Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 2014 Purchases

Budget Info
Starting this month, I am changing the way that I budget! Previously I had set an amount of $300 for most months and $350 for the months of July and December/January. My goal was to eventually reduce this number to $200 per month. Now that we're planning a big trip for next year, I am revising the monthly amount to $300 for the rest of this year and converting from a monthly budget to an annual one. Hence I get a total of $1850 from July through December 2014. So far I've already spent $569.55 in July + $228.33 in August + $167.86 in September = $965.74.

October Purchases

October 2014 Purchases

October was a dangerous time for budgets, because temptation was everywhere. I couldn't resist the Columbus Day sales or the Shopbop Friends and Family sale, so I ended up ordering too much. Luckily most of my purchases didn't work out. If you haven't noticed by now, I'm primarily an online shopper. It's so much easier to browse through a store's selection from the comfort of your own home than to trudge out to the mall every time there's a good sale. Of course, the downside to online shopping is that most purchases need to be returned. Either the fit is off or the fabric is sub-par or the color looks different in real life. So that's why despite ordering so much, I was able to come in under budget this month. Here's the breakdown.

1. Madewell transport tote (English saddle) - I can finally cross this bag off my list! I've been watching it for years, but it never seemed to go on sale, and I couldn't bear to buy it at only 15% off using my student discount. Clearly an additional 10% off was all the incentive I needed. When I saw that it was included in the Shopbop F&F sale, I couldn't resist ordering one. Just to try on, I told myself. Well, we know how these things go. Of course I fell in love with it immediately, and the rest is history. Originally $168. Paid $168 - 25% off - 3% off ebates = $122.22.

2. J.Crew Factory classic button-down shirt in flannel (cape gingham XXS) - I love the buffalo plaid trend this season, and I've been looking for a shirt of my own in that pattern to no avail. Until the day I saw this shirt in the J.Crew Factory new arrivals and placed an order right away. Technically it's not really buffalo plaid since the checks are too small, but the color combo is exactly what I was looking for. See my review here, and see it on me here. Originally $69.50. Paid $34.50 - 1.5% off ebates = $33.98.

3-5. J.Crew vintage cotton v-neck tee (heather graphite, black, pink clay XXS) - I needed more tees, so I bought my favorite J.Crew v-neck in 3 new colors. A little pricey, but they drape so nicely and I know I'll wear them all the time. Originally $29.50 each. Paid $12.50, $14.41, and $10.19 respectively.

6. AG Stilt skinny jean (sienna 25) - I've mentioned before that Amazon is my go-to for designer jeans and shoes (also Nordstrom Rack). Since I have Amazon Prime, it's so easy to place a big order, try on everything at home, and send back the things I don't want. I ordered 5 pairs of jeans this time, but only these worked out. They run a little larger than other AG size 25 jeans, but the wash is one I don't already have, and the length is perfect. Originally $172. Paid $63.38.

7. J.Crew sleep short in gingham flannel (navy XXS) - I love changing into pajamas the moment I get home, and I noticed I was missing pajama shorts. These were an old popback that I decided to snatch up. Originally $36.50. Paid $19.99 - 40% - 2% off ebates = $11.75.

So my total for the month comes to...

RETAIL: $534.50
SPENT: $268.43 (50% of MSRP)

I think I did pretty well, considering I got a new bag. Linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers!

What did you buy this month? Are you an online or in-store shopper?

J.Crew Factory Reviews: Chiffon Dot Blouse with Lace Panels, Quilted Jacket, Keating Boy Blazer, Tweed Mini with Pockets, Classic Button-Down Shirt in Flannel

Over the weekend I stopped by J.Crew Factory to make a few returns, and of course I had to look around the store afterwards since I was already in the neighborhood. My returns took longer than usual, because the associate helping me was new, and she mentioned that they just got a new POS system. I noticed that she entered a lot of information manually, but I'm not sure if that was because she was new or due to the new system. If anyone else has noticed a delay in the checkout or return process, please let me know in the comments.

Now onto the reviews. For reference, I usually wear 00 and XXS at J.Crew and J.Crew Factory. My measurements are provided here.

Chiffon Dot Blouse with Lace Panels (Item B3978)
Color: Natural, Size: 00
This blouse isn't really my style, but I was drawn to the Victorian-feeling lace stripes. I liked the fabric, which had a very interesting texture due to the swiss dots. Generally not a fan of polyester, but this felt surprisingly nice, not too stifling or too staticky. However, the fit left something to be desired. For one, the shoulders were quite tight when I tried to lift my arms since the material had little to no stretch. Another fit issue was the tunic-like length, which I found unflattering coupled with the three-quarter sleeves. A pass for me.

Verdict: Meh. Tight in the shoulders and runs long.

Quilted Jacket (Item 02534)
Color: Black, Size: XXS
This quilted jacket was the last one on the rack at my local store. I can see why they're almost sold out, because it was super sleek in person. There was a cool, almost moto vibe to it. Fit-wise the jacket was very slim through the torso. In the XXS, I was only able to layer a t-shirt underneath. For actual chilly weather, of course I would want to wear more. The sleeves were also incredibly slim. Not quite compression cuffs but almost there. It was reasonably warm for fall but definitely too light for winter. Overall, great jacket but remember to size up. 

Verdict: Really like. Runs small.

Keating Boy Blazer (Item 92480)
Color: Black, Size: 00
This is the factory version of the black schoolboy blazer. I got the retail blazer a while back, and although I don't get to wear it very often, I love the way it looks. Since I liked the retail version so much, I was curious to see how the factory one would stack up. Surprisingly, they're virtually identical! The factory version is true to size and slim enough to be stylish, while still being roomy enough to layer a sweater underneath. It has a very versatile length and fits well in the shoulders (though I have wider than average shoulders, so ladies with slimmer frames should try it on in person).

The main difference between the two blazers is fabric content. The retail schoolboy is made from a 98% wool and 2% spandex blend, while the factory blazer is 40% wool, 29% polyester, 28% viscose, and 3% spandex. In person both blazers feel pretty much the same. Mayyybe the factory one is a bit silkier and the retail one is a little more wooly, but I'm not sure I could tell the difference in a blind test.

Verdict: Like. True to size.

Tweed Mini with Pockets (Item B1992)
Color: Black White, Size: 0
I thought I had grabbed this mini in a 00 to try on but noticed after I took it off that this skirt was actually a 0. If I hadn't checked, I would have guessed it was a true to size 00, as it fit exactly the same as other 00s I've tried on, so this piece definitely runs small.

The black colorblocking is very slimming, creating a flattering silhouette from the front. It even has pockets, which is a great bonus! However, I'm not so crazy about the side view. The transition from the tweed to all black was very jarring, and I found myself wishing that the tweed panel was replicated in the back. The length was good for me, but then again I'm only 5' 4", so it could look much shorter on taller ladies.

Verdict: Meh. Runs small.

Classic Button-Down Shirt in Flannel (Item 30519)
Color: Cape Gingham, Size: XXS
I'm a sucker for a good button-down, and I loved the colors in this flannel shirt so much that I ordered 2 in XXS the moment I saw it online, just in case there was some subtle variation in size. Turns out that was a good call. In general, this shirt is true to size in slimness but too long in the torso and sleeves. One of the shirts ended up being way too long, while the other was long but manageable (see it on me here), especially when worn tucked or half-tucked. If you're over 5' 5", the length of this shirt will probably be just right, but if you're on the shorter side like me, you'll need some luck to find one that fits perfectly. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd put up with the length if I didn't absolutely love the color combination!

Verdict: Like. Kept despite being too long
in the sleeves and torso.

What's on your must-have list for fall?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Layers

Jacket: J.Crew (on sale for 25% off)
Shirt: J.Crew Factory (review coming soon)
Jeans: American Eagle (old, similar)
Shoes: Me Too (old, similar)
Bag: Vintage Coach (similarEbay)

Fall is officially here to stay. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are turning colder. While fall is my favorite season, the variable weather this time of year makes getting dressed in the morning extremely challenging. If I try to dress for the coldest part of the day (morning), I am usually too hot by lunchtime and feel silly walking around campus in a heavy sweater/coat. If I try to dress for the warmest part of the day (mid-afternoon), I end up shivering at my desk in the morning while bitterly complaining about how cold my hands and feet are. After being caught out by the changing temperature a few too many times, I finally developed a system for layering that keeps me thermally comfortable throughout the day without sacrificing on style. I begin with a simple tee, add a thin sweater and/or long-sleeve button-down, throw on a puffer vest for some extra warmth, and finally top with a light jacket. This way I feel nice and toasty in the morning, and cool and comfortable in the afternoon.

What kind of fall weather are you having? How do you dress for big swings in temperature over the course of a day?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Sales Alert

There are a few good sales going on this weekend, so I thought I would share my personal picks.

ANN TAYLOR
This weekend only, 50% off your entire purchase with FASHION50. Some exclusions apply. Sale ends 10/27/2014 at 3:00 AM EST.
Sale picks: quilted faux leather jacket
Regular picks: black lace dress (perfect for weddings or holiday parties), sweater jacket, black ankle pants (classic staple), faux leather minitweed flounce skirtcrepe wrap top

BANANA REPUBLIC
50% off select styles + 40% off the rest of your purchase with BRSHOPNOW. The usual exclusions, like BR Picks, BR Monogram Collection, and leather apparel among other things. Sale ends 10/25/2014.at 11:59 EST.
50% off picks: herringbone military shirt
40% off picks: gingham flannel shirt, tipped shirt, scalloped lace top, black minaudiere, plaid wool scarf

J.CREW
Online: 25% off full-price styles plus extra 30% off final sale styles with TGIFALL. Some exclusions apply including select outerwear and third-party branded merchandise. In store: 25% off full-price styles (30% off for cardmembers) plus extra 40% off final sale styles. Sale ends 10/26/2014.
Sale picks: houndstooth blazer (review), calf hair oxfords (beautiful irl, runs large), patent nude flats (own)
Regular picks: toggle coat (limited sizes), lady day coat (own, lusting after warm chartreuse), classic trench (own and love), suede desert boots, buffalo plaid shirt jacket, cable crewneck sweater (own in 2 colors, love heather celadon and chocolate), merino tippi cardigan (own in 3 colors), plaid tassel scarf

Have a good weekend, and happy shopping!

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make Caramel Apples from Scratch

Last month Engineer W and I went apple picking for the first time ever. I think we overestimated how many apples we could eat, because we each picked a peck (umm why is this still a unit?). Fast forward a few weeks and we still have a bunch of apples left in the fridge. I thought it would be fun to turn some into caramel apples.


I'm sure everyone has made caramel apples before by simply melting those little premade cubes and rolling apples in the resulting goop. That's fine if you like the taste of manufactured caramels, but personally I find that they have a bitter/sour aftertaste. I was looking for a better alternative when I stumbled upon this online recipe. The only ingredients we didn't already have on hand were the light corn syrup and the sweetened condensed milk. Note that you also need a candy thermometer (we got ours from Target).

Interesting aside: why use corn syrup when you could just add more sugar? I asked my friend Google, and it seems that the combination of corn syrup and sugar is what makes the whole thing chewy. Otherwise, you might end up with toffee (also dangerously easy to make).

The first step is to insert the handles into your apples. You can use popsicle sticks if you want, but I happen to have some bamboo chopsticks lying around. Sadly I broke the tip of one trying to jam it through the core of a particularly hardy apple (see bottom left). Lesson learned: if it won't go through the center, don't force it. Just poke it through the off-center flesh.


The second step is to put all of your ingredients EXCEPT the vanilla extract in a pot and turn the heat to medium-high to melt everything together. The recipe says to turn down the heat to medium after the molten candy begins to boils, but I think this step depends on your stove. Personally I would just keep the temperature at medium-high the whole time, stirring constantly to make sure nothing burns, and only turn down the temperature at the very end.


Eventually the candy will begin to bubble and change color. At this point, be very careful. Some of the bubbles may burst and spew burning hot caramel sauce. Engineer W accidentally got a little splashed on his hand, and that spot instantly turned bright red. In retrospect, the safer thing to do is to wear an oven mitt while stirring.


When the temperature reaches 248 degrees F, remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. At this point, our vanilla caramel was still boiling. We immediately began dipping the apples in the thick liquid and set them on parchment paper to cool. However, this process produced some unsightly air bubbles. My suggestion is to wait a minute for the caramel to stop boiling, but don't wait too long. It solidifies quickly.


Add your favorite toppings (try sea salt), patiently wait for the caramel to cool, and then bon appetit! I forgot to take a picture of our taste test, but rest assured: they were delicious! The caramel was very rich and chewy. It did stick to my teeth a bit, so I wouldn't recommend this for anyone with braces.

My final chef's notes: We used 4 different apple varieties above, but I think Granny Smith was the taste test winner. Since the caramel is so sweet, you need a tart and crunchy apple to balance the flavor. Sea salt was a great addition, because it also helped cut the richness.

Have you ever made caramel apples before? What's your favorite caramel apple topping?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shopbop Sale Picks and Madewell Reviews

SALE ALERT: Take 25% off your Shopbop order with code FAMILY25, now through October 16th. It's a great opportunity to pick up items that otherwise never go on sale. They have a lot of high-end designer stuff that's too expensive for me, but luckily there are also some relatively affordable brands mixed in. Best of all, they offer free shipping both ways for U.S. customers, and if you have Amazon Prime like I do, you can even get free 2-day shipping!

My quick picks are the Madewell Transport Tote in saddle or black (classic colors that never seem to go on sale), the Sam Edelman Petty ankle boot (which I own in black and putty suede), and the Rebecca Minkoff Love crossbody bag (on my wishlist, a great dupe for the Chanel boy bag). Personally I ordered the Transport Tote in saddle and the rip and repair jeans that I reviewed below. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: Madewell reviews! For reference, I usually wear a 00 or XXS at Madewell (see here for my detailed measurements), which is often online only. In store I just try on the smallest size available and use that to gauge the fit of an item. 

Silk Shirtdress in Newsprint Floral (Item B2436)
Size 0
Considering that I was trying on a 0 instead of my usual 00, the fit of this dress wasn't too bad. The top was a little roomy especially in the chest, but the elastic waistband disguises that fact. I liked the dark floral pattern, which was a little mumsy but would transition well into late fall. The material was a substantial silk, which felt cool and comfortable. My main complaint was the flutter sleeves, which made my shoulders look too broad. Not bad overall but nothing to write home about.

Verdict: Meh, true to size

Shirtdress in Willowleaf (Item B0631)
Size 00
Allow me to preface this review by saying that I don't like nonwaisted dresses. They generally look like big potato sacks, which isn't flattering on anyone. This dress was no exception. Here I tried on my correct size of 00, which was still way too big. I did like the material, which felt nice and silky (surprised to see online that it's poly). The dress was also lined, so it wasn't too sheer. The small square sleeves were an interesting detail. However, in the end, I just can't get over how boxy the silhouette is. Maybe it would look better belted.

Verdict: Dislike, runs large

Tweedweave Shiftdress (Item B0833)
Size 0
This dress is also nonwaisted. On the rack I thought it had the potential to be a cool sleek day-to-night number, but I ended up liking it even less than the previous dress. The silhouette was extremely boxy, and the dress was constructed from a confusing mix of materials. I feel like the zipper placement was arbitrary, and the extra black side panel was completely unnecessary, breaking up the shirttail hem in a strange way. While I appreciate pockets on a dress, I didn't like how there were two black rectangles across my hips. Not a fan.

Verdict: Hate, runs large

Premiere Skirt (Item B0435)
Size 0
This skirt looked very simple on the rack but had a few tricks up its sleeve (pleat?). The seasonally appropriate plum color caught my eye right away. I was a little surprised that the designers chose to use a summery silk blend for a fall skirt. Another surprise was the slightly asymmetric hem with the skirt being shorter in the front and longer in the back. The front pleats were interesting and flattering, but the back pleats added too much volume. Also the elastic waistband across the back half was simultaneously frumpy and juvenile.

Verdict: Meh, true to size

Skinny Skinny Sateen Jeans (Item B1382)
Size 26
I usually wear between a 25 and a 26 for denim. At Madewell I am more frequently a 25. I've been obsessed with plum colored jeans recently, so I gravitated toward this style in store and decided to try on both of my sizes. Fit-wise I could button up the 25, but it was rather uncomfortable. The hips felt fine, but the legs felt like compression cuffs and the waist was too tight. I would recommend sizing up. In the 26, the waist was a tiny bit large but fit perfectly everywhere else. The color is so saturated and gorgeous. The length is ideal with the hem ending slightly below my ankle. Visually they make my legs look sooo long (or at least longer than usual). I could gush on and on. One word of warning though: the material was very thin and very soft, so I suspect these pants may not be all that durable. Because they're so flattering, I'm willing to overlook the possible durability issue. The plum color is my favorite, but I also like them in olive brown which might be more versatile. I'm wishlisting these and will snatch them up if they ever go on sale.

Verdict: Love, runs small

Skinny Skinny Jeans: Rip and Repair Edition (Item B0233)
Size 25
I've been looking for a pair of slightly distressed lighter wash denim for a long time now, and I was so excited to find these jeans at Madewell. Usually distressed jeans tend to unravel over time as you put stress on the worn areas, frequently located at the knees. While I like the distressed look aesthetically, I don't want to pay good money only to have my jeans fall apart after a few wears. I think retailers are finally catching on that customers don't want to buy such fragile denim, because recently I spotted a number of these rip and repair versions (where the distressed regions are reinforced) popping up, like the J.Crew toothpicks in Miller wash. The denim material of this Madewell pair felt quite substantial; it was thicker than most of their jeans and doesn't show any panty lines. It was super comfortable and had just the right amount of stretch, enough to not feel confining yet not so much as to feel like jeggings. The knees also felt like they wouldn't bag out after extended wear. I took my usual size 25, which fit perfectly through the legs and hit my ankle at a very flattering spot.

Verdict: Love, true to size, ordered from Shopbop

Did you pick up anything from the Shopbop Friends and Family sale? What have you been loving at Madewell recently? Please share!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day Sales

Happy Columbus Day to those celebrating in America, and happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada! Lots of sales going on today, so I thought I would share my personal picks along with what I ordered.

J.CREW 
30% off full-price styles and extra 40% off final sale styles with WEEKENDPLANS. Free shipping today only.
Sale picks: soft v-neck tee (ordered), swiss-dot tuxedo shirt (ordered), light wash jeans (ordered), houndstooth blazer, stretchy medium dark denimdouble-serge wool pencil skirt
Regular picks: medium dark jeansclassic cable sweater (own), pointy suede flats, cute toggle coat

J.CREW FACTORY
50% off women's and men's styles, 40% off girls' and boy's styles. Get free shipping today only with OURBDAY.
My picks: flannel buffalo plaid shirt (ordered), suckered gingham shirt (ordered), black watch pencil skirt (ordered), colorful graphic tee
Engineer W's picks: classic grey sweatshirt (ordered), shawl collar sweater (ordered), merino crewneck sweater (ordered), flannel pajama bottoms (ordered)

GAP
40% off your purchase with NEWOUTFIT. Some exclusions may apply.
Sale picks: distressed high-rise skinny jeans (on super sale, ordered), classic navy gingham shirt (on super sale, ordered), dark jeggings, distressed straight jeans

BANANA REPUBLIC
40% off your purchase with BRWEEKEND. Some exclusions may apply, including BR picks and leather.
Regular picks: opaque white tee (own), scalloped lace top

In hindsight I may have gone overboard, but I promise to be very strict about what I keep and return everything else. Anyway I hope everyone has a safe and restful holiday. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Banana Republic Reviews: Camel Hacking Jacket, Black Quilted Leather Jacket, Tweed Pencil Skirt, Faux Fur Vest

In my last post, I mentioned that I was interested in this camel blazer from Banana Republic. Most sizes are currently sold out online, but I was able to use the Reserve in Store feature to find one at my local BR. Brief aside: I feel like all stores (especially J.Crew) should have this feature. I don't know how many times I made a trip to the mall only to find that the item I was looking for is sold out, but this really takes the guesswork out of the whole process. Other retailers, take note!

I usually wear 00 or XXS at J.Crew but 0P or XSP at Banana Republic. For reference, see my measurements here.

Camel Hacking Jacket (0 Petite)
I tried on this blazer in my normal BR size. The first thing I noticed when I put it on was that the button stance was quite low, especially compared to J.Crew's schoolboy blazers. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in my case, the lapels didn't lie flat against my chest. Perhaps it would fit better for someone with a larger bust. The sleeve length and the overall length were good. I really liked the color, which is a true camel.
The body of the blazer was lined in white BR monogrammed satin, and the sleeves were lined with a striped fabric.
I took this close up of the wool blend material to highlight the colors and pattern. It has almost a woven texture up close. The fabric was a little rough and scratchy, similar to wool blends you can find at H&M rather than J.Crew.   
The flap pockets were a little small and have no buttons.
I was rather disappointed by the gold buttons on the body and the cuffs. They felt like spray-painted plastic. Just a little cheap and flimsy. Overall though, I liked this blazer. If the fit in the chest was better, I would have purchased it. As is I couldn't justify spending the money.

Verdict: like, mostly true to size

Black Quilted Leather Jacket (XS)
I really don't need another leather jacket since I already own a perfectly good one that I hardly ever wear. However, the quilted details on this version drew me in. The fit was surprisingly good on me considering it was an XS instead of my usual XSP, so I assume this must run small and short. The sleeves were a tad long, but that's to be expected. The leather was soft and supple albeit rather thin for the hefty price tag. Overall, a worthy purchase if you can catch it on sale for 40% off.

Verdict: like, runs small and short

Tweed Pencil Skirt (0 Petite)
This skirt reminded me of the J.Crew Factory pencil skirt in graphite tweed, except that the colors on this were crisper. It was a close fit in the 0P, but I don't think I would size up. The length was good at just above my knee. My only complaint is that the woven tweed material seems too easy to snag. The skirt I tried on here had several threads pulled out of the tweed, so it visually disrupted the pattern. I don't think it would be possible to even snip the threads, because the rest of the fabric would unravel. 

Verdict: too easy to snag, true to size

Faux Fur Vest (XS)
This faux fur vest only came in regular sizing, so once again I took an XS. I was hopeful that it ran small, but clearly that wasn't the case. I found it to be quite boxy in the torso, but it's probably true to size since I am effectively wearing something that is one size too large. The length seemed reasonable but will translate to cropped on taller ladies. The fur was decently fluffy, and I did like that it wasn't too bulky from the side. The zipper felt a little dowdy in my opinion; I would have preferred hooks. Overall, not bad but not a home run either.

Verdict: meh, true to size

And so my hunt for the perfect camel blazer continues. If anyone has recommendations, please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Closet Inventory Series: Blazers

In an attempt to curb my spending, I thought it would be interesting over the next few weeks to take stock of what's currently in my closet and see if I can pinpoint any wardrobe holes.

Last week I talked about my outerwear obsession. This time I wanted to take a closer look at the blazers in my closet.

Closet Inventory: Blazers
Here's the lineup:
(from top left to bottom right)
J.Crew Classic Schoolboy Blazer in Navy (old, this year's version)
J.Crew Hacking Jacket in Double-Serge Wool (old, similar)
J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer in Black Watch Plaid (old, similar)
J.Crew Fanfare Jacket (old)
J.Crew Lady Jacket in Double-Serge Wool (old)

Blazer Analytics
- Unsurprisingly all of my blazers are from J.Crew. In general J.Crew blazers fit me impeccably whereas some of their other clothing is hit or miss. I like that they're (mostly) made of natural fibers, and the classic silhouettes are reinvented every season in different colors and patterns.
- Over the years I have spent $513.80 on this collection of blazers, which comes out to an average price of $73.40 per blazer. If I remove the outlier (the black watch schoolboy) from my data set, the average price plummets to $58.65. Not too shabby considering blazers are generally expensive items and J.Crew blazers especially so. I was able to score these at rock bottom prices by taking advantage of seasonal clearance sales (the best time for snagging amazing deals) and stacking my student discount on top.
- My most expensive blazer is the black watch schoolboy, which I purchased last December for $161.92. My least expensive blazer is the fanfare jacket (also my first J.Crew blazer), which I bought for only $36.71 during the spring clearance sale a few years ago. The rest range from $55 to $76.
- My most worn blazer is the ever popular navy schoolboy, which seems to go with absolutely everything except dark jeans in that exact shade of navy. My least worn blazer is the white linen schoolboy, which I bought in the middle of summer when it was sweltering outside and the last thing on my mind was to layer. Maybe I'll have more opportunities to wear it now that the weather is cooler.

Blazer Regrets
I don't really regret any of my purchases. I was initially annoyed by the mint hacking and the black watch schoolboy, because they don't fit under certain coats (tight in the shoulders), and I was worried that I wouldn't get my money's worth in terms of cost per wear. My new solution is to simply wear them as light coats, which I can get away here because the winters are relatively mild.

Essential Blazer Recommendation
If you could only buy one blazer, I would recommend getting a classic navy wool one. There's a reason navy is the preferred color of choice for a gentleman's first suit. It's universally flattering, not too severe, and goes with everything. If you hate navy, then choose grey followed by black. It should have a classic silhouette, nothing too trendy, or it'll look dated in a few years. Here are a few options.
Blazer Advice
Make sure you choose a blazer that doesn't look like it's part of a suit. It should be formal enough to throw over a dress, wear with slacks, and pair with a pencil skirt, yet casual enough that you can also wear it with jeans. It should be made of as good quality material as you can afford and of an appropriate weight for three seasons. My last piece of advice is to not spend too much on the "fun" blazers. You probably won't get much wear out of them, because they're not as versatile as the classics.

Personal Conclusion
I've been looking for a grey tweed blazer for years, so that's my #1 priority. I would also consider adding a classic camel blazer, like this one.

What's on your essential blazer list?