully employed learned this year about the importance of being frugal. So here’s how to shop in your closet, and some sparkle to your evening without spending:

Repurpose Your Jewels

Works especially well with hand-me-downs from mom and grandma. Hang a big rhinestone pin on some ribbon to make a new necklace.

broken gingerbread cookie sharing 200We understand why you might not want to share everything (spouses and swimsuits spring to mind). But saving a few bucks by sharing other things is turning out to be one of the year’s big trends.

Sharing-based businesses are hardly a new phenomenon–though the old fashioned term for it is “renting.” Back in July we put together a roundup of our favorites, including textbooks and movies, back in July. But more companies are jumping on the sharing-is-caring bandwagon, letting customers take temporary ownership of party dresses and eco-friendly cars. After the jump, a roundup of the newcomers…

lori chalmers cha cha bags 200At the end of 2007, Lori Chalmers was laid off from her main graphic design gig with one day’s notice. Scrambling for income, she took a shot at turning her hobby—designing and making handbags—into a business. The 30-year-old talked to us about how she created her Toronto-based fashion company, Cha Cha, from scratch.

One day?

Well, as a freelance you have no protection, no severance, nothing.

I came home and had locked myself out of my apt. So I was waiting for my landlord, thinking about how I could make some money quickly. I had been making bags for my friends and for myself. It was my one skill…