"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dressing Well in Hard Times

I'm quite sure my visitors, who arrive here in increasing numbers, don't stop in for musings on economic gloom and doom. Neither do I. But to ignore the news of the day/week/month/year/decade? is a bit too ostrich-like, even for me, a congenital Pollyanna. I won't claim to be unaffected by what's going on--I know I'm not alone in being an investor and shareholder who pays attention to the variations in the stockmarket.

My two current mantras:

"What goes down will come up again."

"A decade ago, only a crazy person would've predicted the market would ever reach 10,000. Let alone 11,000. So let's take the long view, and just calm down."

My knowledge and experience of credit is very, very limited. I paid cash for my first brand new car, after grad school, so I've never had a car payment. You could accurately call me a fiscal conservative. I've got a couple of credit cards, one in my own name for my business/personal expenses (this is the very same account I've had since I went off to college, although the name of the bank on the card has changed several times.) We have a joint card for household purchases. Also a few department store cards, which I only use if offered an extra discount for using them. I'd never shop with cards at all if I couldn't pay off the balance in full when the bills arrives.

We are fortunate to be living an entirely debt-free lifestyle. And I assume, though perhaps I'm mistaken, this is somewhat unusual.

Last week the Chap and I attended several lavish social events, at which the participants were often overheard bemoaning the altered economy. As Jimmy Stewart comments in one of my favourite films, The Philadelphia Story, "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges." I don't actually agree with that, there are many prettier and more pleasing sights I can think of, but basically it's what we were doing. And it seemed to me that some of these people felt their privileges might be threatened.

On the night of the banquet and ball, I was as dressed up as I'd ever been in my life--since my wedding day, that is. If, in these hard times, I'd spent a fortune on my clothes, I'd be embarrassed and guilty.

Here's a revelation: my entire outfit that night cost less than $100. And every item but one was purchased on Ebay. And just wait till you hear where that other item came from!

Let's run down the list.

Ballgown. Upmarket. Designer sample. Ebay Buy It Now purchase. Cost (including postage): $73

Matching shoes. Upmarket. Ebay Auction purchase. First time I've ever bought used shoes, but they were barely worn and the Perfect Colour. Cost (including postage): $12

Evening shawl, Chinese, 100% silk. Gorgeous. Ebay Buy It Now purchase. $13

And now for my non-Ebay purchase....

Hair clips. Same colour as ballgown. After an exhaustive search in every boutique and department store in Central and Seacoast New Hampshire, I found exactly what I needed at the Dollar Store. Yes--the Dollar Store! How cool is that? Cost (no sales tax in NH): $1. (Sorry they don't show up in the pic, but I did wear them.)

If you do the math, as I finally got round to doing after I was home, you'll find that the entire ensemble cost me a whopping $99. Less, in fact, because I rounded up.

I strongly doubt that any of the other elegant ladies can make that claim!

I can't help feeling chuffed about my thriftiness, especially since I got loads of compliments on the night. Admittedly it helps--a lot--having a dress and shoe size that enable me to buy items off the internet that fit perfectly.

Oh, and one more thing. That skirt I wore to the French Ambassador's party--embroidered satin and sequins--

--found it for $15 on a sale rack at a local shop!

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