What I Bought: Keeping It Simple

Over the last couple years, I’ve found myself the most pleased with my purchases that have been staples: basic items that can go with almost everything I already have and versatile enough to wear with friends on weekends or at work. I used to struggle — and I mean STRUGGLE — to figure out what to wear to work each day. I’d try on sometimes 10 different outfits and not be happy or comfortable in any of them. Despite having a closet stuffed to the brim with clothes.

The problem was that I didn’t buy clothes that fit me well. I bought what I wanted to look right, and would stand in the dressing room thinking, “Well, this could look good if I’m standing. At this exact angle. Sometimes.”

But slowly, and I do mean slowly, I’ve been picking more things that flatter me and avoiding things that only look good with one pair of pants or in situations where I stand sideways while talking to people.

I cashed in some Old Navy rewards coupons online a week ago, and was delighted to see the package sitting on my steps after work today. I was so excited, mostly because I had forgotten what I ordered.

The best part? Everything I purchased met all my new criteria: can be worn to work or on weekends; is comfortable; doesn’t accentuate any body parts I’m trying to hide; and could be worn with every pair of pants I own. Check, check, check, check.

old-navy-crepe-chiffon-blouse

What I bought: Long sleeve crepe chiffon blouse

What I paid: $10 (via a one-day sale; regularly $30)*

I have a few of these that I purchased last fall and I love them (technically the ones I have don’t button all the way down). I ordered them in a Small-Tall. Normally I wear a Small-Regular at Old Navy, but I wanted long shirts that will cover my bum if I wear leggings or unflattering-in-the-rear pants (read: Old Navy Pixie Pants). Ordering a tall instead of a regular bought me quite a bit of extra length, but also some extra width in the middle. However, if I belt the shirts or wear a cardigan (one that pulls in a little to cinch at my waist), you can’t tell that they’re ever so slightly too big.

old-navy-boyfriend-shirt

What I bought: Flannel boyfriend shirt (there are tons of color/stripe options, but this link will only show a few — if you back out and look at all their tops, you’ll see the long list)

What I paid: $20 (regularly $27)*

The quest for the perfect button-down can sometimes feel never-ending. A few years ago, I thought I had found it in J Crew’s shirts. But I didn’t like how they washed (became mega wrinkly, and I’m too lazy to iron on a regular basis #sorrynotsorry) and didn’t love how they wore (also became mega wrinkly). I liked Gap’s button downs most of the time, but it always seemed like they were never as long as they were the first time I wore them (and I don’t dry them in the dryer). When I’ve tried on Old Navy’s button-downs in the past, they were always way shorter than I wanted and too big through the torso. However, the boyfriend shirt is nearly perfect. I love the length — again, mega long to keep me covered. The fit through the body is OK — I got an extra small and I still think it’s a little big (most of their extra small shirts are skin-tight/suffocating on me, so these shirts are definitely over-sized). I get it — it’s the whole “boyfriend shirt” concept. Still a wee bit over-sized, in my opinion.

old-navy-slub-tee

What I bought: Relaxed slub knit pocket long sleeve tees

What I paid: $8 (regularly $12.50)*

Here’s where I get boring. I seriously just wanted some plain, long sleeve shirts that I could wear either under some button-down shirts (especially with a chambray shirt!) or under the millions of vests I’ve accumulated. I bought a few of the short sleeve slub knit tees over the summer (they were less than $2! How could I resist?!) and basically wore all of them every week of the season, so I figured I’d give the long sleeve version a try. I’m happy — they aren’t too tight, but not so relaxed that they look sloppy. I’ll be able to wear them to work (with a scarf or necklace) or on the weekends. They look good with all my pants…blah blah blah. Plus, they were SO cheap!

I’m not trying to make my blog an advertisement for Old Navy. But if you’re trying to cut back your spending, Old Navy is the best place to get your shopping fix on the cheap. Especially if you have their credit card…! However, I used to feel the urge to buy things because I was afraid I’d never have the opportunity again. While other stores might not repeat items, Old Navy seems to have the same things every season/year, just different colors (and sometimes the exact same color). So if you’re on the fence, let it go and think about it for 3-9 months.

*These aren’t exactly the prices I paid. Since I had reward coupons, the prices were considerably less 🙂 But I wanted to share what the sale price was, just so you get an idea what you could pay for things at Old Navy. Never, ever, ever pay full price unless you need it right that second.

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What I Want: More Old Navy Pixie Pants

Old Navy is at it again with their latest promotion for their pixie pants. They sucked me in last spring. I bought several pairs that time, returned them all, then re-purchased one pair. How have they fared?

Fit
They are super comfortable — the stretch factor is HIGH. They almost feel like sweat pants (although the waist isn’t quite as comfortable as an elastic waist). I’m relatively petite, but have a tummy bulge – these don’t feel like they’re digging into my stomach or giving me cramps. They’re somewhat low cut, so if you have a tummy bulge that you’re hoping these will hide, forget about it.

The pixie pants are really easy to move in. This is where the sweat pant feeling is noticeable. The pants move with you and don’t pull or chafe.

That being said, it’s important to note that these pants are tight (ha, at least mine are). They are NOT a relaxed fit.

Color
My biggest complaint about them is the intensity/saturation of the color. They looked a little faded when I originally bought them, and it seems like the color has faded ever so slightly since that time (I don’t wash them every time I wear them – when I do wash them, I wash in cold water and then lay flat to dry). When I first checked them out, I intended to buy the cobalt blue pair, but those looked pretty faded from the get-go. The pair I have (somewhere between teal and emerald) hasn’t faded considerably, but they just have what looks like a film over them. The color isn’t as rich and saturated as I would have liked.

Shape
Overall, the pants have held their shape. I notice some stretching in the knees as the day goes on, but I actually only notice it when I take the pants off and hang them up. They don’t look stretched or misshapen when I’m wearing them.

As I said earlier, there is a lot of stretch in these pants. I was really nervous that the pants would stretch a size or two as I wore them, and then look ridiculous after a couple hours. Amazingly, and against all odds, that hasn’t happened. I think they stretched slightly from what they were brand-new, but just enough to fit me better.

I will say that I think my rear looks horrific in these pants. Maybe it’s because my butt is 31 and doesn’t have the lift it used to. But I think it’s because these pants weren’t made to offer any shape or support to a hind end. So I only wear the pants with long shirts/tunics. This isn’t a huge inconvenience since that’s my preferred style of shirt anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

New Pixies
As for this round of pixie pants, I noticed that the colors look more saturated and rich. Old Navy also has a few different styles – pixie chinos and long pixies. I tried on a pair of the chinos, but wasn’t super excited. They’re slightly more relaxed in some places, but not others. The fabric reminds me of the cropped boyfriend skinny chinos they had this summer. I hate the fabric — it makes loud crinkling sounds when I move. I find the stretchy pixie pant fabric much more comfortable.

old-navy-pixie-pants

Will I buy any? They’re on sale for $25 a pair (no free t-shirt like last time). I like them, I’m just not sure I’m willing to spend $25 on them.

What I Bought: Garden Treasures Cascade Creek Patio Furniture

lowes-patio-garden-treasures

What I bought:Garden Treasures Cascade Creek black steel patio furniture (four-piece dining chairs, dining table, two-piece swivel chairs)

What I paid: $99 for the four dining chairs (regularly $200); $49 for the dining table (regularly $100); $75 for the pair of swivel chairs (regularly $150)

Dan and I moved into our 1991-built home almost a year and a half ago. We are in love with our neighbors, our location and the layout of the home. We are not, however, in love with the 1991-original finishes. When we first moved in, Dan tackled the outdoor projects first, and now we’re slowly starting to identify the indoor items on our list of “that must change.” Our home was hit by a pretty powerful hail storm last summer, and the majority of our windows are all in the process of being replaced. Since I assume the window installers will track in lots of mud or dirt or whatever else, Dan and I decided it was better to hold off on any of the indoor projects until the windows were finished.

Part of the problem with our indoor projects is that everything in our house is in great shape — the people who lived here took amazing care of it. I feel so guilty for wanting to replace the countertops in the kitchen — they are in perfect shape! Not a scratch or dent or burn-mark to be found. But they are teal. TEAL countertops! Like bright teal.

teal!

And you’ll find matching teal carpet (with flecks of mauve peppered throughout, mind you) in the living room. Since I have no money to spend on major changes to the kitchen, the teal countertops are probably here to stay for at least another year or two. If I’m lucky, that style and color will somehow be back in style.

But the teal carpet has got to go, as does the cream brick fireplace and empty wine rack that takes up valuable space in our what-could-be-Houzz-worthy living room. Here’s a “before” picture. In what will be my “after” picture, the throw blanket will be perfectly folded, the pillows will be shaped and facing the right direction on a prettier couch, Dig’s rawhide chew toy will be hidden and my coffee table will be magically styled like all the coffee tables on Pinterest appear to be. And Dan will be dressed like a male J. Crew model. Dig will probably still be extra fluffy and sleeping.

living-room-before

So with all these desired changes in mind — and Dan’s impatience: the fireplace bricks have been demoed by Dan’s sledgehammer — Dan and I stopped at all the nearby home improvement stores, just to browse their fireplace stone options.Here’s what we want our fireplace/living room to look like (found on Houzz — so in love with this photo!):

The first two stores didn’t have much selection. At our third stop — Lowe’s in West St. Paul — we decided to walk through the garden section first (another item on our list: planters/pots for our yard next spring/summer). We found a few we liked, and the price was right, so we went inside to grab a cart. Of course you can’t get to the carts without looking at other items, which is what happened to us.

We’ve been looking at patio furniture since we moved in, but haven’t seen anything we really loved or anything in our price range. When the season-ending sales hit last fall, everything we liked was already gone (Target’s Threshold brand has some ridiculously cute patio furniture!). And since so many of the outdoor areas of our home are in transition, we couldn’t rationalize spending a ton of money this spring on a set when we weren’t entirely sure where to put it.

Lowe’s happened to have a super cute set of chairs on sale. When I originally saw the price, I assumed it was the price per chair, and I thought, “Eh, that’s kind of cheap…” and then I noticed the tag said it was for FOUR chairs. Right next to the set of four chairs were two swivel chairs. The same thing happened: I assumed the price was for one chair, but it was for two!

I realize I’m getting super excited in this blog over patio furniture. My 25-year-old self would be disgusted. But my 31-year-old self thought it was awesome. We hunted down calmly approached a store clerk to “claim” what we’d found as ours. I paid for it, they removed it from the sales floor and after driving my little car home to get Dan’s truck, we went back to the store, loaded it all up and brought it home.

It’s sitting in our storage room for now. We have the perfect place for it — a small three-season porch. Unfortunately, that room, like several others, is under construction.

I think the title of this post should have been something like, “An intro to Lindsey’s house projects,” because that’s really what it turned into. Whatever.

What I Forgot: Entertainment

A couple weeks ago, I went to California for a fun-filled mother-daughter adventure. Unfortunately I didn’t plan ahead for the four-hour flight to San Francisco.

My mom and I were on the same plane, but our seats weren’t together. I wasn’t around any Chatty Cathy’s, either, so I could only rely on myself for entertainment. In my 20s, that would have been fine — I was a classic over-analyzer and I could have thought about every aspect of my life and what possible changes I needed to make or adjustments to consider. Now that I’m 31, I pretty much just go with the flow. So without hours of self-reflection to keep me busy, what’s a girl to do?!

For most trips, I come well-prepared. I pack several issues of Glamour, Lucky and Women’s Health magazines. I have my iPad for music whenever I get sick of reading. If I want to go back to reading, I usually have my Kindle along too, just in case I need something with a little more substance than how to wear ankle booties, when to wear gold liquid eyeliner and the best workouts for a toned tummy.

Unfortunately for this trip, all I had was my iPad with iTunes, which was fun for about 20 minutes. I didn’t think I could get sick of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” but apparently I could. I happened to stumble upon two issues of Glamour magazine that I downloaded to my iPad in the winter of 2013 (January and February), so I read both of those. Probably within the first hour. I went to the bathroom once. That killed a few minutes.

I don’t know about you, but it’s somehow impossible for me to sleep on planes. I bought one of those neck pillows years ago and found it to be of no use. I had a lightweight sweatshirt with me that I tried to use as a pillow, but that didn’t work either. I tried rolling it, crumpling it, folding it — nothing. I get migraines, and the feeling was sort of like, “Yeah, you’re going to get a headache if you stay in this position for more than 7 minutes.”

Why hadn’t I packed my Kindle? The thought crossed my mind the night before the flight, but I was too lazy to download any new books (even though I already have a list of books I wanted to read). To be completely honest, there wasn’t much room in my suitcase or backpack: The San Francisco trip was part 1 of my weeklong travel itinerary. My mom and I were hitting San Francisco and Monterey for four days, then my mom flew back to Minneapolis while I flew farther east to Pittsburgh for a work conference. While I was super excited about both trips, I wished they hadn’t been right next to each other. But, the organizers for the event in California didn’t call me ahead of time to get my date preferences, nor did the conference organizers in Pittsburgh.

Thankfully I had my work laptop, which I used to type this blog.

On a positive note, besides the fact that I got to visit San Fran with my mom, I did have a window seat and loved the views, especially over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

The night before our flights out of California, I made sure I was prepared. I downloaded an Arriana Huffington book on my iPad, and the latest season of Real Housewives of New York on my S4. While I’m sure the people sitting next to me on my flights to Chicago/Pittsburgh weren’t impressed by the crazy eyes of Ramona, I didn’t care.

ramona

That trash got me through so many hours of layovers and flights! Oh, how I miss cable.

What I Bought: Fall Shopping Excursion

I’ve been trying really hard to spend as little money as possible lately, which makes it hard to write reviews of products I’ve purchased. I’ve unsubscribed from most of my favorite retailers’ promotional emails and I’ve tried to avoid the Mall of America like the plague. When I browse my favorite fashion bloggers’ sites, I try to remind myself of my short-term financial goals, and, for the most part, I haven’t been tempted to shop for anything they’ve been wearing.

I did make one shopping-related compromise. Since I have the Old Navy VISA and use that for all my purchases (gas, groceries, etc.), I get lots of Old Navy rewards certificates. My compromise to myself was that I could shop, but only using those reward certificates. So if I got a $20 reward certificate in the mail, I’d be allowed to spend $20 on Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic stuff. And that would be the extent of my shopping allowance.

All my rules went out the window last weekend, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it). I’ve been getting tons of birthday-related coupons from all my favorite stores, and I felt compelled to put them to good use. I also had a couple store credit vouchers lying around that had been on my mind. I figured this was the perfect time to get all of that out of my system.

I stopped at H&M first. It’s been a really long time since I’ve purchased anything from H&M. There’s something about the layout of the store that overwhelms me. Anytime I’ve walked past it, I’ll think, “Hmm, I’m sure they have good deals, but I don’t want to fight the crowds to move from rack to rack, and I definitely don’t want to stand in their never-ending checkout line.” But this morning I had arrived at the mall right when it opened, so most of the stores were relatively empty. I was able to freely bounce from rack to rack. I was even able to easily get a fitting room — twice!

hm-haul

What I bought: Coat ($40), scarf ($10), sweaters ($20 each)

I’ve wanted a grey pea coat for a really long time. I’m confident this jacket will provide next to zero warmth on our bitter cold Minnesota days, but I think it’ll work for fall and spring days where you just need a midweight layer. I love the popped collar on the neck — it reminds me of the colorblock J Crew winter coat I bought last year, but that jacket’s collar was more of a funnel collar and it was incredibly stiff and uncomfortable. This one is flexible so you could have it popped without causing trouble for your neck/hair. It’s also soft enough that you could fold it over if the popped collar thing isn’t your bag.

I went on a scarf buying spree a few years ago and haven’t worn most of them since. I just go in phases with scarves — I either wear them every day or I go months (or years) without wearing a single one. I loved this scarf the moment I saw it, but didn’t pick it up right away, thinking I’d probably never wear it. However, after I found the marled maroon sweater that I purchased, I decided the scarf had to come home with me. It’s an infinity scarf, which means it’s easy to wear because there’s no decision about how to tie it.

I love these sweaters (I bought the “pink,” which looks more maroon to me, and the black) because they are long. I can wear them with leggings and not feel totally inappropriate. I stopped in Old Navy later in the day and found sweaters that were similar, although I don’t think they’re as long. I’m going to wait a couple weeks to see if Old Navy has a decent sale, then I might buy one or two of theirs and return one from H&M.

After buying way too much at H&M, I stopped at DSW. I had a birthday coupon for $5 and it was burning a hole in my purse. I didn’t see anything I had to have, nor was anything that great of a deal with a $5 discount, so instead of buying shoes, I bought a three-pack of socks. How exciting!

Moving on.

A couple years ago, I over-spent while at Forever 21. I bought a few ridiculous things that I somehow rationalized in the store. Luckily I returned them before the 21-day return deadline, but it meant I got a store credit voucher with a sizable balance. Most of the purchases I’ve made at Forever 21 since that day have been necklaces and other accessories that were priced less than $3 a piece. I went into the store this weekend hoping to find a few blouses I could wear to work, but there was nothing. Crop tops aren’t acceptable according to my office’s dress code, unfortunately. (Well, fortunately — I don’t think any of us want to see each other wearing crop tops.) Luckily their accessories department never disappoints me.

forever21-haul

What I bought: Necklace* ($14), grey scarf ($10), red plaid scarf ($6)

So clearly I’m having a scarf buying spree on this trip. There have been multiple times I’ve thought, “A grey scarf would look good with this outfit,” but I’ve never had one before. Now I do. I’ve also been obsessed with this red plaid flannel print for a few years. It always pops up in my Pinterest feed, and on most of my favorite bloggers’ outfits of the day. I don’t really have a need for a red flannel shirt and am not ready to commit to one — the $6 scarf seemed more versatile.

As for the necklace, I really have no explanation for why I bought it. It’s been awhile since I’ve bought a larger statement necklace — I figured this satisfied that hunger. *I can’t find the necklace on Forever 21’s site anywhere — sorry!

My last credit card swipe was in Express. Similar to Forever 21, most of the tops in Express are crop tops right now (at least in the clearance section, which tells me a majority of Americans don’t want them any more than I do). I like their Editor pants, but have no need for more pants. But I did have a $10 birthday coupon to use…

express-haul

What I bought: Cardigans ($60 each), scarf ($30)

So I spent a bit of money in Express. However, I had additional coupons on top of my birthday coupon, so I paid a little less than half of what the original price was. Anyway. I don’t think I will ever have enough black cardigans, so one more felt fine. I also bought a cream one, which I haven’t decided on yet. And it wouldn’t be a scarf buying spree trip if I didn’t buy another scarf. This one has great colors and is super soft, but the print is actually skulls. I tell myself it’s a good balance of hard and soft. I’m pretty confident no one will be able to identify the scull print when I’m wearing it, though.

There were a few other scarves I liked at Express, but I couldn’t rationalize paying the price.

We’ll see how I do now that I’ve gotten one shopping splurge out of the way. Most of my friends and family members know that I’m a serial returner, so there’s a good chance most of this will never even make it into my closet. Time will tell!