Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Shopping Budget Roundup

Happy new year! I hope that everyone has had a wonderful holiday season and that 2017 is getting to a good start. Today's post is a reflection on last year's fashion and beauty spending and my plans for this year's budget. I'll also give a shout-out to some of my "best buys" last year, pictured above. Unlike last year, I don't have any "worst buys" to point out, which I'd like to think means that I'm a more careful shopper than before.

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Clothing and Accessories Budget

In 2015, I spent $2729 out of the $250/month or $3000/year budget. This year, I spent $1545.99 of the $170/month or $2040/year budget I set for "on-budget" purchases. Certain purchases, such as socks or underthings, have always been "off-budget." I also made some planned big-ticket off-budget purchases in the form of two suits (J.Crew Factory wool blend, discussed here) and a pair of work shoes (Cole Haan Catalina wedges in black patent, be sure to size down a half-size!), which cost around $400 total. Putting that together with my on-budget shopping for the year gets me a total of roughly $1945.99, which means that 2016 was a better year for my wallet than 2015. 

For 2017, I'm setting a $150/month or $1800/year budget for clothes, shoes, and accessories. As has been my usual practice, the monthly limit is flexible: Any excess rolls over to subsequent months and any deficits can be made up in later months, but the limit for the year is firm. Items like socks, pajamas, and tights continue to be off-budget, unless I decide to indulge in something unusually expensive, like Wolford tights. Throughout the year, if I get cash from Ebates, Splender, or from reselling items, I won't add it back to my budget. 

As in 2016, I will also allow myself a few work wardrobe-related "off-budget" purchases. I have a solid-sized wardrobe of serviceable (though generally imperfect) dresses for work, but I'd like to branch out a bit and try to find one or two dresses that I think are worth tailoring to get a best possible fit. I may try to get something secondhand from The RealReal, though I also have some temptation to try out M.M.Lafleur and Of Mercer (thanks to their effective branding targeted right at my demographic, though I have no actual sense of whether their items are worth retail price). As I'm quite happy with the A-Line Dress from Brass, their Pencil Dress is also on a possible future shopping list, but I'd likely consider that one of my on-budget purchases.

Personal Style and Minimalism(?) 

I often go back and analyze my monthly budget posts. I'd like to think that there's a noticeable and, ultimately, good contrast between my shopping habits from when I started to now. I buy less, both as a matter of total items and total spending, as the year-end numbers show. I know myself and my own style better, and I make fewer "regret" purchases as a result.

As part of this process, I'm going on a "shopping fast" for at least this month. Admittedly, this is no great burden, as I don't need anything for the ongoing winter season. I feel that it will assist me in continuing to get a better understanding of both my personal style and this minimalism-ish that I've been practicing while writing this blog.

When one compares the general color and nature of the purchases from my earliest "monthly budget" posts to the most recent ones, one can also see some evolution in my personal style, which is echoed in my personal style inspiration pinterest board. I get less excited about prints these days (I still like them, but am much pickier about which ones will suit) and favor more neutrals and more subdued colors. Pants play a larger role in my work wardrobe than they used to. I've really embraced my fondness for slouchy sweaters. My tastes in jewelry have taken a turn for the dainty.

My actual personal style evolution isn't quite this stark, but I did start this blog at the tail end of my "statement necklace" phase and do regularly wear slip-on sneakers, skinny pants, and a slouchy sweater now. Left photo is originally from Sarah Vickers's blog and the right was randomly found from Pinterest.

Over time, I've accepted that I am, at the heart of things, a fairly low-key and low-maintenance person. Among other things, there's no more need to experiment with blush or eyeshadow or eye makeup beyond a touch of eyeliner and a little bit of brow pencil, as I don't enjoy it. A lot of more "statement" or "interesting" wardrobe pieces just don't get mileage in my wardrobe. That big distant future splurge is less and less likely to be a designer handbag because I'm unlikely to really fall in love with one that's just so "me" and unfussy that I know it's both a good value and the right way to spend such a sizable amount of money. (That last thing is a largely a theoretical or academic question, as it's looking more and more likely that I'd postpone any such future splurge until long past 2018, due to a preference for really attacking my student loans first.)

Beauty and Skincare Budget

In 2015, I didn't faithfully record every single beauty purchase, but I've been recording everything accurately this year. I spent $388.97 in 2016, mostly on skincare. I'm satisfied with where this number is, given that I'm still using about as many products as when I last did a post detailing my entire skincare routine, though the exact items involved have changed. So I'll continue with my general approach of not setting a budget for beauty and skincare, though I'll still record these purchases in my monthly shopping posts, as I like keeping track and sharing some of the products I enjoy. 

Keep reading for my thoughts on my best purchases of 2016!

Best Buys of 2016

As with last year's "best buys," these favorite purchases pictured at the top of my post are things that were a little outside of my comfort zone at the time, but that turned out to be a hit. That bright red-orange Ellen Tracy Stadium Coat (my color no longer available) was a relatively low-cost, low-risk way to experiment with both bright color and the cocoon coat shape, and that experiment was a success. The quality of the wool-blend fabric is not the best (a little scratchy, somewhat pill-prone), but the cut and fit (in petite sizes) is perfect for me, not too cocoon-like, and it's just so bright and fun. The unisex Vans Perforated Leather Slip-Ons were a bit of a departure for me, as I still prefer the aesthetics of ballet flats, but they hold up much better to my walking-heavy commute than ballet flats do. I even wear them to work, though that's not necessarily advisable for all business-casual workplaces. I love my handmade by a Boston-based artist Porcelain and Stone Buoy Necklace. The White + Warren cashmere sweater I bought on clearance (old, no longer available) is the perfect combination of slouchy and comfortable, and it's a pretty color too.

What were your best purchases this year? Has your personal style evolved in the last year or two?

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