Tag Archives: frugality

bliss’ fashion challenge

I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.  ~Gilda Radner

My dear friend, Adrienne, at “The Rich Life (on a budget)” has recently tagged me to participate in the Fashion Challenge.  Guilty admission?  When I was reading her tres interesant answers to the Challenge, I was secretly thinking…please don’t tag me for this one, please don’t tag me for this one….and what do you know?  I was tagged.   It’s not that I don’t want to “play” or that I don’t  feel “honored” that she thinks I have something worthwhile to say in the fashion department (hope I don’t let you down, Adrienne : ) ).  It’s just that I don’t think of myself as a fashion forward type of woman.  I don’t buy “Vogue”, I don’t read “In-Style”.  I really have very little knowledge of trends and in-season styles/colors.  So with that prior knowledge of me, please read with patience and understanding.

1.  What International Brands would you like to try on and why?

Chanel and Dior—but the vintage lines.  I never tire of seeing styles from the 40s-60s by these designers.  I would like a working wardrobe of vintage Chanel suits and a perfect LBD.  From Dior I would love to be draped in evening dresses and ball-gowns circa 1950s.  Did I mention a Chanel 2.55 handbag?

2.  If you received something you didn’t like what would you say to that person?

I would pull an Emmy worthy convincing Brenda Lee Johnson, “Thank you, thank you so much.”  I would try very consciously to be grateful and nothing else.  There are only a couple of people I feel I could be completely honest with if I didn’t like something he/she gave me: my husband and my cousin.  Maybe my mom–but not likely.

3.  Do you prefer giving or receiving?

GIVING!!  Love, love, LOVE giving gifts.  I have been told I have a gift for gifting.  One dear friend has tried to convince me to be a personal shopper as a vocation (but then it might not be as fun).  The funny thing is that I am not a shopper in the “let’s spend the day at the mall”  type of way.  If I happen to be somewhere and see something that reminds me of someone dear, I get it and “surprise” them with it when ever  it is the right time.  I am trying to do more buying of usable goods or (better yet) experiences (passes to an exhibit; gift certificate to a Thai restaurant) for people.   I also think the best gifts are “just because I was thinking of you” gifts.

Of course this does not mean I do not enjoy receiving gifts.  My favorite “receiving gifts” are the same as the giving ones.

4.  Do brands influence you when you buy something?

Nope.  In fact I am anti-logo on my clothes, handbags, anything.  I will  buy and stay loyal to a brand if it fits me well, is a good price point for my budget and I will get a lot of wear out of it.  I have worked hard at minimizing my wardrobe so buying things for it need to meet certain criteria since it is going to be worn often.  And no matter how much I love a certain type/style/brand of handbag (or other type clothing/accessory), I will never buy a counterfeit and I have little patience for those who do.  That is a nasty little industry that does no one any good service.  Case in point: I absolutely adore the Chanel 2.55 black quilted handbag but do not foresee owning one for a very long time, if ever.  I will never by a fake Chanel.  But I will buy a similar styled purse by a well-known, lesser priced brand as I did with this:

vintage koret handbag satisfies me for now--maybe forever


5.  From 0-5, say what you think about the blog that tagged you.

Uh, hello!  A 5!!  I read her every day and I admire her devotion to her writing, to her family and her determination to live a “rich life”.

6.  Your wish list?

If money were no object?  Let’s start there.  The vintage Chanel wardrobe.

(photo credit)

   A couple vintage Dior gowns–one pink, one light blue. 


yes, please! (photo credit)

 The” perfect for me” Chanel LBD. 

(photo credit)

 A Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. 

(the Hermes Trim would look great with this…photo credit)

 Oscar de la Renta true red, Mary Jane  peep-toe pumps. 

(photo credit) 

The Chanel 2.55 handbag in black.

(maybe color doesn’t matter? photo credit)

A Roger Vivier “Miss Viv” handbag.

(photo credit)

  A Hermes Trim in Raisin (yes, AA, I covet yours).

  A few more Hermes Silk Twill 90cm scarves. 

Custom made bras.

And since money is a factor….my list:  nothing.  I truly have what I need.  It’s always easy to want for more but I am learning to be happy with what I have and only buy what is needed–exception might be handbags.  I love the concept of capsule dressing and try to buy only what fits into that.  When something is bought, something else needs to go (I try to make it more than just one item).

My turn to tag four other lovely bloggers:


In My World

How to Be Chic

the vivienne files

Gals, you don’t have to play if you don’t want but I would love to read your thoughts.



Filed under beauty notes, french twist, minimizing

what i wanted vs. what i got

“It’s not having what you want, It’s wanting what you’ve got…” –Sheryl Crow, “Soak Up the Sun”. 

These are words I try to live by.  Life is a series of compromises…sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t.   I really try not to care all that much, one way or the other.   This post is a little study/photo essay of some ways in which I didn’t let my heart get set on just one option…I kept them open.  By keeping them open, I was able to experience joy in other ways.   Take for instance this Coach handbag:

words can not express how much i love this bag

This purse was featured in a fashion layout in the February 2011 issue of “More” magazine (which I have been getting monthly and I have no idea why).  As soon as I saw it, it was love–the style, the color (oh! the color!!! check out Aesthetic Alterations for more of this rich, brown color a la Hermes), everything.  No, “love” is not the right description–unbridled lust is more like it.  An unbridled lust that soon gave way to obsession causing me to become an obsessive compulsive Coach bag stalker (from here will be shortened to OCCBSD).  I called “Coach” immediately.  The uninformed customer service rep was of no help–she couldn’t find any information on the bag.  “More” magazine only described it as a Coach handbag–no style number.  Blast.  I started searching “More” magazine’s website for a clue.  Nothing.  I did random searches on the web and Ebay using descriptive words to find it.  Nothing.  A couple of weeks later, I called Coach again.  Aha!  This time I got the information I needed.  The helpful customer service rep informed me that it was a Coach Hampton Handbag style number 15400.  Yes!  “But unfortunately we are sold out of those in our stores and this style has been moved to our Coach Outlets.”  Even better!!  “Could you tell me where I could find one?”  “I am sorry, m’am.  We do not have access to Coach Outlets’ inventory.”  “OK, could I have the number for that?”  “No, m’am, you will have to call stores individually.”  Aaaallll righty.  Do I want this bag that bad?  Yes!  So I tracked down all the numbers for any outlet stores in my state and the neighboring ones.  I called them all.  No one had any.  I called down as far as Tennessee figuring if it was there my mom could pick it up for me (graciously and without a gripe).  Nope–all gone.  I started  thinking of friends in other states that I wouldn’t hesitate to impose upon who would go to an outlet mall for moi and then ship the coveted item to me (of course I would reimburse gas and shipping because I am a great friend).  I think this last thought started bringing me back to my senses as these calls were not made (and thus, the friendships are still thriving).  I was about to give up when  suddenly I remembered Ebay.  The next few hours, or was it days? weeks?–not sure, kind of a blur– was dedicated to finding that beautiful Coach bag, going for a song I dared to hope, on Ebay.  I did find it…for the “Buy It Now” price of $377.  Forget it–I simply can’t justify that amount at this time (on sooooo many personal levels this type of handbag purchase can not be justified but it sure didn’t stop me going a tad insane in my search).  I started thinking about “why” I really liked this bag and I realized it was because it looked a lot like the vintage, classic Coach handbag “originals” (as Coach calls them).  Hmmmmmmmmmm…..

So I started a new search on Ebay for “vintage Coach brown flap handbag”, “vintage Coach walnut leather handbag”, “vintage Coach cognac leather purse” and a slew of other word combinations (and no, I have no idea how I found the time for all of this except that when OCCBSD kicks in, time is of no consequence) until I found this:

the color is right, the style is right, the price was right


In person, this bag is not that shiny but I had cleaned it up and conditioned it shortly before I took this picture.  And this is my compromise–while not the “bag of my dreams”*,  it is pretty close and I can live with it until I get the “bag of my dreams” for a lot less than $377.  The best part of this Coach bag?  It was FREE.  I won the bidding at a good price but all my money was refunded by the seller because of a shipping error she made.  It is in great, gently used, vintage condition with lots of life left (for a similar handbag story, because who doesn’t love a good handbag story?, check out Janet’s).

Then there is the matter of my bed.  I have had the same duvet cover on my bed for about ten years (purchased from PotteryBarn–great quality).  And I still love it.  When we moved just over a year ago, we purchased a new mattress set.  Of course this new set is a pillow-top,  thus a deeper mattress than what we had.  This caused my queen-sized, favorite duvet to no longer reach where the dust ruffle meets the mattress leaving an unsightly gap of exposed mattress.  Yuck.  So I started shopping for a new duvet.  Couldn’t find one I loved as much as the one I have.  I thought about going with a linen duvet (as seen at “Restoration Hardware” or “Garnet Hill”) but realized I would probably have to go with a King sized duvet to not have the same problem I was already dealing with now–which jumps the price. 

(photo:garnet hill) eileen fisher washed linen would be my dream choice but of course the price added up fast with king size and matching pillow shams

 Then I thought, I will just buy a 100% linen, King sized flat sheet to layer between the regular sheet and duvet, adding a nice contrast.  I almost, almost!,  plucked down nearly $200 for such an item before I came to my senses.  I decided to shop Ebay and Etsy one more time before making a purchase.  I am glad I did  because I found a Ralph Lauren king-sized duvet and shams set on Etsy for $28.00.  And here is how it looks:

two floral duvets to add contrast--who'd have thought? (sorry bed is not made very neatly but i had been working in it)


Then there is the matter of my dog.  When I first got the life altering notion of having a dog in my life, the only image I had in my mind was this:

a cute, little 100% havanese dog (picture courtesy of my cousin--this is her dog...such a beauty!). these dogs can be had for $1000-$2000


And this is what $95 will get you:

a havanese muttster


Oh, I am not being very fair to little Rockefeller.   He is definitely a “compromise” that has brought us a lot of joy (when he’s not growling at us).



Look how happy Master Bliss is to have Rockefeller…I am sure there is a smile on his face:


So while I do not get to wear “the bag of my dreams” (yet), or sleep ensconced in the heavenly feel of linen, or enter my dog in any pure-bred dog shows, I can still enjoy my life, my choices and be the happier for them.

Have you ever made a compromise that ended up being the better choice for you?

*To clarify:  lusting after a “bag of my dreams” does not happen often.  Although I am a self-described handbag addict, a true “have to have it” bag comes along only once in a blue moon.  In other words, I am not completely insane.


Filed under doggy "tails", home sweet home

don’t you love a good mail day?


Oh happy day!  I love it when I get packages in the mail.  And today was an exceptionally good package receiving day.  My Talbots order arrived (yes, so much for not buying any new clothes until summer–but wait!  It’s all good–you will see).  AND my new-to-me phone came.  But first let me share this with you:

*new* vintage handbag, talbots chocolate brown wool skirt, talbots sweater, hermes scarf

 Please excuse the picture quality, especially with the toilet rounding out the “chicness” of my attire.  I do not own a full length mirror and this bathroom mirror is the best I can do (although in the future I may impress upon Master Bliss to take my photo instead).  As you know, I do not write a “fashion” blog.  But you had to see this fantastic vintage bag!  This is the one I was waiting for from France (smug smile), purchased from the lovely Tapouillon store I found on Etsy.  This is the outfit I wore yesterday, which you should also remember from this post.  I was quite pleased with how well “the look” came  together.  You can’t see my feet where I shod suede, chocolate-brown Mary Janes.  Overall, it was an outfit I felt very comfortable and chic in. 

 When I have posted about clothes in the past it has been in relation to my minimizing attempts with my wardrobe.  My goal has been to edit my clothes down to 20-25 items.  I think I am going to have to be satisfied with 28.  But considering with what I started out with, this is a very satisfactory accomplishment.  In fact 3 of my remaining items are dresses which I hardly ever wear except for special occasions (black wrap dress, red wrap dress, black w/white polka dots dress) and a suit.  So 28-4=24 items which is the core of my daily, working wardrobe.  Also, these would be the clothing items I will wear from Fall into Late Spring.  A few of them will be used into Summer but the bulk of my summer wardrobe is upstairs awaiting its editing turn (sigh).

So here is a picture of what came today from my Talbots order:

cashmere sweater and two long-sleeved tees

These new purchases lead to further closet/drawer editing which resulted in the removal of these items:

there are about 20 items here ranging from a couple vintage handbags to cashmere sweaters to hoodies and pjs--craziness!

  So, again–only 3 items in and about 7x that amount out.  It really is liberating.  Some of the items on the “out” pile were tough decisions, such as, the cashmere sweaters.  But guess what?  I still have three–I don’t need six.  In this pile is also my, sad to say, beloved navy blue Old Navy fleece pull-over.  I have known it has needed to go for a couple of years now but it is just so warm and comfortable.  I am getting rid of it for other reasons besides age.  I just don’t want to keep a bunch of “frump” clothes on hand which will only encourage me to dress “frumpy” when I am spending the day at home.  I now only have one sweatshirt and one lighter weight zip sweatshirt to my name.  And these will be reserved for exercise use only. 

So now my closet looks like this:

there is actually 1.5ft of empty space to the far left. everything is now on wood hangers which i use to think took up too much room whereas it was actually too many clothes

 And it use to look like this:

before any purging

My other package “surprise” was my new BlackBerry phone.  My Razr flip has finally decided to crack apart after ten too many drops on the floor.  You can refreshen your memory on my phone story here.  Miraculously, I still have reception on the broken phone but talking while not losing the call has become quite the challenge.   I found this BlackBerry on Ebay for $14.00.  Sadly, there was a USPS shipping fiasco I had to deal with (the box literally arrived at my post office, two blocks away, and then got sent back to the shipper in North Carolina for no explainable reason).  I will be switching my service over to my new phone today! 

i'll be taking your calls now

So even though I have brought new items into my home, minimizing and frugality still reign supreme–I have spent a fraction of what these items could have cost and have managed to stick to my rule of purging items out of here when something new/different comes in.  I think this is a win win.
A shout out to Tanja at Minimalist Packrat for rating my blog as one of the “all stars” on her minimalist Blog List.  I was completely surprised and honored.  Thank you, Tanja!
And one last shout out to COLIN FIRTH for winning his OSCAR last night.  I wish I could’ve danced his jig with him.


Filed under creative endeavors, french twist, minimizing