Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 2018 Shopping Reflections

Oh dear, this ended up being an unexpectedly shopping-heavy month. And to add insult to injury, some of my choices won't be terribly popular, and were at least partially the result of poor planning, which isn't great. Let's break it down.

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This month started out well enough. I'd mentioned how obsessed I was with Alighieri jewelry, enough to buy another piece shortly after my first, last month's Jaja necklace. It was an extravagance, and also an unusual choice for me, as I've previously balked at buying another significant piece of jewelry for years. Regardless, I was supporting an independent artist, and her work is unique and beautiful. So long as the purchase fit comfortably in my budget, no big deal! Then, something I wanted months ago, a particular color of that Nordstrom cashmere and silk wrap I liked so much, was finally on sale, so I snapped that up. Both of these things were a natural corollary to something that was already a well-loved favorite, so that all seemed fine. 

Then I indulged in a few impulsive buys, but it wasn't that many, and in categories I don't really impulsively buy from anymore, namely skincare and jewelry. (Well, jewelry has possibly become a slightly impulsive area now, so I should be a bit more cautious going forward.) I'd gone to the new Muji near Bryant Park to look for more of those acrylic storage drawers I use for skincare and makeup (pictured). Despite the units being 50% off, when I saw that they discontinued the velour inserts for jewelry they used to make, which I was also after, I quite frugally declined to buy anything. But then I saw the Deciem store next door, and you can guess what happened. Oh, and on the last day of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I ordered a pair of those cubic zirconia studs recommended by Feather Factor

The more awkward things to explain, given my longtime goal of more minimalist, ethical, and conscious shopping, is the rest of it. It was only in mid-August that K and I confirmed the actual dates for our trip to Japan. And then I learned that the weather in Tokyo and Kyoto when we're there can be expected to be at least as warm and humid as it has been here in NYC recently, i.e. summer clothing weather. And I don't actually own enough casual summer clothes to last the entire two weeks of our trip, if I only take items that still fit me and that I like or feel comfortable wearing. (On our previous long trips, to places in East and Southeast Asia in summer weather, we've always stayed with family in the middle of each trip, and were able to do laundry, so I only ever needed a week's worth of summer clothing before.) 

I don't like summer clothes as much as fall/winter ones, and only really get to wear casual clothes on weekends. Thus, I've been perfectly happy spending my summer weekends wearing the same two or three dresses over and over, and I'd never felt there was a gap in my closet until now. With little more than four weeks before our departure, there wasn't enough time to try out one of those linen shops on Etsy like NotPerfectLinen or a made to order brand like Elizabeth Suzann. I looked through Ebay, Thredup, and Poshmark for casual dresses that would suit (mostly secondhand J.Crew or Madewell) and didn't see anything I wanted for the right price, and so... I ended up at Old Navy. Funnily enough, Luxe just wrote about this exact scenario, about almost impulsively buying something from Old Navy for a trip, except in her case she decided not to. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $401.30)
  • Alighieri La Fortuna Necklace - $264.00 - This particular Alighieri item isn't currently available from any US-based retailer, or from any of the foreign retailers best known for quick shipping to the US (i.e. Farfetch or Ssense). I bought mine online from Mille, a boutique in Minneapolis, but I seem to have gotten their last one. This is my second Alighieri purchase, and I still have nothing but good things to say, both pieces are absolutely beautiful. With this purchase, I've exhausted my jewelry budget, unless I dramatically cut clothing expenditures to compensate. 
  • Nordstrom Silk and Cashmere Wrap, pink silver - $59.40 - (sold out, other colors) Because I loved my first one so much, I've been keeping a close eye on this, to track when they put it on sale (rarely, at seemingly random times, a color or two at a time). In May, they put a nice pale pink on sale, but I saw that I preferred this cooler-toned "pink silver" shade instead. Fast forward to now, as soon as they put "pink silver" on sale, I grabbed it right away. These silk and cashmere wraps are lovely and floaty, but also extremely thin and prone to snags. Because I don't like feeling overheated, and have a down coat with a knit collar that zips up to the chin for truly cold days, these light scarves are plenty warm enough for me for most of winter, though I don't think most other people would feel the same. 
  • Nordstrom Cubic Zirconia Earrings, 2 ct tw - $29.90 - Not too much to say here, except that these are sparkly, and also modestly priced during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I normally wear a pair of pearl studs from Amazon (many options, including with sterling silver or 14k gold posts) day in and day out. It's been years since I've done anything else with my earrings for everyday wear, so I was tempted to get something to mix things up with. (I recall that Jess and Lea also have these, and we generally all seem pleased with them.) 
  • Old Navy Sleeveless Tie-Neck Shift Dress - $10.00* - This is a solid-color version of a printed rayon dress I bought a few months ago, which has been in my three-dress rotation for weekends this summer (along with the older version of the Grana V-Neck Silk Slip Dress and a Madewell cotton-silk blend dress I bought secondhand). I also wear that dress and a cardigan to work sometimes, on our casual (but no jeans) Fridays. So this was an easy choice when I found myself needing more summer clothes that fit me for my trip. One thing I've noticed about rayon is that when some items are line-dried, they initially look a bit stiff and wrinkly, but once you shake it out a bit, the texture goes back to normal.
  • Old Navy Tassel-Tie Flutter-Sleeve Shift Dress - $24.00* - Note that, while it isn't clear from the store photos (it's more obvious on the white version), this one has a sort of "babydoll dress" silhouette, hanging straight out and down from a point right above the bust, i.e. it's something that could easily have that "boob tent" effect I sometimes mention as a thing I avoid. Except that this dress is also a bit slimmer and less flared out than many other dresses of the type, so it ends up looking more like a shift dress, and I think the flutter sleeves also help balance out and prevent that tent-like effect. It's a linen-rayon blend.
  • Old Navy Relaxed Lightweight Cap-Sleeve Shirt - $14.00* - This shirt sort of looks like the Madewell Courier Shirt, though the cotton-rayon blend is softer and flowier than the light 100% cotton Madewell tends to use. (And it's not as intentionally oversized as the Courier.) A year or two back, I'd tried on a striped Courier shirt very similar to this, but sent it back because the Courier was not flattering on me, making my entire torso look as wide as the widest part of my chest. This softer material and slimmer-fit shirt suits me better, though it is still has a relaxed fit. I also ordered a 100% cotton version, but it fit more awkwardly, and the buttons gapped (a common issue with cotton button-downs on bustier figures). 
* Indicates that price per item is an estimate, due to the way the discount was calculated by the store. 

Beauty and Skincare - (TOTAL: $26.50) 
  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - $6.50 - I'm just about the last skincare fan I know to finally try The Ordinary. It's so affordable, with an emphasis on key active ingredients, that I think almost everyone who likes exploring new skincare would want to try them at least once. This is the only one of the three products I've tried so far. I'd thought it was breaking me out, but later determined that the actual culprit was the CosRx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream. I'm going to try this again, but haven't yet had a chance to. 
  • The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA - $10.00 - Both niacinamide and alpha arbutin are supposed to be good for fading dark spots. Post-acne hyper-pigmentation is the main skin issue that I'd turn to over the counter products to help with. (Acne is a much bigger skin problem for me, but I now rely on prescriptions to control it.) It'll probably be a while before I get to this, as I'm now very slow with testing new products. 
  • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution - $10.00 - Out of the three products, this is the one I'm least likely to be able to easily incorporate into my current routine. After being on a newly more minimalist routine on a dermatologist's orders, and going back to nightly use of Retin-A Micro, my skin's far more sensitive now! A few months ago, I tried re-incorporating my previous CosRx BHA products (previously, the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and BHA Returning A-Sol were a good one-two combination for me as part of my morning routine), but now that I'm back to using Retin-A Micro nightly, my skin can't handle daily use of BHA anymore. That likely means that a weekly peel like this product may not be a good idea either... That's the thing about skincare marketing though, people with problem skin always hope a new product will magically make a huge difference.

Have you tried the Ordinary products? Did you like them? Is your wardrobe big enough to keep you outfitted for a long-ish trip in any given climate? With winter clothing, I wouldn't need half as much, and am totally set, as I wear most sweaters and jeans several times between washes, possibly for several weeks. I get quite sweaty and gross in summer, however (especially in the armpits, ick, and the clothes get smelly), so most summer dresses and tops can generally only be worn once before needing a wash. I should have foreseen this situation earlier in the summer, when I would have had more time to shop more carefully for a new summer dress or two, or a new top, but well, that didn't quite happen.

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