Dilemmas: Stuff I'd like to get from the General Economy

Been a long time since we did a "Dilemmas" post.  In this case it's not really a matter of choosing which one to get, but whether to get something at all - or get all of them :)

  • Oak NYC houndstooth scarf, $7
  • Frye Paige dark brown boots, $200
  • Rag & Bone top, $45
  • Free People sequined vest, $23
  • Random Japanese lace skirt, $30
  • Kookai striped sweater, $27
  • Anthro skirt, $45
  • Tulle pencil skirt, $20

Dilemmas: Incarnations of Black-and-White Tie Dye, the Dress and the Scarf.

Another of my personal fall trends (maybe they are better labeled as "interests," "fascinations," or "obsessions"): tie-dyed things.  I'm specifically drawn to the black-and-white variety, or its equally neutral cousins (gray-and-black, white-and-navy), because let's face it, I am not one to pull off the rainbow-hued hippie sort of tie-dyed T-shirt.

The concept first entered my consciousness through Lucky's end-page spread from Andrea Linett, the insufferably smug creative director who has been called "the horsey, manfaced ex-Sassy editor" by at least one vehement blogger.  I know, I hate her sense of entitlement too.  But I totally developed an infatuation with this tie-dyed cashmere scarf she featured in the some really old issue of Lucky. The very idea of tie-dyed cashmere was intoxicating - such a flippant, casual method applied to such a luxurious material.  The scarf, of course, was way out of my budget, but the idea stuck.
A month ago, my dear Annie sported a simple tank dress from Calvin Klein that was tie-dyed in the same way.  Of course, this girl can pull off anything, but it really looked good--and versatile to boot, the way she combined it with black tights and a belt. Then, I saw a glimpse of some tie-dye the other week while browsing through American Apparel.  Usually I am hard-pressed to find anything worth buying at AA, but the style of the dye almost exactly matched the one in Ms. Linett's spread.  And finally, I was reminded of this latent tie-dye obsession when I came across a beautiful, version of the tie-dyed dress in the tambukiki eBay boutique.

Now, I'm torn!  Do I get the simple shift dress from Calvin Klein (on sale now for just $20!)?  Or the giant and infinitely versatile circle scarf from American Apparel ($34)?  Or both?  Or do I bite the bullet and invest in one of the uber-extravagant cashmere versions ($200+)?

Dilemmas: BCBGMAXAZRIA - Patchwork Satchel $139. To buy or not to buy?

Medium sized patchwork satchel bag. Treated leather with metal hardware. Top zip closure with hidden magnetic snap flap opening and double top handles. Removable grosgrain shoulder strap. Signature logo nylon interior lining with large zip pocket and two slip pockets. Body length 16 inches; height 9 inches; width 4 1/2 inches. Handle drop 4 1/2 inches; removable shoulder strap drop 13 inches.
COLOR: Black
ORIGIN: Imported
ESTIMATED DELIVERY: Fri 10/9/09 to Tue 10/13/09

RETURN POLICY: This item is final sale and non-returnable.

More Dilemmas: Random shoes I am thinking of getting

I am probably closest to getting the ones pictured below, 'Shani' lace-up wedge booties by Bronx.  In brown.  Because they are some of the most awesome shoes I've seen all season.  The ones available are a bit large for me (size 7) but I think I'm willing to take the risk since...I can always return it I guess.

Other contenders:

Yes, I think I am going through another teal phase.  Last time, it resulted in a jewel-like formal top and a sleeveless, seventies-tastic romper (I promise I'll wear it and post pictures).  This time, it's shoes.

Dilemmas: Which Bag Should I Buy?

All my day purses are shoulder bags because I hate holding my purse on my wrist or hands. My hands need to be free to hold a cup of tea, pick up magazines, scrounge through my purse for gum and other mundane things.

But, I also like clutches. It's the perfect evening bag to throw your essentials into and the best accessory to complete a "going-out" outfit. The downside? You guessed it, my hands are not free.

It happens all the time. I'm out with my friends, drink in one hand and clutch in another. No free hands. Option B entails clutching the clutch in the same arm as the one holding the drink, but that doesn't last long because it gets uncomfortable and the clutch keeps slipping.

The solution? I want a bag that has a chain, so I can hold it regularly as a clutch but also transform it into a shoulder bag.

Please help me choose a clutch. They're all fairly similar since I love embellishments and shiny things, but still different in its own way. I've chosen black and silver ones for versatility and it's ability to match with any outfit. I'm swaying more towards the last two since they're cheaper and I really can't bare the thought of dropping almost $100.

Please help and send me your thoughts. Thank you!

1. Jessica McClintock Clutch $85.74
2. Hype Stardust Clutch $82.50
3. Le Regale Clutch $32
4. Le Regale Clutch $31

A Test of Efficiency/Efficacy: Diary of sh*t I bought in the last 4 months.

Posted simultenously to stephanie.posterous.com

I feel like I'm spilling all my secrets. 

Don't think for one minute that, with all my mooning about beautiful shoes and things, I somehow lose track or control of my spending or, as I've heard some people say, "have nothing to show for it."  Au contraire, I know exactly where every penny has gone and try to make purchases through careful deliberation (doesn't always work, of course).

I definitely make mistakes - I'm still a fledgling shopper, still learning the ropes, still buying things I regret later (or immediately).  I know it will take some time, but what I'm really working towards is developing my taste, my ability to quickly assess fit, style, quality, and value--understanding what I like and what I don't like, what works and what won't, slowly getting more confident making this assessment, and slowly becoming faster at it.  

I've come a long way in the last few years--it all started when I realized that I was a) buying pretty stuff I didn't wear and b) not wearing it out of laziness, defaulting to jeans and t-shirts, and, even worse, c) not wearing it because I lacked confidence/self esteem.  I realized I didn't wear half the stuff I bought because I did not like calling attention to myself.  I have been very lucky to have always worked in offices that allow a lot of room for creativity.  I realized that if I could work up the nerve to pull off some of the stuff I bought, and get used to the attention it would bring, perhaps that gumption would seep into other areas of my life.  I also realized that it would be fun to to approach style as another form of self-expression.  As Garry tells me, "wear it and hold your head up!"

I digress.

As I said, I keep close tabs on my credit card statement, the wad of receipts in my wallet, and the accumulation of "stuff" around my room.  I thought it might be a good exercise to do a recap/roundup of what I bought in the last few months, much of which you may have seen on this blog, along with my thoughts on each item.
April: Some may remember I gave up shopping for Lent.  As soon as Easter came, I bought stuff. A crapton of it.
  • Yellow bag: My first real-leather handbag.  From Marshall's. Besides being a steal, I use it almost every day.  Definite winner.
  • World According to Jess "crossword" case: It is a fantastic overnighter.  I love the separate compartment on the bottom for shoes.
  • Black hoodie, gray sweater, blue top from the Gap: The hoodie replaced one that was falling apart and will come in handy as soon as autumn hits.  The gray sweater I ruined in the dryer - but at least it was only $10 and may make some cozy armwarmers.  The blue top I absolutely love.
  • Shoshanna floral print dress: Huge mistake.  It is sized a true 4 (as opposed to the generous sizing at most chain stores), so I can't even zip it up.  I can't decide if I want to donate it, resell it, try to alter it to fit me, or lose a crapton of weight.
  • Franco Sarto clogs: I love them.  They were totally affordable, the grommets on the side add edge to any outfit, and they are so versatile!
  • RSVP silver sandals: They served their purpose (my friend's wedding).  At $13, does it really matter if I ever wear them again?
  • Frye lace-up boots: One of my most expensive shoe purchases to date.  I like them a lot, but still can't figure out how to wear them. (Help!)
May: This was a month of scouring eBay and traveling.
  • Cotton "tropical toile" sundress: I bought this dress from the fantastic Moule in the Pearl District of Portland, a fantastic purchase from an amazing retail store.  It was a one-of-a-kind sample, made either by Rachel Mara or Michelle Mason (the designer later decided to turn the design into a top instead of a dress).  It has a balloon-y silhouette, is light as air, and I love everything from the pattern of the toile to the black bands that define it at the top and bottom.  The icing on the cake was that it was heavily discounted, and there's no sales tax in Portland.  Score.
  • Black fedora: a random buy at the Saturday Market in Portland.  I like the way it looks/fits but have not figured out where on earth I can wear it with a straight face.
  • Vintage Selby loafers: From one of my favorite sellers on Etsy.  At $10 they were a steal, and I love the extra-long tongues and little gold hardware.
  • Vintage striped secretary blouse: It was also a steal, but it's a bit shapeless.  I need to figure out how to wear it without looking like a referee or a flight attendant.
  • Random jewelry: All purchased on eBay.  You all witnessed the deliberation over the owl, but the blue orchid was an unexpected find, and I was surprised at how much I love that splash of blue against everything.  The bracelets are fine, not super excited about them.
  • Custom pencil skirt from Louise Hedley: I was disappointed with the purchase and ended up giving the Etsy seller neutral feedback (she was very nice/lovely to work with but the color and fit was just not what I expected based on the item description).  Haven't worn it out but maybe one of these days.  Not worth the $ at all.
June: Showed a bit more restraint this month.
  • Plaid "farmer girl" shirt: I can't for the life of me remember the name of the designer even though I chatted with her for a few minutes at SF's Indie Mart.  She very cleverly cuts off the sleeves of things and arranges them in flower patterns on the chest.  I was debating between this and a vest made out of a repurposed blazer, but Garry was right that I would wear this more.  I do, and I love it!
  • Eva Brann cream crochet cardigan: It was the one thing I wanted to buy in all of Beacon Hill when I visited Boston last month.  The preppy, yacht-club style of New England does not jive with me.  I was surprised to find this unexpectedly romantic piece at Boutique Eskil.  It was expensive, but it's beautiful, you can't go wrong with a pretty white cardigan, and there's no sales tax in Boston.  Score.
July:  So far.  This does not include the sh*t I ordered last week from Anthro.  Including the enchanting dark bouquet dress.
  • Look from London plaid tights: The only thing at Jeremy's SF worth buying.  Sushmita and I thought Jeremy's was like a big, disorganized, and appallingly expensive version of Ross.  There were very few good deals to be had, and the selection was awful.  But I salvaged the day with this quirky find - they are super comfortable and lots of fun (and not pricey!).
  • Emily Katz "wish" top: One of the very few things I was moved to buy at the giant DIY flea market that was the Renegade Craft Fair.  Not only was this sample hugely discounted, but I got to chat with Emily herself for a while.  I'll be featuring her in a later post.
  • Elie Tahari snakeskin sandals: You already know all about this one.  They fit all right, but one major negative is that the slingback slips so easily off my heels.  I don't know if I should try to return them, if I just need to break them in, if I should get some kind of heel insert, or if I just need to totter around like a deer in them.

Dilemmas: Which Flats Should I Buy?

As much as I love to wear heels, I live in San Francisco; hills, public transportation and walking a lot pushes me towards wearing flats almost daily.

I need new flats. I usually go for dark flats, but I'm feeling kind of summery and light (except for the last one). Please let me know which one I should get or if I should continue searching.

Wanted Shoes Bolero Ballerina with Bow $34.95
Wanted Shoes Dizzy Flat $49.95
Steve Madden Kazler Ballerina Flat $89.95

Update: Thanks to everyone that responded. I ended up getting the first one and it unfortunately doesn't fit me well! There's very little support and I don't have wide feet, but it sure feels like I do! Search continues...

Dilemmas: Should I Buy It?

I've been eying this Sheri Bodell dress for a long time now.

I love the subtle sweetheart neckline, embellishments and color. I always deemed it too "expensive" and I already have a million other black dresses.

But, this one's gorgeous with the detailing AND it's on sale for $170 (reg $568), what a deal.

The only downside is it's final sale, meaning not-returnable. What if I get it and I don't like it or the dress doesn't fit me well? Then I'm stuck with an expensive dress that I'd never wear.

What do you think, should I buy it?