How to save $2,500 in 3 hours or less

(Or how to spend $375 in the same amount of time. It’s all about perspective, really.)

Not too long ago, I was lamenting about how I was so uninspired about shopping. My only purchase during the post-Christmas sales was a plastic container for storing muffins. And maybe some hair ties. And get this —

They weren’t even on sale.

Well, one absolutely amazing sample sale later, and I am happy to report that I have made significant progress. Enormous strides… leaps, even!

It happened about 2 weeks ago, and on that sunny Thursday afternoon, I bought (wait for it………):

  • 7 Jigsaw/David Lawrence dresses @ $40 each, usually between $279 and $399 RRP
  • 3 Jigsaw skirts @ $25 each, usually between $179 and $199 RRP
  • 1 David Lawrence blouse @ $20 each, usually $149 RRP

The sale was held by Webster Holdings around their HQ in Waterloo, so Marcs samples were also available but I didn’t manage to pick any up.  No insider info about when the next sale is on, I’m afraid…

Also unfortunately, as with all sample sales there can be casualties. In this case, a parking ticket (not mine, but hopefully the cops will forget to process it!) and some missing fabric.

Can you spot which of the items I bought has a chunk of material missing?

Jigsaw floral watercolor dress

Jigsaw floral pleated dress

Jigsaw Purple textured floral skirt

Jigsaw blue tiger print dress

David Lawrence white silk shirt with black trim

Jigsaw Purple spot dress

Jigsaw ethnic print dress

Jigsaw Renaissance floral dress

Jigsaw Orange white crosshatch full skirt

David Lawrence Kelly green bow front dress

Jigsaw oriental print full skirt

(Answer: It’s this one.)

Advertisements

Choices, choices, choices (and a review of J.Crew skirts)

The thing about shopping online is that your exposed to a lot of choice. That’s definitely one of the perks for me, because the search for a perfect tan saddle bag (or insert desired item) can seem endless when you’re looking in person. And it’s just so inefficient, with needing to walk in and out of shops, driving in and out of shopping centres? Really, so last century.

But what to do when you’re not looking for the perfect one, but just something you like and more than one catches your eye?

Sometimes you just gotta buy ’em all.

This is the story of how I ended up with 4 new skirts from J.Crew in the space of around 2 weeks.

J Crew skirts

After comparing my new goodies with the 2 I bought while in the US, I realised something odd: they all fit perfectly but ranged from a size 2 to a 6P (US sizing).  Weird, no?

Ok, perhaps that’s a little misleading — of course I knew I had ordered different sizes, and of course I did so purposely after looking at reviews and the like.  Here are some tips so that you too can hopefully order the right size on the first go:

  • I’d say a regular 4 in J.Crew translates to a AU8-10 for Country Road, Witchery, Saba etc.
  • The No. 2 pencil skirt, both the cotton and wool versions, for some reason runs large even for J.Crew sizing, so I would size down again
  • The cut of the Sterling Skirt is supposedly A-line but is really only 1-2cm wider than the No. 2 pencil skirt on each side at the hem
  • Go one size up if you’re getting a petite size, e.g. a regular size 2 is similar to a 4P.  In fact, I could tell no difference between the 2 and 4P for the No. 2 pencil skirt

But at the end of the day, sometimes you’ve just got to take the leap.  If it helps, even though J.Crew has gotten rid of their free shipping and free returns to Australia option (i.e. risk-free shopping), shipping now is only a flat rate of $10.  Really, isn’t that just 3 coffees in the grand scheme of things?  And returns are still free!

 

Cyber Monday Sales 2012

I’ve been lamenting to anyone who will listen that I’m rather underwhelmed by this year’s Black Friday sales. Le sigh and le big sad face. After an exciting order of two bags from Shopbop last Wednesday, I’ve been in a state of indecision and nothing’s really inspired me to click that “submit order” button. Main issue? The deals just weren’t quite at the level that I remembered from last year.

Luckily, Cyber Monday is here!  And I’m happy to report that stores are giving something just a little extra than they did at the Black Friday sales (but some just changed their codes).

Most of these are one day offers and only valid with US shipping:

Codes: 

  • Origins – $10 off orders of $25 plus free shipping with code TENOFF
  • J. Crew – still 25% off everything with the code MONDAY
  • J. Crew Factory – was 40% off everything, now 50% off everything with the code YOURGIFT
  • Loft – was 40% off everything (then 40% off selected items only), now 50% off everything with the code TODAYONLY
  • Ann Taylor – was 40% everything… still 40% off everything with the code MONDAY
  • Banana Republic, GAP, Old Navy – was 25% off storewide, now 30% off storewide with the code CYBER
  • Piperlime – still 20% off with the code CYBER
  • Urban Outfitters – $15 off $75 with the code SUPERCYBER

No code necessary:

My favorite of the bunch is this Kate Spade tote (was $425, now $199).  The only way this could be better if it was half the size!

A good friend also alerted me to a Chloe Marcie bag – small in nubuck leather which is newly marked down from $1,895 to $1,136 on Nordstrom… tempting, but I’m still holding out for the mini version!

Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sales 2012

My absolute favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, which may sound weird as we don’t celebrate it here in Australia.  The end of November brings joy and happiness a-plenty, because it is followed by the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year in the US and, by extension through the world wide web, the rest of the world as well.

Unfortunately it also breeds a bit of silly behavior — case in point: today I turned down dinner with a good friend with the response “Um I can’t!! Black Friday sales have started and I must go home and shop!!!!!! Raincheck?”

(Number of exclamation marks are as per original text.)

(She seemed to understand.)

Anyway, after several hours of scouring the beginnings of the sale, I thought I’d report back with my favorite finds.  Unfortunately most of the deals I like are US shipping only, so I’m still working on the logistics and whether it’s worth going through a mail forwarder this time around…

Of course there are plenty more sales going on, and I might add them as I go along.  Or I might not.  You know, could be too busy shopping. 😉

****

Added 22 November 2012

Shopbop – Spend $250, save 20%; Spend $500, save $25%, Spend $1000, save 30%; Spend $1500, save 35% with code BIGEVENT12. Offer ends November 26.  Free worldwide shipping.

I’d say shopbop has the best deal at the moment because it’s a sitewide discount, but things are selling out likely crazy so I hope you have a wishlist ready to go!  Tip: if something is sold out, it might just be reserved in someone else’s cart.  Check back in half an hour and it might be yours!

I was eyeing these turquoise Salvatore Ferragamo Varina flats literally 2 hours before the sale started, and by the time I woke up the next morning to see the sale notification, my size had already sold out.  Oh well.  It’s probably for the best — my red pair is still in its box in pristine condition.

Anthropologie – extra 25% of sale. Ends November 25. $25 flat rate shipping to Australia.

My wishlist items are already out of stock, so I’m holding out to see if anything else goes on sale.  I have this pleated skirt in the “maybe” list.

Last Call by Neiman Marcus – extra 40% off sale.  Ends November 22.  US shipping only — international orders can be placed by phone, but no information about shipping costs.

These Chloe sunglasses are down to $71.40, and I’m tempted to snap them up even though I already have a similar pair!  It’s always good to have a back up, no?

J. Crew: 25% off your entire purchase with code COLOR25; free shipping on $150+. Ends November 25.  US shipping only, as the promo doesn’t apply to the Australian site.

J. Crew Factory: 40% off everything, and extra 15% off when spending $100+, with code GIVEANDGET.  Ends November 25.  US shipping only.

Been eyeing the Copley Saddlebag for the longest time, but I recently acquired a butterscotch colored saddle bag so it’s probably a bit early for a neon persimmon version as well.  Not to mention 2 even more recently acquired bags which are yet to arrive….!

Madewell – 25% off everything with the code TREAT. Ends November 26.  US shipping only.

I really like J. Crew’s more casual cool sister, and their silk shirts are always nice to wear.  I have last year’s version of this solid silk boyshirt.

Loft – 40% off everything with the code ENJOY. Offer is on for a “limited time”. US shipping only.

Ann Taylor – 40% off full-price items and 25% off sale items, use the code THANKS.  Again, offer is on for a “limited time”. US shipping only.

Sparkly block heels!  I’ve been planning on the DIY for months now, but maybe I should just buy a ready-made pair?

 

Added 23 November 2012

SSENSE – markdowns and free worldwide shipping with code FREESHIPWW.  Limited time only.

A Proenza Schouler PS11 for US$1365… to buy or not to buy? I decided to not buy, or at least wait until I boosted the non “cross body bag wth structured shape and a flap” part of my bag collection.

Beautybay – 20% of your purchase with free international shipping, no code needed.  Black Friday (Nov 23) offer only.  Seems to be a good place to pick up Nails Inc polish for £7.96, or Parlux hairdryer for £52.45.

Saks Fifth Avenue – General markdowns, plus $10.95 USD Express Shipping to Hong Kong and Australia on orders of $250 USD or more with code: HOLIDAY1. Ends November 26.

Barneys New York – Sale on now, plus complimentary international shipping on orders of $200 or more. Limited time only.

How cute is this Alexander Wang Rockie Duffle bag, was $725 and now $439?

Neiman Marcus – further 20% off sale, ends November 24. $19.95 express shipping to selected countries.

Flannels Fashion – 20% off full price stock with the code GIFT20, exclusions apply. Shipping to Australia is £45.  I haven’t bought anything from here myself, but it says advertised prices include VAT, and they’ll take off the VAT when sending to Australia.

Urban Outfitters – general markdowns.  Shipping to Australia is $5, with free shipping for orders over $50.

While it’s not really my style, how interesting is this stingray clutch?

 

Benefit Cosmetics – up to 3 free gifts with order: spend $30 and get free BADgal lash mascara mini; $60 and also get a FREEdeluxe the porefessional mini; spend $90 and also get a deluxesugarbomb mini.  Enter STAYCATION at checkout.  Offer valid through November 25.

Revolve clothing – Spend and save offer, valid to November 26.  Shipping to Australia is $10, or free for orders over $100.

Banana Republic – 40% off your purchase with the code BRFRIDAY, valid November 23 only.  Ships to Australia using FiftyOne Global, which is generally weight-based.

Piperlime – 20% off storewide with the code ME. Ends November 26.  Same umbrella as Banana Republic and Gap, so you can combined the order to save (maybe) on shipping

Gap – 20% off purchase with the code GAPGIFT.  Ends November 23.

Bag Crushes, Oh My!

I’m a “small bag” person.  Given the choice between a carry-all which fits the largest make up bag in the world, and a miniature version of the carry-all, I’d pick the miniature version any day.

Of course, small bags mean that you’ve got a choice of either bringing your wallet, keys and phone or an umbrella, so a good weather app is absolutely essential.  I use something called Weather+ (currently on sale for 99c), and it’s been known to predict rain to the hour.

Unfortunately, even my trusty weather app failed me this evening, and I found myself doing a mad dash through the rain and to the car with A Small Bag and No Umbrella.

Once I got home and dried off my bag, my shoes and then myself, I vowed to turn a new leaf and to choose that more practical carry all that can fit my wallet, keys, phone and umbrella.  Maybe a bottle of water and a book.  Perhaps even a change of clothes and some toiletries.  Who knows what people normally bring in those big bags, I suppose the possibilities are endless.

After a short search, this Jil Sander Sporty Madame leather tote seemed to fit the bill.  I do like the frame bag style, and the size is very… er, practical.

@ Net-A-Porter for £1,140.56 / Saks for US$1,590

But then!! I saw these ridiculously cute miniature version of the Chloe Marcie and Paraty bags!  How can an inanimate object be so cute?!

Saks Fifth Avenue for US$1,195

Saks Fifth Avenue for US$1,395

And so the leaf flipped again.  Ah well, the heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose.

Shopping Bans: The Uncut Version

Remember how I wrote about my 5 tips on how to get through a shopping ban? Well, I have a confession to make.

So, I love ASOS. It’s hard not to, with their cheap and cheerful clothes, free shipping to Australia, and abundant further discount codes.  When they launched their Australian website a while back, I was very concerned that they might inflate prices for us and market it as Good News (*cough*j.crew*cough*), but I was very happy to note that the Australian ASOS website was more about defaulting viewing options (like currency and sizing) more than forcing different prices.

What I did love though was their new local returns. Does this mean I now buy heaps of stuff knowing full well that I will return most of it and only lose out around $8 per return?

You know it. Case in point: I just ordered 4 pair of jeans in varying floral and heart prints.

 

And yes, for those with an eye for detail and who cannot be distracted by the mere mention of yet another mass purchase, you’ll notice that I said per return and not per order or per item. And yes, that’s obviously an incentive to buy heaps and not return until there’s a huge box such as this one:

 

So how does this relate to my shopping ban? Well, when I said that I had “shopping credits” from pre-ban returns (handy hint #3), I actually meant these ASOS orders which I only got around to sending back… last week. Even though I spent the shopping credits in February.

I’m pretty sure big companies do their books like this all the time.

I’ve now also worked out that my actual “shopping credits” were $420, of which I only spent maybe $80.

So either I actually made money during the shopping ban (a truly mind blowing outcome… must revisit this concept), or I’m still in credit and have an extra $340 to spend this weekend.

My math skills are awesome.

New York and the Near-Death Experience: A Review of the Affinia Shelburne Hotel

The first day in New York was ridiculously hectic.  I had recommended the Affinia Shelburne Hotel to my travel buddies, after my fabulous stay there in 2010. “It’s really clean and they give you free nail polish remover towelettes!” I said.

(Photo is from the Affinia website, but other than that tray of fruit, it’s pretty true to life)

It was unfortunate, however, that their first impression was of this gooey thing in the shower which looked like it was either alive, or would come to life while we were sleeping:

But they give you free nail polish remover towelettes!” I was thinking.

Potential unwanted roommates aside though, we actually had a very busy schedule for that afternoon so we quickly asked reception for a new room and then split like a banana.

While my travel buddies went to the Rockefeller Center to pick up our New York Explorer Pass (which I totally recommend if you’re planning to check out a lot of the tourist attractions), I headed to the Banana Republic store in SoHo, where the lovely international man from Boston had arranged for my collarless red coat to be put on hold for me:

After regrouping (a.k.a. a bit of pre-Woodbury scouting/research), we all returned to the hotel where the receptionist was very apologetic about the bathroom goo, and said that they would need to shut that room down for cleaning but could offer us an upgrade, which was very exciting.

But wait, what was that machine in our new room which looked like it could be an explosive? Bombs don’t usually plug into the wall, right??  Was it really safe to take a photo, and was there some type of bomb waves causing this blurry photo?  I don’t know.

Travel buddy 1:  Wait, let’s all stay calm, it’s ok as long as there isn’t a timer on it.

Travel buddy 2: ….but there’s a timer on it!!! And it’s on!!!

Me: (as we are in the lift) Should we have moved our bags? I don’t want that thing to blow up and damage our stuff.

Random lady in lift: (concerned, after eavesdropping) Er, what’s in your room?  And you’re on which level?

Receptionist: Oh, that’s just a machine we use to dry the carpet after cleaning. We’ll send someone to remove it right away.

…And so that concluded the brief drama we had at the Affinia Shelburne, which for the record I still say is an amazing boutique hotel that is value for money.

Quick review:  4 stars.

As well as being modern/clean/safe (these are my prerequisites), there were a couple of things I really appreciated from my 2 stays there:

  • Friendly service and quick to solve problems (see long winded story above)
  • Great value for money in comparison to other similar hotels, plus they have extended stay discounts
  • Fantastic views from the rooftop bar
  • You could get online shopping delivered to your room!
  • Staff don’t bat an eyelid if you return after every day (or after every breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack) with gigantic shopping bags
  • Great Thanksgiving dinner in the Rare Bar & Grill downstairs
  • Choose your pillow from the Dream Pillow Menu
  • Coin laundry located in the basement

I only wish they were closer to the subway — it’s about a 5-10 minute walk from Grand Central, which is nothing until you factor in the many many trips to drop off shopping bags. But given the amount of food we ate, this was probably a blessing in disguise…

And yes, they did still give free nail polish remover towelettes.