Monday, July 28, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: July 2014 Purchases

For the first time ever, I am linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers (great name for a band)! I am so excited! I have been a long-time reader and huge fan. I was even inspired to begin tracking my own spending back in January 2013. I was primarily doing it for myself at the time and hadn't started a blog yet, so that's why I never linked up before. If you're curious about how I did in previous months, you can check out my sets on Polyvore.

Background Info
A little background about my financial situation first. I am currently an engineering grad student, and unlike many other disciplines, you can actually get paid (a little, not a lot) to attend grad school. I don't have to pay tuition or fees and receive a small sum of money every month that covers my rent, food, and general living expenses. If I am very frugal, I can squirrel a bit of it away, or I can live comfortably without saving much. Either way I am on a fixed income, because our pay rate is the same across the board for everyone, regardless of how long you have been in school. This means my disposable income shrinks every year as my rent goes up, the price of gas rises, etc. Still I know I am very lucky that I do not have any student debt (or credit card debt) and also have some savings so that I don't have to worry about money during this period of my life.

Regarding my budget, I have set an amount of $300 for most months and $350 for the months of July and December/January. That may seem like a lot to some people. Heck, it seems like a lot to me. Eventually I would like to reduce this number to $200 per month, but I will need to do it gradually.

July Purchases
I am a little embarrassed that I am way over budget for my first-ever link up, but I blame the incessant J.Crew sales this month. I separated this post into two sections: Part I and Part II definite keepers and items I haven't received yet. I will update this post after I receive and review the remaining items. First up, the keepers.

I reviewed items 1-6 in a previous post.

July 2014 Keepers
  1. Schoolboy blazer in linen (white 00): Originally $175. Bought in store for $119.99 - 50% off final sale - 15% student discount = $50.99.
  2. Bateau tee in stripe (ivory navy XXS): Originally $45. Bought in store for $34.99 - 50% off - 15% student discount = $14.87.
  3. Pearl starburst necklace: Originally $110. Bought in store for $69.99 - 50% off - 15% student discount = $29.75.
  4. 3" chino short (white 0): Originally $45. Bought online for $39.50 - 40% off = $23.70.
  5. Viv patent flats (soft desert 6H): Originally $188. Bought online for $158 - 40% off = $94.80. SALE ALERT: Currently on sale for $139.99 - 40% off with code TREAT, and NOT a final sale item. This promo runs until 08/03/2014.
  6. Collection icon trench (light khaki 00): Originally $298. Bought online for $238 - 40% off = $142.80 but has since returned to its normal price.
  7. zeroUV modern cateye sunglasses (black): Originally $30. Bought from Amazon for $5.45 with a gift card. I found these sunglasses after Gigi posted about a look-alike Prada pair. I love the ones I got and have been wearing them every day. These are a great dupe for the Karen Walker Number One, which I have long admired. However, I couldn't justify the hefty price tag for the original pair since I frequently lose/break sunglasses. 
  8. Madewell skinny skinny jeans (nightfall 26): Originally $115. Bought online for $29.99 - 40% off = $17.99. I purchased these on a whim, because I wanted to replace my faded dark jeans, and they were just sooo cheap. I sized up to a 26, because the 25 was a bit tight in the waist. The 26 looks more like straight jeans than a true skinny on me. Also, the dark blue dye rubs off on light clothing, so I would recommend washing once or twice before wearing.

Here are the items I ordered but haven't received yet. 

July Purchases

I've always wanted a white tuxedo shirt. This one is pricey but could be versatile. In retrospect, I really don't need a gingham tuxedo shirt, so I will return this. I could probably get a lot of wear from this long necklace, because I love pearls and wear them all the time. I am the most excited about the herringbone vest, which is currently backordered. I am on the waitlist and hope my order gets fulfilled. I posted about the black wallet, earrings, and leggings here. I need a new bikini, and this one was so beautiful I knew I had to try it. I ordered this black vest as a backup in case the herringbone vest doesn't ship.

07/30/2014 UPDATE:
I finally received all of my packages. Detailed reviews to come. For the purposes of updating this month's budget, here is a list of items I plan to keep, a list of returns, and the respective prices.



GRAND TOTAL: $569.55 $380.35 + taxes

Well, that's a wrap. How did you do this month? Do you have any tips for staying within your clothing budget? Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

January - June 2014 Purchases

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quick Picks: J.Crew Factory New Arrivals

I know it's only July, but I'm already looking forward to fall. My favorite time of the year is when those leaves start changing colors, and there's a brisk chill in the air. In (very early) preparation for the upcoming cooler months, here are some quick picks from today's J.Crew Factory roll-out.

1. Factory Herringbone Excursion Vest - Currently backordered and final sale for some inexplicable reason. I've missed out on this vest two years in a row, and sadly this year is no different. I waited too long this morning because I wasn't sure about the size and I didn't want to gamble on final sale, so now I'm on the waitlist. Crossing my fingers that the order will get fulfilled (and that it fits)!

Factory novelty quilted puffer vest

2. Factory Solid Excursion Vest - If you're not as obsessed with the herringbone one as I am, black is a good solid option that will pair well with everything. It's also not final sale, which is a major plus. Comes in a myriad of other colors if black isn't your thing.
Factory quilted puffer vest

3. Factory Grey Fleece Hoodie - Versatile casual layering piece for the weekend or working out. This is my favorite shade of grey, and it's surprisingly difficult to find a plain light grey hoodie.

Factory fleece full-zip hoodie

4. Factory C'est La Vie Collector Tee - I actually like Factory tees better than regular J.Crew tees. They're usually all cotton, and they don't seem as sheer (especially compared to the vintage cotton ones). For example, I own two retail bar-stripe tees and one Factory version. One of the retail shirts has already developed a hole while the Factory one is going strong. The font reminds me of the Madewell Bien Fait sweatshirt.

Factory c'est la vie collector tee

5. Factory White Flared Skirt - I have the black retail version of this skirt that I picked up on sale some time ago. I missed out on the white version, which other bloggers have pair beautifully with a multitude of tops. One nice thing about Factory re-issues is getting that second chance.

Factory flared skirt

I ended up ordering the two vests and wishlisting the other items. I hope the herringbone excursion doesn't slip through my fingers yet again!

Did you buy anything today from the new roll-out at J.Crew Factory? Are you obsessed with the excursion vests like I am? Did you get your hands on one of the coveted herringbone ones? Do tell!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

Nordstrom (along with its sibling Nordstrom Rack) is one of my favorite department stores. With their large selection, everyday free shipping and returns, as well as generous return policy, what's there not to love? Right now they are running one of their largest sales of the year, the Anniversary Sale! Unless you live under a rock, you have probably seen many bloggers posting about their favorites in the past few days. I thought I would share my own purchases, which I am anxiously awaiting in the mail.

FYI ebates is currently 10.0% cash back at Nordstrom, so be sure to take advantage of that if you're shopping online. If you don't have an ebates account yet and would like to join, please consider signing up using my referral link.

I ordered the following items online last Friday when the sale first opened up to the public.
My choices may seem a little strange among other more exciting options, so let me explain (read: rationalize) them. 

First of all, I bought waaaay too many things from J.Crew recently, so I wanted to keep further impulse purchases to a minimum for the rest of the month (already failed at this). For a while now, I have been looking for a smaller alternative to my everyday crossbody bag that can hold my phone, keys, a few cards, and some cash. This black zip-around phone wallet seemed like just the thing. I hope my phone fits!

Does anyone else feel more motivated to work out when they have cute workout clothes? I've heard good things about Zella, so I'm excited to try these reversible leggings. Heck, even if I don't work out, I'll still wear them as comfy loungewear around the house.

For some reason, I am constantly losing stud earrings. I used to have a plated gold/CZ pair just like these that I wore everyday until I mysteriously lost both. I eventually found one of them in my bra (??) at the end of the day, but the other one remains lost to the Bermuda triangle where all lost things go. 

I'm probably one of the few people who enjoy getting socks for Christmas. Especially if they're Smartwool socks. These babies are pretty expensive (for socks) and rarely seem to go on sale, so this is a good opportunity to pick up a few pairs. I love them because they're warm, fit well, and wash well (unlike many other wool socks).

Well, that's it! What do you think of my purchases? Did you pick up anything good? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Recent J.Crew Purchases and Mini Reviews

With all of the summer sales going on at J.Crew, I have been like a kid in a candy store. I couldn't restrain myself from buying all of the things! These are the sale items I picked up over the last few weeks:

I haven't received the two Thomas Mason shirts or the long pearl necklace yet so I can't speak to their fit and/or quality. (They are currently on promo and not final sale, so if you want to try them out, do it before SALEFUN ends on 07/22/2014.) Everything else is a keeper though. I'll share some quick thoughts about each item.

Mini Reviews:

For reference, I am 5' 4" and 32C-26-34. I take 00 and XXS in most J.Crew tops and blazers. I will size up to a 0 for thicker blazers like the Schoolboy in Black Watch plaid from last winter and XS for slim-fit tops. I typically wear 00 in skirts and size 25 in jeans. I take between a 5.5 and 6 for shoes, and my feet are normal width.

  1. Schoolboy blazer in linen (white 00): I bought this in store for $119.99 - 50% off final sale - 15% student discount = $50.99. I tried on 4(!) different 00s before I found one that fit perfectly. This blazer does run slightly smaller than my Schoolboy blazer in black. I also tried on the 0 but found the sleeves too long and the torso just slightly bulky. I would not recommend ordering this final sale sight unseen, because you really need to try it on in person to see how it fits your body.
  2. Bateau tee in stripe (ivory navy XXS): This one is a perennial favorite among J.Crew fans. There's arguably nothing more classic or versatile than a striped tee. I purchased this in store for $34.99 - 50% off - 15% student discount = $14.87. The XXS was somewhat boxy in the torso, but the 100% cotton material was comfortable, and I was looking for a new striped shirt.
  3. Pearl starburst necklace: This necklace was a surprise like for me. I never even noticed it until I saw it in store for $69.99 - 50% off - 15% student discount = $29.75. The scale of it is slightly larger than the picture on the J.Crew website indicates, so it's definitely a statement piece. Personally I liked the twist on a classic pearl necklace. However, the whole thing is very heavy due to both the metal work and the large glass pearls themselves. I'm keeping it anyway and plan to wear this to an upcoming wedding.
  4. 3" chino short (white 0): I've been obsessed with the color white this summer. Maybe that's because it conjures up images of ice and coolness, which helps me cope with the hot and muggy weather here. I already own several pairs of these shorts (in different colors) from last summer, so I knew to size up to a 0. The 00 fits but feels a bit tight in the crotch when I sit. I bought this online for $39.50 - 40% off = $23.70. I probably could have gotten these for cheaper if I waited until August, but I want to wear them while they're still in-season.
  5. Viv patent flats (soft desert 6H): These are currently on promo for $158 - 40% off = $94.80, which is how much I paid. The black ones are on promo for $168. I love the Vivs and have been stalking them for a long time now. I haven't really seen the classic colors get cheaper than this, so I bit the bullet and bought them in a 6.5. I generally size up since they run small and have an aggressive pointy toe. You may be able to get away with your normal size if you have very narrow feet. The soft desert color seems to run slightly smaller than the Viv metallic flats and the black color.
  6. Collection icon trench (light khaki 00): This went on promo last week for $238 - 40% off = $142.80 but has since returned to its normal price. Hopefully everyone who wanted to try it snagged one. I've been looking to replace my Banana Republic trench coat from Fall 2011, which has always been too big (note to self: stop buying clothes that don't fit!). Last year I tried on the Icon but ultimately decided not to buy, because I couldn't choose between the 00 (shoulders too tight) and the 0 (too big overall). I'm glad I waited, because the Summer 2014 size 00 fits me quite well. I can layer a Schoolboy with a thin sweater underneath and still raise my arms over my head (my usual test for whether a coat is too tight in the shoulders). I'm not sure if this was just a fluke for me, since many other reviewers on the website still found the shoulders too tight. Anyway, I'm super excited about the Icon and anticipate it being a fall wardrobe classic.
Whew, hopefully some of you made it to the end of this post and didn't get overwhelmed by the wall of text.

What deals have you picked up from the J.Crew summer sales? I'd love to hear from you!



Hi and welcome to my little corner of the interwebs! Let me introduce myself. My name is Engineer L, and I am currently an engineering graduate student at a top research university in the U.S. I grew up in the Midwest but moved to a warmer climate a few years ago for school. I love that it hardly snows in the winter here but miss being able to wear my fabulous coats!

I am one of the few women in my program since my field is so male-dominated. That can be tough at times, so I'll probably complain about it here now and again. In my spare time, I enjoy shopping (especially at J.Crew), much to the detriment of my wallet and grad student shoestring budget. Also, I recently got engaged to my college sweetheart, Engineer W.

After being a long-time lurker on blogs like J.Crew Aficionada and Franish's Budgeting Bloggers series, I thought it would be fun to try blogging. I have a lot to learn, so please bear with me while I get the hang of things. Thanks for stopping by!