Wednesday, January 6, 2010


When the economy first took a downturn, a lot of people legitimately tried to cut back on luxuries. In fact, things were so bad that a lot of us had to take a long, hard look at what we actually considered to be a necessity. We started asking ourselves, "Do I really need this?" and "Is it really important for me to spend money on _______ (fill in the blank)?" When push came to shove, things like going to the movies, taking long weekends out of town, and of course purchasing the latest fashion trends all went by the wayside. And the media took note. Anyone who has picked up a fashion magazine or watched a style segment on TV in the last 12 months has seen or heard the term "recessionista." It started off as a good enough idea- someone who is able to be stylish on a severely limited budget. But what has it become? Little more than a joke, if you ask me and one that's not a little bit insulting.

The term "recessionista" has almost become a comical term, referring instead to celebrities and the wealthy elite who evoke the idea and feeling of being affected by the recession because it's the 'in' thing to do, especially if they have no real need to. They may, in some circumstances, go out of their way to purchase the "low-end" product to show how much of a budget-conscious effort they are putting forth. Or like Keira Knightly, they'll rent their designer shoes for the night of the awards show rather than purchase a pair to keep.

Keep an eye out for the term "recessionista" and you'll find a wide spectrum of hits- everything from legitimate advice, (like change the buttons on your winter coat to participate in the oh-so-trendy military look) to absolute absurdities like the advice found in Esquire's Fall 2009 Big Black Book. This "Style Manual for the Successful Man" offered suggestions to the consumer that included a $5200 Hermes peacoat, a $1300 Cavalli woold cardigan and a $16,000 Carbon-fiber cellphone (and all three of these items appeared in the first 20 pages). The editor's note described an experience several years ago, brokering an event in which the talent refused to get out of bed for less than half a million dollars. David Granger (Esquire's Editor in Chief) writes, "... as ridiculous as conspicuous consumerism could seem back then, it now seems criminal." He wrote this under the guise that his magazine is offering recession-friendly, quality items, because according to their logic, in a time of economic downturn, we should buy things that will last- in other words make investments. I don't know about you, but there is nothing I relate to less than a cell phone that costs as much as a car. It seems the idea of a "recessionista" has only widened the gap between the classes.

It's not that I have a problem with the finer things in life. Honestly, if I had the money, I'd probably own a lot more nice things. I don't personally have a problem with my status. My coworkers, friends and family and I all make do with what we have. But as the "Style Manual for the SUCCESSFUL Man," I wish Esquire would encourage those of its readers who can greatly contribute to the economy to do so. Celebrities, wealthy bankers, trust-fund socialites, etc. would all help the economy out a whole lot more by continuing to live their lives of luxury, rather than jumping on the recession bandwagon- acting as though they are pinching pennies and "making do" when all they're really doing is prolonging this recession and insulting all of us who are actually trying to eke out a living and look good doing it.

P.S. I absolutely HAD to share my favorite (or most insulting) excerpt from the Big Black Book. In what I suppose is an attempt to encourage consumers to purchase a Belvest cashmere and angora blend blazer, Esquire informs us that "the mark of a well-made blazer [is]... how easy it is to ball it up and chuck it in a corner." How much does said blazer cost, you ask? Only $2495.00 and NO the decimal point is NOT in the wrong place. I don't know about you, but if I had a blazer that cost nearly $2500, the last thing I'd do is test its worth by balling it up and tossing it on the floor. Shame on you, Esquire. Shame.

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