Let me start off by saying I believe it's impossible to "recession-proof" about 99.9% of your assets. Stocks, homes, cars, jobs - unless you can predict the future, there's just know way of knowing what Providence will bring your way. However, there is that one little tenth of a percent remaining, and that one little tenth is all you need to keep the impending recession from knocking on your closet door. It takes time and patience to wait for the right pieces to build over time, so unless you're expecting a Visa/Mastercard bailout from Uncle Sam, get ready to do some waiting. In the meantime, consider these recession-proofing tips:
1. I try to keep about 80% of my clothing in the "classic" category. These things (great fitting khakis, nice jeans, solid turtle neck sweaters, black skirts, cardigans, a well-tailored suit) are never really "in" or "out". Since their style shelf-life is longer, I can afford to purchase higher quality pieces. They are also easily transformed into trendy outfits by incorporating the latest handbags, earrings, and scarves (purchased at less expensive stores). Put your money where it matters! If you're in love with a trend, by all means, go for it - but don't break the bank on those giant bug-eyed sunglasses (available for $10 at Target or $400 at Chanel) which you may refuse to wear in another year. Stores like Target and Forever21offer cheaply priced (though cheaply made) accessories that will at least make it through the season.
2. Try to make it yourself. If you've got the knack, sewing your own clothes can save quite a bit of money - not to mention that your clothes will be perfectly tailored to your body! You'll also save money in the long run if you can take in or let out your seams when your weight fluctuates, instead of taking half your clothes to the Goodwill (or worse yet, keeping them in your closet because you "know" they'll fit again some day). One of my friends has started sewing her own purses, which are adorable! Learning to knit or crochet scarves, hats, and gloves can save you a TON of money in the winter time. Knit your own set for a fraction of what you'd pay at a department store. If knitting or sewing really aren't your thing, try making your own necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Any craft store has the basic supplies (hooks, string, tiny pliers), and virtually any beads, buttons, and charms can used! Every year, my mom takes apart earrings she doesn't wear and rearranges the pieces to create new ones.
3. Don't pay full retail. If you're reading this, then you've got internet access. The web is Recessionisto's favorite way to shop for clothes. He hates wandering through department stores and trying things on, so stays away as much as possible. He also has closet full of Ralph Lauren. How? Well, eBay, mostly (though one third also comes from department store clearance sales and treasure hunting at stores like TJ MAXX). Since he knows RL inside out, he knows exactly what sizes and styles fit him best. He can hop online once a week or so to see what's available. He can typically find $40-60 polos for $15-30 new with tags (though you can easily find used or imitation items, he only buys the real thing). He's even found NWT Purple Label shirts (retail $145) for as little as $50-60!
As a really picky girl, I can't buy anything without trying it on. That's ok, too! My favorite navy Ralph Lauren sweater retailed for $160 at Dillard's. I tried it on to find which size I liked best, and then wrote down the product number. Once I got home I began my internet search, where I found a few online retailers carried the same sweater. At RalphLauren.com. it was on sale for $120. At Nordstom it was $115. One week later, it was on sale at Macys.com for $75. And before you get the idea that all my shirts are "cheap" at $75 each, I am a Goodwill/garage sale/consignment shop/Target FREAK and am usually wearing one piece from each of these fine merchants on any given day ;-) It takes patience to buy only what you want only when it's on sale, but over time you'll find that your wardrobe no longer needs a complete overhaul when the seasons and trends change.