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Style How-To: Shop Wisely in the Downturn

Shopping strategies for the new (read: bad) economy abound. Some we can get behind. Others are just silly. Among the more ridiculous notions is the shop your closet trend. We’re willing to wager that, for any item of clothing stuck in the dark depths of a dresser drawer, there’s a reason we forgot the item in the first place. Nor can we quit shopping completely. The economy may have come to a veritable stand-still, but our lives are still moving on. No matter how cinched our budgets become, we still need new items of clothing from time to time.

To learn smart ways to shop during the downturn, we asked San Francisco personal and home stylist Teresa Kuhl, whose client list includes Vanna White. She was full of tips – and not a one involves swearing off retail therapy or pretending your closet is as fun as an afternoon at Barneys.

1.    Go back to basics. Concentrate on acquiring the key pieces at the foundation of every great wardrobe. The classics, like a good coat, hand bag and shoes are important anchors to putting stylish looks together.

2.    Make a list and stick to it. Determine the gaps in your wardrobe before you set out to shop. Only buy what’s on the list. It’s that simple.

3.    Choose pieces appropriate for multiple occasions. Before buying, ask yourself, “Where am I wearing this? Can I wear it for more than one purpose?" For example, a sassy cardigan can be worn to the office and also on a weekend getaway to Napa.

4.    Go easy on the trends. Hop off the trend wagon, for now at least. Set a goal to invest only in classics and incorporate a few trendy accessories to keep looks current, like scarves, leggings, tights, bangles.

5.    Embrace quality over quantity. Opt for well-made clothing in high-quality fabrics to ensure your pieces have the bandwidth to last more than one season.