Monday, August 31, 2015

Budget Rewind: August 2013

  • Banana Republic giraffe sweater: $8 (after store credit and coupon) - This is one of my favorite sweaters. The only reason it doesn't get worn more is that I always feel like I need to wear it with something other than navy. But after two years (and only wearing it six times), I'm starting to think it's okay if I wear it the same way every time (although I'm open to suggestion!).
  • J. Crew Factory herringbone vest: $58 - I absolutely adore this vest. I was nearly dissuaded by the price, but after two years and plenty of wear (more times worn off the blog than on), I can get behind spending this much.

  • J. Crew Factory blue heels: $33 - I really like these heels, but have only worn them three times in two years. That's pathetic. In any other case, I might categorize these as a bad purchase, but I had spent months looking for blue suede heels prior to finding these. If I hadn't bought these, I'm sure I would have bought another pair (that also gets overly neglected). 
  • firework necklace: $28 - It seems like every month I buy one thing that was prompted by seeing it on other bloggers. Even though it's a great statement necklace, I'm not convinced that it was worth the price. 

  • Forever 21 peplum top: $10 (?) - This top is actually in my pile of stuff to send off to ThredUp. I just can't make peplum work. Moral of the story? You can appreciate something and think it's the bee's knees. It doesn't mean that you have to buy it and/or that it will work for you. 

Not a bad month overall. I'm sort of just in disbelief that I only bought five things, and still like four of them. Now I just need to get to wearing these things more!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Budget Rewind: August 2014


  • (#3) F21 safari earrings: $2.50 - My go-to gold earrings for the past year. (I'm terrible with getting jewelry shots on the blog, but take my word for it.) Still in great condition - especially relative to F21 jewelry. I'm super happy with this purchase.
  • (#4) F21 hippo necklace: $2.50 - Worn a good amount ... at least enough to justify the pocket change spent on it. 
  • (#5) F21 elephant necklace: $2.50 - Love love love this necklace. Need to wear it more. How have I managed to neglect it so much in 2015?!
  • (#6) Birkenstocks: c/o Mom - One of my favorite shoes I own, no doubt. You will rarely see them on the blog because I don't try to make them fashionable. I wear them when I'm running errands, taking out the dogs, and (gasp!) sometimes even to campus on days I don't teach.
  • (#7) JCF love tee: $15 - The only reason this tee hasn't gotten more wear is because I spent too much time trying to preserve it in some kind of pristine condition. I'm over that now.
  • (#8) F21 green necklace: $6 - I'm so happy with this necklace. Admittedly, I did buy it because I saw it on another blogger (Fran and/or Danielle?), but it is such a great necklace. The price tag just makes it that much better.
  • [not pictured] chevron necklace: $11 - I had a chevron necklace on my 2014 wishlist, and while it wasn't exactly what I had in mind, I'm pleased with this purchase.


  • (#1) Groopdealz necklace: $13 - Meh. This purchase was most likely inspired by seeing this necklace on every blogger and their cousin. I definitely could have done without this. And I know now that Groopdealz is a big weak spot for me; I can't go on the website without purchasing something... and that's why I've stopped going to the site.


  • (#2) JCF necklace: $19 - It hurts to recall that I spent $19 on this necklace. It's not that I don't love it, but it's just that it's so hard to style. It's too fancy for my lifestyle, and it's too clunky for my taste. If I could get a reasonable amount from a consignment shop, I'd sell it for sure.

If only every shopping month looked like this! Actually, I think it was this month that made me take a step back from buying jewelry. But when I think about it now, Forever 21 really is my place for jewelry. Yeah, it's not going to be the best ever, but you're not going to get anything better at their price point.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Budget

1. Target black heels: $19
2. Joe Fresh shirt via Plato's Closet: $4
3. J. Crew blouse (NWT) via ThredUp: $18
4. Forever 21 cardigan via Plato's Closet: $2
5. Old Navy shorts: $5
6. J. Crew gingham shirt: $28
7. LOFT utility blouse: $21

= $97

(#1) I grew tired of looking like a baby giraffe taking its first steps when I wear heels. These have a 2.5" inch heel and are actually manageable. I have had mid-heel black heels on my wishlist anyway, so it's a double win: staple and wishlist item.

(#2 & #4) I had a coupon for Plato's Closet and of all the things I tried on, couldn't walk away from the flannel shirt and striped cardigan. A print cardigan has been on my wishlist for this year, so it's a triple win: thrifted, great deal, wishlist item.  

(#3) I sent some stuff off to ThredUp last month, made some money, and placed an order. This is the one piece I decided to keep. (Post about the order forthcoming.) I really do love it, and am especially looking forward to throwing it on with a pair of black pants for teaching (once the weather settles). (FYI: You can get $20 shopping credit just for signing up!)

(#5) Recent and gradual weight gain over the years means that I need to replace some of my basics, including white shorts. After the success I've had with Old Navy's soft shorts, I've come to realize I need to only buy shorts with roomy legs. I'm happy to have a pair of white shorts that fit.

(#6) I try to avoid J. Crew just because I can't afford half their stuff. But every now and then their additional % sales on clearance items get me. Particularly, this gingham shirt got me. Now if only the purple one would go on super sale.

(#7) Wishlist item found! I've wanted a soft white blouse for well over a year, but have never found the perfect one. (Specifically I wanted one that buttoned up all the way, was long enough, not too sheer, and was affordable.) Enter LOFT's utility blouse. I highly recommend it and would buy another if I ever needed one.

After an incredibly rough session of summer teaching, I felt I deserved a treat. So with a birthday coupon in hand, I went to The Limited and bought some great items (this red skirtthis pendant necklacethis sleeveless top, and the pink blouse). Go figure a few days later, I had buyer's remorse and/or realized I didn't love them enough to justify keeping them.

I also had a birthday coupon to spend at DSW and originally got these flats, but they were just too bright, so I exchanged them for these floral heels instead. I really did like them, but I'm trying to stop buying things that I will (realistically) only wear for work.

All in all, I'm satisfied with this month's purchases. Of seven items, three were thrifted and two were from my wishlist. I'm going to try to limit shopping in September, but I know I'll want and need another pair of black stretchy work pants. I ordered these from J. Crew and am incredibly impressed with the quality and fit, but if they stretch out any more, then they will be too big. So do I take the chance, or do I go with Limited's Exact Stretch (which I know to be a solid choice)? 

[Linking up with Fran for Budgeting Bloggers]

Thursday, August 20, 2015

TTT: One Skirt, Many Ways

I'm linking up with Bri for Third Thursday Threads: skirt remix edition. Without a doubt, my black maxi skirt has been one of my best purchases through the years. While it has only been featured on the blog nine times, it has gotten a great deal of wear off the blog. I take it with me every time I go on vacation (favorite plane wear in warm weather) and throw it on for coffee runs and other errands. I rarely, if ever, say that any piece is a "must have" for any closet, but... a black maxi skirt really is a must have. Although I apparently make a habit of pairing it with white tops, I promise there are other ways to wear it! Hopefully I'll get to posting some of those other ways in the near future.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fitting Room Reviews: LOFT

LOFT is currently holding their friends and family event. Get 40% off everything using the code SHAREIT. Even though I'm trying to take a break from shopping, I still enjoy trying things on. Here are some of the pieces I tried on: 

I really liked the flecked tee when I first tried it on, but the longer I had it on, the more I realized that it was too oversized. Going down a size made it too tight in the shoulders. The striped skirt, however, is perfect. Earlier in the summer I bought a similar striped skirt from J. Crew Factory, but ended up returning it because it was too constricting. This one feels better, but I probably would have tried going a size up had it been available.

LOFT crew neck tank in champagne spritz, size S
LOFT trousers (maybe these?), size 6

When I first walked by these tanks, I thought "how stupid to have a seam running down the front". The next time I walked past them, I picked one out to try it on, and I loved it. It's soft and affordable ($15 with code SHAREIT) and they come in five different colors! Unfortunately I didn't take note of which trousers these were (other than in the Julie fit), but I think they were the custom stretch trousers. The inseam was too long which would require hemming for anyone 5'7" or shorter. They would have been a great replacement for my second favorite work trousers (second to The Limited's Exact Stretch) which are starting to see their final days.

LOFT wavy pointelle stitch sweater in plum preserve, size S/M

I'm not sure if I'm wearing the small or medium version of this sweater in these pictures. I typically wear small tops at LOFT, but the medium was much more comfortable in this sweater. While I adore the color, I can't say that it's anything terribly exciting. Let's not talk about the pants. While I went with my usual size (4), these were terribly unflattering. There were no other sizes available in store.

LOFT stichy boatneck sweater in whisper white, size S
LOFT navy pants (maybe these?), size 4

I loved everything about this sweater except the way I felt in it. I felt like it just sat on me. I think it could work really well paired with skinny jeans or maybe even leggings on a non-pear shaped woman. I liked the pants, but they were too short and they gapped when I sat down. Again, I wasn't paying attention to the style so I'm not sure which ones they are, but I'm guessing these?

"Candied orange" is one of my favorite colors, so I had to try this top on. It seemed perfect in theory: a cross between a tee and a sweatshirt. But the sleeves were too tight and I didn't like the way it hung. The elephant shorts are my own, purchased from LOFT earlier in April. Somehow this is the first time they've made it on the blog, but I've worn them countless times this summer.

I also tried on this teal top. Meh. Clearly I didn't find it special enough as I didn't bother to take a picture of it. The swing back top would have been great had they had my size in stock. The crane swing back top really drew me in for some reason. Of the three non-photographed items, it was my favorite. I'm sure I would have found more favorites had the store not been wiped clear of most items in my size.

Have you bought anything from LOFT's friends and family event? I'd love to read (or even better - see!) your purchases, so please share! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a thrifty solution

Last week I wrote about my reaction to the documentary "The True Cost". In short, it made me deeply confused and caused me to reexamine my behavior. How do I continue as a personal style blogger when I know that the people who make my clothes are treated so poorly, and when the mass production has catastrophic effects on the environment?

After much contemplation, I realized I already knew the solution: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Step 1: Reduce

  • Buy less. I've never successfully quit anything cold turkey, and I don't think shopping will be my first. However, I do think, nay, I know that I can buy less. My goal will be to only buy replacements, but allow myself to buy treats for reaching goals during my dissertation process and getting through tough stretches of teaching.
  • Avoid "fast fashion". Stores that sell tops for $7 generally rely on cheap labor to do so. When the stores successfully sell these items, they have no reason to change their strategy. (And if they do change their strategy, it's to pay garment workers even less so they can sell clothes for even less.) My goal is to avoid supporting these stores by not buying from them. I'm also trying to learn more about which garment workers are treated the worst, and avoiding buying products that were made in those countries. 

Step 2: Reuse
  • Wear more. I'll admit it: I'm one of those people who treats my closet as a mausoleum. I suspect it boils down to some irrational fear of ruining my clothes. (It's entirely irrational because I can't remember ever having ruined any of my clothes, and the ones that had to be retired were heavily worn for yeaaars.) Also, if I'm going to allow myself to buy replacements, that means I need to wear things so that they can be replaced.

Step 3: Recycle
  • Thrift. I can't tell you how many times I've used the line "I never find anything in the thrift stores". After so many trips to these stores, I realized that there was a reason I never find anything. It's because those stores are catered to a younger demographic, or they sell things I have no interest in. One of the thrift shops in town has one aisle (of maybe five for women) devoted to our local college and sports teams' apparel, one aisle for athletic gear, one aisle for leggings, one aisle of mini skirts... Another thrift shop has a quarter of the store devoted to jeans, another to Coach purses, and then has a mess of unorganized tops and bottoms in the other half. If you know me, you know that I can't shop in that kind of environment. When I was 20, I almost applied to work at Charlotte Russe but realized I could never handle working in such a loud, hectic, and messy place. I prefer a calm environment, with organization and space. So what does this all have to do with thrifting? 

There's an alternative to the Plato's Closets and Goodwills of our towns: ThredUp. I know, I'm presenting groundbreaking news here, I should have warned you. But seriously, I knew ThredUp existed, but every time I went on their website, I was overwhelmed and gave up. With a strategy of starting with narrow searches that would limit results, I was able to successfully shop. But that's a story for another day. [In the mean time, you can get $20 to spend when you sign up!]

In summation: I was overwhelmed and truly struggled with the way I approach shopping and blogging after watching the documentary "The True Cost". After a great deal of reflection, I realized that I could do something, and I should do something. I should shop less - not because of financial reasons - but for humanitarian reasons. I know alone I can't do anything, but I do believe that change relies on movement, and is therefore contingent upon action. Moreover, the majority of my shopping should be done in thrift stores. Thrifting still gives me the benefits of retail shopping (namely, clothes) in a much more environmentally sound way. 

So what does this mean for this blog? I'm not sure yet. I'm not calling it quits, but I'm also not putting pressure on myself to post. For now, I'm going to enjoy the last bit of my summer vacation.

[By no means am I advertising this solution as the right one for everyone, but I think there is something worthwhile in a deep examination of the way we behave, and acknowledging that we can be better.]

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I couldn't watch this entire documentary in one sitting. I felt ill after the first 20 minutes. The next day, I watched another 40 minutes and felt even more ill than I had the day prior. On the third day, I finished the film. 

I honestly don't know what to do now. The arguments on human rights issues alone have never been enough to get me to change my behavior. But now the arguments for the environmental impacts have made me seriously reconsider my behavior. 

I need some time to figure out how I can be a good blogger. In the mean time, please watch The True Cost (available on Netflix) and share your thoughts with me. How can we find satisfaction and happiness in something that doesn't compromise the welfare of people and the land? How can we be better?
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