All economic meltdowns aside, shopping is not life or death. There's nothing inherently highbrow or meaningful about the exchange of cash for a new pair of must-have shoes, a spiffy new coat, or a lush new sofa. On the other hand, shopping responsibly (defined as locally and within one's budget) is good for the economy and the soul. So, in the mutual interest of slowing the slowdown and forging new relationships with local retailers, shop well, shop smarter, shop this.
• Anyone who's read a recent issue of Vogue, or Memphis magazine for that matter, knows that black is, well, the new black. That's right, black's back in everything from clothing to makeup. (Beyond mascara, Yves Saint Laurent is showing a classic black lip-gloss this season.) Not quite ready to go all black? Then try this dress from Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. Royal blue and basic black strike the perfect balance. Available at Isabella, 4615 Poplar. Twelfth Street dress — $350
• Big bang, little buck. Oversized and bold, this ring makes quite the statement without making much of an impact on your wallet. Acrylic ring, $9 at Francesca's, Avenue at Carriage Crossing in Collierville and Saddle Creek in Germantown.
• Black has long been the gold standard of sports watches — at least since the Timex Ironman first hit the streets in 1986. Sports watch technology has no doubt advanced a few light-years since, but the classic black watch remains very much in fashion. The basic, steadfast Ironman can still be had for 40 bucks, but this one comes with a 50-lap memory, two interval times, three alarms, AND it controls your iPod (if only it could program the TiVo). It retails for just under $100 and is perfect for the serious runner who wants to look seriously cool. Outdoors, Inc., Midtown, 1710 Union; East, 5245 Poplar; Cordova, 833 N. Germantown Parkway. Timex Ironman — $99.95
• Black Sheep? Hardly. Downtown's newest shoe boutique carries L.A.M.B., Vince Camuto, oh Deer!, and more. These gorgeous Betsey Johnson pumps will definitely elevate one's style — and the gold buttons make them far from basic. Found at Strut, 524 S. Main. Betsey Johnson pumps — $395
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