EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The Fashionista Budget

By Caitlin Vincent

During the first few days of 2009, people across America had high hopes for their bank accounts. Things had been tight, to be sure, but the New Year, new President, and new national optimism would surely result in a few extra zeros magically appearing at the end of every person's checkbook balance. At the very least, Mr. Obama was certain to hand out a few coupons for Denny's.

Yet during the months since President Obama has been in office, things have not gotten much better. Instead of watching your favorite alligator-print Prada wallet suddenly swell with additional Grants and Franklins, each of you has watched the number of financially-stable, rakishly-handsome Wallstreeters diminish to a shockingly low amount (kiss your dreams of trophy wifedom goodbye). Fashion houses have filed for bankruptcy, your trusted aesthetician has started using generic eyebrow wax, and Britney Spears has made a comeback more promising than your chances of ever purchasing another pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Unless you prepared for this economic disaster by stashing gold bullion underneath your mattress, you are probably in the same position as everyone else: unemployed, underprivileged, and unhappily selling your Burberry trench coat.

But wait! Don't put that fitted trench on Ebay just yet.

As any true fashionista will tell you, a year of economic hardship is not the time to deprive yourself of what you deserve, particularly when it comes to next season's blue satin Manolos. Start buying $3 cotton panties from Walmart if you must, but just don't expect to emerge from the recession with your dignity intact.

Style is priceless, and the gods of Dolce and Gabbana demand that you pay any price to keep it. Here are four fool-proof ways to maintain your high-end wardrobe, no matter what the Dow Jones says:

1) Turn "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Can Subsist Solely on $1 Hot Pockets."

Hot Pockets might not taste the same as the lobster bisque that you enjoyed pre-recession, but it's the perfect way to cut down on your monthly expenses without reducing your budget for silk scarves and platform sandals.

PLUS: You'll finally be able to fit into that gorgeous Size 0 silk sheath that you bought after you had food poisoning three years ago.

2) When in doubt, CHARGE.

The magic of credit cards is that you can buy lavishly expensive clothes and not pay for them until some distant time in the future (at which point you are sure to have married a millionaire and bought a mansion in the Hamptons).

PLUS: Every man loves a damsel in distress, and no Prince Charming will be able to resist rescuing you from $235,000 in credit card debt.

3) Become the lord of the manor.

Real estate equals money, but that doesn't mean that you have to buy your own apartment complex in order to start calling yourself a Trump. Just move yourself and a year's supply of protein bars into your walk-in closet, and rent out the rest of your apartment to the highest bidder.

PLUS: Chanel and Dior are the best roommates any fashionista could ask for.

4) Dig your way to gold lamé.

Find an elderly millionaire who is looking for a lovely young woman to spend the rest of his life with. Double check that his life expectancy is less than two years (and that he didn't invest in Merrill Lynch), and then say "I do."

PLUS: He might have a cute grandson.

©2009 Caitlin Vincent


Caitlin Vincent is a freelance editor and comic writer based in the Baltimore area. She graduated from Harvard University in 2007 and from Johns Hopkins University in 2009.