Month: October 2014

What I Bought: October

Every month, I have the best (non-spendy) intentions, you guys. Well, as they say, the road to busted budgets is paved with good intentions. Or something like that. And here we are. In all fairness, I don’t have an actual clothes budget. Instead, I’m trying (harder) to be more mindful with my purchases. All told, I bought 7 items for $190 (original retail approx. $950). Here are the details:

J. Crew Mirrored Floral Graphic Tee
J. Crew Mirrored Floral Graphic Tee

I miss thrifting. Sadly, I very rarely have a chance to go these days. So I was thrilled to get a chance at some secondhand thrifting, courtesy of the lovely ladies behind Sister Thrifters and their end-of-summer backyard sale. Don’t have time to thrift? Follow these thrifting masters (mistresses?) on Instagram to see what lucky finds they’ve uncovered – maybe you’ll find your next (secondhand) thrifted treasure. I was immediately drawn to this blue floral tee, because of course. I also picked up two dresses (Lilka and Joseph Ribkoff) for $4 each. Cannot. Beat. Those. Deals.

Joe Fresh Print Tunic Dress
Joe Fresh Print Tunic Dress

I cannot resist dresses. I mean, really. At least this isn’t floral. And it’s a totally different silhouette for me. I’m really excited about wearing this to work – I think it’s got a slightly edgier vibe than my usual picks, so I’m curious to see if I can pull it off/feel comfortable in it. Psychically comfortable, that is. It’s a pretty comfy dress otherwise. The only downside is that it’s a poly blend. I almost never buy polyester these days. I was really torn with this dress, but the aesthetics won in the end. We will see if I come to regret it. [I don’t think so.]

Equipment Brett Blouse
Equipment Brett Blouse

I would describe this as, sort of … jolie laide. I can’t quite decide if it’s just too edgy-cool for my low-brow taste, or just plain ugly. I bought it because I’ve heard so many people bloggers rave about Equipment shirts, and I had earlier (in the same day!) passed on another, too-sheer version, and this one felt nice and silky, and looked work appropriate, and it was a steal of a Winners deal … and … Shall we go with impulse buy? I’m gonna blame the Joe Fresh dress for this one. It made me think I should take more fashion “risks”. Humph. Anyway, I’m going to have to make it work, because I hemmed and hawed for too long, and the return window expired on me (the downside of Winners, if you’re not a TJX member or whatever). Boo.

J. Crew Dutch Floral Sweatshirt
J. Crew Dutch Floral Sweatshirt

I’ve been holding on to a JC gift card since this summer, and I knew its time had come when I saw this “Dutch floral” print. I loved the vibrancy of the pants version, but they aren’t in the least bit practical (not to mention that they probably don’t flatter anyone over a size 2). [Why, oh why, did they not make a pencil skirt in this print?] The cropped sweatshirt seemed to have a lot of layering potential, so I picked it up during a 30% off sale; my out-of-pocket cost was a big fat zero.

Marc Jacobs Spearmint Blake
Marc Jacobs Blake

I mean, I did warn you this would happen. This Spearmint Blake is in pristine condition (just a couple of small pen marks inside), and too lovely to pass up at this price. Of all my old MJ bags, this one is up there with the Mag and the Kirsten as a favourite. I do wish it was a teeeeny little bit bigger, but only because I like to stuff everything – kitchen appliances included – into my work bags. The Blake fits a lot of thing … but maybe not the sink.

How was your month’s shopping? Did you scare up a good deal or two? [Har, har!] Tell me everything in the comments, and don’t forget to check out Franish and the other budgeting bloggers.

P.S. There was one additional thing I bought this month, but it deserves its own post. Stay tuned.

Dutch Floral

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
Sweatshirt, J. Crew; dress, Old Navy; belt, Gap; shoes, Winners; bag, Longchamps

I don’t know, you guys. I really don’t know how I feel about this outfit. It was pretty cool in my head, but I feel like the reality comes up short, somehow. I guess I’ll just have to keep working with the layering potential of this J. Crew cropped sweatshirt.

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
too busy?
J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
what do we think about the lipstick … too dark?

Story time: I knew I wanted to get my hands on this sweatshirt as soon as I saw it. That print, of course. J. Crew offered a 30% off dealio over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I had every intention of taking advantage of it. But then that turned out to be the weekend we were all down with Toddler Plague. Except my husband. Naturally, I made him go and buy it for me; naturally, he did, because he’s awesome like that. I guesstimated the size, and erred on the safe side – I told him to pick the Medium (I’m usually a Small in J. Crew tops).

Aaaand … I was way off. Way. The Medium looked oversized on me, with a weird neither-regular-nor-cropped length, and hugely bunchy sleeves. Since I paid almost-retail for it, I was definitely not happy. So, once everyone was feeling better, I dragged the family back to West Ed (my least favourite shopping experience) to see about a return. The store had exactly two sweatshirts left in stock: XXS and L. At first, I thought I was screwed … and then I tried on the XXS, just for the hell of it. And proceeded to spend about twenty minutes in the changing room, trying to overcome my disbelief that, yes, in fact, I was wearing an XXS and, no, it didn’t look absurd on me. Oh, J. Crew! Your vanity sizing is so silly.

So, there you have it: if you’re inclined to buy this sweatshirt, go down at least one size. Maybe two, depending on how cropped you want your “cropped sweatshirt” to be.

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
XXS, hahaha!


Wardrobe Analytics: How Much $ Are You Wearing Right Now?

You know the saying: “I feel like a million bucks”? Well, have you ever wondered just exactly how much money you’re wearing right now? I have, because I love knowing weird little factoids like that. I also love compulsively tracking (and crunching) irrelevant data. Yep, time for another wardrobe analytics post.

There are several ways to approach the question of how much money your outfit cost. You can look at absolute numbers (i.e. tally up the purchase price of everything you’re wearing), or you can look at your collective Cost-per-Wear. I think the latter is a better indicator of how much you’re maximizing your wardrobe, but number-crunching fun can be had with both values. Speaking of which …

For this exercise, I picked two of my favourite outfits from last month. I felt pretty good – at least six figures’ worth – in both. To keep things fair, I chose two pants outfits (though one is casual, and the other dressy), each consisting of a roughly equal number of pieces (5 and 4, respectively), all of which were purchased in the last year. (That last bit matters when calculating Cost-per-Wear.)

Here are the two outfits:

wardrobe analytics; cost per wear calculations
Your choices

Now, do you think you can answer these questions: Which was the more expensive outfit? Which was the most expensive item in each outfit? Which outfit was the better deal? (Here’s a hint: one of these outfits cost approximately $1,540 in retail prices.)

Most Expensive Outfit: Absolute $ versus Cost-Per-Wear

wardrobe analytics; cost per wear calculations
Did you guess correctly?

First of all, I think these numbers are pretty reasonable given the (a) function (work outfits); and (b) overall quality. If you remove the cost of the bags from the equation, the amounts go down to $66 and $127 respectively; we all know that I love expensive bags, so this is no surprise. I’m fairly¬†cheap thrifty when it comes to most other clothing categories, and I think this analysis bears that out.

In absolute terms, the outfits are actually pretty equal if you factor in the item difference. On a per-item basis, the outfit on the left cost $42.75, versus $43.40 for the outfit on the right. (Or $16.50 and $25.40, if you factor out the bags.) It’s a similar story if you look at it on a Cost-per-Wear basis.

wardrobe analytics; cost per wear calculations

In the outfit on the left, the average Cost-per-Wear per item was $7.73; for the outfit on the right, the average Cost-per-wear per item was $7.05. Interestingly, removing the cost of the bags doesn’t make much difference: $7.31 and $6.10, respectively. That’s because I wear most of my bags on a regular basis (and these are two of my most worn), so their actual Cost-per-Wear is very low.

Overall, the Cost-per-Wear is still pretty high, but keep in mind that most of these items are fairly new.

Most Expensive Item: Absolute $ versus Cost-Per-Wear

wardrobe analytics; cost per wear calculations
Jacket, Yoana Baraschi; pants, Banana Republic (via consignment); shoes, Manolo Blahnik (thrifted); bag, MbMJ (via eBay)

Here is where things get funny. In outfit #1, the cheapest item (my thrifted Manolos) actually have the highest Cost-per-Wear of the lot; I’ve worn them once – so far! – so it’s a whopping $14. The most expensive item (my MbMJ bag) actually has the lowest Cost-per-Wear ($1.69), because I’ve used it a lot. So, which is the most expensive item? You could argue it’s the shoes … for now.

wardrobe analytics; cost per wear calculations
Jacket, Talula (via Kijiji); top, LOFT (via eBay); jeans, RACHEL Rachel Roy; shoes, J. Crew Factory; bag, MbMJ (via eBay)

Outfit #2 speaks to a different contest: staple piece versus statement item. Not surprisingly, the staple piece (skinny jeans) has the lowest Cost-per-Wear ($0.67). I wear them at least once a week, every week. Usually, more like two (or three or four, if I’m in SAHM mode). My LOFT top, which I adore, currently has a Cost-per-Wear of $12.33, because it’s a work top I’ve only just started wearing, and can only wear every so often. It will take 55 wears before the Cost-per-Wear is the same as that of my jeans; needless to say, it will take me a lot longer to wear that top 55 times (if it even lasts that long) than the jeans. Lesson learned? It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on statement pieces than on staples, because the Cost-per-Wear just doesn’t justify it. Still, the heart wants what it wants, math be damned.

Best Deal

So, which outfit was the better deal? How about one last metric: retail cost versus actual purchase price. I think this is the least meaningful number, because retail values are more or less arbitrary numbers plucked from thin air (and marketing hype) by retailers … but let’s go with it anyway. I’m a bargain shopper, and this sort of calculation always makes me giddy. I mentioned earlier that one of these outfits would have cost approximately $1,540 at retail. The other one, approximately $750. You can probably guess which is which by now, so I’ll knock off the drum roll; the outfit on the left was the more “expensive”, and the better deal – I paid only 11% of the retail cost (compared to 29% in the second case). Both outfits comprised items bought at retail and secondhand, so the difference doesn’t necessarily come down to source – just luck.