Monday, August 29, 2016

July and August 2016 Purchases

I've been super busy lately (both in terms of school and personal life), so both blogging and shopping have fallen by the wayside. I wish I could say things are less hectic now, but unfortunately that's not the case. One good thing about being extremely busy: my budget looks great! Here's a recap of all the stuff I bought over the last two months.

August 2016 Budget

August was a boring month for shopping. I literally had zero time, so I only bought necessities.

Everlane women's cotton v (white XS) - I bought two more of these tees to replace ones that were developing little holes. Still my favorite white tee. Originally $15. Paid $15 x 2 = $30.

The total for August comes to...
SPENT: $30 (100% of MSRP)

July 2016 Budget

J.Crew perfect shirt in striped cotton-linen (brilliant peri 0) - I really like wearing linen in the summer, so I just had to pick up this shirt. It runs a little small, so I sized up from my usual 00. The stripe colors are so classic and easy to pair. Originally $69.50. Paid $49.99 + 50% off sale = $24.99.

J.Crew Factory linen sweater-tank top (iced sky XXS) - I loved this heavy linen sweater tank, but unfortunately it got snagged when I wore my Kendra Scott tassel necklace. :( Originally $59.50. Paid $59 + 50% off + additional 15% off = $25.08.

BLANKNYC easy rider faux leather moto jacket (black XS) via Nordstrom - This black moto jacket was a surprise love from the Nordstrom anniversary sale last month. The pleather is surprisingly nice quality and feels quite heavy/substantial. The jacket fits me well in the body and shoulders, but the sleeves are a little too long. For the price, I think it's a great deal. Originally $98. Paid $64.90 + 6% off ebates + $10 Nordstrom rewards = $51.01.

Madewell whisper cotton v-neck pocket tee (warm tulip XXS) - I have a ton of these Madewell tees now. I love how they're slouchy and surprisingly opaque. Originally $25. Paid $17.99 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates = $10.63.

Madewell whisper cotton v-neck pocket tee (thunder grey XXS) - Originally $25. Paid $22.50 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates = $13.30.

Last month I placed an order with Thredup for the first time. In the past I have sold my gently used items to them, but this was my first time as a buyer. I had a code for 50% off J.Crew pieces, so I figured I didn't have anything to lose. Overall I was very impressed by the condition of the pieces, and the prices were quite reasonable after using the discount code.

J.Crew Collection leather-front merino sweater (navy XXS) via Thredup - I like the way the leather panels look on this cardigan, but unfortunately it always has to be worn open. As it turns out, leather just doesn't conform well to the body. Originally $228. Paid $9.50

J.Crew Factory fair isle sweater (pewter navy mist XXS) via Thredup - This fair isle sweater looks brand new. I missed out on it the first time around, so I was happy to pick it up at this price. Originally $88. Paid $3.

J.Crew gondola stripe top (red navy 00) via Thredup - This top was all over the blogosphere a few years ago. I can see why. It's very lightweight and pairs well with shorts. Originally $98. Paid $0.47 + $5.99 shipping = $6.46.

J.Crew Liberty 5" chino shorts in june's meadow floral (june's meadow 0) via Thredup - This is my favorite purchase from the Thredup order. I am obsessed with the Liberty june's meadow print and have been on the hunt for all the pieces I missed out on from the first time around. I found the blazer back in April, and now that I have the matching shorts, I wouldn't mind picking up the button-down too... Originally $72.50. Paid $19.50.

(not pictured) J.Crew elephant parade t-shirt (navy XXS) - This tee was a bit of a disappointment. I bought the original when it was first released, but wore it so much it developed holes (sigh, J.Crew quality control). I hoped this new one would be a replacement, but it also has a tiny hole. Originally $42.50. Paid $7.75.

The total for July comes to...
RETAIL: $806.00
SPENT: $171.22 (21.2% of MSRP)

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $447.87 for 2016Q1 - $569.98 for 2016Q2 - $171.22 for July - $30 for August = $1180.93 for the next 4 months, which is an average of $295.23 per month.

How did you do on your budget this month? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 2016 Purchases

I came in almost exactly on budget in June, but I'm actually a little disappointed. I was hoping to be significantly under budget since I also spent a bunch of money on a new hobby this month (which I'll talk about in a later post). Several pieces I picked up are duplicates of things I already own and like, which is sort of boring but works for me. Anyway, let's get started.

J.Crew Factory Clare cardigan sweater (heather gray S) - I bought a navy Clare cardigan back in March, and I've been wearing it to death lately. It's just the perfect layer for those times when it's super hot outside but freezing cold indoors. The one regret I have is that I bought it in XS, one size up from my usual XXS. Since it's 100% cotton, it ended up shrinking in the wash, and now I can't really button it. I knew I wanted a heather gray cardigan next, so this time I went up TWO sizes. Hopefully it won't shrink too much this time. Alternately you could wash it in cold water and flat dry, but who has the time? Originally $54.50. Paid $27 + 35% off price adjustment + 1.5% off ebates + $12.52 rewards = $4.77.

J.Crew Factory floral printed tank top (seashore white XXS) - This is the first of two floral tank tops I picked up this month. I've already worn it a few times. I like that it's opaque, has a looser almost tunic-like fit, and is made of 100% cotton. For those of you who like more fitted tops, you can probably go down a size. I bought my regular XXS, because I don't like to wear anything tight in the summer. It just gets too hot. Originally $39.50. Paid $19.50 + 35% off price adjustment + 1.5% off ebates + $12.48 rewards = $0.

Madewell whisper cotton v-neck pocket tee (faraway sky, heather pewter, and heather indigo XXS) - I bought one of these tees in heather pewter in May and declared it my new favorite. Since I liked it so much, I ended up buying 3 more this month. All three colors I kept were surprisingly opaque, and they all have the same slouchy fit I like. I also ordered a white one but ended up returning it, because it was too sheer (noticeably more so than the white Everlane v-neck tee). Originally $25 x 3. Paid $22.50 + 30% off + 1.5% off ebates = $15.51 x 3.

J.Crew bucket bag in perforated leather (white) - A white bucket bag has been on my wishlist since summer 2015! I just never found the perfect one until now. Enter this adorable mini bag in perforated leather from J.Crew. It has an adjustable shoulder strap, which is great for shorter ladies. The leather is pretty structured as opposed to a true bucket bag which should be slouchy, but I think that makes it easier to open up and find things. There's not really any interior organization, only a card slot, but the bag isn't big enough for you to lose stuff inside. So far I haven't worn it yet, because I'm looking for a leather treatment that protects against color transfer (which ruined my last white bag). Any suggestions? Originally $118. Paid $110 + 40% off + 3% off ebates = $64.02.

Madewell 9" high-rise skinny jeans: garment-dyed edition (chocolate raisin 25) - These pants are definitely a want, rather than a need. I already have a pair of maroon jeans, but they're more purple than red. These pants are more reddish-brown, so I think they'll be more versatile than my original pair. It's too hot to wear long pants now though, so I'll have to wait until fall to find out if I'll wear them enough to justify the cost. Originally $128. Paid $29.99 + 30% off + 1.5% off ebates = $20.68.

LOFT floral sweater tank (wild cherry XXS) - I like this floral tank even more than the one from J.Crew Factory. First of all, the print is so eye-catching. I wish the color scheme was a little more vivid. In person, it's more of a maroon and oatmeal rather than red and white as it appears in photos. Still gorgeous though. Secondly, the top is 100% rayon, so it has the most beautiful drape and it's super soft. I'm a little afraid to wash it so far since I know rayon shrinks in water. Overall, it's my favorite piece from LOFT in a long time. For whatever reason, LOFT usually doesn't fit me very well, even though I like their style. Originally $44.50. Paid $44.50 + 40% off + 2% off ebates = $26.17.

J.Crew Cece ballet flats (black 6) - As evidenced in the previous photos, I wear my metallic J.Crew Cece flats all the time. I thought it was time to add a plain black pair, especially since they were on super sale. I debated over whether I should keep them, because I only recently bought the Cole Haan Tali. However, the Tali has prominent gold embellishments on the toe, and some outfits call for more understated shoes. Originally $125. Paid $49.99 + 40% off = $29.99.

The total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $584.50
SPENT: $192.16 (32.9% of MSRP)

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $447.87 for 2016Q1 - $177.38 for April - $200.44 for May - $192.16 for June = $1382.15 for the next 6 months, which is an average of $230.36 per month.

How did you do on your budget this month? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 2016 Purchases

I feel like I didn't shop that much this month so I expected that I would be under budget, but obviously the numbers tell me otherwise. At least I'm not over budget. Traditionally I tend to shop more in May, because it's my birthday month. I usually splurge on a birthday gift for myself that doesn't count towards my budget, but this year I didn't spend it on clothes, because I'm planning to buy a new bicycle. By the way, good bikes are super expensive. There seems to be no upper bound... A decent one starts around $500-$600, and the price just keeps climbing from there. I'm excited about getting one though!

Back to clothes, I feel like I always want to shop more as the weather warms up, which is ironic because you can't wear as many clothes in the summer. I'm not sure why that is. Does anyone else feel that way? Maybe I just get tired of my other clothes, or maybe the sales are just that good. Anyway, onto my haul this month.

J.Crew Collection featherweight cashmere cardigan sweater in gingham (navy snow XXS) - It's a little crazy to be buying cashmere when summer is just around the corner, but I couldn't resist snagging this cardigan at such an amazing price (thanks, website glitch)! It's super soft and lightweight as the name implies. I initially bought an XS because the reviews on the website suggested it ran small. However it fits true to size so I had to exchange it for an XXS. I haven't gotten it in the mail yet, but based on the fit of the XS, it'll be pretty cropped. Originally $228. Paid $39.99 + 30% off sale = $27.99.

J.Crew Factory neon sunwashed garment-dyed v-neck t-shirt (vibrant fuchsia XXS) - This hot pink tee was promising, but sadly it's not my favorite. Don't get me wrong; I love the color, but the fit drives me a little crazy. It has a tendency to ride up throughout the day, so I find myself constantly pulling it back down. At least it's completely opaque, and the vee isn't too deep. Also, this color tends to bleed, so wash it a few times by itself before you wear it. Ask me how I know. Originally $29.50. Paid $17.50 + 25% off sale + 1.5% off ebates = $12.93.

Madewell whisper cotton v-neck pocket tee (heather pewter XXS) - You guys, this is my new favorite tee! It's soooo soft and completely opaque, at least in this colorway. It runs large, so even in my normal size XXS, it's still slouchy, but in a good way! We'll see how well it holds up in my washer and dryer (AKA the t-shirt destroyer). Originally $25. Paid $22.50 + 30% off sale + 1.5% off ebates = $15.51.

Cole Haan Tali bow ballet flat (black 6.5) - These black bow flats are my most expensive purchase this month. I wanted to replace my trusty black Me Too Patty bow flats (RIP) with some equally comfortable flats, and these came highly recommended. I decided to size up as I usually do when shoes have elastic sides. They were surprisingly comfortable and didn't require any real break-in. By the end of the first day, my pinky toe rubbed a little bit but no blisters at all. I do wish they had more padding in the ball of the foot though. Overall, a very solid option. Originally $170. Paid $119.00 + 2% off ebates = $116.62.

Missha M signature real complete BB cream SPF25 PA++ (No. 23 natural yellow beige) via Amazon - This is my first foray into Korean cosmetics. I've been interested in getting a BB cream for a while, and I considered some American ones before moving onto researching Korean ones. I was looking for something that feels lightweight, has SPF, looks natural, and has light-to-medium coverage. After looking at tons of other options, I settled on this well-reviewed Missha BB cream. I haven't gotten it yet, but hopefully it'll work for my skin tone and doesn't smell too strongly. Originally $29. Paid $17.40.

[Not pictured] Banana Republic essential pima cotton vee tee (blue sunrise XXS) - This tee is pretty similar to the J.Crew vintage cotton v-neck tee (which I love but is too flimsy). It's also a hair slouchy, soft, thin, and lightweight. Not much else to say about it. Hopefully it holds up better in the wash than the J.Crew one. Originally $29.50. Paid $16.99 + 40% off sale + 2% off ebates = $9.99.

The total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $511.00
SPENT: $200.44 (39.2% of MSRP)

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $447.87 for 2016Q1 - $177.38 for April - $200.44 for May = $1574.31 for the next 7 months, which is an average of $224.90 per month.

How did you do on your budget this month? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 2016 Purchases

This month I tried to focus on buying basic essentials (tees, tanks, and shorts), but I sort of got sidetracked when I rediscovered the joy of buying clothes second-hand. Overall, I bought a lot of stuff but came in almost exactly on budget, thanks to another month of selling. Without further ado, let's take a look at what I bought in April.

1. Everlane women's cotton tank (black XXS) - I reviewed this simple cotton tank in my last post. I've already worn it three times, so it was definitely a good buy. Originally $14. Paid $14 - $14 Everlane credit = $0.

2. Everlane women's linen tank (black XS) - I also reviewed this linen tank in my last post, but I haven't worn it outside the house yet. I'm not sure why, but I tend to reach for the cotton one first. Originally $30. Paid $21 - $11 Everlane credit = $10.

3. J.Crew Factory piece-dyed tank top (navy XXS) - This tank is lightweight without being sheer, but it hasn't held up well. The first time I washed it, it developed a tiny hole. Would not recommend. Originally $26.50. Paid $15.50 + 25% off sale + 1.5% off ebates = $11.45.

4. J.Crew trouser in super 120s wool (heather flannel 2P) - I hardly own any business casual clothes anymore, so I thought it would be good to add another pair of lightweight wool dress pants to the mix for a conference I'm attending in July. Originally $148. Paid $49.99 + 30% off + 1.5% off ebates = $34.47.

5. Kat Von D tattoo liner (trooper) - This liquid eyeliner has been on my wishlist for a year, so I'm glad I picked it up during Sephora's recent sale. I already own the black Stila Stay All Day liquid liner but wanted this one for comparison. The Kat Von D liner seems to have a finer point (making it harder to apply for those of us who don't have the steadiest hand), and sometimes I have to test it on the back of my hand first to get the ink flowing. However, once it works, I feel like the liner stays put better than the Stila one (for some reason, the Stila liner always flakes off after a few hours). Originally $19. Paid $19 + 10% off sale + 4% off ebates = $16.42.

6. J.Crew 4" chino short (navy 0) - I'm slowly replacing all of my 3" shorts with 4" ones. I still like the way a 3" inseam looks, but they're too short when I sit down, which makes me feel self-conscious. Navy is the color I tend to reach for the most in the summer, so this should get plenty of wear. Originally $39.50. Paid $39.50 + 40% off sale + 2% off ebates = $23.22. EDIT: Returned. This particular pair was a little too tight in the waist.

7. J.Crew 4" chino short (storm grey 0) - Same exact short, but in grey. This is the first pair of grey shorts I've owned. Hopefully the color will prove to be as versatile as navy. Originally $39.50. Paid $39.50 + 40% off sale + 2% off ebates = $23.22.

8. J.Crew excursion quilted vest in buffalo check (navy ivory XXXS) - With summer just around the corner, it's a bit ridiculous to be buying a puffer vest. However, I love the clean print, and the price just can't be beat. I can't wait to wear it next fall. Originally $138. Paid $39.99 + 40% off + 2% off ebates = $23.51.

(Preowned) 9. Me Too Patty flats (nude 6) - If you've been reading my blog for a while, then these shoes might look familiar. That's because they're identical to a pair that I literally loved to pieces. They were so comfortable and flattering (relative to their comfort anyway) that I wore them all the time, and I was heartbroken when I finally had to throw them away. When I found these in like-new condition, I immediately bought them, and I've been wearing them almost everyday ever since! Originally $99.95. Paid $24.46.

(Preowned) 10. J.Crew Ella dress in porcelain paisley (blue/white) - I've always loved the porcelain paisley print from J.Crew, but I missed out on it long ago (~2012) because it was too expensive at the time. I've been looking for it ever since, and I'm glad I found this one in my size. It runs small in the bust, so I sized up from my usual 00, but sadly that makes the bottom too large. I'm planning to get the skirt slimmed by my tailor, so that will probably cost another $45. It's totally worth it though for a piece that I've been hunting forever. If all turns out well, then I'll wear it for one of the upcoming weddings I'm attending this summer. Originally $298. Paid $64.75.

(Preowned) 11. J.Crew Liberty classic schoolboy blazer in june's meadow floral (june's meadow 00) - This blazer is another one of those pieces that I loved at first sight but passed on at the time due to its high price point. I've been kicking myself lately after seeing Adina and Jess wear it beautifully. Then this one serendipitously showed up online in my size, so I took it as a sign from the universe that I had to buy it. I got it yesterday, and the print is awesome! I was a little surprised by how lightweight it is (more like a shirt than a blazer), but that means I can still wear it in the summer without being too hot. Originally $225. Paid $44.98.

So that's it for the stuff I bought this month. On the selling front, I sent a big bag of clothes (my second one ever) to Thredup after my big closet clean-out in February, and it finally got processed. I'm a little disappointed, because I sent in a lot of stuff (including a bag and some shoes) but I only got $29.60 as my cash payout. I probably won't be using them again unless I'm trying to get rid of clothes I can't sell in other ways. I also sold 2 skirts on eBay for $46.28 after shipping and fees.

The total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $1037.95
SPENT: $253.26 (24.4% of MSRP)
SOLD: $75.88
NET: $177.38

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $447.87 for 2016Q1 - $177.38 for April  = $1774.75 for the next 8 months, which is an average of $221.84 per month.

How did you do on your budget this month? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Everlane Reviews: The Cotton V, The Cotton Tank, and The Linen Tank

For someone who dresses pretty casually on a day-to-day basis, I own very few tees and tanks. I'm not exactly sure why, but it might have something to do with how boring they are to shop for. It's much more exciting to buy yet another jacket or another dress. However, tees and tanks are basic essentials for a reason. They are the foundation of any good wardrobe.

Of course, this realization has come to me a little late. Over the course of the past year, the already small collection of tees and tanks I owned dwindled away to a sad state as I threw away the ones that were no longer fit to wear in public. They either developed a series of tiny holes, shrank in the wash, pilled terribly, or got stained. When I turned to my staple brick-and-mortar stores to find replacements (J.Crew, Gap, Banana Republic), I was surprised by the lack of good options. What exactly do I mean by good? Natural machine-washable fabrics (cotton or linen), relatively opaque, neutral colors, simple silhouettes at reasonable prices. Everything I saw was either a blend of natural and synthetic materials or had some unnecessary trendy embellishment, like a chest pocket, high-low hem, etc. If it met my fabric and silhouette requirements, then it was too sheer or too expensive. At the height of my despair, I found Everlane, the minimalist darling of the blogosphere. Their cotton V has become my go-to tee (I wear them almost daily). Then earlier this month, I ordered their cotton tank and the linen tank and thought I would review all three for you. (By the way, if you find my review helpful and plan to purchase one of these tops, I would really appreciate it if you could use my referral link. Help support your local starving grad student!)

For fit reference, I am 5' 4" and weigh approximately 115 lbs. My measurements are 32C-26-34. I typically wear regular tops, because I have a longer torso and broader-than-average shoulders. My usual size at J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, Ann Taylor, and Loft is 00 and XXS. My usual size at Banana Republic is XXS or 0P. Sometimes I size up to XS for tees if they're more fitted, thin, or clingy.

The Cotton V (Muted Black XS)

I'm not sure when this tee increased in price from $15 to $20, but when I purchased them back in December, they were still $15. That's a pretty significant price hike (33%!), but the price is still tolerable. If they get any more expensive though, I would probably look for other options. It's interesting to note that the cotton heather V is still $15. However, I would recommend against buying those, because they stretch out easily and feel thinner than the solid colors.

Anyway, I own this tee in both muted black and white. I prefer muted black over true black, because I think it looks less severe against my dark hair. That's just a personal preference though. Both solid colors are soft, and the cotton is smooth to the touch. The material is lightweight without being too lightweight (doesn't feel overly thin or like it will develop holes as quickly as the J.Crew vintage cotton tees. but I did already find one small hole in a tee I bought only a few months ago). The muted black color is completely opaque while the white is slightly sheer. In terms of sizing, I tried both the XXS and XS. Although they both fit, the XXS was too clingy in the stomach for my liking. I prefer the slightly slouchy appearance of the XS, which seems to be the intended fit judging from the model in the product image. My recommendation is to stick with your true size for a fitted look. If you want more of a slouchy look, then go with your larger size or size up.

Verdict: Like. White is slightly sheer, so stick with dark colors for a completely opaque look. Runs a little small. Not the most durable, but not the worst either. More expensive than before. Would buy again.

The Cotton Tank (Black XXS)

The price of this cotton tank is pretty reasonable at $14. It uses the same soft smooth cotton as the cotton V tee, and the black color seems virtually identical to the muted black shade I already own. However, it runs much larger than the cotton V. I would recommend sticking with the smaller of your normal sizes or even sizing down if you want a fitted look. I took an XXS, and the overall fit is still slouchy and long (which I like, but I can't imagine how it would look if I went with the XS). There's also the tiniest gap under my arms, but it's not noticeable. I like that the armholes aren't too big, and the straps are thick enough to cover any bra. The overall length is pretty long and covers most of my butt. I like the flowy tunic-ness, and it looks great with a messy half-tuck.

Verdict: Like. Runs a little large and long. Would buy again.

The Linen Tank (Black XS)

I love linen, especially in the summer, so I couldn't resist ordering this black linen tank. If you're familiar with linen though, then you know it's naturally a little sheer. Even worn with nude undergarments, I can still sort of make out the outline of my bra. That's actually why I opted for a dark color as opposed to white, which I suspect will be even more sheer. In terms of the sizing, I should have gone with an XXS, but it wasn't available in a dark color. The XS is workable, but the tank gaps under my arms, and the armholes are cut rather low. However, the beauty of linen is that it drapes incredibly well, so the rest of the tank flows nicely away from the body. The linen seems to be of good quality and isn't too thin. Usually I don't like high-low hems, but I feel like this one is flattering and fits nicely over pants/shorts. I wouldn't buy this tank at its full price of $30, but since Everlane had another choose-what-you-pay offer, I bought it for $21, which I think is reasonable.

Verdict: Like. More sheer, even in dark colors. True to size. Would buy again in a smaller size.

Have you tried Everlane tees? What other pieces do you recommend from there?