Here's what I've bought this year
I know I've said this before, but this is probably the favourite item of clothing I'll buy all year – a Maison Martin Margiela irregular pinstripe jumpsuit. Not only does it look great, it's constructed more beautifully than anything I own, from the lining to the stitching. If you haven't already, please check out my post about finding that ultimate outfit.
Month eight and nine, I spent money on experiences, not things...
My spending project has changed me in many ways, but none I appreciate as much as this. It got me to say "yes" to seeing Prince in his surprise Piano and a Microphone tour stop in Toronto, even though the tickets were $225 each. I knew it was the best money ever spent about three minutes into Prince's transcendent performance, which stretched to five encores. As I told my classical music-fan father afterwards, it was like seeing Mozart. Prince in concert was that exceptional, that masterful, that much of a channel for the otherworldly power of music itself.
The jury is still out on this $200 consignment shop find – it's just been too chilly to wear it. Also, I need to read an article like "how to wear a duster," because I'm not quite sure what the deal is. Is it like a fancy trench coat? Do you wear it indoors? Also, does my lifestyle (bike to work, rarely go out at night) justify a duster? This may end up being one of those false economies I was known for before Shopping for Happiness, where I was just too keen to get a designer label for a good price. Or not! I'll wear it soon and find out.
Update: Wore it. Husband asked which John Hughes movie he'd seen me in – big compliment, right? It's a keeper.
My threshold for scarf-spending has gone way, way up since I realized how much the right one can elevate any outfit. This vintage Christian Lacroix silk scarf is just beyond gorgeous. I love the print and the fabric itself has a subtle pattern printed on it. Really, it's gorgeous.
Look, I know I have to stop buying used clothes. I really tried to buy a new suit from a new-suit store, but I have had no luck. The mall suits looked ill-fitting and a bit cheap but even the new designer suits that would have blown out my budget never looked "just right." Then I found this used trouser suit. Perfect colour, perfect fit, perfect weight, beautiful cut. It's so comfortable and so "me" that I would wear it every day if I could, then throw the jacket on over a dress at night. I guess my next step will be to buy a new Hugo Boss suit, but until then, this was a real bargain at $200.
If you've read my blog you know I bought a makeup lesson recently. Naturally I wore my Hugo Boss suit to the lesson, because I wear it everywhere all the time. So, this picture serves two purposes: showing a little of the suit, and preserving the results of the makeup lesson, which I will not be able to replicate on my own.
I didn't set out to spend most of this month's budget at Reiss but hey, it's not a cheap store. Actually, it's generally too expensive for me even with my temporarily inflated budget, but it does have great sales. I've been trying to break my old habit of shopping the sales rack, but before Shopping for Happiness, even most of the sale prices at Reiss would have felt too expensive for me. Therefore I think it's well within the spirit of my project to shop from the sale rack at this one store. (The bargain-hunter in me lives despite all efforts to subdue her.)
Moonlighting's Maddie Hayes would probably have liked this Reiss jumpsuit. It's my first jumpsuit since the garbageman-like zip-up one I wore in high school, and it's pretty great. The back is open (with buttons at the neck that are pretty much impossible to do up on your own) and the neckline and sleeves are asymmetrical.
It's very memorable and very impractical -- not the kind of thing I EVER would have purchased before Shopping for Happiness.
I thought this colour was called "shell pink" but apparently that's a different shade entirely. Whatever the colour is called, I really like this warm piece. Length-wise, it hits below hip level, so it looks great with the slim leggings in the same colour. (Well, they used to be the same colour. Now they are pink mottled with blue.)
ANYWAY the effect, however briefly achieved, was a neck-to-foot monochromatic look. I've aspired to monochromatic outfits ever since I was a kid watching Moonlighting.
I don't need an excuse to watch Moonlighting again but if I did, it would be for Cybill Shepherd's clothes. Maddie Hayes –an ex-model-turned-detective – had a pretty fantastic wardrobe and she made me a lifelong fan of monochromatic looks with her single-tone outfits.
That's what I was going for when I bought the dusty pink turtleneck and matching trousers from Reiss this month, with a pink t-shirt thrown in for good measure.
I love these slim-legged trousers, or I should say I loved them until I accidentally maybe-wrecked them this week by staining them to death. (The French's mustard stain came out in the wash -- but while they were drying, some dye from a scarf drying on the same rack transferred on to the trousers in about four places!)
Stay tuned for new pictures after my cleaning efforts.
Also, see the wrinkles in this picture? Photographing clothes for this blog caused me to notice how wrinkled many of my outfits become once they've been worn, washed or just folded the wrong way. That's what led me to buy my main non-Reiss purchase this month: a clothing steamer.
How does something as prosaic as a wrinkle-removing device qualify as a Shopping for Happiness-worthy treat? Well, I could have bought a serviceable iron or hand-held steamer for a fraction of the price, but instead I sprang for a top-of-the-line Rowenta Roll and Press that actually makes it easy, fast and fun to get the wrinkles out of all my nice new clothes. I hate, hate, hate ironing and I'm terrible at it, but you can't create new wrinkles with a steamer and you can't scorch your clothes. You barely even have to pay attention to what you're doing, which is perfect for me because I have never felt the "Zen" that others claim to find in household chores. I used this steamer on a batch of items for the first time while glued to an episode of "The People v. O.J. Simpson" and they look like they just came from the cleaners. Progress!
Fabric transfer stain! The culprit: my favourite Tilo Golden Gate Bridge scarf. Well, I can't blame the scarf; it was my fault for laying the scarf out to dry so close to the trousers. My wire drying rack has some latches, etc. that pushed parts of the trousers into the scarf. These little blue mementoes were the unhappy result. A re-wash failed; I'll try the dry cleaners next.
This has got to be one of my favourite purchases to date – five private dance lessons for my husband and I. (It had been about eight years since our last lesson.) We're in the process of buffing up our Hustle and Foxtrot skills and it has been SO fun. I wrote a post about this choice ("Me" spending versus "we" spending) – but now that we've actually started the lessons, I feel like the timing of this choice was especially fortuitous. Last week our wonderful instructor told us she's closing her studio and moving out of town. This is sad news – but I would have felt much worse about it if I'd just driven by the studio one day and noticed it was closed, with no chance to say goodbye, much less take lessons. It's amazing to me that we squeaked in right before the opportunity disappeared forever.
I feel like my move into expensive scarves has been nothing short of life-changing. (I am not even exaggerating.) The first Tilo scarf I bought has a print of the Golden Gate bridge; sometimes I think it's the most gorgeous thing I own. I definitely wear it more than anything else in my closet. It makes every outfit look complete and it washes well too. So, when I saw this summery beauty with a beach print at Any Direct Flight, I figured it could be the cornerstone of my spring wardrobe.
In my "past life" of shopping on the cheap, I developed a definite shortage of nice basics. If I was going to spend money on something, it certainly wasn't going to be, say, a tank top that no one would see anyway. I'm taking a different approach now. Like, even if I'm the only one who knows I'm wearing a layer that feels like the softest cashmere sweater, that's fine!
P.S. I need a clothing steamer. Any recommendations?
This picture is from Melissa Nepton's site, because my own pictures did not convey the really great drawstring waist, pockets and shirred hems of these comfortable, light trousers. I found them at (where else) Any Direct Flight.
Once I saw it, I couldn't stop thinking about this modal-cashmere scarf printed with the Golden Gate bridge. Unsurprisingly, my only reservation was cost: it was $175, which seemed a really silly amount to spend on a scarf. So, I contented myself with visiting it; I must have gone to Any Direct Flight two or three times over the course of a month just to sigh over the scarf's soft feel and wash of colours. Why did I finally buy it? For a start, it's rare to find clothes you can't forget once you leave the store. Also, this was my way of bringing the romance of travel home and reminding myself that I need to see the world.
Since I won't be wearing my new Tilo scarf as a cape (or will I??), the full glory of the photo print won't be visible. Luckily it looks fantastic folded or tied, too.
Ahh Reiss. I tried on one million items in their Toronto store but this was the only one that suited me. It happened to be on sale (about $240), BUT I didn't buy it because it was on sale. It's hard to see in a picture but this dress has a slightly raised collar and very chic armholes (if "chic armholes" are a thing, which I suspect they're not). I'm wearing the Liana Marie necklace I bought in Month One.
P.S. Photo credit goes to my son, who made me strike a few poses. I had just come from the hairstylist – there's no WAY my hair looks this smooth on my watch.
At this point, I am having a lot more luck at independent stores that I am at the major shops. They're filled with pieces that are a little out of the mainstream – and I love supporting local shop owners (many of whom are women around my age). These entrepreneurs have gone through a lot of trouble to curate their offerings, and it makes it a lot easier to find something unusual and fantastic. Case in point: the foxy 1940s-style dress from Doll Factory by Damzels. I've always loved all things Damzels, but I used to avoid it because the price point was slightly higher than the average mall store (or more accurately in my case, the sale rack at the mall store). This dress was $220, which would've been too rich for my blood before I started this project. I guess it hasn't taken me too long to find a new "set point" for spending.
I found these earrings with ornamental backing in a terrific boutique called Fresh Collective that specializes in independent Toronto designers. Their website states: "We inspire women to let their outer selves reflect their inner self, and think of fashion as a daily form of communication and art that tells the world just who we are." Wow – that is exactly what I'm trying to do this year with my wardrobe! I should shop here more often. These Foxy Originals have a bit of an art-deco feel. They remind me of the Tiffany T bracelet that I covet...so at $26 they were a steal.
This is really simple – a light knit black v-neck with a white fake t-shirt collar – but it's incredibly soft and silky. It was on sale for $140. Maybe I bought it because I felt like I was getting two shirts in one.
Confession: I didn't buy anything for my Shopping for Happiness project this month (see my post about this). However, before the month ended, I committed to taking a trip in May or June, 2016, with my two U.K.-based besties. (My mom really wanted me to see more of my friends in far-flung places.) The three of us met while studying 18th-century literature – and they've both gone on to scholarly careers – so a destination with some "Grand Tour" appeal is a must. Right now, we're leaning towards Venice, and this month's money is earmarked for airfare. I'm counting on my friends – and this blog – to hold me accountable and make sure I take this trip.
UPDATE: It's happening this May! I've booked my flight and we've reserved an AirBNB near San Marco Square!
I actually wore this when my company had "jersey day" to celebrate the start of the 2015 NHL season. One or two people got the reference, but no one (including me) could figure out what team I'm supporting.
You'd have to touch the thick, soft silk to fully appreciate how nice this is; it doesn't come through in the photo. I'd like to wear it buttoned to the top under a white blazer.
I love this detail; they're on the underside, so you only notice them when the sleeves are rolled up. The inside of the collar is grey too.
I haven't worn them yet – I guess I might have to wait for Spring? –but they make me smile when I see them.
I have to confess, I keep seeing dresses and coats that I really like – often because of metal details like these – only to recoil at the label: IVANKA TRUMP. I just can't brand myself with the Trump name right now. Happily, these boots are BCBG Generation.
What can I say – they're khaki cords, on sale at Barbour for $40. I'm not sure they should count as part of my Shopping for Happiness project as they're the kind of "bargain basic" I always bought under my old mindset.
My old wardrobe: The good, the bad and the ugly
Ok, it's not fair to say that I never treated myself before I began this project. About six weeks before kicking off my year of spending, I made a big purchase: a Reiss leather blazer. It was, for me, hideously expensive: about $260. But...that price was 70% of the original price of $860. It's a steal, right? I justified this purchase on the grounds that I needed a fall jacket (it's more of a blazer for indoor wear than a coat, but still...) and that it was the kind of instant upgrade that I've been dreaming of making since I started thinking of this project. Plus...it's so buttery. I love this blazer. I haven't worn it yet, but I can't wait.
These are the designer labels in my closet and how they came to be there. Giorgio Armani suit, 85% off last clearance price (so under $300) and still in my closet though it looks quite out of date (check out the shoulder pads!); vintage Valentino dress, bought at consignment shop; 2014 Pink Tartan blazer, given to friend who gave it to me.
Here's a bunch of stuff I don't like and don't wear, but which I haven't cleared from my closet. There's a Banana Republic top that I feel guilty about because it was a gift; a yucky pair of summer trousers bought on sale years ago and too big/rumpled, but "hey, I might need them," a skirt that I got from my sister when she was clearing out her closet 10 years ago--naturally I've held on to it because I assume everything she has is designer-awesome; and a DKNY outlet store button-down that has never, ever looked good on me, but is unwrinkled. That seems like reason enough to leave it in my closet.
I found this fantastic dress at Martingale Vintage in Stratford, Ont. over the summer. It fits like a dream and has holster pockets. (I wanted to know more about the style, but if you Google "holster pockets" you just get ads aimed at gun-owners.)