Can she do it? Can she really stop shopping?

Can she do it? Can she really stop shopping?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

July Wrap Up

Yeah, August is almost over but I'm still going to wrap up July.  I'm going to skip the suspense and let you know that the stats haven't changed since the June Wrap Up, save the number of months.  But since I am pretty sure that no one survived reading the tome, here they are, updated through July.


Seven months completed almost within the rules.
Six successful second hand trips, five within the $40 spending limit (One went over by $5 but the month was under $80). 
Two successful public swaps, one private.
Workhorse items- bought new metallic flip flops with a gift card, boot replacement postponed 'til fall.  

I didn't make any second hand trips.  I didn't make anything.  I didn't refashion anything.  It was a rough month.  My sewing machine spent part of it, though more of August, in the shop.  My apartment looked like this- 

That is all of my clothing in plastic bags.  All of it.  It's a long and sordid story that I have a hard time getting into.  It was excruciating in a lot of ways, time, effort, coming face to face with all of my stuff, and being reminded by my piles and by others of how much I still have. 

In a fit of exhaustion I threw away three kitchen trash bags of clothing and shoes.  Yes, I threw them away without even donating.  I feel terrible about it, but there was not an ounce of effort left to deal with it all.

Now I have 30 gallons more of clothing and accessories that I am going to consign and donate.  My closet and dresser have breathing room for once.

It's been a stalemate over here lately, but most of my clothes are put away now and I'm feeling almost back to normal.  Nothing has changed in the challenge and I am still dedicated.  There will be updates on my consigning outing, maybe even outings (we'll see).  As of now I am getting close enough to the end to think about what will happen when the challenge ends.  So far, this is what I have come up with-

Custom made black leather biker jacket by J.O.D.
But, there's still a whole 'nother season til I get there.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why Posts Have Been Sporadic, or My Loss of Mojo

Obviously, posting has been pretty slow lately.  I apologize for that and I really want to finish some posts I've started and write some new ones, but I'm in the midst of a rather large and unwelcome upheaval in my apartment.  I was just getting really into finishing my quilt top, really plugging along and feeling great, when everything had to be put on hold.  I have an 85% finished silk maxi skirt that is also awaiting finishing. Not to mention wearing. 

I feel like my creative mojo has been sapped and it's bringing me down. 

But I will tell you, Spring Meaning is nothing compared to this and I have yet again been forced to confront the amount of things I own.  Every time I think I have dispensed with the most I can, I seem to be able to go back and find more to get rid of.  That is encouraging, but it also brings on more guilty feelings about what I have.  I mean really, it's not like there's some magic number of dresses one should own.  I am quite sure I have too many, but how many more do I need to get rid of to feel like I have the appropriate number?  This thinking launches me into a downward spiral of guilt, shame, and existential internal bickering about consumerism . 

So please stay tuned, I think this upheaval will spawn a post about donating, consigning, and/or throwing away at least.  I also have an unused maxi dress turned maxi skirt tutorial in the hopper, and some interesting perspectives on not buying new from other bloggers.

Necklace from P.S.- I Made This tutorial, bracelet from my tutorial
It's not all sad though folks, I am wearing two DIY accessories that are literally brightening my day.  Have you ever had any life road blocks or bumps that got you down?  How do you conquer mojo loss?  I'd love some thoughts, cause I could use it and I assume others can too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Will the Boot Saga End at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

Christmas is the biggest time of the year for retailers, right?  That's not entirely true.  Nordstrom does more business during its two and a half week Anniversary Sale than it does during the entire holiday season.  I would attribute that statistic, but it's first hand knowledge as a former Nordstom employee.

As a former Nordy employee I can tell you that the Anniversary Sale is serious business.  Like serious business.  People get excited.  Managers go a little crazy and break rules.  Everyone wears green, orange, and purple the first weekend.  Well, everyone except the sales people who get free merchandise like cashmere sweaters in TBD.  Yes, I'm still a touch bitter that I didn't get a free cashmere sweater.

The Anniversary Sale is religion for Nordstrom shoppers.  The preview catalog is sacred text and it quickly becomes a dog eared, post it marked, circled text book, a plan for the hunt.  How do I know this?  Because I became a convert after working there.  I used to get my preview catalog and mark the pages of the things I had to find when I got there, even going as far as prioritizing my departments based on the most coveted items. Shoes take a long time to try on, stop there last.  Leather jackets go fastest.  Any high end brands that produce exclusive products for the Anniversary Sale (of which there are many) will also go fast and will not be easy to track down if they are not procured in the initial wave. 

Today is the first day of the Anniversary Sale.  I had to look it up.  I didn't get a preview catalog, and unlike years past, I'm not going right from work at noon to the mall to get all hopped up on Anniversary Sale anticipation.  But I will tell you, I did get a bit giddy because the boot saga is still ongoing.  The shoe selection during the Anniversary Sale is amazing and many times the values are just as incredulous.

I went online to see the black boot selection and I thanked myself for having strict rules because there are so many things that caught my attention as I scrolled, before taking advantage of the search filters.

I saw these-

Via Spega Bethany Boot
But the heel is 4 inches and that won't work for my needs.  I also spotted these, which in any other year would have been circled, dog eared, and post it marked.

Hinge Mallory Pump

But I focused and I picked out two pairs of black boots in my size to order and try on at home.  Shipping is free and I can return them to my local Nordstrom, so there is no loss there.  I like both of them, but they do differ in their aesthetics.  Knowing my feet, neither may fit, but I have my fingers crossed that I can put this boot search behind me.  Read on to see what I picked out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

Check out my bright new shorts!

But they're not really new.  Do you recognize them?  You might if you read about the pants I dyed.  And then in the half way point wrap up about how those pants went south...and fast. 

Before I stained them they looked great-

But then there was the oil stain right above the knee.  I was about to throw them out, thinking there was nothing to be done.  But I happened to see the right inspirational tutorial at the right time.  Read the rest of the post after the jump to see how I did it and how you can do it at home and hear my thoughts about the length and see some in process pics. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brown Sandal Wear Out and Replacement

I love my brown sandals hardcore.  In the summer they go with everything and I wear them everywhere.  I have fond memories of the first pair of wedge heeled brown sandals I bought at Target and wore til they fell apart, soles splitting open right under the toes.  The pair that replaced them was a Nine West outlet find, leather with a 2 inch stacked heel, no wedge. 

These took up the torch with gusto.   They were comfy enough to wear all over town.  I took them to the cobbler probably twice a summer to get the heel taps replaced.  But now, the insoles have split open and the padding has all crumbled out. 

That red spot is where the padding is supposed to be.  Without it the heel just kind of jabs into into my heel.  Ouch, not so good for someone with an unhappy tendon on the bottom of her foot.  

So, I went shopping.  I thought it would be fun and awesome.  Not so much.  It turns out shopping just takes a lot of my time for not so many good results.  I started at the Nine West Outlet and that whole place was a no go.  I did see some cute nude pumps, but alas, I wasn't there for that. 

I went around the corner to DSW and I was actually impressed with the number of size 11 sandals I had to choose from.  But seriously, what's with the proliferation of 4" and higher summer sandals?  There were so many sandals that would have been cute, but that I could have conquered entire countries in with my intimidating height.  But I settled on these, below. 

They were $30 and not what I thought I had gone in looking for, but I liked the neutral tone and figured the wedge would cut down on my need for heel repair.  I wore them at work the day after I got them and almost died in the lunch room.  The side of the wedge is super slick and I came so close to biting it on my way to the water cooler that I was scared for my life.  Also, the straps are lined, but the straw still kind of hurts through it.  Back to DSW these go. 

Online shopping is so much better than real life shopping.  It's faster, less time wasted, and easier to make fast comparisons.  Enter  I found these babies for $45 with free shipping both ways and in size 11. 

Seychelles Kill 'em With Kindness
I know, they're great, right?  And it turns out they fit and and are super comfy.  The heel is a tad higher than I wanted, but not by too much.  I need to be able to walk a lot in my brown sandals and these are great.  I might need to put a pad under the toes if the front straps stretch, but right now they're great and look great with shorts and dresses. 

This was a good workhorse wear out replacement.  I tend to get really attached to items that work so hard for me and I want to replace them with the exact same thing, which is almost never possible.  But I decided to cast a wider net and found something good that I'm happy with. 

Have you replaced anything lately?  Had a good shopping trip, showing restraint and getting only what you need? 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Half Way Wrap Up: I've Made it 6 Months!

Half way baby! I've made it through six months of my no retail shopping challenge and I'm going strong.  I had a blip in May when I went a little over the single second hand trip budget, but I picked myself up, brushed the dust off, and kept going.  


The hardest part so far has been holding out on shoes.  I have very hard to fit feet and I'm used to buying pretty much any pair of shoes that fit.  For at least the entire year before this challenge I had been looking for a pair of round toe nude pumps.  I never managed to find a pair that fit my ski feet well and I still wish I had a pair.  They would be a good complement to the rest of my work wardrobe.

Shoes are also difficult because not all of them are workhorse items, but all of them take a beating.  I am an angry walker and as such I wear out the heel taps on my pumps and other heels very quickly.  I always get them fixed when this happens, but there is only so much wear and tear a pair of shoes can take before they just give out.  

I think if I were to lengthen this project in some way I would allow more shoe purchases.  Not unlimited, but I would somehow figure some shoes purchases in there. Though, I will say the nice thing about the challenge is that when a pair of shoes does wear out, like my black boots, I know that I can splurge on a quality pair because I haven't been blowing my money on cheap junk that fills my closet and may or may not be worn much. 


I've been thinking about this after seeing a cute pair of bright blue capris on sale in my Target circular for $18 the very same week I dyed my pants aqua.  I spent $14 dying the pants and a good chunk of my time.  I could have saved the time and effort and bought them for $4 more if not for the challenge.  

Now it seems like it would have been an even better decision to purchase the Target pants since my aqua capris only survived one wearing.  I got something on them while cooking and when I washed them the spots actually got worse.  On the right knee you can see what looks like a little blue archipelago. 

Closer up you can see that it's darker than the dye.  On the big spot I had used a stain stick and that spot looks the worst!  There's also another similar spot on the right hem. 

I think trying to remove the spots any more than I have will just cause the dye to fade and spots to stay.  This is an example of DIY being really good, but not infallible.  Industrial dye techniques and dyes are just better than what you can get at home.  I think I'm going to have to call it a day on these, I don't care to dye them black as I have two pairs of black capris already.  

And we all thought the neon webbing D-Ring belt project was mega cheap at $6, but sometimes even cheap DIY can't beat fast fashion.  According to J's Everyday Fashion she bought a fake leather pink neon belt for $2 at Forever 21.  Of course I can't link you to the belt because fast fashion is too fast and it's long gone online.  But I could have saved $4 and gotten the buckle look I wanted. 

However, most of the time not shopping retail saves me oodles of money, but sometimes shopping retail can save me some time and even rarer still, some money.  


I love to make things.  It makes me happy to make things.  Sometimes I have to go back and reread the inspiration behind this year long challenge so I can keep my eyes on the prize and not make things just to chase trends.  I want to keep making things I really like for myself, some of those items might be trendy, but I don't want to just use my DIY skills to attempt to replicate that which I cannot go out and buy.

I have felt a little bit like this blog is morphing into one of those "how to live a good life on less" blogs.  I like those blogs, I read some of them, but this blog is not one of those.  I plan to keep making things and sharing them with you, but I also plan to put a lot of thought into what I am making and why I am making it.

I just pinned a great maxi skirt pattern on Pinterest and I am thinking about making it in a bright coral, but is that just uber trendy or is that something I really want to make for me?  I'm not entirely sure.  This is going to take some thinking and reorienting over time.

But this whole no shopping challenge has been the catalyst for getting me back into sewing, which is fantastic.  I missed it so much, but I had also lapsed so much that I felt like I had a lot to get over to get back into it (a high energy of activation, to complete the science analogy).  I didn't want to make the same hasty mistakes I used to make over again, what if I had forgot techniques, what if I didn't make things as well as I had made them before?  Some of these issues kept me from sewing even longer.  I credit the challenge a lot, but also the proliferation of sewing and upcycling blogs.  Maybe I won't make a garment that is couture finished, but maybe I'll make something creative and get out of it not only the finished piece, but also the satisfaction of making something.  That satisfaction is what I had missed and what I instantly felt the minute I pinned together the bodice pieces of my peplum top, my first from scratch project in a long time. 


This is a difficult question to answer.  In a lot of way, yes, I feel like not spending time, mental energy, and physical energy shopping has allowed me to fit other things into life, things that are more satisfying.  However, I feel like I am still tuned into trends through Pinterest and just being out there seeing street fashion and that thrift shopping is allowing to feed the beast that is wanting more things.

I've thought a few times about cutting out the thrift shopping all together.  I think it is detrimental in that it allows me to go through all the shopping motions- mentally bookmarking what I want, hunting for it, trying things on, getting excited about things, and coming home with new purchases.   However, thrifting also allows me to get materials for my DIY projects and to keep from the madness that is going cold turkey.  Thrifting also takes unwanted goods and finds them a new home, keeping less waste from ending up in landfills. Though it also seems that our love of fast fashion is overwhelming thrift stores and that they have a ton of unsold merchandise.  But I am still for giving items a new home before turning them all into car seat stuffing or insulation. 

Check out my spending totals so far and see my June second hand purchases after the jump. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gift Card and Running Purchases

This month I used a gift card, went to a second hand shop I haven't been to yet this year, and picked up a few running items.

I should have kept you abreast of my gift card status, dear readership, however I did not and for that I apologize.  At the end of last year I got a promotion to a different department in my company,  In January my old group took me out to lunch and gave me a gift card.  They know I love to shop and love to pick new styles, so they got me a gift card to the Loft.  They didn't know about my plan to stop retail shopping for a year.  I put it in my wallet and decided to sit on it until I felt a burning desire to have something new.  I wasn't going to let this gift card burn a hole in my wallet, especially mid-winter when the styles are all kind of drab and I want to wear the cushiest bulkiest things possible. 

Loft Two Pocket Camp Shirt

I am a knits person.  I own a few woven tops, mostly flowy blouses, but really not any button downs.  But something about this bright pink, super lightweight, easy to wear number got my attention.  I've been interested in trying some new wardrobe options lately and I thought a nice woven top would fit the bill.  I knew I wanted to use my gift card and I wanted to get the most bang for my plastic buck possible, so I signed back up for the Loft email list so I would know about sales or get coupons.

So when this came in my email, I jumped and headed down to the Loft.  I bought the shirt for $29.70 and was a happy camper.  I also bought a ring which is not on the web and I now have about $35 left on my gift card.  I plan to save this for a while and wait until I just can't take it anymore, probably when new fall things come out.  

I also picked up a few new things for running (allowed per the rules), mainly a new pair of sneakers.  For runners I can't recommend enough going to a running store with well trained staff to have your feet analyzed and to get the proper fit.  I went to Fleet Feet, where I know they are good, and I was armed with info from my last visit to the orthopedist.  I have long given up buying the prettiest running shoes, I take what the running store folks give me that feels comfortable and holds my feet in the proper alignment.  I estimated before I went in that I would have to drop $110 on new shoes.  I was a penny off, these babies came in at $109.99 before tax.

These are from Zappos, same shoe, different store
They're grey and pink!  My lucky day!  The running shoes I need and that feel great were in stock in my size (there were only three pairs of running shoes in the store in my size) and they're pretty!  That takes some of the sting off the price tag.

Asics Cushion Low 3 Pack
I also ordered 2 packs of these guys, since more running socks are on my list and I really feel like the neon orange toe nail polish I wore for my last half marathon pumped me up, so that should translate to socks too.  I also tend to just throw stuff on without any regard for matching when I go running, so I already look like I'm trying to bring back the 80s every day I'm out there.  These can't hurt my quest.  (That's not really a quest, I just own a ton of bright running gear.)

For used clothing I went to Frugalista (on Facebook and Yelp) in my old neighborhood of Mount Pleasant.  I had been there once years ago when I still lived in that neighborhood, but I don't recall being thrilled.  This trip made me wonder why I don't go there all the time.  They have racks of J Crew, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and dresses out the wazzoo.  I had to stop looking since my arm hurt from being so weighed down.  Then after I tried on I couldn't look more because I was up against my spending limit.  There were so many things to like. 

Check back for the big "June Wrap-Up/I've Made it Six Months!" post Thursday to see what I got at Frugalista and how I'm doing and feeling at the half way point. 

Some folks have asked me to post outfits I've put together.  Inspired by one my favorite sewing blogs, Adventures in Dressmaking, which has a regular "How to Wear DIY" post, I'm thinking about starting a "How to Wear Thrift" post.  The outfit picture quality on this blog is not high, as you have noticed, so before this idea comes to fruition I need to address that.  But I have some ideas I like, so I'm hoping to make this happen.