Monday, July 20, 2009

Miscellaneous: Toodles!

In the words of excellent 80s band Europe, this is the final countdown! Tomorrow is my last day of work before the wedding, so this seems like a good time to bid you all a temporary farewell.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks with pictures of the big day and Honolulu. Until then, shop well and don't pay more than you have to!

Ma, Look What I Got: Hey, Shorty!

I'm a little distracted by today's episode of Maury--a 16-year-old boy is dating a 47-year-old woman (why doesn't somebody just call the police instead of a TV show?)--but I'll try to focus on the shopping.

At this time next week we'll be in Honolulu. I'm trying to avoid checking a bag because what if they lose it? Ideally, we'll get all of our stuff into a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, which means my clothes will have to mix and match. I did some last-minute neutral shorts hunting on Saturday:

I know I knocked J. Crew the other day, but they came through this time. These shorts are $39.50 at at If you go to the outlet store, they're hangin' out on the clearance rack for $19.97, plus an additional 30% off. I paid $13.98 for them.

The only discernable difference between the "real" shorts and the "knockoff" kind is the fabric trim on the inside of the waistband, which nobody is going to see anyway, unless you wear them inside out. (And if you do, you probably have bigger problems than finding beachwear.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Miscellaneous: STOP THAT.

You guys, time-travel is a serious thing. It shouldn't be attempted unless you know what you're doing, as we have learned from Back to the Future. Apparently, the folks at Nine West got their hands on Doc Brown's Delorean, because they're advertising from mid-November:

This is one huge problem I've always had with the retail sector. Yes, the holidays are the biggest money-makers for stores, but do we need to be reminded about them in JULY? Back off, Nine West! I suffer though long enough winters in Chicago without you rushing me through my summer.

If you would be so kind, zap yourself back to the present and put that on hold until after Halloween. I'm sure Doc Brown will appreciate having his car back, anyway.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Make the Investment: Jeans

(New category! Who's excited?!)

Jeans are tricky. It doesn't matter if you're Heidi Klum, you've had bad luck finding jeans that fit at some point. Once, when I was in high school, I tried on a pair of jeans and they were tight in the knees. Another time they were tight in the waist, yet baggy in the pelvis. A lot of times, they're just too short (which totally puzzles me, since I'm pretty sure the police would have something to say if tall people just stopped wearing pants).

I did have a go-to brand (Arizona), but after a few years the company decided that "long" actually meant "to my ankles" and I was left in the cold. In retrospect I'm glad it happened because I'm much happier with Express:

Look at the model's feet. She's wearing HEELS. Shorter people take that for granted, but I was never able to wear heels with jeans until I bought these. The long version gives me 35" of leg fabric to work with, whereas most stores cap their long lengths at 34".

They're not horribly expensive, either, at $59.50. I'd be willing to pay even more, which brings me to my point. The quest for the perfect pair can make one beat one's head against a wall, so when you find what works for you, get it. Right now. This is a VERY RARE exception to the rule of getting it on sale. Jeans have become such a staple that it's okay to make the investment, especially if you wear them everyday.

P.S. To save you the trouble of a self-inflicted head injury, I recommend trying Express; they have jeans for various body types. Mia and Zelda are for gangletons like me, Stella is a "regular" fit (whatever that is), and Eva is for those with an hourglass figure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the Cheap: Do you have the time?

I wear a watch everyday. My fiance does not. He wore one when we first started dating, but then decided it was "too young" for a college graduate, so now it collects dust on his phone-holder. He's spent about a year looking for something new. (This happens. It took him a year and a half to buy a new TV.)

Anyway, he found one he likes at Fossil.

I like the price: $95, plus a sweet 11-year warranty. I also like that he'll stop asking me what time it is every three minutes.

THIS watch, on the other hand, is $595 and makes no mention of a warranty. Which probably means there isn't one.

It's Swiss and features something called a "tachymeter," which just makes me think "tracheotomy." You could probably get the surgery performed for about the same price.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Miscellaneous: Twitter

I caved. I joined Twitter. You can "follow" me here.

Can I just comment on how creepy their terminology is? You FOLLOW people. When I was in high school, I had a weird guy follow me around for a while. I caught him driving by my house a few times (which was extra spooky since we lived on a dead-end street) and then he wrote me a bunch of poems. And then he asked me on a date and seemed really confused when I said no.

Anyway, I'm on there. No poems, please.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On the Cheap: Plain and Simple

Dear J. Crew,

I saw something about you on TV this weekend. You apparently got a new CEO five or six years ago who snapped his fingers and magically re-structured the company. This has caused you to out-sell everybody (including your FOE, the Gap). In fact, I recently bought my first item from you--a tank top for $9.99, marked down from $35--and I've been very happy with it. Nicely done.

Unfortunately, there's a problem.

You see, I'm not going to pay $69.50 for that when I know Target sells something similar for $24.99.

Sorry, J. Crew. You lose.



Go Retro: Purple People Eater

After two U.G.L.Y. posts, let's do something pretty. I'm not usually so adventurous with my clothes, but this is fierce:

Maybe I was born in the wrong generation. I like dresses from back in the day a lot more than the vomit factories of 2009. Sigh. Oh well.

The Lady in Purple here is from Viva Vintage Clothing costs a very reasonable $85.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On the Cheap: Hi, my name is...

Oh, Neiman Marcus. You are TOO MUCH. Literally.

That, my friends, is a personalized sterling silver charm. Perhaps "silver" is a typo and they actually mean "historical relic," because it shouldn't be $250 otherwise. And don't think you get the whole necklace for that price. Nope, the chain is another $115. And if you want a gemstone accent, that'll set you back another $35-$70.

Let's get away from that foolishness. Here's the same thing from MetalPressions for $30:

It includes the chain and a freshwater pearl accent is only $5.

I was wondering what could have deluded the NM people into thinking silver is worth that much, but then I remembered that these are the same people who put a feather-light titanium motorcycle in their last Christmas catalogue. Because that's totally smart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rules to Shop By #2: Use Coupons!

I feel like coupons are the red-haired stepchildren of the retail sector: You either put up with searching for them because you have to, or you ignore them completely. However, I've had luck using coupons and I feel like the poor guys deserve some love.

It's true that nobody likes rifiling through the Sunday paper to save 50 cents on a box of Kleenex. I'd rather watch Throwdown than spend an hour picking through dirty newsprint, which is why I'm so glad a lot of grocery stores have phased out traditional coupons. Instead, they offer special value cards, like the Preferred Customer card at Jewel, or the Fresh Values card at Dominick's/Safeway. They still send out weekly fliers, but instead of including coupons to cut out, they only inform you of the deals so you just prance into the store with your card and get all the sale prices. You'd be silly not to get one.

Traditional coupons still exist and are emailed a lot these days, but people are really down on giving out their email addresses. I understand, you don't want your inbox full of spam. But guess what? Stores don't send me spam, they send me coupons! How terrible. You shouldn't give your email to everybody (because that's when the spam comes to life), but give it to the stores you shop at a lot. For example, I'm on the Borders mailing list. They send me weekly coupons and sale lists; I haven't paid full-price for a book in years.

Finally, having a credit card through certain stores guaruntees you coupons. For obvious reasons, avoid opening credit accounts willy-nilly and stick to places you shop the most. At our house, we get Banana Republic and Macy's coupons via snail mail because we're cardholders. And they're pretty substantial amounts, like an additional 20 or 30% off. Some stores, including the Banana and Macy's, offer special discounts for cardholders, which essentially turns the card itself into a coupon. If you have a couple (and only a couple!) of stores you shop at a lot, you might want to consider opening an account to save money on stuff you're going to buy, anyway.

So instead of getting cranky about coupons, look at them as little paper friends who can turn an ordinary shopping day into a sale day.

Miscellaneous: Accio movie!

Not that I've had a countdown going for months or anything, but the next Harry Potter movie comes out a week from today. It premiered last night in London and everybody decided to be SULLEN:

Bored faces aside, I'm glad Rupert Grint finally wore a real suit. Granted, you can kind of see his pink underwear poking out the top of his pants, but I'll overlook it since he's in real clothes. Also, Dan Radcliffe's jacket features a toggle(!) in place of buttons. I hope that trend doesn't catch on.

I'm seeing The Half-Blood Prince at midnight and I hear tickets are selling especially fast for this one, so if you plan on going then, too, you might want to make your purchase before you get stuck at a 3 a.m. show.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Go Retro: Garden Party

Nobody dresses up anymore. Even for special occasions like a holiday or a party, people think they can just show up in a pair of jeans and everything will be hunky-dory. I'm not sure when it happened, but as a mental defense to this phenomenon I've developed an elaborate fantasy about going to a garden party in a foofy dress.

Maybe someday after I mysteriously inherit (or win) a bunch of money, I can rent out the Gardens of Versailles and show up in this. Tres chic! Sadly, the dress will have to remain in my imagination, too, because it's for somebody with a 24-inch waist. (I've never met such a person, by the way.) I found it on Ebay, and the auction ends too soon to post the link, but the "store" has other affordable things with new auctions weekly.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Miscellaneous: Happy 4th!

So, this picture is larger than I anticipated.

But I'll take it as a sign that today will be large on fun.

(Don't forget to wear sunscreen!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous: Hide from the Sun

Call me crazy, but being sunburned isn't my idea of a good time. What with the pain, and the peeling, and the increased odds of skin cancer. Since it's a holiday weekend, a lot of people, including yours truly, are going to be outside. This would be a good time to invest in some sunscreen.

This is what I use. You may think the SPF 45 is overkill, but I'd prefer not to be a wrinkled hag anytime soon. (Think skimping on SPF won't matter? I ran into a girl I knew in high school a few months ago. She was always into tanning beds, and apparently still is, because she looked like she was about 30. Not that 30 is old, but I don't think you want to look 3o when you're 23. At least I don't.) I'm seeing less of the SPF 4 or 8, anyway. Maybe that's a sign to up your skin protection, eh?

Neutrogena is sold just about everywhere, but I've found the lowest prices at Target.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: Work Appropriate

I love a good peep toe.

The fiance bought these for me last night. (I was going to wear them today, but it's 65 and rainy when it should be 90. Whatever, Mother Nature.) The original price was $39.50, which seems a little steep for something so... basic. Apparently, other people agreed with me because now they're marked down. lists them for $14.99 but if you make a trip to a store, you might find them for $10 like we did. Plus, no shipping!