Style Notebook: Summer Sale Bargains

As you probably know, all of the stores have been having terrific Summer sales, which are sadly starting to wind down.  Though sometimes you can get even better deals right at the end of the sale because there have been additional reductions.  I took full advantage of the sales recently to pick up some great new pieces to add to my wardrobe.  Well, one of the items wasn’t actually on sale, but was still a good deal.  All in all, I came out way ahead and now have some great new clothes.  You can’t beat that!

My Super Savings during Summer Sales
My Super Savings during Summer Sales

I can’t believe all of the good deals there were this Summer.  I tried to keep myself in check and I think I did a pretty good job even with just one impulse buy of the not on sale scarf from John Lewis.  But, for £20.00, I don’t feel that guilty.  All total, I ended up saving £135.00 on my recent sale purchases, or just over 33% on the originally priced total.  And spending £289.00 is certainly better than spending £424.00.  I mean, with that kind of savings, I could maybe hit up the final reductions at a few more sales even.

As you can see pretty easily, my biggest spend and biggest savings, came from Jaeger.  They have great final reduction prices on now and still have a decent amount of items in a variety of sizes too.  I am actually thinking that I might have to take just another peek through their sale to see if there’s anything else I should pick up; I’m sure there’s at least one or two things.  The Patch Pocket Silk Blouse is something that I’ve had my eye on for a while but really cringed at paying the full £120.00 for it, so when I saw it in the sale for £40.00 off, I knew I had to get it.  The shirt is beautifully tailored as you would expect from Jaeger.  The silk is a bit heavy for the hot part of Summer but will be perfect when it starts transitioning to Fall; it’s pretty wearable all year long, just not on a hot Summer day.  I got mine in Blue, but they also have Navy, Bright Coral, Camel, and Ivory.  They’ve reduced the Navy to just £60.00, the other colours are all still £80.00, except for Ivory which is still full price, of course.  I also got a beautifully designed pair of white Linen Shorts, reduced from £80.00 to £60.00.  These are very long shorts coming to the bottom of my knee.  They are made from a very nice linen, not that super thin stuff, and are also fully lined so that you’re not showing your pants; that is not an elegant look.  I really like them and find they are perfect for wearing in the evening to dinner, but equally as nice during the day for errands and shopping.  I like them so much I’m actually thinking of getting a black pair too, while the sale is still on.

This was my first order from Baukjen and I have to say, so far, I’m liking it.  I got the top and cardigan both in the same colour, but not necessarily to wear together.  The fabric is an incredibly soft viscose jersey that feels great on and is the perfect lightweight layer for Summer.  The Cowl Top drapes beautifully because of the lightness of the fabric and is rather flattering.  The Drape Cardigan feels similarly nice on and looks perfect with a cute little tank under it for something that is ideal for a cooling Summer evening.  I also like that these are great for travel because they fold up quite small and don’t seem to get terribly wrinkly looking.  Either of these pieces look great with my new white linen shorts from Jaeger too.  The sale is still on at Baukjen but they do seem to be quite limited on sizes now.

The ballet flats from Merrell were something that I was actually replacing.  I bought a pair of these last year when we were in Australia for a wildly inflated price, that really irritates me now in retrospect.  In any case, they seemed really comfortable at first and then I realized when we were on holiday in Japan that the left shoe was mis-cut so that the upper was off center and that caused it to dig into the top of my foot in a most uncomfortable way.  So, then I was stuck with this stupid pair of shoes that I couldn’t take back and I had already worn.  So, I was annoyed but willing to give them another chance when I saw the shoes on sale this Summer.  The price of £49.00 that I paid during the sale was way less than I paid in Australia and seemed reasonable, as long as I didn’t get another pair that were messed up too.  I was quite relieved when they arrived and were perfect, and perfectly comfortable.  The Vibram barefoot sole is so comfortable, even if you’ve been out walking all day.  They are just as comfortable as having a pair of trainers on, but certainly look much nicer.  The upper of the shoe is a very, very soft leather that feels comfortable from the very first time you put on the shoes.  The insole is made from M-Select FRESH which keeps your shoes from getting a bit whiffy when you’re wearing them without socks in warm weather.  All in all a great shoe as long as it is put together properly.  Sadly, the sale at Merrell has ended, so these are back to their full price of £70.00.  I’d like to get a pair of the black ones too but I’ll have to wait until the next sale perhaps.

The John Lewis Birdie Branch Scarf was a total impulse buy.  I popped in for a super small umbrella and casually looked through the scarves that are right next to it and totally fell for the cute bird print in crisp navy and white.  It wasn’t on sale but was just £20.00 so it seemed like a reasonable price.  I’ve worn it a couple of times this Summer and it just adds that bit of something to outfits.  I did get an ivory cashmere scarf for just £10.00 that was way on sale from like £30.00 or 40.00, so I felt good about that and will be really pleased with that purchase this Winter.  Also, I really recommend the small umbrella too for £18.00.  It is small enough that when you are walking along on the sidewalk you aren’t in danger of putting anyone’s eye out but it is just wide enough for one person.  The small size of it though means that it can fit in even a tiny handbag, so you don’t have to be without an umbrella, which is kind of important here in the rainy UK.

I hope you made out as well in all of the great Summer sales!  And if you haven’t taken advantage of them yet, you’d better hurry because pretty much every store is on their final reductions.

Advent Calendars for the Beauty Lover On Your List

If you have someone that you know, even if that someone is you, that just loves all sorts of cute little beauty treats, then you might want to consider one of the many cool beauty advent calendars available.  I first saw one from Benefit for £50.00 that caught my eye as something I might get for my sister.  She is a beauty junkie and loves trying new things, so one of these advent calendars is like her dream gift probably.  Sadly, the Benefit advent calendar is already sold out for the year.  But of course there are a few others available to fill the void since this seems like a brilliant new trend.  I’ve tried to put together a little list of a few of my favourite choices.

YOU Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar  £49.95 + shipping & handling

YOU Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar
YOU Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar
Lovingly packed with 24 premium beauty and skincare products to help you look and feel more beautiful this winter, and beyond; theYOU Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar is precisely what you and your skin have been waiting for.
We’ve plucked some of our favourite hero products from beauty industry heavyweights Caudalie, ESPA, Dermalogica, Leighton Denny, Sisley and Stila (to name just a few), and combined them in one sensational beauty box.
It’s the beauty enthusiast’s equivalent of Christmas in a box and we hope you enjoy unwrapping surprise after surprise each and every day of advent…
*The Limited Edition Advent Calendar is priced at just £49.95 and contains product worth over £240. A postage and packaging cost of £4.95 will be charged for all non-members only.

This one looks great and is my top choice.  I like the variety of brands and products, so you’re not just getting a bunch of the same brand of product type.  If you go to their site (follow the link above), they list all of the products that are included in the calendar along with a description and size.  I would totally send this one to my sister is she were in the UK.  Too bad for her she is in the US.

QVC Beauty Christmas AdventCalendar 24-piece Collection  $78.96 + shipping & handling 

The holiday season is brighter and more beautiful than ever with this 24-piece advent calendar. Your favorite brands and products are all included–everything from lip gloss and mascara to an eau de parfum and bronzing face lotion.

QVC Beauty Christmas AdventCalendar 24-piece Collection
QVC Beauty Christmas AdventCalendar 24-piece Collection

Includes:

  • 0.23-oz Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm
  • 0.85-oz Alterna Kendi Dry Oil Mist
  • 1-oz Bliss Hand Cream
  • 1-oz Borghese Restorative Hydrating Mud Mask
  • 0.34-oz Dennis Basso EDP Rollerball
  • 0.30-oz Dr. Denese Hydroshield
  • 0.28-oz Fresh Sugar Lip Polish
  • 0.16-oz IT Cosmetics Mascara
  • 0.27-oz Julep Nail Color
  • 0.30-oz L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
  • 0.16-oz Laura Geller Lip Gloss
  • 0.03-oz Mally Starlight Eyeliner Mini
  • 2-oz Nick Chavez Conditioner
  • 0.50-oz Ole Henriksen Truth Revealed Super Creme
  • 0.50-oz Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer
  • 1-oz philosophy amazing grace 3-in-1 shower gel
  • 1-oz philosophy living grace 3-in-1 shower gel
  • 0.07-oz philosophy miracle worker anti-aging retinoid eye repair
  • 2-oz philosophy miracle worker lactic acid cleanser/mask
  • 0.50-oz Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel
  • 0.50-oz Sanctuary Spa Warming Microbrasion Polish
  • 0.16-oz St. Tropez Bronzing Face Lotion
  • 0.05-oz Stila Lip Glaze
  • 0.056-oz tarte smolderEYES Eyeliner
  • Cannot ship to AK, HI, PR, VI, Guam

My sister actually sent me the link for this beauty advent calendar.  Even though there is QVC here in the UK, the advent calendar is only available in the US.  But look at all of the great stuff you get in it.  A little bit of everything from lots of different brands.

 

Selfridges Beauty Advent Calendar  £84.00

Allegedly, Selfridges has a beauty advent calendar but all I can find is this news post about it on their site.  But here’s what it would be like, if you could actually buy it.

Selfridges Beauty Advent Calendar
Selfridges Beauty Advent Calendar

Every Christmas, our beauty advent calendars are an instant sell out and now our we’ve got our very own Selfridges advent calendar, exclusively here.

Filled with 24 luxurious miniature treats to guarantee a beauty-filled festive season, it’s a must-have for all beauty fans.
The 2013 calendar contains a selection of fragrances, make-up and skincare from some of the world’s biggest beauty brands including Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Victor & Rolf and more, all yours for £84.
Get your exclusive beauty advent calendar only at Selfridges in store and online now.

Perhaps you can only find it in stores at this point, but all of the links seem to be non-functioning in the description.  It’s a real shame to me though because this has a lot of Lancome products in it and that’s one of my favourite beauty brands.  Of course, I’m not sure I’d want to pay £84.00 for a bunch of tiny samples of things either.

Boots Beauty Advent Calendar  £30.00

Boots Beauty Advent Calendar
Boots Beauty Advent Calendar
Wake up every morning to a new beauty treat and fill the month of december with gorgeous gifts to pamper yourself from head to toe.
Featuring brands such as;
Soap & Glory, Nails Inc, Paco Rabanne, Juicy Couture, Rimmel, Mavala, Umberto Giannini and Many More….

They are a fair bit light on the details of their advent calendar contents, but it gets great reviews on the Boots website; 97% would recommend it.  It is certainly one of the least expensive ones that I’ve seen as well.

Ciaté Mini Nail Lacquer Advent Calendar Gift Set  £42.00

The excitement of the traditional Christmas countdown has been transformed from chocolate to girly nail treats in the Mini Mani Month gift set from Ciaté London.

Ciaté Mini Nail Lacquer Advent Calendar Gift Set
Ciaté Mini Nail Lacquer Advent Calendar Gift Set

Every girl’s diary can now be filled with a daily dose of delectable mini nail treats, as behind each door lies a very colourful surprise.

Gorgeously packaged with nineteen of our bestselling mini Paint Pots, four textured manicure toppers from Caviar to Sequin and a surprise full size paint pot, a girl will never be bored with this adorable nail gift.

This is perfect for anyone with a nail polish addiction!  I mean, 24 days of polish is quite the treat for your nails and should keep you polished up for months and months!  Maybe they should have included a day or two of remover or nail condition lotions or something….just to give your nails a break.  It seems like a really great price for all those polishes too.  It appears that all of the days are small sizes except for one full sized polish, which I’m guessing you unveil on the final day.  There are lots of great colours and they have a fair number of the glitter polishes too.  This would be great for a teenager, I think.

 

For me, the YOU Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar is the best one, and not only because it is one of the few still in stock.  It has such a great variety and the price is quite reasonable as well.  Of course, if none of these really seem to be the beauty gift you were hoping for, then you could always buy a pre-made advent calendar that is empty and fill it with your own treats.  That would be a great way to do the ultimate in personalization, as well.  I’m a little surprised that no one has an advent calendar for lipstick and glosses.  But if they do, I certainly couldn’t find it.  And of course, if you don’t want to do an advent calendar from scratch, you could cheat a bit and give a Glossybox subscription for 3, 6, or 12 months.  That would be a great yearlong gift!

My Dress Dilemma Continues

I thought I should do a quick follow up to my earlier post about getting a dress for my upcoming holiday party.  I got all of the dresses this week, really quite quickly since I had all of them by Wednesday and I only ordered Saturday evening or Sunday morning.  I always feel like when I order stuff like this, it should come in better packaging, but really they were all in little boxes, and only John Lewis even included a garment bag with their dresses.  In any case, they all arrived and looked remarkably wrinkle free.  I think that certainly bodes well for me since I will have to pack them up for the flight to New York.

It’s funny how the things you think you will like really well, sometimes turn out to be truly horrible when you put them on.  I had thought that the red dress by Damsel in a Dress from John Lewis would be my top choice but when I put it on it quickly became apparent that it was the least attractive and had some real quality issues for me.  I’m not sure if it was a one off problem or if this dress is just sewn poorly, but it had large clunky seams in the lining that were visible in very unattractive places when the dress was on me.  The worst one was probably this big seam right across my boob.  Yeah, that is not a look that anyone wants.  I knew as soon as I saw that, that this was not the dress for me.  But it also made me look kind of thick around the middle and more dowdy than I would like.  So, it was out.

The black dress from Pepperberry fit well enough but the back is super plain and somehow just seems blah.  Plus, there’s some tucks under the breast area that make for a bit of an unattractive chest look.  And even though I was never a fan of the included broach and had planned to replace it, I was amazed at how totally cheap-o it was.  It wouldn’t even stay clasped and kept falling open.  If they hadn’t had it affixed to the dress with a plastic cord like you have on a price tag (clearly to be removed when you wear it), I would have lost that broach for sure.  So, this was not the dress for me either.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the other three were all great.  They all looked really nice on me and were even comfortable.  I tried them on for Dave and my mom and neither of them could help with the final decision sadly.  Though, my mom did raise some good concerns about the cool jumpsuit from Phase Eight.  It looked really nice on and the pants are very full and definitely look like a long skirt, plus the two tone effect if very flattering to the figure.  In any case, my mom pointed out that going to the bathroom would require the buddy system since it zipped and buttoned at the back and I couldn’t get it myself.  So, for that reason alone, I decided I would have to pass on the jumpsuit.  But I do really like it and if I weren’t worried about the bathroom thing I think I would have gone for this because it is very comfortable and flattering.

So, all of that means that I am left trying to decide between the black DKNY wrap dress from Net-A-Porter and the purple Kaliko dress from John Lewis.  The difference in price is quite big – £150.00 more for the DKNY dress, but I’m trying not to let that be the big deciding factor for me.  But in the back of my mind I keep thinking why spend so much because it isn’t like I’m going to wear this a lot.  Sometimes I am too practical for my own fashion good.  I think I really like the Kaliko one best because it is a lovely vibrant purple and the sheer part that covers the arms and drapes down the back is very cool looking, plus it looks quite nice on me; makes me look curvy without too much chest emphasis.  However, it does only come to about my knee.  Dave thinks that makes it look less formal but I’m not sure how formal I need to be for this event.  The black DKNY dress looks really nice on with the long sleeves, ruching at the waist and the deep v-neck it is definitely figure flattering.  Since it is made of a soft jersey material it is very comfortable too.  But it does have a big slit up one leg that comes to mid-thigh area.  Is that too high for me?  I don’t know.

The good news is that I have just two dresses to decide between now and I’ll be taking the rest of them back this weekend.  So, now I just have to decide if I want to wear the cool purple dress or the long black dress.  This would have been much easier if only one of these had looked good and been comfortable.  I might end up flipping a coin! LOL

Holiday Party in NYC: What to Wear?

We found out a few weeks ago that Dave’s company is having a formal black tie holiday party this year at their headquarters in New York.  While it is nice to have the trip back to New York and see some friends and family, now I’m faced with the dilemma of what to wear.  I’m not into formal gowns and currently have exactly zero things in my wardrobe that would even remotely fit the bill.  So, naturally this means shopping, shopping, and more shopping.  I’ve spent a couple of weeks looking at various dresses and styles and trying to determine what would work best for me.  Problem is, I just don’t know.  Over the weekend I decided that I would order a bunch of dresses and try them on in the comfort of my own home where I could compare them to each other and try them on with heels (even though they won’t be the right ones).  This should allow me to see which things work and which don’t.  Plus, I can have Dave give me an opinion and my mom (via Skype) can weigh in with her thoughts.

I ended up ordering five different dresses to choose from:   two dresses from John Lewis, one from Net-A-Porter, one from Pepperberry, and one from Phase Eight.  To be truthful, the “dress” from Phase Eight is actually a jumpsuit, but with really wide cut trousers so they look like a skirt.  I just wanted to see how it might stack up against the other things.  They’ve all got their own pros and cons, I’m just hoping that one of them works for me.  My guess would be that the very simple black dress from Net-A-Porter is probably going to be my best selection.   Here are the five candidates:

As you can probably tell from the photos, they are all quite different, so hopefully at least one of them is the right choice for me.  I have a feeling that I will have to discount the Kaliko dress from John Lewis (£79.20 today, though over the weekend it was £99) since it is short, as well as the Phase Eight jumpsuit (£96 today, though over the weekend it was £120) for not being formal enough.  Though, I do really like the look of both of them.  As I said though, the simple black DKNY dress from Net-A-Porter (£250) is probably the best candidate.  But then again, I really like a pop of colour like that red dress from Damsel in a Dress at John Lewis.  The dress from Pepperberry was my safety choice because it is quite simple and low cost, plus their clothing is made for a girl with a bigger bust so you can always wear a decent bra too.   Who knows though, maybe I will be super surprised and they will all look great on me.  I am picking up the John Lewis dresses today and the Net-A-Porter dress might be delivered today as well as the Phase Eight jumpsuit.  I don’t think the dress from Pepperberry has even despatched yet, but it should be here by the end of the week.

Of course, after I pick the dress then I’ll have to find the right shoes and jewellery to go with it.  And what will I do with my hair?  And I’ll have to figure out the right makeup look to go with it as well.  The party is the first week of December, so luckily I still have some time to get this all figured out. Since we will be in NYC the entire week before, I feel confident too that I can always find anything that I might forget or want to change, and it will probably be a lot cheaper than here.  I’ve been toying with the idea of waiting to get shoes until I get to New York but that seems a little too risky somehow.  I guess it will just depend on what I can find here.  Wish me luck because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it!