Chopin Liszt

That title only makes sense in relation to an old friend I had back in college who was a piano teacher. On her refrigerator she kept a magnetic notepad which functioned as her grocery list, and it was titled “Chopin Liszt” instead of “Shopping List.” I’ve always thought that was clever, and every time I start to write a shopping post here I consider giving it the same title. So, I finally did it. Sorry, classical music lovers who stumble onto this page by mistake. Unless you want to read about eyebrows, purses, and Stitch Fix. Moving on.

It’s still Sunday when I’m writing this, so in my mind Spring Break hasn’t officially begun yet, but I’ve already taken 240 photos. As usual, give me a little time off and the camera starts flashing! But more on that later. It’s definitely worked out nicely that our Spring Break is a week behind almost all of the public school districts in Houston; usually having the week off is nice, but everything is so crowded with high school students some of the thrill is lessened. Doug and I were going to take advantage of the free week by going down to Kemah, a part of the city that usually gets packed when students are out of school, but considering last week’s little trip to the emergency room is probably going to cost us a couple thou, we decided to bow out of any major expenditures. Still, it’ll be fun to run around town all week and feel like the only person in the world who isn’t working. Good times.

For more fun, let’s talk about my eyebrows. For a few months now, I’ve been getting them tinted when I go in for threading (which I do about once a month). The tint fades pretty quickly, but it’s only another $10 or so, so I always figure why not. Now, I’m perfectly familiar with the fact that the day I get them tinted they’re pretty dark, but that they start to fade after the first face washing. So I’m not sure just what happened yesterday; if the technician really did put much more on than usual, or if the fact that I wore no other makeup yesterday (when I usually have a full face on) made my brows appear more, erm, dramatic than usual. And it’s not like she didn’t give me a mirror and show me how the brows looked before I went on my way, but what can I say – as always, I barely pay attention when in the salon because I’m in a hurry to get out of there (usually for lunch), so perhaps that’s what happened; or maybe it was because I didn’t have my glasses on when I looked at them, who knows. As it turned out, even after leaving the salon and getting lunch, stopping into a few shops, and hitting the grocery store on the way home, I still hadn’t given them a good glance. It wasn’t until I’d come home and gotten settled that I looked in the mirror, and saw this:

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Yep, that was me on Saturday, walking around, gettin my Groucho Marx on. I swear I’ve never noticed them looking quite this painted on before, but as I said, it could have been my lack of other eye makeup that made this happen? Either that, or the tech just went overboard. It’s also nice that I had my hair all pulled back like that, to really allow everyone a good look at my freakishness. Fortunately, by Sunday morning, things were looking a little more normal:

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Still no makeup hence the filter

But I definitely need to remember in the future to go straight home after a brow tint, or at least keep my hair down. Moving on.

Now, shopping! First I’ll share a few quick Stitch Fix shots from my March box. They sent some nice stuff, but I only ended up keeping one thing as the others were all near misses. There’s three SF items in this first shot:

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The cardigan is called the Vivianna Open-Draped Knit Cardigan , and it’s the only piece I kept. I need another long cardigan like I need a kick in the throat, but this one was light and cute and comfy so I couldn’t resist. The coral top is called the Micah Embroidered Bib Top, and it was SO almost a keeper; it’s a nice, light jersey-type material and the fit was loose but not too big. However, coral is a horrible color on me (in spite of how nice it might look here – THANKS PHOTOSHOP) and as much I liked the cut and feel of this I knew it would end up being given to my best friend who looks amazing in this color after it hung in my closet for six months without being worn. So bye. And then – sigh – we have the Anita Skinny Pant in, of course, black. I believe this is the third pair of black skinny pants Stitch Fix has sent me, and I’ve yet to buy any of them as well as giving feedback on each pair that I do not need any more black skinny pants. These weren’t a jean and were not quite a legging, so they were nice, but again, just don’t need them, plus they were a size 26 which, as hard as it is for me to accept this, is too big for me now. Even in skinny pants. Crazy. Back they went.

Also – I wish you could better see the shoes I’m wearing here. These are from Free People and are by Jeffrey Campbell; they’re a pointy-toed flat slide called the Dayna Point Flat, and they are awesome. I bought them in a brown snakeskin back in October when they were full price (they no longer sell them, just have taupe and black now), but they were hella uncomfortable, so I stuck them in my closet and forgot about them since it turned cold right after that and I went deep into Ugg mode for the winter. I never did want to send them back because I knew if I could get them broken in I’d wear them forever – they have just the right amount of dressiness to be worn with nicer clothes, but are still casual enough for everything else I wear. A few weeks ago I pulled out the snakeskin ones and wore them around the house for several days, as well as putting some moleskin inside to make the fairly stiff material feel softer, and lo and behold I eventually wore them down. They almost immediately became my favorite shoes, so when FP put the black ones on sale I snatched them up, even though they’re suede and I’d like them much better in plain leather. I don’t think there’s anywhere else you can get these, so if you like them, go snatch them up now, because they’re marked down to $49 and selling out fast. In fact, I am going back to get the taupe ones now…yep, just bought ’em.

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Sadly, no more snake print

Annnnnd now, let’s get ready for a big HELL NO from Stitch Fix:

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I couldn’t even take this shirt seriously enough to take a decent picture

This is called the Marietta Chambray Top, and it’s one of those tops that has plenty of photographs on the internet, with most women (at least the ones posting pictures) liking it. I knew, however, just from seeing the pics online that I was going to hate it. Oxford-style tops are very difficult for me to wear. I don’t know what it is about them that doesn’t work on me; maybe it’s the formality of them more than the fit? Anyway, I don’t like the cut and that silly fading in the middle (oh, and that’s not a pocket you see there, it’s the imprint of a pocket) makes me think Hee Haw (does anyone else remember that show?). Hee Haw Hell Naw! Back it goes.

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This falls into the “meh” department, so it went back also. Again – black, why so much black, Stitch Fix? It bores me. And it’s another jersey-knit maxi dress of the sort I’ve bought many times before and ended up getting bored with pretty quickly. This one in particular is called the Jessie Basket Weave Detail Jersey Maxi Dress (not very catchy, is it) and it’s by a label called Gilli that I’ve worn before (my poor abandoned ModCloth sells a lot of Gilli dresses). All the Gillis I’ve owned have been cute, and comfy, until the second or third washing when they start pilling and looking worn out. So no on this one for me this time, too, Stitch Fix. But thanks for the cardigan. Seriously though, this isn’t a bad Fix, and sending most of it back had more to do with not needing anything new than it did with being disappointed in what I received. So we’ll see what next month brings. And now: purses!

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When I bought my first Vuitton back in November and quickly became obsessed with the bags, there were a few things I knew I wanted to add to my little collection: as far as purse styles, I knew I wanted an Alma (the bottom one) and a Speedy (third up to the right, below the checkerboard bag with the pom tassel), and as far as different lines besides the monogram print I knew wanted a Damier Ebene (more photos of that one here) and something from the Epi Leather line (the ivory one). The denim and the little mini-Ellipse got snatched up while looking for the other things, since they were good deals. So happily, I have now found all of what I wanted, and don’t feel the need for anything else from LV right now. Not that I don’t still enjoy looking, but brand-new items are out of my price range (although OMG the Spring and Summer line looks AMAZING. Can’t wait until I can buy some of it used in, say, ten years) so my online shopping mostly involves finding good deals on used sites rather than breaking the bank on new stuff. Although…

Louis Vuitton, Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2015 Collection in Paris
Anybody care to loan me three grand?

Oh, and those two little purse tassels on the ivory and checkerboard bag are from Banana Republic; Vuitton makes bag charms that cost up to $500 used, but the Banana ones are $40 which is much more reasonable, and they are real leather. Yes, I’ve even begun decorating my handbags. I’m in deep, people.

So deep that even though I’m all caught up on LV, I’ve also gotten obsessed with an older bag from Fendi that was, apparently, all the rage about ten years ago. Seriously, type “Fendi Spy Bag” into Google images and check out every single female celeb imaginable carrying them around, oh, 2004-2007 or so. I never had any idea, of course, because the bags retailed for well over $1000 so there was no way they would have ever crossed my path, but now that they’ve been discontinued for several years they can be found on the resale sites I frequent, and there are loads of old posts singing the bag’s praises over on the Purse Forum where I’m now a member.

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I’d love to find one in this color

In fact, it was on the forum where  I first stumbled across a post or two about them, and at first I thought they were hideous but soon they grew on me; they do have everything I love about a bag – they are huge, and they are slouchy, and those woven handles are gorgeous – and I decided I’d like to own one. Sadly, I did not notice when first reading the forum posts that they were all years old, so when I went searching for more information I was surprised to find they were no longer being sold. This means they re-sell for more than I am comfortable spending, but I’ve been watching a few closely since December as they’ve slowly gotten marked down ever further over at Fashionphile (I’ve also been bummed to watch a few disappear that I was really wanting to buy and waiting for further discounts, because someone else was wiling to spend more scratch than I – grrr). There was one that hit a price I was willing to spend, but at first I was still unsure if I should pull the trigger, because even for a Spy bag, it’s pretty unusual.

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This one was a limited edition Spy, and even though it looks a little freaky, it was pretty exclusive. The Fendi Moncler Spy was released for Christmas in 2006 and was only on sale for three months, at a few exclusive stores. Only 500 of them were made in the US, and well, now I own one of them! Most people hated these when they came out; they were made in collaboration with an uber-expensive line of ski wear called, of course, Moncler, and yes, it is made of the same down-filled nylon as the ritzy ski-wear label’s winter gear. It came in red, green, and black (I would have loved to find a red one) and retailed for around $2100, and most people thought Fendi was insane to charge so much for something so, well, ugly (apparently Paris Hilton got a red one, dammit, as did Ashlee Simpson. I still want one in that color. I’m sure they’ve both given theirs to their dogs by now to use as pet beds too, or something). I was unsure about getting this one, but when the price went down to $550, and under the influence of all the exclusivity and limited-edition-ness hype, I decided to give it a try. And – I freaking love it! It’s not much of a spring/summer bag, but the best thing I can say about it is that last weekend when I got so sick and had to go to the hospital, it was very cold and raining here, and I took my Moncler Spy with me and cuddled it the whole time I was in the ER as if it were a stuffed animal, or my favorite blanket, and I swear to you it made me feel better. It was so cozy and soft and warm, and it withstood the awful weather without a single smudge or water stain, and it got loads of compliments and carried absolutely everything. And also, there is a reason these bags were named the “Spy” – secret compartments!

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The top of the bag is open, without zippers or clasps, but there is a large “flap” that folds over the top and essentially keeps it closed (see the top left picture). The cool thing is, that flap is actually a little mini-purse. It’s pretty deep, so open it up and you can fit quite a bit of stuff in there – I can put my ID holder, a little tube of hand lotion, my full set of keys, and a glasses cleaning cloth in mine (I think you’re supposed to put your makeup in it, but whatever). Then, hanging off the end of the mini-purse/flap closure is what Fendi called a “wand” – it looks kind of uselessly decorative, until you pop it open at the bottom and realize it’s hollow. The basic claim is that it’s for a tube of lipstick, but give me a break. Maybe a lip LINER would fit inside, but it’s way too narrow for ordinary lipstick of any kind. I honestly can’t figure out any way to use this feature, but hey! Secret compartment!

I think you know where this is headed. Yep. I have two more Spys on layaway over at Fashionphile – a brown Nappa leather and a metallic gold (the brown one I just paid off on Sunday and should have in my possession by the end of the week). But I swear after that I’m done. I think. I’m pretty obsessed with these babies right now, but, they are pretty HUGE bags, so there’s only so many I have room to own. Although, if another gorgeous teal green Spy like the one I missed out on when someone else bought it shows up over there, I may have to grab it too…Moving on:

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…to the last Fendi I own, which I actually bought quite awhile ago. It was listed on eBay in December, and the photos in the ad were horrible, so it had not sold even though the seller had re-listed it several times. She had a “best offer” option on the current auction, so I thought, what the hell, and sent a real low-ball offer ($180), which she accepted. Even though it’s quite used, I was pleased to see it looked much better in person than the seller’s online photos, and it still looks great to carry around – plus I don’t have to worry too much about it. It’s another from the Spy line; Fendi came out with many variations and sizes designed along the same lines as the original but without the massive size or any bells and whistles. So, no secret compartments in this one, but I love the Zucca print and those woven handles  get me every time. It’s my favorite feature of these bags. And notice how nicely those handles have held up over the years; the sign of a well-made handbag for sure.

Ok seriously, people, if you don’t want to go out and buy something by the end of this post, you have a self-control problem (namely, way too much of it). I hit y’all up with a lot of shopping in this post (I didn’t even get to discuss my excitement over a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race or the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul), so I promise the next one will be strictly photos. Happy Monday suckers – I’m on break! And probably still sleeping!

Stitch Fix Quick Pix (and a new Fashionphile bag)

When I say ‘quick pix,’ I mean it, and they are also pretty crappy, but Stitch Fix and I have come to understand each other better in the past few months, so I wanted to share a few of the nice things they’ve sent me. They’re all tops, because I guess when I told them I was sick to death of skinny jeans and did not need them to send me anymore, they ran out of ideas and quit sending me bottoms altogether – probably a good thing since I’ve apparently lost more weight in the past month and am still having to buy all new pants (and even sweatpants because I finally could not take them falling down anymore) and wouldn’t be able to wear any new ones they might have sent me anyway. I’m dreading the weather getting warmer and discovering that all that cool Free People stuff I bought back in the summer and fall no longer fits me, but I can always make a big old trip to the tailor I guess. Moving on.

Stitch Fix has, however, sent me several great tops I’ve kept (and one nice skirt I gave to a friend because sending it back would have brought my total to the same amount the full Fix was if I kept it and took the extra discount). Whenever I know a Fix is coming, I go to the website and look at what’s headed my way; sometimes I can find photos of it from other people’s reviews online, and sometimes not – but most of the tops I was able to find in these last few shipments I did not think I would like based on what I saw. Even when taking them out of the box I was not impressed, but when trying them on they really worked for me. I was not wearing makeup when I took these pics, so in most of them I took my head out of the equation. There were a few where I didn’t look TOO awful, so I kept my head on. But still, no makeup, so yeah. Not up to my usual standard. But I wanted to share a few since some of them didn’t have much online representation and other people may be searching for them like I was. So here we go – keep in mind that these did not all come in the same Fix, by the way. You only get five items per shipment, and these tops represent most of what I’ve kept out of the last three I’ve received (a few things weren’t clean when I took the pics, so they’re not being shown).

First up is the Evolution by Cyrus Lonnie Coated Metallic Sweater (hey, I don’t make up these long-ass names, I just repeat them):

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While I wouldn’t call this sweater comfortable, for how it felt when I took it out of the box it was far more wearable than I thought it would be, so perhaps low expectations made it acceptable. In other words, it isn’t uncomfortable, but it’s not my usual level of cotton/jersey knit softness. In fact, my first thought after touching it was that it felt, and looked, like a car floor mat, but when worn it’s pretty snazzy and unique. The fit one me is very good, even though here it looks a little schlumpy (guess I should have bothered to put on a bra before I took this shot. Oh well). Anyway, I loved it, even though I still don’t know what color it is (I believe the actual stated color on the receipt was just “metallic”).

Up next is the Janine Colorblock Open Cardigan and the Beau Fringe Infinity Scarf:

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There are items of clothing that scream “teacher” to me, and long open ruffly cardigans are one of them. So once again, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one until I put it on. It’s actually quite cute and a nice fit, and it isn’t overly heavy so it can be worn in mild winters like we usually have. It’s not too long, which makes something this bulky more flattering, but the sleeves are a bit overlong, which I happen to love. The scarf is another crochet scarf. I didn’t need another one, but it was only about $30 so I kept it.

Then there’s my Alessandro Floral Print Silk Blouse:

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Starting to sound like a broken record here, but yeah, I saw this online (albeit in another color) and thought I was going to hate it, blah blah blah. I tried it on and loved it. So much so that I was OK paying over $100 for it. The tunic style is about the only type of “blouse” I will wear – everything else is too fussy and/or formal for me – and Stitch Fix has sent me several that I really like. The print and color on this one are just divine, even though coral isn’t a color I wear well at all. It’s primarily white, so I can pull this off. Gorgeous.

The improperly-named Placer Knit Poncho is up next:

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It’s fab, but it’s NOT a poncho.

This was the one I saw online and thought, oh yuk, Stitch Fix, don’t waste the postage sending me this. But it’s actually versatile and cute and fits like a dream. It’s quite long, but tapered, which usually is a disaster on my pear shape but there’s enough room and stretch to the material that it works perfectly; I can keep my bum covered without looking bulky at all. The dolman sleeves and the cowl neck are well-done too – full without being overly big (cowl necks are usually a disaster on me because of my small shoulders and chest; every time I lean over I’m flashing the world and not interested in putting a camisole on underneath a COWL NECK for modesty’s sake). The color isn’t the best on me, but who cares, this top is fabulous. Looks great with black skinny jeans (I don’t need anymore, remember? Cause I already have a ton) and my tall boots. One of my faves from my recent shipments, in case you can’t tell.

And here’s the Aleah Heathered V-Neck Dolman Top:

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This one’s pretty funny, because I only kept it due to the comfort level, thinking it didn’t look good on me but I would wear the hell out of it around the house. It does suffer from the wide v-neck/flashing-everyone-my-minimal-goods syndrome I mentioned in the previous cowl neck discussion, but putting a tank underneath it isn’t as annoying as I thought it would be, and although I did wear it around the house with yoga pants for a few days, it eventually ended up in my work rotation, and now it’s a favorite top. Great color and so comfortable it’s crazy. The long tapered bottom doesn’t bug me near as much as I thought it would; my larger-than-the-rest-of-me hips tend to make tops that taper like this unflattering, but hell, I have lost ten pounds so I guess that’s why this one looks fine (I keep forgetting that clothes are going to fit me differently at 120 than they did at 130).

Wrapping it up with the Daniel Rainn Lisbet Tie-Neck Blouse:

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Well what can I say about this one, except that once again this is one of those Stitch Fix items I would have never, ever tried on if I saw it in a store. First of all, it gathers at the bottom, which I usually hate. It’s also very sheer, which I rarely like (and the little cami that came attached to it was a joke, BTW, and had to be snipped out so I could wear my own underneath). It’s also a LOT of pattern for me (in case you can’t tell, I’m not much of a print person IRL. I save that for the costume portraits). Oh, and it ties at the neck. It’s just fussy, at least to me, and I almost sent this one packing. But it is tunic-like, and it’s very boho, and a gal needs a least a few prints in her wardrobe here and there, and the occasional neck-tie isn’t going to kill me. It’s cute, so I kept it. But, here’s my warning – as I already mentioned, the cami that comes with it is just stupid. It’s attached lightly by a string at the shoulder, and I seriously could NOT get the top on at all when it was hanging off of it like that. Even if I’d liked the cami I would have had to snip it out to get it on; once I did that however I realized the thing was a cheap material and had no shape to it, so it sagged down and didn’t even begin to cover my bra. If you like the look of this one, try cutting the cami out before you stuff it back in the bag. It helps!

So let’s wrap up this shopping post with my latest acquisition from Fashionphile to add to my nice little Vuitton collection, which I am pretty satisfied with at this point and slowing down on growing. This one is called the Manosque PM in the Damier Ebene print, and it cost me a pretty penny (at least as far as I am concerned it was a lot; in the realm of Vuitton I guess it was a bargain). I love this print, but it has a high re-sale value, I think because it’s only been around since the 1990s, so super-old pieces aren’t out there to sell like the traditional Monogram is. It also must be in high demand, because  people easily pay over $1,000 for some of the DE bags used, which blows my mind a little still being new to all this. No, I did not pay nearly that much; I just don’t think I’d ever do that, although when utilizing layaway paying more can at least be tolerable to me.

But first up, Simon:

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As usual, he loves the boxes AND the bags that come in them, so I have to keep all of them hidden in a locked closet, even the one I’m using, otherwise he goes right inside. Sorry Simon, but I paid $695 for this bag and I’m not letting you use it as a cat toy.

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Close-up of the Damier Ebene print, which I love

By the way, in reading about this print while researching why it’s so much more expensive at re-sale, I learned that it’s actually the original print Vuitton made back in the day (which I am too lazy to go look up again, but I’m thinking late 1800s). Vuitton transitioned to the Monogram soon after, and I believe the re-introduction of it in the 90s was the first time it had been manufactured since. It’s been a big success, so I don’t see it going anywhere soon. And in a previous post, I showed the Damier Azure, which is the white and grey version of it.

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So there it is! It’s an odd shape, and I was quite uncertain what I was going to think of this one, but believe it or not at $695 this was one of the cheaper bags of it’s size in the DE print, and I love the little pocket on the side, so I decided to try it. Fashionphile has an excellent return policy (since they’re selling things that are already used, they have a more open mind about accepting returns) so I knew I could return it if it wasn’t to my liking. I admit that it’s smaller than I usually carry, but that’s not a bad thing to have, since my Neverfull is pretty huge and a bit bulky to carry around day-to-day. The triangle shape means I can’t fit a whole lot in it, because there’s not much room at the bottom of the bag, but when I carry a smaller purse like this (smaller for me at least) I don’t put much in it anyway, and carry a second, larger bag for all the stuff I for some reason believe I have to have with me at all times. Anyway. I actually think the size is perfect for the shape of this bag, and would not like it if it were the larger version, which is HUGE. Also, I learned my lesson earlier about buying bags labeled by Fashionphile as only in “fair” condition – this was listed as “very good” and quite lives up to that description. It has a few flaws, and the interior has some pen marks and wear (which I couldn’t care less about), but overall this thing is in fantastic shape.

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So, my collecting is winding down. I have one other bag I just paid off which should arrive Monday – I wanted something from their Epi leather line, and once again found one at a good price and used layaway to pay for it. There is a Fendi I’d also like to get, even though it’s completely out of style (the Spy bag, which was an It-Bag in the 2000s but whatever, I still want one) and then I’m pretty much good for now, unless a super-good deal comes along (I don’t always spend $695). Try as I might, I cannot get into the small leather goods Vuitton is so known for and most people go gaga over; wallets and key fobs and cosmetic cases don’t thrill me in the least, so I have hard time paying a lot for them. I know to some people it’s practically a violation to put a cheap wallet inside a Vuitton bag, but whatever. I don’t know those people anyway, and it would be much sillier to spend $500 on a wallet because I think I have to match it to my bag when I don’t really care. So I don’t see myself going too crazy overall. I don’t have a lot in the way of storage, and I hate keeping things around I’m not actually using, so I feel my little collection is more or less complete (once I get the Fendi Spy, which re-sells rather high so I’m still searching and waiting for that one) because all the pieces I have are different enough to serve various purposes, while the collection overall is small enough that I’ll actually be able to use all of them from time to time. That’s just the way I like it.

After a lovely few days in the mid-70s, another Arctic Blast is on its way, so it’s shaping up to be a cold, miserable week, at least weather-wise. Here’s hoping you stay warm with yours!

Bag Lady! Buying Online Consignment

I’ve bought a few more bags since I last posted about my Alma – well actually, I’d already bought them at the time , but I didn’t own them yet. There are a few online shops selling used designer goodies that offer a layaway option, and I used this to nab a few more Vuittons and spread out the payments a bit to fit it into my budget better.

I feel a little guilty sharing all these finds, because I know how it appears to a lot of people. Several designer bags in two months? Ridiculous! But I do have a monthly “play money” budget, and in order to buy some more bags and build up a little collection I simply eschewed my other, usual monthly purchases to buy these. So I really didn’t spend any more on my new bags than I do any other month, and spreading the payments out over time helped me to acquire them. That said, I don’t intend to keep doing it long-term, because I have limited storage as it is and don’t intend to buy things I am not going to use; I’ve already sold one bag I bought and ended up not liking and given two away (one to my best friend Candace, who really loved it and is using it like crazy, and another one I donated to our school to auction off in this year’s fundraiser). So, even though I know I haven’t spent any more money on these than I normally spend on other things, I’m going to avoid talking about actual prices in the posts so I don’t come across as obnoxious. But if you really want to know how much I paid for these, ask me in the comments and I’ll answer; I get why people would be curious to know how much these cost. I will say they all cost almost the exact same amount, because as much as I am obsessed with Vuitton right now, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to spend and I just can’t bring myself to go over that. Moving on.

All of these bags were purchased used, and with one exception came from the same online store – Fashionphile. There are a few other places I like to browse that also offer layaway, but Fashionphile’s policies are the most reasonable; 25% down and 60 days to pay off the item with a minimum payment of $50 each time. I can cancel the layaway at any time for a re-stocking fee of 10% of the item’s cost. I did change my mind on one layaway and request to cancel it; I received an email response within five minutes of making the request and the layaway was canceled, no questions asked (my fee in that case was about $28). I read up on the site a bit before my first purchase, and as with any store that generates a decent amount of traffic there are some negative reviews out there; but my personal experience so far has been great, so for now I’m quite happy with them.

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Shipping is fast and the bags arrive packaged nicely, as you can see (click the images to get a larger view). Fashionphile puts each item into its own dustbag, packs it up in plastic, then stuffs the box with paper so the bag doesn’t slip around. Very nice presentation all around; even if all that fancy paper waters down the store’s commitment to promoting a green lifestyle by recycling bags instead of buying new ones. But still – very nice, pretty packaging that makes it feel like you’ve bought something new. A far cry from the typical packaging you get on eBay, where purchased items are often stuck into flimsy, abused Amazon.com boxes and stuffed with old newspaper that smells like wet feet (if packed in anything at all).

Some of the messaging on the site, however, is confusing. For example, when reading about the store’s layaway policy, the site claims that there is no minimum required on layaway payments, yet when you go to make a payment you find there actually is a minimum of $50. And then, there’s this:

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The card on the left states that a buyer can return a bag for 70% of the purchase price after “wearing it and loving it” for up to 90 days. Yet the tag attached to the purse states that the item can’t be returned once it’s removed. So, does this mean I have to leave the tag on while I “wear and love” the bag for 90 days? Because that’s just stupid. I suspect what they mean is that I can return for a full refund with the tag still on, but will only get 70% of the purchase price back if I return the item without the tag, but I’m still not sure.

But enough of all that, let’s look at the bags (remember, click the photo for a larger view):

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After acquiring several pieces in the traditional Monogram canvas, I decided I wanted a few casual ones in a more relaxed material, since I am generally a dress-down kinda gal. The Speedy 30 on the left is a linen blend fabric (and came with the original dustbag – score!), while the one on the right is, obviously, denim. The denim one was an unexpected purchase, in that it’s not something I ever would have thought I’d like; if you described a denim purse to me it would sound horrible, but when this one showed up on the site I liked it right away. As always, I waited about a week before pulling the trigger, because sometimes I really like something when I first see it and then later change my mind (hence my one canceled layaway). But I still loved this one a week later, so I went for it. It’s heaver than I expected due to the flashy hardware, which I normally am not drawn to in bags and have never had, but other than that I’m still quite happy with it.

One lesson I’ve learned so far is to look out for the bag’s description. Both of the bags above were labeled in “good” (the denim) or “very good” (the linen) condition, and in my opinion they’re even better than I expected. Sure, the denim is faded, but it already has a faded look even when new, so I don’t mind, and the leather and zippers as well as the hardware are all shiny and nice. But the first bag I bought from them was in a condition the site described as “fair,” and I realized after owning it a few days that I wasn’t happy with the state of it. While the bags above don’t need any re-furbishing from me, and the other eBay bags like my Alma were easily revivable (if that’s a word), I disliked the condition of the leather on this one, and gave it to my friend eventually, because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy  with it in the long run (as I  mentioned already, she absolutely loves it, so it all worked out. And now she’s as obsessed with Vuitton as I am, so my evil plan is working…heh).

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The purse itself is pretty, but the leather really bugged me, and the interior wasn’t all that great either. It looks fine from a distance, but the handles were so worn out and dry I didn’t like they way felt any more than how they looked:

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You can see that I tried to treat the top handle, and in fact spent several days trying to get the leather into a condition I could like, but it just wouldn’t work. The leather on the corners was also in bad shape:

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Top top photos are the corners before I cleaned and conditioned them, and the bottom shots were taken after I did so. However, I still felt they looked a bit worn out and dingy overall, and obviously I couldn’t get that pen mark out either.

I do not think this bag was misrepresented on the site; rather, I think I overestimated my ability to spruce up a bag: I could not work the miracles on this one that I’d hoped for. Moving forward I decided to avoid any bag the site described as ‘fair,’ and to stick to the bags in better condition; I don’t want to risk getting another one that I don’t care for. While I’m getting good deals on these, they are still expensive enough that I’m not willing to risk it again.

Now – there’s one more. I spied this one on eBay when I was looking for bags in Vuitton’s Epi leather, which is something I want to add to my little haul. I stumbled across this St Tropez bag in an Epi leather color called Vanilla, and it was only $170. Plus, it appeared to be in very good condition, so even though it wasn’t the sort of bag I’d usually carry (in case you can’t tell already, I lean towards large, floppy, unstructured bags) I couldn’t pass it up. However, I think I am going to send out some photos and get some quotes from consignment shops about this one; there’s a chance I might get offered more for it than I paid, since it sells used anywhere from $380 to $600 online. It’s not very “me,” but it’s very pretty (not sure it photographs well, but trust me, in person it’s a lovely bag).

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As far as selling bags, I sold my first one to a site called Couture USA. They offered me a fair price for my Sac Plat and paid me the day they received it, so I have no complaints about them. I sent photos of the Sac to both Fashionphile and another site I can’t remember, but they both declined to buy it due to its age. I’m going to send the photos of the St. Tropez several places and see who gives me the best price, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

As far as shopping at these places, as I mentioned I like Fashionphile best, but Couture USA also has nice finds and a good layaway option (30% down instead of the 25% Fashionphile offers, but still decent). And, while Fashionphile only peddles the purses of high-end designers, Couture USA also re-sells contemporary designer bags like Coach, Dooney and Burke, and Tory Burch – for very good prices indeed (less than $100 in many instances). I ordered a used Gucci wallet from them quite some time ago, and was pleased with the overall transaction as well as the item I received.

I hope some of this was at least interesting…and by the way, I was in no way paid to write this post up and discuss these stores. As I think I’ve already made clear, I bought all this stuff with my own money, so there you go.