Shopping for: Sneakers

A couple of years ago I purchased the Nike Juvenate grey trainers because I liked the “sock trainer” look. I wore them for about a year but I would say I hated them after about one month. The fabric meant it would get get absolutely soaked if the tiniest drop of water touched it – they would get soaked through even if I was walking on wet pavement for a few minutes and it wasn’t even raining. The soles also wore down really quickly (around a month), making them slippery too. They were a real nightmare.

After that bad experience, I wanted a pair of (sturdier) sneakers – something that would be less casual than runners/trainers for walking in, and preferably leather so that it could withstand normal rain without my feet getting wet. I discovered Spring Court, which made simple sneakers in canvas and leather, and were frequently reviewed as having the most impressive insoles amongst sneakers. I actually tried on several pairs and ended up purchasing the Spring Court G2 black leather sneakers and G2 navy canvas sneakers. I agree that the insoles are incredible and trumps pretty much every sneaker I’ve seen available. As pricey as they are, they are really well made and the leather is good quality. Unfortunately I found both quite stiff in the back heel and they rubbed. The canvas pair routinely cut my skin and left me bleeding. After only 3-4 wears, I decided to sell the canvas pair because there was no way I could break into them if they cut me up so badly. The fabric at the heel was too “sharp”. The leather pair is not as bad and was quite handy to take on my travels last year (they also withstood quite a lot of rain). As long as I wear appropriate socks, they’re mostly fine and I think the leather is definitely softening up.

Around the time of ordering and trying on all the Spring Court shoes, I also tried on the Adidas Gazelle leather trainers (but in grey) as they were on sale. I found them really bulky, the leather quality quite poor and overall construction really stiff.

Recently I’ve started a new hunt for sneakers because the Spring Courts are black and fairly heavy, so I wanted something slightly lighter in weight and colour that would be more appropriate in warmer seasons. I also wish the Spring Court sneakers’ heel was softer or had some padding. I ended up discovering Veja, who made supposedly high quality leather sneakers as well. I ordered and tried on the Veja Esplar white leather pair. I was so disappointed in them. The leather was incredibly stiff, but the deal breaker was that the sole was so thin and stiff my feet hurt just walking a few steps at home. Back they went and I would definitely recommend against the Esplar line.

Finally I’ve decided to purchase a keep the Lacoste Straightset Lace white leather sneakers. They have “Ortholite performance insoles”, giving them some padding although nowhere near as much as Spring Courts. Hopefully I will get on well with them!

Fashion: What I bought in 2016

I’ve kept track of all the clothes/accessories I purchased in 2016 and how often I wore them (to the best of my ability) up until the end of January 2017. I definitely cut down a lot on spending and chose a lot of pre-owned pieces. Some have been great purchases that I’ve worn a lot, some have been great purchases but don’t fit into my everyday wardrobe, and others have been bad purchases.

Ziera sandals (pale pink) – Purchased in January via Ziera ~$150. I haven’t kept track on the wear count, but I’d guess it’s over 50 times. Because of inner and outer colours, they’re not the most practical to keep clean, but they’re not too bad one year on. The comfort is not exceptional (only because they rub against my bunion after a while, but this is minimal).

Ziera sandals (taupe) (not pictured) – Purchased in January via Ziera ~$150. Worn once and since sold. The removable half insoles were incredibly irritating.

Ted Baker coat (black) – Purchased in March pre-owned via eBay $62 (including shipping). Worn 15 times. The coat is absolutely beautiful although there are signs of wear. I’m happy with it for this price point. It’s my warmest coat and I’m thinking about future coat purchases thanks to trying this. The neck situation is a bit annoying and my only regret.

Cue long suit jacket (black-ish) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $25 (including shipping). Worn twice. The jacket is gorgeous, thick, amazing quality and in as new condition. I love it but haven’t had many opportunities to wear it. It’s handy when I need a formal jacket.

Hi There by Karen Walker ruffle skirt (teal navy) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $23.25 (including shipping). Worn 11 times. The skirt is also great quality, easy to care for and interesting. I was unsure about the shade at first.

Saba striped tunic dress (navy and white) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $23.75 (including shipping). Worn twice. I have no idea how to wear this and writing this makes me consider getting rid of it. It was listed in my size and meant to fit two sizes above, but I didn’t find this to be the case. It’s too short as a dress and not comfortable enough as a top/tunic.

Hi There by Karen Walker bow skirt (black) – Purchase in May pre-owned via eBay $28.50 (including shipping). Worn three times. It looked quite worn when it arrived (despite the condition listed to be as new) and I hated the awkward pleat at the front so had it tailored shut. But the material is itchy, it’s always wrinkled and with the pleat closed there is little stretch in the skirt while walking. I got rid of this.

Cue peplum top (dark eggplant/almost black) – Purchase in May pre-owned via eBay $32.00 (including shipping). Worn once. This is amazingly tailored, of amazing quality and condition. It’s very much an occasion top.

Uniqlo cotton cashmere jumper (grey) – Purchase in June via Uniqlo $39.00. Worn 22 times. This is without doubt my most successful purchase. I am practically “allergic” to wool touching my skin, but this 90% cotton and 10% cashmere blend is almost okay. I still can’t wear this without a collared shirt underneath (I wear sleeveless shirts) though, but I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it! I machine wash it on the gentle cycle and it’s still looking good with very minimal pilling.

Uniqlo silk sleeveless shirt (black) – Purchased in June via Uniqlo $14.90(?). Worn 4 times. I picked up this basic piece because collared sleeveless shirts are so convenient to pair with or layer underneath jumpers, plus it was so cheap and “washable silk”. It is noticeably thinner than Uniqlo’s normal silk though, but I think it’s fine for what I bought it for. It hasn’t been worn enough because it is also usually in my steaming pile.

Uniqlo cable-knit jumper (cream) – Purchased in June via Uniqlo $49.00. Worn 17 times. Cotton is easier for me (both to wear and to wash) but I don’t like it as much as the grey jumper. It’s a bit cropped on me and I wish I had sized up.

Dorothy Perkins ankle trousers (black) – Purchased in July via The Iconic $47.96. Worn 8 times. In June and July I was really hunting down ankle trousers. My legs are tricky to find pants for, and after ordering four pairs from DP via The Iconic, I settled on this one as a piece to start with (to see if I actually get good use out of pants like these). I can’t say whether it’s been a success or not, but mostly because I don’t think any of my shoes really pair with it…

DIY skirt (black) – Made by my mum. Worn 4 times. It’s a bit short, but it’s such an easy skirt thanks to the waistband and colour.

Marcs shirt dress (black) – Purchased in July via Marcs $63.20. Worn 3 times. Honestly this dress is great and so versatile, but it takes ages for me to steam out small wrinkles. I do all my steaming in huge batches which means this dress is rarely available to wear, haha. Nonetheless it’s a great simple black dress for almost all occasions.

Cue long tunic top (black) – Purchased in July via Cue ~$69. Worn 10 times. I find the neck area scratchy, but otherwise it’s an easy drapey piece and I love it.

Saba leather biker jacket (silvery biege) – Purchase in October pre-owned via eBay $63.50 (including shipping). Worn 16 times. I’ve been toying with the idea of a leather biker jacket for a long time, but they’re expensive and hard to find the perfect one. I took this pre-owned option to try out since it was cheaper and the colour is much softer than black, which I don’t think would suit me. Figuring out how to DIY clean it was a bit tricky. I’ve enjoyed wearing it. One of the lapels keeps sitting weirdly though, which annoys me.

Banana Republic midi dress (purple and black) (not pictured): Purchased in October pre-owned via eBay $13.00 (including shipping). I thought this would be perfect as a more covered-up piece for summer (for work etc). I assumed it was labelled as Australian sizing even though I know it’s an American brand. Unfortunately I made the wrong assumption and it was too big on me. Even after simple alterations, it swamped me. I gave this to my mum.

Country Road tee (black) – Purchased in November via Myer $33.71. Worn 6 times. I started hunting for comfortable and soft material tees. I love the look of the T by Alexander ones, but read mixed reviews and didn’t want to order it online without seeing/trying it in person. I landed on this option from CR. It’s soft, light and has stretch thanks to it’s 50% cotton and 50% modal material. It’s comfortable but really thin, so I chose black.

Cue panel blouse shirt (white) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $16.47 (including shipping, was $54.45 but had a coupon). Worn once. This shirt is great quality and I wore it to an interview. I see it getting more wear when we move out of summer.

Karen Millen midi skirt (pink) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $14.18 (including shipping, was $49 but had a coupon). Never worn. I learned the hard way that their UK sizing runs one whole size smaller than AU, so this did not fit. I probably would’ve gotten rid of it anyway, as it was a lot puffier than I had anticipated and I didn’t see it being practical for work. I’m re-selling this.

Plenty tulle mesh midi skirt (navy) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $30.00 (including shipping). Worn 11 times. I’d never heard of this brand before but I looked up retail prices and this was a bargain. I’ve found this so versatile to wear. It has a nice weight because of the double layers, but isn’t heavy or stuffy thanks to the mesh layer and cotton layer. I love this!

TFNC pleated midi skirt (mauve) – Purchased in November via ASOS $41.30. Worn 7 times. Can you tell I was on a major midi skirt hunt? Apart from being a tad long, this is everything I was looking for in a pleated midi skirt. The colour, weight and comfort are all spot on.

Country Road tee (navy, grey, burgundy) – Purchase in December via Country Road $33.71 * 3 = $101.13. Worn 3-4 times each. Yes, when they went on 25% off sale again a few weeks later, I purchased them in all the colours I could ever want. The only thing that would makes them perfect was if they were a bit longer, and if they didn’t stretch out after the first wash. Nonetheless I love these and wear them all the time!

Sandler sandals (black) – Purchased in December via Sandler $52.51. Worn 16 times. All my sandals are too casual, and these filled a hole. They’re comfortable and go with everything. I’m also so proud of myself because these are current season and were $149.95 but I piled on three different promos to get it for a third of the price. Yay!

Dune London flat sandals with jeweled heel (pink nude) (“Ninah”, not pictured) – Purchased in December via Dune London and Borderfree $64.17. Never worn. I had actually wanted these “Ninah” shoes for half the year because I thought they would be the perfect dressy shoes for someone who can’t really wear heels. I had only found it in faux-leather and a different colour (for over $100) previously, but then Dune London had their big post-Black Friday sale with free international shipping and returns! I have yet to wear them because there hasn’t been the occasion and the soles are too slippery so I need to get them soled first. They were such a good deal too (I did order more to try on and returned this in a different size).

Dune London heeled sandals with jeweled heel (pink nude) (“Harah”, not pictured) – Purchased in December via Dune London and Borderfree $64.17. Never worn. Unbelievably just as I was about to check out with the above shoes, I happened to remember these “Harah” shoe and did a word search. I found they were also on sale with only one left in one of the two sizes I was trying the above sandals in. Thanks to the option of free returns, I decided to just order to give them a try – because FOMO and just in case. They’re too similar to the other pair, and seemed too high for my poor feet. But when they arrived, the size ended up being the right one and actually my feet feel secure and seemingly comfortable (without actually leaving my house). I know it’s a bad habit, but these were special enough and well-priced enough (did I mention last one?!) that I decided to also keep them (eep) JUST IN CASE – I know, I know, terrible. Like the above pair, they need to be soled.

Total: 27 purchases, 1 hand-made from mum. 3 of the purchases are going. Spent ~$1271.7 (some prices unknown).

I’m fairly happy with the spending and the purchases. I don’t know how I fared in previous years, but I would have spent at least three times as much. I used to average ten pairs of (new) shoes a year… that’s probably well over $1000 already. I did also purchase two scarves, a cheap ring and some underwear and hosiery which I didn’t include here.

Review: ASOS vs TFNC pleated midi skirt

Left: ASOS | Right: TFNC

I was on the hunt for a nude-pink coloured pleated midi skirt for several months. I couldn’t find anything from my usual fashion retailers or pre-owned on eBay. Midway through November, there were a lot of click frenzy online promotions going on, and I used ASOS’s 30% off sitewide sale to pick up the ASOS Pleated Midi Skirt (Nude) and TFNC Pleated Midi Skirt (Light mauve) in my usual size 6 as they looked like exactly what I was after. I order from ASOS once in a blue moon and now with free-returns from Australia, I am slightly more keen to try things then return them (previously I would have to pay return shipping).

Unfortunately the TFNC size 6 was too small and I was unable to zip up and actually breathe. ASOS don’t do exchanges so I couldn’t get the same 30% discount for reordering in a different size (I even emailed to see if they could honour the previous discount code for this situation, but they couldn’t). However Black Friday came around so I just ordered a size 8 with their 20% off discount. (I note, as always, that Black Friday sales are not actually that spectacular online. I always find better sales throughout the year.) It wasn’t too big a deal. ASOS free returns are also really easy now!

Both skirts are 100% polyester and fully lined. The tag says hand wash only but I think that’s extremely silly and will definitely be throwing it in the machine. The TFNC lining is a thicker material and very elasticated (almost like a jersey material), which might make it more comfortable if I were to start sprinting, haha. Both have a waist band, side zip and hook and eye closure. The zip on the TFNC skirt is much stiffer and gives me a lot of trouble (both skirts that came had this same problem so it’s not an isolated problem). Both are also priced at $59 and available in a few different colours. They are not high quality but well priced to fill a wardrobe hole.

The ASOS skirt is noticeably longer by several centimetres. It’s kind of an awkwardly too-long-midi/almost-maxi length. For reference, I’m 165cm but have short legs for my proportions (damn) so even the TFNC one is probably a tad long on me and I may end up altering it (just look at it on the model!). I would have been happy to keep both though, as I really liked the two colours – the ASOS one is a peachy pale nude, while the TFNC one is a dusty grey-toned pink. They also have different weights and pleating – the TFNC one is heavier and has skinnier pleats. However I noticed that the lining of the ASOS skirt was bunched at the waist band and these folds showed through quite obviously since the outer layer was thin. I’m not sure if it was an isolated stitching problem, but it annoyed me a lot. Ultimately this made the decision for me and I decided to return the ASOS one (and the TFNC in the size that didn’t fit).

ASOS Pleated Midi Skirt (Nude) | TFNC Pleated Midi Skirt (Light mauve) (+ cashback via Cash Rewards)

OOTDs: New, old and pre-owned

It seems I have a bit of a theme recently, in trying to pull out pieces that I would usually think of as fairly summer-y and giving them life in winter. Then I realised another theme for this was: some of my favourite pre-owned pieces.

This dress I bought preowned. I adored it in the stores, and was severely tempted to purchase it several times, but alas it sold out before I really made up my mind. Of course once I couldn’t have it, I regretted it so much! T and I call it the “neutrophil dress”, haha. It popped up on eBay (possibly even new with tags, actually…) and I jumped on it! It doesn’t wash so well and has shrunken so I’m disappointed in that, but I am planning to try and unshrink it when I have time (I should also steam it so it’s less wrinkly… but in reality I wore it like this, so I won’t pretend otherwise, haha). It’s sleeveless so I normally don’t think to wear it in winter… but having acquired the cream cableknit jumper recently, I’ve decided the jumper goes with everything and ties in summer pieces for winter. Speaking of the jumper, I love it! I realised it’s a tad short, but the cotton cableknit material is so comfortable. I’ve worn it a fair bit already. This coat is the oldest coat in my collection… I purchased it in the first year of university and it was expensive at the time, but now into it’s eighth year, I’m still not sick of it and it’s still going very strong. Good job, young me.

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Jumper: Uniqlo | Dress: Marcs (pre-owned via eBay) | Coat: MNG | Scarf: David Lawrence

The next thing I pulled out was this skirt which I absolutely adored all summer (one of my favourite pre-owned buys). But I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty floral, haha. I also decided to pair it with the cableknit and think I got away with it? I’m also trying to show off (not very well) the lining of this Ted Baker coat – another one of my best pre-owned finds. It was an absolute bargain and I’ve worn it quite a lot since getting it a few months ago. I’m always drooling at Ted Baker coats.

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Jumper: Uniqlo | Skirt: Marcs (pre-owned via eBay) | Coat: Ted Baker (pre-owned via eBay) | Shoes: Joanne Mercer

Lastly I was going somewhere over the weekend and really wanted to carry a small and light bag. In that category I only have one bag. There’s a long story behind the hunt for this bag – I wanted that particular season’s colour, and I also ended up buying it pre-owned (it was fairly stressful!). Sadly, I don’t wear it enough and I’m really trying to change that… by even bringing it out in winter! Isn’t that dedication? I’ve decided I’m really not fussed even if the bag doesn’t really “go” with winter attire. I am going to happily wear her more often.

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Coat: Ted Baker (pre-owned via eBay) | Bag: Mulberry (pre-owned via eBay)

Fashion: My best cost-per-wear clothing item

Sometimes unlikely clothing items end up being the most worn and best cost-per-wear pieces in the wardrobe. I got this short sleeved “t-shirt” blouse from Marks & Spencer in China in early 2014. I don’t get much clothing from Asia and I was unsure about the quality of M&S clothing since we don’t have it here in Australia. It also converted to roughly AU$30 so for a little polyester top, it wasn’t exactly too cheap to pass up. Anyway, because of the cute (fake) collar and flower print which I fell in love with (and it’s pretty “me”), I decided to just grab it. I would probably not regret it, right?

As it turns out, it is probably my most-worn top in the past few years. It’s been super versatile. Because of the light material (even if it’s not as breathable as natural fibres) and colours (the white, the navy and the little bits of pink), it transitions into cold or warm months. It also goes with many colours and outfits. It’s especially easy to use it to add a pop of interest to a neutral or dark toned outfit. It also washes amazingly – I can toss it in the wash on any cycle and it comes out looking perfect. The polyester material means no wrinkles, ever. I see no obvious discolouration anywhere and it’s never bled. It’s the epitome of “wash and wear” and it has been absolutely no fuss at all. I just can’t get over how easy it is to wear and to take care of. More importantly of course, I already love the style, print and colours.

If I had to hazard a guess, I must have worn it at least 200 times by now, bringing this $30 top’s cost-per-wear to less than 15 cents. That’s pretty good for this unlikely hero that is still going so strong and definitely has many more washes and wears in its life!

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Top: Marks & Spencer | Skirt: Hi There by Karen Walker (pre-owned via eBay) | Bag: Kate Spade New York