UChic Pop Rocks: Recessionistas

It’s no “breaking news” that with the recent economic climate, people—women in particular— are shopping less. Not only can many women no longer afford high-end shoes, bags and clothes, but the pendulum of fashion trends has swung away from luxe and glitz and towards a more staid, bling-free look. Even Karl Lagerfeld, the Authority of Luxe, stated, “This whole crisis is like a big spring housecleaning — both moral and physical… Bling is over. Red carpetry covered with rhinestones is out. I call it ‘the new modesty.”

Needless to say, numerous industries must now scramble to position themselves on the proper side of the new trend: NYC Fashion Week is downsized, sales signs can be found in the hallowed halls of Nordstrom, Saks and Bergdorf, and our new First Lady rocks J. Crew more than Chanel.

But who’s having the toughest time changing their tune? The fashion mags. Top rags like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Marie Claire have typically filled their pages with models in haute couture and images of Chanel bags, Jimmy Choo heels and Cavalli jackets as “great buys!” Fashion equaled luxe and it went without question that that is what American women were striving for.

But as Lagerfeld proclaimed, bling is over. And so the magazines have tried to shift their editorial to match the current climate, with features on “the best deals” or “style on a dime.” The most pathetic and confusing: “shop your own closet!” The word “recessionista” is being thrown around a lot. But with their new efforts, it is as if these fashion bibles, the ones to whom we look for sartorial guidance and wisdom, are turning their backs on us, offering a weak smile of encouragement tinged with pity, as they tell us that, alas, we can no longer access fashion after all. “Shop in your own closet!” is code for, “I guess you can’t go shopping after all.”

Paired with advice to wear your old duds (duh— and how depressing), the mags have published features on great “bargains,” which are either laughable attempts to pair white Hanes tees with thousand-dollar Bulgari gems or, more commonly, “inexpensive” $200 sweaters or skirts. As much as you love these magazines, you have to wonder whether it’s sheer ignorance or a conscious rejection of reality that hinders their ability to approach fashion and shopping practically in these hard times.

Only time will tell if the magazines will radically conform their editorial to smaller wallets or if the economy improves before they have to. In the mean time, embrace your wardrobes, girls— it’s gonna be a long, shopping-free winter.


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