Sale Shopping a.k.a. Successful Stalking

I read a lot about avoiding sale shopping.  Sales goggles, quantity over quality, throwaway wardrobe.  Negative connotations.  I have a different viewpoint.  I don’t think sales are bad at all, if you have a plan.  If there is intent behind your shopping, you are using the sales to your advantage, not the other way around.

Yesterday before heading out to meet a friend, I browsed on the computer quickly before leaving the house.  Lo and behold, a wool coat I’d had bookmarked was on sale.  I did not hesitate to snap it up. This coat was bookmarked for weeks.  There was no impulse purchase or sales goggles factor.  I fully intended on buying exactly this coat – when I could afford it.  That meant either a) next year when my budget refreshed, b) as a gift with Christmas money or c) if it went on further sale.  I’ll admit I did not expect it to go down in price.  I was fully willing to wait it out until my budget or funds caught up with its cost.

red coat

Now, sometimes in waiting you risk it selling out.  I used to think I was just lucky, but now I realize what I am is persistent.  And patient.  And willing to balance the risk of missing out with the possibility of getting a good deal.  It also helps to remind ourselves that there will be another fabulous coat to find next year.  This is not THE only coat out there for me.

It’s worth noting that yesterday I got this for $62 and today it is back up to the $119 I would have had to wait on to afford.  This is part of the luck/persistence factor.  Just keep checking!!  deal!

Although I decided on this particular coat several weeks ago, I’d planned on a bright colored wool coat months and months ago.  It was part of the plan all along.  Sitting in the sweltering heat in FL I was imagining coming home to Tahoe snow this fall and knew my coat wardrobe lacked color.  Heck, I’d looked for a purple one the year before, but struck out.  It had been on the list a loooong time.  Bottom line, this was as far from an impulse buy as you could get.

Sale shopping is not bad.  Shopping without a plan, and letting the sales influence you to buy something you don’t want or need, is!

How do you approach sales?  Are they off-limits to you or do you use them to your advantage?  Do you stalk like I do?

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Format – Frequency – Feedback

Since I’m just getting the ball rolling on this, I got to wondering if I should try to set up some basic parameters.

Not sure how much back and forth anybody would like in the comments section.  Or if readers would like me to pose more questions in my posts themselves.

Also thinking on content each week.  A majority of my thoughts are on maintaining a wardrobe, but I was debating having perhaps one outfit post a week. I also think health and fitness is a part of wardrobe maintenance, as maintaining your clothing size goes a long way in being able to plan purchases!

I have not put in many pictures and wondered if anyone had preference either way on that. I certainly can (for instance the oversaturation post could have included my wardrobe items described to illustrate the rule).

What I don’t want to do is come out like gangbusters and then disappear to one post a month.  But I don’t want to put something up just because it’s Tuesday and the page is blank lol.  I’d like to post because I have something I want to say and share.

I was thinking of perhaps 3 posts a week consisting of say, Maintenance Mondays (tips and discussions on how to keep a manageable closet), Wardrobe Wednesdays (just an alliterative way to say outfit pic of the week lol), rounded out with Fitness Fridays?  Or is this painting myself into a corner too much?  Maybe it is.  Hmmm, will have to think on that.

Let me know what you’d rather read about or see here.  Maybe no one cares to read any fitness on a fashion blog, that’s understandable!   Perhaps everyone would like a response to comments, I can try and do that as well.  Let me know – I’m all ears 😀

Avoiding oversaturation

You know that moment when you suddenly don’t love ____ anymore and find you have a dozen versions there in your closet awaiting the inevitable purge?

In the late 90’s I’d somehow managed to amass a very sizable floral print dress collection.  Never mind that florals aren’t really me to start with, but unearthing over a dozen when I went to assess things in late 2010 really hit home that I had gone too far.  Who needs a dozen floral dresses??

I decided that I do not want to repeat that scenario.  It’s fine to play with a new trend or silhouette.  No, it’s better than fine, it’s a wonderful way to refresh your wardrobe.  But these days I tread lightly.  I dip my toe in before jumping in the deep end.  I’ve discovered a rule of three that works in most every clothing category.

One dark neutral – One light neutral – One color or pattern

Around the same time that I found the plethora of floral dresses, and weeded (ha!) through them, I had discovered the newly trending ballet flat.  They were everywhere.  And I wanted to join in on the fun.  So, I went ahead scoping out some for my closet.  This was my first foray into thinking about how I was shopping.  I hadn’t made the concrete rule of 3 yet but was formulating the basis for it.

I started with a pair of black zipper detail flats.  The zippers gave me a bit of rock ‘n roll edge so I didn’t feel so like a suburban mom.  No offense to moms in suburbia, but that’s just not me.  Then I got a cream pair of Dr. Scholl’s on deep discount.  A bit of an impulse purchase because of the sale price, but they were still on my mental list of wants for that season.  Lastly, I got some red patent peep toes with silver heels.  I felt the metallic gave me, again, that bit of edge.  Then I stopped.

That is where things changed from previous years.  I had one dark neutral, light neutral, and bold color.  I was good.  These covered just about any and every outfit I’d want to put together with a ballet flat.  And they all got wear.  One pair came out as the fave, and one became a semi-orphan but still got at least a few wears every year.  For about 3 or 4 years they got pretty good closet rotation.  And then they didn’t.

Late 2013 the fashion sneaker was coming around and the flats started to get pushed aside.  I began to realize they were a little ‘delicate’ for my true style and ended up selling off 2 of the 3 pairs at consignment.  I still have the black zipper detail ones.  I’m a sucker for zippers, what can I say?

Buying just the limited number of this trend allowed me to fully embrace it, but not feel I was overhauling half my shoe wardrobe when the fancy passed.  I was comfortable with ditching the 2 pairs.  They’d allowed me to play; given their service to my wardrobe, if you will.  And then it was time to move on.  No biggie.

Had I continued whole hog and amassed 8, 10, 12 pairs of ballet flats in the myriad textures, patterns and colors that were out at the time, I’d be singing a different tune when I fell out of love in favor of my new attraction, the fashion sneaker.

This rule of 3 can be applied to several trends I’ve tried this year.  Swing tanks (black cutout, white split tail, dalmatian print), loose silky button fronts (black faux Equipment, white drape front, bright blue split tail), and booties just to name a few.

Try it and see if you can’t get a ton of mileage trying out a new trend, without going all in only to regret it a few seasons later when you find yourself purging _____ that was so 2014 lol!

Authenticity

This is sort of a spin off on the idea of your audience.  With the preponderance of online images – blogs, pinterest, online shopping sites’ catalogs – comes a false sense of what we should be looking like.  Or what others look like, for that matter.  The online, virtual world is not the real world.  No matter how much of it we ingest.  Once you walk out the front door you enter the real world.  A world where sitting creates wrinkles in your pants and skirts shift as you walk.  Wind blows your hair.  Lipstick fades halfway through the day.  It’s okay.  It’s reality and we are all subject to it 😉

This last year I found myself increasingly dressing with the online audience in mind.  I tend to do this when my personal life is in a lull and I don’t have a lot of face to face interaction.  I start to substitute the online world for what’s lacking in my real life.  Unwittingly, I begin to dress in a way that aligns with the online community, supplanting the real life cultural norms around me.  I want to get back on track with being authentically me, in whatever environment I find myself (and with frequent cross country moves, that shifts often!)

What I rail against is the staged outfit image, most often with very high heels that could only be described as sitting shoes.  It’s always been very important to me to display exactly what my real life outfits are.  I’ve gone so far as to show sweaty running gear shots and lounge wear with bed head to represent what I actually look like day to day.  I will never take a pretty picture, post it online, and change out to something else.  My most favorite outfit pictures are ones I’ve nicknamed ‘in the wild’, meaning they are not posed at home but taken while I’m out with friends or loved ones doing whatever it is that’s on the agenda that day.

There are the out to dinner shots, the parties at friends’, sporting events, or even more fun, the spontaneous roadside shots (a certain 20 foot dinosaur on HWY 19 in FL comes to mind lol).  In my mind, there is little value in showcasing a look that does not get utilized in real life.  There already are models for this, right?  I am no model.  Not by a long shot!  I’m just a gal who likes clothes but wants to shop responsibly.  And to share that with others.

Outfit pics won’t be a major part of this, but I plan to post some from time to time.  Rest assured they will always be exactly what I really wore, head to toe.  Dressing for, and by extension shopping for, my actual life was a major lesson.  After all, that’s the point – to buy clothes for your lifestyle, station in life, and climate that you will actually use. What good are clothes that we don’t actually wear?

Budget breakdown

After a couple years of tracking what I’ve bought, I feel comfortable predicting my budget breakdown for next year.  I have been trying to embrace the quality over quantity motto but for a recovering bargain hunter, it’s still slow going.  I continue to discount shop and stalk items until they go on sale.  There is nothing wrong with this!  Sale shopping can be great if you already know what you want and you happen to be able to find it cheaper.  The trouble comes when you sacrifice what you truly want for a ‘deal’.  Anyway, I have my past years’ shopping all documented for me to evaluate.  I know realistically what I will pay for items in certain categories.  Which leads me to this breakdown of my projected 2015 clothing expenditures.

  • Five items @ $10 = $50
  • Six items @ $25 = $150
  • Eight items @ $50 = $400
  • Four items @ $75 = $300
  • Two items @ $100 = $200
  • One item @ $200 = $200
    _____________________

Yearly $1300  -or-  $25 weekly

Equates to one item every other week, at an averaged cost of $50.

Obviously, these are just guidelines.  Items don’t cost exactly $25 or $75.  This is on the smaller side of my usual annual budgets.  (On a personal note, the household income varies a lot from years we live in FL to years we are in CA.  I spend more in FL and less in CA, as the jobs bring in differing incomes.  We have just moved back and I am currently not yet employed – so you can understand why spending is on the tighter side.)  I limit wardrobe spending to 5% of gross income at most.  In FL I may only spend 2%, or less.  I don’t want to get used to a luxury lifestyle that I can’t sustain 😉

You can see that a good portion of my budget allotment is still at a very reasonable, or some would say lower end, cost.  11 items are at what I’d call the low end, around $25.  Some may think as low as $10 is ridiculous, but if you eBay or find deals on Gap, etc, believe me, there are good things to be found at even this bargain basement price range.  I have a certain olive surplice dress that may be my most worn dress ever; cost was $8 brand new at Ross.

12 items are mid-range (for me), between $50 and $100.  Fully half of my budget is for this middle price range that I hope to have make up the bulk of my wardrobe over time.  In still allowing myself some low end pieces, I honor my bargain hunting nature, but in figuring in the better end items I am slowly weaning myself away from the ‘deal’ mentality and getting more comfortable with higher prices.  My wardrobe’s quality should slowly improve, as the items I select replace the fast fashion and clearance rack choices of the past.

I have also budgeted for 1 or 2 splurge pieces.  I have it listed as $200, with allowance for a couple $100 items as well, but it could just as easily shake out to be a $275 item and a $125 one, or two $200 items, or one single $400 item.  Point is, I have allotted about 1/3 of my budget for these splurge items.  In years past I would have deemed them too expensive and never even considered items over about $150.  I’m making progress here.

I’ve found that buying one big ticket item is enough for me.  By reviewing past years’ purchases I see I have done exactly that unknowingly.  Knee high Frye boots one year, DVF wrap dress the next, Vince leather/suede mixed media pants this year.  I will never have a head to toe designer wardrobe.  It’s just not worth it to me to spend all of my limited resources on only a handful of items.  I’m content with scoring one, maybe two, a year.  They’ll add up over time.  10 years from now those once-a-year splurges should still be around, and making me very, very happy!


Your Audience

Who are you dressing for?  Many need to comply to a work dress code of sorts, but beyond that, don’t we want folks to see us in a certain way?  Isn’t that at least part of what amassing a wardrobe and honing in on a personal style are about?

For those who work from home or stay home in other capacities, getting dressed can slip by the wayside.  You can find yourselves still in your PJ’s at noon (raising hand over here) or fall back on lounge wear as your most worn clothing capsule instead of a small portion of a well rounded closet.  I sometimes find myself in this category.  When I am off work for a time and don’t need to go out of the house every day I tend to not want to wear my ‘good things’.  This is a very common theme and I’m not alone in ‘saving’ the good clothes.  If there is no one to see it, why wear it out unnecessarily, right?  Sure, feeling good in what you wear has value but there is no denying that it’s a hurdle for many of us.

But I found out an interesting thing about myself the other day.  I did have a reason to get dressed up.  I went on a dinner date with the BF to celebrate the 13th anniversary of our first date.  It was at a steakhouse and he wore a nice sport coat, dress slacks, the works.  We do still live in a pretty casual area, so even without the tie he was the most dressed up man there.  I wore a jacquard metallic skirt and cutout booties with a cashmere modal blend tee. Cropped tux jacket to top it off.  Loved my outfit.  Here’s the thing – I missed that I didn’t get to share it with others.  Yes, I looked nice for my BF, and for myself.  But historically we would stop by a pub for an after dinner drink when we’d go out to a nice dinner.  At the pub would be friends and coworkers and we’d visit and cap the night off that way.  It is being remodeled and is closed at the moment.  So we had no after dinner stop off.  We simply went home.

I had no idea, until it was taken away, how much I enjoyed sharing my look with my friends!  Not in a ‘look at me’ kind of way, but in a ‘look, we’re having fun dressed up together’ kind of way, if that makes sense.  Even though dinner was the main reason for our outfits, the after dinner socializing had become a part of an evening out’s experience.  I didn’t realize that I’d miss having others see my look.  My audience wasn’t there.

Outfit – a day in the life

Many of you know me from frequenting other blogs.  Those who do know I’ve recently moved back home to Tahoe from FL.  Each have their dressing challenges due to climate, but both have a decidedly casual environment.  My wardrobe numbers I feel are partly due to continuing moves between these opposing climates.  I’m pretty sure if I stuck in one place more than a year, I could happily dress for all my needs and wants with 100 items. But until I am certain that I’m staying put, I will continue to have as many dresses as sweaters and sandals as boots.  That’s okay.

Anyway, for those who’ve really only seen FL outfits from me, here is a day in the life in Tahoe.  As is par for the course, this is an average day of grocery shopping and a visit to the WBMIL (my BF’s mom’s).  I lead a casual life, and finally dressing for it (and not buying pretty things that just weren’t appropriate) is a huge lesson for me.  To be stylish and casual isn’t as easy as it may seem.  Somehow dressing up – heels, jewels, fine fabrics – automatically makes you appear ‘stylish’.  Now, to put jeans and a tee together with flair is not as easy.  Now I sound like I’m tooting my own horn.  Sorry.  I just have a bit of a thing with casual getting dissed in the fashion world.  Onward!

I’m still battling with lighting in October and will have to work on it.  I know the pics aren’t great.  I thought it would be good to get a sense of my wardrobe consists of, though.

The top was a recent clothing swap score that has a neat faux leather stripe up the back.  Jeans are Vigoss via Nordstrom.   I was searching high and low for BF jeans when I spied a pair on a customer at my bar one Saturday.  Complimented her and asked about them.  Pays to tell folks when you like what they’re wearing! 😉  Rounded out with zip detail booties by Chinese Laundry and an H&M anorak. The necklace was from a southern discount store, Beall’s Outlet.   The Fossil Sutter crossbody is my daily bag.  That’s another thing about me; I’m not much on accessories.  I have a handful, I like them, I wear them, the end.