The photo above taken during my trip to Lisbon during Christmas 2019, I feel like this kaleidoscope of tile most reflects my personality, a mix of everything with no rhyme or reason and somewhat distorted but somehow everything fits. I felt a lot like Rey from the New Stars War Trilogy this past year both aesthetically and mentally. Because well… well last year was a blur, and not always in the best way. I had health issues that plagued me for the majority of the last year. And unlike other tough years where I’ve been able to sit with my emotions and write it out in a private or public capacity -#tbt to my livejournal years in middle school- with little interruption elsewhere, my health issues this past year were majorly disruptive on a professional and personal level. Also, my health issues put my psychological state on overdrive…this was overall a very pensive year where I reflected a lot on what should be my new normal and how I should manage my worst impulses.
One thing I did find out this year is that I don’t find the actual purchasing of an item an activity that provides solace from stress.On the other hand, I do enjoy thinking about my personal style and how I present to the world because it’s always been a part of my mental armor. My inner life might be falling apart but I still endeavor to look halfway decent for myself. And while I certainly enjoy having a new item added to my wardrobe, what I’ve enjoyed more is the thought process that motivates me to even add the item in the first place. So when the item arrives, I’ve always felt like I couldn’t wait to wear it. Given that at leash half of my purchases were considered replacement purchases, I’ve deemed 2019 more of year where I’ve doubled down on my tastes as opposed to trying new silhouettes and more importantly trying to conform for the sake of conforming. I’ve accepted the fact that like my personality, my style can’t nor shouldn’t be caricature of an ideal I think I’m supposed to be. I love ’social codes and etiquette rules’ and there is a underlying primordial desire for me to meet and be accepted in those codes (yay for social conditioning) but I guess what I’ve finally come to realize that I can’t keep taking these codes at face value and trying to fit into this box of what I should and should not be. Yes the codes are important for social order but not to the extent that it feels oppressive or you feel demoralized that you don’t ever feel like you’re enough. Perhaps I feel this more acutely because I am a minority(and a foreigner) living in a social environment that always makes me feel like an outsider. In the past, this never bothered me, in fact the challenge fueled me but I don’t know these past few years have left me frustrated knowing that to advance I need to tick some boxes but with the perfectionist in me, it has never felt enough. And it showed in the last two quarters of 2019 sartorially, I wanted to feel cozy and protected, and I bought accordingly. Overall, as 2019 was my last full years of my 20s, I’ve found some solace in reflecting that this past decade for me been a success for me personal style wise and that I should relish in that comfort in further refining my wardrobe tastes.
My 2019 Spending
In terms of finances, I’ve done better financially this year than I’ve done in a long time so while I’ve spent more money, I’ve actually spent less in proportion to my increased salary. Last year I spent about 3% of my income on my wardrobe and this year I’m at 2%. I would like to note that I don’t count dry-cleaning, cobbler expenses (except for the first resoling after purchase). But if I counted it, it’s usually 100-200 euros for the year. Although I think this year I’m thinking of counting it to see if staying under 3-4% of my income requires me buying less..which is not a bad thing considering how the earth being on fire ( sometimes literally) seemed to be the recurring theme of 2019.
I bought (or was given) 16 items for 410.68 euros. At retail it would have been 2562.94 euros. I’ve also broken down my spending by category purchase type and what percentages I purchased new or thrifted. This section is heavily inspired by Luxe Strategist’s yearly shopping round ups.
Unlike last year’s post, I’m going to go more in depth about my purchases with some(hopefully) brief paragraphs. Some purchases I’m going to go more in depth hopefully later due to the fact that I bought some of those items after a lot of research and I think those items deserve proper review post(s).
First Half of the Year:
This purchase was my first of the year. This find symbolizes one of the main tenets in secondhand shopping strategy: patiences pay off..eventually. I had been looking for a new trench for at least a year and APC was only the brand barring Burberry I was willing to invest in. Preferably secondhand because I was trying hard to not spend 500 euros. It was that or I bought something I liked unlined and get it lined. My usual sources weren’t turning up anything worthwhile but on a whim I checked Ebay- my original online secondhand haunt and voilà. Lightly used but definitely within my budget (less than 150 euros). I have a post already written up on a year’s use so far that will be posted soon. This was a considered a replacement purchase.
- Uniqlo mid-rise stretch skinny jeans
I haven’t worn ‘real’ jeans in years due to my loyalty to Uniqlo’s jegging pants but each subsequent purchase since my first 2012 pair has been a case of diminishing returns. My pairs purchased in 2012-2015 all lasted 2-3 years but the 2017 started to rip in 2018(hence the black friday purchase of the jeggings in 2018 that also started to rip in 2019…)..so I bit the bullet and also moved up to jeans to replace the thrifted gap pair that I could no longer fit into-I also needed a real pair jeans for a family photograph. I also spent 8 euros on hemming..due having no time for Uniqlo’s free tailoring service before going to the states. Unfortunately, they aren’t that much hardier than my beloved jeggings because they are starting fray in similar places as the former after less than a year of wear. This was considered a replacement purchase.
- Monoprix ‘Premium’ Brown Belt
I bought this belt to compensate for the stretchiness of the Uniqlo jeans at the waist during a weekend to Deauville in April. It definitely was not budgeted out for but it’s been a nice addition to my wardrobe style wise and it is good quality. I appreciated that this belt was also made in the EU ( Belgium). Not a replacement purchase but definitely needed it seeing how it had been several years since owning any belt in my wardrobe…Uniqlo jeggings over the years made its’ use obsolete.
- Madewell Puff Sleeve Peplum Wrap Top
Was this a necessary purchase? Not necessarily but I always get a Madewell coupon during my birthday month ( April) so in the past years I’ve used it to fill in holes for items I don’t necessarily feel inclined to buy instinctively (unlike shoes and jackets) but adds more variety. In 2018, I got a hat that gets a lot of wear in the summer. This year, I eyed this peplum top. I used to have a peplum top but it was stolen in a laundromat (among other things including my favorite dress) in 2017. I finally received in the mail from my father after christmas and it fits true to size, in a surprisingly ivory white- I was expecting a classic white color and was willing to make an exception but I’m glad I don’t have to- fits seamlessly into my wardrobe but it definitely is more low-cut than I had imagined. So idk, it’s still a replacement purchase in my eyes due to it replacing a stolen top.
5.Princesse Tam Tam One Piece Bathing Suit
It’s been years(since 2015) since I bought a swimsuit and I was really trying to look for a barely used/new secondhand version (ideally from Ysé) but on my way to visit SO’s parents in the south, I decided to explore Bordeaux for once on my way there so I spent an afternoon there looking for a birthday card for my SO’s mother and I also happened across the Princesse Tam Tam Outlet and bought this swimsuit. I’m hoping this will be the last new purchase from Fast Retailing ( also Uniqlo’s parent company) after finding out their supply chain issues. Fast Retailing is not unique in this regard, but their stubbornness to not address the issue coupled with all of my Uniqlo purchases in the past two years falling apart has me officially banning the company from my shopping list until further notice. Not to mention, now having studied supply chain and logistics and how one has legal obligations to due diligence (particularly if you are a company in the EU) there’s really no excuse . Replacement/Need purchase.
6.Repetto ‘Brigitte’ Ballerina Flats
Anybody who knows me in real life knows that I’ve been historically super skeptical of Repettos, particularly their classic Cendrillon flats.They always seemed too delicate with seemingly not a lot of support which is a recipe for disaster for me and my hard step. I’ve slowly been converted after this fascinating youtube video on Repetto’s innovative construction techniques and Newinspired’s review for the Camille model. Also after retiring my Babara flats, I’ve been on the hunt for new ballet flats for a year and only this model really caught my eye, especially after trying them on in the Marais boutique in February. Was definitely agonizing over my constant predicament of liking #alltheexpensivethings and knowing that like the APC trench I would need to get lucky via secondhand. And I got very lucky on Vinted. The trip to the cobbler for resoling almost cost as much as I actually paid. Also was classified a replacement purchase.
7.What For ‘River’ Ballerina Flats
Definitely not a ’need’ purchase. In my 5 piece French wardrobe by season wishlist, I was looking for mustard ballet flats or pumps. I had Everlane’s day heel in cognac and Balzac’s Simone ballet pump in camel in mind for a heeled version or everlane’s editor flat in mustard yellow for the flat version. I could never buy Everlane’s versions due to my refusal to pay duty fees to the EU and Balzac’s Simone pump was no longer sold in the color ways I wanted on their site and they get snapped quickly secondhand in my size at a price point that I wasn’t willing to pay. While I had found a suitable heels version that I potentially wanted first on Vinted, I jumped for these flats first because it was summer and the seller dropped the price and next thing I knew, I just bought my most worn flats of the summer. I’m very happy with my purchase overall, I got to try out a color and brand in shoes that I’ve been eyeing for awhile. However there are some worrying signs of wear particularly at the straps (the leather interior is peeling off from the suede strap exterior) that shows that the quality is not up to my usual standard. I’m going to try to see if it can be reinforced to prolong wear. I would hate to retire these pair of flats after just one or two seasons of wear.
8. Zara ‘Effet Brut’ Linen Dress
I had no intention of buying a dress like this last summer. However, my SO told me 3 weeks before his father’s 60th bday celebration that it had a themed dress ‘island’ code. I don’t know why he assumed that 3 weeks was enough time to get myself together. More or less he learned via me scolding him on receiving this news (and later again by his mother) that it was not. I spent more time than I wanted on Vinted looking for something that was up to snuff within my budget but no dice. I finally broke down and looked at the fast fashion brands offerings available via Vinted ( I have Mango, H&M, Zara unchecked in the search engine preferences) and this dress showed up only 30% off retail price despite being in-season. The listing also turned out to not be the right size for me. One advantage of fast fashion brands today is that you can input your measurements to see exactly which size you need to take before purchase. Well I needed a medium and it turned out this dress was like ’that Zara coat’ popular …. the dress was mostly sold out everywhere even before the real ’soldes’ have started. I found the very last version in my size in Paris at Beaugrenelle in the 15th ( a trek from my home by Parisian standards-45 minutes metro ride). It has the fast fashion zipper issues(super finicky) but it fit. I bought for 75-80% off of retail. I was considered the best dressed/most in character at the birthday celebration and my SO was so eager to have a photo of us together. I usually have to annoy him to have his photo taken so for him to insist was a surprising and welcome change. I was definitely pleased (i.e smug as hell) that I still took the time and energy to look the part had paid off in surprising but good ways. The dress got heavy use outside of the celebration because it could be dressed up and down relatively easily and it was the lightest dress to wear during the heatwave but long enough that I could wear it out on cooler summer nights with a jacket. Far from a necessary purchase but definitely was a gratifying one.
I had no intention of buying a dress like this last summer. However, my SO told me 3 weeks before his father’s 60th bday celebration that it had a themed dress ‘island’ code. I don’t know why he assumed that 3 weeks was enough time to get myself together. More or less he learned via me scolding him on receiving this news (and later again by his mother) that it was not. I spent more time than I wanted on Vinted looking for something that was up to snuff within my budget but no dice. I finally broke down and looked specifically fast fashion brands offerings available via Vinted ( I have Mango, H&M, Zara unchecked in the search engine preferences) and this dress showed up only 30% off retail price despite being in-season. The listing also turned out to not be the right size for me. One advantage of fast fashion brands today is that you can input your measurements to see exactly which size you need to take before purchase. Well I needed a medium and it turned out this dress was like ’that Zara coat’ popular …. the dress was mostly sold out everywhere even before the real ’soldes’ have started. I found the very last version in my size in Paris at Beaugrenelle in the 15th ( a trek from my home by Parisian standards-45 minutes metro ride). It has the fast fashion zipper issues(super finicky) but it fit. I bought for 75-80% off of retail. I was considered the best dressed/most in character at the birthday celebration and my SO was so eager to have a photo of us together. I usually have to annoy him to have his photo taken so for him to insist was a surprising and welcome change. I was definitely pleased (i.e smug as hell) that I still took the time and energy to look the part had paid off in surprising but good ways. The dress got heavy use outside of the celebration because it could be dressed up and down relatively easily and it was the lightest dress to wear during the heatwave but long enough that I could wear it out on cooler summer nights with a jacket. Far from a necessary purchase but definitely was a gratifying one. Definitely an impulse acquisition
Second(ish) Half of the Year:
9. Isabel Marant Étoile Laure Jacket
Another year, another IM purchase. ¯\_(ツ)_/ This jacket was bought in the first half of the year but I ran out of space in the last collage ( I miss polypore and its amazing functionality RIP). If there was one item that I was really gunning for not in terms of need ( like the A.P.C coat) but just genuine visceral desire over a long period of time, this jacket was it. An ivory tweed jacket has always been something I wanted for several years now. It’s never been a pressing want, but I’ve been looking for a suitable version for several years from time to time. The Laure jacket I remember liking it even when it originally came out thanks to one of my favorite blogs and while I had the money to buy it then, there was no way I was going to with a continental move on the horizon. Nor did it click that the ivory version was what I was really looking for. But somehow, the jacket came back on my radar via Vinted in Q3 2018 and it was just ‘lust at first sight’. I finally got it as a Bday present from my SO..so technically it was bought in the first half of the year. It pills like I thought it would but it’s surprisingly easy to upkeep, I just use savon de marseille on the collar and the pits to keep it fresh, and a sweater comb from time to time when the pilling gets a little bit out of hand. I’ve only had to dry clean it once this year. I used to find it itchy without long sleeves but I think my body has adjusted. It’s a great little jacket by itself but it works as an amazing layer under other coats. 5 Piece French Wardrobe Purchase
Items 10-12 are approximate images of items I’ve been given by my dear little sister who had a whole bin of thrift finds for me to peruse during my visit back home to the US before she upsold them. It’s not everything (I’m missing two-three items here: a jumpsuit, a pair of shorts, and AGolde jeans) but it’s what I wear currently. It doesn’t go under the need/want category but just new additions I guess.
- Black tunic with floral print
This was one of the first things I immediately liked from my sister’s bin during my visit home. The actual tunic is much longer than the image that I used, goes to knee length but has side slits that go up to the top of my thigh, so I wear it regularly with my khaki green metallic pleated midi skirt. So while it doesn’t go with a lot of bottoms, I’m very pleased that it makes my midi skirt more wearable because it creates a nice casual dressy outfit that can transition between day and night events without it looking too much. Impulse acquisition.
- Abercrombie Ripped Skinny Jeans
I was happy to be given these because I’ve never liked the idea of buying purposely ripped jeans. However, I have items in my closet that can easily make my look go too granny- like my beloved Ferragamo varas- so it was nice to have a pair of jeans that helped me make some of my more lady-like pieces have a more rock&roll feel. With these jeans I also blended in a lot more with other residents in my current parisian quartier. I love my neighborhood but I’ve definitely adopted the more western/bourgeois parisienne style due to the fact that it’s been my primary stomping grounds throughout my 20s. Meanwhile my current neighborhood is much more bobo/hipster. This was an impulse acquisition.
- Blue and White Empire Eyelet Top
I still wanted a longer sleeve ivory lace top eventually but this addition was a godsend during my vacation in the US. I packed for the weather looking at the temperature without refactoring in the crazy humidity of the southeast and DMV area in late summer. Like my other finds via my sister’s thrift bin, it has also blended in well with my current wardrobe and helped me dress more casual than I tend to. I haven’t decided if I still want a ivory version that I will buy myself but for now it scratches the itch.
- Ivory ‘Fisherman’ Sweater from Forte Forte
The image used is from L.L. Bean but it’s pretty close to my version. A couple weeks into ‘la rentrée’ and the health issues that I thought I had under control came back and morphed into something else entirely. It took me out for a couple of weeks so sartorially, coziness was my priority. A new sweater of this type was already on my annual 5 Piece French Wardrobe list so the actual Vinted listing had been already liked since the summer. However, the my reemergence of health issues in October and subsequent price decrease on the Vinted listing is what pushed me to pull the trigger and push up my purchase timetable. I don’t tend do fabric blends, but I do love how the composition has created a thick sweater that keeps me so warm. Very pleased by the quality and hope to add more from the Forte Forte brand. A 5 Piece French Wardrobe Purchase.
- Not Shy Cashmere Sweater Dress
The image used is an Acne dress but the cut is the same, however the color is more of a light heather grey. This item is a replacement for a secondhand J.Crew dress that I already have in my closet but was shrunk into a by my SO by accident in the washer machine sigh… However my new dress was more along the style I was looking for after seeing one my Instagrammers/bloggers, The Chic Pragmatist rock sweater dresses on various occasions over the years: look 1, look 2. I do like how this dress is a lighter knit than the J.Crew version. As for the shrunken J.Crew dress, it has been officially regelated to sweater/tunic territory. Replacement purchase.
- Knomo Hanover Laptop Bag
I was very happy to find this bag via secondhand on Vinted (where else?) within my price range. I had been using canvas tote bags and a laptop sleeve to tote my computer everywhere but I knew that I needed to buy a proper laptop bag. For some reason lots of people started selling more Knomo on Vinted and this model-the one I’ve always preferred and has stayed on my pinterest wishlist for years- finally showed up for a steal (and not worn!). Unfortunately, a pin fell out in the cross-body strap several weeks after me wearing it so I carry it by it’s handles currently. In the bag’s defense I’m very hard on my bags(and shoes). Fortunately, the previous owner never registered the bag on Knomo so I’m going to see if they would be willing to replace the crossover strap or they reccomend I just buy a new crossbody strap from wherever. This was a replacement/need purchase
- Anniel Ballet Heels in Camel/Mustard
Well in the end, after taking inventory and seeing that my What For flats might not last past this upcoming summer + another price decrease on the vinted listing, I decided to get the ballet heels too. XD They haven’t been resoled yet but they seem a lot more hardier than What For. Not surprising seeing that Anniel is known for ballet flats. Currently Anniel only sells this model in varying colors of glitter which is pretty but not my thing. (I’ve also seen it in black leather but it’s sold out) and leopard. In the end, I’m glad I decided to be slightly irrational and bought a ‘backup’ pair due to how long I waited for these type of shoes to show up. The Everlane Day Heel is shown in the collage but the Anniel model doesn’t have the back tab and it has tiny elastic ties at the front. Impulse acquisition
In the process of acquisitions or decluttering this past year, I found that I’m very tempted to adopt free things but the real utility of these items are varied… I found that I decluttered this year quite a few clothes that had been given to me by friends when they moved away or something I adopted from my sister. When it comes to buying something, I’m super particular and only buy to fill a hole or when there is a true sartorial obsession because I usually sit with that feeling before pulling the trigger. Although 20% of the time this year, I sometimes get spontaneous (see impulsive acquisitions). Looking at my closet right now, I have some holes left to fill yes and some replacement shopping to do but I don’t really want anything. Some items needs to be refurbished, re-sewn at the seams etc. but overall any purchasing this year is mainly for filling existing sartorial holes. So I’m hoping to spend and acquire less this year as I’ve literally acquired 30-40 new pieces these past two years even if a 1/3-1/2 of what I bought is actually replacements. So the goal this year is follow somewhat cliché french diktat of “achéter moins mais mieux” (buy less but better) . So basically I want to feel less guilty about being more particular than ever (despite being privileged to already having so much) before because it seems that in some clothing categories (pants in particular) my regular go-to brands have not been up to snuff.
How do you feel about your shopping progress this past year? Do you think that there could be improvement?