Thrifty District: Staying Cute in a Recession

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘lorigoldberg’

This Thrifty District is going to be kind of lady-focused. I apologize, male WLDC readers (and lady readers who are not so into accessorizing and hairstyles), but we’ll have some college basketball coverage this afternoon to balance it out, okay?

So, the economy is in the crapper. People are getting laid off all around you. Maybe you’ve been laid off yourself. You need to cut costs, but you also don’t want to look like a scrub while furiously networking and trying to secure job interviews. The best way to improve what’s already in your closet (especially if you’ve taken Jenn’s advice on cheap-but-chic clothing) is with a good haircut and accessories, but that can be expensive too, especially if you’re unemployed. Fortunately, there are ways around that.

Don’t worry- you don’t have to hit the bargain-basement chain shops for a haircut. You’ve probably heard the advice about going to a beauty school to get your haircut, but I always ignored it. Where I grew up, the closest beauty school was at the local Vo-Tech, which meant the stylists were 16 and 17. No thank you. But here in DC, we are fortunate to have an Aveda Institute, which is an entirely different animal that will still cut your hair for $18. It IS a school, so if you’re accustomed to going to your normal stylist, not giving very detailed instructions and zoning out, and being in and out in an hour, you will have to adjust your expectations- pay close attention to the student stylist, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ask her to pause so you can stop and check your hair mid-cut if you feel like maybe she’s headed off the rails. And this is probably not the place to try something daring or drastic, but the Aveda instructors do supervise, so you’re not just abandoned in the hands of a newbie with scissors, either. If you’re looking for hairstyle inspirations and other hair beauty tips, you could check out before heading to the salon.

Now that your hair has been addressed, it’s time to think about accessories. Broke? No problem. Do what my friends and I did a few months ago. One friend organized a swap- everyone brought a snack and all the stuff out of their closets and jewelry boxes that they don’t wear anymore, we laid it all out on tables, and went “shopping” in our friends’ stuff.  There were piles of shoes, handbags, scarves, hats, jewelry, and some other random stuff. Anything that no one wanted to take home was donated to charity. Everyone walked away with some cool new-to-them stuff, and I can’t speak for the others, but I wear some of those pieces more than I wear some of the stuff I bought myself.  To widen the pool, tell your friends to invite THEIR friends. Some people even cleaned out their mother’s closets (barely used Coach purses! no kidding!).

It can take a little ingenuity, but it IS possible to continue looking put-together even while jobless or after a pay cut.

Many, many thanks to friend of WLDC Stephanie for her contributions to this Thrifty District. I cribbed heavily from her suggestions. UPDATE 3/20: Link to Stephanie’s guide-to-unemployment blog added.

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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One thought on “Thrifty District: Staying Cute in a Recession

  1. Let it be known that I shall fill the man-sports niche. Who is surprised? Power to all my men who love cheap jewelry and my ladies who love basketball.

    also – having a friend closet shopping party sounds like the best idea evar