I remember how I felt when I first started using eBay back in high school. I was nervous… and a bit overwhelmed. But I was so excited about potentially being able to buy items that I couldn’t otherwise afford with my $6/hr cashier job. I made a purchase or two every month. Some worked out… some didn’t. Over time I got more and more competent at buying pre-owned. Now-a-days I’d I can find deals on just about anything I’m looking for (if there are deals to be had).
Some years I shop on eBay extremely often, and other years the purchases are few and far between. If you read this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve made significantly more pre-owned purchases than new ones this year. There are a few reasons for this. First, it seemed as though every blogger was starting to wear the same clothes. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but its certainly annoying (especially when others look better in the stuff!). Next, I just wasn’t finding items that fit my style. This was especially the case this past spring and summer (I swear I couldn’t find anything that was flattering), and this really revved up my eBay shopping. The biggest reason I’ve stuck with shopping pre-owned was the strikingly poor quality of the items available. I’ve been attempting to build a versatile wardrobe (with a focus on professional wear), and I’m looking for high quality, well-fitting (or potentially well-fitting after a trip to the tailor) items that I’ll want to reach for day after day.
Lets talk about pants for a moment. I’ve always struggled to find well-fitting pants (jeans are a problem too, but I’ve given up looking and now stick with my AG stilts and these Citizens ;)). At work last year I lived in my J. Crew Minnies and Ann Taylor trousers. These were the best off-the-rack pants I could find (I tried other popular styles like drapey pants, dressed-up sweat pants, tuxedo pants… but they looked ridiculous on me). Wearing these pants was fine for a while. But my Minnie pants always had to be worn the same way, with bum-covering tunics or sweaters, because they’re closer to leggings than pants. And my Ann Taylor trousers always fit just ok and typically were a little too long or short because I could never justify bringing $40 pants to the tailor for $30 in alterations (I’m between sizes and inseams). Lacking basic pairs of well-fitting, flattering pants really made it difficult to feel good about any outfit! So, as my eBay shopping was increasing, I made it a priority to look for some pre-owned pants. I did some browsing on NAP to become familiar with brands ogle their perfectly styled models featuring an array of pants styles (skinny pants, wide-leg trousers, flare trousers, slim cropped pants, wide-leg crops… gorgeous). Since the pants I was buying were so affordable (high quality brands like Prada at less than $50!), I allowed myself to try so many styles I would have otherwise avoided. It turns out that so many styles of pants can be flattering and comfortable with the right quality material and a little tailoring, even on a petite figure!
I know buying pre-owned isn’t something that everyone is comfortable with, but it works for me and keeps me from getting caught up with the next great trend, like dressed up sweat pants. I know its not overly useful to blog about sold out or unavailable items, but there are probably 2,254,643 fashion blogs right now that link anything and everything you could possibly be looking for. And I’m sure I’ll be back to buying mostly new eventually!
December. The holidays. While this is a favorite time of year for many, its not the best time to be a resident. Winter time is dreary to begin with (well, at least in Minnesota), which makes the long days (or nights) at work seem even longer. But what makes it so much more depressing is knowing people are out enjoying “normal people” things. Things I wish I was doing. Decorating, cooking, getting dressed up, visiting with family and friends… that type of stuff. There are reminders everywhere of what we’re missing out on.
I don’t do a lot of gift giving with my family (only small gifts for immediate family), so the holiday season is a nice time for some guilt-free retail therapy. I’m trying to avoid buying (or keeping) items that I’m not 100% in love with. Its not easy to find items that qualify! My #1 criteria for clothes and shoes is comfort. If its not comfortable, I’m never going to wear it, no matter how amazing it looks! And especially for winter clothes, comfort is tied closely with quality (and frequently price). I have difficulty finding comfy, quality items at typical “blogger” retail sites (Ann Taylor, LOFT, J. Crew, Zara, H&M, etc). Items so often look amazing on bloggers. But then I try out the same item and am completely underwhelmed. Fabrics are itchy, cuts are unflattering and ill-fitting (especially at the bust and shoulders on top and hips and thighs on the bottom), threads are hanging off, buttons are falling off… yeah. I suppose I could wear the item for a few pictures and style it in a flattering way, too. But its not worth it. I don’t want to fill my closet with one-time-wear items that sit in my closet after their sole debut. I want items that I will reach for in the morning and feel good in all day.
I wish I had a long list of amazing, good quality, affordable items that I could share with you. But honestly, I don’t. You already know about my J. Crew Elsie pump obsession (in all varieties… suede, leather, metallic camo, and the fabric pair shown in these pics). These pumps were by far my favorite purchases this fall. The Chateau parka was a noteworthy runner-up, and the Boyfriend flannel shirt and Shearling-lined sweatshirt made it home with me, but in retrospect were too expensive for what they are. I have a couple of Yoox orders in process at the moment, but the problem with recommending items from yoox is that they’re sold out so quickly! I haven’t even received my orders yet and the only items that are still in stock are this John Richmond “face” top and this Cruciani cardigan.
The majority of my purchases continue to be pre-owned and likely many seasons old. This is the only reasonable way for me to afford quality items. Sure, many of the items will require a dry cleaning trip or some work at the tailor. But the overall cost of a pair of silk Chloe crops, for example, is still only slightly more than a new pair of Zara pants. And the extra cost and effort is worth it! The fabrics are so much nicer (way more comfy) and the fit is immensely more flattering. How do you feel about buying pre-owned?
Me vs. evil winter virus. I’m finally winning (after about 5 days of battle)! The viruses are really bad this year. All sorts of fevers, chills and night sweats (those are the worst) on top of the regular URI stuff. I spent my thanksgiving weekend alone, mostly sleeping. I felt like I was hit by a bus. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this week is my planned vacation. I’ll apparently spend it recovering.
While being only half-alive did keep me from going to any in-store sales, it didn’t stop me from turning on my pc every 4-6 hours (about the time my meds wore off) to browse the online sales stuff. I’ve received a few items so far. Some are keepers, some will go back without a second thought! I’ll share the good ones…
I do a good amount of J. Crew shopping during the holidays when the sales are good and the prices are reasonable. I’ve bought a few more than a few pairs of elsie pumps so far this fall (beige suede, black suede, black/white plaid fabric and pink leather). I love them all… they’ve added so much to my wardrobe! I decided to add one last pair to the collection this weekend… metallic camo! I’d love to wear these with black trousers and a neutral top! I’m selling a bunch of less comfortable pumps to make way for these (no point in having gorgeous yet uncomfortable shoes sitting in the closet). I also grabbed a boyfriend flannel shirt (great for layering or wearing alone and surprisingly flattering), the shearling-lined sweatshirt (not overly flattering, but adorable in a cozy sort of way) and the oversize stripe turtleneck (love the style and fit, quality is just ok). I do have a few basic items on the way: the Thomas mason boy shirt and the Thomas mason french cuff shirt. I love a flattering plain white blouse!
My other go-to holiday retailer is Yoox.com. Yoox offers designer items at deeply discounted prices (items that make it to the end-of-season sales are eventually are 80% off). The items are typically a season or so old, which isn’t a big deal to me. I typically shop for high quality, classic items (black pants, cashmere sweaters, etc). I have a few pairs of black wool pants on there way right now! They’re offering an extra 25% off today, and I’m debating trying out a few new sweaters (I’m thinking this toasty Golden Goose turtleneck or something similarly cozy)… I can always return them when I realize I’ve overspent. Or step up my eBay selling!
I hope you had a good (perhaps long?) weekend! Make sure you take care of yourself and stay healthy