Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recession Chic! One year strong.

Pacific Sun Column


I had the wonderful honor of being interviewed by the fabulous Brenda Kinsel of Pacific Sun on staying chic through the recession. She spoke with my two sweet sisters and me about creative ways to stay chic on a budget. The issue in which Brenda's column appears hit the newsstands yesterday. I think this means I'm famous! (I said "I think," so feel free to laugh heartily or disagree completely.) Brenda and I talked about my year of no-new clothes, which concludes on July 26th-- today!! Although I do need a few things-- some new tees and pants for yoga--, I'm planning to keep my current habit of no-new going. It feels right. We celebrated my year of no-new by picking up a discarded "FREE" bookcase from the side of the road (in new condition) for my studio on our way home from the big Saturday morning walk this morning. I took that a sign that we are on the right track!

To be honest with you, I hadn't reflected much on my year of no-new clothes, so my interview with Brenda came at the perfect time. For fun, I'll share the initial round of written questions Brenda emailed me before we spoke in person as well as my favorite get-ups from my year of no-new.

This is the dress that started it all:
top down

When did you make this pact?* Why? {*Note: Brenda contacted me with the understanding that my sisters and I had taken a pact of no-new clothes for a year.}

Perhaps my sisters have a pact, but I haven't heard about it. I started my year of no-new clothes last July when I finished the third day of the Washington Bar Exam and celebrated with a trip to the Gap to buy a new t-shirt dress for myself. I wear the dress all of the time, but it marked the end of an era for me: consumption as a reward for working hard. Since we moved to back to the Northwest from Colorado, my husband and I set a real intention to live the lives we always wanted to live. For us, this means making space for what matters: getting around town by walking or biking; eating organic and locally grown foods (we're actually experimenting in veganism this month); spending money on things and experiences we'll truly enjoy; spending time doing what we love. Not buying new clothes seemed like a natural extension of the way we lived the rest of our lives and felt really authentic to me. We bought our first house a year ago, so I am constantly looking for ways to maximize the utility of each dollar, and I know this experiment has made a difference. I didn't originally intend to set the goal of no-new for a year, but it happened that around 4 months, I noticed that I no longer even wanted to shop for new clothes. That's when I thought I'd try for a whole year.

6 may 2oo8

Where are you "shopping" if you aren't shopping for new things?

For most of the year, I shopped by going through boxes of my own clothes and actually wearing them. I looked at it as a creative exercise as well as a way to purge the items that have no place in my wardrobe. This spring and summer, I have branched out to Goodwill and Value Village, but I have a little game I play where I only let myself look at what is half-price that day.

I hear you are creating more individualist outfits by sewing, etc. How or where are you getting your inspiration?

I have been really honing my aesthetic as an artist this year, and I find that "my style" naturally permeates all aspects of my life: home decor, food, and (of course) fashion. That being said, I find inspiration everywhere and carry a camera or sketchbook with me to capture it for later. Before I started the year of no-new clothes, I joined an online community called wardrobe_remix (started by Tricia Royal-- a SF designer) where members post daily outfits. I get a lot of inspiration there. Also, I'm constantly consulting fashion, craft and diy blogs and podcasts. I've signed up for an apparel design class this fall to see how far I can take this.
seventy-six/ 365. friday. june. 20. 2008.

Is it easy to do?

I'm nearing the end of the year, and I can honestly say it was not hard. I thought it would be hard, but by actually thinking about what I can do with what I already have, make or buy for $1.50 and how that money could be spent more meaningfully, it was a piece of cake.

into it all.

What advice would you have for others?

Like all things, take it one day at a time. If you shop when stressed, think about the stressors associated with most shopping experiences and then brainstorm ways to mellow out in a truly relaxing way. Maybe even start small by limiting yourself to paying for new clothes in cash and giving yourself a monthly clothes allowance.

Is this a commitment based on politics, spirituality, personal leanings, etc.?

For me, all of my choices lead back to my well of beliefs, and this one is no different. I'm not buying into the whole idea that I need to run myself into the ground working a job I can't stand to pay off things I bought on credit so long ago they no longer fit my body or my lifestyle.

Links I included in my response~

wardrobe remix: (started by tricia royal at
burda style (open source sewing resources):
etsy (buy handmade & vintage):
most of my wardrobe remix photos are for friends and family only, but here is a link to my public photos:
the coveted (fave fashion site):

You can read the article in pdf right here.

Brenda is a fascinating gal. She is a fashion and image consultant, who writes books, columns and guides on style in addition to assisting her private clients. Does that sound like a dream job or what?! Brenda has a new book in stores now called Brenda Kinsel's Fashion Makeover: 30 Days to Diva Style! Check it out.

Happy weekend, darlings!


  1. Will you still love me even in your celebrity state? Seriously, I am so thrilled for you. The interview was wonderful and you look amazing! I have to say I am inspired...maybe this would be a good idea for a shopping addict like me? We'll see!

  2. interestin content and witty blog !! i love it

  3. what a great feature on you, and what an amazing perspective you have. (eep, i just bought a new dress yesterday that i don't need at all). well, this is proof positive that you don't need big bucks to buy a stunning wardrobe. you looked fabulous in those photos. and i think i enjoyed your description of how you arrived at your decision even more.

  4. mrs. french-- thank you so much! you're such a sweetie! i think *anyone* can do it. i used to have a bit of an anthropologie problem-- i'd walk in there to pick up a pair of tights or something and wind up dropping 400 bucks on random stuff. the challenge let me actually wear all of the clothes i've accumulated over the years!

    mr. style, thank you! and thanks so much for stopping by.

    aimee, thanks so much for your sweet comment! just wear the heck out of that dress and it's all good, right?! that's what i think at least!

  5. that's incredible! congratulations, youre a star!

    oh how I have missed your blog, I'm sorry it's been so long - I am back from vacation now, though, I'm so excited to catch up!

    <3 <3

  6. Great interview amazing topic. I really hope this gets around because it's very important.
    Thanks for sharing kelly and congratulations.

  7. i wish i were as bold as you (and pretty, and reasonable...)
    Well done!

  8. wow Kelly, seriously you are gorgeous... and past that, this is a really inspiring journey! I just might try it :)

  9. Kelly! This is a great interview, and an even better stance on becoming a non-consumerist society once again. I'd love to tackle a no-new pact of my own, and could use some tips from you!

    So, that means you owe me an email with:
    1. vegan tips
    2. no-new tips

    Can I just adopt you???? :)

  10. SO WONDERFUL! And your outfits are so unique! Congrats on the interview-- and what a true inspiration you are! I love reading your blog every day. :)

  11. Neat interview! Congrats on the magazine feature.

  12. thank you all for the sweet sweet comments! you've all just made my day!!

    erin, yes yes and yes!

  13. I have to tell you I am in seriously thinking of doing this, a friend and myself are thinking of doing it together...I need the support! I'll keep you posted!

  14. oh my gosh ... how cool are you? i actually am not sure i'd be brave enough to try to do that ... but judging from my shambles of a closet, i should do exactly what you did!

  15. you know what people say when i don't buy. that i am "limited". of course we live lifeby doing things that we like or go to places, but buy on a need basis, not WANT.

    am very glad to see others like You doing it.


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