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A Sorta Savings Weekend

October 22nd, 2006 at 10:41 pm

Ok, so I found my mom a cashmere sweater for Christmas- online, though, so there's always inherent risk of it being a shoddy product. Also, after speaking with her, it seems I may have jumped the gun a bit; she was telling me how she liked purple or teal blue colors for the fall. I had bought her a black sweater. Err. Well, it's still early enough to return and search for other gifts.

I know I vowed to hold off on "me" spending, and I've been good, not having lusty dreams (haha) about a certain handbag. But this weekend I dropped by one of the great thrift stores in Trenton, NJ, and came away with two pairs of boots and two awesome (if I do say so myself) plaid wool skirts for $20 total! The skirts were definitely a good find- I noticed a couple of women "stalking" me as I was holding onto the skirts. An aisle later, one of the women came to talk with me- very nicely, I might add- asking if I was really going to purchase the skirts. I almost felt like giving one to her! But...oh....I admit, I was a grinch. In the thrift shopping world, it really is finders keepers.

Otherwise, spent money on gas (lucky car) and was going to finally buy a spare tire for my car, but my dad told me he had an extra tire! All I had to do was come get it. So smart, dad, a way to get me to come visit =)

Weekly Roundup of Savings (and Mishaps)

October 15th, 2006 at 03:30 pm

Yeah yeah yeah, the week isn't exactly over (if you're weird like me and consider Monday as the "start" day) but it's been a milestone week. It was my first week at the new job as a medical writer! Lots of science/brainwork (data analysis, science talk with clients) and also lots of time where I just....sat around and "read." First weeks are never truly exciting, it's more like, "Oh yippee! You want me to help you edit this table of contents? Awesome!" But compared to my last job (marketing consultant) this job is better pace, less stressful, and much much more secure. (and it's funny how it just sort of fell into my lap. Yay, networking really works!)

Anyway, what does this have to do with savings? Well one humongous benefit to the new job is my commute is approximately 10 minutes. That's right, total mileage is only 5 miles one-way. If I take small roads, it is actually 4.6 miles according to Mapquest. This had made me seriously consider attempting to run to work. Have not ironed out the's not so much the thought I can't shower at work as it is the condition of the roads. There are very clear paths and sidewalks for about half the distance, but the remainder is horribly narrow roads with no shoulders. No lawns, either, just rock or gutters/long weedy (and most likely tick infested) grass. One potential shortcut is marked "Private" so I don't want someone shooting me for trespassing. Grr...must be some way to work things out.

Many people celebrate their first week (and first paycheck) in some way. I am only human, I met with friends for drinks. What I did NOT do was go on a shopping spree, though I was this close to buying more clothes online. What stopped me was the shipping fee; I had narrowed my choices down to about $25 for two sweaters, but the shipping was $5.95. That's 25% of the total price. Insane. If I was really desperate, I could run to that store in the mall and buy things, for ZERO sales tax (thanks, NJ). To avoid further temptation, I deleted the tempting email containing the sale and coupon. Unseen and out of mind. Besides, the money was put towards my little night out celebration =)

Lastly, my poor electric thermos/hot water dispenser died. I feel it was due to the fact I unplugged it everytime I left the house, and shoud've just left it plugged in. So, no more instant hot water, and what horrible timing with the cold weather approaching. I can't get it fixed since my parents brought it for me from Taiwan. So it's either $100 for a so-so one from the local Asian market, or $20-30 for a thermos (the kind coffee shops use) from Bed Bath and Beyond. Probably will go with the thermos since I still wonder how much electricity those dispensers use up to maintain the temperature of the water inside....

Happy New Week to All!

Designer Fashion at Walmart?

October 13th, 2006 at 12:00 am

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This interesting article from the NYTimes covers the phenomenom of budget couture- high end fashion designers making clothing for discount chains. Kmart really started it all with Martha Stewart but Target drove the message home with it's hit Mossimo and Issac Mizrahi (or however you spell it) lines. Walmart has followed suit, but in a rather shocking turn, wedding gown goddess Vera Wang is slated to work her magic on Kohls. Considering the cheapest Vera Wang dress I've seen on Bluefly was still within the $200-$300 range, I can't imagine her Kohl's line of clothing to be anything less than $50, which in my book is not cheap.

I'm on the fence about designers making discount fashion. Not because I'm a snob, but because they still end up inflating the price of what amounts to a piece of cloth with a popular person's name attached to it. Haven't personally checked out the quality of any of the clothing items at Issac what's his name at Target but hopefully he doesn't skimp just because it's "discount."

TJ Maxx

September 25th, 2006 at 03:13 am

Yay or nay?

I went with a friend because she wanted to check out the "Designer Runway Event." I've been to this alleged fashion savings mecca before but have honestly never been too impressed, though I will say that it is worth visiting stores in different locations as the merchandise quality seems to be better in some places than others.

But you really do have to search. At TJ Maxx, it wasn't too hard to locate certain brand name items - Anne Klein, Tommy Hilfiger (yuck), Max Studio - as they were displayed right at the entrance. A careful, thorough search of the racks at this particular store actually turned up some great bargains; an Armani suit, Armani gown, Eileen Fisher sweater, some funky BCBG shirts - all of which, unfortunately, were out of my price range.

The "designer event" turned out to be a couple of racks tucked away in some corner containing true odds and ends. Some teenage girls were salivating over the Antik denim (there were about five pairs) but then there would be random pieces, mostly Anne Klein again. It was rather meager and I'm sure that is why the "event" is not too well advertised.

All in all, the store seems to push people towards becoming Brand Whores if you pardon my language. Though the pieces are lower than retail value (who pays retail value anyway these days?) I personally feel the prices are still inflated solely because of the inherent "prestige" that comes with owning that designer item. But what are you really paying for? IN the clearance racks, I noticed a flimsy, wispy, oddly colored Anne Klein tank top was still selling for $25, whereas a well-made tank top with reinforced stitching, stretchy spandex material that would hold up well (and look nicer because it is fitted) by some no-name brand was $7.

In the end, you are paying for a piece of fabric to cover your body; unless that fabric is gilded silk from the world's Most Ancient silkworm located in remote monastary in Tibet, then why pay so much for it? . If the cheaper item fits me, looks good, and is well made, then I'd rather buy that than to go for the mediocre item with the big logo on the chest that I'd be scared to throw in the washer. Just my two cents.

Coming out of the Closet

September 21st, 2006 at 01:40 pm

HA HA No this isn't what you're thinking! I'm talking about those articles of clothing that never see the light of day- those pieces that you wonder "why did I buy that?"

So for kicks, lately I've been taking some of my casual clothes purchased during my days in grad school and seeing if I can breathe some new life into them as business/office outfits. Today's experiment: folded and pinned the back up of one of my sort of worn-down white buttondown shirts and wore that as a cardigan over a black top that is more suitable for clubbing but in combination is now toned down. Wore one of my tan slacks and tied one of my ubiquitous scarves around the waist- office outfit!

As an extra quirk, I jazzed up one pendant necklace by attaching a hoop earring that ended up encircling the pendant- very similar to this picture from a designer website. Funny, people thought I was wearing an entirely different necklace (though I wear the pendant pretty often). Got nice comments about my overall outfit from coworkers.

I am wondering what to call it- outfit re-inventions? recycled fashion?

Morning Inspiration- Reinventing Jewelry

September 19th, 2006 at 02:19 pm

While searching for one particular necklace to match my shirts (yes, I was layering summer clothes so they would be suited for fall) I grabbed one necklace which I never particularly liked since it was too wide and too long for my tastes when suddenly- *ding*! I had the crazy idea to try it out as a belt. It didn't quite make it around my waist but I bridged the gap by linking on another bracelet. Instant belt!

I ended up not wearing my "belt" because it didn't match, but wow, what a discovery. It got me thinking of many ideas for "new" jewelry from combining my pre-existing pieces. For example, linking several bracelets or chains together to get that multichain dangling look; hooking earrings onto chains as pendants or charms; using earrings as pins or shirt buttons; using those chunky, solid round bracelets that I hate in that sort of 80's look where you had excess shirt material tied up with some round thingy at the bottom corner....

Can't wait to play around and see what sorts of interesting combinations I can come up with.