Tag Archives: clothing

Let’s Get Real: Sex & Power in Silicon Valley

In an industry and town which is so heavily male, in an industry where the TV show about it features an all male cast with the exception of a secretary, one has to wonder if she’s making a huge mistake by not Joan Holloway-the-second-ing it up. Sure, it’s 2014, but in many respects, the world I live in is Mad Men 2.0. I try not to think about gender as part of my day-to-day work, because the good lawd knows I’m not exactly BFFs with most women (I tend to get along better with men anyway), but ignoring the fact that I’m often the only woman in the room would be a disservice to my own take on impostor syndrome.

A good friend of mine recently joked that I should use my sex appeal to get ahead, in so many words. Not that he was suggesting I have sex appeal, more that it seems to be working for some women here. He pointed to the perky Amanda Rosenberg, 26, fresh-faced and bushy tailed and literally Googley Eyed (she works in marketing for Google Glass), who has stolen the heart or at least the genitals of one Sergey Brin, much to the delight of the Silicon Valley gossip rags. Continue reading

The Percentage Budget: How much should the single working woman spend on clothes?

There should be some criminal penalty for allowing me to enter a Nordstrom. The lighting, the quality-made clothing, the hip fashions that should be in my closet — not on the store rack — are too enticing. Luckily, I’m terrified of buying designer items that cost a small fortune, so I only buy items that cost a miniature fortune. Still, they add up, and I feel guilty for buying just about any item.

I wonder how these stores stay in business selling $300 shirts and $400 shoes, where a decent outfit complete with shoes and accessories costs $1000-$2000. While it doesn’t make sense for someone in a lower income bracket to shop at Nordstrom, I have to assume that this type of store and pricepoint would be targeted towards a mid-career professional earning over six figures. Not that I have to actually follow through with their marketing persona, but why can’t I enjoy the fruits of my labor in the form of a Joie blouse or Ted Baker suit? Continue reading

Confessions of a Deranged Shopaholic – HECC Edition

My Broken Coin — a fellow personal finance blogger — wrote a post on how she spent $8600 on shopping in 2012. That led me to checking out my own stats to see how much I spent on shopping last year.

$17,617!!!
$9164.78 on clothing(!)
$4,456.99 on “shopping general” (mostly Amazon.com, yikes)
$1,272.98 on “sporting goods” (camping stuff for my vacation)
$858.67 on makeup
$811.76 on hobbies
$187.81 on electronics

That’s ridiculous as it doesn’t even include my food costs. Now, I choose to live in a place where rent is $650 / month with roommates so I can afford the overrages of my shopping addiction, but I’m not sure that even adds up anymore. A 1br apartment that’s comparatively nice to my current shared 3br would cost me $1800 a month minimum, and in this location probably more like $2200. So I could spend $18600 more in rent, or, well, clearly I can spend that all on clothes, makeup and household items. Or I can just force myself not to shop for anything other than necessities for a year. Continue reading

Returned $250 Worth of Clothes

A long time ago in a far off land I loved trips to the mall. While not everything looked great on my curves, for the most part outfits fit. And as a student I could get away with wearing funky looks, including low-cost versions of trends.

These days, I’m having trouble finding the right look for work. Over the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of shopping, and despite spending a lot, not much buying.

Old me would have kept items I bought hoping to be inspired to wear them one day, even though in the back of my mind I knew I never would. But from now on I’m not letting any money go to waste, especially on expensive clothes that I just don’t love.

So I returned the $130 pair of patent leather shoes to Ann Taylor that were too big and had a high heel that I’d never wear. The other day I found a pair of low-heel shoes by Nine West that were $78 and have worn them every day since. The Ann Taylor shoes are back at the store and the money is back in my bank account.

I also returned a blue cotton Theory dress to Bloomingdales that cost me $140. I don’t love the dress. My boyfriend says it makes me look bigger than I am, which was enough to inspire the return. So that’s back to the store as well.

Even with returning those items, I’ve purchased a few things I am keeping:

2 pairs of machine washable work pants from Nordstrom petites, $78 each.
4 button down short-sleeve shirts from Express, about $20 each.
1 Calvin Klein black jacket, $99.
1 pair of black shoes from Nine West, $78.
1 black turtleneck by Theory, $80
1 gray sweater jacket by Theory, $140
1 pair of Ann Taylor black pants, $100
1 blue dress t-shirt for work at Ann Taylor, $40
1 skirt on sale at Express, $20

So I’ve spent a lot on work clothes, but I feel better now that I’ve returned the two items that I’ll never wear. Right now I’m looking for a few items that I need, and then my work wardrobe will be complete..

– 1 brown or blue jacket (for brown pant days)
– pair of brown shoes (or shoes that match brown pants)
– 3 button down long sleeve shirts that are machine washable and actually fit me

I’ve been looking at all the stores but have had no luck with these items. Oh well, nothing wrong with waiting until next month to make more purchases. I haven’t even gotten my first paycheck yet!

Shopping Update

Spent $450 at Ann Taylor yesterday after 4 hours trying on just about everything in the store. Why must every single top have some weird ruffle on it this season? Not only do they look ridiculous, in the rare cases they didn’t, I just thought what that poor ruffle would look like after being through the wash once or twice. Or even hand wash. I don’t like to do dry clean only for my tops.

Showed my boyfriend my $350 worth of Theory purchases and while he liked my sweater jacket thing, he disliked the dress (I don’t really like it either) so that’s going back to the store. $150 return. Cha ching. As for the Ann Taylor stuff, I got a grey pencil skirt that fit nice (but may wrinkle too much… why must things wrinkle?), a pair of size 12 petite black pants that are a little bit too big (the 10s looked like i was going clubbing the way they hugged my ass, so I opted for the larger size), a kind of pretty navy blue shirt with short sleeves, and a pair of patent leather shoes that don’t fit at all… they are going back to the store too. So my $450 trip will be a $300 trip and my $350 trip will be a $150 trip once I make all my returns.

I’m forcing my boyfriend to come shopping with me tonight. I don’t agree with his taste in everything, but he did help me go through some of my clothes in my closet last night, and we discovered that while I own a lot of “slutty” clothes as he likes to call them (I call them thin-strapped tank tops, not work appropriate) I don’t have much when it comes to work wear. I’m throwing something together for today that I’m not 100% happy with. Really, the most important thing I need to get are shoes. I own one pair of shoes that will work for today but they’re so worn out on the heal that they make me walk crooked. They were great while they lasted.

Her Makeover Attempt: Clothes for Work

This weekend, I have frantically been scouring department store after department store (and smaller shops) to find the perfect outfits for my first week at work. While back in my high school days I’d have trouble narrowing down my piles of “loves” on shopping trips, these days I can’t find things I even remotely like. Partially, as my body ages I’ve developed curves in places clothing designers are terrified of admitting existence, so few things I try on even fit. Then, there’s the question of – what does a 26 year old wear when trying to dress older and more professional but not too old or too professional to a job that interfaces with many different types of people… in an informal left coast city?

The other thing is, I really don’t want to spend my entire paycheck on a new wardrobe before it’s even deposited in my banking account. I will if I have to, but that seems really silly. I do have expensive tastes, but in the past my purchases were more often sale rack than full retail, even in nicer stores. But in this role I really feel like I need to look expensive. Does this mean my clothes need to be?

Some days, I wish I was a guy. Men have it so easy. Wear a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, slick your hair, wear nice shoes, and you’re done. Being a women… there are way too many variables for the professional world. What hair style do I wear? Up or down? Should I wear a skirt, pants, or a dress? Long sleeves or short sleeves? Or a jacket over a tank? Can I take the jacket off at work if I get hot? What shoes do I wear? Closed toe? Peep toe? Should I wear heels or can I get away with flats? Yikes.

Yesterday, I spent the morning shopping at Bloomingdales because they are having a 20% off sale and I also had a $25 off coupon expiring in April. Figured it was worth a look. The whole shopping experience there infuriated me. First off, finding my size… or anything close to my size… in items I liked was fairly impossible, with the exception of when items were “small, medium, large” — I’m somewhere between a 10 and a 14 depending how the designer cuts the clothes. Petite only in my inseam but everything else is, well, average to large. 31″ waist last time I measured. Probably bigger than that now. I have big hips, a protruding behind, and thighs that don’t look like they belong on legs with a 27.5″ inseam. Thanks mom.

Even when I found a few things I liked that seemed to fit I had to stop and ask myself — does this make me look too young? Can I be taken seriously in this? There is one skirt there by Marc Jacobs that I’ve been eying for months and I was surprised they still have it. It’s a $200 a-line black skirt in a thick fabric that just feels really nice on. Size medium was a little too tight, but I almost bought it because I have a habit of buying black skirts knowing I’ll wear them. Then I looked at the skirt again. It was flattering, covering my belly bulge with the exception of where it was slightly cutting into my stomach (must exercise), but it just didn’t make me look older. In fact, the whole outfit made me look younger. I tried the skirt on with the sleeveless shirt and sweater they were showing it with on the rack. The shirt, which looked like something I’d wear when I was 5, was a sleeveless with hearts on it and these gaudy gold buttons. The sweater was grey and preppy but oversized, and only available in a large or extra small. I grabbed the large and headed into the dressing room to try out the look. And, yes, I looked like I was 5.

Who wears this stuff, I constantly asked myself browsing all the expensive options by designer labels… half of the collections at the store look like they’re designed for people in high school or maybe college, and the other half (ralph lauren, eileen fischer, etc) look to be designed for women in their 40s. What do professional 20/30 year old women wear?

I’ve always found myself drawn to certain brands which seem to come close to what I’m looking for. Theory, one of my favorite brands in terms of style, had a few options. But at $200-$300 an item, I stop to wonder, can’t I find this style some place cheaper? Do I need to spend $250 on a pair of pants to earn the respect of my colleagues and move up the corporate business chain? And even if I do, is Theory the right brand to get me there? Surely, it’s a better option than anything offered by Marc Jacobs (really – WHO WEARS THIS STUFF?) but with each outfit costing $700-$1000, it’s tough to splurge without it being perfect. And nothing was perfect.

I found a nice grey half-sleeve sweater that I instantly knew would become a classic in my closet, so I felt that was worth the $200 price tag. There was a blue sleeveless cotton dress with ruffles on the neck which I could see looking nice under the grey sweater if I had a brown leather belt to tie it all together. So I bought that, the sweater, and a t-shirt length black turtleneck, all by Theory. Total cost after discount: $355. And really, I don’t have much of an outfit there. I still need shoes and a belt and handbag to make the dress/sweater look complete. The $75 black turtleneck feels like heaven and will be worn, but I’m not sure what bottoms to put it with.
So today I’m still looking for what to wear tomorrow. I really want to look like a million bucks without spending anything near that much money. But how? Sure, I could buy a suit at Macys for $99, but a suit really isn’t right for this environment. It’s too formal, especially for my role. Funny how it costs much more to do business casual than true-blue business. At least for women. I could definitely find a nice suit outfit for under $200 on sale. But to really look slick, slightly trendy but also professional, that’s where the money starts to become an issue.
The other thing I realized is… I don’t have much of a life outside of work. I mean, maybe all the clothes they sell at Bloomingdales are for women who dress up to go out at night and on the weekends. But I don’t go anywhere. On occasion my boyfriend and I go to dinner but I don’t really need to buy new outfits for that. I have plenty of dresses and things that work for my non-professional life. I have no reason to spend $1000 on an outfit that I wouldn’t be wearing to work. So I never would. I like to spend my money on nice clothes for the office because I’d end up wearing them most of my life. And it’s the only opportunity I have to dress up and look nice in my life. Even with my potential $100k salary, I live a $40k life. And I’m ok with that. I just like to dress up sometimes and where else am I going to do it other than the office?

Say Yes to the Dress — Why I’m Going to Try to Say No…

My reality TV obsession as of late is TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.” Now that I’m 26, I’m like (almost) every other girl in the world who (isn’t married yet) is thinking about being a bride and all that goes with it. Hey, I’ve been with my bf 3.5 years, so it’s not like marriage is so far off I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. (Right… right?)

Watching the show has me fiscally horrified, especially the episodes featuring women who have no budget and can buy a dress that costs $6k or more. As a kid, I would have been certain that my wedding dress would be on par with the dresses shown on SYTTD, and that I’d have money flowing from every possible bank account to fund my dream wedding. Nowadays, I’m a lot smarter than that. And thinking about the cost of my one-day wedding makes me almost violently ill.

When I was 12, my family threw a huge Bat Mitzvah party for me. It was ridiculous. I don’t know how much it cost but I think it was around $13k. For a Bat Mitzvah. It was the fault of my parents as much as it was mine. My party was probably on the higher end of what my peers spent in my temple, but certainly not the highest. I wanted to have the reception at one venue that my parents deemed too expensive. Where’d all the money go? The venue and food, the DJ / band (yes I had a DJ AND Band at my Bat Mitzvah), the professional photographer, professional videographer, the outfit (though my dress wasn’t really that expensive compared to anything else), the party favors (I needed three colors on the custom t-shirts so that cost extra), the party planner, and who knows what else. With such a big family on both sides, a lot of people were invited, and many came. I didn’t know half the people at my party, but it was a party, and I enjoyed it (as much as an atheist girl can when she is celebrating the end of years of religious study.) 

Looking forward to my wedding day (even though I’m not even engaged yet), I know that I want to be frugal when it comes to the big day. But I’m also the type of girl that believes in going all out or not going at all. And I’m tempted not to go. At least when I was a kid at my Bat Mitzvah I was so ignorant. While that was awful for my parent’s finances, at least I could ENJOY the celebration, for what that’s worth. Knowing how much my wedding costs will make it tough for me to enjoy any of it. I’d elope except my mom would shoot me, so it looks like I’ll be forced to have a wedding.

According to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the Wall Street Journal, the average wedding cost is $28,000. That’s the AVERAGE, people. I’m not surprised knowing how much parties cost, but I can’t imagine how so many people spend this much, especially when the majority of them are in debt.

When I watch Say Yes to the Dress, I’m amazed by how the lower-end buyers are looking for dresses that cost around $3,000. First of all, if I ever spend $3,000 on a dress it will NOT be white because God knows a white dress won’t be able to be worn twice (and a bridal gown can’t be worn twice anyway, unless you manage to have the Project Runway contestants makeover your dress into a modern frock.)

How can anyone spend $3,000 or more on a dress to be worn one day? I dream of finding a used designer gown that’s still in perfect condition so at least I’ll get a decent price on a nice gown, but really, I know designer gowns still cost more than what I’d like to spend on a dress. The most I’ve ever spent on a garment is $460, which was my $600 leather jacket on sale. And I wear that basically every day.

I’ve been eying the designer Maggie Sottero who has some lovely dresses that I could see wearing on my wedding day. I’m short and pear-apple shaped, so finding a dress that is flattering will be beyond difficult (I can’t pull off strapless unless I go on a serious diet)… I wish I could pull off a dress like this but with my waist that would just not look good. From what I can tell, this designer’s gowns run more like $1k – $2k, which is still more than I’d like to spend. Honestly, do I even need a wedding gown? Can’t I just get a nice prom dress and call it a day?

How much did you spend (or expect to spend) on your wedding dress (or wife’s wedding dress)? Was it in your budget, or did you spend more (or less) than you wanted to? Did you get your dress on sale, or full price? Were you happy with your purchase?

I’ve Got $7 in my pocket…

I’m a person of extremes. I eat basically nothing, or, alternately, everything in site. I work my ass off and stay up all night to get projects done, perfectly, or I barely lift a finger. Same goes for my finances. It’s not the healthiest way of living, but it sure works a charm when I’m on the more positive end of it.

This month, I’ve been extremely frugal. Well, not in the sense of purchasing two pairs of jeans. One, my favorite brand, was on sale at the local mall for $100 and I couldn’t resist. I actually thought it was another style, which I realized it wasn’t, so I promptly went on eBay and bought a “slightly damaged” pair of the ones I actually wanted for $70. Given that the original pair I bought last year cost me $170 for one, I felt good about setting up this two-for-one designer jeans deal.

Regardless, that was really my only big spend in the past month. I’ve also been frugal about eating, in ways I probably shouldn’t be. I tend to go for as long as possible without buying food. Around the house, that’s fine, I still have some random frozen things and tuna. But I’m never home. At work, sometimes I’ll work straight through lunch, and live off the various snacks in the office. Lucky for me, at least my work provides some granola bar-type things. Still, not healthy for mealtime, but I survive.

I’ll be posting my January spending charts soon. Lately, I thought about making a goal to reach $50k in Net Worth by the end of the year. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s obtainable. I need to see what my Net Worth is after taxes this year, and then make a plan. I may not be in debt, but I can still live like I’m getting out of debt, so I can one day buy a house.

You Lose Some, You Win Some…

I’ve been “playing” this weird Bluefly.com sweepstakes game that involves… well, I’m not even sure what it involves really, but the point is that you can win “shopping sprees” on the site or the grande prize of a trip to the Project Runway finale. I admit, my initial interest in the contest was the main prize, but the thought of winning one of the smaller prizes intrigued me.

So I played the game. I clicked on the silly banner link they e-mailed to me every day for the past month (well, almost) and that took me to a flash game that made absolutely no sense and pretty much was a waste of my time. Well, today, I clicked on the link and… I didn’t even get to the “game”… I just saw a screen that said “Congratulations, You Won a $100 Bluefly Shopping Spree.”

According to the contest rules, I won “second prize.” Over the entire period of the contest, “NINETY (90) SECOND PRIZES (two (2) per day)” would be awarded. Not too shabby, and a nice ending to a rough day…

Awesome, I thought, but what’s the catch? (There’s ALWAYS a catch, right?)

It turns out there isn’t a catch, or at least I didn’t let myself fall for it. The majority of items on the site are well over the $100 I won, and it’s easy to want to buy multiple items because the shipping is “$7.65 for an order” of as many things as you want to buy. It seems this contest was rigged to give out this “prize” right after the Christmas shopping frenzy ended. Why not use this as a way to try to get shoppers to buy more of the items on the site?

Surely, I was tempted. After browsing through the site for a month I’m practically on a first-name basis with all the left-over designer items waiting the day when they will be adopted by fashion-forward savings feens. So it was tough to force myself to add just one item to my shopping cart and click purchase.

I settled on a fairly basic black cashmere shirt…

It’s cute, right? A little interesting poof on the sleeve so I felt like I was getting something a little unique for my “prize” money, but without buying something that I’m never going to wear just because I had the extra cash to spend. I really hate shopping online for clothes because it takes me hours to find things that fit in the store, and it’s a crap shoot at guessing what sizes in each designers specific measurements will fit my… uh… Rubenesque figure.

In the end, I spent an extra $26 that I didn’t expect to be spending this evening. On one hand, that’s kind of a dumb move, because I just spent $125 on Christmas gifts. But… it does feel good to get a $275 cashmere shirt for $26 (that’s including shipping). Here’s to hoping the shirt actually fits when it shows up!

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Labor Day Wrap Up

Investments: I’ve been avoiding checking my Vanguard accounts for a few days. My losses, however temporary, were too painful to look at on a daily basis. After checking a few minutes ago, I’m happy to report Wall Street’s latest recovery has brought my losses to an amount I can deal with.

Career: Has its ups and downs. My job is, quite frankly, amazing. I’m still not sure I’m right for it. Then again, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be “right” for anything that could be described as a “career” or a “job,” even. Figured out my biggest problem with my current job is not my inability to fact check properly (although that’s a huge problem that I’m going to fix, hopefully with the help of ADD meds that I might be getting this week), it’s my massive issue with social anxiety. It’s not ideal to be a journalist with social anxiety. Can I overcome my fear of talking to strangers? Can I find confidence in my intellect so I can stop spending my life apologizing for my errors and worrying about future ones, and focus on just doing a good job? Tune in next time…

Love: I’m lucky in love. I think. I’m just stressed out about life, overall, and that’s affecting my relationship. It isn’t fair to my boyfriend. He’s a great guy. I used to think that happiness meant being successful, ie, figuring out some way to lead a life that would make my parents go “wow.” Now that I realize this is impossible and/or unimportant, I’ve almost given up at that dream. Instead, I now understand that happiness in life is about the people who we meet along the way, especially the person (or people) who we love. I need to figure out how to live love. I’ve spent so much of my life finding security in the dramatic, and I’m tired of it. My parents’ relationship is a joke, despite that they’ve been married for more than 25 years. I’ve grown up to believe marriage is a joke as well. I’m not sure I still believe that. It’s odd that I can see myself one day having a husband and a family. It sounds really, really weird to hear myself think that. I’m not sure if my current boyfriend will be the guy I end up with forever, but I wouldn’t want to be able to foresee that clearly now anyway. On my Labor Day vacation, a bunch of strangers kept asking if we were married, or calling us husband and wife. It was weird. I still feel like I’m 16 years old, even though I’m really pushing 24. Geez, 24. You know, I hadn’t even thought about the significance of turning 24 until just now. That’s old. I mean, not old, old. But old enough that I’m no longer a young adult. I’m, well, an adult. Plain and simple. And I need to start living like one.

Sleep: Lacking. I need more sleep. Insomnia is destroying my already limited ability to focus and function properly.

Budget: Spent $125 on six pairs of shoes while on vacation. Yes, six. That includes California tax. Did I need six pairs of shoes? Probably not. But outlet stores plus a need for new shoes and finding shoes that actually fit me (a rarity) equals buying a lot of shoes. I find shoes are a worthwhile investment, especially if they’re good quality footwear sold at a relatively cheap price. At the Nine West outlet store, I actually bought a pair of shoes I already own. They are pretty gross right now and my gut instinct has told me throw them out for months. Finally, I found their replacement. The same exact pair, for $15 on a sale rack on extra sale. There is something orgasmic about walking into a shoe store that has a sale rack where prices are already marked down about 50 percent, and then there’s a giant sign that says “take 50 percent off already reduced prices.” Sometimes I think I could live on the thrill of buying $70-$100 shoes for $20.

Travel: Labor Day weekend in Tahoe was great. I felt bad that I ended up spending so little on the trip. My boyfriend’s father footed the bill for our motel and my bf covered most of the gas, so I ended up spending about $200 on the trip for food and a show. (And then I spent $125 on shoes (see above)). I’ve got a few upcoming trips that will pinch my wallet a bit… a roadtrip to LA coming up in a few weeks, and then I’m off to Miami for my childhood friend’s wedding. Overall I expect travel to cost me another $400-$500 over the next two months. My mother still wants me to take a trip to Vegas to visit my grandmother, but I’m not sure it makes sense to spend even more money on that. And then there’s the possibility of taking a trip home to the east coast for the holidays, though I might just not go home this year. There’s not much left for me there. Being around my parents, in my childhood home, just depresses me. It reminds me of all the things I’ve been trying so hard to get away from (and failing, but trying nonetheless).