Tag Archives: shopping

Summer 2013 update

So, I’ve been absent from my blog (and most of the blogosphere) for about 6 months now. And I’ll be honest: I’m probably going to be absent for another 6 months after I post this. 🙂

Earlier this year, I started to feel like my life had slipped into a rut, where my days revolved around work, and not much else. It didn’t help that I was having some health issues which resulted in extreme fatigue– and then I was hit with a sudden increase in family obligations, due to some unexpected events. I was exhausted!

When I finally started to feel better, I decided that I needed to spend more time on personal interests outside of my day-to-day work; so that’s what I’ve been doing: playing music, sewing, gardening, reading, and home improvement. I’ve also been spending more quality time with friends and family. Even at work, I’m making an effort to interact more with people outside my immediate department. It’s all been good.

What I wore

Because last winter was such a busy and exhausting time for me, I think I also got into somewhat of a clothing rut. I wore virtually the same “uniform” every day: Sweater, t-shirt, jeans. Sweater, t-shirt, jeans. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The colors changed (a little bit) but the style was virtually identical from day to day. And I was too tired to accessorize.

As I am now determined to work myself out of boredom, this spring and summer, I’m suddenly craving variety in my wardrobe.

For the first time in a long time, I’m buying (and sewing) printed tops and dresses. And I’m shopping for pants other than jeans.

The budget is tight, and I need a lot of new things right now (because last year’s tees and jeans are so worn-out that I can’t really wear them anymore).  So I’ve been doing some bargain shopping. I’m sometimes having to settle for polyester instead of silk, but that’s just the way it has to be for the time being.

So far, I’ve had the best luck shopping at TJ Maxx and Kohl’s.

At TJ Maxx, I’ve found some nice pieces from the Max Studio brand, heavily discounted. In fact, everything I’ve purchased there has been from that same brand. (A lot of the pieces don’t look work-appropriate, but there are some– and TJ Maxx tends to sell the more conservative styles from this brand.)

At Kohls, I’m liking the Simply Vera brand by Vera Wang. Some of the pieces look a bit cheap or tacky (in my opinion), but she also has some pieces that look pretty nice. Everything at Kohl’s is constantly on sale, so it’s easy to find things there at affordable prices.

I still love my J-Crew basics, but I guess I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to move beyond the basics. I can’t see myself ever amassing a huge wardrobe (or even a cramped closet); but I do see my wardrobe becoming larger and more varied in the next year or two.

Thrifting and sewing

All my life, I’ve been a thrift-shopper and a dressmaker.

But I’ve been on a sewing hiatus for quite a while now. Years, actually.

I think it was because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to wear, and since sewing is such a time-consuming activity, I didn’t want to waste my efforts on clothing that in the end I might not even wear.

And I had a similar problem with thrifted clothing. It seems I was buying things, only to re-donate them a few months later because I didn’t want to wear them. Finally I made the decision to stop shopping at thrift stores. I was wasting time and money, and regretting almost all my purchases.

But I think I’m ready to start sewing and thrifting again. Nowadays, I’m feeling more sure of myself when I go shopping. More and more, I’m finding things while shopping online or in a department store, and immediately I know that I could easily find something similar at the charity shops, or make it myself.

I’m actually feeling really excited and relieved about the opportunity to get some new things without spending an arm and a leg!

Oh, and did I mention that I decluttered my formerly-massive collection of sewing patterns? I’m down to about 20 patterns. I remember when I had at least 200. Things are really coming into focus.

Sea of Polyester

Since I began exploring personal style a few years ago, I think I’ve improved my shopping skills. Or at least I’ve learned to shop in a way that works well for me and my own style.

Here’s my shopping “philosophy”, in a nutshell:

First, decide what you want to buy. Be very specific.

Then shop for it.

This means that I don’t spend a lot of time browsing stores without a plan. I rarely thrift-shop or sift through clearance racks. If I know that a sale is upcoming, I might wait for it to make my purchase. But I usually already know what I’m going to buy.

Of course, there are exceptions. Usually, the exceptions apply to accessories like jewelry or scarves. With decorative items like those, it sometimes pays to go on a recreational shopping trip and just see what delightful designs you might stumble across.

But for most things, I like to have a plan. I like to know what I’m going to wear: to work, to exercise, to funerals, to weddings, etc.

Next month I have an event that I’m not prepared for. I need a casual dress, one that I can wear from morning to late evening and be photographed in. It’s going to be a long hot day, and some of the activities will be outdoors. I need something that won’t make me look completely wilted by the end of the day. Oh, and the dress can’t be sleeveless. I don’t do sundresses. And it must be affordable, since this isn’t a planned purchase that I’ve saved up for.

So I’m thinking, maybe a wrap dress in a cotton or rayon knit, or a simple fitted a-line dress or skirt in cotton or linen.

I went to the local mall, and it seemed like EVERY affordable dress was made of polyester. And overpriced, at that. I did find a couple of (expensive) cotton dresses, but the construction was so shoddy, I’d be embarrassed to wear them. I mean seriously embarrassed.

So I came home and got online (which is my preferred way to shop). I’d heard good things about Modcloth.com, so I checked out that site. When I saw the hundreds of beautiful dress designs, I got excited. And then I started to check the fabric content.

You guessed it: Polyester.

I have to say, I’m really, really puzzled at the number of summer dresses made of 100% polyester. For me, wearing polyester in summer is like wearing Saran Wrap. No thank you.

On the bright side: I’ve been meaning to get back into sewing, and this might just be the thing that inspires me to break out the sewing machine.