Category Archives: Money-Wasting

Stuff That Works For Me, Part 1: The BCBGeneration Milla Satchel

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So.

I gave in to my lust for a designer handbag.

It could definitely have been a ridiculous thing. It could have been a mistake, a complete waste of money that I absolutely cannot afford to waste.

I’m still cringing over the fact that I gave into my desires, given my precarious financial situation. But give in I did. And for the first time in like, three years, I have no buyer’s remorse whatsoever.

Before I go any further, let me insert a disclaimer here: the only reason I have no buyer’s remorse is because I a) saw the item in person before I bought it (no online purchase here, for once); b) carried it around the store, torn over the price (which was severely discounted only because it was the last one in the store); c) put it back regretfully; d) obsessed over it, looking it up, price-checking, researching the brand; and e) finally went back ten days later, praying it was still there.

It was. (Miracle, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight??? $108.00 handbag for $31.99? Shooooooot. )

And that bag, in case the title didn’t tip you off, is the BCBGeneration Milla, in the pewter color.

It is not only adorable and satchel-y and doctor-bag-like and designer and trendy, it is the perfect bag for my needs. It’s very roomy, but not at all bulky or awkward. It actually looks a lot smaller than it is (always cool as far as I’m concerned). In addition to the flipover top, it zips completely from side to side. There is a huge interior, with two small holders inside(I use them for my phone and camera) a zippered interior pocket, and a zipperless outer pocket with an opening just
underneath the buckle.

It has an old-timey, doctor-bag/school satchel look to it. Also, be aware that it looks so much better in person than any online photo gives it credit for. In all the photos, it just kind of looks like a fat, lumpy, regular purse with a sky-high degree of “ho-hum”. I have the pewter color (it also comes in black and bronze), which is darker and much more neutral than you’d think. While it doesn’t go with everything, it matches very well with any color in the cooler spectrum. (Not that it matters to me. Come summer, I’ll be toting this puppy with my neon-pink tank top and day-glo shorts. But I know that relatively few people care less than I do.) Throw on a dark coat or pants, and
you’re set.

For the record, I typically carry a digital camera, planner, a book or two, a sketchpad, notebook, pens/pencils, Bamboo tablet, mini netbook, and a handful of miscellaneous items with no visible strain. It would also probably work as a small overnight bag, depending on what you packed. (But who’d use a designer purse as an overnight bag, right? I mean, besides me.)

As alluded to earlier, I got this item 65% off due to a combination of a pricing error and it already being on sale because it was the last one, of any color, in the store. That said, after owning it for
a while, I believe it’s worth retail (not that I would’ve been able to afford it then, but it’s still worth the price). It’s strong, very well-made, with tight double-stitched seams, and very sturdy in addition to the aesthetic appeal I have not lauded enough. I have no complaints. The Milla is definitely recommended. If you ever have reason to buy one, I hope it works for you, because it definitely worked for me. Because of it, I am officially a BCBGeneration fan. Way to go, expensive labels, seducing girls who have no money to spend.

Romy Inc., WHAT do I Have to DO to You to Make Your Clothes Last MORE Than Four Days?

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I am a naive person. Not incurably, intolerably, dangerously so. I just have this tendency to assume that whenever something is unsatisfactory, or disappointing, or otherwise unpleasant—say, Modcloth.com’s selection of incredibly adorable, hideously overpriced, ridiculously flimsy clothes–that it’s bad, and when it’s unusually bad, like Modcloth, there’s just not going to be much else that is as bad. (For the record, color me stupid but I’m a frequent buyer on Modcloth. I can’t stay away.) How many stores carrying incredibly adorable, hideously overpriced, ridiculously flimsy merchandise can one floundering economy support?

As it turns out, at least two.

I have the same sort of disgusted adoration for Romy (http://www.romystyle.com) that, until recently, I reserved for Modcloth.  It makes sense. Browsing their online showroom, or popping in at one of their boutiques, is enough to give anyone the sneaking suspicion that they probably source clothes from the same places as Modcloth.  (If this is true, though, Romy gets the unbranded merchandise, while Modcloth has the go-ahead to use labels.)

Moving on.

It’s pretty easy to see through Romy’s gimmicks. The first time I saw a store, I was thrilled with the screaming red and yellow signs that read, “Everything 50% off!” Very cool, yeah?

Well, not passing any judgment here, but a year later, everything, in every store, is still 50% off. This kind of reminds me of a bit in some movie (I think it was “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan”, but I’m probably wrong) where the owner of some electronics shop has big “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS, EVERYTHING ON SALE….” and has had these same signs up more or less since he took up shop. Anyway, I’m digressing majorly here.

Every time I walk through Romy, or even just past a window display, I fall in love. About every four times I fall in love, I buy. And given the wider availability and more immediate gratification of Romy, I end up buying from them a lot more often than I buy from Modcloth.

With one exception, I’m disappointed every time. (The exception is a black skirt that I’ve since skinnied myself out of. Shame, actually. It’s a really nice skirt. Also, it came off the clearance rack. Miss Bean for the win times two….minus the twenty or so losses she’s sustained meanwhile, leaving her with a rough score of -18. Whoops.) Romy carries some of the prettiest, girliest, most feminine, modest pieces. So many of them are gorgeous. Florals, pastels, flowing skirts, lace, ribbons, sashes, and on and on and on and on. They are so PRETTY and they ACTUALLY LOOK GOOD ON YOU! I’ve never actually bought anything at Romy that looked bad on me. Even the camisole that I accidentally bought in the wrong size (like, four sizes too small size) looked decent. The only problem I’ve ever had with the fit is, inexplicably, on one gorgeous little blouse, the arm-holes were like…miniscule. Insanely small. To the point where they don’t even look like they match the rest of the shirt.

Yes…they are so pretty. And even though they’re not dirt-cheap in terms of pricing, I bought a skirt, two undershirts, a sweater, and two blouses for around $68.  It all sounds so good…

Til the loose threads start to cascade.

I don’t know. I don’t get it. They are SO flimsy. SO poorly-made. SO cheap.

But—

With florals and lace and ribbons and sashes and pastels and flowing skirts…what are we supposed to do? Well, okay, most of you will probably (rightly) turn your noses up and seek your wardrobe elsewhere. So I’ll rephrase:

What am I supposed to do?!?

Even when the clothes fall apart in four days. Even when they forget to give me my $10 gift card no matter how much money I spend. Even when their sale is a hoax. Even when the dressing room is partitioned off from the store by a frigging curtain. Even when the website is riddled with grammatical errors.

I’m hopeless. It’s kind of sad. But I like to think it’s kind of funny, too.

No “Battle Angel” Because of “Avatar?!!!!!!!!!!!”

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I hate James Cameron.

 

I’ve never had particularly strong feelings toward James Cameron before. “Titantic” was okay, “Alien” and all the sequels were AMAAAAAAAAZING (some more so than others, but I think it’s totally fair to shove them all under the “Amazing” heading). “The Abyss” was incredible, and ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day” didn’t lack (even the Frankenstein-esque turnabout of the Terminator worked, which is a miracle in and of itself.)

 

“Avatar”–and tear me apart if you want–was a flat, unemotional take on a very old template. The graphics were mind-blowing, yes. But if “Speed Racer” and “Van Helsing” (I did like “Van Helsing” more than it deserved, by the way) taught me anything, it’s that graphics are a worthless tool if they are the main focus of a feature. Graphics and special effects are supportive. Like any supportive item, they need a foundation. It should go without saying that a story is the backbone of any film.

And “Avatar” lacked it. Poor “Avatar.” It has flawless skin, piercing eyes, straight white teeth, lustrous hair–and no spine. All that would-be beauty just kind of melds into a formless puddle. Oh so sad.

Now, I don’t hate James Cameron for “Avatar.” Everyone screws up. It was inexcusable on the part of the studio to advertise “Avatar” as the “greatest adventure of all time” or whatever it was. But then, 85% of the films out today have that tagline or something similar. So. “Avatar” wasted a 3 1/2 hour chunk of my life that I will never ever ever ever ever ever return. But so did “Speed Racer”. There’s nobody to blame but myself. I get that.

What I don’t get is why there is a sequel.

What is NOT my fault is that there will be TWO sequels.

Jeez Maria cross me twice, TWO.

TWO sequels for an emotionally bankrupt film about stereotypical noble savage aliens that have ferret faces and splotchy blue skin.

TWO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is unforgivable is that Cameron will be putting off an adaptation of “Battle Angel: Alita” for TWO sequels for an emotionally bankrupt film about stereotypical noble savage aliens that have ferret faces and splotchy blue skin.

I’m not going to go into the plot for “Battle Angel.” All you have to do is Google it. It sounds awesome. The manga surely was (is). Done correctly, it would be a fantabulous film. Blockbuster proportions epic sci-fi thriller. Millions of dollars in profit. With the right advertising, the revenue would be incredible.

Don’t get me wrong. I know “Avatar” will bring in the bucks. Ridiculous sequels for undeserving blockbusters always do. But COME ON. The absolute SOONEST “Battle Angel” would go into preproduction is 2016. (And it probably won’t even happen then.)

AND ALL BECAUSE OF “AVATAR”.

Jeez Maria cross me thrice, “Avatar” is directly interfering with the production of much better films. It’s tragic. And James Cameron doesn’t care. He prefers stereotypical noble savage aliens with ferret faces and blue splotchy skin.

Three times in a row, apparently.

THREE.

My only revenge are the paltry following acts: I will never own a copy of the film of, or soundtrack to, “Avatar” or any of its sequels. No costumes or clothing or toys or other merchandise. And I will NOT be wasting 6-7 more hours of my life watching the sequels. “Avatar”, we are done. If only you hadn’t been emotionall bankrupt. And full of blue ferret faces. And bad acting. And unimaginative writing. Then maybe we could’ve had something special.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Here’s Something You Should Buy. It’s Awesome. I Promise.

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Okay, I just want to share that The Body Shop’s Spa Wisdom Africa Ximenia and Salt Scrub works fantastically for me. I have very, very dry skin that. Granted, I haven’t experimented a lot with body washes. In fact, I only got this one because it came free with my order.

And I am SO glad I got it!

It isn’t as rough as other salt scrubs I’ve tried. The smell is gorgeous–cool, airy and floral, very subtle yet just noticeable enough. You don’t need very much at all per wash, so it does last a long time. (It took me a couple tries, though–I used WAY too much the first time around!) Also, my skin was soft and perfectly smooth.  This scrub has shea butter in it, which would explain that. It works as well as a lotion, and almost as well as body butter. In fact, after I use this scrub, I often don’t even need a lotion afterward.

Again, I’m not too keen on the price. $28 for 13.5 ounces is two dollars an ounce. Regardless of how well it works, I think that’s pretty steep. I’d say I wish I knew how small it was before I bought it, but I got it for free, so I can’t complain =)Also, it’s 100% fair trade, so actually, it is worth the full price. Smooth, moisturized skin, amazing scent, shea butter, fair trade–you probably can’t do better.

Overall, it’s worth it. I just hate spending money. But I didn’t this time, so I should shut up. Just saying,  if you qualify for a free Spa Wisdom item with your order, pick this one!

Modcloth, I Love You. So Why Do You Suck?

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I am a sucker for clothes. Show me tulle, sparkles, big flowy skirts, sweetheart necklines, sequins, ribbons, or any of a hundred other features, and chances are, I’m sold.

Now, I don’t know if this holds true for everyone. But I have a tough time finding clothes I love, for a price I can afford. As it is, I spend too much money on clothes, so whenever I can find a bargain, I’m thrilled. (You’re reading the work of a veteran thrift store shopper, by the way.) It doesn’t change the fact that I routinely end up with thirty-two cents in my bank account. But plus thirty-two cents is better than negative forty dollars. Anyway, I digress. Defending stupid spending habits never got anybody anywhere they wanted to be.

Part of my problem finding affordable clothes is that I invariably go for a look. Most of the time, I don’t give a thought to quality, as long as the dress/shirt/skirt/pants/unmentionables is adorable. This in itself is a recipe for disaster.

You’re probably arguing right now, “Hey, stupid, you can find adorable, cheap clothes lots of places.” This is true. But I can’t just go for cute. Lacy little frocks and dainty skirts don’t do it. I need brocade, embroidery, shininess, bows, sashes, pleats, asymmetry…the list goes on and on. I guess the word is “unique”, although “unique” is overused, and not exactly applicable here. Unconventional might be a better word, but it’s still not a perfect match.

Anyway.

For the amount of searching I did, I got cringingly pathetic results. When it came to dresses, I couldn’t find anything that met my criteria. If it was gorgeous, it was expensive. And if it was affordable (oddly enough) it looked like a prom dress. Or a cocktail dress. Not something you can wear to work.

Now, I like to dress up. All the time. Heels, skirts, tights, blouses, dresses–I do it all. So here’s another conundrum: how to find something I liked that fit my budget AND was work-appropriate?

My hours of searching were wasted. Truly. And they continue to be wasted. Forget my own effort. It was Facebook that pointed me to a rather interesting-looking site:

Modcloth.com.

Most girls probably have a passing familiarity with the site at this point. Basically, it’s an online department store. It buys limited quanities of clothes and other supplies from designers and posts them at inflated prices.

But shoot. Scan through one page of Modcloth’s merchandise, and all of a sudden, money doesn’t seem so important.

We’re talking unique and vintage-inspired  dresses, frocks, skirts, blouses, and shoes. Some of the stuff is horrendously ugly, I’m sorry to say, but most of it is very cute, and some of it is outright gorgeous. Add in flat-rate shipping, free–FREE!–returns, great customer service, and fast delivery, and you’ve got something great.

Annnnnnnd, a decent portion is work appropriate. (Be warned, though, Modcloth does have a reputation for carrying some short dresses. Like, SHORT.) So, I get my ruffles, my pleats, my sequins and sashes and ribbons and bows, and I get to wear them to work! Fantastic, right?

Well…

Okay, so, I sort of lied when I said a brief scan makes you forget about money. Actually, money is a big deal for me. And it took me months to finally splurge. I bought three items that are currently not available on the site: the River of Gold dress, some cardigan that had a cute name (I forgot it) and the perennial favorite, the Leipzig Hoodie.

The whole shebang cost about $130, and everything was adorable. The look was definitely me. The hoodie, in particular, was awesome. It became a staple.

But it fell apart really fast.

Now, the Leipzig Hoodie is a model from Pol Clothing. I’ve bought stuff from Pol before, and it’s routinely been good quality, so I was confused. But a couple of weeks and washes in, there were holes at the corners of the pockets; the fabric was noticeably thinner; and the zipper was broken. I was stunned and unhappy. I’m telling you, that hoodie is amazing. It looks great, makes you look great, and goes with anything.

But it died on me.

I still don’t know what happened. I actually suspect it was some dissatisfied customer’s return, and I’ll tell you why.

Like I said, Pol Clothing is decent. It was just weird to own something from them that thinned and wore through so fast.

Secondly, I managed to wrangle a second hoodie through an eBay seller. This was quite recent, last month, actually. And the difference between the one Modcloth sent me and the one Le Bomb Shop (look them up!) sent me was astounding.

The fabric was far thicker.

It was way warmer.

It was way, way, way darker. Even when Modcloth’s offering was brand-new, it wasn’t all that dark.

And a month in, it still looks brand new. And the zipper, by the way, is still working just fine.

How did the other items turn out?

The dress was frayed around the bottom. (From Tulle Clothing, if it matters.) It was very flattering, but my chest pretty much busted out of it. If I wasn’t crazy-modest, it wouldn’t matter, but I am. Luckily, I got it on super-hyper-sale, so I deconstructed it and am currently using it to make really weird-looking stuffed animals. So far, that experiment is a success.

The cardigan is holding up well, but it stretches waaaaaaay too easily. By the end of the day, I might as well be wearing a bag.

So I found that, too, on Amazon this time. Paid $5 less, and had free shipping to boot. For whatever reason, this one doesn’t stretch.

Now, this obviously isn’t all Modcloth’s fault. Still, after searching elsewhere–eBay, anyone?–I found many of the same designs featured on the site for considerably less than at Modcloth. We’re talking differences of $40 in some cases. The Leipzig Hoodie, for instance, was $13 cheaper at the end of the auction. I know that you go to eBay for good deals, but it’s more than pricing. It’s a difference in quality. I still have no idea how that works out. I mean, eBay and Modcloth are selling the same things, from the same designers. Maybe it is the return policy, but I can’t guarantee that. Maybe I got duds this time around (this happens to me with dismaying frequency. Or maybe I have the wrong mindset. That’s possible, too.)

Yet, in what is perhaps the ultimate testament to my idiocy, I recently had a $50 windfall, and even as I am writing this, I’m over at Modcloth, peeking around every ten minutes or so. No lie.

Oh well. Wish me luck. Or point me toward a better website.