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GoodByes & Looking Forward

Happy Easter everyone! I hope all of you are having a lovely weekend.

I am sure you already heard about the new wave of changes on the fashion block:

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1. Jenna Lyons is leaving J. Crew. As much as I admired Jenna Lyons’s personality and her own personal style (which is farthest from mine), I feel J. Crew has been suffering for a while now. I even wrote a very sad, break up post on the blog last year. According to various websites that broke the news, Jenna Lyons has a few things lined up and it was her time to move on. I am curious to see what J. Crew and Jenna continue to do separately, although I suspect it might a little late to recover for the former.

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Updates and Staying Course

Links I love:

This post by Lady Sarah was by far the best I read in recent times  – on how to slowly build an ethical, real fashion wardrobe. I will be revisiting this article over the course this year to help me stay on course.

PretAPorterP finds the best blogs around town! I believe Instant Vintage has been around for a while, but just new to me. Also, H at PretAPorterP concluded a ‘No Buy March’ Read more

Unpopular opinions & a few honest thoughts

Last year, I spent substantial amount of money buying high quality clothes, shoes and other apparel items (secondhand and new) in an attempt to build my first serious, work wardrobe. I have spent enough time with my purchases to realize that about 30% of them were bad choices. Now that my taxes are filed away, my first quarter deadlines met and shopping ban in full swing, I am in spring cleaning mode. I am donating, giving away or selling most of the things that did not work out me. I am hanging on to a few bad choices that I can still alter and use. I will not be replacing or buying anything new for a while.

All of this got me thinking about quite a few topics and I decided to be brutally honest for my own sake – about Consignment Shopping, Cost Per Wear, Ethical Fashion and Ethical Choices. This post spent quite some time in the drafts section. I debated about actually publishing it. My only request to anyone who takes the time to read it is to be frank and put me in my place if I got this wrong. Read more

Shopping Ban Update # 1

I thought it would be a good idea to do an update every few weeks.

Overall Thoughts: It’s going good. I haven’t been tempted to buy anything. But I was not able to stop myself from browsing online once in a while. Ebay and Poshmark are my poison of choice. I am happy to report that I am able to moderate the dosage of internet time when compared to before.

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Gifts from Singapore

In January this year, we visited our family in India. We also used this time to go on a short trip to Singapore. It was a blessing that everyone could take time off from work and got to travel with the entire brood (both sets of parents and our siblings).

The thing about Singapore is that there is no extraordinary view or one-of-its-kind beach you’ll have to check off your list. The country is super efficient, clean, and unique in being a city-country. All these make it the perfect family destination for a bit of R & R, lounging by the pool, and exploring the awesome food scene at a laid back pace.I will not bore you with the details of our family vacation.

I was really proud of myself for not going overboard in any of my shopping escapades during my entire vacation (India and Singapore). So, I decided to treat myself to a couple of nice things at the Singapore airport duty free stores on our way back.

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SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: 

As I grow older, I am starting to brush off most skin care products as snake oils. I am  more critical and cynical of all things ‘beauty’. At the same time, I am too lazy to have an american beauty routine, let alone an Asian one (Seven steps?!!). Don’t get me wrong, I really admire people who can follow such a routine and sustain it (both in terms of time and money). I just come from the school of thought that you should let your skin build some resistance (and character, perhaps?) by letting it be. Eat good food, drink water and perhaps a few more good habits. Skin takes care of itself. Then I turned 30. Oh yeah, I also belong to the unfortunate club of people who tried Laser Hair Removal and had their hands face burned. My recovery from all the scabs is a story for another time.

It is time to invest in quality products and establish a simple skin care routine. Two of my good friends recommended SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. I pretty much brushed it off as some fancy water in a bottle. Also, the price was too scary for a decent sized bottle. A 230ml (7.7 oz) costs USD 229 + taxes at Sephora. I almost feel SK-II products are a marketing gimmick.  I don’t really know if Pitera works or not. Some women consider it a holy grail product. Just compare the expert rating vs community rating here. You’ll see how polarizing both opinions are.

While we were at the Singapore airport,  I went into the SK-II store and compared the prices.  A 250 ml (8.4 oz) bottle costs SGD 179 which comes to about USD 130 (all inclusive). That is about a $100 (USD) cheaper for a bigger bottle!  I jumped the gun without much research and bought a bottle for myself and one for my sister.

Longchamp ‘Medium Le Pliage Neo’ Nylon Tote:

My sister bought me the Longchamp Neo Tote as an early birthday gift, while at the airport. It was not a planned purchase. She knew how much I love the brand.  I have been wanting to get a tote bag from the brand for long and decided duty free is the best place to get it. When I went to pay at the counter, she insisted on paying. After a little bit of tug-of-war between two Asian sisters, I let her win this time.

I always contemplated between the leather (significantly expensive) and the nylon one. After much thought and trying out both the bags last year, I figured that I could get too precious with the leather one. Longchamp Tote bags in ‘Cuir’ are made of soft, supple leather and are pretty much shapeless. The leather seemed prone to scratches.My plan was to use the tote as a travel handbag. If I were going to put it through security checks and shove it under plane seats, I thought the Nylon one was going to be a better option. Besides, it was lighter on the pocket.

I picked the black one. As I grow older, I am starting to appreciate black more. Now, it is the most used color, next only to blue/navy in my wardrobe. It cost $190 USD (all inclusive) for the medium size.

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If these two purchases are really worth it? Only time will tell. I plan on doing a quick 3 month and 6 month checkpoint.

 

2017- Time for a 2nd Shopping Ban

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Last year I did my first shopping ban and I lasted 3 months without shopping. I have never done anything like that ever before. I kept thinking, “I like this. I love shutting down the consumer beast within me for a while”.

But, there were also days when I felt a sense of anxiety during the Shopping Ban- Anxiety that I will see the most awesome, perfect-in-every-way dress and will not be able to buy it. Anxiety that I will NEED a piece of clothing and will not be able to buy it. The reality? That day never came. I did not miss out on any perfect dresses. Even if I did, I forgot about them very soon.

As of today, I have everything I needThat means it is time to take a break from casually browsing websites and in stores. It is time to focus on things other than a perfect wardrobe.

Rules of my Shopping Ban:

1. I cannot buy any new dresses, skirts, tops (blouses, t shirts), denim, shorts, shoes and costume jewelry. Buying New is NOT an option.

2. I should stop CASUALLY looking for clothes AND SHOES (my biggest weakness) on websites and in-stores.

3. If I slip and start ‘window shopping’, I have to make a list of everything that was tempting and analyse (for myself) why I was tempted in the first place. This is pretty much a mental exercise to re-train my brain to  STOP GETTING HIGH ON SHOPPING.

4. If I really need a piece of clothing that I don’t already have, I will have to try to borrow from a good friend.

5. Buying second-hand is my LAST option. Of course, I need to keep a track of how many such items I bought (a.k.a How I broke my ban? Why I broke my ban? Was it really worth it?)

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Exceptions:

1. I am allowed to buy underwear or nightwear, if needed. But I will keep a track of it.

2. I am allowed to buy / replenish skin care or beauty products. But, I cannot spend more than $50 per month.

3. I am on the fence about Fine Jewelry. Should I put it on the ban list too?

Other notes:

1. How long is this ban for? I am thinking until end of May 2017. Can I do longer? I don’t know. Will I fail? I don’t know. I  am definitely going to try to stay on track.

2. During this period, I want to blog about all the nice things as well as the absolute worst purchases sitting in my closet.

What do you think? Anyone interested in doing a ban along with me? It doesn’t matter if you want to do it for just 30 days or even less. I think it feels good to be a team and talk ourselves out of buying stuff we don’t really need! Please let me know in the comments section or write to me at dearbeautifulworld@gmail.com

Illustrations by Sara Lazarovic. She created a very cool illustration book about her year long Shopping ban.

Things completed

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Two bottles of CK Beauty: This is my go-to perfume for every day. CK is as mainstream as it gets, but I love this Jasmine fragrance.

Jasmine is one of my favorite scented flowers. It makes me nostalgic and reminds me of my Grandmother’s garden,  all the sumptuous afternoon snacks,  the twilight conversations and marathon play times we had there. It reminds me of an innocent and long last time. I wish I can find a better made, nuanced Jasmine scent. But, I keep coming back to this one as it lasts longer on me (in terms of sillage and longevity).

I have a few other expensive bottles of perfume. Despite that, this is the one that everyone, including random strangers (people on subways, Uber drivers) compliment me on. Maybe it works better with my skin. Another bonus is that CK Beauty works wonderfully well in the office setting.

Kiehl’s  ULTRA Facial Cream: This was a part of a Kiehl’s value pack / kit I bought last year. I won’t be running back to buy this any time soon. It is a simple moisturizer. Also, the one I got is the non-SPF version. Frankly, there is nothing here to write home about. I can definitely find cheaper moisturizers to take its place.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado: Again, this was a part of the value pack from last year (I was testing out Kiehl’s products). This eye cream is very thick and moisturizing. But, that’s it. It really doesn’t do much for my eye area. It doesn’t help with dark circles (what cream does??). It is not bad option if your main eye-area problem is dryness. Dryness is definitely not one of my problem areas. So, I will not be repurchasing this one when I run out of this one.

Neutrogena SPF: This was something I bought at a random drugstore when we were in Sedona for hiking. It does the job well, without leaving much of a white cast on my skin tone. I am so happy that it is over now. I have been wanting to buy Elta MD SPF 46.

 

 

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Retinol Reform by Shani Darden: I bought this after all the beauty websites  raved about how this Retinol cream was the best gateway product to build up to the real stuff. To be frank, I used it sporadically and cannot really be sure if it worked or not. It has a slight medicinal / coffee smell to it. Nothing pungent there. I am considering buying another bottle. But for $100, it seems a like a serious investment.

 

 

Things I returned:

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Kate Somerville EradiKate™ Mask Foam-Activated Acne Treatment: Of all the products I tried last year, I think this was the biggest disappointments.I bought it during a phase when my skin was breaking out a lot. After trying this, I can definitely say that I am NOT getting on the Eradikate bandwagon. It did not do anything for me. I returned it at Sephora after 4 uses. Should I have used for longer before deciding? Maybe. I just went with my gut. I did not see it working for me.

 

 

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Too Cool For School Egg-ssential Skincare Set: This was an impulse buy from Sephora (it is no longer available). I really did not care for the mousse soap or the cream. The cream feels exactly like Kiehl’s body cream, just a little lighter. But, I really liked the pore brush and haven’t tried the mask yet. So, I kept those two things and returned the soap and cream. In all honesty, I don’t think I gave the soap and cream a good chance. Maybe, next time.

Total products tested: 8

Products Loved: 1 (CK Beauty EDP) 

Products Liked / on the fence: 1 (Retinol Reform)