Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December 2018 Shopping Reflections


I hope that everyone has had a wonderful holiday! I've been spending time with my family in California, which has been great and relaxing, though, er, all of us also needed to work, whether from home or in the office, on Christmas Eve and starting again on the 26th. Not a big deal (in truth, we're not big Christmas people, we only ever do low-key, small things to celebrate, and as long as we're able to be together and eat some tasty food, it's all good!), and I'm personally very grateful to have a fast-paced, intellectually stimulating job that I enjoy, in which I'm always learning new things. 

With this post, I've rounded out my fourth year of tracking my shopping with these "monthly budget" posts. It's been great fun, and I like being able to look back at the additions to my closet, to try and analyze whether there are any trends I can identify. I'm also looking forward to writing my year-end shopping reflections, and getting started with year five of these shopping posts next month. Spoiler alert, though it's probably already quite obvious: I've gone a bit overboard this year with the shopping and how I approached it, I might even be planning to describe it with something rather dour-sounding, like the "year of excessive 'joy' in shopping and indulgence", or something like that. Although I'm typically skeptical about the "shopping fast" or "shopping ban" idea, I may even sort of be considering one. More on those thoughts in the following weeks!

There's no denying that this month's purchases were on the impulsive side. It'd been a long time since I'd had such an intense period at work, and I guess I learned that, when the chips are really down at the office, I'm far more likely to, er, deal with that and the resulting stress by shopping. I've always known that I probably have this tendency, but I don't think I've ever before been driven to the point where it went beyond excessive online window-shopping and browsing, to the point where work-related stress started playing what was likely a sizable role in my decisions to actually start putting in orders and keeping them.

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For instance, in the first week of December, I'd run out of my Wolford or Falke tights because I'd skipped doing laundry the previous weekend due to Thanksgiving travel. Thus, I reached for a pair of my old Uniqlo Heattech tights instead, which are durable and used to be great until they changed something about the material that makes them much harder to stretch them and get them on (though the sizing feels the same as before once they're on). Just those extra few minutes of struggling with them in the morning actually, er, sort of made me feel sad, and had a slight diminishing effect on my mood. (When work stress gets bad, I can get a bit... weird about things.)

And it reminded me that I was, separately, also starting to really dislike my collection of cheap-y fleece-lined tights that I wear on the coldest days because the fabric can feel itchy; the waistbands roll down during the day; and some pairs prove far less durable than others, ripping or stretching out in a very short time, though they're all ostensibly the same product. (I've tried to shop for more expensive ones before, but couldn't find anything back then that was both well-reviewed and seemed to be a fully equivalent product.) It seemed to me, in the moment, that I worked too hard, for too many hours, to feel weighed down (even if only a little bit) by needing to wear tights that I hated, especially when they're an almost-daily work wardrobe staple for me for close to half the year.

The other purchases this month weren't driven as directly by moments of work-related stress, but I did feel like being so busy at the office made me more ready than usual to indulge my shopping-related impulses when they came up. I didn't have a lot of time or extra mental energy to really think through each of my other wants when they popped up suddenly, I was a lot more likely to just "go with my gut" and make a snap decision. That snap decision was usually to go ahead and make the order. And uh, it could have turned out "worse" in terms of buying excessively much. I had moved on from the disappointment of that forest green Halogen coat (now on sale) that was way too long for me by becoming intrigued with the idea of a cornflower blue coat instead (one could, perhaps, see this from my fall/winter fashion Pinterest board), and so I ordered one from Fleurette that was on sale at Nordstrom. Probably unsurprisingly, that regular sizing-only coat was also designed for a taller woman than myself. The sleeve and body length weren't quite as egregious as on the Halogen coat, but the lapels and single button both looked comically large on someone of my height and build. Plus the color did not suit my skin tone. That coat went straight back, leaving me with the below purchases for December:

Fashion - (TOTAL: $458.66)
  • Falke Matte 50 Tights - $28.50 - During that stressful week, I decided to get new Falke tights because they, unlike Wolford, were included in a Bloomingdales sale. I bought a pair last year, and I wash and wear them (and the Wolford Pure 50s from around that time) once a week throughout fall and winter. They're all trustworthy old favorites at this point. I consider both kinds to be, for all practical purposes, largely identical, including for comfort (the waistband doesn't roll down or shift during the day) and durability (because I'm clumsy, I almost snag them on boot zippers or the edges of furniture rather frequently, and outside of one freak accident with a pair of my Wolford Neon 40s, which I consider my fault, all my Falke and Wolford tights have held up well). Do be careful of the size chart, I'm a size S for all the Wolfords I've tried, and generally am a size S or S/M in almost all other tights, but I'm a size M for these Falkes. 
  • Falke Warm Deluxe Tights - $44.25 - While shopping for tights as a direct result of that stressful week, I decided it was also time to try and find a better quality and more expensive replacement for my fleece-lined tights. Out of all the Falke tights at Bloomingdales, these sounded like the closest thing. They're 80 denier, and are actually quite thick and warm, they're very close to fleece-lined tights. Alas, either because of how stretchy the material is or differences in the actual sizing, a size M in these (following their size chart again) is definitely too big. And because they're too big, I have issues with them shifting during the day. So these have turned out to not be a great purchase, but I'll still use them because, well, on balance, they're not worse than those fleece-lined tights that also have issues, and I don't generally think it reasonable to try and return used tights.
  • Lo & Sons Saffiano Leather Pearl, pacific blue - $173.60 - Like many of my peers and blog-friends,  I'm quite familiar with Lo & Sons, and immediately understood the appeal of their focus on practical travel and/or commute-friendly bags when I first learned about them. Previously, though, none of their items fit my particular preferences and needs. When traveling, I'm content with my Longchamp Neo tote as a handbag and carry-on item (in combination with my old North Face backpack from law school as my other carry-on). If I'm going to switch to another travel handbag, it'll probably be to a small backpack. For commuting, I simply don't carry enough (no gym clothes, change of shoes, lunchbox, reusable water battle, and not even a laptop) to want something like the OMG, though I've seen many women law students happily use them. I'd seen many rave reviews about the Pearl being a near-perfect medium-sized handbag, but had never liked the colors. Plus, I was perfectly happy with that already ancient and well-loved when I bought it Coach City I've had for nearly a decade. (That bag came with major signs of wear, including several noticeable discolored, worn-out spots, it's in no shape to be carried in anything but the most casual settings.) Recently, Michelle mentioned that the new colors for the Pearl were intriguing. That reminded me that I'd really liked the pacific blue color when I first saw it, it looked almost identical to the dark denim shade of that Coach Rogue (sold out, of the current colorsdark turquoise is the most similar) I love, despite it's weight and slight impracticality for work. The rest, as they say, is history. When I ordered this Pearl, I also tried the Coach Saddle 23 in dark denim, as it was the color I was so attracted to (both bags seemed to be a similar size), but I found that, with its adjustable straps and more easily accessible compartments, the Pearl is by far the more practical and functional bag for me. 
  • MM. LaFleur Saint Ambroeus, charcoal - $212.31 - (sold out, available in black and navy) This purchase is the one I'm most sheepish about, because I've definitely written before about why I specifically shouldn't buy it, and more broadly, about how I found MM. LaFleur generally overpriced and not great for my body shape or height. Even if this "jardigan" is a "pretend blazer", a genre I clearly love beyond reason, given the excessive number of sweater blazers I've purchased in recent memory, I had already explained why this wasn't a great one for me. Part of why I changed my mind was that, with the J.Crew Sophie and Juliette sweater blazers (both worn here), I bought them knowing I likely didn't dare machine-wash or even hand-wash them (I have a bad history with J.Crew sweaters shrinking seemingly on contact with cold water, even if they never saw the inside of a dryer). Thus, it was clear that not being machine-washable was no longer a big criteria for me, and that removed one of the big obstacles with the Saint Ambroeus. Also, there was a bit of artificial scarcity-ish going on. In the years I've been following MM. LaFleur, I'd noticed they rarely bring back colors outside of black or navy, so when this previously sold out gray (more versatile and useful for me than black because most of my work dresses are black) popped back in stock in my size, one thing led to another. Like I said last year, this item doesn't look quite as good on me as on their models because I'm so busty, the lines of it get thrown off a bit, but er, I might have factored in that this fit issue could, perhaps, be improved in a few months (which isn't wise because it's probably just as likely for the fit to be made worse than before). Ack, that irrational "artificial scarcity-ish" fear of never having another chance to get a sought-after color or item can be a heck of a thing!

How was your holiday? Do you have anything you're particularly excited to search for in the post-Christmas sales? I myself should probably stay far away from any more sales, given how much I've indulged myself this year, and this month in particular. Is anyone else a Lo & Sons fan? As Michelle alluded to, when it comes to bags like those from Lo & Sons or Dagne Dover, ones designed with "women on the go" in mind, they do tend to be expensive. But for many women (including many entry-level professionals or graduate students), the price (including from secondhand options) may well be worth it because the bags are practical and professional-looking, and there's not very much in the way of affordable alternatives that check both those boxes. Oh, and does anyone know what I mean about "artificial scarcity"-type feelings throwing off their, er, shopping judgment?

Happy holidays to all, and best wishes for the forthcoming new year! 

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