Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016 Purchases

I did the majority of my November shopping on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Most of those purchases have arrived and are included in this budget post, but there are still a few stragglers that I'll include for December if they work out. Clothing aside, I also ordered a bunch of stuff for my active hobbies (mostly from Backcountry and REI), but that'll be the subject of a different post in the future.

November 2016 Purchases

LOFT stained glass lace dress (black 00) - This dress is gorgeous in real life and looks much more expensive than it actually is. I love the eyelash lace, and surprisingly the dress fits like a glove. I usually find size 00/XXS at LOFT to still be too boxy, but it was perfect in this case. I wouldn't recommend this dress to anyone much taller than me though, because it already comes up above my knee, and I'm only 5'4". The weight of the dress is quite light, more suitable for spring/summer than fall/winter. Overall, it's one of my favorite pieces from LOFT this year. Originally $98. Paid $98 + 40% off + 4% off ebates = $56.45.

J.Crew tuxedo-inspired long-sleeve t-shirt (navy XXS) - This tuxedo tee received mixed reviews on J.Crew's website, but I really like the way it looks. Maybe that's because I love tuxedo shirts in general. Anyway, I like how the pleated bib and tuxedo cuffs add some visual interest to what is otherwise a simple navy long-sleeve tee. I found the fit to be a little tight in the upper arms and slightly slouchy in the torso. Originally $59.50. Paid $59.50 + 40% off = $35.70.

J.Crew Margot top in silk foulard (blue multi 00) - I'm always on the lookout for pretty tops that can be dressed up or down. I think this one would look great under a solid colored blazer or cardigan. There's a hook-and-eye closure at the neck, but I prefer to wear it closed. The body is a little boxy, but that can't be helped since there's no stretch in the silk. Originally $78. Paid $59.99 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates = $35.45.

Uniqlo women's heattech extra warm leggings (black XS) - I've heard rave reviews about the Uniqlo Heattech line, so I thought I would finally try it out for myself. These leggings seem like they're decent quality (and opaque!), but they're a little large and not as substantial as my favorite Zella leggings. Most likely I would wear them as long underwear on extra cold days. Originally $19.90. Paid $14.90.

LOFT long sleeve lace top (lilac shadow 00) - This top is made of the same lace as the dress I got but in a different color. Even though it's more boho/sweet than my usual style, I thought it was quite pretty and would pair well with both pants and skirts. Be warned though: it's pretty boxy. Originally $59.50. Paid $59.50 + 40% off + 4% off ebates = $34.27.

Uniqlo women's heattech extra warm turtleneck t-shirt (black XS) - I actually really like this turtleneck! It makes me feel like I'm channeling my inner Steve Jobs. I'm not sure that it's that much warmer than a normal turtleneck, but it's certainly very slimming. Originally $19.90. Paid $14.90.

The total for November comes to...
RETAIL: $334.80
SPENT: $191.67 (57.2% 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 - $363.17 for 2016Q3 - $237.47 for October - $191.67 for November = $589.84 for December.

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Cyber Monday Recommendations

I'm a little late with this post, but there are some amazing Cyber Monday deals that I just have to share. Most of my recommendations are pieces that I either own or have tried on.

Retailer: J.Crew
Promo: 40% off your purchase with code MONDAY plus free shipping on all orders. 
This is a great time to pick up a classic coat (or two!) and other pieces that rarely go on sale. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 10% off!
Coat picks: 
Nordic parka (I have last year's version in navy, see my review here)
stadium-cloth cocoon coat (own an older version, one of my favorite coats)
icon trench coat (own, runs small)
denim jacket in Tyler wash (own, one of my most worn pieces!) 
Other picks:

Retailer: Nordstrom
Promo: Extra 20% off selected sale items.
Plenty of goodies to be found here, but it'll take some digging. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 6% off!
My picks:
- Sam Edelman Petty chelsea boot (own in black and putty suede, ordered in saddle)
- Nike Pro Indy Dri-FIT sports bra (my favorite sports bra but don't recommend for bigger than C cup)

Retailer: L.L.Bean
Promo: 20% off when you spend $50.
Perfect time to pick up some Bean boots or a thick flannel shirt. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 4% off!
My picks:
- Kids' Bean boots, 8" Thinsulate (own, good for ladies with small feet)
- Women's Scotch plaid shirt, relaxed (own, very warm but boxy, size down)

Retailer: Cole Haan
Promo: 40% off everything plus free shipping on all orders.
I'm tempted to pick up another pair of my favorite flats. Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 5% off!
My picks:
- Tali bow ballet flat (own, runs small)

Retailer: LOFT
Promo: 50% off plus free shipping on all orders with CYBERMONDAY.
I'm a sucker for pretty lace, even though LOFT usually doesn't fit my body type very well.
My picks:
- long sleeve lace top (ordered)

Happy shopping! Let me know if you find any other sales worth sharing.

Friday, November 4, 2016


If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you splurge on? Let's assume all of the responsible stuff was taken care of already: paying off debts/loans, putting aside money for retirement/kids, buying a new house, car, etc. I was thinking about this question the other day and realized that I have quite a few items that I really admire but can't afford. Even though they're out of my price range right now, they could eventually be within my reach if I put aside a portion of my clothing budget every year. In the long run, I'll probably be better off saving for these reach items instead of buying disposable fashion on a whim.

Most of the items on my wishlist are high value and high wear: shoes, coats (my major weakness), and bags. In order from least expensive to most expensive, here are my top 5 most lusted after pieces:

1. Ferragamo Vara Pump - Retail: $550

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I never wear heels. I like the way they look, but they're just too uncomfortable for my day-to-day life. That's why I really like the Ferragamo Vara pump. It has a small block heel, so it adds some height while still being comfortable. I have a vintage navy pair that I bought on eBay, but I would love to own a black pair (which I could also wear for interviews) and a nude pair (visually elongating). If anyone is interested, Target is currently selling a faux-leather dupe for only $30.

2. Canada Goose Trillium Parka - Retail: $900

I would buy this down coat in a heartbeat if I lived in a place with harsh winters. It really is the gold standard for cold-weather outerwear. I tried it on in-store last year, and it's one of the lightest/warmest coats out there. If the Trillium is out of your price range, the J.Crew Nordic parka is a good alternative (see my review from last year). I own it in navy, and it's held up well so far.

3. Valentino Rockstud Cage Flats - Retail: $995

These flats are not the most practical, but my, they are gorgeous. I'm sure they would need a significant break-in period since they have such pointed toes. I'm not sure what color I want. Black looks the coolest, but I also like the contrast of a softer color with the edginess of the studs.

4. Burberry Wool Duffle Coat - Retail: $1,195

Of course Burberry is famous for their trench coats, which are undeniably beautiful. However, I find that I almost never wear trench coats, so adding a designer one wouldn't be practical (even in dreamland). What I really admire is their wool coats, in particular the classic duffle. The tailoring of this one plus its attention to detail really differentiates it from other coats.

5. Chanel Boy Bag - Retail: ~$5,000

I'm not sure I could ever pull the trigger on a designer bag without guilt (they're just so expensive!), but if I did, it would be definitely be the Chanel boy. I love how structured it looks and the versatility of being able to wear the strap multiple ways. I think it's classic while still being a little edgy at the same time. Everyone knows Chanel prices are ridiculous (they seem to grow every year), so I'm not sure if I will ever be able to get one. In the meantime, a reasonable dupe is the Rebecca Minkoff Love bag, which I own/like and costs about 1/20th of the price.
What designer pieces would you buy if you won the lottery?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

September and October 2016 Purchases

Sorry about the continued radio silence on the blog. As I mentioned in my last post, there's a lot of stuff going on right now with school and in my personal life, so I don't really have any free time. I wish I could get into more detail about what's going on, but it will have to wait. In the meantime, check out what I've added to my wardrobe lately.

October 2016 Budget

J.Crew perfect shirt in navy stewart plaid (navy 00) - The moment I saw this button-down in J.Crew's fall rollout, I knew I had to have it. I love the fit of the perfect shirts (I went with my true size), and the colors in this plaid are so wearable. Originally $78. Paid $78 + 30% off = $54.60.

J.Crew Factory cotton-wool v-neck cardigan sweater (heather grey XXS) - I've been trying to replace this old heather grey cardigan I got from Old Navy years ago but haven't had good luck in finding the one. This cardigan is surprisingly thick for J.Crew Factory, but I'm concerned it might pill with more wear. Also the sleeves sort of stretch out with wear, which is annoying. Originally $69.50. Paid $34.50.

Blank Denim vegan pull on leggings (daddy soda 26) via Shopbop - For some reason, I decided that I need a pair of leather leggings in my life. The price tag of real leather leggings is too high for me though, hence faux leather. I am very pleasantly surprised by the quality of these Blank Denim leggings from Shopbop. They look and feel like actual leather. Also they're a little stretchy, so they're comfortable and don't bag out at the knees. I really can't say enough good things about them. Originally $98. Paid $98 + 25% off = $73.50.

Everlane cotton v (muted black, true black, navy XS) - Not much to say here. Some of the older Everlane tees I have developed tiny holes, so I got these as a replacement. Originally $15 x 3. Paid $15 x 3 = $45.

Everlane cotton tank (black XXS) - I already own this tank and wanted a duplicate. Originally $15. Paid $15.

Madewell silk inset cami (faded begonia 00) - I bought this tank on a whim. The silk feels almost sueded, and it's fairly opaque. If you wear a black bra underneath, you can just barely see it. The fit is flowy without being boxy. Originally $69.50. Paid $24.99 + 30% off + 15% off student discount in store = $14.87.

The total for October comes to...
RETAIL: $375.00
SPENT: $237.47 (63.3% of MSRP)

September 2016 Budget

Everlane leather street shoe (black 6) - I keep eyeing Everlane's shoes, which seem reasonably priced for their quality. I thought this pair of sneakers looked sleek and modern, so I decided to give them a try. After reading a bunch of online reviews, I went with my true size. I feel like they're a little tight in the toe box, so I need to use my shoe stretcher first before I wear them for an extended period of time. The quality is quite excellent though. Originally $135. Paid $135.

Everlane cotton v (pale blue XS) - Originally $15. Paid $15.

The RealReal return shipping - Before I ordered the Blank Denim leggings, I ordered a pair of real leather leggings from The RealReal (an online consignment store), but they ended up being too small and too expensive. Unfortunately, return shipping is not free, so let that be a lesson to me in the future. Paid $11.95.

The total for September comes to...
RETAIL: $150.00
SPENT: $161.95 (107.9% 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 - $569.98 for 2016Q2 - $363.17 for 2016Q3 - $237.47 for October = $781.51 for the next 2 months, which is an average of $390.76 per month.

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

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?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 2016 Purchases

March was a good shopping month! I bought a lot of great pieces but still came in way under budget, thanks to a successful month of selling on eBay (due to my closet clean-out last month), generally good sales, and a $50 J.Crew rewards card. My absolute favorite purchase was a seasonless black suit that I got for under $100(!). I was initially torn between it and another suit, but ultimately decided to keep the one I did for its breathability and affordability. Without further ado, let's talk about what I bought this month!

1) J.Crew sleeveless drapey popover shirt in clover print (citrus 00) - This is my new favorite blouse! The print is very versatile and is suitable for both casual and business casual occasions. The top is made of 100% silk, the silhouette is forgiving yet flattering, and the price was reasonable, What's there not to love? Originally $88. Paid $44.99 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates + $25 rewards card = $1.59.

2) J.Crew perfect cable sweater (bright lemon XS) - Honestly this chunky wool sweater has a few design flaws. It's a little boxy in the torso, it runs short and small, and the neck is very tight, but I'm willing to overlook all of these issues because I love the acid yellow color! Originally $98. Paid $49.99 + 40% off + 1.5% off ebates + $25 rewards card = $4.54.

3) J.Crew 1035 two-button jacket in super 120s wool (black 00) - Despite reading reviews about the declining quality of J.Crew's super 120s wool, I thought the material of this suit blazer was smooth, breathable, and draped well. The jacket has a slim fit in the shoulders and torso although the sleeves are a hair long. Surprisingly, it looks best when worn with the sleeves cuffed and with jeans. Originally $248. Paid $69.99 + 30% off = $48.99.

4) J.Crew 1035 trouser in super 120s wool (black 0) - The matching suit pants are a little disappointing but still better than the alternatives from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc. They are much too long, unlined, and a little itchy. However, I like the slim silhouette, and the itchiness issue can be remedied with slip shorts. The length issue can be fixed through hemming or rebuying in petite sizing. After trying on the size 0, I reordered them in 2P, but USPS misdelivered the package, and now they don't know where it is (so annoying)! Hopefully that package turns up, or I'll have to hem the size 0 pants. The price really can't be beat though for seasonless 100% wool pants. Originally $148. Paid $49.99 + 25% off + 3% off ebates + $5 shipping = $41.37.

5) Old Navy v-neck cami (bare necessity XS) - Last month I mentioned that I need more basic tees and tanks, so I tried on a few this month. Unfortunately, none of them worked out except this nude layering tank. It's great for wearing under tops that are a little too sheer. I wish it was 100% cotton instead of 94% cotton, 6% spandex, but it's still a good value for the price. Originally $4.50. Paid $4.50 + 2% off ebates = $4.41.

6) J.Crew Factory Clare cardigan sweater (navy XS) - For most of the year I usually wear light wool cardigans, but now that the weather is starting to warm up, it would be good to add a few cotton cardigans to the rotation. The Clare is true to size, made of smooth 100% cotton, and features 3/4 sleeves. I haven't worn it yet, but I can already picture the outfits that I would wear it with. Originally $54.50. Paid $29.50 + 30% off + 1.5% off ebates = $20.34.

7) Uniqlo supima cotton v-neck short sleeve t-shirt (light gray XS) - I knew this tee was a risky purchase, because I had never ordered from Uniqlo before plus there are no stores near me. I decided to give it a try anyway, but unfortunately my gamble didn't pay off. Somehow when I was reading the description, I missed the fact that the material was a cotton blend instead of 100% cotton. Also it hugs my stomach too much and makes me feel self-conscious. It also doesn't make much sense to return it since the cost of return shipping is $7. Most likely I'll just keep it and wear it as a lounge shirt around the house. Originally $12.90. Paid $9.90 + 3% off ebates = $9.60.

8) Gap stretch 1969 true skinny ankle jean (washed black 25R) - I feel like Gap has really improved the fit of their jeans recently! Most of the jeans I've bought from them lately have fit perfectly. This one was no exception. I wish the denim was a little heavier, and the distressed hem is a little quirky, but the fit is so spot-on that I just have to keep them. Originally $69.95. Paid $69.95 + 40% off + 2% off ebates = $41.13.

That's everything I added to my closet! I also sold 7 items on eBay, including 3 items from my worst purchases of 2015. After shipping, eBay, and Paypal fees, I was able to recoup $158.15.

So the total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $723.85
SPENT: $171.97 (23.8% of MSRP)
SOLD: $158.15
NET: $13.82

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $163.50 for January - $270.55 for February - $13.82 for March = $1952.13 for the next 9 months, which is an average of $216.90 per month.

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

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Suit Up: Banana Republic vs. J.Crew

Last month, I started looking for a new suit. I rounded up the top contenders in this post and ordered two to try on at home. On the left, we have the black Banana Republic lightweight wool two-button blazer (I'm wearing 0P) and the Banana Republic Logan-fit black lightweight wool trouser (I'm wearing 2P). On the right, we have the black J.Crew 1035 jacket in super 120s wool (I'm wearing 00) and the J.Crew 1035 trouser in super 120s wool (I'm wearing 0, but the pants need hemming; I folded the extra fabric under for the purposes of this comparison). The Banana Republic suit is currently available but is frequently excluded from sales. The J.Crew suit is currently sold out but seems to pop back regularly in random sizes. Also, the super 120s wool is available in other fits (similar jacket, similar pants).

For size reference, I am 5' 4" and weigh approximately 115 lbs. My measurements are 32C-26-34. My usual Banana Republic size for tops is 0P and between 0P and 2P for bottoms. My usual J.Crew size for tops is 00 and between 00 and 0, sometimes 0P, for bottoms.

To evaluate these two suits, I am looking at three main factors (in order of priority): the overall fit, the quality of the material/construction, and the total cost.

Overall Fit
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two suits. In all of the pictures, the Banana Republic suit is on the left, and the J.Crew suit is on the right. For a fair comparison, I am wearing the same silk top and vintage shoes.

From the front, the BR jacket is shorter, with the hem ending at my hip. I like that the sleeves are decently slim and a good length. The fit through the torso is also good with almost no pulling across the chest or stomach. However, the jacket does have pretty aggressive shoulder pads.

By comparison, the J.Crew jacket hits below my hip, and the sleeves are noticeably longer and less slim. Also, there is more wrinkling around the top button of the jacket. I like that the shoulders are only lightly padded.

Both jackets are fully lined. The BR jacket has a striped lining throughout, while the J.Crew jacket has black lining in the body and striped lining in the sleeves.

The two jackets look similar when worn open, but on the BR suit, an open jacket highlights the bagginess of the pants. In particular, the pants look matronly in their full cut and also too baggy in the crotch.

By contrast, the J.Crew pants are slimmer and sleeker. However, they are too long, so they would need to be hemmed by a few inches. Both fit comfortably in the waist, although the BR pants are looser.

From the side, the J.Crew jacket is considerably slimmer than the BR jacket. However, it is also too long, almost completely covering my butt. Both pants are wrinkly in the back, especially around the thigh region. Also, the BR pants are fully lined, while the J.Crew pants are unlined. 

From the back, the J.Crew jacket has a more nipped in waist than the BR jacket. The wrinkling issue across the back of the thigh becomes even more apparent.

Material and Construction
The BR suit is 95% wool, 5% spandex for the body and 95% polyester, 5% spandex for the lining. The J.Crew suit is 100% wool for the body, 100% polyester for the body lining, and 95% polyester, 5% spandex for the sleeve lining.

The BR suit's wool blend feels rougher to the touch than the J.Crew suit's silky super 120s wool. Also, the BR suit has a thicker lining, so it feels more stuffy. The J.Crew suit will be more breathable, I think, which is beneficial since I would only be wearing a suit in stressful situations.

Total Cost
I bought the BR suit during a 40% off sale (rare but happens occasionally), so that brought the price to $184.80 pre-tax. The J.Crew suit was on super sale, so I got it for only $83.99(!) pre-tax. However it requires some alterations, which I'm guessing would cost around $50, bringing the total to $133.99.

TL;DR Summary
Fit: The BR jacket is a little sleeker. Both pants have their own issues.
Material: The J.Crew suit is more breathable.
Cost: The J.Crew suit is cheaper, even with alterations.

Even after writing up this comparison, I'm still undecided about which suit to keep! What do you think? If I could only pick one, which suit do you think I should keep, and why?

Monday, February 29, 2016

February 2016 Purchases

Happy Leap Day, everyone! I hope you make the most of today since it only comes around once every 4 years. So let's talk about what I bought this month. If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that I blew my budget. It was totally worth it, but I'll have to cut back over the next few months. I really love everything I got though. Yes, I always say that, but it's also true.

CeCe by Cynthia Steffe Wellesley dress (aqua surf 0) via Amazon - This year my fiancé and I have three weddings to attend. Normally I would wear this $5 thrifted Ann Taylor silk dress, but since the weddings will be attended by the same circle of people, it would be nice to have another option so that I'm not always wearing the same thing. I settled on this mint floral dress, because I think it's perfect for garden/spring/summer weddings. The fit-and-flare silhouette is so flattering, and since the dress is very lightweight, I won't get too hot on the dance floor. Originally $138. Paid $47.22.

J.Crew Factory striped knit dress (black stripe XXS) - As much as I love stripes, I don't have a single striped dress in my closet. I've been looking to add one to my wardrobe ever since I threw away a well-worn version last year. This J.Crew Factory dress was an instant love! The casual shift silhouette is really versatile, and the length (the hem ends a few inches above the knee) makes my legs look really long. I took my usual XXS, and it's the perfect amount of slouchy-slim. The material is great too. It's thick and opaque with a hint of stretch (97% cotton, 3% elastane). Originally $79.50. Paid $54.50 + 20% off + 3% off ebates = $42.92. EDIT 03/13/2016: I ended up returning and rebuying this dress when it went on further sale since I hadn't worn it yet. Paid $47.50 + 30% off + 1.5% off ebates = $32.75.

Mackage quilted leather jacket (bordeaux XS) via Nordstrom Rack - This buttery-soft leather jacket was my favorite purchase of the month (maybe the year!) and an incredibly lucky find. For months it was on my Nordstrom wishlist, but I never bit the bullet because it was out of my price range. After it sold out, I kept hoping in vain that it would pop back, but it never did. Then one day earlier this month, I went to Nordstrom Rack for some retail therapy. After combing through the racks and not finding much, I was about to leave when I suddenly spotted an oxblood leather sleeve. Not daring to get my hopes up, I parted the clothes on the rack to find the exact jacket of my dreams. It was the only one left, and it was an XS. Trying not to hyperventilate, I told myself that it would probably be too big or too small as I ran walked to the fitting room. To my amazement, it was made for me. The silhouette was slim but roomy enough for a thin sweater. The leather was so rich and smooshy, and it smelled great (yes I'm a leather-sniffing weirdo). I especially love how the collar can be worn in multiple ways. Overall I'm very impressed by the quality of this jacket. Now I understand why so many people love Mackage. The only thing I didn't love was the price. Even at 60% off, it is one of the most expensive articles of clothing I have ever bought. I do love it though and hope to wear it for a long long time. Originally $690. Paid $276.

To compensate for some of the money I spent this month, I sold a few things on eBay after my closet clean-out. It was a considerable amount of work for not a lot of money, but someone has to do it.

So the total for this month comes to...
RETAIL: $907.50
SPENT: $355.97 (39.2% of MSRP)
SOLD: $85.42
NET: $270.55 

My goal for the year is to spend no more than $2400, which equates to $200 per month. Right now I'm at $2400 - $163.50 for January - $270.55 for February = $1965.95 for the next 10 months, which is an average of $196.59 per month.

Next month I plan to look for a suit and buy some more tees and tanks.

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