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You voted with your clicks and your comments, and the numbers, they don't lie: the lesson of this Great Recession is that money, or lack thereof, cannot keep us from looking stylish, being clever, building great communities, and having fun.
These Top 10 Shoestring Stories of 2010 point out once and for all that necessity is the mother of invention, and with that in mind, we're psyched to see what more 2011 has in store.
1. 365 Days, 365 Outfits for $365
Marisa from New Dress a Day taught us that it's easier than we ever thought to be unique and play with your personal style by "upcycling" secondhand clothing, and without any formal sewing skills to speak of. Amen, sistah — we hope you keep inspiring us well into the new year.
2. SuperUse & Salvage Design
From the land of hash bars and red light districts comes the smartest interior and architectural design (not to mention most supportive community of DIY-ers) that we saw in 2010, and all born of trash! These products and projects from the Rotterdam-based movement will make you want to break out the power tools.
3. Power Undergrad: 10 Fashion Classics for Coeds
College students are notoriously crafty at stretching each and every dollar, and our resident rock star interns boiled down their mastery of must-haves to this list of 10 classic wardrobe items for Jack and Jill.
4. 5 Thrifty Things: Mad Men Mid-Century Modern
Not a moment too soon, shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire brought romance, drama, intrique, and swagger back to rocking head-to-toe vintage. These affordable pieces put the "Oh!" in office attire.
5. DIY Emergency Kit for Less Than $25
The trend toward extreme DIY and "survivalism" skills is likely to only get us in 2011, and that may be the reason why this complete guide to creating your own emergency kit was so popular. That, and like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts taught us when we were young, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction (and savings!) of being prepared.
6. Bespoke Fashion on a Budget
Combining two of our favorite beats — startups and DIY style — these websites are bringing back the art of custom tailoring while keeping their pieces affordable enough for every Tom, Dick and Harry.
7. Goodwill Hunting: Thrifty Trends & Specialty Shops
We're partial to Goodwill (especially since the charity shop was literally invented here in Boston), but 2010 was a banner year for consignment and secondhand shops across the board, and this stalwart institution was keeping step — strike that, leading the pack.
8. Free Outdoor Concerts Across America
Just because we might be penniless or living paycheck-to-paycheck doesn't mean we're going to give up our right to play and enjoy ourselves. Thankfully, the arts naturally lend themselves to free opportunities for cultural appreciation, and this guide hits all the high notes around the country.
9. Queen of Green: Cruelty-Free Fashion
As more and more Americans adopt vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, the market for animal-friendly fashion is getting bigger and bigger -- and our resident correspondent from EcoStiletto proves that means more affordable, too.
10. 3-Course Meals Under $30
Our new favorite country crooner cum cookbook author showed us the light by showing our men into the kitchen. Keeping the romance alive as readymade gourmets at home (versus shelling out a fraction of a mortgage for a single meal) is sure to be a trend that will outlive any economic comeback.
Story: Copyright 2010, Shoestring LLC. Photo: Shutterstock.com.