In At Work, Capsule Wardrobe, Discussions, In my closet, Life, Minimalism, Style, Style, Wardrobe Help, What I bought, What I read, Women

March 2013: What I bought, watched and read

(That’s right, now I’m going to talk about how I spent my money on fun stuff this month, rather than lecture you on what I don’t spend my money on.)




I think probably the worst movie I’ve seen yet of the JB franchise.

The scene with the house at the end, made me think of Rambo.

No finesse, not cool, not elegant. Even the toys given by Q were disappointing.

I think they were trying a Star Wars 3-part movie thing, but it failed miserably for me.

I watch James Bond to not get guns and all this senseless, gratuitous violence. I am interested in how he gets the bad guy in the end, along with the mental as well as technological trickery.

Sorry. It was a flop for me, although I know plenty of people loved it.


On the fence.

I liked and didn’t like it at the same time.

A very lush, visually pleasing movie. I wouldn’t say it’s strong in terms of drama and plot, but it’s a lot of reading in between the lines.

It didn’t captivate me mentally, but emotionally and visually, what a stunner!

LOVED the fashions in there.

Almost made me want something in (faux) fur, until I came to my senses. Still, I wanted to dress up a lot after watching this movie.

Compared to other classics that have been brought to film like Marie Antoinette, it wasn’t as well done. The acting was fine, but it just seemed really light on content.


I’ve never seen this musical in my life, so this is my first time seeing it acted out, although I’ve played a song or two of Les Mis on the piano for years.

I also can’t believe these actresses can SING. Amanda Seyfried, wow 🙂

I really like playing the music from this film, but all the singing is not my thing, which is strange because I liked Glee a lot.

Still, the content and general flow of the movie was excellent. I highly recommend watching it, EVEN THOUGH it was full of singing and it may not be your thing.

What a great adaptation. It really hits your heart and soul.


“There goes my budget.”

Those were the exact words uttered near the start of March.

With getting rid of things from China (all my beloved boots are from China.. GODDAMNIT), and having to replace my perennial favourites in my wardrobe (clothes and jewellery)


I will note that in January and March, I ALSO returned over $500 worth of things from “Wardrobe”, but then I spent just as much replacing stuff like tights and underwear, not to mention the fun stuff like jewellery that I bought.

On to the spending!


I’m showing you the NYC one but I bought a Toronto map.

I’ve noticed that I tend to get lost, and as I don’t have a smartphone, it’s much easier to have a map than to run around hunting down Starbucks wifi signals.

I don’t know all the little streets, only the big ones when the TTC line runs through them — Yonge, Queen, King, College, Bathurst, Spadina, etc.


I also bought a crumpled map because I am hard on maps. I always end up ripping or tearing them, or worse, getting SO FRUSTRATED that they don’t fold up, that I end up crumpling it into a big paper ball.

This map is MEANT to be crumpled. Sold.

It’s perfect for an impatient clod like me.

(And it’s made in Italy.)


Made in Montreal out of Italian leather tanned and done in a factory in Italy, to replace my wallet.



I like full zip-around wallets.

The only thing I wish it had, was more card slots, but perhaps I should just cut down on how many cards I carry.

I don’t use them all anyway.


Skip to the end of this if you don’t want to read a mini review of my hunt for rainboots..


I have been hunting rainboots for a while now, and these were all the ones I tried on that were not made in China:

  • Hunter Boots in Brown only (the sole says whether they’re made in China or Indonesia)
  • Canadian Tire Short Kamik Boots for Boys (made in Canada)
  • Kamik Jennifer Side Buckle Rainboots (made in Canada)
  • Le Charmeau Rainboots (made in the U.K.)


Hunter Boots in Brown were the only ones made in Indonesia. The rest are made in China, you can check on the sole, it stamps the country of origin there, and it seems like only the brown ones are made in Indonesia.

$160 for boots made in those Third World countries? Not chuffed.


Canadian Tire had some short Kamik Boots for Boys ($17 on sale) that fit well until I wore them and realized they kept hitting the back of my calf and chafing it, because I am an adult woman, and not a little boy.

So I returned them.

I found taller, women-sized Kamik Boots (Jennifer Side Buckle) and I liked it, but those people who designed the boot, didn’t put cotton lining inside or SOMETHING to let you take the boot off easily.

I was fighting to pull off the boot each time because the rubber kept sticking to my socks and my pants. I was tugging like a mofo on them in the store, and BF said: Umm… I don’t think they’re worth it.



Then I thought about Le Charmeau Boots (popularized by Kate Middleton), and they seemed to be my best option (made in England), but extremely pricey at $300 – $500 per pair of RAINBOOTS.


Yes I could wear them in winter as they have a leather lining but that’s not the point.

The point is that they’re only available in green (ick), and they’re fricking RAINBOOTS for $500.


I think I might consider them for WINTER wear (minus -40 C and all that), but not for regular rainboot wear.

I can’t pay $500 for rainboots that I will wear on occasion if I can find actual rainboots for cheaper.

Anyway, that purchase turned out to be a bust, because NO ONE sells Le Charmeau rainboots in Canada and I am not about to buy something i can’t return.


UPDATE December 3 2013:

You should now be careful when buying from Aigle.

Not all of their boots are made in France. You need to check the INSIDE of the sole to make sure it does not state: “Made in China”, like all the other crap companies out there such as Hunter. 

A reader wrote in and told me she bought Lolly Pop boots for her son and realized they were made in China and not in France.

Then I was walking along Queen Street by Spadina, I saw Aigle rainboots in the window of Due West Clothing in Toronto (Yelp Review here) and I KNEW they were it.

I knew the brand was made in France (saw it a bunch of times in Hong Kong and France), and the price was about the same as the Hunters to boot ($5 more).


Image 138

I didn’t even ask the price at first (I have been disappointed before even knowing what it cost), and I pulled them on just to see if they would feel good.



Great support, great heel, lined inside for easy lifting, and best of all? MADE IN FRANCE.


Here’s their video:



I bought them and I’ve been super happy ever since. BF can’t believe how happy stupid rainboots make me, but after my month and a half of trying to find a good pair of rainboots, I found them.

Actually if you don’t look too closely or pay attention, they don’t look like rubber boots.

Even BF who hates fashion, said that they look better than the Hunters that are bit boxy… but then again he might be biased as Aigle is a French brand.


I LOVE THEM. The hunt is over. They’re going to last as long as I can make them last.

I also tried them out in light, cold weather, and they were fine with wool socks.

I still need actual WINTER boots, but that’s not until much later that I’ll think about a pair. Maybe from Sorel as I think they’re made in Quebec.


Finally bought the two I’ve been eying in black and brown, made in Canada.

The rest are made in China. *SIGH*

But you can tell by touching them, the quality is different. The Canadian ones are soft, and well made. The Chinese ones are thicker, more like plastic and not as pliable. Could just be the leather, but that’s what I felt.


Got them in black and brown. Now my belt collection is complete. 🙂


I have a credit at J. Crew I need to use, but most of their stuff is made in China, except for their shoes and some scarves (India).

Bought them, tried them on again at home then returned them because they really pinched my toes in the front (where they bend), and chafed my heel.

For $128, I expect them to be instantly comfortable, and under the lights and fairytale setting of the store, I was suckered into buying them.. but I came to my senses when I tried them on at home.

They were not what I expected.

So I returned them.


By the way, their Viv and Janey metallic leather flats are HORRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I liked them online, hated them on my feet.

I was expecting soft, buttery, silver leather, not whatever that hard material was. It felt like plastic.


Who the hell is going to buy those hard-shell shoes? You have to be a real sucker to buy them.

Their Nora ballet flats are also awful. Hard canvas leather?



No thank you. It’s cute but not worth $100+ and the blisters.

At J. Crew they kind of suck at shoes.

Made in Italy or not, they’re really not that amazing but I have a credit I need to use up.

I thought their Cece ballet flats were supposed to be the gold standard of ballet flats.

They chafed in all the wrong places (vamp needs to be higher or softer, and the back heel section needs to be flatter, and less curved in to stop giving blisters).


J. CREW MILA BALLET FLATS$170, got them for $115, $80

(In store it was $170, but online they said cheaper, so I made them price match it and give me 30% off for a final sale)

I returned a lot of stuff, but have a store credit, so I picked up a pair of champagne Mila ballet flats made in Italy.

They’re more comfortable because of the elastic band around my foot.


I wouldn’t really pay more than $80 for them to be honest, so wait until there’s a sale if you like them.

Also, their “discounting” down to $80 so easily from $170? That means that’s the real retail price without a super inflated profit margin worked in.

Just think about that, that companies are really full of crap these days.


There was a sale, they’re normally more expensive. I was searching desperately for a way to use my store credit with these ones.


It is extremely comfortable in front with the leather straps, and the heel being chunkier, is a lot sturdier than the stiletto-thin heels I am used to.

That said, the buckle grates a little on my ankle bone, but now it doesn’t any longer.

I like the simple look, the COMFORT of them considering that they’re 3″ 3/4 high and I have a gift card of $300+ I have to use up somehow.

They could go with my summer dresses… but they certainly won’t be used for long walking or shopping expeditions.

More for just going out to meet friends and so on.

Update: Returned it because I couldn’t get over that stupid gold buckle rubbing against my ankle for the price I paid.

OTHER THAN THAT, it was a good sandal.

A little high at 3′ 3/4″, but extremely comfortable because of the chunkier heel and wrapped leather for the front of the toes.

They just totally missed the mark on that gold buckle, and screwed up on the details. Tant pis.

Also, $180? It means they’re actually worth $90 as a “decent” retail price. Hmm.


It’s no longer available on the site. I found it on sale.


It was already marked down, and it was another 30% off. I’ve been eying this sweater for a long time, loving how it’s like a sweatshirt, but chic while still being comfortable.

It is loose, not tight, and would be great for the weekend.

Update: Returned it, it was made in China, however the rest of my outfits are perfect with a navy-blue striped shirt I love from A.L.C.

Note: Some of these items have disappeared from my wardrobe as they are made in China. I’ll find substitutes, but the concept of my outfits remain the same.

Still this was what I was planning:


J. Crew-Nautical-Pullover-Striped-Sweatshirt-Jason-Wu-For-Target-Scarf-Casual


Stripes, navy blue, ballet flats and a scarf.

Can we get more French than that? I think not.



J. Crew-Nautical-Pullover-Striped-Sweatshirt-Jason-Wu-For-Target-Scarf-Casual-2

A simple uniform for me. I just change the top!


J. Crew-Nautical-Pullover-Striped-Sweatshirt-Fantastic-Fields-Skirt-Anthropologie

Stripes and florals — a perfect combination, especially one as comfortable as this one.

I could wear it with ballet flats or with boots.


Already marked down to $25, and another 30% off.

I really liked the pattern of this scarf, it is a pinstriped blue and white, and it’s super soft. Would add a nice but neutral pop under any outfit.

This scarf is pretty easy to wear with any colour, because it’s a primary colour (blue) with a neutral (white).

I would just try to match the same medium sky blue of the scarf, rather than have it with something too dark, although pastels would be fine (anything light).


J. Crew Infinity Blue Striped Scarf Outfit


I wear this outfit a lot (obviously), it works like a uniform for me.

Top, skinny jeans, blazers, and then whatever I want to accessorize with, with either boots or flats.

The flats have yellow and blue, so it goes nicely with the infinity scarf.


J. Crew Infinity Blue Striped Scarf Outfit Red Coat Colorblock Shell Blazers

Lots of great neutrals as an outfit, and then a pop of brightness at the neck with a red coat, and it all works for me!

The black blazer on the left goes with the whole thing as an outfit.

The white blazer on the right is another outfit, with a possible red coat over each.

WOLFORD TIGHTS – $76 for one pair (taxes included)

I bit the bullet and bought ONE pair of brown opaque tights from Wolford.

I don’t wear tights THAT often, but I wear them often enough to need a pair.


They’re all made in Austria, and I’ve heard that these tights last the gamut of 10+ years, and 10X longer than cheap tights.

About $76 later, I was reeling from sticker shock, but will be getting good use out of these tights now that Spring is upon us.

I’m wearing them EVERYWHERE, EVERYDAY and under all the dresses I’ve kept.


So here’s my story: I wore them today, and they were SO soft, thick and comfortable.

Then I brushed up against an old wooden post, and thought I ripped them, but even a little nick like that didn’t make them run the way my old tights would have.

I just brushed off the slivers of wood embedded in the tights!!!!

I am officially impressed by their quality. You can’t see anything, not a single tear or hole.




To replace my one double-belted waist-cincher that I had to get rid of.

I think if I’ll buy all my belts from Brave belts.

They have some seriously pretty things and it’s all made in Canada.

I got them on sale at a shop!


I have all of my cashmere scarves for winter, but I needed to replace the ones I usually wear for Spring / Autumn that can’t be too warm.

So enter some Spring and Autumn scarves!

They’re made in Mongolia, which I don’t consider China, and I am told they are fair trade, as in the owner pays them fair wages to sew scarves on their 100-year old looms.

I got one in red with a flower and a great navy border:




I got another one in blue that looks like printed abstract hearts all over the place.

It’s not too sweet, it’s sweet enough and abstract enough to make you think it’s just a pattern.





It’s going to look great on my frame because the pleats will give me hips, and it has a pocket on the left-hand side!


I got it in person and the waist is perfect but man, the hips are like 4″ too big. As it’s a vintage piece that is understandable, but I didn’t expect to have to tailor it.


Pretty. PRETTY!


They look JUST like my all time favourite earrings that I have since gotten rid of.

They’re actually also more comfortable than other clip-ons, because the part that hugs your ear is rounded, not flat.


I like really unusual rings, so this one caught my eye and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.


You can find her on Etsy here. I like that her stuff is not like everyone else’s.

I got it and it is certainly unusual, which is what I like about it.


Designed and manufactured in Canada.

This plain black top is a perfect 3/4 length, the right thickness, not too tight or clingy, and this single top will replace all my other cheap tops (for now) that I bought in Hong Kong for $5 each.




Bought 2 small pyramid rings, and one large one handcasted in sterling silver.

Going to wear them as a group and stack the styles to create a big bold ring, to replace my favourite studded rings.

rachel-quinn-jewelry-large-pyramid-ring rachel-quinn-jewelry-tiny-pyramid-ring

They are GORGEOUS. Delicate, feminine… perfect.


Got rid of all of my cheap Dollarama bags that held my things, as well as my jewellery bags (all plastic, all stinky, all made in China).

So I bought a whole bunch of beautiful, recycled obi clutches and pouches made of old obi fabric from Japan to replace them.

They’re recycled obis, they’re beautiful, and I can use them with my outfits in addition to holding jewellery in the meantime.

tamamiko-bag-akai-bebe-3 tamamiko-bag-counting-crane-2 tamamiko-bag-orange-yellow-dots tamamiko-bag-pink-3 tamamiko-bag-purple tamamiko-magenta-lotus-bag tamamiko-red-blue-white-3


I spent about $600 on new underwear from Cosabella and two bras. It’s all I need for daily wear.

So far I really love the underwear from Cosabella (no panty lines visible, unlike the ones from American Apparel).

For cotton, it feels like a second skin on me, and lets my skin breathe unlike the cheap polyester I’ve been used to before. I’m surprised at how well they stretch but don’t stretch out for cotton.

Carnival submission for the week: Financial Independence Carnival #6

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. sst9929

    Love your posts! So great to get reviews of actual clothing from an actual person

    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Nice to hear 🙂

  2. jeweliette23

    FYI those thrifted earrings are a style that’s mass made in like Korea. I think you could get them for $5 if you shop around. But since you got clip-ons, I guess it’s harder to find earrings for non-pierced ears?
    (as you can tell, I’m catching up on all my blog reading! since google reader isn’t on my gmail anymore, I’ve forgotten about reading blogs.)

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I had no idea!

      Yes it is very hard to find clip ons for me, and these are comfortable, but I am not planning on buying any more — one pair is enough. I rarely wear earrings to begin with.

  3. anna

    You are even more awesome than before! I think its a great idea to get rid of all of the cheap ass stuff made in China. I want to do this one day, its SO hard to do though since almost everything is made there. I could not stand Les Miserables. My son loved it though. I hate musicals with a passion. I feel like I’m watching Sesame Street each time they break into song. The only musical I can watch and love is Grease!

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you kindly. I am not worthy of your praise…!

      I went looking at stuff today, and couldn’t buy anything. Actually felt good. This could be the real catalyst for a lifestyle change.

  4. Leslie

    I bought those Kamik rain boots as my first and only pair of rain boots. I just assumed that every pair of rain boots were that difficult to take off. I actually don’t mind it too much though as I don’t wear them every day.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I had tried Hunters on before, and realized that they’re cotton-flocked!

      Otherwise, I liked the Kamiks, but I found them SO HARD to remove, I thought I was going to throw out my back. Maybe I have stickier legs.

      Although you’re right — we don’t wear rainboots that often, but.. I’m picky.

  5. Vanelle

    So many things come from China, it must take forever to find good items made anywhere else ! Since you buy quite a lot of jewelry on Etsy, would you consider buying clothes there, too – I saw you already bought a skirt ? Do you think the “handcraft” label is genuine and relevant on clothes ?

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I think it is but you have to ask about the fabric used and the age. A lot of fabric is produced in China but also in India and parts of Europe (Eastern and Italy for wool). Vintage clothes tend to be safer for me because they didn’t have such chemicals until later around the 1950s for petrochemicals for instance.

      Older clothing is still eaten by moths for instance (indicating a lack of chemicals in the fabric) and the wool skirt I bought had a hole in the pocket from moth bites.

      It’s not a great indicator of whether or not the fabric is authentic or hasn’t been treated (no one wants holes in their clothing!!) but it is still an indicator.

  6. laura

    I watched Anna Karenina (felt the same as you – lots of reading between the lines) just to see Keira Knightley in the clothes – she’s my girl crush! Haven’t seen either of the other two films yet.

    I’ve become obsessed looking at ‘made in’ labels since your China post – which is a good thing! It’s frightening just how many things are made there – I feel so stupid for not realising before!

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Keira is a great actress but in this movie it was just fashion for me. I would watch it for the clothes again, not for the actual movie.

      Well I feel just as dumb but it is never too late.

  7. Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa

    I wasn’t a fan of Les Mis the musical, but I loved the Aniversary concert they did as well as this film version. I agree with The Asian Pear – Russell Crowe should never be allowed near any words that need to be sung to a melody. He was truly awful, so cringeworthy. I swear he must have been blackmailing the director/producer/someone to get that role.

    Love the collection you have – does this still fall in line with your minimal – everything in one suitcase – style of living?

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Yes it all falls into one suitcase (a large one at that), because I got rid of a lot more stuff here:

  8. SarahN

    Yikes, what a month! You certainly shopped it up a storm. I have read your post on your anti-China goals. I’m a little curious, as I’m dubious that Indonesia or India would be optimal – I think some of the horror news stories you see about China would also show up for India, for sure. Essentially, any ‘poor’ country might compromise their integrity to sell a cheaper product and get higher returns.

    Great pictures, esp the outfits.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Neither are optimal, I bought from France 🙂

    2. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I meant to write: I bought my rainboots from France.

      I try to look for things NOT in those countries too, so it’s not just “China”.

  9. Janine

    I may have to look into those rain boots! I’ve been eyeing hunters but after reading what you wrote I’m not so sure anymore!

    I’m also intrigued by those tights. I wear tights A LOT… maybe it’s worth the investment. Apparently they have a boutique a block away from where I’ll be working this summer so I will definitely try them out!

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Try out ONE pair. They’re really pricey… O_o

      Aigles are far more comfortable than Hunters ever were on my feet. The vulcanized rubber is so soft.

  10. anna

    I thought the same about Skyfall, and usually love anything that Javier Bardem is in. Loved Les Mis, as well – saw it with my grandma and we were both blubbering messes throughout the film. I love the obi bags!!

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I pick a different bag each day to wear jewellery from. Works out well so far.

  11. The Asian Pear

    I love Les Miserables as a musical. As a BIG fan of the live theatre production, I was SO disappointed by the movie. Like horribly! The female actresses can sing… But the male actors? No… Oh no. Russell Crowe should never EVER sing ever again. >_<

    When you say the map is meant to crumple… Is it made of a particular material? Or fabric? I'm not sure I understand the execution

    HA! I bought a pair of Payless shoes like the J Crew Mila Ballet flats (but in black with black trim) in March and ended up refunding it too!

    Wow. Those tights are impressive! I still wonder how long they'd last… My tights always run no matter what. I'm just horrible with care & maintenance of my clothes, heh.

    LOVE the belt and the silk scarves. SO PRETTY! My favourite is the red one.

    On a side note, I'm amused how your March budget/haul mentions how you got rid of your Dollarama bags while my April budget/haul will mention how I bought two new Dollarama bags. =P

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      The map is meant to crumple because it’s a fabric, not a paper. It is a waterproof, tear-resistant fabric.

      I almost “ripped” them again this morning (stupid slivers) and I just brushed the slivers off. AGAIN.

      I could have given my Dollarama bags to you!

  12. Jacq

    Where is the picture of (made in England) Daniel Craig? 😉

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Long story short, I am an idiot who tampered with her FTP folder and deleted a whack of images before realizing it. Then I became too lazy to find the photos again. Craig has grown on me as a Bond man but I still think Brosnan was THE Bond man.

  13. femmefrugality

    If you’re looking for more Amanda Seyfried musicals, she was in Mama Mia, too. It’s not nearly as meaningful…kind of a chick flick of a musical, but if you like Abba and can appreciate that it’s supposed to be performed on stage it’s not bad.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I liked ABBA the musical. I’ll keep that in mind, thanks!


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