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A new term for our credit-crunched and straitened times, recessionista is a play on the much older term fashionista, known from 1993, for a devotee of the fashion industry or a wearer of high-fashion clothing.

Michael Gore wrote about recessionista in The Times on 6 October 2008: “Apparently a recessionista is a fashionista (natch) who is decisively on trend in these straitened times and dresses exclusively in black (it’s grim), vintage (it’s all we can afford) and long skirts (going short during bad economic times is as frowned on in hemlines as it is in hedge funds).” Another term for it is recession chic.

Recessionista had previously been sighted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Washington Post and the Daily Mail and first appeared as far back as November 2007 in US News & World Report. But in that last report it had the sense of an economist who considered a recession to be a desirable corrective for surging house prices and untrammelled financial speculation.

Terms such as recessionista and fashionista borrow the -ista suffix for a committed supporter of a person or organisation.

Welcome to “recession chic” and its personification, the “recessionista,” the new name for the style maven on a budget.

New York Times, 24 Oct. 2008

You are the new recessionista, a woman who chooses her Gucci, Prada or Fendi outfits with care, who doesn’t feel guilty any more because she isn’t spending big bucks on mega brands. The recessionista is for the fashionista on a budget. She’s chic, uber cool, most definitely not cheap and yes, her wallet is always happy.

India Today, 15 Sep. 2008

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 11 Oct. 2008
Last updated: 1 Nov. 2008

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-rec2.htm
Last modified: 1 November 2008.