January 2017 Budget

As I was typing the title for this post, I actually wrote “January 2015 Budget”–I’m only two years behind reality. Anyway, January tends to be a boring shopping month for me, as I don’t want to spend much after the holiday frenzy, and I’m typically in a mood to buy only basics (check out last year’s re-cap here). Evidently, this year is no different in that I bought a few pairs of jeans and a few classic accessories. More details below!

january-2017

the keepers

gold mesh band watch {BP via Nordstrom} $2 ($25 + 50% off sale + $10 rewards) You may recall in one of my recent wish list posts that I was enticed by this lovely Skagen gold watch. I had a hunch that Santa was not going to leave it under the tree, so I decided to buy myself a nice looking dupe. I’ve bought a similar watch by BP before (see here) and was satisfied with the quality, so I knew I wasn’t buying something that would fall apart on me. I’ve already worn it 4 times in 3 weeks, so we’re already down to less than a dollar per wear.

cognac leather sneakers {Keds via DSW} $35 ($60 + $10 off promo + $15 rewards) These sneakers were an item in my most recent wish list post, and I was all set to order them from the Keds website with my 15% off birthday coupon until I noticed that DSW also carries them. Add in a few promos and rewards cash, and I got them for almost 50% off. I’ve also worn these several times already, and I am seriously contemplating buying them in black as well. Love them!

ankle skinny jeans {BP via Nordstrom Rack} $10 ($68 marked down to $10) Guys, I’m still struggling with pants. Although I quit breastfeeding over two months ago, I don’t seem to be gaining the weight back yet. I know–it’s a nice problem to have–except that none of my pants fit, including my favorite pair of jeans! I’m still not convinced that my current weight is my “permanent” weight, so I decided to buy a few pairs of relatively inexpensive jeans to get me through the next few months. This pair in particular felt like pajamas when I tried them on, so they were obviously coming home with me.

dark wash skinny jeans {Articles of Society via Nordstrom Rack} $20 ($64 on clearance for $20) I read good things about this brand of jeans on another blog, and Nordstrom + Nordstrom Rack carry a variety of their styles, so I tried these out for size. They’re maybe an inch longer than I would like, but a tiny cuff solves that problem.

black raw edge skinny jeans {Articles of Society via Nordstrom Rack} $35 ($59 marked down to $35) I was initially not a fan of this “raw edge” nonsense–I mean, doesn’t it look like they forgot something? But then I tried these on in store, and they fit like a glove, including the length. Hmm. So, I’m giving them a shot. I can always cuff them a bit to hide that frayed hem. Here’s hoping I don’t regret the decision to keep these.

the returns

I have quite a few returns this month. First, I tried these boots from DSW, and while I loved the way they fit and the soft suede, the “taupe” color was just…off. They had an almost pink undertone to them, making them impossible to match or coordinate with anything in my closet; I had really wanted something closer to gray. I also have been trying to hunt down these flats in the nude color, and Whitney was nice enough to track down a pair in her city and mail them to me, but as it turns out, they’re just a smidge too small. I’m very particular about the way my shoes fit the older I get, so I returned them as well. Finally, I tried these boyfriend jeans by Kut from the Kloth, but the fit was not right–perfect in the thighs and bum, but too big in the waist. They were $43, so I wasn’t willing to accept a sub-par fit.

the extras

I used some remaining birthday/Christmas money to buy a few things left on my wishlist, specifically, these earrings (used my 50% off birthday discount!), these flats, and a classic peacoat (in gray).

January total: $102

2017 total: $102

Remaining budget: $1898

Considering the fact that I’ve already worn most of the items I purchased this month, I’d say that I’m off to a good start in my shopping for 2017. The jeans were definitely necessary purchases–it got to the point that my only options for weekend wear were leggings and/or dresses. I hope it’s not just my consumerist side telling me that every woman needs a few pairs of jeans that fit.

Looking ahead, I am still eyeing the remaining items on my current wish list. These understated earrings have also struck my fancy, and I’m in need of some all-purpose black leather flats (my old ones are still plain uncomfortable after many opportunities to be “broken in”). I’m considering this pair–they’re pricey, but they might be worth it given how often I wear flats these days.

What did you buy in January?

Linking up with Budgeting Bloggers.

the beauty neophyte

I’ll admit it, I still have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to makeup…and I’m now pushing 30! BUT, like most women I know, I do enjoy trying new things from the beauty aisle to determine what works best for me (and what really doesn’t). So, in the coming year, I’d like to share my latest finds occasionally, in hopes that it might be useful to any of my fellow beauty neophytes.

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e.l.f. lip exfoliator

I first read about this product in a magazine (I know, I’m a total sucker for marketing), and it seemed like something that would help with my chronically dry lips. Apparently, it’s so popular that most stores are sold out of it, so I just ordered it online (for a whopping $3, with free shipping!). I opted for the grapefruit variety, and it smells pleasantly citrus-y without being sweet, which is a pet peeve of mine in drugstore makeup. I’ve found that it really does make a difference in making my lipstick go on more smoothly if I use the exfoliator first. That being said, I’m trying not to use it every day, as it seems that that might be a bit too damaging, just as exfoliating my face every day is a bit excessive.

Garnier SkinActive micellar cleansing water

When I first heard about this product, I was a bit skeptical–I mean, it’s just water, right? But, having used it for a few weeks now, I can say that those little micelles are pretty magical. I now use it every night to remove my mascara, and it does a much better job than my former method (ahem, wetting a washcloth and rubbing the heck out my eyelids). I have very sensitive skin, and I haven’t noticed any reaction whatsoever to this product, probably due to the fact that it’s just good ol’ H2O. Plus, it’s available pretty much everywhere for just a few bucks. I’m planning on using this nightly for the foreseeable future!

EltaMD UV Clear sunscreen

As I mentioned above, I have sensitive skin, and I’m also quite fair…which means that finding an effective but gentle sunscreen is essential. My dad actually started using this product a few months ago, per the recommendation of his dermatologist. He liked it so much that he gifted a bottle to me and each of my sisters. I’ve been applying it most mornings before I put on my makeup, and I love it. Just as the description says, it’s lightweight, fragrance-free, and, most importantly, doesn’t make my skin throw a hissy fit. The true test will be to see how it handles sweat. I’ve been choosing our home gym over running outside lately, so I have yet to wear it during a workout. My experience with other sunscreens has been that the moment I start to “glisten,” it drips into my eyes and burns like crazy. Here’s hoping this one is a little gentler.

What should I try next? I’m always game for recommendations!

shopping list–january 2017

Every two months or so, I compile a few wishlist items for my wardrobe in an effort to guide my spending. I’d like to think that this strategy helps me shop for items that fulfill a specific “need” in my closet rather than for just pieces that happen to strike my fancy.

For this rendition, I don’t have a whole lot in mind, given that we are still recovering from the excess of the holiday season. That being said, the following are a few accessories that would be nice to have sometime in 2017.

shopping-list-jan-17

black crossbody bag 

We actually traveled quite a bit this past fall: a Labor Day trip to Massachusetts, a wedding weekend in Chicago, and an extended stay in Maryland for Thanksgiving. I didn’t particularly want to lug around my diaper bag everywhere for all those excursions, so I used my tan crossbody bag. I thoroughly enjoyed the convenience, but I kept wishing I had the same bag in black. Enter: this foldover crossbody bag from BP. It comes in a few other fun colors too for those of you who are less boring than I am!

pearl stud earrings

By far, the most worn piece of jewelry in my possession is my pair of pearl stud earrings. Clearly, pearls are pretty timeless, so it’s no wonder that they’re my go-to earrings. I’ve been thinking it might be nice to change it up now and then with a slightly larger pair with a hint of embellishment. I like these Kate Spade ones, so I might grab them the next time there’s a sale going on.

leather sneakers

Keds recently sent me a birthday coupon, and I’ve been perusing their site quite a bit as a result. I’m very tempted by these simple, leather sneakers. I kind of love all four colors, but I’m leaning toward the cognac or black. They would be so perfect paired with jeans or even one of my many pairs of ankle pants!

What’s on your wishlist these days?

closet inventory: january 2017

I’ve been meaning to conduct a closet inventory for a while now, as I think it’s a useful exercise to visualize the pieces already present in one’s wardrobe; it helps to identify patterns and develop a broader perspective on personal style. Plus, now that I’ve been using the Stylebook app for over a year now, I now have a digital (and thus very convenient!) means of cataloguing and sharing the items in my closet. 


So here’s a look at my wardrobe by the numbers:


144 tops

  • 7 sleeveless tops
  • 35 short sleeve tees
  • 18 blouses
  • 11 blazers
  • 2 sweatshirts
  • 15 long sleeve tees
  • 28 button up shirts
  • 22 cardigans


74 bottoms

  • 16 pairs of jeans
  • 13 pairs of shorts
  • 14 pairs of pants
  • 31 skirts


53 pairs of shoes

  • 12 pairs of boots
  • 8 pairs of sandals
  • 10 pairs of flats
  • 3 pairs of wedges
  • 3 pairs of sneakers


28 dresses

  • 25 short sleeved + sleeveless dresses
  • 3 long sleeved dresses


19 bags

  • 11 totes
  • 5 clutches
  • 2 crossbody bags
  • 1 backpack


114 accessories 

  • 6 pairs of sunglasses
  • 30 belts
  • 22 necklaces
  • 6 bracelets
  • 11 watches
  • 17 pairs of earrings
  • 22 scarves


28 outerwear items

  • 7 coats
  • 13 jackets
  • 8 vests

TOTAL: 460 items

Oof, the fact that there are almost 500 items in my closet is a little astounding. Minimalist, I am not! However, to be fair, almost a third of those items are bags and accessories rather than actual garments of clothing. Nonetheless, seeing the enormity of my wardrobe will hopefully give me pause on my next shopping excursion. The two categories that surprised me in their extensive variety were skirts and button-up shirts. I think I likely added several items in each category over the past year in particular because my breastfeeding-friendly uniform consisted of–you guessed it–a button-up shirt and a skirt. 

I’ll try to make this closet inventory at least an annual (perhaps seasonal?) event to encourage me to see the sartorial possibilities already present in my closet.