Tag Archives: clothing

Purchase #5 to 10 of 25

Kids are really expensive…(or can be if you want them to dress better than you do!) Note: Burberry red barn jacket is shown as an example only. I’m not crazy enough to spend $165 for a toddler’s jacket.

barn_jacket

boden

janie_lot

hanna2

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Old Happy Purchases

A lot of popular blogs and magazines  frequently feature things to buy. Spring is in the air! Time for new stuff in the latest colors! Everything you bought in previous seasons is out-dated!  I admit that I’ve been tempted so many times and if you are, too, you might need to do this little exercise, too.

Go through your house or closet and remind yourself of past purchases that still make you happy. You might be surprised that many things you thought of as “investment” pieces did not bring about as much happiness or return-on-investment as expected.  You might also get a small dose of happiness from old purchases and not feel the need to buy new things.  At least that’s what I was hoping when I wrote this post (inspired by my new spending mentality due to “Your Money or Your Life” Regular readers will be tired of my constant reference to this book by now).

So here goes my list of old purchases that still make me happy:

  1. Peacoat: A classic in blue that I got a good deal on
  2. Leather boots from Italy: Pretty and classic; needs a little shine!
  3. Party dress:  Looks like new because I only wore it once! I wish I had occasion to wear it again.
  4. Bathroom Cabinet: A small change that greatly updated our bathroom.
  5. Sweater Dress: Still pretty new. An excellent deal and so comfortable!
  6. Selected DVDs of classic TV shows: I can watch some shows over and over again.  Which reminds me of #7…
  7. Old books that I can re-read and that I never get bored of.
  8. Black fake leather purse: Maybe I’m too old for fake leather but I love it and don’t care. It’s sporty but still OK for work environments.
  9. Shiny black leather flats: I think I love it more because it’s from a designer brand.  The cobbler was doubtful about adding shoe taps on it until he turned it around and saw that it was made in Italy.
  10. Red Land’s End sweater: Work appropriate yet so comfortable. 
  11. Gray cardigan: I wear this all the time.  Hides the butt which makes it very practical, too.
  12. Dark jeans: It’s on the skinny jean side and I’m sure that trend is over but I do love it.

Just by doing this quick exercise, I realized that love for stuff can wear off pretty quickly.  For example, a pretty blouse from one of my favorite designers would have definitely made this list just two years ago.  It’s still in good shape but I don’t wear it as often anymore for some reason so I can’t say that I love it.

Ironically, in some cases, the more I’ve worn something, the more likely it will fall off the list because it doesn’t look shiny and new anymore.  Since I’m a complicated person (haha), I can also say that if an item does not get that much use, I love it less because it did not meet my expectations in some way.

Furnishings did not make the cut because my kids destroy furniture.  My favorite pillow is stashed in a closet out of reach and I’m tempted to sell or give it to someone who can really appreciate it.

Technology wasn’t included but I admit that I love the use I get out of various tech stuff.  I would give up many things before cutting internet access!

What old things are making you happy right now?  Please include clothing items, shoes, and purses so that I don’t feel shallow.

November 16: From the Land of Bikinis to the Land of Missoni

Chiara of the Blonde Salad blog, wearing Missoni

Part of the reason for my new interest in shopping has to do with our move to Italy (still in the “someday” stage).  While California appears to be fashion-conscious, it really does have a casual anything goes vibe that makes it easy to ignore trends.  That’s why I am a little obsess about upgrading my wardrobe right now.  I aspire to land in Italy with a preppie, casual California style that is unique yet not horribly off-trend in the land of Missoni, Marni and Armani.   Yes, my plan for moving right now consists of shopping for clothing…I do plan to hold off on shoe-shopping til I cross the pond. I’m not that insane.

While I have visited Italy many times, my perception of Italian style is limited. It will be interesting to see if my ideas change once I actually live there.  Right now, I am inclined to think that Italian style does not come cheap.  However, there are ways to mimic Italian style on a budget.

Real-life Italian style is also about the elegant, finishing touches and how you put it together.  Even if you don’t have a huge bank account, you can mimic Italian style with smart choices, creativity and attention to detail.  When I think of quintessential Italian style, I remember a woman I saw in Parma — she was riding her bike along the cobblestone streets, her long brown hair waving behind her.  Her outfit was simple and elegant — elegant slim black pants, black flats, and a crisp white buttoned shirt — what caught my eye and made the outfit was the finishing touch:  a long double/triple strands of pearls that carelessly caressed her neck.  It’s the small touches that complete an outfit.

Tailoring is key.  This is common advice in any fashion magazine.  However, Italians seem to take this seriously and you see the evidence of it especially among the well-dressed men.  Overall, tailoring is an inexpensive way to take your style to a higher level.  Note: If you’re new to my site, I’m referring to native Italians, not the Jersey Shore stereotype of Italians.

Spend more on a few classic pieces and spend less on trendy items.   In general,  Italians are more trend-conscious than Americans.   That’s because when something becomes popular in Italy, everyone from young to old (male and female) seem to be aware of it.  If a trend isn’t gender-specific (say, a certain way to tie your scarf or a certain color), it really appears to be EVERYWHERE.  Obviously if you are following trends, it can get hard on the budget.  However, a good rule of thumb is to never spend too much on popular trends.  As much as you love the current trend, it somehow always look outdated the next year.  For example, a few years ago the color lavendar was super trendy in Italy.  A budget-conscious Italian friend bought a pretty lavendar scarf and wore it all season. Fashionable and smart!

Appearances are important.  In L.A., you can get away with going out in your sweatpants. Hey, it’s even a badge of honor to wear fashionable yoga outfits around town.  In Italy, attire is definitely more formal.  In other words, even if you’re picking up cigarettes at the corner tabacchi, you don’t want to look like a bum.  This isn’t cheap because it means you have to have nice casual clothes along with work clothes.

My husband reminds me that it’s better to maintain your individual style rather than follow the herd.  I completely agree.  Even if I adapt my style somewhat to Italian trends, I think that no matter where I end up, I’ll always have my own California style.

August 24: A Simple Wardrobe

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

Since this series is supposed to be geared toward worker bees, I had to write a post about the work wardrobe. 

Here are my best tips on simplifying dressing well for work:

  1. Pick your outfit the night before – Nothing causes more headaches than trying to decide what to wear at 7 a.m.  Always have a light jacket or cardigan handy in case the weather is cooler than expected.
  2. Forget the crisp white shirt, or don’t buy high-maintenance clothing – For me, nothing is harder to upkeep than white blouses and cashmere.  After a few washes, my formerly crisp white shirts always look drab and rings around the collar are a pain to get rid of.  While I like the feeling of cashmere,  moth holes inevitably appear after a few seasons (despite my best attempts to keep them clean before storing them in airtight containers with cedar blocks).  I also hate handwashing cashmere, which I feel that I must do in order to preserve them well.
  3. Stick to one main wardrobe palette – It’s easier if all your clothes match blacks and grays so that you don’t have to buy brown shoes/boots.  I don’t follow this rule because, well, I love brown shoes and boots.
  4. Get a work “uniform” – At some point, you’ll realize that certain outfits work better on you.  Dresses are an easy solution.  Even if you’re not a dress person, it’s a good idea to have a few work-appropriate dresses (like wrap dresses) that you can always wear when you’re having trouble deciding on an outfit.

What are your best tips for keeping a work wardrobe simple yet stylish? Please do not say that clothing is an investment.  It is not. Don’t argue with me on this one!