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Soup, slippers and a moth-eaten sweater: A guide to recession retrenchment

The Baltimore Sun

How, precisely, to dress for a recession? Modestly, resourcefully, with an eye toward vintage. Moth-eaten sweaters will stage a comeback. Holes are huge.

Worn shoes, too. Hand-me-downs, share-arounds, what-was-I-thinking and if-it-still-fits-wear-it will out-Vogue Vogue.

The old-money look will be the epitome of style - without, understandably, the money part.

Slippers are a sound purchase, unlike stocks, as many Americans won't be traveling anywhere with their farcical dollars. We will be spending much, much more time at home, with the heat turned way, way down.

Overpriced, oversized handbags will be rendered the sartorial equivalent of the dodo: a dead joke, akin to paying too much with a subprime mortgage. If India's Tata Motors can turn out a $3,000 car, women can do without four-figure handbags.

In? Reusable shopping bags.

What to eat for the recession? Soup. Soup is always good.

Also, apples, a historical crowd-pleaser from the Great Depression. For some reason, broccoli. Water, drunk from a glass, will be the height of elegance while mindful of the environment. Bottled water is so 2007. Four-dollar coffee, too.

Four dollars is what we'll spend on soup. Made with broccoli. Purchased with reusable shopping bags.

Know what else is so 2007? Discretionary income.

How best to travel? By foot. Bike, too. This is healthy for the body and planet, to say nothing of cash flow. Or, rediscover the exoticism of regional rail.

Know how wretched air travel has become? Give it up! Listen to others commiserate about late flights, missed connections and lost luggage while being freed from such anxiety, disappointment and lost hours crammed inside germ-infested vessels.

How to entertain ourselves recession-style? Bundling, snuggling while playing How Low Can It Go? with the gas bill. (Alas, not much.) Reacquaint yourself with dear friends, loved ones, and adolescents who share DNA and a residence but limited information and affection.

See? There are so many creative ways of adjusting to the cumulative effects of an oil addiction, costly war, stalled economy, trade imbalance, mortgage and banking crisis, and overdependence on countries with horrible human rights records.

Fun! Let us eat soup.

Karen Heller is a columnist for Philadelphia Inquirer. Her e-mail is

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