Friday, August 28, 2015

August Shopping Reflections

This was a highly atypical month because I spent the vast majority of it traveling. In addition to the listed items, I also bought three pieces of fairly cheap summer clothing from street vendors in Korea and a very large quantity of Korean beauty products, but those came out of my separate travel budget. My general rule for categorizing purchases was that brands or items that I would have purchased in the normal course of my day-to-day life in the US would fall under my regular shopping budget. The other clothes I bought were primarily for wearing during the trip because the humidity and heat made some of my packed clothes less appealing. 

In terms of my travel spending, I set aside a fairly generous budget for this trip, but with the vague expectation that I likely wouldn't spend it all. I ended up buying more than expected in Korea, some of it to serve as gifts, which has brought me a lot closer to using up my entire trip budget. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $112.16) 
  • Ann Taylor Lace Dress - $83.40 - I bought this dress just before I left the US, during a 40% off regular price promotion, which resulted in a price that was decent, but a bit higher than I typically spend on an Ann Taylor dress. 
  • H&M Paisley Shorts - $12.65 - I bought this pair of shorts on sale as an impulse buy in Taipei. H&M items are generally marked up a fair bit in Taiwan, but the sale price on these proved to be about as good as the same item's sale price in the US. Although these shorts are 100% polyester, they are loose-fitting enough that they're generally comfortable in the summer weather here. 
  • Black Ballet Flats - $16.15 - Similar pair pictured. The only shoes I packed for my trip were the Keds I bought a few months ago and my Fitflop sandals, and I had a few fancier outings planned that required more formal shoes. I picked up ballet flats from a vendor in the underground mall at Myeongdong subway station. I'm not sure whether these are leather, though at the price (19,000 KRW) I don't really expect them to be. The quality on these is otherwise better than I would expect from similarly priced pair at Urban Outfitters or Forever 21, though they were more difficult to break in than the flats I typically buy. While I don't typically believe in spending a lot on ballet flats because they have an extremely short lifespan with me, I would normally like to spend a bit more to get more comfortable ones. I'll continue to wear these when I get back home. 

Linking up to Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers this month. Be sure to check out what everyone else bought this month! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Korean ATMs, The Great Firewall, etc.

One lovely corner of the Gyeongbokgong in Seoul.

I have not been posting half as much as I initially planned to during my trip! Things have been extremely fun, though a bit more tiring than I expected. Since my last post, I have been in Taipei, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and I am writing this post from a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. In a little less than a week, I'll be flying back to the United States. I plan to write a few more travel posts, but I will probably get to them until after my return home. 

In the last few weeks, I've encountered a few of those unexpected setbacks and minor problems that are inevitable when one travels without doing exhaustive advanced planning and research: I learned that many Korean ATMs do not accept foreign cards, which is problematic when one has a habit of traveling with fairly little cash and relies on an ATM card. (Almost all ATMs in Seoul's subway stations accept international debit cards, though.) I also found that, unlike in 2011 when I briefly lived in Beijing, the Great Firewall in China now blocks access to all Google products (Gmail, Blogger, Google Maps, etc.) in addition to the Google search engine and Facebook. Discovering the latter when I got to Shanghai and expected to use email and actually research my itinerary with my usual online tools was an unpleasant surprise. I felt the absence of Google Maps particularly strongly. It was, admittedly, a major oversight on my part because a few people tried to warn me about the Google issue. 

Perhaps because I've lived and travelled through East Asia more than most, I was a bit lackadaisical with much of the research and planning for this trip. It generally hasn't worked out too badly either, though failing to prepare myself for the Google issue in China was a bit silly of me. I can't wait to share some of the actually fun details about my travels! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

First Stop: Taichung, Taiwan

A shop in Feng-Jia Night Market in Taichung.

My post for today will be extremely brief. I'm back in Taipei now, but I spent most of the past week in Taichung to visit my mom's family, and my trip there included a stop at Feng-Jia Night Market. My primary activities of choice when in Taiwan are shopping and eating, and night markets are a particularly good place to engage in both.

Cute socks. I do suspect that these are not licensed products...

When I shop in Taiwan, I generally stick to buying small, cute items like the socks pictured above. I generally also buy some Asian skincare and makeup while I'm in Taiwan, but this time I might wait for my stopover in Seoul to buy those things because most of what I want to buy comes from Korean brands. I'll also need to think about what items to get as souvenirs for friends back home. 

I'll hopefully write some more detailed posts with more photos in the next few weeks as my travels continue! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ann Taylor Lace Shift Dress

It is currently my second full day in Taipei and I am still a bit too sleepy from jetlag to do anything too fun and exciting. Hopefully, that will change in the next few days! For now, I have a quick post regarding a bit of shopping I did before leaving NYC.

I took some time to check out a few things at Ann Taylor during a recent 40% off in-store promotion. It's been a while since I've been particularly excited by anything at AT, but I love the idea of most of their recent batch of new arrivals. Although they describe it as a "late summer" collection, the items and color scheme look very "autumn" to me. In person, the skirt and dress pictured above are made of thin, light summer-weight fabrics. I didn't take a very close look at the skirt because I own something similar, but I did try on the dress in both colors.

I'm not posting the photos directly because my mirror selfie game was much worse than usual thanks to anemic lighting and a not perfectly-clean mirror. If you're curious, I'm wearing the regular size 4 in navy blue here and the dark red in a regular size 2 here. The Fitflop sandals (a gift from mom) that I'm wearing are not the trendiest shoe, and not the ones I'd actually wear with a dress like this, but they've become my favorite summer shoe because they're just so comfortable. 

Shift dresses are not the most flattering style for me, but I kind of like the relaxed fit. Because it's a shift dress, the cut is a little boxy, particularly in the bust, and I found that it runs bigger than most other AT dresses as a result. While I'm typically a size 4 or 6 in AT dresses depending on the design, the size 2 is the one for me here. I suspect that less curvy figures might feel differently about whether it runs large. I think curves make the larger sizes look awkwardly baggy. The dress is a bit short, such that the regular actually hits a bit above the knee on my 5'3'' self, and it's mainly the high neckline that keeps it office-appropriate for my business casual workplace. The fabric is thin and intended for summer, but the lining is 100% polyester and a bit clingy, which keeps it from being the most comfortable summertime choice. 

I ended up buying the navy blue dress in a size 2, and it'll appear in next month's budget post.