The Recessionista’s Op-Ed: In Defense of the Recessionista Nation.

By  | 

Dissing The Recessionista is like serving up Hater Tots

Recently, on the ides of March to be precise, The Washington Post printed a fascinating Op-Ed piece entitled:  “I’m Not Buying Recession Chic.” Then today, another riffle shot in the dissing of the good Recessionista name rang out via the NPR Talk of the Nation show via a segment entitled “Frugal Chic’ Shouldn’t Be For Everyone.

Naturally, the hair on the back of my neck stood up as I listened to the bashing of the good Recessionista moniker via this esteemed US radio program. Normally, I stand unflappable on matters of who is a fashionista and who is a recessionista and who is frugal and who is not.  After all, these are individual choices. I have made a choice to go Recessionista here on my humble blog and share my opinions. However, I do find it humorous when a leading newspaper takes the time to discuss it. I enjoyed Kelly Marages’ piece immensely. She’s a very good writer. There’s nothing more stimulating than a good lead in about using Tupperware.  However, I was surprised by her characterization of Recessionistas.  She writes, “Enter the “recessionista.” Whereas a year ago this person may have attended the gala du jour in a brand new designer frock, she’s now wearing one recycled from the back of her closet” in her piece, ” I’m Not Buying Recession Chic.

So, I must respectfully dispute this definition of Recessionistas. I was never one to go to the in a new designer frock. However, I was one who cheerfully paid retail and ate out at restaurants on a regular basis. I didn’t do this because I was a spendthrift. I made these choices because I was busy working a demanding full-time job with very long hours. I didn’t want to take the time to cook, or hunt around for the best deals or stand in line to get a better price. My whole philosphy was I am tired from working so I want to do what is easy for me when shopping. How many professionals can relate to that choice? If you’re tired from a 12 to 14 hour work day, it’s so much easier to breeze into Nordstroms, get your goods, and get out in about five minutes. And forget clipping coupons, I was too busy to do any of that. I traveled about 50,000 frequent flyer miles a year for business.

But the times they are a changin’ in this pesky old recession. I decided to go Recessionista because I want to do a little more saving. By looking for better prices on items I commonly buy, whether it’s fashion, wine or a great dinner, I am indeed able to save a bit more. So before you give me a heaping serving of “hater tots” for this ephipany, hear me out.

There’s a new set of consumers now thinking of going frugal, and I say “don’t hate, congratulate.” It doesn’t matter how people come to being frugal. What matters is that we give them some tools and pointers to practice smart saving, that don’t leave them feeling deprived in tough economic times. My goal is to make it easy for people to find coupon codes and bargains via the magic of the Internet. The idea is to encourage people to put back INTO the economy, but to be smart about their spending. This is the purpose of my blog, The Recessionista.

After all, if everyone stops buying everything, there will be no economic stimulus. Think about it, this economy needs the Recessionistas as surely as the desert need the rains. Frugal Chic is indeed for everyone. Bring it Recessionistas!


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.


  1. greenfairie

    March 17, 2009 at 2:17 am

    What do you expect from the Compost and a radio network that needs taxpayer money to stay on the air? These people live in la-la world…most of us are not going to buy brand new designer outfits for every occasion like some damn celebrity (who gets their crap for free anyway).

    While I think some attempts at frugality are nutty-there is such a thing as penny wise and dollar foolish–there is nothing wrong with living within your means.

  2. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 3:10 am

    I LOVE NPR, but I do support ht econcept of the Recessionista. It is chic to be cheap and Ms. Hall is giving all of us great tips on where to find not just deals, but style at a reasonable price.

  3. March 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Don’t let them get to you, dear! Being a recessionista is being smart. You have made a conscious decision to help stimulate the economy without hurting your pockets and still looking fab at the same time.

  4. Anna Tomkowicz

    March 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I think the ‘Recessionista’ movement is symptomatic of an even greater phenomenon: an increase in consumer knowledge and empowerment. Consumers find it easier to make informed decisions and search for the best buys using voucher code websites, online comparison sites and also blogs like this one! A more competitive market is good for everyone, so I agree: bring on the Recessionista mindset!

    Anna Tomkowicz, FreshMinds Research

  5. Target-Addict

    March 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I haven’t read the Post article nor listened to the NPR story yet, but I am really sick and tired of all the OTHER pieces I’ve seen/heard recently about these “poor socialites having to recycle things from the back of their closets”. Well BOO HOO for them! Heaven forbid if they should be seen in public TWICE in one dress!! There’s also been a slew of stories about “label-backlash”, and how rich NY society folks are requesting plain brown bags for their Hermes and Gucci purchases. The wealthy are just feeling guilty for all they have, and are jumping on the recession-bandwagon to try and save face.

  6. collegefashionista

    March 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I am shocked that the Washington Post actually published the “I’m Not Buying Recession Chic” article. Author Kelly Marages needs to get that chip off her shoulder and appreciate the fact that people are being resourceful and conscious in tough economic times. Who cares how much people have or don’t have, there is nothing wrong with being careful and conservative with your money. Marages is the kind of person that will be bitter if people spend and bitter if people save, and that attitude is not what our country needs right now. Props to “Recessionistas” everywhere, whether they have deep pockets or empty bank accounts!

  7. MH

    March 18, 2009 at 1:08 am

    WOW–thanks for your support!

  8. Emily

    March 18, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Hey Recessionista, I’m a journalist and I read and love your blog. It’s funny to me, that since you started, I’ve seen your ideas and writings turning up in many press articles and on other blogs. Sometimes your blog is credited, but many times not. It was clear reading the Wash Post piece that the writer had been reading your blog and following it.
    I’ve read other bloggers take on what you write too. You began a dialogue on Recession fashion that is now blazing, so feel good about that. I read your blog because you have a UNIQUE voice. You’re not preaching, and you’re not “shaming” people about their spending habits. That’s important right now. Things like the Washington Post op-ed and other blogger’s posts putting down recessionistas or recession chic are not helpful to people right now. Your tips and humor are helpful, and a nicer way of easing people into spending change. After all, change is hard work. So keep writing even if the “hater tots” are thrown your way. One thing I’ve learned in my years in journalism is, if you got hater tots coming in, then you are doing something right!

    Remember, as Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

    PS–I’m sure book publishers read your blog as well as journalists, media and consumers, so rock on!

  9. Bernadette

    March 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Love the recessionista concept! This is a great time to realize that all of our purchasing decisions make an impact in our own lives as well as the greater community around us. I consider frugality to be wise,not cheap. Keep the tips and ideas flowing!

  10. Matthew Rosen, JD, SPHR, Certified Specialist in Labor & Employment Law

    March 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I am in total agreement with Emily in her Oscar Wilde quotation–better to be dis-cussed than totally dissed.

    Keep up the good work. You are a Woman of the People!!


  11. Matthew Rosen, JD, SPHR, Certified Specialist in Labor & Employment Law

    March 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I am in total agreement with Emily in her Oscar Wilde quotation–better to be dis-cussed than totally dissed.

    Keep up the good work. You are a Woman of the People!!


  12. Annette Lin

    March 22, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I love this blog and think its an awesome idea! But to all the people who tagged Kelly Marages as out-of-touch and bitter, I’d like to disagree. I don’t think she was against the idea of saving or being frgual at all. The article was a humorous, tongue-in-cheek article against those who pretend to be recessionista because it’s the “in” thing and because it’s no longer socially acceptable to spend money in a frivolous manner. It was against the insincerity of magazines promoting recessionista chic, who promote “shopping your closet” as the best thing since sliced bread, when as Kelly says, hello! Shopping your closet isn’t anything new, it’s actually common sense. Become a recessionista because you actually want or need to save money, not just because it’s cool.

    Sorry for the rant. I do like your blog and enjoy reading it immensely, so please keep it up!