Where’s Vogue when you need it?

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When you don’t know what to wear to your friend’s 40th birthday party at a cool restaurant downtown and you turn to Parents magazine for ideas…

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Mexican getaway

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Victoria’s Secret ruffle push-up bandeau top and cheeky hipkini bottom

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Victoria’s Secret linen cover-up in Sunset Glow

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Victoria’s Secret drop-waist cover-up sweater in Black

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Ray-Ban Thick Cat-Eye way-farers in Honey Havana

So a couple things have happened

I fell off the no-shopping wagon. Just a little bit.

In my defense, I knew the bikini would probably go back to the store — and I was right. When I came out of the bathroom wearing my new online purchase (with protective crotch tape still affixed) to get Barrak’s thoughts, I felt about as comfortable as I would with empty toilet paper rolls strategically taped to my body.

“Wait, you haven’t seen the back!” I said.

Your tail lights totally hang out of VS’s cheeky hipkini. I took the idea from highly revered style blogger Marlien Rentmeester of Le Catch. She saw them on L.A.’s young, hip beach girls, and promised it will do any butt a million favors. Unfortunately, mine is an exception.

The truth is, I really didn’t need a new swimsuit. But I do need some cover-ups and I really like the two I got. VS is actually pretty affordable and cute cover-ups are surprisingly elusive. The sunglasses, another idea I got from Le Catch, and I’m keeping those too. A girl can always use an extra pair.

The purpose of the shopping cleanse was to halt the mindless, emotional accumulating of cardigans, shoes, J. Crew jewelry and whatever else caught my fancy, pause… and go shopping in my own closet for a while to re-discover what I truly needed.

The last couple weeks, I’m feel I’m being tested. Like an alcoholic who craves a tumbler of whiskey, I am obsessed right now with buying a new, oversized Patagonia Better Sweater jacket like the one I saw Kate Hudson wearing a few weeks ago in People magazine. Or something snuggly and sporty like that.

Anyway, we’re excited about Mexico. It will be good to get away for a few days, just the two of us (and Barrak’s bosses and co-workers of course). So I got a little too excited and bought a few things. So sue me.

Can I just say that I appreciated it a little bit more when I saw the packages on the dining room table? It was a sight for sore eyes.

Lodge moccasins

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Because it was a nasty, wet, blustery day, I dressed this morning in the J. Crew herringbone cargo pants that I bought months ago, before I swore off shopping. They were so tight, I knew I’ve had a stomachache by lunchtime. I’m chalking it up to inconsistent sizing, and the fact that they’re “skinny” cargos.

Tonight after work, I ran to the mall to get new snow pants for Greta because she looks like Ed Grimley in the bubble-gum pink ones she’s had for a few years. I also popped into J. Crew to trade my tighty-woolly pants for the next size up.

The big wooden table in the middle of J. Crew is piled with cashmere everything, vintage-y jewelry trays, trendy iPhone cases, fancy milk bar soaps, checked flannel PJ pants and baskets of these cute slippers. Can I tell you how soft the fur is? It is SO soft. I’m pretty sure they’re made from kittens, and they’re only $49.50.

I would pad around the house in these but good. I would have my morning coffee and take out the trash in these. I would make Thanksgiving dinner in these. They say to the world, “I like to sail on Lake Erie and do the Sunday crossword.” They say “I am all about practicality but a little luxury never hurts.” They are so grandma Betty.

Calyx

Don’t worry, people. I didn’t fall off the wagon and buy perfume.

The truth is, swearing off shopping has been incredibly liberating.

I no longer feel anxiety about amassing new STUFF to constantly refresh my closet. I feel good about the stuff I have — better than before.

When I picked up my dry-cleaning, I felt excited about the goodies coming back to my closet rather than anxious.

I can’t explain this weight that has been lifted. I know it’s weird. I don’t even understand it myself. I’m just reporting the facts.

Earlier this week, Magnus and I went to the mall to return these cognac leather Banana Republic booties.

“We just got our new holiday collection!” Julie, BR lifer, chirped when we entered the store. Ugh. It was true. The store is decked out with tables of cable turtlenecks, chic cream and tan cords, faux-fur and black lace dresses for holiday parties and Nutcracker matinees.

Normally when returning something and getting the amount subtracted from my credit card, I would consider it a ‘credit’ to the good that I should spend promptly. I didn’t feel that way this time. Wasn’t even tempted.

I did buy a bottle of Clinique’s Take the Day Off make-up remover from Macy’s while at the mall. But I consider that an essential toiletry, like shampoo. It’s the only thing that gets my eye make-up off. And the girl threw in a sample of their new fragrance, Calyx.

As some of you may remember, Calyx was the name of the signature fragrance at the now-defunct cosmetics line Prescriptives, which I believe Clinique owned. I never used the stuff back then but I really like my sample.

It smells like juicy pink grapefruit, gardenias and white Hawaiian flowers. Really clean and summery. It’s more of a spring-forward scent than a fall-back one. Maybe someone will get me a bottle for Mother’s Day.

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The One-Year Shopping Cleanse

I have been a shopping glutton the past couple weeks. With credit cards in hand, I gorged myself on Ann Taylor shoes, J. Crew shirts and Banana Republic baubles. With a business trip to New York coming up, and a couple key evening events on the agenda, I felt the need to spruce up my blah wardrobe.

Have you ever taken down an entire small pizza yourself? Or mindlessly unwrapped and eaten a whole bag of Lindor truffles? That’s how I feel. Gross and ashamed. So I’m going cold turkey.

No more shopping. For one whole year. I’m serious! And it’s gonna hurt. I actually made this resolution last week after my final trip to the mall – the proverbial last truffle in the bag, where I really didn’t need one more but I couldn’t help myself. The kids and I were at the mall until 8:30 p.m. They were tired and grouchy – acting up by taking their shoes off in Banana Republic and drumming on the gold ‘art’ tree-like thingy in J. Crew. Who could blame them? They should have been at home, in the tub. Instead they were out and about while mom cruised the mall for her next fix.

New clothes, new shoes, new jewelry – that’s my drug. How did I get to be such a shopaholic? Maybe it comes from wearing K Mart and Gold Circle clothes as a kid. I was always coveting the Guess? jeans the Stephanies and Heathers of my class were wearing. The white Reeboks and Outback Red 10-button henleys. The new stuff = you’re in! Whatever the psychology, it’s time to get clean.

So the cleanse starts now. A few exceptions: I’ll still shop for the kids, family members and husband. I’ll still spend on beauty essentials like moisturizer, shampoo, and haircuts.

The thought of making it through Christmas, spring and summer 2014, all the way into next fall… it doesn’t seem doable. I’m already coveting the sweaters in this Redbook magazine slideshow. The first step is withdrawal…

So instead of buying what I want, I’ll blog about it. Maybe you can buy it and tell me what it’s like.

What a great gift!

Today I got such an original and totally awesome gift – a belated 40th birthday present from my longtime friend and favorite Sorry! board game opponent Michelle.

I got home from work to find among the bills and kids’ artwork a bag on the counter. I haven’t ordered anything online lately so I had no idea what it was. It turned out to be a “Scarfscription.”

As the note says, they’ll hand-select and ship a scarf to me each month based on whatever Michelle told them about me and the season. Also enclosed was my first scarf.

What a lovely surprise. What a great idea for a gift. And what a beautiful scarf.

My sister also got me a subscription to Food Network magazine – so now I’ve got two great finds in my mailbox each month.

If you want to check it out for yourself, visit http://www.shopsubstance.com. 

My scarfscription came today!

My Scarfscription came today!

And my first scarf, which reminds me of a Rothko painting.

And my first scarf, which reminds me of a Rothko painting.