Ban Week 12: $10 Spent on …

… more nothing. Second week without purchasing anything, due to camel-colored coatgate.

Week 12 was the week of Christmas, and I wore this outfit to work on Christmas Eve:

Cream cardi via Banana Republic outlet, years ago
Cream lace cami via Banana Republic, years ago
High-waisted black skirt via The Mexican Shop
Snaky silver belt via ARC’s Value Village
Sheer black thigh-highs by Hue
Kristen-Hi spectator pumps via John Fluevog
Faux pearls made by me

We only had to work half a day on Christmas Eve, thanks to our generous management, and MANY people asked me why the hell I was so dressed up. I had no real excuse.

The cami pictured here was a very expensive impulse buy about 4 years back. It’s utterly gorgeous, with lots of depth and color to the creamy lace. I think it set me back $80 or something ridiculous like that and I don’t think I’ve worn it in at least two years, maybe three. What with the recent lacy trend, I thought it was a perfect candidate for wardrobe revival!

I got rather a large amount of cash from my generous in-laws and granny, which – you’ll be unsurprised to hear – was spent online IMMEDIATELY. Yup, on your advice, the advice of Husband Mike, and my own advice, I decided I could spend my gift money on anything I wanted. And having been unable to buy new clothing, shoes, and accessories for a full three months, that’s exactly what I spend my holiday moolah on. In frighteningly record time.

On the off chance you’re curious, I bought:

Kind of a lot of black and white stuff for a girl who rails on and on about color, eh? Well, these quasi-basics were all on the list, and even though I’m a little ashamed to admit how quick I was to purchase them all, I felt both pragmatic and satisfied with every single item. ESPECIALLY those boots, which I’d been lusting after since I tried them on in Chicago at Thanksgiving. Yum!

This spending spree differed from holiday blitzes of years past in several good ways:

  1. I didn’t spend my gift money AND a bunch more of my own money on top of it. I spent exactly what I was given, and not a penny more.

  2. I didn’t feel disappointed and empty after making all of my purchases, but instead merely felt excited to get them delivered to my back porch.
  3. I didn’t allow myself any in-person shopping, either once the gift money was received or after it had all been spent. I am much more inclined to overspend when faced with multitudinous bargains in person. By buying everything online, I could just narrow down my pre-selected wishlist items, and that helped me maintain focus. Since I didn’t cruise the shops afterwards, I wasn’t tempted to just keep spending even after the money was gone.

However, the fact that I bought all of this stuff before even DEPOSITING some of my gift money just proves to me that I am learning about myself … but not necessarily changing. And a recent conversation with a girlfriend made me realize that the most I can really hope for – without petitioning outside help, perhaps from an actual 12-step program – is just to gain awareness. My urges are unlikely to change, and I will still spend like a madwoman when I give myself permission to do so. My goal should really be mindfulness and impulse control, not a total transformation of my thoughts and behaviors surrounding spending.

It was both enlightening and a little disappointing to have to reexamine my end-goal and pare it down. But better to understand what I’m reasonably capable of and achieve my goal than to set a pie-in-the-sky goal and fall short.

Stay tuned for more underutilized wardrobe fun!

  • poodletail

    Heart, be still! You are a vision in black-and-white.

  • K.Line

    Wow, your family seems to have been very generous! And what good use you’ve put that loot to. The pearls are fantastic. The pearls with the boots – wow! Can’t wait to see how you style these.

  • Sharon Rose

    Hi there-the really good thing here is you’re buying pieces that are ‘investment classics’ that will last years if looked after, plus you didn’t spend any more on top of the gift money!! Very well done indeed!

  • Christina Lee

    your shoes pulled the look together-LOVE! also love the skirts you purchased!!

  • kristophine

    I adore that outfit! As expensive as BR can be, they do make some wonderful tops. (I’m lucky; they show up at my favorite thrift store regularly.) And Fluevog is just constantly fabulous.

    I agree that it’s better to have a reasonable awareness of your own tendencies and work with them. I’m trying my own version of your ban, but ten dollars a week would never have worked for me–better to give myself twenty a week than feel awful about breaking the ten-a-week rule repeatedly. I’m still spending less than I was before, and victory is victory.

  • pretty face

    beautiful outfit!

    That sequin skirt is especially droolworthy. I too, like you, have permitted myself to indulge in a little but of practical frivolity over teh sales season. I personally don’t think it’s realistic to expect to NEVER buy anything you don’t need and choosing assertively when and how and how much you are going to spend is great! xx

  • Gladys

    I love when Express has their sales. I have gotten some great evening wear as well as a couple of pretty versatile suites.

    I LOVE the sequined squirt. I have a white flouncy blouse and I red patent belt that would make that look very dressy and naughty.

    I love spectators. I have loved them since I was a child and have always wanted to own a pair of red and white spectators. Aw to sleep per chance to dream…

  • Sarah

    I love love love the sequin skirt. Love.

  • Make Do Style

    It’s lovely to get new things when you’ve got the funds – enjoy a lot!

  • a cat of impossible colour

    Great haul! And gift-money should certainly be spent on things that make you happy.

    Happy new year! :)

    A xx

  • Skye

    I love the sequinned skirt – definitely a basic. And congratulations on the boots, it’s so good to get stuff you’ve wanted for an age.

    My sale shopping rule is usually “Don’t buy anything you didn’t want when it wasn’t on sale.” and I obey that about 99% of the time.

  • Sal

    Awww, thanks you guys!

    K.Line: They are super generous. I’m a lucky gal! Of course, as we’ve all noted, the sales started early this year, so I got some GREAT deals on these lovelies.

    kristophine: Right on, lady. Setting up impossible goals just makes us feel worse about ourselves in the end. It’s fantastic that you know what’s gonna work for you in your ban.

  • Hot Bot

    I encourage everyone I know to indulge in retail therapy.

    Ok, ok…maybe instigate is a better word ;) But those boots are HOT! I wanted them too when I saw them. Even though they’re pretty irrelevant here.

  • The Seeker

    You look so beautiful, my dear, don’t regret to have dressed so well. (I’m critized everyday because I’m over dressed)

    OMG Sal I really love your buyings, those skirts are a must indeed. The sequins and the lace ones…. I have no words.

    You did it well, money gifts are for us to buy things we weren’t expecting, that’s my 2 cents ;)


  • Miss Karen

    You look absolutely gorgeous here! And your new sequin skirt has so much wow-factor it’s not even funny.

    PS. Hehe you were so spot on – he’s from New Zealand :)
    PPS. Your last post about the shoes is both sad and funny at the same time – the sad thing being, we weren’t there at the time!

  • enna.

    OMG THAT LONG SKIRT! I have been looking for one for ages. Excuse me while I go stalk my local Express.

  • April

    Okay I’m so jealous of your buys! LOVE THE BOOTS and I have been dying for that Express sequin skirt!


    Those boots are awesome!! And I’ve been on a sorta ban too with shopping, but once Christmas came around and I got a little money I bought James Perse shirts on (80%off), two vintage tops via Etsy and a pair of shoes from Victorias Secret. Oddly, I felt really guilty about buying them because I feel like I should save it for something better (like rent) but really happy and excited to get them. Mixed feelings indeed.

  • Down Comforter

    Cute sequin skirt! Express is a great place for party ensembles – bought my New Year’s outfit there this year :)

  • lisa

    Sal, as someone who went through a 5-month ban herself, it’s been so interesting reading your shopping ban reflections! Keep up the great work.

    P.S. The sequined skirt is fantastic. I can’t wait to see how you’ll style it. :-)

  • K.L.R. (aka Kayleigh)

    That outfit is spectacular on you! The creamy color, the cut, it’s just perfect — and that cami is to die for :)

    You look fabulous and I’m glad you got to have some fun spending that gift money. My take on it? Don’t over think it and just enjoy (yes, spoken like a true dedicated shopper, lol, eh?)