As a comfortably middle class Baby Boomer with a passion for fashion, I do have to exercise some frugality. Fortunately, this comes naturally to me since I was raised by parents who were children of the Depression and passed on their values to me. This blog will be a continuing commentary on my efforts to justify fashion and frugality.
I’m very ingenious, wearing things in a way that they were really not intended. For instance, i have a rather expensive sarong-type black wool skirt by Donna Karan. I’ve had it for years but it was a mistake. I never should have bought it. Every time I wore it, the big knot in the front made me look fat even though I’m actually very slim. But, as I say, it was expensive,so the thought of throwing it out bothered me. Finally, I put it in a pile to give to charity. But before I gave it away, I suddenly had an “aha” moment. Why not wear it as a shawl? I now have a beautiful luxurious black wool shawl, and no one would ever suspect it’s really a skirt. It has no zipper, buttons, or closure and is very wide.
Remember when half-slips or petticoats were part of every woman’s wardrobe? Well, I unearthed a beautiful black taffeta one with embroidery on the hem. It was buried in the back of a drawer and I forgot I had it. Into the pile marked for charity it went. And then another “aha” moment. Why not wear it as a skirt? Why not, indeed. I wear it in the summer with a tee shirt over it, belted loosely at the waist. It garners me so many compliments.
I have a very expensive Valentino black wool suit with velvet trim. Was it a mistake? No, not really, but I hardly ever wear it because it just doesn’t look young and kicky. Throw it out? How can I throw away a Valentino suit? So in desperation I separated the suit and started thinking of it as a skirt and jacket The skirt I can get a lot of use out of because it’s a plain above-the-knee pencil skirt. Just what they’re wearing now. The jacket I wear with jeans or a pair of Bermuda shorts. Sheer black hose and a white shirt complete the outfit and I get a number of compliments. When I wore it as a suit no one ever complimented me, I think because I looked so prim and proper.
Miriam Silverberg is freelance writer and president of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique Manhattan publicity firm.