Thursday, December 31, 2015

Worst Purchases of 2015

It was interesting to look at my best purchases of the year, but what about the worst ones? Arguably the misses are even more important than the hits to reflect upon and learn from. Like last year, I tried to pick out my 10 least favorite purchases of 2015. This time it was much harder. I only strongly regret buying a few pieces and feel ambivalent about the rest. Hopefully that's a good sign?
Here are the pieces I regret buying the most:

1. Gap 1969 Resolution slim straight jeans (sold out) - I have serious buyer's remorse about these jeans! I originally got them to replace an old pair of skinny black jeans, but they never looked quite right, so I kept not wearing them. They still even have their tags on! It turns out I prefer skinny jeans over straight leg.

2. J.Crew Factory photographic floral collector tee (sold out) - I tried this on in store, sort of liked it, and brought it home on a whim. Then it languished in the back of my closet for months. Every time I brought it out to try and wear it, I couldn't put together an outfit that made sense. After a while, I felt too guilty seeing it in my closet, so I had to sell it.

3. Everlane cotton heather v in heather grey - I really like the Everlane v-neck tees, but this one is terrible! The heathered material is super flimsy and stretches out too easily. Also it's already developed a series of holes after only a few washes. Do yourself a favor, and stick with the solid colors instead.

4. Madewell skinny skinny sateen jeans (sold out) - These pants feel great when I put them on in the morning, but they stretch out a lot by the end of the day. Also, since the material feels slightly fuzzy, it catches all of the lint ever. It also doesn't wash well, so the color has faded over time. So irritating, because I expected better from Madewell!

5. Lilly Pulitzer for Target strapless maxi dress (sold out) - Will I ever learn my lesson about these Target collaborations? I love them, but it's so easy to get sucked into the hype and buy stuff you never wear. I still think this dress is cute... on someone else. I kind of forgot a few things about myself when I bought this. Like how I feel overly exposed in strapless dresses. Also, how I'm not really into super girly colors or patterns. So yeah.


I kind of wish I hadn't bought these:

6. Lilly Pulitzer for Target challis pompom shorts (sold out) - I still like the way these shorts look, but I've never once reached for them. They're more of a statement piece and thus harder to remix. I could see wearing them as lounge shorts or a cover-up, but even then I have other pieces I like more. They're also a bit big in the waist.

7. Nike vintage collection Air Pegasus '83 sneakers in black - I saw these online and instantly fell in love with them. When they sold out in my size before making it to sale, I frantically combed the internet in search of them, and when they popped back online late one night, I quickly clicked buy, forgetting to even use ebates. When I finally got them, they looked great but didn't feel great. They're sort of low vamp and constantly feel like they're going to slip off my heels. Because they're not that comfortable, I usually end up wearing other sneakers instead.

8. Sephora Collection retractable waterproof eyeliner (black) - This is the first year I started tracking my makeup purchases. I probably had makeup regrets last year too but didn't mention them on the blog. Anyway, I'm obsessed with finding the perfect black eyeliner: super black, applies easily, has great staying power, but can be easily removed. So far I haven't found anything that meets all of my requirements. This Sephora liner failed to be black enough, so it was instantly nixed. I should have tried this on in store instead of buying it online and then being too lazy to return it.

9. Old Navy floral string bikini (sold out) - This bikini is another example of something that was almost right but not quite. The fit is great, and I even like the pattern, but there are these cheap-looking tassels at the end. They didn't bother me initially, but now I want them gone. I can probably fix it, but it doesn't really make sense to buy something that you immediately need to alter.

10. Mossimo strappy halter bikini top - There's nothing really wrong with this per se. It's actually quite flattering. The problem is the fact that I can't find a matching black bottom! You think it wouldn't be that hard, but somehow the double strap makes it hard to match, and even if it matches, the smallest size is usually too loose for me. Also I'm a bit picky, and I want the shade of black to match exactly...


Whew, that was longer than I expected! Let's wrap up with the lessons I hope to learn next year:
- Don't buy something that's almost right.
- Think about ways to remix a piece before buying.
- Try things on in store whenever possible.
- Don't buy more than 2 items from Target collaborations.
- Don't buy things that are uncomfortable, because you're never going to wear it.


What were your worst purchases of the year? Do you have any lessons you're hoping to learn next year?

Also I want to wish everyone a healthy, happy, and wonderful new year. Thank you for reading!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Purchases of 2015

Now that 2015 is coming to a close, let's take a look back at my top 10 best purchases of the year. I'm defining "best" as stuff I reach for all the time that goes with everything. I went through the same exercise at the end of last year, and I felt like the process helped me better pinpoint my style for the new year. Hopefully this will serve the same purpose in 2016.

1. Everlane women's cotton v (muted black XS) - This is my favorite color of the Everlane tees I own. As the name suggests, it's a light black or a very dark grey. The material is super soft (and opaque!), so I reach for it all the time.

2. Everlane women's cotton v (white XS) - For a long time, a white tee was a missing essential in my wardrobe. This one is a little too sheer (I can see my nude bra if I look closely), but since it goes with everything, I still wear it all the time.

3. Rebecca Minkoff mini MAC (almond) - A cognac crossbody was another missing wardrobe piece for me. This one is a great size and the leather is very supple, although the chain is a bit heavy and things tend to get jumbled around inside.

4. J.Crew Factory pocket tunic sweater (sold out, similar) - I used to hate tunics, but somehow this merino wool tunic sweater has grown on me. It's great over skinny jeans or leggings. I can only wear it on cold winter days, because the wool is too plush and warm. If I try to wear it on a warmer day, I instantly overheat!

5. J.Crew toothpick Cone Denim jean in parker wash (sold out, similar) - This is my go-to pair of jeans. I wear them at least once a week, because they're so comfortable and the wash is spot on. They're dark medium blue without any hints of yellow, and the fading/whiskering is really flattering in my opinion. The only bummer is that they're starting to look a little faded since I wear them so often.


6. Siwy Ladonna skinny high rise crop jeans (true love wash 25) - Another pair of jeans. I've also been wearing these every week since I got them. They fit perfectly in the waist (no muffin top!), and I got them for a song.


7. Lilly Pulitzer for Target crochet tank top (sold out, similar, similar with sleeves) - It turns out I love a good white lace top. It's so easy to wear, and it makes me feel instantly dressy. This one is great, because it's 100% cotton. I wouldn't mind adding another lace top to my wardrobe!



8. Kendra Scott Rayne tassel necklace (turquoise) - Turquoise is one of those colors that doesn't match anything but "goes" with everything. I'm glad I got the Rayne necklace over another Kendra Scott necklace I was considering, because the tassel is just so fun!

9. J.Crew tropical fern sliding halter bikini (sold out) - This is seriously the most flattering bikini I own. Even if I've eaten a big meal, I can still wear it without feeling self-conscious. The top offers great support, and the bottom stays firmly on my booty without digging into my hips, which is sooo rare.

10. Zella leggings (black XS) - These are my favorite leggings! They're pretty thick and completely opaque, so they're almost like ponte pants. I frequently wear these as regular pants with longer button-downs and my J.Crew Factory tunic sweater.


What were your favorite purchases of 2015?

December 2015 Purchases and 2015 Budget Review

December was a very busy month. With wrapping up the semester, Christmas shopping, and traveling to see family, there really shouldn't have been any time to shop for myself. Luckily I somehow found a way. Continuing the trend of buying neutral (boring?) basics, here's my haul for the month.

Everlane cotton v tee (muted black and white XS) - I picked up two more basic tees from Everlane to add to the three I already owned (in muted black, white, and heather grey). My favorite color of the three is muted black, because it's the thickest and most opaque. The white is a little too sheer, and the heather grey is just awful. It's super thin (already developed holes) and warped after only a few washes. I should throw that one away and maybe replace it with a light blue one. Originally $15 each. Paid $15 each.

J.Crew short-sleeve painter t-shirt (black XS) - I own a number of J.Crew vintage cotton tees (which I've since sworn off because the quality is terrible), but I've never tried the J.Crew painter tees. Now is as good a time as any since this one was on super sale. I'm optimistic that it'll last longer than the paper-thin vintage cotton ones, because it's considerably thicker. It's also slimmer, so I had to go up a size. Originally $24.50. Paid $14.99 + 50% off + 15% student discount = $6.37.

J.Crew toothpick jean in flint wash (flint wash 25) - I'm always on the lookout for pants that fit well, and I already own several pairs of J.Crew toothpick jeans that I like. This pair is no exception. I like the darker wash and the slightly-longer-than-ankle length. True to size. Originally $125. Paid $89.99 + 50% off + 6% off ebates = $42.29.

J.Crew striped t-shirt with bow-embellished back (ivory navy XS) - I'm such a sucker for striped tees. This one is super adorable with the bows along the back. I had to size up, because my normal XXS was too tight in the sleeves. Originally $59.50. Paid $39.99 + 50% off + 15% student discount = $16.99.

J.Crew sneaker laces (neon citrus) - I love these neon yellow shoelaces so much that I picked up a second pair in case the first ones snap. They're just so cheerful-looking on my sneakers. A frivolous purchase, but at least it was cheap. Originally $5. Paid $3.99 + 40% off + 5% off ebates = $2.27.

L.L.Bean women's relaxed scotch plaid shirt (navy tartan XXS) - This year for Christmas, Engineer W and I visited family in New England for a few days. On a quiet morning, we slipped off to a nearby L.L.Bean so that I could try on a few things for size. I immediately fell in love with this super thick and warm flannel shirt. The quality of the material is amazing for this price point, especially compared to J.Crew and Madewell. It also comes in a slightly more fitted silhouette, but this colorway wasn't available. That's okay, because I like this slouchy boyfriend look. Originally $44.95. Paid $44.95 + $10 off promo = $34.95.


rag & bone/JEAN Langford raglan sweatshirt (XS) via Nordstrom Rack - Nordstrom Rack is one of my favorite stores to browse, because you never know what treasures you'll find. For example, take this sweatshirt. On the surface, it's really simple, but it's nicely fitted, super plush, and oh so warm. It's the perfect cozy layer for a cold winter day. Originally $195. Paid $47.98 + 25% off Clear the Rack sale = $35.99.

Trouvé pleated trousers (black 0) via Nordstrom Rack - Does anyone else have a hard time finding flattering dress pants? All of the ones I've tried on recently either feel uncomfortable or look frumpy or both. These simple black pants are pretty decent on both counts. They have a comfy elastic waistband in the back, and they're more flattering than any other dress pant I own (not that it really says much). I haven't definitively decided if I should keep these, but they're a strong contender. Originally $78. Paid $29.99 + 25% off Clear the Rack sale = $22.49.


So the total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $561.95
SPENT: $191.35 (34.1% of MSRP)


-----

So how did I do for the year? My initial budget for 2015 was $3000. Then as the year progressed, I set a stretch goal of $2400. My final tally for 2015 was $2340.74. I feel super proud of myself for meeting my stretch goal!

Comparing my monthly spending in 2015 to my spending in 2014, I spent the same amount or less during every month except for June, September, and November. Also my shopping pattern in 2015 is almost inverted from my pattern in 2014. Last year, I spent the most money in January, July, and December. This year I spent the most in April and November and shopped the least during January, February, August, and October. 
I'm not really sure what conclusions to draw from that. Maybe I used to buy more junk from the clearance sections, and now I try to avoid that pitfall? I'll have to think about it some more.

Anyway, next year I am decreasing my annual budget to $2400, which comes out to $200 per month. Wish me luck!

-----

How did you do on your budget this year? As always, I'm linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers!