It's called the Lipstick Effect or the Leading Lipstick Indicator: During times of economic uncertainty, women load up on affordable luxuries as a substitute for more expensive items like clothing and jewelry. It's a phrase coined by Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder, who saw a huge jump in lipstick sales after September 11th.
When it's time to tighten (nay, cinch) the economic belt, unlike certain former New York governors, I'm all for cheap thrills. A quick (and calorie free) pick-me-up that doesn't come with the downside of a lighter wallet, a heavier midsection, or that "leave the Barneys bag in the corner of the apartment and stare at it with longing and trepidation" feeling of post-shopping guilt is, to me at least, simply priceless -- or at least $100 or less.
As for my weekend shopping trip at Jeffrey? Well last I checked, browsing is still free.