May 2017 clothing budget

This post contains affiliate links.

Just a heads up, I started an Instagram account to pair with the blog! You can find me posting “outfit selfies” at shortofinfinity_ until I can think of a better username without the underscore. See the blog’s sidebar for a glimpse of my latest outfits 🙂

As for my budget, for the first time in a months, I got really close to going over budget. Since my last post, I’ve been increasingly thinking about my purchasing choices. I’ve been doing a lot more online browsing of sustainable and ethical clothing as well as spending more time on eBay and Poshmark trying to sell some of my clothes… however I end up looking at a lot of tempting things I want to buy but don’t necessarily need.

I’ve also been trying to replace a few items in my wardrobe so I think the more-than-average Googling and online window shopping has brought back some of my more impulsive behaviors. However, that being said, I’m happy to report that after months of searching, I think I’ve found a pair of replacement black jeans for a good price as well as my perfect leather tote bag.

Here’s what I got this month:

Budget: $150
Spent: $139.57

1. Genetic Los Angeles Mid Waist Crop Skinny Kate in obsidian ($59.50, originally $119)
Like I mentioned last month, I used the coupon code IMBACK to get 50% off my Genetic Denim order (the coupon still works at the time I’m posting this). I ordered these cropped jeans in a size 26 and 27 and kept the 26. The wash of the jeans are the perfect jet black and I’m curious to see how it’ll wash. The fabric is the perfect denim blend of 98% cotton and 2% elastane and is stretchier than compared to my Madewell jeans of the same material composition. These fit really snug but because they’re stretchy, I’m assuming they’ll stretch out and mold with some wear so I kept the 26 (my usual size) because the 27 was already a little loose in some areas (knees and bum). I’m not sure if I’d be able to always pay $119 for jeans but the discount definitely makes them affordable while being on par with the quality of higher end denim. The 27″ inseam is also perfect for my height (5’2″). On top of it all, these jeans are incredibly flattering on my lower half, if I say so myself. Bonus: these jeans are made ethically and sustainably in Los Angeles.

I’m hoping they’ll come out with a cropped dark-blue pair because I would definitely be interested in since I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement for my favorite pair of Madewell dark blue skinny ankle jeans for about a year now. I’ve had my old pair of Madewell black ankle skinnies for about four years, and I wonder how these Genetic denim ones will last in comparison.

2. The Stowe Mini Katie in black leather ($41.49 via Poshmark, retail $339)
I’ve come across The Stowe on Need Supply Co. but their bags (designed and ethically made in Montreal, Canada) are way out of my price range, even when on sale. My current style crush is Lee from StyleBee and she has a bag by The Stowe that’s a slightly unusual but cool shape, so I always notice when it makes an appearance on her blog. The Mini Katie tote in particular has been probably on my “pine but can’t afford” wish list for a while. I was browsing the Cuyana section on Poshmark the other day and ended up finding a user who was selling her used Mini Katie in black leather. For $40. I actually made an offer of $35 to test the waters (I honestly would’ve gladly paid more than $40 for the bag but I had just bought my jeans and was trying to stay within budget as much as possible) which was accepted. I legitimately nearly screamed.

It finally arrived after getting lost somewhere in the USPS mail system and you guys, it’s so beautiful. There are a few nicks here and there (but you can’t really tell unless you’re an inch away) and the inner cloth pocket has a small rip but the bag is completely functional and I like to think the wear and tear gives it character. Like all my leather bags and shoes, I’ve given the outer surface a nice coat of Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam (also approved by Katrina of The Demure Muse).

Some background: I’ve been on the search for a leather tote for about five years. I’ve tested the Madewell Transport Tote in the past, and they’re so large they completely overwhelm my petite frame (the tote ends up hanging past my butt and is about twice the width of my side profile). The Cuyana totes aren’t able to stand up on their own. Totes by other handmade leather brands end up being a little too utilitarian in style for my liking. The Stowe’s Mini Katie tote is the perfect simple design and roomy enough to hold a bunch of stuff but is still a manageable size. The brand name is embossed but it’s not in your face. I’m actually in love. Can’t wait to take it out for a whirl. Praise be (I’ve also been obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale).

3. Gap Poplin Print Sleep Shorts in poppy print ($12.08, originally $19.99)
With summer approaching, it’s time for me to update my PJ shorts game. I have an old pair of these sleep shorts and they’re perfect so I couldn’t resist picking up another pair (in a gorgeous poppy print) when there was a discount code. Obviously unlikely to be ethically or sustainably made.

4. Old Navy Classic Flip Flops in black ($2.50, originally $3.99)
While I hate socks and wearing shoes, I have constantly sweaty feet so I dislike walking around my apartment barefoot because I end up with the dirtiest feet. To combat this,  I wear flip-flops that exclusively stay indoors. These flip-flops serve that purpose; I always have a back up pair in the closet for when my current pair gives out (I go through about one pair a year). Same as the Gap shorts on the ethical/sustainable front.

5. Tai Mini Gold Trim Post Earring in turquoise ($24, originally $30)
I was browsing a local boutique and stumbled upon these turquoise studs on sale. I’ve been casually looking for turquoise earrings for the last year and while these are a little smaller than what I envisioned, it was not a deal breaker. They’re super adorable and can’t wait to wear them all throughout summer. Clothing-wise, I usually wear two colors (three on an adventurous day or when laundry day is approaching) so these are a nice pop of brightness. I’ve never heard of this brand but I did some digging and the founder is of Thai origin and the brand employs and supports Thai artisans which I can only applaud.

That’s it for this month! A few necessary items and a few not-so-necessary purchases. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I still need to replace my increasingly beat up Vans slip-ons so that’s definitely going on the purchase list for next month. I’d also love to find a pair of cropped boyfriend-fit jeans since it’s getting warmer here, and I only have one pair of looser fitting jeans (shorts are not allowed in lab), and I’m not really someone who’s comfortable wearing a skirt or dress in lab. Also casually looking for a lightweight/packable rain jacket.

Going to lower my budget back down to $100 for next month. As always, linking up with other budgeting bloggers over at Franish 🙂

April 2017 clothing budget + thoughts

This post contains affiliate links.

This month, I upped my budget up to $150 in order to give me more room to find the perfect black skinny jeans to replace my old Madewell pair that are on the verge of splitting at the seams everytime I squat. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the pair just yet but I saw a promo code for 50% off (code: IMBACK; not sponsored; it’s just a really good discount and worth sharing!) Genetic Denim so I ordered two pairs to try; they probably won’t arrive until May so I’ll include the winners in my May budget post if they work out. Fingers crossed!

But onto my purchases this month:

april 20171. B.P. 55mm Mirrored Sunglasses in black/gold (via Nordstrom, $12)
2. A.J. Morgan Deliverance 50mm Sunglasses in gold/pink mirror (via Nordstrom, $24)

Budget: $150
Spent: $36

Can you believe I’ve never really owned sunglasses? Because I’m Asian, the problems I have with most sunglasses are due to my flat nose bridge. Most sunglasses just won’t stay on my face and I definitely can’t look down otherwise they’ll just slide off. Add in the fact that my high cheekbones end right below my eye socket, and it means smiling will dislodge sunglasses that actually sit well on my nosebridge.

However, it can get painfully sunny here, and I end up squinting everytime I go outside, and I don’t want premature wrinkles! I’m also planning to attend a few music festivals in summer and fall and really want sunglasses since I’ll be spending multiple full days outside. I opted to order a bunch of cheap sunglasses off Nordstrom to test at home (there aren’t any Nordstrom stores near me) to find glasses shapes that would suit my face. This little experiment showed me that I should stay away from cat-eye styles and I shouldn’t be afraid to try out styles, even if I don’t think they’ll work out. Out of the 12 pairs I ordered, I really liked four pairs, and of the four, I ended up keeping just two: one practical pair and one fun pair.

1. B.P. 55mm Mirrored Sunglasses in black/gold
These are the “practical pair” that I’ve nicknamed my bored socialite sunglasses. The lenses are larger than I expected would work, but I kind of love them. They pretty much fit perfectly. The oversized style raises them off my face and avoids my cheekbones. Love the addition of the top bar and the way the top of the rim curves down to prevent the style from looking too square. I dislike sunglasses where you can see people’s eyes, so I’m also a huge fan of the dark lens tint.

Of the 12 pairs I tried, ten of them were by B.P. and while some were a bit flimsier, the majority of the B.P. glasses (including this pair) were weighted and sturdier than I expected for the price (most of the B.P. glasses were $12-$14). Really happy with this find! Kind of have my eye on the tortoise/rose gold pair, but I’m controlling myself for the time being. None of the B.P. glasses came with a case or pouch so if I’m hoping to stumble upon a cute case 😉

2. A.J. Morgan Deliverance 50mm Sunglasses in gold/pink mirror
Two of the 12 pairs I ordered were by A.J. Morgan. I’ve seen the brand name floating around the interwebz and the styles are a bit more fun while still being reasonably priced (pairs are usually around $24). I was on Snapchat when they had that John Lennon glasses filter (lol- someone needs to make an app for trying on sunglasses if it doesn’t already exist rather than those “upload a picture of yourself” things on websites) and actually thought the glasses style didn’t look too bad on me so ordered this pair to try, not expecting much. Because of my weird lens thing I mentioned above, I love mirrored lenses and these are a cool unexpected color. These glasses are lighter and generally thinner than the B.P. pair, but I plan to wear these for more fun outings rather than everyday. The adjustable nose pads are a nice touch and I don’t think they’ll make my nose sore after time. The nose pads also help lift these off my face and cheekbones and also sit comfortably on my nosebridge. It also comes with a little black drawstring pouch.

That’s all I kept this month! I tried on a pair of jeans but they just didn’t make the cut.

This past year, my desire for shopping has diminished so much compared to past years (e.g. see this crazy ass budget post– I’ve since resold most of these items). I’m that person in my lab who goes around digging out all the plastic packaging and bottles from the garbage to put in the recycling bin, and over more time (and especially in this political climate- pun intended), I’ve become increasingly bothered by the unsustainability of humans in general, which is forcing me to think about areas where I can continue cutting down on my footprint. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch The True Cost (on Netflix) because I’m not mentally prepared for it, but if you’re interested in learning more about fashion production, this documentary seems like a worthwhile watch (heard both good and bad things about it).

My fashion purchases, in particular, is an area of my life I should have full control over, and I’ve really started to question every purchase I make: Is it worth it? Do I actually need it aka will I actually wear it as a graduate student in a lab that works with messy and smelly samples?

Most of the items I’m now trying to buy are items that are either replacements for old worn items (e.g. finally replaced my Baggu bag I’ve had for years) or items that fill crucial holes in my wardrobe (like a light down jacket last month or sunglasses this month). I’ve also been selling clothing, bags and shoes I just either don’t wear often or items that have never even been worn! It’s crazy how much I’ve accumulated in just a few years. I’ve also been trying to buy more things secondhand (at local consignment stores or online via Poshmark and eBay). Obviously, my purchases are not 100% environmentally friendly or ethical (as I just bought cheap sunglasses) but I like to think I’m doing the best I can for my means which has to be good enough for the time being. I’m hoping I can reevaluate my habits once I graduate and get a job with an actual salary.

Keeping my budget at $150 for next month. Hoping a pair of the Genetic Denim (ethically and somewhat sustainably made in LA) jeans I ordered will work out, and I really need to replace my old slip-on Vans (my summer shoes) because they’re literally unraveling… these are definitely not ethically or sustainably made, but baby steps. Nothing can change overnight.

I’ve been thinking about this too much and really felt like I needed to write out my thoughts before my brain exploded. Keeping my purchases within a budget was the catalyst for why I started going down this thought train, and I think it’s been really key in re-evaluating my spending habits.

Enough of babbling. As always, linking up with other budgeting bloggers over at Franish!

March 2017 clothing budget

This post contains affiliate links.

Another month, another clothing budget post. Here’s what I got this month.

march 2017

1. ASOS LEMONADE Elasticated Ballet Flats ($12, originally $31)

Ballet flats aren’t really my style but I’ve always wanted to try them. I didn’t want to spring for a nice but expensive brand without knowing if I could wear ballet flats on a daily basis. Working in a wet-lab means I’m often running around during the day so it’s critical that my shoes are comfy. When I saw this pair on super sale, I thought they were a great pricepoint to try a new style. I also like the slight heel and lack of toe cleavage due to the high vamp. I usually wear a size 6.5M in shoes that don’t require socks but the 7M fit fine due the elasticated heel backing.

2. Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka in olive ($54.90, originally $79.90)

I have the jacket version (no hood) of this parka and will be selling it once this parka arrives (I have a one in, one out rule for my winter wardrobe). It’s just too damn windy here to not have a hood when the weather calls for a down jacket. The olive color of the parka is currently marked down more than the other colors and I jumped at the chance to get this at such a discounted price. Currently still on sale for $49.90!

3. Everlane Gia Tee in navy/white ($16.25 via eBay, originally $35, now sold out)

While I think Everlane has great prices on their basic tees, I didn’t think the Gia collection was worth the higher price point despite really liking all the stripes so I refrained. But when I saw this tee on eBay for a fraction of the price, I couldn’t resist. The material feels different from their other cotton tees; it feels somehow lighter and slinkier. I was initially worried would highlight all the bulges and bumps but it actually falls beautifully. Can’t wait to wear it when it gets warmer. Protip: lots of gently used/new Everlane items often pop up on eBay and Poshmark at even cheaper prices; it’s especially worth checking these sites if you’re looking for an item or collection that’s now sold out.

4. Everlane Cotton Box-Cut Tee in heather grey ($16, used credit)

Used some of my credit to try some of the new tees by Everlane. The only one I kept was the the box-cut tee in grey. I really like the original box-cut tee but have never been a fan of the front pocket so I’m happy they came out with a pocketless version. I don’t have a basic grey t-shirt so this is perfect for the warming weather.

I also tried the scoopneck tee and love the cut of it. The neck isn’t as constricting as the crewneck shirt but definitely not as revealing as the u-neck style. Unfortunately, the white version I got was a little too see through for my liking so I sent it back. Will probably re-order it in black. As always, thank you to anyone who has ever used my referral link to purchase an Everlane item! I’m in the process of compiling a review of all my Everlane items but it’s proving more complicated than expected (waiting for more consistent day light before taking photos!).

Budget: $100
Spent: $83.15

In addition to keeping under budget, I sold a bunch of items in my closet that I never wear and am super happy about that.

I think for next month, I’ll up my budget to $150. I’m on the hunt for a new pair of ankle length black skinny jeans to replace my 4-year-old Madewell pair (my favorite pair of jeans) that’s literally hanging onto life.

Linking up with other budgeting bloggers at Franish!

February 2017 favorites

This post contains affiliate links.

Because I didn’t buy a lot of stuff this month, my budget post is a bit lacking in content. To counter the shortness of that post, I thought I’d make a second post about some of my favorite things this month in TV, music and skincare.

feb-2017-faves

TV: Legion (FX)

I haven’t watched a TV show from week to week since undergrad but I’m now currently into three shows where I have to wait one week between episodes. As a seasoned (pun!) TV binger, the waiting is a bit annoying, but worth it so far.

Of the three shows, my favorite has to be Legion. At the time I’m writing this most, there are only three episodes so far but I’m so enamored by the show: the way it’s filmed, the color/art scheme, the way the story unfolds… everything. It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever watched before and I’m excited to see the season play out. So far, I haven’t been disappointed by an episode yet and I’m hoping it’ll stay that way. Dan Stevens is unrecognizable (Cousin Matthew who?) as the main character and is killing it as a supposed schizophrenic, powerful mutant. If you love stories with unreliable narrators which keep you guessing what’s truth and what’s fake, then you’ll really enjoy this show.

The plot is a bit hazy and can be a bit confusing but I think the show is focusing on fleshing out the characters and acquainting us with how the story will be told before diving into the nooks and crannies of the overall plot. So far, we know there are bad guys and good guys but we’re not entirely sure if that’s true at all. I love the uncertainty of everything we’re being shown.

While Legion is technically part of the Marvel family, if you watch the show without knowing that, you won’t be able to tell. Legion’s first episode is now near the top of my short “best pilots” list, joining the ranks of Breaking Bad and Lost. Only time will tell if the show is able to keep it up with the great episodes to secure a spot on my favorite shows of all time list.

Music: Cody by Joyce Manor (Spotify, Bandcamp)

As everyone around me knows, I’ve been on a major music mode recently. I go through phases where I want to listen to as much music as possible interspersed by phases where I can go a month or more without listening to any new music. This month has been one of those manic phases and I’ve become obsessed with the band Joyce Manor in particular.

I’ve listened to some songs on previous albums here and there, but their music never really clicked with me. The band is pretty popular within the music sphere my music tastes lie in, so I decided to give their new album, “Cody,” a try and holy bejeezus, I finally get the hype. Maybe I wasn’t in the “right” mindset when I listened to their older stuff because I’ve gone back and now really enjoy the older albums too. It’s a funny thing… this has happened to me in the past where I go months or years not really liking a band or artist and after giving something a(nother) listen at another point in time, I suddenly fall in love. Does anyone else experience this at all?

Out of all the Joyce Manor albums, I do like Cody the most; it’s my “gateway” album. I would say they band is pretty pop-punk but lean more towards the punk side of things. Cody is also their most polished and produced sounding album which I think helps highlight the pop aspects of the songs, adding to the catchiness while still getting a bit of an angry and forlorn undertone at the same time. My current favorite songs off the album are Make Me Dumb (unpopular opinion but there’s something about the different sound of this song that makes it my favorite), Angel in the Snow, Fake I.D. and This Song Is A Mess But So Am I, but honestly, they’re all good.

You can find me on Spotify here (username: shortofinfinity). I only have one public playlist at the moment but plan to add more.

Skincare: The Ordinary | Deciem

I recently discovered that ASOS (free shipping over $40!) carries some of the products by the skincare brand The Ordinary which is under the Deciem umbrella. I’ve been itching to try some of the stuff due to the simplicity of the products as well as the price point. My skin has never been good but has been more frustrating to deal with over the last few months due to the dry Michigan weather then the shock of humid Taiwan weather compounded by four long flights within a two week period. I ordered three items to try: the hyaluronic acid + B5 serum (ASOS), the niacinamide + zinc serum (ASOS) and the vitamin C suspension with HA spheres (ASOS). All the products and usage explanations are explained in detail on The Ordinary site.

I’ve been using the hyaluronic and niacinamide serums for about 2 weeks now and I’m really enjoying both. My skin seems to be doing better than before which is saying a lot because no matter what I tried, I couldn’t really make a dent in changing the texture of my skin. But now, things look a bit smoother and plumper and I feel like I have a bit of a natural glow compared to the rough dullness I previously had. In addition to hormonal acne, I struggle to keep my oily skin hydrated without compounding the oil production problem. With the very cold winters, my skin always feels tight and very oily at the same time. I also have a few hyperpigmented marks on my cheeks from breakouts that fade really slowly.

Both serums are the texture of gloopy water and sink into the skin quite quickly. I use the hyaluronic serum on mornings or nights when my skin is feeling really dry or after I do a peel or clay mask. I save the niacinamide serum for when my face is feeling a little spottier or unhappy, usually nights. I haven’t exclusively used either product for two weeks to see which one is better for my skin but I think my system of switching things up is working for me at the moment. The hyperpigmentation on my cheeks is still there but it does look like they’re slowly smoothing out which is a lot faster than normal. I’ve only tried the vitamin C suspension once which isn’t enough for me to form an opinion. I do think it’s different from anything I’ve ever tried- the thin lotion has a slight grainy texture. Due to the high amount of vitamin C, The Ordinary says you can cut the suspension with a moisturizer which sounds better to me than just applying the suspension all over my face because it’s not exactly a moisturizer on it’s own and it feels a bit strong on its own. I don’t have sensitive skin so it causes tingling on my skin rather than the burning others have experienced (see Gothamista’s reviews linked below).

Lastly, due to the cheap (relative to similar products by other brands like Glossier) prices, you can try a bunch of different products without completely breaking the bank. I’m really impressed by this brand and know I will definitely be repurchasing the serums because my skin hasn’t felt this hydrated (and not papery) in forever. I am also interested in trying some other items in their line. For more in depth reviews, I think Gothamista’s YouTube reviews (part one, part two) were very informative.

Hope that was somewhat interesting! I enjoy sharing the things I love with other people and don’t want to talk the ears off the people around me so this is a nice alternative 🙂

February 2017 clothing budget

This post contains affiliate links.

I managed to continue to keep my clothing spending below $100 which is a huge achievement for me. Here’s what I got this month:feb 2017.png

1. Independent Trading Co. Unisex Zip Hooded Sweatshirt in black via Amazon – $19.50 (originally $31.50, also here)
2. Baggu Duck Bag in black via Poshmark – $18.49 ($30 at Baggu, $26 at Nordstrom for old patterns)

Budget: $100
Spent: $37.99

As a graduate student, I own about four to five hoodies and all but one of them are from Independent Trading Co. I first discovered this brand when I bought a Jack’s Mannequin hoodie at a concert back in high school. I loved how soft the fleece-y inside was and upon a quick Google search, found the manufacturer produced hoodies and sweatshirts in a ton of colors and thicknesses. I pretty much live in hoodies all year around; they’re my outer layer in spring/fall and fit under down coats in winter.

Independent Trading Co. are my favorite hoodie brand, and I have been buying from them for about ten years now and the quality has been consistently good for over a decade. I’m actually on my third black hoodie of this style which means each one has an average lifespan of ~3 years which isn’t bad at all considering they get worn at least a few times a week. My 3-year-old hoodie still looks black and not gray. The area that wears down the fastest for me is the cloth where the zipper is attached. I’ve gotten holes in this area on two hoodies but the holes are usually accompanied by thin patches all over. I get a small in the unisex style for an oversized comfy fit. I’ll probably be buying my hoodies from them until they no longer sell them.

It was also time to replace another staple in my wardrobe. I absolutely love my Baggu Duck bag. It’s the perfect everyday school bag for me. It holds an astounding amount of stuff (think Hermione’s magic bottomless bag), is the perfect length and the adjustable long strap is great for shorties like me. There’s a small pocket where I usually keep a pen, chapstick, a flashdrive, keys and hand sanitizer. I have a desktop computer in lab so I don’t have to bring my laptop to campus. My laptop would fit snugly in the bag but is awkward to carry. On days I have to bring my computer, I use a backpack.

I’ve had my maroon Baggu Duck bag for about 3 years now and the durable canvas is beginning to show signs of wear and tear at the bottom corners. The tiny holes don’t affect the bag’s utility at all but I’ve been thinking about replacing it for a few months now. Baggu comes out with different colors every season so I’m bummed the maroon color is no longer available but thought black will go with everything. The Duck bags used to be $26 but recently went up to $30. I was able to find a brand new one on Poshmark for cheaper but if my quick search didn’t yield any results, I would’ve just bought it at full price considering the resulting cost per wear.

That’s all I bought in terms of clothing (and accessories) this month! Both items were replacements.

I feel like I’m on a roll and am going to try and keep it up with this $100 clothing budget for next month. I’ve ordered some stuff to try (they haven’t arrived yet so keep an eye for next month’s post about what items I keep). I’ve been mostly on a makeup and skincare kick and have found some new favorite things I might make a post about in the future.

As always, linking up with other budgeting bloggers over at Franish!

January 2017 clothing budget

This post contains affiliate links.

Like last month, I tried to keep my budget below $100 to try and recover from Christmas present shopping, and I was quite successful if I say so myself.

Here’s what I got this month:
january-20171. Madewell Bedtime Pajama Shorts in Llama-Rama – $14.00 (originally $29.50)
2. Gap Cozy modal stripe mockneck top in black stripe- $8.98 (originally $29.95)
3. Gap Wide-leg crop brushed pants in true black – $13.19 (originally $59.95)
4. Gap Softspun fleece mockneck sweater – $14.39 (originally $49.95, sold out, similar: H&M, H&M, Madewell)
5. HUF Fuck It Black Leather Half Zip Wallet – $19.99 (via Zumiez, originally $29.95)

Budget: $100
Spent: $70.55

It may seem weird that I’m buying sleeping shorts in the dead of Michigan winter, but my apartment building is controlled by a central thermostat and is set by the landlord. My top-floor apartment happens to get sweltering hot during the winter unless I open the windows. I’ve been sleeping in shorts to avoid getting sweaty at night and needed a second pair. I saw these red llama-print shorts online during a promo. The fabric is thinner than I expected but great for not over heating and didn’t shrink when washed. I probably could’ve sized down to an XS in these due to the elastic waist but the roominess is nice.

I went a little overboard at Gap during a 40% off promo because I’ve been bored with most of my clothing but ended up returning most of my order. I ended up only keeping the items marked as final sale and therefore were non-returnable. I probably would’ve returned the mockneck top if I could’ve but it’s a nice soft slinky material so I’ll be using it for layering under sweaters because I hate wearing scarves. My neck is also quite short so mocknecks are a great way for me to get on board with the mockneck/turtleneck trend and still look like I have a neck.

Speaking of trends, I’ve also been wanting a pair of culotte-cut pants. Since it’s winter, most of the pants on sale are of thicker material which I don’t think would look flattering on my thicker thighs. But this pair are made of decently thick cotton but not as structured as others I’ve seen. With the good reviews, I decided to take a risk and get these for my trip to Taiwan which took place at the end of January. These were perfect for tropical winter weather: airy enough to combat the humidity but enough coverage to combat the “cold” (in the 60s but windy). I got the regular length, which reached above my ankle, rather than the petite length to avoid looking shorter than I already am. The fabric is also just swoosh-y enough to avoid looking too stiff and awkwardly wide.

My favorite item of my Gap order was this marled mockneck sweater. It’s fleecy and super cozy. It doesn’t have much stretch so it’s hard to push up the sleeves (which I always do even though it stretches things out) to avoid my sleeves from touching dirty surfaces when I’m doing lab work. I got lots of compliments when I wore it out which is always a good sign. Only thing that I’m worried about is how this item will wash. The exact item is sold out but I’ve linked similar items above.

Lastly, I returned the APC wallet I got last month after seeing it in person. The leather creased badly at the edge when the wallet is opened and the zipper stuck horribly at the corners. It looked quite beautiful but it just wasn’t up to the standard I was expecting. Also, knowing my clumsy tendencies, the smooth leather was likely going to be scratched within a week. After I returned the APC wallet, I did a spontaneous quick Google search for this HUF wallet I’ve been wanting since seeing it on a blog somewhere two years ago (which has been sold out since two years ago). Imagine my surprise when I actually saw it for sale and on sale! I bought it within five minutes. I know the embossed expletive won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it’s perfect to me. The lettering is small enough so that I’ll likely be the only one who knows it’s there and it serves as a perfect reminder that I shouldn’t take things too seriously or personally. The pebbled leather is also less likely to noticeably scratch. The zipper doesn’t stick and overall, the wallet is pretty much the same design as the old Skagen wallet I use now. I used my old wallet while in Taiwan but will be switching to this one once I get back to Michigan.

I was in Taiwan over Chinese New Year and despite getting quite a few red envelopes, I’ll be saving those funds or have them go towards rent instead. For next month, I’d like to keep my budget within $100 again. I just have too much stuff and will also continue purging stuff from my closet which I usually list on Poshmark.

I did buy a bunch of skincare and makeup whilst in Taiwan and will try to make a post about those items once I have a chance to try some of the things.

Hope everyone had a nice first month of this year despite all the insanity.

As always, check in with other bloggers who budget over at Franish!

My Michigan winter closet: outerwear essentials

This post contains affiliate links.

As a Californian living in Michigan for the past three years, I like to think I’ve streamlined my winter wardrobe. This winter hasn’t dipped below 0°F too often so far (oh how far my temperature tolerance has changed), but it dropped down to around 20°F from 50-60°F within a week so I’m glad I had all my winter gear packed under my bed for convenience so I could quickly grab all the coats and jackets I needed.

When I first moved to Michigan, I was a little lost on what clothing items I needed since the coldest place most of friends lived was New York, which is cold, but a different kind of cold, compared to Michigan. My roommate during my first year of graduate school grew up in Minnesota so I asked her for tips which were really helpful. I’m hoping this post might help someone who is in a similar position I was in, or at least might be interesting to someone who’s looking for a few outerwear reviews. I have a 12 minute walk to lab and typically don’t spend more than 20 minutes walking outside in the winter.

I’ve made a personal goal that I cannot buy any new winter gear unless I sell a current clothing equivalent. After graduate school, I plan to move back to California where I won’t have much need for all this heavy-duty outerwear. So as of now, here’s my curated winter outerwear wardrobe (with a variety of Instagram/real life outfits).

1. Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket, $69.90 (wait for promotions)
similar here (save) and here (splurge)

uniqlo-down-jacket

Uniqlo down jacket layered over a sweater.

The first down purchase I ever made was from Uniqlo in the fall of my first year. I’m a person who typically runs warm/hot rather than cold, so when it’s around 20-30°F, this Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket zipped up over a light sweater is perfect. The small size fit snug in a cozy way when zipped up over just a shirt. Unfortunately, my hips are wider than the cut of the jacket; there’s no stretch to the fabric and the jacket rode up noticeably when I walked so I ended up with a medium. Overall, the medium fits slightly oversized on me but it does fit over my hips and leaves room for a sweater. I find their down products well priced (they’re often on promotion) and my jacket has washed and held up well for over two years now. Feathers to escape but not enough to de-poof the jacket. I also just throw the jacket in the washer and dryer and it comes out perfectly fine. Additionally, these jackets (not sure about the vests) come with small drawstring bags. It takes a try or two to figure out how to roll up the jacket to smoosh it down to fit into the bag, but it makes these products really great for traveling.

For even cooler temperatures, I step it up with a slightly heavier Uniqlo down-filled jacket. This jacket is my newest purchase; I received it just a few weeks ago and have already worn it several times. I needed a jacket to fill the gap between my previously mentioned lightweight down and my heavy-duty snow jacket. I often go without a beanie so having a hood is crucial to protect my ears from the cold wind. Remember to protect your extremities (feet, hands, head/ears)! This was the only winter gear purchase I made this year and it’s perfect for my needs, down to the fleece-lined zip-closure pockets and adjustable hood.

3. Uniqlo Military Hooded Parka (old, sold out)
similar here, here and here

uniqlo-parka

Uniqlo parka (in black) worn over a dress for a holiday party.

Alternatively, I have a waterproof parka also from Uniqlo (do you sense a trend here?) with a detachable faux-shearling lining. I picked it up on super sale last spring on a whim and I’m absolutely in love with it. In the winter, for not-too-cold days, I keep the faux-shearling liner in and wear the parka over a shirt and when it’s even colder, I wear it over a cashmere sweater (optional: Heattech shirt underneath).

Speaking of cashmere sweaters, I always stock up during Macy’s Black Friday sale (a tip from me to you). Charter Club (Macy’s in-house brand) crewneck (currently $32!), v-neck (currently $28!) and turtleneck cashmere sweaters (currently $40), also available in petites and plus sizes in a variety of colors, are marked down to $40-50 per sweater which is amazing. My mom has been buying them for about a decade at this point and while the quality of recent sweaters aren’t as good as past season’s, they’re still of decent quality and don’t pill as easily as my Uniqlo wool sweaters which pilled horribly in one day. The Charter Club ones do eventually pill but are easily cleaned up with a sweater-saver (or pumice stone as an alternative) but are very warm and wash well (either by hand or wash on gentle in a machine but hang dry). I’ve also asked friends who’ve purchased Everlane cashmere sweaters and they’ve found that the Everlane ones pill within a few wears similar to the Charter Club ones but are $100 instead of $40.

Lastly, when I’m running late or when I don’t feel like wearing a ton of layers, I’ll just wear a single shirt under my holy grail Marmot Montreal Coat which I normally try to reserve for below 10°F.

5. Marmot Montreal Coat, $285
certain colors on sale here, here and here

winter-outfit

Admiring my winter outfit (featuring my Marmot coat) in the elevator

Like I mentioned in the previous sentence, this Marmot Montreal Coat is single-handedly my favorite thing about winter. I got it in the olive color since green is my favorite clothing color. It’s fleece-lined in the body and pockets, feels like you’re wearing a puffy duvet/cloud and hits me mid-thigh which doesn’t constrict my walking which is important when I’m wearing snow boots trying to avoid the slippery icy spots. The removable hood, with a removable faux fur ruff, is also down-filled as well as adjustable. The pockets have zips and there’s an inner pocket as well (I usually stick my wallet or my phone in there when I don’t want to carry a bag). I have this jacket in an x-small and it’s snug in the body but I’m still able to fit a thin to medium sweater underneath. The small would be a little roomier but where there’s space, there’s cold air.

As for my decision to go with the Marmot brand, I almost bought a North Face jacket because that was the only brand of down jackets I knew of at the time. I seriously considered the North Face Arctic Down Parka before stumbling upon the Marmot Montreal Coat during my internet research.

For jackets around the same price between the two brands, I found that North Face coats averaged 550-fill power where Marmot jackets were around 700-fill power. From what I understand, the higher the fill number, the less down material is required to trap the same amount of warmth aka the Marmot jacket requires less material to provide the same amount of warmth as the North Face coat which requires more geese feathers (so the North Face jacket isn’t as economical). Additionally, at the time I was searching for coats, North Face was in the process of switching to ethically sourced down where Marmot already had ethically sourced down. I am aware of my hypocritical stance on this since I do buy items from fast-fashion brands that probably don’t ethically source their materials or have great labor practices. However, for the heavy duty coat I was planning to spend $200+ on, I wanted to buy as ethically as possible. I ended up getting the Marmot jacket on sale for around $150 where the cheapest North Face jacket I could find at the time was around $200.

I mentioned that I tend to run warm so I found I can get away with wearing fewer layers compared to most. For alternative heavy-duty coat options, one of my friends here who’s always freezing (and also a native Californian) finally turned to Canada Goose for negative temperatures because the other brands she tried (North Face, Columbia , L.L. Bean, Patagonia) just didn’t cut it, and she hasn’t looked back since. For reference on our differing temperature tolerance, she wears North Face parkas when the weather is 30-40°F when I occasionally forgo the Uniqlo light down jacket and just wear multiple layers of sweaters and hoodies because hoodies are genuinely my favorite clothing item. However, for those who realistically cannot go the Canada Goose route, taking note from the lab tech in my lab, layering multiple down layers is probably the best alternative. For instance, a Uniqlo light down vest of jacket is thin enough to layer underneath a heavy winter down coat for two layers of down insulation.

Overall, I’m happy with my collection of outerwear. Every item has its own niche in my closet and I think the “one item in, one item out” rule will work well for me and my physically-small closet.

Hope you found this post helpful or at least interesting. And because it’s worth repeating, don’t forget to keep those extremities wrapped up!