Category: Consumerism

A Week of Outfits: Saturday

“Black is the hardest color in the world to get right—except for gray…”
– Diana Vreeland

You have Katarina to blame for this project, ducklings, as this was an idea for a 101/1001 goal she suggested and I foolishly added it to the list. I then thought it would be a great way to write about some of my new goals around shopping my closet, avoiding new purchases for the rest of the year, and generally writing more honestly about my consumer habits.

Then, the stupid paranoia hit. I am terrible about having my picture taken (a side effect of that body negativity I wrote about the other day), and go out of my way to avoid being photographed because I always hate how I look in images. I think I’m hoping this project will help me get over that personal hurdle a bit. So I bit the bullet and dressed for the day one Saturday with the intention of kicking off this week-long project. Then, I took a look at my shots from day one and there we were, kicking off with an annoyingly unflattering image, given that I’m feeling pretty good about my my recent health and wellbeing progress of late. Anyway I present you a British day, blazing and gorgeous high summer, and myself, a column of gray and black.

Welcome to a week of outfits from me, your friendly neighborhood Emphatically-Not-A-Style Blogger.

The recent heatwaves have presented a challenge for many Londoners. Speaking for myself and based on the rigorous anecdotal research of my friends and coworkers, I can tell you that it turns out few of us have the wardrobe for this kind of heat. Most of the time, when you want this much sun and high temperatures for a sustained period, we leave the country for them! There is a reason Europe is effectively out to lunch for the month of August, this continent wasn’t built to deal with the heat and many of us flee for cities and countries with the infrastructure to cope or the topography to make the most of Vitamin D.

Dressing for work has been a chore. Almost everything I have that’s appropriate for the office feels too hot or too covered up for the thermostat, while the few summer items I own are almost strictly casual or weekend clothes. Juggling necklines and hemlines while also trying to not sweat through your clothes on an overpacked Tube on your commute is a puzzle. I’ve started taking a bus into central London just to avoid the worst of the crowding on hot days, with its accompanying irritation and smells.

I love cold weather clothing and it’s easily where I’ve invested the most money over the years. But this year I had to dip into my original goal of only purchasing 18 items (since exploded) to pick up some summer appropriate shirts and trousers…because I truly didn’t have enough hot weather options to put together presentable work outfits. I felt a bit silly but there it is.

Weekends I’m better equipped for, as I said.

I’m trying to wear dresses more often in general, so last Saturday I pulled out an old J. Crew jersey dress that I picked up years and years ago. It’s short enough to keep cool but has a crew neck which keeps me more comfortably covered and feels modern and sporty.

I own only two pairs of sunglasses, both of which I bought years ago and spent a bit more money on, on the theory that I’d take better care of nice ones than cheap crap. So far that’s proven a wise move and I’ve had these for nearly five years with nary an accident to report. In the summer I wear these aviators by Tory Burch and in the winter, I have a pair of Jackie O style frames from Ralph Lauren

Accessories are a hodgepodge. The trainers are from Muji, the necklace and bag are both vintage. I’m thinking of doing a whole post just on my collection of vintage and second hand pieces, and some recommendations for finding good deals and steals throughout London, let me know if that would be of any interest or just frivolous and boring.

The hair is straight up laziness personified. On hot weekends I often let my hair air dry rather than putting my head under an unwelcome blast of additional heat from a hair dryer, and the results are either charming and almost-French-girl looking…or scruffy. Today felt scruffy, alas. I slapped on some concealer, mascara and a bit of loose powder, all by Glossier, and a Bite lipstick and called it A Look.

Jeff and I spent the afternoon in Southwark. We wandered around Bermondsey Street and Borough Market before picking up groceries and heading home. And that’s Day One of Outfit week.

Lest any of you think I’m taking this or myself to seriously…

I still have no idea how to take a nice photo. Prepare for a week of ham and cheese, friends!

Forgive Me, Readers, for I Have Failed…BUT!

These are my confessions
Just when I thought I said all I could say
My chick on the side said she got one on the way
These are my confessions
Man, I’m throwed and I don’t know what to do
I guess I gotta give part two of my confessions
If I’m gonna tell it, then I gotta tell it all…
– Usher, Confessions II

So, Reader, here’s the bit where I confess that I have failed my shopping self challenge for the year.

Earlier this year I wrote about a goal of only buying 18 personal items throughout the year (with a few sensible caveats like socks, and that sort of thing). Well, I did really well at this for well over half the year but a grab bag of charity shop scarves and a vintage shopping binge have put me over my tally.

One of the culprits in question. It was 20 quid. It’s brilliant.

A few shameless attempts at reducing my guilt! I have only bought one item that is more than what I would have paid on the high street or a mid-range shop for its equivalent. A bunch of these items were a handful of pounds each, but did not fall into one of my protected categories and thus were tallied on my running spreadsheet regardless of cheapness–of course there’s a spreadsheet, don’t you know me at all?

But self-justification aside, I did have a bit of a moment of self-reflection. In fact, to speak truth, I had a nice little bout of emotional self-flagellation when I typed in my purchases and realized I had broke my goal, and decided to wallow in unproductive recrimination for the better part of an evening. Eventually more sensible feelings prevailed. I felt weak willed, but I also didn’t really regret any of the items I’ve spent money on this year. In fact, the sum total was less than 2% of our combined income as a family so maybe I had picked a silly goal to try and accomplish, or maybe my expectations weren’t reasonable? Or hell, maybe I am just weak willed and that’s the end of it.

I decided I could live with the minor guilt, especially if I set up a new self challenge instead. I’ve discovered in the past couple of years that game-ifying things helps me achieve goals and keeps me more accountable that sheer willpower alone. Working towards an established prize or even just being able to tick a box every day is a simple but effective thing for me. It’s a bit juvenile, but it works. X. and I keep one another accountable with our health and fitness goals because we are working towards a girl trip together if we meet them. Katarina I and keep up a regular chat chain of encouragement towards writing goals, whether about meeting a word count or just bouncing ideas off of one another. I have whole pages dedicated to lists and projects (of course I do) in my journal that I get the most ridiculous pleasure from in updating and refining. I’m so type A it’s silly. So, what could I do to reset my self-challenge in a really useful way?

We haven’t purchased anything for the house since these antique chairs, which I still think were a great purchase, for the record.

My one regret in shopping these past few months was that I didn’t feel like I had made any progress towards decorating our house which is still fairly basic in its furnishings. But finding the right trade off between an item that you like, that suits your space, and isn’t stupidly priced in London can be difficult and though we’ve liked the idea of different items over the past eight months, nothing compelled me to loosen our purse strings once.

Until the other day. I think I found it. A piece of furniture that matches our front room area, solves a storage need, has the right dimensions, looks gorgeous, is an upcycled vintage piece, and costs less than £350. Jeff and I discussed it and it seems to check all the boxes. I’ve messaged the seller to enquire about it and thus far the signs seem positive.

And so, kittens. I’m making a new bargain and documenting it here for you, the coterie, to hold me accountable. If this deal goes through, we are counting this piece of furniture as our mutual Christmas present to ourselves and the following Faustian pact will kick in:

  • I am locking up my wallet for the rest of the year. Nada, zilch. Not a single personal item shall I buy for the next five months. This will also count as my final spending freeze for my 101/1001 goal list.
  • I will finish paying off one of our credit cards in full, by the end of the year. Another partial 101/1001 goal!
  • I will prepare and pack lunches every day for the rest of the year, or lean on my cash allowance. Or starve, I guess…
  • I will extend my makeup no-buy challenge (which I have confessed to breaking) until June of 2019. Any replacement items I buy will be drugstore, without exception.
  • I will write about this project: regularly, fully, and honestly. No matter how embarrassing or confessional. Hell, I even promise to try and be funny about it!

So, there, that’s how I’ll leverage my weak will for your benefit, ducklings. Let me know what kinds of posts you’d like to see now through the end of the year as I try to earn myself some furniture and engage in some new financial asceticism. I think I may like to open the (vintage!) kimono and write a bit more specifically about the things I’ve collected over the years and why. I may finally do a “shop my closet” series and get around to doing those Out of the Day posts I’ve committed to in my 101/1001 but have felt too self conscious to do. Perhaps you’d be interested in a tour of my favorite shops and markets around London, or you yourself may want to engage in some competitive goal tracking. Do let me know in the comments, I’m interested!

 

 

 

What I’ve Bought: Summer Update

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.” 
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

Kittens, I feel like it’s time to confess my purchases for the summer! For a recap and a bit of a sense of how I’m tracking items, here is my first update on this project. In the past couple of months I have been shopping, but I’ve also been continuing to edit out old or unused items in my house and closet. I’ve had a couple of, ah, shopping indiscretions but at the end of the day, I’m doing pretty well.

As you read this I should be in Prague (unless something annoying has happened with our travel plans), so expect future posts on that next week. In the meantime, here’s what’s cause me to put down my credit card in the last three months:

  1. A pair of shorts
  2. A summer weight shirt from Gap
  3. A pair of work trousers which were unanticipated but necessary when I discovered that my other lightweight trousers, ah, didn’t fit anymore. At all. This was a humbling purchase. I maximized the opportunity, though, by finding a pair from LK Bennett on ridiculous discount and are wide legged, so as to channel Katherine Hepburn
  4. A leopard print dress
  5. A pink cotton shirt, because I’ve decided I’m exploring my WASP heritage this summer (sartorially speaking)
  6. A linen shirt, because we don’t live in a nation with air conditioning!

Confession: I broke my makeup no buy challenge. I don’t want to dwell on it but let’s just summarize by saying there was a night out, G&Ts were involved, I happened to be in the vicinity of a NARS store just after their new highlighter formula launched….and well, we’re very happy together.

I also snagged a blush by & Other Stories…because Into The Gloss made me do it… Shut up. It was on sale.

Oops.

What I’ve Bought, Didn’t Buy, and Why

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.” 
― Karl Lagerfeld

So, here’s the bit where I confess that I’m trying a bit of an experiment this year in my ongoing, unofficial series on consumerism: I’m restricting myself to buying only 18 personal items this year. Well, that’s the goal anyway–who knows what human frailties await us–but for the time being I’ve managed to keep on track with only 7 purchases so far in 2018.

Full disclosure, not all items count against this tally. I’m not counting things like replacing tights with holes in them, restocking underwear, and other utilitarian aspects of life, and books will never be subject to a quota in this household!

So what does count? Anything that goes on my person or for a hobby kind of activity–basically things I buy strictly for my own pleasure or wants are tallied up, as are big ticket items for the home.  Thus far, they have all been purchases for my closet:

  1. New works heels – to replace yet another victim of London’s cobblestones. I picked up a brand new pair from LK Bennett at a charity shop for about a 1/10 of the sticker price
  2. A vintage belt
  3. A black blazer – which is something I didn’t already own, believe it or not
  4. Wide leg trousers
  5. A casual shirt
  6. A pair of earrings, which I bragged on yesterday
  7. Another blazer – a gorgeous gray wool one, and vintage Burberry to boot

Every single one of these items was a planned purchase, had been considered for months, and by avoiding impulse buying I didn’t pay full price for any of them thanks to sales or bargaining. Four out of seven are vintage or second hand purchases, which is very much in keeping with my typical spending habits. This list comprises most if not all of my spring and summer shopping list. I’ve by using my list system to be much more thoughtful about my wants, and to identify and fill gaps in my wardrobe. Seriously, who says they love clothing and doesn’t own a black blazer?

A few other projects have been going on in the background over the last six months as well, including my now annual 3-month shopping ban–my gray blazer being a cheat item I bought during this time, but one I didn’t regret in the slightest because 1) it had been on my To Buy list for months so could justify a slight bending of the rules and, 2) c’mon, vintage Burberry on the cheap!

During this same time, I’ve gotten more ruthless with my closet and have donated several pieces to Mary’s Living and Giving. I found I was holding on a several items that I hadn’t worn in months or longer and, having decided on a use-it-or-lose-it attitude towards a lot of “stuff” in my life lately, I had no qualms in letting them go. So, in spite of a few new purchases, my closet continues to be more streamlined and slimmed down than it was a couple of years ago.

Finally, I’m trying to not buy any new makeup for an entire year unless I’m replacing an item I have completely run out of and cannot replicate with what I already own. Skincare is exempt because while the fashions and styles of makeup shift, skin is forever and I believe in spending money to keep it healthy and clear. I’ve got a pretty well established stable of products and very rarely see the need to deviate from them, so purchases here have so far been only to replace items once I’ve run out of something.

What are my other 11 purchases for the year going to be? I’m not sure! I’ve been thinking about getting a bike for a while (for nearly a whole year, lest you thing I rush decisions), but truthfully I’d rather get some more furniture for the house with that money right now. I’d like to get a couple more jewelry pieces as I slowly transition away from cheap and costume-y to more substantial stuff that I hope to own the rest of my life, but I can wait for the right ones to come along. Now that I’ve done my seasonal shopping, I am going to see how long I can go without adding anything else to my wardrobe because I really feel like there isn’t anything I truly need at the moment for either work or casual. Over the past year I really feel as if I’ve come to a much healthier attitude towards “things,” which in turn is allowing me to flex the muscle of thinking in long term goals. More on that later.

Have you done any spring or summer shopping for this year? What have you bought? Are you planning any future shopping, and if so, how do you choose and prioritize your purchases?