Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year's Resolution: January purchase

I totally overspent last year's clothing budget (and restaurant budget, but that's another topic), so I was rethinking my shopping resolution for 2014. I've decided that my plan is to: only buy one item of clothing a month. I won't worry so much about the exact spending amount, but hope that this will ensure that anything I do buy will be something that's absolutely loved and will be used frequently.

I'd thought that January's purchase would be this 50's-inspired piece from Unique Vintage, looking so lovely on Emma Pillsbury on Glee. (I've never actually seen a single episode of Glee, but still read the WWEPW website religiously because I like this character's style so much. I'm weird.)

I ignored some of the iffy reviews and focused on the one reviewer who said she wore it as her wedding dress! Surely a dress that was worn at someone's wedding must be divine. AND there was a 25%-off promotional code!

I have had some bad "Wait, THIS is what I ordered?!" letdown moments when opening packages. (I boycott Modcloth because they've sent me one or five too many of those.) This, people, was probably the worst.

1) The quality of the material is ba-yad. I'm not even an expert but this stuff looked and felt awful. It was a crinkly mess when I pulled it out of the package, but ironing wouldn't have smoothed out the stiff, rough texture. It felt like fabric designed for upholstery, not clothing. I had the impression that the material would be fairly flowy and drapy because that's usually what cowl-necklines are made out of - NOT the case. It was the stiffest fabric ever. I cannot emphasize that enough.
2) It *could* be that I wasn't filling out the bust properly, but do you see that graceful drapey effect at Emma's neckline? On me, it wasn't so much graceful draping as an armful of stiff upholstery ballooning in front of me like the front of a car. My chest would have entered every room several moments before me. It was so bad there was no way I could possibly wear it out in public. I keep staring at that picture of Emma and wondering if they altered the dress before putting on her. Even if I suddenly grew three cup sizes, there's no way I could possibly fill out that much fabric. 
3) Admittedly, I'm not the bustiest girl in the world. But if there's an armful of extra material in the neckline, hinting that the bust is too big, what is with that weird seam that cuts right across my chest, seeming to hint that the bust is too small? It looks like it's not in a great place on Emma, either.

There were no pros. OK, I guess the weight of the fabric wasn't so bad on the skirt portion, because it helped at least that part of the dress fall nicely. But the top of it was such a fail that no one would ever get around to noticing the skirt. Unique Vintage makes you pay for shipping both ways so I might have considered getting it tailored, but not only did the fabric feel cheap, the print wasn't nearly so pretty and delicate in person. In fact, when I first saw it, I thought it looked extremely crudely printed. (It looked better on, but still.)

So I returned it. Instead, my January purchase was this Tiffany's-inspired apple blossom necklace:
On clearance at the Met Museum store.

I glimpsed it shining in the showcase at the New York Historical Society museum store, went home and found it on sale for less than half the price at the Met Museum store, deliberated for a few days, and then bought it. And - I love it! It's not an everyday piece, but it's so pretty in the light (and the bright pink is toned down a lot when you wear it against your skin) that I would be happy just hanging it up somewhere and staring at it.

I have a very similar necklace by Michael Michaud (only his is inspired by magnolias, not apple blossoms) that I should consider selling/giving away, so I don't have TWO pink flower necklaces. But this one is longer, and has little pearls set in the flowers, and is a brighter pink overall - the other one is more subtle and subdued - I kind of want to keep both!

Wardrobe Inventory: Aerosoles Tyrolean Boots

Tastes really do change.

These are an old pair of Aerosoles I must have bought at least five years ago, at full price, because I loved the Victorian-inspired look. I wore them into the ground while they were still in stores (and at the time, I hadn't yet found my magical cobblers) and immediately bought a backup pair. At one point the clearance price dropped to $40, and I seriously considered getting a third pair, because I loved the look of these and was convinced that I would love and wear them forever.

Then one spring I put them away and forgot about them for a couple of years. I finally pulled them out yesterday, put them on, and went happily off to work.

And realized that I don't love them anymore.

I kept looking down at them and thinking how wide and round the toes are. At the time, I thought the rounded look was cute, but now I keep thinking "childish" and "clunky". (To be fair, it probably contributes to why these are so comfortable for walking even long distances. I've walked miles and miles in these.) The ultimate test, though - I HAVE magical cobblers who could resole and polish these into good-as-new quality once they wear out. But now I have doubts that they'll be worth the cost of repairs, given how little I want to wear them again.

It will, in the future, make me think twice about buying duplicates.

In my dreams, my next pair of Victorian-inspired shoes will be these:

Come on, Ebay, do your stuff!

Maybe these will stand the test of time better? 

But one pair at a time. By the time they're worn out past the point of no repair (if that does exist for my magical cobblers; I'm not sure that it does) there might be another pair I like even better.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wardrobe Inventory: Longchamp Roseau Shopper Tote

The Longchamp roseau shoulder tote is my go-to work tote in the fall/winter. I paid $330 (including shipping) for it on Ebay and though it is to date the most money I have ever spent on a handbag, the cost-per-wear is pennies by this point. I was enabled by my friend, who has this in silver.

It's just a simple, classic work tote that holds its shape beautifully. Two open inside pockets are handy places for keys, Metrocard, office building pass, etc...and I like the generous interior zip pocket for my wallet & phone. It's so structured that though the lining is dark, it never becomes one of those black-hole bags through which you must fumble for things helplessly.

The only cons are that the sleek black leather scuffs easily, and the snaps come undone so quickly that you need to use the bamboo toggle (which is super-pretty, if not particularly efficient) if you don't want the bag to fly open. The 8.5-inch strap drop is also long on someone my height, but I don't mind that.

I used to have this fantasy of owning one perfect bag that I could wear with everything, always, and never have to swap it out. I imagined it would be a medium-ish leather shoulder bag in some neutral shade like taupe or gray, with a single strap, that would zip shut but have some kind of outside pocket for my Metrocard. Le Tanneur's Camille bag is probably the closest I ever saw to this perfect vision, though I think it only came in orange and cream. (And oh, how I loved it in orange. I am STILL kicking myself for not buying one when I had the chance. Very, very hard. Tip for everybody: You never regret the things you buy when traveling. You only regret the things you don't buy.) Since then, I've sort of veered to the collector's mentality when it comes to bags and for a while daydreamed about collecting different sizes, shapes, and colors. Now, trying to find a middle ground.

Wardrobe Inventory: Kenneth Cole Reaction Slip On By Flats

One day, I hobbled into De Janeiro for an emergency pair of flats when new pumps from a brand that shall remain unnamed were torturing my feet. These lovely, restoring flats were on the sale rack for $39.99 and so comfortable I floated out of the store. Over the next year, I wore them into the ground (their rubber soles don't really allow for easy re-soling, and anyway the uppers and inner lining were so worn and shredded it would have been embarrassing to take them to the cobbler), then I found another pair on Amazon. I am now in the process of wearing the second pair into the ground. I really might as well buy five pairs at this point and stock up so I never run out of these, ever.

Obviously their durability is nothing to write home about (it's not just the soles, the uppers also lose their shape pretty quickly), but the pewter color is so versatile, and they are probably the most comfortable shoes I own. No break-in period necessary. Size 6 is loose on me, which means these run big and wide.

Wardrobe Inventory: Jessica Simpson Victorina Platform Sandals in Orange

Yes, I have these in yellow. Yes, I also got them in orange.

Yes, this is embarrassing.

Wardrobe Inventory: Jessica Simpson Victorina Platform Sandals

These were $39.99 on sale at DSW (now $29.94). I normally don't go for platforms, especially such honking obnoxious platforms (I always remember Manolo Blahnik comparing walking in platforms to the movement of elephants) or heel heights this exaggerated, or anything associated with Jessica Simpson, but the heart wants what it wants. In this case, it wanted sunny yellow shoes with darling piping detail. I also have a few dresses that are hard to pair shoes with:
1. Very brightly patterned blue dress with a skirt too long and full on me.
2. This sailor-style dress from Pinup Couture that falls mid-calf, but the white piping on the hem is too cute to sacrifice.
3. Purple-flowered Ann Taylor dress, that again - OK, before this turns into a laundry list, I basically have quite a few dresses that are too bold or too long to pair with unassertive shoes. And these shoes can stand up to them.

And I was surprised by how comfortable and walkable these are, too! I wore their orange sisters (ahem, I sort of bought the orange as well because my gentleman caller liked them better, but I liked the yellow better, and CLEARLY the answer was to get both. Right.) while having to make a mad dash for a Megabus, and strangers were very impressed at how fast I could run in them.

Wardrobe Inventory: Adrienne Vittadini Charlann Flats

These bright green flats were $59.50 at DSW, and so pretty and comfortable that I broke my never-buy-at-full-price rule and took them home. In-store they only had green, but online, they also come in yellow, white, and orange. I kind of regret not waiting to get them online, because I think ALL the other colors are more versatile than this distinctive kelly green...but that's what I get for being impatient and impulsive.

Size 6 fit the best (still a little loose in the back) which means these shoes run large.

They're perfect for summer workwear (at least for my business-casual nonprofit office) as they're closed-toe, but the cutouts still provide some breathability. After a couple of months, I can attest that they are super-comfortable and seem to be holding up pretty well. I've worn them to work with a yellow-and-green dress & yellow cardigan, but felt a little too matchy-matchy. I like them best with black/white/gray. They also might look nice with a simple, solid yellow dress, but I don't have one. I've liked seeing bloggers pair green with blue, so maybe I'll try that.
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