Monday, June 25, 2018

June 2018 Shopping Reflections

I've totally already previewed some of this month's shopping in recent weeks. Even though I just wrote about having a tiny "wish list" for fashion purchases, I also mentioned how I'm easily susceptible to getting sudden impulses when I see something cute. Also, I made most of this month's purchases early on, before I hunkered down to figure out what my current wish list actually looks like. Well, I've never claimed to be particularly good at the minimalism-ish thing. 

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Although I know that the "wish list" method is a tried and true one, with a "100% success rate", in that everything I picked out that way ended up being a well-loved item, often a staple in my wardrobe, it's not something I've been able to use as a way of trying to plan out every single purchase. In practical terms, it'd probably need to be a large, unwieldy list. I generally always have a rotation of things I'm thinking about replacing in my work wardrobe, as a lot of those items are older (almost all of the main cornerstones are from before I started blogging in December 2014), and maybe not from brands known for great quality or durability (mostly Loft). Plus, it's very much consistent with my personality to still be vulnerable to getting my impulsive shopping ideas whenever I see something cute, but that I didn't fully anticipate wanting. I often decide to indulge at those times, so trying to plan out every single purchase with a list would ultimately be a futile exercise. I know myself and my tendencies too well.

Nothing from this month was on my formal "wish list", but a good half were ones I had thought about for months, without always mentioning them here. I'd written about my strange and lasting fondness for the long-discontinued Cuyana Tall Tote, and how I'd never had any luck finding it. I finally saw one on the secondhand market, and I'd been thinking about it for so long that it was an easy decision, even if I didn't get much of a discount from its original retail price. With the Rothy's, I have several colleagues who love them, who have gotten nearly a year of intense wear out of theirs (and they're still like new), and who would totally be willing to buy a second pair even though they are fairly pricey for flats and the first pair is in fine condition. So that was a fairly easy decision as well, even though they're quite different from any shoes I've tried before. Among other things, they're made of a woven fabric that's made from recycled plastic, though that's supposed to be part of their purported eco-friendliness.

Fashion - (TOTAL: $ 371.19)
  • Cuyana Tall Tote, black (discontinued) - $126.49 - It's a little silly how much I wanted this, based solely on seeing it on some chic stranger at an airport. By the time I saw it years ago, the black one had long been sold out. I was never too dedicated in my search, only checking once in a blue moon, but I rarely ever saw anyone selling their Cuyana Tall Tote, and had only seen listings for the brown one. Similarly shaped tall totes from other brands are not too common, especially if I was picky about the squared off sides. (The Everlane Day Magazine Tote is one of the only other ones I've seen at my general price point, in a very different leather.) Then, shortly after I wrote my post, I found a black one for sale, lightly used but largely still in perfect shape. (I also have a Cuyana Classic Tote in caramel, made of the same leather. I've found that it's hardy and durable, and very unlikely to show signs of wear.) The price was still close to retail, but well, I knew it was rare, so I jumped right on it. I totally love it and have been using it frequently both for work and on weekends. 
  • Rothy's The Point, cloud grey birdseye - $136.09 - I might do a more detailed post about these later, but you'll find tons of enthusiastic reviews of these online (including by Elaine). I also have several colleagues who swear by these, wear them frequently almost all year round, and their Rothy's are holding up great. I sized up a half size, from my usual 7.5 to an 8, and that was the right move for my wide-ish feet. (Note that they're a pliable fabric, which made them feel a little big when I took them out of the box, due to my not being accustomed to that texture for a shoe, but they don't actually stretch over time.) I don't 100% love these, and find some things about the plastic material annoying, but they are shoes with a lot of utility (mainly on the durability and comfort front), in a way that I think few other ballet flat-looking shoes can offer. I'll quickly run through some of the pros and cons: 
    • Pros: more comfortable than other flats (my other favorite, the Cole Haan Tali Bow Flat, is good for half-day wear including the trip to and from court, but my feet hurt when I attempt all-day wear including on my commute, these are good all day including my commute and even if I head out to dinner after); known to be extremely durable (I get only a few months of frequent wear from most ballet flats before holes get rubbed in the outer edges, but my colleagues' pairs seem to be in perfect condition after around a year of intense wear); suitable in neutral colors for business casual and even some business formal occasions (not court, though); and if they get stinky (I have, er, more sweaty feet than average, maybe) they are machine-washable.
    • Cons: they don't breathe well because of the material (plastic fabric, but it's soft and pliable in texture) and my feet definitely get sweaty during a typical summer day, which I'm not fond of; they dry quickly if they get a bit damp, but not if they get caught in a downpour or a puddle (I wouldn't wear them on a very rainy day if a lot of walking is involved); their fabric uppers conform a bit to the shape of your foot and can show the outline of your toes, which not everyone will like the look of (it really is somewhere between being sock-like and being a soft leather flat like Tieks); and they don't have much cushioning or arch support, though they're still more comfortable for long wear than most leather ballet flats I've tried.
  • J.Crew New Lightweight Sweater Blazer, heather khaki - $82.80 - (Other colors on sale for this price at Nordstrom, very limited sizes.) I originally ordered size S, and thought it was a nice boyfriend blazer-like fit, but ended up sizing down to a XS on Engineer L's advice, which turned out to be the right move. The sleeves on the S were oversized in a way that could look a bit awkward, and sizing down definitely solves that issue and gets a slimmer, more elegant fit. This item definitely counts as an impulse purchase. When choosing to buy the J.Crew Factory Sweater Blazer several months ago, I had specifically reasoned that the J.Crew version wasn't a good idea because I'd need to dry-clean it* and because I  already had plenty of other sweaters for cooler weather. Then I changed my mind promptly when I saw this in person... Willpower is not my strong suit, sometimes.
  • J.Crew Tassel Chain Necklace, gold - $25.81 - This was also an impulse purchase, as I explained in a recent outfit post. This was also a bit inspired by Engineer L's shopping budget roundup last month. Not too much to be said here, it's a very solid-feeling piece of costume jewelry. Several years ago, before I started this blog, when I bought J.Crew costume jewelry more frequently, I found that their gold-tone costume jewelry tends to tarnish fairly quickly. I'll be more careful about storing this in a fabric bag, and hopefully the same thing won't happen to this necklace! 
*Whenever I machine wash J.Crew or Madewell sweaters labeled dry clean only (in cold water, in a mesh bag, a method that works just fine with all my cashmere sweaters), it always turns out poorly. They generally shrink, and some lose their shape a bit.

Have you ever found a rare or discontinued item after a long period of searching? How did it feel? I got pretty excited when I saw the Cuyana Tall Tote at last. Any really great recent purchases? Have you ever tried Rothy's? I must say, sometimes I look back on how I used to happily wear ballet flats all day long, for a lot of walking, in college and even a few years ago in law school. How did my feet stand it? These days, it's been a long time since I owned a pair of ballet flats I could really endure that with. My feet start to ache a few hours into the day, probably because of lack of arch support? 

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