Tuesday, October 26, 2021

October 2021 Shopping Reflections

Work has suddenly gotten super-hectic again, so things will be more quiet on this blog for the next few weeks. Alas, I think October will also end up being another month without a reading reflections post, I'm probably not going to finish any books due to being too busy or mentally preoccupied with work. Oh well, I never had a goal for how many books I wanted to read this year or anything like that, though I'm a bit sad my brain isn't up to the task of enjoying reading for fun right now. 

Though actually, from my past experience billing fairly extreme hours from late 2019 through early 2020 - before the pandemic intervened and shut down my cases for a time - when my hours get past a certain point, I actually end up wanting to read for fun a lot more because it's one of the only ways my brain can briefly escape from thinking about work. I really hope my pace of billing doesn't get back to that point, and I don't even think it's likely given my current caseload, but who knows. 

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I guess it's also clear now that, unlike what I said in August, I actually do feel like shopping for fall/winter this year after all. That doesn't bother me too much, though if I get much busier at work I need to be careful I don't start shopping more impulsively due to work-related stress. There are definitely times when billing long hours makes me want to online window-shop more because of stress, and there are also times when it doesn't because I just don't have any extra time or mental energy left. It's hard to say which way I'll react until I'm in the thick of it. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $1,040.16) 

  • The Curated Chunky Crew, light gray - $250.00* - I've mentioned my interest in this sweater before, and I actually made this order in September, but it was only delivered this month. When I received my "Classic Coat" from The Curated last November, I was incredibly impressed. The 70% wool, 30% cashmere fabric was substantial yet soft, and it flowed beautifully. That coat felt a significant cut above any similarly priced wool-blend coats I've tried on from department stores like Nordstrom over the years, and most of those coats were on sale to get to the same general price point. Based off this sweater, I think The Curated's knitwear may have stronger competition from retail stores than their coats. That's not to criticize this sweater: The cashmere is nice, but it doesn't have the same "wow" factor as the coat. For instance, Vince sweaters are noticeably thicker and plusher, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing for The Curated ones. (Vince sweaters retail for more, even after a typical discount. A thinner knit cashmere can also be more practical; my very thin Brora sweater is my favorite and most versatile one.) I do think this sweater is well-priced, it's comparable to sweaters that retail for moderately more, but because of the many sales and discounts available from various brands throughout the fall/winter season and post-Christmas sales, there are many ways to get a great value on other sweaters. So one's shopping decisions should come down to your preferences for color - The Curated only does a limited palette of neutral shades - and design details. In my case, I wanted a light gray crew neck, liked the slightly chunky, textured knit, and was also intrigued by the balloon sleeve detail. The balloon sleeve is well-designed, it's noticeable and pretty, but not so big it would get in the way as I go about my day. 
  • Tibi Sterling Plaid Gauze Wrap Skirt, black/ivory - $598.91** - (also here) This was one of the skirts mentioned in my recent post about workwear and being in the market for a wrap or asymmetrical skirt, one that could cut through my past reluctance to wear separates. I was willing to spend if I found a skirt with the right details, in particular an adjustable waist, which this one has. (It's hard to tell from store photos, but the design's quite clever: One side of the wrap buttons to the other side, and there are two available buttonholes around a half inch apart. The entire skirt can also be cinched up more or less tightly with the fully threaded around leather belt with six holes, each spaced around a half inch apart.) In all the time I've had this blog, I've only rarely bought or worn anything in plaid, tweed, etc. So this black and white plaid is outside my existing style comfort zone, but because it's in neutral colors, it goes with all my sweaters, coats, and boots. I didn't know what to expect from the "gauze" description, but it's accurate, the recycled wool-blend fabric is quite thin and light and flows nicely. But the material also feels substantial and tightly woven enough that I'm not worried about the skirt's durability for my normal day-to-day activities. This skirt can be wrapped in a way that shows a potentially dramatic cutout at the waist on one side, but it's hard to see it on store photos because the skirt is often styled with the matching top. But you can also adjust the skirt in a way that doesn't show the cutout. (I generally don't like tucking in tops, so I'll probably never take advantage of the cutout, and I also won't need to worry about the skirt slipping during the day to show it accidentally because most of my tops are long enough to cover the waist area.) 
  • ATM Anthony Thomas Mellilo Schoolboy Slub Tee, black - $86.50* - (also available here) I used a 10% off code for first-time Net-a-Porter shoppers, but with the $10 shipping charge, that was a bit of a wash. The cost was further offset by limited-time 15% cash back from Ebates/Rakuten, ~$11, though as is my usual practice, I don't factor in cash back in my shopping posts because I won't receive the rebate money until months later. This was one of the first tee shirts I ordered after realizing my existing collection from 2017 and earlier doesn't suit me anymore. I got this in size M, which is my size for tops on most brands' size charts and because I didn't want my tee too fitted or snug. I like the way the height of this crew neckline looks on me. The fabric also skims nicely over my curves and the cotton jersey is soft and comfortable. The slub texture gives the tee a slightly weathered look, though it's not very noticeable in black. (Michelle has shown the same tee in a few colors.) I don't think I'd get this tee in white or gray, however, as I worry the slub texture would make light colors too sheer. (That wouldn't solely be the tee's fault, it's partly my choice of undergarment. My current nude-to-me bra is slightly darker than my skintone, so it really stood out under the white James Perse Vintage Boy tee I also ordered but returned; I'd probably have the same issue with a white or light gray slub tee.) 
  • Toteme Twisted Seam Jeans, washed blue - $104.85 ($304.85**-$200) - (also available here and here) The cost was offset by a $200 Nordstrom gift card, my birthday present from my mom. I factor that in here, unlike with Rakuten cash back, because it immediately reduces the amount I spent. After photographing and thinking about the Madewell Balloon Jeans I tried, I realized I actually didn't want jeans with a more exaggerated balloon or barrel shape. That's too big a step for someone who has only worn skinny jeans or very slim-fit straight leg jeans in the past decade! Instead I wanted something that looks straight up and down, but with wider legs than other straight leg jeans I've tried. I think the twisted seam detail that wraps slightly around the bottom of the legs is really cool, and it's also fairly subtle in a nice way. I looked at many different retailers' listings for these jeans and it seems like most, including Nordstrom, stock them in what Toteme considers a 30'' inseam, the shortest available. (In actuality, what Toteme labels a 30'' inseam measures closer to 27'' on my size 28 pair. On my short for my 5'3'' height legs, that's basically a perfect full length, the jeans don't look cropped.) While Toteme considers these mid-rise, pretty much everyone else labels it a high-rise. When I first put these jeans on, the rise comes up right to my belly button - a bit higher than I'm used to - but the waistband settles just a bit lower as I move around. These are my first 100% cotton denim jeans in recent memory, and they're a bit thicker and more substantial than others I may have tried in the distant past. They felt quite stiff to me at first, and after wearing them out thrice so far, I feel like I'm still breaking them in. 

*Indicates that price includes shipping. International shipping from The Curated was $25. Standard domestic shipping from Net-a-Porter was $10.   **Indicates that price includes sales tax. 

Whew, that was a very substantial shopping month, to say the least! It's maybe a continuation of the rather spendy few months I've been having since I finished paying off my gigantic student loan balance back in July. At least the travel and wedding-related expenses are done for now, so even if the shopping spend really ratcheted up again this month, my total spending across all areas has dropped back down closer to normal levels.

I'm planning for the remainder of 2021 to be much more quiet on the shopping front than October has been. I know I'm definitely not in the market for a coat this season, since I still haven't had an opportunity to wear last year's new coat outdoors. There's a skirt design from Tibi they hope to release soon that I have my eye on. Outside of that, the only thing I'm really thinking about right now is my search for a white crewneck tee. Thank you to everyone who recommended some places to look! In early 2022, once the post-Christmas winter sales get underway, I may become interested in some new shoes - maybe a pair of loafers or oxfords - if I see something I like for a good price. 

How's the rest of your shopping year looking? 

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