July 17 OOTD: Business Casual Babe #1

The days of the women’s powersuit have passed, and there are more ways to stretch your creativity than a basic oxford and slacks.

I work in entertainment, which is fortunately pretty relaxed when it comes to attire. This is my first of two posts for a business casual environment – the dressier option. Here is the dressed-down post. Like a day I actually have to see people outside of my work spouses.

OOTD FOR A CASUAL OFFICE WHEN YOU HAVE TO BE SLIGHTLY FANCIER THAN USUAL:

TOPGap Softspun Tank Top – $16.99

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Honestly, any easy-to-tuck, drapey top will look great and is easy enough for a business caz outfit without getting fussy or losing comfort. Gap frequently has 40% off sales, so it’s usually worthwhile to wait for these.

BOTTOMS: 7 FOR ALL MANKIND SLIM ILLUSION LUXE SKINNY – $179

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These jeans are part of my Wardrobe Essentials list because they’re so damn versatile. Check out my Jetsettah post on how to cop them for cheaper and why they’re worth the splurge.

BLAZER: BCBGENERATION WOMEN’S TUXEDO BLAZER – $52 — $118

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This blazer has so many colors, go buck wild! I personally really like the garnet, gray frost, and dusty olive colors. You’re wearing black pants and a white top; you can afford a splash of color.

Downside: this is mostly polyester (boo) so you might sweat a little, but man, it’s cute.

SHOES: SPLENDID LARCHMONT SLOUCHY ANKLE BOOTS – $48.60

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Fold over the shaft to make this a true ankle bootie with a slouchy feature, and this will cause your shoes balance out the tapering of your skinny jeans. P.S. I’ve owned these for over a year and they’re unbelievably comfortable and well-crafted. Good for office-to-happy-hour.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

  1. If you want a more versatile blazer with better fabric, this Soft Joie women’s knit blazer ($178) is washable at home and should be super comfortable throughout the day… but Joie/Soft Joie is a costly brand. Think about Poshing.
  2. Daniel Wellington Classic Petite Bondi Watch- $96
  3. Vince Camuto Openwork Linear Drop Earrings – $16.97
  4. Sterling Forever Sterling Silver Roman Numeral Band – $24.97 (this is a Tiffany-reminiscent dupe)
  5. French Connection Hollis Leather Tote – $39.99

Work it, girl.

Poshing 101: Poshmark for Beginners

I’m a Poshmark aficionado. A lot of the more enviable items from my closet have come from Poshmark, and I recommend it to all of my friends. The reality is, though, that Poshing comes with its fair share of risk, despite its ad campaign promising “barely worn Louboutin heels” for $100, which quite frankly is patently misleading – you’re not going to find authentic Loubs in good condition for this price, end stop. Any $100 Loubs will be trashed, or fake.

I don’t run a boutique on Poshmark – I just sell items in my own closet that I no longer wear, to make room for cute new things. I thought I’d share my experience in navigating Poshmark waters (mostly) successfully. Here are the pros and cons of the so-called Posh life.

PROS

Please note that items marked with an asterisk will have a counterpoint in the CONS section below.

  1. You will find a lot of what you’re looking for at a discount, sometimes a very steep discount.
  2. You can search by condition and get new or used items.
  3. It will automatically run searches for your feed based on your sizes and favorite brands.
  4. It’s an easy person-to-person sale.*
  5. Unlike Ebay, the buyer pays for shipping.
  6. Most sellers are prompt with shipping, and if they are not, you have the opportunity to cancel your purchase a week later.
  7. Poshmark offers an authentication service for items sold above $500.*
  8. All communication is open – the site/app does not permit private communication.*
  9. Much of what you find will be authentic.
  10. Many/most sellers will offer bundle discounts for multiple items purchased.
  11. YOU CAN NEGOTIATE- both offers and counteroffers.
  12. For the fashionista, you’ll find much better selection than, say, Ebay.
  13. Poshmark requires you to accept your purchase within three days of receipt before they release funds to the seller.*
  14. You can sell luxury items in virtually any condition – someone will want it.*
  15. Poshmark “everyday” sorts of items (like jeans, tees, etc.) tend to go a little more frequently than on Ebay – I think there’s less of a market for everyday wear on the auction site.

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Check out my recent success – NWT, retails for $208. I count this as a win! All it needed was a gentle press to look gorgeous for work.

CONS

  1. There is a large market for counterfeit handbags and other products on Poshmark.
  2. Poshmark is person-to-person, so corporate is not exactly friendly/helpful for resolving buyer and seller issues.
  3. Poshmark communication takes 24-48 hours and they’re often unwilling to help.
    • I received a Reiss wool blazer that had a sleeve destroyed in transit — Posh insures their mail (and this fell within the brackets of their USPS insurance), but they did very little to help me and didn’t even bother delivering on insurance, even though I thoroughly photographed the damage and the notice from USPS admitting fault (and their saran-wrap patch job). Ultimately they told me to keep the blazer and gave me a $20 credit to just shut me up, but I would have been happier with a full refund. I spent the $20 and a number of hours figuring out repairs. It’s wearable now, but I wasn’t happy with the experience.
  4. Linking to #2 – private correspondence/communication would allow for resolution of sale issues, because Poshmark itself tends to be uncommunicative.
    • For example, I received a 1-star rating from a woman who waited too long to accept/reject the package, then claimed I had misrepresented the sale, even though I had carefully listed and photographed all damage and wear and tear on a high-end pair of boots that required a shoemaker to repair. She had no recourse to return something she wasn’t happy with, and I had no way of privately rectifying an issue with a client without turning into one of those Yelp horror stories of business owners sounding cray-cray and having the buyer post personal information in a public forum.
  5. It’s been argued that Poshmark authentication services are useless- I’ve heard that their so-called concierge authenticators are not properly trained and will seize authentic bags as fake, and will vet replica bags as real.
  6. Poshmark commission rates are a hefty 20%, whereas Ebay’s are 10% (but you pay for shipping on Ebay unless specified in the listing).
  7. Boutique sellers are great if you want fast fashion, but the markup is astronomical for poor quality clothing. Poshmark allows for certain “influencers” to begin wholesaling and starting a business, but it’s unlikely more than a few of these folks turn a living-wage profit, and it requires astronomical work to maintain. Most of the goods are purchased from China, and you can find similar apparel on TaoBao and AliExpress — which in many cases are actually the sources for these items that have sometimes been marked up hundreds, even a thousand percent. No, I’m not exaggerating – I’ve seen an $8 AliExpress dress listed for $99 on a Posh boutique before.
  8. The same way you can sell items in any condition, you can buy in any condition, too… and not every seller is honest/upfront about damage.
  9. Returns are virtually impossible, despite what Posh promises. This is final sale, no matter what.

 

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Caveat Emptor: This bag is a fake. NWT for that steep of a discount doesn’t make sense (Posh takes 20% commission, so this pricing doesn’t seriously benefit the seller, and as such you should question it as a buyer). Seller has only a few “luxury” new with tag items in their Closet, and seller is unresponsive to every single query in comments. Do your due diligence – I can’t find immediate evidence online that the Celine Micro Luggage, even with specialty piping, has an orange heat stamp – most are simply stamped, most embossed with silver and gold. I could be wrong, but the authentic photo they use for the main picture and the photo of the Celine logo (see lower left photo) don’t match. Oftentimes the sale will be cancelled and you’ll be asked to purchase directly from the seller via Pay Pal or Western Union.

So how do you navigate murky Poshmark waters and come out feeling relatively good about your purchases and sales? There are a few tips/tricks I’ve picked up that help.

  1. When possible, buy new with tags. Avoid boutique purchases.
  2. When buying true consignment/pre-owned, inspect photos carefully and thoroughly. Ask the seller for more photos when in doubt.
  3. When making purchases, remember that you can’t return or exchange thing. Be honest with yourself about your sizes and know how the sizing with your favorite brands work.
  4. When purchasing and unsure about sizes, remember that you can resell! Try to shoot for brands and classic designs that you know have good resale potential – brands that sell well and often are Free People, Vince, Joie, Lululemon, Nike, etc. Free People in particular might as well be its own industry on Posh.
  5. Be patient! If you’re selling, you’re not likely to sell a lot immediately after the holidays. You might sell off your handbag collection just before the holidays. You might not sell your winter coat during the summer, or you might not sell a bathing suit in November. You may need to drop your rates a few times.
  6. If purchasing used shoes, inspect soles carefully. Purchase new insoles for yourself for arch support. Use an antifungal spray before wearing for the first time.
  7. Price drop, offer private discounts, and share to Posh Parties regularly. Share to your followers often.
  8. Price compare similar items, what you’re buying and selling. If I see the same Free People jacket, NWT, sold for $45 or $145, guess which one I am going to buy?
  9. Follow as many people who have similar taste as you as possible and share their listings when you can.
  10. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Don’t lowball the seller, which makes them unwilling to work with you. You can reject lowball offers, but if you think they are willing to come up at all, counteroffer to them.
  11. Buy off season. The same way you must be patient as a seller, it’s likely that sellers will be willing to unload off-season items to you for significantly cheaper to get rid of their stock, simply because it’s been sitting in their closet for months. I bought an authentic designer shearling coat mid-summer (when you’re melting from heat, most people don’t consider buying items to stay warm) for $150, new.
  12. Consider visiting higher-end thrift stores periodically to see if there is anything you can turn a small profit on. Some folks make a lucrative business of this, scouring a circuit of stores and professionally cleaning items to mark up and resell. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. For example, I was at a consignment shop and found a pair of Joie jeans that were slightly too small for me, but were new with original tags… for $18. I was able to sell these for $45.
  13. Try to avoid purchasing true luxury items unless you’re confident in your ability to self-authenticate via photos (see photo above). IMHO, not worth your time.
  14. “Like” items and keep them in your “My Likes” for a while. You’ll receive notices whenever prices are dropped (although someone might beat you to the punch, it’s worth it to not spend more than you can comfortably afford– remember, be frugal, not cheap).

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Like everything and monitor! Wait for the right time to buy, and hope for private offers made to you, or public price drops.

 

Poshmark is largely about social networking and getting a taste of what the market is around you. Be patient, be cautious, and do your research before buying. There is no one who wins here besides Poshmark if something goes wrong, so bear that in mind. But if you’re willing to gamble a bit, this is a great way to get things you want at a fraction of the cost.

July 16 OOTD – Jetsettah

Want to fly business or first on a coach ticket? Flight attendants generally say to show up early, be polite, and dress well – you’re more likely to be bumped up the upgrade list if you look the part.

What does that mean? While you won’t get kicked off for your leggings or your favorite holey jeans, you probably aren’t gonna get that upgrade, either. So here’s an idea for how to be cute, comfy, and stylish enough for a bump.

Remember: you can always pack a lightweight lounge outfit and fuzzy socks in your carry-on bag to change into for that redeye once you’re on the plane.

OOTD FOR A JETSETTER

TOP #1: EDDIE BAUER WOMEN’S WRINKLE FREE 3/4-SLEEVE SHIRT – $39.99

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This is fitted yet not constricting, and more importantly it’s moisture wicking and wrinkle resistant. Leave the top unbuttoned, roll the sleeves, and loosely tuck into your trousers for a look of casual, strategic sprezzatura. I prefer this to the top below because of the cotton-blend fabric content, and I am pretty staunch in my love for more natural fibers, where possible… BUT…

TOP #2: BEDFORD FAIR FAUX WRAP TRAVEL TOP — $21.59

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While this is a polyester/spandex knit, I can’t help but love this wrinkle-free design. It is less businesslike and a little more flattering, to be frank… plus, you can’t beat the price!

BOTTOMS #1: 7 FOR ALL MANKIND SLIM ILLUSION LUXE SKINNY – $179

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Good bottoms are an investment piece. Seriously- there is something to be said for certain types of premium denim that makes them worth every penny, particularly when you have weirdly oblong hips and a healthy butt like mine – H&M jeans just don’t cut it. I’ve legitimately never owned a pair of jeans as flattering as 7FAMs. If you have a nice pair of inky-black jeans, they’re multi-purpose– I’ve worn mine to job interviews, to nighttime events paired with a gray or white blazer and heels, or casually to a ball game. I’ve owned them for over 2 years with very little color leaching and they’re just as soft as day 1. My friends who cop to $40 jeans from H&M complain about crotch holes after a year of very regular use. The way I look at it, they have since replaced their jeans twice now (at least $120, right?) while I’m still wearing the same pair. So while they think they’re saving money, I’ve come out ahead (I didn’t pay full price for mine*). Remember to AMORTIZE the cost to see if a purchase is sensible.

BONUS: THESE DON’T FEEL OR LOOK LIKE DENIM. Seriously, 7FAM’s slim illusion luxe line feels like sweatpants but have a tighter knit that puts them in trouser category. That said, they seem to be replacing this line with their b(air) line, which while comfy, doesn’t have that luxe satiny feel… so jump on these whenever you can.

*Note – I bought my black, straight leg version of these slim illusion luxe jeans on Amazon by setting a sale alert on camel camel camel, and paid $69 when it dropped to that rate for the day (Amazon pricing is not static, so if you want something from there, monitor the pricing using any number of tools). I ordered my heritage blue slim illusion luxe bootcut jeans from Bloomingdales during their Black Friday sale in 2016 for $99. The 7FAM website has sales regularly, and Nordstrom Rack/HauteLook sometimes brings these at a steal, too.

I know I’ve written an essay on how great these are, and I wish I had an endorsement deal for this– ha!

BOTTOMS #2: Betabrand Straight-Leg Dress Pant Yoga Pants – on sale for $52.20

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Disclaimer: I don’t own these myself, but I might have to cop for them. I have friends that sing their praises, and they’re supposed to be super cute/comfy! Plus – they have lots of colors and patterns to choose from. Also check out Betabrand’s travel-specific products (like these Gray Travel Jeans for $89.60 with lots of handy pockets)- they have cute items, but many of them can be costly (though you get 20% off your first order).

SHOES: ROTHY’S THE POINT — $145

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I referenced Rothy’s in my post about comfort shoes, and this is another versatile investment piece. I personally think the pointed toe is a bit dressier than the round toe, and I love this Port color, but there are tons of color choices here. These are your best bet for easy kickoff on a plane, dressy enough to pass muster, and great for walking from terminal to terminal if you’ve got a layover.

LAYERS: BB DAKOTA ROLL WITH THE PONCHOS REVERSIBLE PONCHO – $70*

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I’m always cold once a plane gets in the air, even if I’d been sweating my makeup off five minutes prior on a hot Angeleno tarmac. This guy is a super warm, easy-to-wear layer that you can flip depending on the color palette of your outfit. It’s acrylic and polyester (meh), but I use this as a blanket on the plane or at work and it’s fabbity fab and easy to pack and carry (I have the mulberry color, which is much more casual).

*Disclaimer: I have to be blunt, I don’t think this poncho is worth $70, and you’re paying for a name, but I DO think the poncho is worth having if you can get it at a discount. I received a free FabFitFun box from an entertainment industry event, and this was one of the items inside. Realistically, I’d probably pay up to $40 for this, maybe even a bit more. However, the BB Dakota site offers 15% off for first-time customers and will often have sales. Also, I have seen discount deals on GiltCity a couple of times in the past year for the brand (GiltCity will often give free discount codes for cosmetics brands, and clothing brands will often have $50 for $100 deals or similar, so it’s worth getting a login and signing up for alerts). BB Dakota has enough cute sale items and sweaters to take advantage of such a Gilt deal.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

Happy Travels!

A Girl Can Dream: YSL Lace-Up Sandals

I can’t ever justify dropping a grand on shoes, but here’s a pair of Saint Laurent Suede Lace Up Platforms, on sale for $845.

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I’m gonna lust from a distance, but if you’re the type to have F-you money as disposable income, I am both envious of you and encourage you to trade in some of that F-you money for these F-me heels.

Maybe there’s a nice dupe I can find somewhere for me!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Comfort Shoes

I’m not talking about the orthopedic insoles your grandmother wears – I’m talking about common-sense arch support.

Having flitted some of my early 20s away on cobblestones in synthetic heels, let me tell you– I have scars beneath my ankles all the way around my feet, raised pink skin that Mederma couldn’t totally save. Plus, my arches hurt all the dang time. I learned the hard way- when you wreck your feet, there’s no going back.

I got a little bit of advice too late in life: fast fashion is great and all, and you can have a closet full of the latest style, but don’t skimp on anything that separates you from the ground.

That means don’t be cheap when it comes to your mattress, your tires, or your shoes. Remember: there’s a difference between cheap and being frugal. Just because you spent a lot of money on an item doesn’t automatically make the quality exceptional. Nor does spending very little on something always indicate a poor quality item.

Unfortunately, good comfort shoes tend to run at a slightly higher price point – that’s the bad news. So that means, if you’re on the fence about spending a few more dollars on a quality shoe that provides good arch support and fits appropriately, consider these things:

  1. Are the shoes multi-purpose or do they just match one outfit in your closet?
  2. Do you think the workmanship is good – namely that their uppers are made of leather or natural fiber, their soles are well constructed, the insoles have good support, and the shoes as a whole seem like they will last?
  3. Do you think you can make them last at least one year with regular wear (i.e. 3-4 times per week)?

If you answered “yes” to the above, reframe your perspective. Amortize the cost across 12 months to see if it makes sense for you to splurge, and the number you come up with will seem much more palatable (and you can budget/save for it).

Here’s the good news – because you’re looking at brands that specialize in ergonomic design, there are a lot of similarities in styles. Research. Set up Wikibuy, Shopify, Ebates, etc. — and price compare. See if you can find the same shoe for cheaper elsewhere. See if a department store with sales will price match (Nordstrom is great about this). See if another comfort shoe brand has a similar style at a lower price point. The good news is you’ll probably find them.

Now, here’s the ugly: the shoes themselves.

Here’s what I’m betting you visualized when I said those horrid two words “cooooomfoooorrrttttt shooooooes…..”:

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Hopefully you imagined this in a ghostly voice, because this shit haunts my dreams, and I’d rather avoid wearing these in the future (if I ever begin wearing these or driving a minivan, please end my suffering, because I’ve clearly given up on life).

Truth is, the majority of comfort shoe brands (the Clarks, Rockports, Skechers, Crocs, Sorel, The Flexx, etc.) frankly do have a large roster of just-not-that-pretty shoes. It’s hard to have the proper shoe shape that is both fashionable and ergonomically sound — one thing often precludes the other. But… they’ve been trying to modernize, and they’re not just your grandma’s shoes anymore. Check out these cute digs:

THE FLAT: ROTHY’S – $145

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THE WEDGE: COLE HAAN SADIE OPEN TOE WEDGE – $180*

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*Note that setting a sale alert with Cole Haan is eminently worthwhile – they will often reduce by 40% or more. Just keep your eyes peeled!

THE SANDAL: BIRKENSTOCK MAYARI – $99.95*

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*Note that Costco actually brings in Birkenstocks periodically! They typically sell Birkinstock Arizona and Gizehs 1-2 times per year at half the retail price. I don’t recommend ever purchasing these shoes used, as their footbed tends to mould to the shape of the owner’s foot… so you’re kind of defeating the “comfort shoe” purpose if you let someone else break them in.

THE SNEAKER: ALLBIRDS WOOL RUNNERS – $95

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THE PUMPROCKPORT TOTAL MOTION VALERIE LUXE PUMP – ON SALE, $99.99

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THE BOOT: TEVA FOXY WATERPROOF BOOT – $189.95

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See? Nothing to be afraid of when it comes to the dreaded old people shoes… and you can’t put a price on your body’s welfare… you only get one, after all.

Aim for modern takes on classic, simple, styles that are universally wearable and you’ll be just fine.

July 15 OOTD (under $175) – Summer Daze

I don’t know about y’all but I’m melting. The dogs have essentially become a part of the tile floor and refuse to move, and our air conditioning is slowly limping along. I’m just waiting for the sun to go down, and mayyybe we’ll be able to get outdoors for a bit without feeling like death.

So what does one do besides binge watch Nikita and surf Reddit? Online shop. I think it’s important to invest money in good, versatile pieces (hopefully that have decent resale value if you need to refresh your closet!), and then keep them in rotation where possible. All pieces below are super translatable to other outfits.

OOTD FOR A SUMMER WEEKEND

TOP: Madewell Flutter Off-the-Shoulder Blouse, on sale for $34.97

Madewell Blouse

This is such a breezy, easy cotton top. One of the biggest issues we face when trying to be frugal with clothing finds is that the majority of items we have access to are synthetic. If you found the polyester version of this top at Forever 21, I guarantee you’d sweat through it. I advocate natural fibers and materials wherever possible, so finding them at a reduced rate is always a treat! I’ll do a post on pros/cons of fabric types in the near future.

BOTTOMS: Splendid Hunter Skinny Cargo Pant, for $49.99 (Gilt Login Required)

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Modal and cotton twill pants that keep legs covered. On days like today (that I’m being lazy and have minimal activity besides a casual dinner out), I actually advocate longer pants. If you’re like me, you sweat like a pig and burn if the sun so much as looks at you. I like breathable pants that don’t show sweat, and I can wear this whole outfit all day with no issues, even sitting outdoors. Plus, utility pants translate really well to fall (and for outdoorsy activities).

SHOES: Jessica Simpson Sirella Espadrille Wedges (“Fawny”), for $49.99

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Super cute leather mule espadrille heels. Dresses up or dresses down anything, depending on the mood! Wear these to brunch or a casual date night. Won’t sink into grass, won’t kill your feet.

BAG: Neiman Marcus Lena Box Flap Crossbody, on sale for $25.20

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At time of publication, this bag dropped from $105 to $70, and is currently on sale for $28 with an extra 10% off to land at a tidy 25 bucks. Plus, Ebates returns 6% if you open the shopping trip through them.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

 

Happy summering!