Following Suit

This coming week is the first time when I have to wear suits all...week...long. Hence, I finally had to come to terms with the fact that this time, I *have* to get more suits. I've been putting it off for quite a while, but when I have to potentially see the same people 4 days out of the week, I'm not sure I want to be caught wearing the same things.

Naturally, I went to visit the nearest BCBG outlet. BCBG jackets have fit me quite well, and the quality pretty decent for the outlet price. The outlet prices are quite good. I got my first black suit for about $100, and sure enough, this time I got a striped suit for $100. I'll have to take the pants to a tailor to have them shortened and to get rid of the side vents, but those are minor gripes considering that I got such a good deal. I also got a charcoal gray blazer for $40 in hopes that it'll match my charcoal gray pants. Alas, the jacket was a few shades darker, but it's still good to wear it stand-alone.

During my shopping trip, I got a few other things as well. Since I don't have a whole lot of light but warm sweaters, I wanted to take advantage of the winter clearances and grab a few if I can. I did manage to find a cashmere-blend sweater that I can wear for work or play; I'll write about it when I take it for a few drives. As for the other finds, they are incredibly good deals. They're also part of my outfit for today.

The Da Nang hoodie is something I've had my eye on for a while. The faux-fur inside keeps me warm and toasty, and the rugged look is a good contrast to the more refined pieces I have. The last time I went, the hoodie was only 30% off (from $50). Since I was in the process of shopping for Christmas presents, I felt that my money would be best spent elsewhere. This time, it was 70% off, which came out to about $17. I didn't quite wear it right out of the store, but it was pretty close. Because it was raining hard and I was carrying a bunch of bags, I had to drop them off into my car trunk first. That's when I put the jacket on, and what perfect timing! It kept me cozy throughout the day.

The BCBG pumps were something I bought along with the suits. There was a $29 rack full of last-pairs. I was initially attracted to the red version of it, but there was no way I could squeeze my foot into a size 5. Dejected, I turned to other pairs, including the pair depicted here. I didn't expect it to fit, since it was a half size smaller than what I'd usually wear, but after trying on another pair of shoes in my "correct" size and finding it to be too big, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, the shoe fits! I asked for the other shoe right away, and both feet were happy.

These shoes are simply perfect for me. I've been looking for another pair of affordable black pumps because the pair I've been wearing is starting to wear out--clomping (and sometimes running) down the halls and stairs of various courthouses will do that to shoes. The bow and leopard-print trim add some cute yet subtle touches.

Quite a bit of dough was consumed yesterday, but at least I know that my hard-earned cash was spent wisely. Now I have to head over to the tailor. Hopefully I'll be able to wear my new suit before the end of the week.


Equipment Manager

I'm back! I'm still sore from all that muscle-exertion, but the cause is definitely worth it. That's because I had a grrreat time on the slopes of Mammoth, CA--unseasonably warm, and other than the occasional slushy or icy spot, the skiing was great. I even feel like I have a nice "glow" to my complexion, which is a great upgrade from my recent illness-induced paleness.

Since my bag had no room for the camera, I didn't take any pics from the slope. But here are a few nice ones from the road:

Trips like these usually cost a lot of money, which is why I don't go often. I've had to skip a few years due to scheduling conflicts (school) or financial issues (paying for the Bar this past year), so I was really excited about this particular trip. Finally--I can pay for it without worrying that the piggy bank would go broke. The friends who plan the annual sojourn into snow country are seasoned veterans when it comes to cutting down costs. First, a sizable group of people fit into a spacious cabin, splitting the lodging expenses. Next, the dining arrangements are economical. After volunteers for individual meals sign up for their shifts and declare ingredients for their menus, a run to Costco is warranted. It's great to have home-cooked, nutrious, and affordable food in the company of friends. The savings go toward our lift tickets, which seem to get more and more expensive by the year.

When I felt pretty committed to skiing, it was finally time to commit to buying my set of gear. Rentals are incredibly expensive, and oftentimes they are ill-fitting enough to spoil a day on the slopes. It's cheaper to rent from a local Sport Chalet and truck the equipment up North than to rent at the resort, but it gets cumbersome and the expenses add up. For all the money I've spent on rentals, I could have gotten a pair of skis and bindings by now. It didn't make sense to buy gear a few years ago, since I had little money and time to go, but now that those impediments are less problematic, the question becomes "what should I buy first."

That question can be pretty tough to answer, as it depends on your degree of committment the sport. To get the most bang out of the buck, I'd start with something which requires a comfortable fit (especially if it's hard to find and it's on sale) and/or the cheapest component. If it's not too expensive and you're on the fence about the sport, you won't feel so guilty about "throwing money away" if you decide that the sport is not for you. Conversely, if you do enjoy the spot and can't see yourself doing anything else, it's good to start small and build your equipment cache one piece at a time.

The first thing I decided to buy was a pair of ski boots. After numerous unpleasant experiences with rental boots, I knew that I had to get a pair of boots that fit comfortably even after hours and hours of thrills and spills. I went to a discount ski and snowboard outlet store and tried on a bunch of them before finding the pair that really worked out well. $99 for a pair of ski boots was a great deal, but it was also quite a bit of cash for me, so I walked away from it. After yet another bad rental boot experience, I knew it was time to snag my "it" boots before they were gone. That was the right call--several years later, the boots are still comfortable and in great shape, and I can knock a few bucks off the ski rentals because I don't need to rent boots that made up a large portion of the "total package" price.

Now I'm looking to get a set of skis, bindings, and poles. Waiting until now is better than buying the skis for my first few trips, as I wouldn't have known what my needs are and how things are supposed to fit. Actually, I'll wait just a little longer--end-of-season clearance sales translate to substantial savings on the expensive gear.

One thing that I know I can wait on is the clothing. Yes, clothing is equipment too, especially the pants that keep the snow out of the boots. But given how well "regular" jackets can work, there is no need to rush out and get those. My orange puffer from the Gap has served me well for years and years. It's poofy, but it's warm, it has many pockets, it's waterproof, and makes it easy for my friends to spot me. Best of all, I can wear it out to the street.


Fighting the Sniffles

A lot of people around me are sick, so it was quite inevitable that I'd be next. The bugs finally have me in their clutches. Ugh.

Since my productivity dropped off in the last week AND I'm going on vacation during the President's Day weekend, I'll need to rest up and also get caught up on work. This means I won't have time to post this coming week.

Stay well, or get better soon!


Seasonless White

Color rules are very puzzling to me. Like white, for example. There's that old rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but...what about winter white? Doesn't winter come after Labor Day?

That's why I don't pay much attention to what colors are trendy. I wear bright colors throughout the year. With dark colors, I wear or avoid them depending on the temperature, not because black has become the new black; I'd hate to cook in the summer, but I'd like to wear black during colder weather in hopes of soaking in all the sun I can. This is about as rule-oriented as I get.

This time, I broke with my own "rule." Two bright white items just caught my eye.

The first is a white leather BCBG handbag with black trim. As with any purchase, there are pros and cons to weigh. This was a splurge that I've been lusting after for a long time. I first saw it in the BCBG outlet store, but the price was too rich for my blood. When I went back a couple of weeks ago, it dropped another $40. When I finally shelled out cash for it, I paid $100. Yup, that's quite a lot, so I better make the most of it. The potential is definitely there--it is the classic yet distinctive bag I've been looking for. The hardware and tassles make it look cute yet sophisticated.

Unfortunately, one of the tassels malfunctioned within the second week I started using it, and I couldn't return the bag because all outlet sales are final. For such an expensive bag, it sure isn't as well-crafted as I thought. The fringed portion became separated from the strip that attaches it to the zipper, since it was held together by a few stitches and a lot of glue. I managed to somewhat fix it, but it's definitely not the same as before. That is disappointing, but since my imperfect patching job isn't very apparent and the bag is otherwise completely functional, I can live with it.

The bag does redeem itself by matching with outfits as good as, and in some cases better than, a black bag. It really goes with just about everything, ranging from casual to dressy:

The bag is particularly striking when coupled with the white jacket I picked up from Forever 21. Since I had some money left on a gift card I got for Christmas, I decided to spend it on something I can wear right away. This means it had to keep me warm. When I first saw this jacket in Forever 21 amongst all the new nautically-inspired Spring items, I knew that this was it. The shiny buttons are simple yet wonderful embellishments.

I wore the jacket right after I got out of the store for a couple of reasons: 1) it was starting to get cold, and I left my jacket in the car; 2) I love it that much. Like the white bag, it works well as a casual or work piece:

(I just had to throw in the last gratuitous shot sans jacket--I love the dressy-casual look.)

Black and white is a simple yet dramatic combo. Standing on its own, white can be as classic as black and can be worn year-round. Notwithstanding the tassel snaggle, I'm happy with my choices.


I'll skip the bushy-tailed part...

I was a late bloomer when it comes to cosmetics, but I've become quite the makeup junkie. I don't like to wear it all the time and instead prefer letting my skin breathe, but when I have to primp, I love doing it. During my last few trips to the Ontario Mills outlet mall, I found myself drawn to the cosmetics section of the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet. It feeds my newfound MAC addiction.

MAC cosmetics are generally way too expensive for me, and given the flashiness of the magazine ads, I didn't think MAC items would really be something I can use, even though I like bright colors. But when I finally had the means to upgrade in the cosmetics department, I wanted to nibble on some of it. Why the change of heart? Well, my sister has always loved the look MAC products, but neither of us could afford it. Once she had her makeup done at one of those counters in the mall, and I absolutely loved the eyeshadow she had. It wasn't as over-the-top as I expected--it was edgy yet pretty.

Around the time of Christmas, I had to go shop for Christmas presents, and naturally, I went to the outlet malls. The cosmetic store in the Saks outlet has a number of cosmetic lines at a discount--sometimes small, sometimes quite substantial. I bought myself a pot of plum eyeshadow called Falling Star, and I loved it. It was shiny but still subtle (so I can wear it for work), and it has much better staying power than some of the other eyeshadows I've used. At $10 a pop, it's not cheap, but it's not too out of reach. The next time I went back, all the eyeshadows were gone (from what I was told by the salespeople, MAC products come and go quickly). I ended up buying other MAC products for my family as Christmas gifts. The most recent trip garnered the Coppering eyeshadow and 2 lipsticks. I love them all as well. The copper eyeshadow matches up really well with my skintone. The lighter colored lipstick gives off an intensely bright color for those adventurous days (and goes on smooth and creamy, too), while the darker one is more conservative with a little kick. The fact that I get to save a few bucks here and there makes me less guilty about splurging $30 on cosmetics.

Obviously I'm not made out of money, and the outlet mall isn't exactly close to where I live, so I can't indulge in makeup all the time. To save money, I only splurge on the shades that I know I'll be wearing a lot. For the times when I want a makeup fix or experiment but not want to spend all that much, there's always the local drugstore with their percentage discounts or buy one get one free specials. The L'Oreal HIP eyeshadows work pretty well, and I get 2 colors for the price of one MAC eyeshadow pot. The blue/green combo is great for going out at night, while the orange/gold one is good for both day and night. Unfortunately, I don't like the other available colors.

For a really cheap fix of bright eyeshadows, I love the Revlon palettes. As you can see, I have quite a variety of colors, thanks to clearance sales at Target. They're easy to put on when I'm in a hurry, but the downside is that they tend to crease after a few hours...not the best for daily wear, but swiping it on with a finger does save a lot of time.

Most people say that the foundation is what you should splurge on. Maybe they're right, but my cheap Almay foundation does the trick, so there's no point in getting something else until I run out and they don't make that shade anymore.