Category: Money

What I’m Not Going to Buy – Inspired by Kimberly Clark

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
― Yves Saint-Laurent

Kimberly Clark is a YouTuber I mentioned in my March favorites post. A drag queen who vlogs on beauty, consumerism, and social issues, her content is frankly right up my street! She’s most notable for her “Anti-Haul” series where, in contrast to other glam influencers who show off their (often extravagant) mass purchases, she creates fun and enjoyable videos detailing what she is choosing not to buy–and why. Her style is quintessential drag, humorous and hyperbolic, but often intermixed with valuable thoughts on brands and consumer culture.

I really like her take on being honest and blunt about wanting, buying, and enjoying products that are fundamentally unnecessary, but also honestly evaluating (in her opinion) when certain products or brands cross the line into downright ridiculous. Her catch phrase, “I don’t need it and I’m not going to buy it,” could save us all a lot of buyers remorse–and not just on beauty and style products.

And so, following the exposé of my stash, and in the spirit of glitter, big hair, and smarter consumption, here’s a list of things I’m not going to buy:

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow. Something strange has happened lately and I’ve found myself drawn inexorably to metallic cosmetics as if I were some kind of earthbound magpie. These things are outrageously high on shine and ever since swatching them on my hand to test both their reflective might (strong) and staying power (fairly decent for something so glittery), I have coveted them fiercely. But I’m not going to buy them. I have two semi-metallic shades of cream eye shadow that are more muted but still plenty shimmery and can work for both work or going out depending on how I use them. They would be tons of fun, but–in the words of Kimberly Clark herself–I don’t need them so I’m going to buy them!

Bobbi Brown City Palette in London. I fell for this compact due to the combined powers of an intense navy shade and the illustrated case that pays homage to my favorite city on earth. But pretty as they both are, even I must admit those are insufficient reasons to splurge.

Anything by Tom Ford, with the exception of the eyeliner pen which is genuinely great in spite of the price. Because when your brand charges $50 for lipstick, $110 for bronzer, and $80 for blushes…I expect your products to not only make me eternally young, but to do my laundry, clean my house, and file my tax paperwork in the bargain. No one needs to spend that much money on on this stuff. Nobody.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Like the liquid eye shadow, I definitely want this and am intrigued to try it. I don’t entirely worship at the shrine of Glossier, some of their products are a bit overhyped or underwhelming…but the products of theirs that I do like, I buy in multiples. However I’m not going to be buying this product, at least not any time soon, because I have a lot of blushes already. I haven’t bought all of them, a good number I was very generously gifted to review by a magazine, but the fact remains that I have a drawer full already and simply don’t need more at the moment.

Any more highlighters. Sephora can tempt me with all the glow they can bring to bear, but I own a handful as it stands. I can look dewy, bronzed, or downright gilded if I want to already, so I will be sitting on my hands every time I’m tempted by something shiny until I’ve used up some of my existing stock.

Most limited edition anything (fully acknowledging that my own shopping ban cheat indulgence was precisely that). In almost all instances, the “limited edition” nature of these items is to meant to enable markups on already existing formulas and products. Moreoever, more than one brand has rolled out a “limited edition” product to outrageous hype, only to have it become a viral success–at which point it behooves the brand to add the item to their normal roster anyway (a great example of this is Becca’s Champagne Pop highlighter). Which means that all you paid for (normally at some kind of mark up) is the urgency. There are new product launches all the time and it is a rare item that will truly fill a gap in your stash and be worth the higher price tag.

New Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. Full disclosure, I love these. I own two and could gleefully own more, but I’m sitting on my hands in defiance of their recent release of new shades because…I have an obscene amount of lip products already. I’m not buying another stick until I’ve used up my existing ones. So help me god.

Anything Kylie Cosmetics. I fully admit to an irrational prejudice when it comes to this family in general, but that’s just not a direction I want to send my money.

 

Your turn, ducklings. What is one thing (or a list of things) you want but have made a decision not to buy–frivolous or otherwise? 

My Makeup Arsenal

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
― Gwyneth Paltrow

Here it is, I’m throwing open the doors on my current makeup stash.

It’s taken me a long time to build this sucker up and, as previously written, I’m fairly happy with it overall. I’m sure it’s a lot larger than some of yours, and I know for a fact it’s a lot smaller than others! But in spite of the time and expense, makeup and beauty in general is an area of life that gives me a lot of pleasure and joy, so I don’t make a lot of apologies for it.

 photo IMG_2728_zpsmggze0rs.jpg

Eyes

The eyes have it…though I’ll readily admit this is the makeup area with which I am least proficient–though I’m constantly practicing for improvement and rare is the weekend that will find me without some kind of color experiment on my lids! My eyes are a very noticeable shade of green and I like to play them up. I have one palette containing some neutral shades with both matte and shimmer formulas by Nars (with one standout shade of blue for a kick), and another containing all matte formulas in warm, neutral shades by Viseart. I also have a tiny travel sized palette for when I need to hop on a plane or train with just one bag to my name.

 photo IMG_2734_zpswr4yifc7.jpg

I’m not terribly keen on eyeliner, so the three I have are (ironically) a bit wild. Two are blue shades, the other is a shimmery gold, all by Urban Decay. They get most of their love and use on the weekend. Then I have a couple of Charlotte Tilbury cream shadow sticks in Bronzed Garnet and Gold Digger, and ditto Nars in Reykjavik and Aigle Noir for a basic smokey eye look that even I couldn’t mess up.

 photo IMG_2730_zpsgbxpz1oy.jpg

For standalone eye colors not be to be found in a palette, I have two Charlotte Tilbury cream shadows in Marie Antoinette and Verushka (an “oyster gold” and an “minky-mossy” green respectively), one MAC shadow in Antiqued (a warm, reddish brown with shimmer) and a Laura Mercier shadow in Plum Smoke.

 photo IMG_2731_zps2wzjzcqf.jpg

 

Powders and Blush

When it comes to powders, this is an area that has grown a lot in recent years. I own a shedload of blushes, but should note right away that last year I was invited to review about half a dozen different blush products for a magazine. They provided me the blushes to use and review, which effectively doubled my collection–though some I’ve passed on to better homes since then. The fact still remains, I’ve got a lot!

 photo IMG_2736_zpsheuuba6e.jpg

I’ve been in a bit of a neutrals “moment” when it comes to blushes for a while now. In my salad days I was a sucker for a bit of shimmer but as my tastes have changed, I’ve pretty ruthlessly cleared those out in favor of matte formulas. The one exception is Nars’ Orgasm blush which I bought years ago, fell out with, gifted away to family, and then was gifted back again as part of my product review opportunity. It’s sticking around until summer when I’m going to give it another proper trial. Now my blushes are all shades of nude, peach, and pink in a couple of instances that look fairly natural. My obvious standout is Nars’ Exhibit A, a bright orange red that looks shocking in the pan and gorgeous on the face (a light touch required).

I’ve also included my one bronzer from The Body Shop, which I’m still learning to use without looking ridiculous, a finishing powder by Hourglass in Dim Light, two highlighters by Becca in Moonstone (poured formula) and Champagne Pop (powder), and a translucent setting power by Laura Mercier. My latest edition to this family was my cheat item from my shopping ban, the highlighter form the Estee Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration in the shade Modern Mercury. It was ridiculous expensive, but I’ve been wearing it almost nonstop since I bought it. Regrets, I’ve had a few, as the song goes, but this isn’t one of them!

 

Foundation

When it comes to foundation, I’m much less ridiculous and I have two go-to products: the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer in the shade Natural and the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in the shade 5. Based on a lot of recommendations, I’m currently road testing the It Cosmetics CC cream in a “trial size” version to see if I can find a slightly cheaper mid-to-high coverage option in place of the Armani when it runs out (which I love deeply but it it is expensive). I also chucked in a cream highlighter by Becca in the shade Rose Gold which I tend to use as a blush, a Glossier highlighter in Haloscope, and two primers–one by Makeup Forever, and another by Givenchy. I was late to the primer game, but have been converted.

 photo IMG_2737_zpsrvo2f8sz.jpg

 

Other Bits

In the bits-n-bobs section, I have my eyebrow products (one pencil by Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Glossier’s Boy Brow), one eyeliner pen (by Tom Ford, hideously expensive, but very good), and two concealers (Glossier Stretch Concealer in Medium for light coverage, Clarins Instant Light in 01 for fuller coverage).  My mascara is and for years has been Maybelline’s Full’n’Soft. It’s unfindable in the UK, but I stock up on a tube or two every time I go back to the States.

 photo IMG_2738_zpsrvxdfkls.jpg

 

Lip Stuff

And finally, the heavy artillery of the arsenal: my lipstick. I have…a lot.

 photo IMG_2740_zpsfvazvr8y.jpg

I break my stash down into light and dark colors (though that’s just for storage, I don’t really switch my shades in accordance with a season. I tend to just wear whatever calls to me on any given day).

 photo IMG_2742_zpsf5rggdkd.jpg

 photo IMG_2741_zps20xb8rsc.jpg

I also separate out my liquid lipsticks and glosses. I’ve only been into these for about a year and all of my liquid lipsticks are from Kat von D’s line, which I really like. My recent additions are two highly metallic glosses from Bite Beauty (who, you will notice, are by far my lipstick brand of choice). I don’t really like glosses, but I was drawn two these Prismatic Pearl Creme Gloss products (in Champagne Pearl and Oyster Pearl) like moths to a flame. They look like liquid metal on my lips. Practical, no. Gorgeous, yes!

 photo IMG_2743_zpsydvyprew.jpg

And there you have it. A 100% honest tour of my treasure hoard…er, minus whatever may be hiding in my purse that I might have forgotten to take out, now that I think on it!

I think it’s obvious why I think I don’t need any more until I’ve used up quite a bit of what I’ve got. But I admit it can be hard to ignore the siren song of a really beautiful piece of kit. Makeup makes me feel better, more in command of my presentation, like I’m not just able to highlight different features but different aspects of my personal based on what color I swipe across my lids or lips. More on that later this week!

 

Your turn! Do you love makeup? Loathe it? Is there a specific type of product you’ve either come around to lately, or gone off of entirely? Do you hoard a specific type of product and if so, why? 

Finding My Fashion Sense (a work in progress)

“Style is knowing what suits you, who you are, and what your assets are. It is also accepting it all.”
– Bianca Jagger

Lo these many years ago in my early 20s I decided to sit down and figure out what I actually liked and wanted to wear, as opposed to trying to follow trends or simply copy looks I liked on other people (which invariably never looked as good on me). It was a surprisingly frustrating exercise. It took a few years in all honesty, and I ended up going down a few blind fashion alleys, and frankly spending more money than I should have, along the way. But I was sick of owning clothes I didn’t wear because I’d bought them liking the idea of the pieces more than the pieces themselves…which was ultimately my personal breakthrough moment.

Liking and owning are not and need not be the same thing. I’d gotten them dangerously confused–something I think it’s very easy to do in our culture. Indeed, we’re kind of trained to. Just because I liked something didn’t mean that 1) I needed to own it or, 2) that it would necessarily suit me anyway. I didn’t really know what I liked, and as a result I was flailing–stylistically as well as financially or practically. Dividing aesthetic appreciation from my consumer urges helped get poorly planned or whim purchases off the menu; I then decided that I needed to figure out what my tastes actually were before buying more stuff.

I made a Pinterest board where I pinned fashion images that I liked, as opposed to items I wanted to buy.

Gradually, some noticeable themes started to emerge from the inspiration images I collected. What I learned over time is that I like masculine inspired tailoring in feminine clothing, neutral basics paired with colorful or standout accessories, high impact glam for special occasions, and a noticeably vintage vibe running throughout. Got it! If that’s how I buy, I know I’ll be pretty happy and get a lot of use out of my clothing. So it was and so it has remained.

 photo b552cba9cfa8a8ea2e34158d24fa3f7f_zpsy47uzzpm.jpg
This image is my fashion totem: comfy jeans, impractically dramatic fur coat, excellent lipstick. Done. It me, kittens, at least in my fantasy life.

I’ve never read any good style advice that didn’t boil down to, “Know thyself,” but I think if we are honest, that’s more difficult than it appears at first blush. Lots of us go through multiple identities or personas in our life–high school cliques, groups of friends, career moves, family changes–which means that who we are is constantly shifting. Sometimes we deliberately decide to explore new facets of our personalities, which may prompt a change in aesthetics. Sometimes…we just feel bored or frustrated with ourselves and an easy way to feel different it to choose to look different (let’s share tragic haircut choices in the comments, shall we?). And sometimes, our tastes simply change. Mine have shifted several times over the last decade. And even though I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe now, I’m fairly sure it will evolve again at some point as my professional or lifestyle needs shift.

Committing to examining and developing your sense of style can be an exercise in radical honesty, it forces you to really define what you like but also why you gravitate towards it. You may encounter some uncomfortable truths. When I was first freelancing full time, I spent several months in full schlub mode and there was a period of time where I could spend whole days in my pajamas if I wanted to, which I often did. It ended up having a knock on effect on my health (it was easy not to exercise) and confidence (it was hard to feel competent with perpetually messy hair). When I woke to this cause-and-effect, I made a switch and deliberately discarded or repurposed my lazy loungewear so that wearing it simply wasn’t an option. A minor change, but one that has had long term positive benefits for both how I look and feel in the mirror.

Examining your style can also open up some positive doors or new facets of your personality you want to explore and bring to the fore. Stay tuned for the story of my love affair with lipstick next week! Once you discover what you like (what you really like), I find that a lot of the imposter syndrome, self consciousness, or indecision that often comes with getting dressed in the morning melts away. If you genuinely love what you own, whether it’s trunk fulls of designer labels, or well loved jeans and t-shirts, I think you are much less likely to be concerned with what other people’s opinions are on the subject of your presentation.

Get to know yourself. Like yourself. Dress the part. It’s a formula that works for me, even though the first element of it is constantly in a state of flux.

 

Your turn! Have you ever tried to define your own sense of style? What tools helped? Could you sum up your fashion sense in three words or an image like that of the Great and Good Katherine Hepburn? 

 

Style Isn’t Shallow

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
― Gore Vidal

What do we talk about when we talk about style?

I deliberately chose the theme of “Style” for this month over fashion or beauty because, even though the terms are often used interchangeably, I don’t believe they are perfectly synonymous. When I talk about style, and this is the framework I want to use in discussing it this month, I am talking about the series of choices we make everyday in how we choose to physically present ourselves in public. The manifestations of these choices are what we wear and buy. Sometimes these choices are informed by trends, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes these choices are intentional, sometimes they are reflexive. But whether you look like you just stepped out of the pages of Vogue, or have built your wardrobe entirely thanks to Goodwill, style is fundamentally personal and individual.

In a very real way, whether we are conscious about it or not (and goodness knows I haven’t always been), the myriad of day to day decisions about what we choose to put on our faces and bodies or in our homes are markers of how we are choosing to spend our resources, attention, and time. Not only that, our physical personal presentations encompass a lot of broad notions, including gender identity, political and social values, and consumerism in general with all its attendant issues.

I think that people who turn their noses up at style and fashion often betray a reverse snobbery that’s dismissive of the very real concerns and issues of consumer culture, an ignorance of how deeply impactful fashion and style are in almost everyone’s day to day lives (regardless of race, income, or any number of factors), and often a casual misogyny against seemingly “shallow” women or prejudice against gender nonconforming men.

 photo tumblr_n6iawxMJbI1qc81vco2_250_zpsqubx8ori.gif

Style–the everyday choices we make–is not shallow. It’s the physical manifestation of both unique identity, and an awful lot of human realities. Hopefully, by framing it in this active way, we’ll find some interesting aspects of style to talk about this month. I’m opening up my closet and bathroom shelf for scrutiny, and hoping to gain a bit of insight into my own choices and habits, as well as learning more about yours in the comments.

 

Your turn, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this month’s topic and on this post. Let me know what the term “style” means to you, and if you agree with my definition or not. Who meets your definition of a stylish person, and how you define your own sense of style?

Style Month

“Fashion changes, but style endures.”
― Coco Chanel

Welcome to Style Month at SDS! Throughout April we’re going to be talking beauty, fashion, makeup, identity, psychology, marketing, and consumerism–because style is anything but a shallow concept.

 photo Cheshire2_zps540b1e7a.jpg

I’m hoping to shake things up with some new post formats, a bit of personal writing, and of course to continue to work towards being  smarter, savvier consumer overall. Even though we’re going to be talking about what’s often considered a frivolous topic (false), this very much falls under the yearly theme of: Less But Better when it comes to spending and consuming in general.

Like unto Money Month, I hope you guys will play along, comment, share your own posts and writing on similar topics, and signal boost other content worth sharing. If a book has changed your thoughts on style, share it! If you’ve developed a signature look, let me know how you found it! I hope to tick off a few more of my 101/1001 goals but mostly I’m looking forward to discussing an oddly personal topic in a hopefully broad and interactive way with the minion coterie. I really enjoyed my last month-long project and am hoping you guys enjoy this one just as much.

Budget and Ban Check In

“There are people who have money and people who are rich” 
– Coco Chanel

My second shopping ban is winding down and as promised, I thought it was a good time to do a budgeting check in as a follow up to my Money Month project. My basic household budget is still accurate, and by rigorously curtailing spending, we’ve been able to chip at some debt in small but steady ways. The hustle continues to pay off and I’m happy to say I’ve landed a new year-long contract that, well shepherded, should enable us to pay off debt a bit more aggressively than we are doing already. It will also allow us to do a bit more travelling, which we very much want to prioritize this year.

 photo DeathtoStock_Creative Community5_zpsy0vrkrcn.jpg

In February I met my goal of not eating out for the entire month–with two exceptions where a meeting or event at work (which promised food) fell through at the last minute. In those instances, I ate at a cheap canteen for less than £5 each. To put it simply, I was shocked at how much savings this produced. I knew I was spending more than I wanted on food on the go, but sometimes it takes a moment of sharp relief to throw it into perspective. Ever since I’ve been recommitted to prepping my meals in advance and have almost entirely eschewed paying for coffee or tea.

As for my other short term goals, I wasn’t able to do my £40/week goal of grocery shopping for this month, but that’s simply due to disorganization on my part and I’ll be returning to this goal at some point.  I did meet my goal of no entertainment spending, however. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been getting a lot of use! We’ve also devised a simple but easily monitored plan to pay off a couple of credit cards quickly and are on track to do so. Regarding donating, I’ve set up a regular donation to my public broadcasting peeps and plan on adding other regular donations to the budget once my new contract kicks in. And I’ve been sticking to my monthly cash budget as an article of faith!

My shopping ban has been another fantastic reset for me. Over the 12 months, 6 of them have been spent consciously not buying new stuff and I think it has helped me get a sense of my retail therapy, impulse purchase, and casual spending habits. It’s forced me to shop my own closet (more on that next month!), and experiment with my makeup and accessories more rather than simply coveting an entire new outfit or piece when I’m bored or frustrated with my wardrobe. I’ll be lifting the ban on April 1st, but don’t expect to dive into a wave of shopping as a result. I’ve got a relatively short list of items I need (mostly work related) but other than that, I’m going to try to stick to what I have until I’ve used more pieces up.

Full disclosure I did make a cheat purchase (a limited edition highlighter from the Estée Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration, which I missed out on during it’s original launch), but I felt able to justify it by cutting other discretionary spending that didn’t fall under my ban. For instance, instead of replacing some skincare products when they ran out, I used other items in my bathroom cupboards that I’ve previously passed on in favor of other products or just plain forgot about. I’ve kept my eye on a few new makeup and beauty items over the past few months but by being forced to sit on my hands instead of snapping them up, I’ve been able to evaluate my own needs and desire for them a bit more judiciously. As a result, my shopping list has shrunk to just a couple of items for when my ban expires.

So all in all, instead of stuff, I’d like to focus my money attention for the next few months on continuing debt pay down, travel, and items for the apartment. Not a bad place to be!

Spending Diary Vol. 5

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”
– Jonathan Swift

In the interest of full and final disclosure, here is the last of my spending diary for the month of January this year. I gave myself a final food indulgence and ordered dinner on Tuesday as I committed to not eating out once during February, let’s see how that goes!

 photo DeathtoStock_Creative Community7_zpstzollnd4.jpg

This has been an amazingly useful project, so thanks again for playing along and holding me accountable. And thanks to everyone who commented and shared these posts, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all the kind and thoughtful engagement from this series. As always, the Minion Coterie are the real MVPs around here.

Sunday
Renewed blog registration: 22.00
Delivery customs charge (for what, I’m not sure, but apparently I have a package incoming?): £14.27

Monday
Lunch: £4.10
Travel card renewal and top up: £43.00

Tuesday
Lunch: £16.50
Coffee for  pal having a bad day: £3.90
Dinner: £24.00
Groceries: £25.00

Total £152.77