Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October 2018 Budget

October turned out to be a very spendy month! I'm not going to make any excuses for myself this time. I honestly just had a serious case of grabby hands and made a couple big impulse purchases. I bought a pair of boots and not one but TWO purses. It turns out that browsing Nordstrom Rack is a very dangerous pastime. Overall, I'm really happy with all of my purchases. I thought long and hard about whether I would get enough use to justify keeping them all, and I concluded in the end that each piece would have a place in my wardrobe. Without further ado, let's talk about what I bought this month.
Madewell whisper cotton tank (white wash XS, similar) - Unlike my other purchases, this was actually a need instead of a want. I am constantly on the lookout for flowy tank tops that are made of cotton or linen. I wear them year round, frequently layered under a cardigan or jacket. Unfortunately, they never seem to last very long. Either they develop these annoying little holes in the front near the hem (does anyone know how to prevent this??), they get warped in the wash, or they get stained accidentally. I probably go through at least 5 tanks/tees a year. Anyway, I like the fit of this one (I went a size up from my usual XXS at Madewell for a more casual look), and I was pleasantly surprised that the white wasn't too sheer with a nude bra. Unfortunately, the material is rather thin, so I expect this tank to develop holes too. Originally $18.50. Paid $12.09.

Madewell mini transport crossbody (English saddle, also here) - This cognac leather bag has been on my wishlist for ages, but I could never pulled the trigger because I couldn't justifying paying full price for it (it's usually excluded from Madewell's sales). When I saw it on sale at Nordstrom Rack recently, I finally went for it! I really enjoy the simple silhouette of this bag, and the shade of cognac is perfect (not too brown and not too tan). It's also a good size and can fit all of my essentials, including my Kindle Paperwhite. If I had to nitpick, I think they could have done a better job with the shoulder strap. It's a little thin and is unfinished on one side. I do like that you can adjust the length. I put mine on the shortest setting. Also, the bag doesn't have much internal organization. It only has two slip pockets and no zip pocket. Overall, I'm willing to overlook the design flaws, because I just really like the way it looks, and I can imagine pairing it with lots of outfits. Originally $148. Paid $92.55.

Born Clements boots (brown full grain 6) - Maybe this is cliche, but I like matching leather, so of course I wanted to buy a pair of cognac boots to go with my new cognac purse. I was specifically looking for ankle boots, because I find them to be more versatile and more convenient than tall boots. Also, because I walk to school nowadays, I wanted a pair that was comfortable enough to commute in without looking like comfort shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find these lace-up boots from Born that look pretty similar to these Frye boots. When I think of Born, I think practical but matronly, similar to Clarks or Birkenstock. I'm happy to report that these boots are actually surprisingly stylish. They have an almond toe, which I find very flattering, and the leather feels high quality. Also, they're extremely comfortable! The padding of the insole is great, and there's a zipper that allows side entry as well as laces that let you customize the fit. The laces are a bit long, but I actually laced them using a special method that shortens them. Also, the shade of cognac doesn't exactly match my bag (that's okay), and the smooth leather may be prone to scuffs and scratches, so I need to be mindful of polishing these boots regularly. Originally $165. Paid $111.07.

Loeffler Randall medium rider satchel (black, other sale colors and styles) - This is one of my other dream bags, and I highly highly recommend it! I've long admired the Loeffler Randall rider on other bloggers (see the larger version on Jean from Extra Petite). It's exactly the sort of bag I adore: structured silhouette, clean lines, sturdy leather, neutral color, and can be worn in a variety of ways. The most amazing thing about this bag is its incredibly thoughtful internal organization. It has two large main compartments (one has a slip pocket, and the other has a zip pocket and a slip pocket), a smaller outer compartment with a slip pocket, and a slip pocket on the back of the purse. That's a lot of pockets! It's so nice to have everything organized for a change, instead of needing to rifle through my purse every time I have to pull out my keys or my wallet! Also, there are a variety of ways to wear this bag. You can hold it by the top handle, shorten the strap to wear as a shoulder bag, or wear it as a crossbody with the strap long. Honestly, this is one of the best designed handbags I have ever seen. My one complaint is that it's a little heavy since the leather is so sturdy. Other than that, it's perfect! I got it in black, because I have a lot of black shoes, and I like that matchy-matchy look. Also I needed to replace my black Rebecca Minkoff bag, which has seen better days. Originally $475. Paid $258.93.

RETAIL: $806.50
TOTAL: $474.64 (58.8% of MSRP)

SUMMARY: During Q2, I spent $453.82. During Q3, I spent $549.52. After this month, I am officially over budget for the year. I'm going to try to keep my spending relatively low for the rest of 2018, but honestly I don't know how successful I'll be. As I mentioned in my fall/winter wardrobe wishlist, I actually do need to buy a couple more pairs of jeans to replace old worn out versions. Also I tend to go a little nuts in December when the winter clearance sales begin, so we'll see.


I bought a couple more skincare products this month. I've only been using them for a little bit, but I have mixed feelings about them both. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts.

DHC deep cleansing oil (4.1 fl oz) - I wanted to try double cleansing, which is an important step in Asian skincare routines, and this cleansing oil is one of the most popular products. It seems to work well enough and takes off makeup/sunscreen, but even a small bottle is pretty expensive, and I can't help but wonder if I could achieve similar results with a cheaper oil. If anyone has recommendations on what I should try after I finish this bottle, please let me know! Originally $21. Paid $21.00.

Klairs freshly juiced vitamin drop - Every skincare blogger seems to rave about the miracle benefits of vitamin C serum, so I wanted to try one out for myself. This version uses a weaker stabilized form of L-ascorbic acid that's more shelf-stable and also cheaper. I haven't used it long enough to see any noticeable effect, but I don't like how it's kind of oily feeling. Since this is my first vitamin C serum, I'm not sure if that's normal or not. Again, I'm curious to hear what other people think, and I welcome any suggestions. Originally $23.50. Paid $23.50.

So how did you do on your budget this month? What are your dream handbags? Do you double cleanse and/or use vitamin C serum?

Friday, October 26, 2018

My Fall/Winter Wardrobe Wishlist

It's like someone flipped a switch around here, and all of a sudden it's fall. As much as I love this season, I think it can be pretty challenging to dress for. Right now my neck of the woods is in that transitional period where it's chilly in the mornings and evenings but relatively warm during the day. That means it's too chilly to wear what I've been wearing all summer but too warm still for my winter clothes. Also some of my wardrobe workhorses have finally given up the ghost, and I need to start replacing them. All this leaves me feeling once again like I have nothing to wear in the morning.

To breathe new life into my wardrobe, I would like to add some fresh pieces to supplement what I already own. First, let's talk about color palette. My summer color palette consisted of white/ivory, denim, blue, stripes, heather grey with accents of blush and black. I still like most of these colors for fall/winter, although optic white and blush feel too spring/summer to me. I think my fall/winter color palette will be black, blue/denim, heather grey, burgundy, and camel with accents of cognac and ivory.

(clockwise) camel sweater, ivory cami (similar), black bag (50% off, ordered to try), cognac bag (bought recently), brown boots, cognac belt, black jeans, grey jeans

Black. I have this weird thing about wearing dark colors near my face (I think it makes me look sallow), so no black sweaters for me. I already have a black puffer vest that I wear all the time. It's the perfect layer for transitional weather. Also, I already own several pairs of black shoes, including these flats, these sneakers, a pair of knee-high boots, and a pair of loafers, so I'm good there. I do need to replace my old ripped black jeans from J.Crew. I bought them on a whim back in Fall 2014 and wore them so much that the knees are now completely worn out (they originally had small knee rips). I want to replace them with a pair of black skinny jeans that aren't distressed and don't look like leggings (maybe something like this pair but with more dimension, not just flat black). Based on the selection I've seen so far, this might be a tall order. I would also like to upgrade my beloved black Rebecca Minkoff purse that I wore all last year, which has seen better days. I'm currently lusting after this beauty, which is 50% off (ordered to try)!

Blue. I already have a navy turtleneck sweater and a navy sweater-blazer from J.Crew. Also I have a beautiful navy peacoat that I really ought to wear more often than I do. In addition, I own a couple pairs of blue jeans (but I need to get my favorite Hudson jeans repaired, because the button somehow fell out) and an old J.Crew chambray shirt. If I added anything else blue, it would be another pair of classic blue skinny jeans with no extra embellishments, but that's not a super high priority.

Heather grey. I already own several grey sweaters, so I'm banned from buying any more. However, I would like to buy a new pair of grey jeans. I used to own a pair of grey Siwy jeans that I wore all the time, but I had to throw them away after finding a big hole in the crotch. To replace them, I want a plain simple pair without any extra embellishments or details (like this pair).

Burgundy. I already own all the burgundy pieces I need. My beloved Mackage leather jacket (I bought it for a great price years ago and still wear it all the time) is burgundy, and I just bought a new pair of burgundy pants last month.

Camel. During the winter, I wear my J.Crew camel cocoon coat all the time. It's still one of my all-time favorite coats. Warm, great for layering, and goes with everything. What I would like to add is a thick camel cardigan, something warm and cozy to bundle up in.

Cognac. I love the idea of cognac accessories for fall, and I just recently acquired this crossbody bag that I've wanted for ages. I've been eyeing the matching cognac belt, and.I'd like to get a pair of cognac ankle boots that are both stylish and good for walking long distances. I'm currently deciding between this pair and this pair.

Ivory. I own a few ivory silk blouses and a cream colored cable sweater. I would like to add a silky ivory cami for layering under cardigans.

Miscellaneous. Maybe a fun patterned/colorful scarf that fits into my palette. And a few more cardigans! I actually wear cardigans year round, even during the summer. My boyfriend likes to joke that I look like a librarian when I wear one, but hey there's nothing wrong with that!

What's on your fall/winter wardrobe wishlist?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sale Alert: Madewell at Nordstrom Rack

Quick PSA for you guys today. If you're a fan of Madewell like me, be sure to scope out the selection at Nordstrom Rack! It's a great opportunity to find stuff at a significant discount. I usually prefer to shop in store (you never know what you'll find), but sometimes the website has good deals too. For example, get your hands on a Madewell mini transport crossbody bag on the Nordstrom Rack website for 43% off! That's the best deal I've ever seen, since the bag never gets marked down at Madewell, and it's usually excluded from promotions. Even when it is included, the discount never exceeds 30% off. Right now it's available in 3 different colors at that price: black, English saddle, and petal pink. I picked up an English saddle (cognac) one from my local Nordstrom Rack store a couple weeks ago, and I adore it. Check out the rest of the selection too. Happy shopping!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dupe Comparison: Pureology Hydrate versus Kirkland Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner

In my post about hair care mistakes, I mentioned that I had recently switched to using sulfate-free products at the recommendation of my hair stylist. She suggested that I try the Pureology Hydrate line, because their products are very moisturizing, and my hair is quite dry. Since the full-size bottles are pretty expensive, I decided to buy travel size versions of the shampoo and conditioner first to see if they would work well for my hair. I used both the shampoo and the conditioner for about a month. The small bottles actually lasted a surprisingly long time, even though each one is only 1.7 fl oz, because you only need a little bit of product. Also, I've been trying to wash my hair less frequently to avoid further stripping the moisture. I didn't care for the shampoo very much (keep reading for why), but I loved the conditioner. However, because the price is so high, I started looking for a cheaper alternative.

After doing some research online, I discovered that Costco had a possible dupe: the Kirkland Moisture line. Personally I'm not a Costco member, but luckily my boyfriend is. Like Pureology, Kirkland Moisture is sulfate-free, paraben-free, and 100% vegan. Unlike Pureology, it's extremely affordable. So on our next trip to Costco, I picked up the duo to try them out.

Before I get to the reviews and comparison, here is a brief description of my hair type. I have naturally wavy hair (2a curl type) that's not very thick, but it is pretty voluminous. When there's a lot of humidity, it turns kind of curly and frizzy. My scalp is on the oily side, so I usually need to wash my hair every 2-3 days. However, my ends are dry, so when I go too long without a haircut, I tend to get split ends. Nowadays, in addition to shampoo and conditioner, I use a leave-in conditioner every time I wash my hair, and I apply a hair mask every couple weeks. I usually let my hair air-dry (which gives me slightly wavy hair), but sometimes I blow-dry (which gives me mostly straight hair).

Air-dried waves after plopping (highly recommend if you have wavy or curly hair!), which boosts my curl type to 2b

Shampoo Comparison

This shampoo smells very herbal/medicinal, which I don't really like. Also, it hardly lathers at all, which I also don't like (typical of sulfate-free shampoos though). However, it is very moisturizing. On the first day after washing, my hair looks great. The ends feel very soft and smooth. On day 2, my roots start looking oily, and my scalp feels a little itchy. I have to resort to using dry shampoo, which I normally don't need until day 3. On day 3, my scalp feels pretty itchy, like there's too much oil build-up. When I use this shampoo, I need to wash my hair every 2 days (instead of 3) to avoid the itchy phase. In terms of price, a 1.7 fl oz bottle of shampoo costs $7.50, a 8.5 fl oz bottle costs $28.50, and a 33.8 fl oz bottle costs $66.
- Pros: Very moisturizing
- Cons: Smells very herbal/medicinal, causes too much oil build-up/itching, expensive

This shampoo smells sort of sweet and floral, which I like better although it's still not my favorite scent. I really like how it lathers like normal shampoo. It is also reasonably moisturizing, although not as moisturizing as the Pureology Hydrate shampoo. My hair looks pretty good on day 1, and my ends feel very soft compared to when I use normal shampoo. On day 2, no scalp itching, but my roots start to get a little oily. By the end of day 3, my roots feel too oily again, and my scalp is a little itchy, so I need to wash my hair. In terms of price, a 33.8 fl oz bottle costs $9.99 at Costco.
- Pros: Pretty moisturizing, affordable
- Cons: Still causes a little too much oil build-up

WINNER: Kirkland Moisture Shampoo

Conditioner Comparison

I love this conditioner! Out of all the conditioners I've ever tried in my life (mostly drugstore), I think it does the best job of smoothing and moisturizing my hair without weighing it down (I only apply it to the ends). Also it smells really good, like peppermint. Used in combination with my holy grail leave-in conditioner, my hair looks and feels great. However, it is pretty expensive. A 1.7 fl oz bottle costs $7.50, a 8.5 fl oz bottle costs $30.50, and a 33.8 fl oz bottle costs a whopping $68! 
- Pros: Great for smoothing/moisturizing, weightless
- Cons: Price

This conditioner smells very similar to the shampoo, i.e. sweet and floral. Personally I prefer the clean peppermint scent of the Pureology conditioner. It's also very good at smoothing and moisturizing, but it's not quite as weightless as the other one. However, the price is much much better. A 33.8 fl oz bottle costs only $7.49 at Costco. 
- Pros: Good for smoothing/moisturizing, not quite as weightless, price
- Cons: None

WINNER: Pureology Hydrate Conditioner (by a hair, pun intended)


Overall I'm impressed by the Kirkland Moisture line, and I highly recommend it. I think it really is a good dupe for the Pureology Hydrate line, and the value is amazing when you consider how much product you get for the price. Kirkland is a Costco-exclusive brand, but even if you're not a Costco member, you can buy the shampoo and conditioner online through Amazon. Once I use up the Kirkland Moisture conditioner (it's a huge bottle), I think I'll switch back to the Pureology Hydrate conditioner though.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this comparison! Do you use sulfate-free products? Have you ever tried plopping your hair?