Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting: Adina of Blue Collar, Red Lipstick
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m a 30-something professional and working mom of two pre-schoolers, living the suburban dream (hah!) in Edmonton, Alberta blogging over at Blue Collar, Red Lipstick.
I’ve been working in my field (think conservative/traditional) for over 10 years, most of the that time office-bound.
“Hey, at least it gives me a reason to dress up every day … and I love clothes.”
It’s probably my number one hobby, along with writing. Like writing, I consider clothes a form of self-expression.
You need to keep that in mind when you’re talking to me about anything clothes shopping-related. I recently self-published my first novel, which has been my #1 bucket list item since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
[ Editor: Adina’s book Archer & Bell can be purchased here. ]
What’s your money motto and where did you learn about budgeting?
I don’t know if I really have a money motto per se, but my general philosophy when it comes to money has always been…
“don’t spend what you don’t have, and don’t forget the rainy days (like winter, they are coming)”
I learned that attitude from my parents, who always excelled in doing both of those things.
I also spent a bit of time in the Personal Finance blogging game a few years ago, and that made me more aware of money-related issues generally.
[Editor: That is how I found Adina’s style blog, originally, it was through her personal finance blogging.]
Do you create a clothing/wardrobe budget and how did you come about the method?
I used to, but I don’t anymore.
I’m lucky to have an income that affords me a certain measure of latitude when it comes to “fun money”, so I don’t have to count every dollar that I spend.
“My clothing budget is like my diet: I know, in a general sense, how much I should spend (or eat), and if I splurge one month (or day), I’ll cut back the next.”
It helps that, with the exception of bags, I’m a cheapskate. A “splurge” for me would be spending, like, $100 in one go.
What do you like to shop for and why?
I love shopping for clothes, period, but if pressed, I would say that my favourite things to shop for are bags and dresses.
Bags, because I just love them – as things of beauty, not merely function.
Dresses, because they’re my favourite thing to wear and they use the most material. I know, that sounds weird but hear me out: I adore prints, and dresses are the perfect canvass for a nice print. Florals are my jam.
Is there anything you hate shopping for? Why?
I have a hard time finding styles that I like and that fit me properly. I’m 5’7 but I have short legs, so I generally prefer petite sizes, which few brick-and-mortar stores carry.
They’re also harder to find on the resale/secondhand market, where I do the bulk of my shopping.
Also, pants seem to be unduly expensive.
In my world, pants shouldn’t cost more than $20 unless they’re lined. In which case, they shouldn’t cost more than $50.
See, I told you I’m a cheapskate.
What is the all-time best and worst item(s) you’ve purchased and what have you learned from its purchases?
“Best” and “worst” are really difficult adjectives to quantify, no?
We could be talking about quality, or versatility, or just personal preference. I’m going to approach it a bit differently, and talk about the best and worst lessons I learned.
The best lesson came from my MaxMara camel wool coat.
Now, you have to understand that I hate spending a lot of money on practical clothing; it’s another one of my (many?) quirks.
So I used to always cheap out on outerwear as much as possible.
Eventually, I got tired of looking sloppy on my work commute, and on a whim, decided to take a gander at the fancy coats section at Holt Renfrew. Long story short, I fell in love with a beautiful MaxMara wool cocoon coat.
The price was way, way outside of my comfort zone, but I had a substantial gift card and the store just happened to be offering a big promotion, so I took the plunge. I still ended up paying a good chunk out of pocket, but you know what? In the 1.5 years since I bought it, I’ve worn it a ton.
Like, 187 times to be precise. (I keep track. Another quirk.)
It goes with everything, and it makes me feel 110% more put-together.
“So the lesson is: being thrifty is great, but sometimes it’s okay to pay a little bit more for things that are practical, well-made, and timeless.”
[Editor: I subscribe to this, 100% and sadly, spend way more money than Adina on her worst day.]
The worst lesson came from a pair of Ferragamo flats. The story is similar in some ways to the one about my MaxMara coat.
I bought the flats at Holt’s with a gift card, and they were a “splurge” I wouldn’t have paid for out of pocket. They are Tiffany blue Varina flats, and are just the prettiest shoes ever.
I have some vintage Ferragamo Vara flats, which are wonderfully comfortable, so I felt like the newer style would be a good bet too.
Well, I was wrong.
After 3 years (of rare use, I admit), but I still haven’t managed to break them in.
One time, my heel ended up bleeding.
They’ll probably get better with time, but I should have known better; had I done my research instead of buying on impulse, I would have come across posts from other bloggers noting that the Varinas are harder to break in.
So the lesson is: a brand name is not always a sure-fire bet – likewise buying on impulse.
Always do your research.
[ Editor: I agree with this. Brand names are not always amazing. I am leery of any shoe brand except ones that I consistently enjoy buying from (Manolo Blahnik).]
Do you ever go off track from your budget? If so, how do you recover from it and fix the situation (if at all)?
I might overspend by a couple hundred dollars now and again (when I buy a new bag), but I’ve never gone outside of what I would call the “cushion”.
The “cushion” is that part of our monthly income not allocated to family expenses, or educational or retirement savings.
Ideally, the “cushion” ends up going into shorter-term savings every month, but if it ends up paying for other things, it’s not the end of the world.
Your 1-3 favourite outfits and how much each item cost in each photo.
Skirt Outfit = $430
- Sweater: J. Crew Factory, $30
- Skirt: J. Crew, $30 (via consignment)
- Leopard Print Shoes: Anne Klein, $70
- Necklace: Banana Republic (gift)
- Bag: Mulberry, $300 (via eBay)
Dress Outfit = $56
- Dress: Simply Vera, $7 (thrifted)
- Cardigan: J. Crew Factory, $25
- Ribbed Tube Scarf: Aldo, $8
- Brooches: vintage
- Boots: Bandolino, $11 (thrifted)
- Bag: Longchamp, $5 (thrifted)
Pants outfit = $652
- Blazer: J. Crew, $85
- Blouse: J. Crew Factory, $45
- Sweater: J. Crew Factory, $22
- Pants: Banana Republic, $65
- Shoes: Tod’s, $35
- Bag: Louis Vuitton, $400 (via consignment)
Your 5 favourite places to shop (offline and online)
What is the one best piece of advice you can give to someone starting out in budgeting?
Budget the “fun money” last, after you’ve taken care of everything else, including savings.
I know that can be really demoralizing when your income can’t cover as much as you would like.
The good thing, at least when it comes to clothes, is that great style doesn’t have to cost much.
Even if you only have $50 a month to spend, you can still put together a fabulous, good quality wardrobe if you’re a savvy shopper.
It might take longer, that’s all.
Honestly, I cannot speak enough about the merits of secondhand shopping.
“Last year, I was able to buy almost $24,000 worth of (mostly) designer clothes and accessories – think Prada, YSL, Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Stuart Weitzman, Theory, Tibi, Ted Baker, Nanette Lepore, etc., not to mention a ton of J. Crew and Anthropologie – for under $4,000.”
On average, I spent about $48 per item ($27/item if you don’t include my bag purchases), and many of the pieces I found were brand new (with tags) or barely worn.
I work in a fairly conservative business environment, so most of my purchases were office-appropriate clothes, which generally tend to be on the pricier side.
“Shop smart, shop secondhand, and save.”
So my advice would be that, while you should never sacrifice your other life goals (or your peace of mind) for the sake of style, there is no reason to sacrifice style either.
Thank you so much for participating, Adina!
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About “Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting”:
I love shopping. I love budgeting.
I love the idea of the two marrying.
Thus, Style Bloggers <3 Budgeting was born.
I want to bring to you different viewpoints of people who love fashion & style (like myself) but also want to make it work on a budget.
We all have different budgets, shopping personalities, styles and ways of looking at things, and it is fascinating to peer into the mind of others and to maybe grab some inspiration & sneak a peek into their wardrobe.
Are you a style blogger who would like to participate?
Contact me here or leave a comment.
The only pre-requisite is you must be a style blogger of some sort, whether you post outfits on Instagram only (like me) or do it on your blog itself.