With the recession being heard and felt around the world, it’s now common practice to cut back on spending, and there’s been a wake-up call to everyone to only spend within their means. With every sector performing worse now than even a year ago, it can be difficult to remain optimistic for the future. The fashion world, too, has not been invulnerable to what feels like a rolling river of unemployment, volatile oil prices, bankrupt banks, and an overall feeling of shock and anxiety as everyone waits for the next wave to hit.
Department stores from Macy’s to Saks have reported much lower revenue earnings for 2008, and prominent fashion designers also took the economic downtown seriously, with Betsey Johnson and Vera Wang taking their spring 2009 shows off Bryant Park and into more down-to-earth, intimate settings. Even during New York Fashion Week, there was a noticeable pattern of reuse — patterns and silhouettes from past years made a comeback, like the use of strong shoulders harmonious to those in the 1980s. At Bryant Park, there was a resurgence of extravagant accessories, ones that could easily drape, match, or contrast for easy, long-term use.
Amid the array of shows, there were also murmurs of bringing back denim, a long-time controversial material that seems to be on most critics’ good sides now. On campus, Hannah Lee, a 2008 graduate in business administration, wore a fitted, perfectly broken-in denim jacket over a colorful geometric shift dress, a combination that’s unexpected but looks modern and slightly edgy. Lee’s use of denim is an excellent example of how one does not need to keep spending on the latest trends, instead revamping outfits with pieces one already owns, which can be just as chic, if not more so.
With accessories as the focal point of many spring shows, it’s no surprise that it’s also easiest to take advantage of, since people already own a variety of bags, shoes, and jewelry. Annie Teng, a junior design major, showed off her effortless ability to infuse a shot of color and texture into her outfit with a satin deep purple bag, and almost-as-purple suede peep-toe pumps. Like with her Dolce and Gabbana jeans, Teng knows how to spot a great investment piece, one that is timeless, excellent quality and that will never go out of style.
The overall message emanating from fashion designers and fashion lovers alike seems to be that in times of hardship, it’s important to be creative in recycling what’s already in your closet and putting them to good use. If you own an oversized piece like a cardigan or blazer, pick up a belt or two garnished with jewels or sequins at a vintage or thrift shop to go with it. If you have a classic, feminine bag collecting dust, it’s time to break it out again and pair it with simple, slightly masculine outfits to exude a mysterious, ultra-modern look. For someone with lots of outdated jewelry, consider visiting a craft store to deconstruct and reassemble them to create one-of-a-kind pieces.