NOTE: This is not a sponsored post.

Sometime last fall, Vickie from Adventures in Fashion emailed me to ask if I would agree to having one of my Instagram OOTDs featured as a Simons #yegfashion photo of the week in a weekly feature run in conjunction with the Edmonton Journal. Of course, I was flattered and said yes. As a thank you, Vickie told me that I would receive a $50 gift card to Simons. There must have been some miscommunication involved, because I was expecting to see my photo featured somewhere in the EJ (print or online versions), and never did. I assumed that something had come up, and they decided not to run my photo, so I figured that the gift card was also a no go. And promptly forgot all about it.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Simons reminding me about my gift card, still waiting for me, months later. Well, you might need to tell me about free money twice, but not thrice. As soon as I was able to talk my brood into heading over to WEM, I was on my way. (The kids are easy to convince, because Luka adores Galaxyland, and Teddy doesn’t really get a say, yet. The reluctant one is always their father, and probably for good reason – he’s the one usually stuck with shepherding Luka through the aforementioned G-land. The guy’s a saint.)

So, I don’t know how much you guys know about Simons, but let me start by saying: it is enormous. I say that as someone who is not daunted by thrift stores or Winners – Simons overawes me. Imagine the love child of Zara and Holt Renfrew (Nordstrom, for my American readers) and you’re getting a flavour of what Simons is about. Their in-house labels (Twik, Icone, Contemporaine) are varying degrees of trendy, at relatively affordable price points. And then you have the super luxe end of things; Simons carries everything from mid- to high-end designers (think DVF to Balmain, and back again). It is, honestly, a pretty unique shopping experience. Due to the sheer size, and my unfamiliarity with the store, it has always been (on the few occasions I’ve been there) a rather overwhelming experience, but if I had the time to get to know the store, I think it has a ton to offer.

So, armed with my $50 gift card, I went off to find myself something pretty. Let me stop here for a second and talk a bit about my approach to spending free money. I have two strategies: (1) buy as many things as I can; or (2) buy something I wouldn’t otherwise get with my own money. In this case, I decided to go with the latter approach. Although Simons does offer a lot of fairly inexpensive pieces, $50 wouldn’t cover more than a couple of them, and they would most likely be clothes. I decided against this, for two reasons. One, I’m trying to streamline my closet (the eternal goal), and therefore I’m being more critical than ever with my purchases. I’m not buying things just because they are inexpensive (or free in this case). Second, a lot of the clothes under the Simons in-house labels seem to me to skew a bit younger than my demographic. I think they could also be fine for someone my age but working in a creative, or less conservative, environment – or with a more interesting and active social life than mine. Simply put, I just wouldn’t have anywhere to wear some of the things I thought might be cute.

Now, whenever I decide to spend someone else’s money on something I wouldn’t buy for myself, my first thought is always “accessories”. Followed, shortly thereafter, by “bag”. Simons has no shortage of cute options in that category. For example:

Ted Baker bag
Ted Baker bag

I coveted this, hard. But at over $350, it wasn’t going to happen. And therein lied the rub. My $50 would cover a non-leather, non-designer bag, but not much else. Go big or go home is my motto when it comes to bags, so … it was time to try a different tack. Shoes. These Sam Edelman mules certainly got my attention:

Sam Edelman Monroe Mule
Sam Edelman Monroe Mule

Alas, at $150, they were still a no go. I mentally wishlisted these in case they end up at Winners at some point, and went back to my list. So … jewelry. Here, again, Simons offers the gamut from inexpensive mall costume jewelry (think H&M) to stuff like House of Harlow, and on to pricier designer wares. By this point in the excursion I was running out of time (and my companion’s patience), so I quickly scanned the display cases featuring the middle-of-the-price-range pieces, and lo – I spotted this:

Tai Duo Stone Cuff Bracelet
Tai Duo Stone Cuff Bracelet

I’m increasingly drawn to a minimalist aesthetic (say whaaa? I know!), and that includes jewelry. I’ve always hated wearing clunky bracelets (even if I like the look of them) because they interfere with my typing at work, so this Tai piece is both a style and functionality match. It is very delicate (featuring a darker blue glass stone in my case), and very light on the wrist, which I really appreciate. I tend to be wary of gold vermeil pieces because of the potential for the plating to wear off, but here’s hoping that doesn’t happen with this bracelet. Realistically, a similar solid gold version would run in the hundreds of dollars (or more), so I’m willing to take the risk with vermeil this time, just so that I can enjoy wearing this beautiful piece. At $69, it was a tad over budget, but I was happy to get it for $22 and change out of pocket.

And so ended my Simons afternoon adventure: happily every after (hopefully). Now, tell me: how do you spend free money when it comes your way?

Note: I wanted to add, in case it wasn’t clear from my post and in the interests of full disclosure, that I was never asked by Simons to write about their store, or otherwise “promote” them in any way in exchange for the gift card. I decided to write about my shopping experience because (a) my life is pretty boring, and this was kind of a funny story (maybe?), and (b) I thought it would be interesting to talk about different approaches to spending gift cards, aka “free money” (something I enjoy a great deal, hah!)

9 Comments on An Afternoon at Simons

  1. Ice only been to Simons in Montreal and agree with you that the store is overwhelming and skews to the younger crowd. That said, I LOVE their homeware section for cute and affordable sheets and tea towels. Love the Tai bracelet you chose, I’ve got my eye on one too, and like how you spent your gift card. Cheers!

    • I didn’t even know they have a homeware section! Seriously, they need a map of the store.

      I really loved the look of the different Tai bracelets – it was hard to narrow down my choices.

  2. The bracelet is pretty and sounds like a good choice, but I can’t get past the shoes. Even though they were more than the gift card I would have gone with those, especially since you can wear them to work and in theory they last for years. In fact I may be talking myself into buying them ( this is dangerous ) !

  3. The bracelet is a solid choice. Pretty and distinctive. It’s cool to hear about shopping adventures in a non-US store, and I appreciate your sensitivity to appearing sponsored or otherwise. Much respect for your values on that. But found $$ is great and you deserve such a nice treat! PS how was G-land???

    • OMG, Galaxyland is insane! WEM, period, is mayhem on the weekend. This is why we rarely go – I’m not easily overwhelmed by crowds (apparently, the correct term is enochlophobia – who knew?), but I get antsy every time I’m at WEM.

      Thanks for understanding re all my disclaimers. Like, I want to talk about where & how I shop, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m pushing a brand or store on them (especially not for self-serving reasons).

  4. I have the same experience at Simon’s. I want to love it, I really do, but I get there and get all turned around and overwhelmed and leave empty handed…and then regret not buying stuff there the next day. But…I have been considering this coat from there for weeks (casual with a green-on-green floral pattern…super cute). I was going to avoid the whole in-person experience and buy it online, but it was just under the threshold for free shipping so decided against it…except they are doing free shipping this weekend…and now you mentioned Simon’s….perhaps it’s a sign?