Finding your inner 'Recessionista'

LOS ANGELES Bargain hunter Sophie Barcy prefers The Salvation Army to Saks Fifth Avenue. She says all it takes is a little patience.

"It's a hit or miss. It's a crap-shoot. It's a gamble," said Barcy. "You can come in here and the place is practically empty and it's nobody here. And then there are days when the boxes come in, oh my gosh, it's like Christmas and it's like bells going off at a gambling casino."

You can get designer suits for $10 and deals like 50 percent off and two-for-one. It's all about finding your inner "recessionista."

"A recessionista is a style maven on a budget," says Mary Hall of Redondo Beach. "Someone looking for fashion at an affordable price."

Hall works as a marketing manager for IBM, but after hours she's a self pro-claimed recessionista.

Mary writes about her cheap, yet chic finds on her blog about recessionistas.

"I think there are people now trying to shop smart that never did before," says Hall.

Another favorite recessionista find? The seven L.A. area thrift stores run by the National Council of Jewish Women.

"Recessionistas have bloodhound instincts that will serve them well in the store. For instance, the minute I came in I see Louis Vuitton, I see designers, I'm going to dart to those racks," said Hall.

You can then circle back around to scoop up the less obvious finds.

"There are good things here, there's some junk too. It's a treasure hunt," says Hall. "You've got to pick through very carefully, but the good stuff's here."

Mary's blog alerts fellow recessionistas to sales and her favorite frugal finds. You can even print coupons off her site.

Mary admits she used to shun Wal-Mart fashion, but now?

"I had never been inside a Wal-Mart until they got the Norma Kamali Collection," said Hall. "You can buy a whole suit here, brand new for under $50."

You can find wrap dresses, workout gear, and coats, with an average price of $10 to $15.

Norma Kamali herself says her Wal-Mart line is the same quality you'd find at her upscale store minus the high prices.

"My swimsuits are $350, and my Wal-Mart swimsuits are $20," said Kamali. "There's something about this recession and the downturn in the economy that will not only bring me into this world, but make us all kind of come together and think of new ways to do things."

One more tip is to always haggle. Especially in our current economic climate, it never hurts to ask for a lower price.

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