Shopping in a recession

September 15, 2009 Just as you wouldn't shop at Home Depot for organic produce you can't go sifting through the deeply discounted merchandise and be upset when you find low quality synthetic fibers. Your wallet, your closet and YOU need to be in sync before you even step out the door. To align your shopping senses start with basic building blocks, says Hollywood designer Kara Kurcz and creator of


  • There are two types of fibers Natural and Synthetic
  • Natural of course are things like silk, cotton and wool
  • Synthetic fabrics include polyester, acrylic and Lycra

Natural Fibers are of course the most expensive and the best quality but in an economy such as this it's tough to be able to afford the quality you want at the price you need. So the most important thing is to shop smart. You must consider these three things, Kara says.

1.) What is your budget? Free websites like are a great resources
2.) What do you need? (Remember, NEED VS. WANT -- there is a big difference)
We all want the a fabulous new wardrobe for fall but when looking at your budget you need to figure out what you need.
3.) How long do you expect this item to last?
For example, if you are looking to look fabulous at your ex-boyfriend's wedding… and all you care about is being the Belle of the Ball for one night -- it is perfectly acceptable to buy what Kara calls "a one wear/one wash" item. BUT if you need a new dress for fall that has to get you through two weddings, a company party and a bar mitzvah, you better make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck.


You don't need to be a scientist to figure out that certain materials look and feel better on your shape so start by simply examining the garment:

  • Just paying attention to the "fit" can be the first clue to the quality of the material. Does it tug in areas like the armpit or waist? That can be a sign that even the stitch is cheaper.
  • Is the material transparent? Hold the material up to the light. Can you see your hand through the shirt?
  • What is the quality of smoothness? Run your hands over the material -- even scratch it a little, will it easily snag?


  • Where is the location of the fiber label -- this can be a big quality clue! Some of the cheaply made garments tend to hide the fiber content label in areas that are not easily seen.
  • Checking the Fiber Content -- 80% natural 20% synthetic -- is usually your best bet but checking out the ratios you will get a good idea of the quality of the fabric.
  • Learn what fibers shrink versus what fibers may fade or bleach.


Bottom line is -- if your wallet is hurting, so are the stores, Kara says. Store Buyers are desperate to find low-priced items with a high market value, just like the consumer is desperate for a deal. Shopping smart will not only make you feel more satisfied, it will send a message to the stores that you demand quality. The influx of cheap cookie-cutter products from overseas being sold at inflated prices is a huge trend right now, Kara says.

"It's putting the independent designer out of business. It is up to the individual to decide if that is OK or not," Kara points out. "I am all for buying a $35 dress and if it falls apart after one or two wears, so be it! It was a great deal and I got my money's worth! BUT, if I purchase a $78 dress whose material cost was probably the same as the $35 dress and I chose to NOT read the label then SHAME ON ME. To me, it makes much more sense mathematically to wait and save up $150to buy a higher quality garment down the road then to impulse buy the $78 one."

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