Shopping is the opium of the masses

The main thing I was looking forward to in the US was going shopping.

With a huge market, and variety of choice, I knew I’d want to shop.

Even with our pathetic dollar, I knew/hoped the prices in the US would make for cheaper goods.

I was really looking forward to shoes! Sand shoes. Dressy shoes that come in different colours and designs.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

The US really is a shopping paradise. Choices! Lots of choices!

And cheap. But why did the dress and coat I really want in Bloomingdales cost over $400 and $2,000 respectively? They WERE gorgeous. But I resisted.

On my first full day in the States (after visiting Old Sacramento, I didn’t just shop), I hit Maceys.

Mr S said, “Don’t buy at the first shop you visit. Look around. We can come back.” But I know we don’t do that. Too many places to visit. And anyway this was The Post Christmas sales. (As it turns out, I did return as there was a stuff up with a pair of shoes – they gave me two different shoes, not a matching pair in a box, so I took them back. Luckily they found the left shoe of the right shoe I wanted. And while I was there, I bought the watch I saw and which spoke to me but didn’t buy on the first visit. No watch has called me in years.)

On that first visit to Maceys I bought:

  • Boots for $30. (Maybe I should have 10 pairs?)
  • Nike runners.
  • Some other brand of runners.
  • A Calvin Klein coat in the most divine blue.
  • Micheal Kor shoes.
  • A pair of green sling backs.
  • Two pairs of active wear leggings. (I need these now I am a regular gym goer.)
  • Mr S bought me two blingy costume jewellery bangles.

I could have gone really mad with dresses. So much cheaper than at home. But I have enough dresses.

In San Fran we hit the discount stores that take remaindered stock. Ross is my fav. Also visited the shopping centres which has Bloomingdales. The shopping centre had curved escalators!

In San Fran I picked up:

  • Pair of red loafers
  • Pair of blue Sketchers (With all my walking and exercising, I need new sand shoes. My current pair are wearing out and are ready for the bin. I was putting off buying new ones until our trip to America.)
  • A gold Calvin Klein cardie. I have one in black and one in white at home. This will be perfect with all my navy work dresses that don’t suit the black or white.)
  • Another pair of exercise tights
  • A black top.

I also popped into several shops, including new and secondhand book shop, Costco and supermarkets. I always love checking out bookshops and supermarkets in other countries. I had to find a diary and some mascara I’d bought years ago but then the importers stopped bringing it into Australia. Both of which I bought. And:

  • 1.75 litres of my favourite vodka at $US32 – less than half the price here.
  • A lovely little Christmas tray
  • Several different types of melanin. We can only get this by prescription. In the US it is on the shelf at Costco.
  • Four books, including two I was so glad to find from a second hand book store as they are out of print and I couldn’t find in Australia.
  • A double lined water bottle
  • Foot cream
  • Pens that write on glass
  • Little place setting nutcrackers for Christmas (Second hand. They only had five.)
  • Two Hamilton t-shirts
  • Reading glasses.

Oh dear. I should have listened to friends who said to go over with an empty suitcase.

I had to buy a second suitcase. Luckily it will be very useful as it opens like an old fashioned suitcase, not one that has two halves. Easier to use when travelling.

  • So what else?
  • On the way to the airport we stopped off at a factory outlet shopping centre where I bought:

    • A pair of lined crocs
    • Kate Spade handbag
    • Pink sandals.

    It is truely amazing the choice that comes with a big market. I saw some amazing variety in taps and furniture and electronic goods. But you know choice doesn’t make you happy and choice isn’t the same thing as freedom. It’s just more variety, “more permutations of the same meaningless shit”.

    (I’m sorry. I can’t just revel, can’t take simple joy, in buying heaps of stuff. I have to question and interrogate my actions – a life unexamined is not worth living and all that. I’m reading a book about hope and may post on its message soon.)

    I know I’ve bought a lot, and it seems incongruous with my posts about decluttering, but all these things will be used.

    Now to make room for the new stuff!

    Frock it two

    There were lovely dresses galore,

    Now here’s a few more!

    My micro- goal of wearing all my dresses at least once has worked well. I only have a couple that I haven’t worn. One because it is more for cool weather and another that needs hemming. Here’s the rest of my audit.

    I can date this dress with precision. I bought it for Mr Sans’ 40th birthday party. He has just turned 58. Eighteen years later and I’m still wearing it. Have I told you I don’t like waist bands? Well, this is another reason not to have them. You can fit in dresses for a lot longer.

    Cut on the bias, for many years this dress was one of my favourites. And you know me. Buy one, buy many. I had this same dress in purple. It was my ABSOLUTE favourite. I wore it until it wore out. Was so see-through, I had to use a slip. OK, I could have tossed it out but I loved it. And I found a purple slip so I got a few more years’ wear. But sadly, it has now passed away.

    In the same style by the same designer, David Lawrence, I have this dark navy one. It is slightly older than eighteen years old.

    I bought this next dress, mainly because it was so cheap and I bought it at the same time I bought an exxy Ribkoff dress. How does that compute, you ask? Well, it makes it seem reasonable – to get two dresses for the amount. Anyway, I seem to get more random compliments when wearing this dress, even from students. Strange, because I’m not convinced about this dress. A little too low cut for me. And the material, while ruched on the front, is kind of piling. (The dress is also navy. Looks darker in the picture. I do seem to have quite a few navy dresses.)

    And another navy dress with little zips as decorative detail. (Why can’t they just put in real pockets? Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?) This one is a little shorter than my normal length and made of thinner, more clingy material. I usually wear a stretchy slip under it. Still, so practical in that it is wash and wear.

    This one is made of similar material. Love the pattern. I also wear a stretchy slip under it. Here’s a hint. Buy one of those Spanx-style slips in many sizes too big. I wear one in a size 18 – in dresses, I’m a 12. Wearing a bigger slip means the slip is firm but not tight.

    That’s about it. No more work dresses. I have about the same, maybe more, casual and dressy dresses. My goal is wear out my dresses before we have the year off and then have a smaller wardrobe which I will renew each year.

    What would you like to see next? Casual dresses? Work skirts and tops? Soon it will be winter and I could do a coat and cape challenge!

    Wardrobe diet

    After all the unnecessary, but very happy to have and still admired, clothes I bought in January, I said I would go on a wardrobe diet until winter; a mini-challenge I forgot about and really should have included on the post about mini-challenges. (As an aside, I really love long sentences, and semicolons; it’s how I talk, with lots of asides and internal footnotes.)

    So, with February over, how have I gone thus far?

    Well, it was not an absolute zero purchase month. I bought one item: a jacket.

    When I say I bought it, I am not being totally accurate. A friend sent me a text; she’d found me a beautiful jacket, one that was just me, and on special! “Should I get it and bring it to you tomorrow?” (We were travelling to a meeting the next day.)

    As chance would have it, the jacket was the style I had recently admired on a newsreader. Split sleeves, so it is part jacket, part cape.

    Wanted, heavily reduced, my size. Yes, yes, yes. Get it.

    “What about this skirt?”

    No, I don’t really want it. And I am not meant to be buying any clothes.

    “But it’s you. And reduced. I’ll bring it too. We can return it.”

    No, be strong, Lucinda. No, don’t bring it. Anyway, I’m doing a wear dresses to work challenge. When would I wear it?

    So one item at $120. Worn twice. Earned lots of admiring glances and comments. [OK, I did twirl around and if the response wasn’t immediate or enough, I fished deeper for compliments.]

    Frock it

    I love dresses.

    They’re so much easier to wear than skirts and tops. No worrying about what matches. Easier to get dressed. Often more comfortable – no waist band to cinch an expanding tummy or induce sweat in the heat and humidity of Sydney summers. Dresses drape more elegantly.

    I’m a sucker for a dress.

    Several years ago, I started writing posts on my dresses. I aimed to catalogue all my dresses. I only got around to posting two. Others sat in draft mode, waiting for photos that never came. Well, the posts are all outdated now. In the intervening five years, my wardrobe and my shape have changed.

    My current fav designer is Jacob Ribkoff, a Canadian designer. His designs are wonderful for middle-aged women with curves. And curves, well I have a few.

    First challenge of the year: wear a different work dress every day and document the dresses.

    Dress one; my new favourite Ribkoff dress. A black number.

    This is also a Ribkoff and was my favourite, until replaced by the one above. It’s dark navy blue.

    Yes, it’s another Ribkoff. Others prefer the one below to the “rising sun” one. While I like it, the rising sun ranks higher for me. Maybe it’s the fabric, or the feel when it’s on, or the ease of washing the rising sun dress. Maybe it’s the memory of wearing the rising sun dress to a wonderful event: my son’s graduation from his double degree.

    I got this Ribkoff at a heavily reduced price. Had to do a little repair but so worth it.

    My last Ribkoff. OK, not my last, but the last one I wear as work gear. (Forgot to take a photo at work. Hence the different background. Please excuse the towels – that’s what happens when you have a pool and work 10 hour days,) I love the sleeves; they have a double layer trumpet. And I love the silver around the neck; no need to wear jewellery.

    Before I stumbled upon the gorgeousness that is a Ribkoff dress, Phase eight dresses were my love. I discovered them when we travelled to London in 2015, only to find they were in my favourite department store in Australia. How could I have missed them? Made out of stretchy fabric and with a cowl neck, so flattering to people no longer in whippersnapper territory. Unfortunately, the design has shifted and the current style doesn’t suit me. But not to fear, I have Ribkoff.

    Anyway, here’s a Phase eight, bought in 2015 and worn in 2019.

    Did I tell you I don’t like waist bands? Here’s another without one. Phase eight again.

    When one or two is never enough. Same design, same material, different pattern.

    Just to vary the mix, a Phase eight dress that isn’t from the same stretchy fabric. This is thinner fabric and has a mock wrap look. The pattern is cute little white cherries on navy.

    Nine beautiful dresses. Which one do you like the most?

    But wait. There’s more. But they’ll be for another post.

    (Unnecessary) Clothes I bought in January

    Currently Mr Sans and I are on 80% of our income, saving for a full year off in 2021. We are also planning a trip to Germany in October this year.

    I have wardrobes full of clothes.

    I have these two paragraphs as preface to let you know that the word “unnecessary” in the title is unnecessary. All clothes I buy are unnecessary and not really in my budget.

    So what and why did I buy?

    When we stopped in Noumea, a window display of a clothes shop caught my eye. Clothes for Mr Sans. Really! Not for me.

    Except when we went in the shirts we saw weren’t really suitable for him. But hey, look! T-shirts for me. With New Caledonia on them. Not garish tourist T-shirts. What better way to remember our trip?

    The other T-shirt has a rose on it. Links to my current obsession – more on must later.

    Well, add in two pairs of sandals. So tropical island-y. No matter that they’re made in China. We probably can’t get the same ones back home.

    Then my hairdresser alerted me to the bargains on Peter Alexander”s summer pyjamas. I went online. They had THE cutest little shorts at $15 each, down from $49. So I got three. Luckily, they didn’t have the matching tops in my size and those that they did were not as heavily reduced. So I didn’t buy any. I know I don’t really need three, but one pair is suitable for lounging around st home. Not that I like lounging in shorts. I much prefer dresses as they’re cooler. And in winter, I need long pants. Oh but on they are so cute. I have a matching pink top for the ones with the Paris print. Sooo cute. And the upside of a two piece PJ is, unlike a nightie, they don’t twist up at night.

    Then, when buying some necessary items (undies as my existing pairs were all wearing out at the same time), I picked up a pair of track pants. I’ve been looking for a pair that have no writing on them, are cotton, not synthetic, and are the right cut for me. And not overpriced. So I had to get them while there was a discount. Ready for winter. If it ever comes. Can’t even remember what I spent here – it was a lot as I bought my son, The Dreamer, socks and track pants too.

    Well, then, when I went to Queensland, I had to visit my favourite dress shop. They stock Jacob Ribkoff. How could I refuse a heavily discounted dress and a lovely, likewise discounted, jacket. The jacket was $85 and the dress was, actually, I can’t remember, but it was half price.

    But oh dear, I received an email from an online stockist of Jacob Ribkoff that had end of summer dresses reduced to $85 each. So I bought two.

    Three Joseph Ribkoff dresses! The one on the left is sky blue. The colour hasn’t co me out in my dreadful photography.

    When I went to Aldi, I had to run next door to Rebel to buy a pair of sneakers. (The Dreamer’s girlfriend tells me Sydney stores have been sold out of this style.) These are not actually unnecessary- “At last,” I hear you exhale. My walking sneakers have worn out – no grip, no springiness. I do like these ones. Strange how you don’t realise you have no cushioning until you buy a new pair. Walking in these feels like I am bouncing on a trampoline.

    Also while in Queensland I called into the large outlet mall, Harbourside. I had been looking for walking shorts to replace my well-worn ones that are on their last legs. Again, I’d been looking for a while. Most are synthetic, too expensive or have writing on them. Canterbury had exactly what I was looking for. Identical to my current shorts. And st the right price, $25, so I got two pairs. I love the little logo – kiwis in the brand name.

    And finally, I went to an op shop and picked up a white cotton-linen look 3/4 pants and white linen-look shorts. They fit perfectly. And we’re only $3 each. I don’t think they’ve ever been worn. The pants look so Gold Coast-y on me, especially with bling-y sandals.

    God almighty! I officially ban myself from even looking at emails, catalogues or in stores.

    I will go on a wardrobe diet until winter.

    Wasteful, wasteful me!!! But I will look good!

    This is why I stay out of the shops

    I ventured into a shopping centre to buy some thick tights. The leg brace has pulled holes in my two pairs. I could have waited until next winter but I wanted to take two pairs to France to wear with skirts and my boots.

    I only like the Italian brand, not the cheap Chinese copies that are not as smooth and silky, not as long lived. The Italian brand are about $24 each.

    I went to a larger shopping centre, not my normal small, local centre as I also wanted to check out flat dressy shoes for work. I won’t be wearing high heels again this year and I can’t wear my boots for many of my work outfits. I had already looked in my local centre and they didn’t have anything that appealed to me.

    I ran into a neighbour who works in my preferred department store. She offered to use her staff discount.

    All this is a long-winded preface to say, needless to say, I didn’t just buy stockings.

    Three tops; three pairs of shoes; a scarf; a pair of jeggings and two pairs of tights.

    I might availed myself of some discounts but thank god I have been saving money; I can cover this splurge. Yet all my principles of sourcing socially and environmentally just clothing went out the window. Opps.

    Here’s a peak at what I bought, minus the scarf and pants.

    I’ve been dressing like a man

    I've been wearing the same pair of boots for three weeks. Usually I wear different shoes for different outfits. I do have several pairs, OK lots of pairs, of "work shoes", shoes with a slight heel, shoes with a high heel, shoes in different colours, that I only wear at work. And then there's all the flats and sandals and runners and heels I wear when not at work.

    But while I have to wear my leg brace, I need shoes with support, that are comfortable, that stay on firmly, that don't have a heel.

    So, no court shoes. Nothing with a kitten or small heel. Nothing with straps. No ballet flats.

    These fit the bill.

    The leg brace limits my clothing choice as much as footwear choice. I have to wear something that fits under or over the brace. The brace also catches on clothing and pulls threads. I don't want to wreck all my clothes so I can't wear them all.

    The boots also limit clothing choice. Black tights and boots require a certain look. So no pretty and floral clothing.

    Do you know what?

    I haven't missed swapping shoes and clothes. It has been freeing; thinking what to wear has been simple. I rotate between two skirts and one pair of leggings. No thinking. No clothing dilemmas. No "what to wear" thoughts in the morning. No finding the right top for the desired skirt.

    I know I will enjoy wearing my other clothes when I can again. But I will miss the excuse the brace gives me to wear the same three items over and over again.

    A bonus: normally I wear these boots with jeans, so they are never really seen. Now with skirts, they've truely been admired. I've been asked where I bought them.

    London. They were the only thing I liked and could afford at Liberties.

    PS. People have questioned why I'm wearing heels. The boots don't feel like high heels to me. The heel is solid and large, and compared to my normal work shoes, don't feel high. Also I need to bend my bodgy leg so the heel takes the pressure off the ball of my foot.


    There’s a primordial power, majesty and spookiness about rainforests. 

    The trees are so tall and so straight. I’m in awe of their age. 

    Photos of trees often don’t give you the sense of the size. But how about this one with cars and Mr S for perspective?

    Mr S and I went for a walk on a skywalk, a structure that takes you into the canopy. You could see through the grate to the ground. The skywalk swayed but not as much as the cantilevered one that looked down on the creek. 

    In the photo below the centre tree is growing on a small rock in the creek! How can it be supported with such a small root base? It’s like it is balancing on a ball. Can you see the base right down the bottom middle of the photo? The second photo gives a closer view of the tree balancing on a ball! 

    A second walk through another section of rainforest was in order. I love the shapes of the strangler figs, the strange growth on trees, the burnt out sections of trees and the enormity of trees. 

    The roots formed a natural sand pit or wading pool

    The roots always seem too shallow to support a massive tree

    I was on the hunt to see a platypus in the wild. The sign said the area was restricted to protect the platypuses. But obviously platypuses don’t read and didn’t know they were meant to be there. We saw none in the waterhole even though it was just before sunset. 

    Let me tell you, a rainforest at dusk is a spooky place. The rustling in the lead cover by unseen things, the strange squawking. We hightailed it out before it was totally dark and headed to view the sunset over the caldera.   

    It’s a magical place. The rich volcanic soil (that you can see in the photos with the horses) makes the mountain perfect for gardeners. My mother’s garden grows wild in a tame way. (Wish my garden would grow the tame way! Lol) 

    It’s a perfect spot to read, and snooze, and day dream, and chat, and mindlessly surf the Internet, and watch the birds in and around the bird feeder. It’s strange how quickly the days pass when you are relaxing and going at a much slower pace

    (Oh and apropos of nothing to do with rainforests, I bought some Queensland-y clothes. Bright and light and colourful. As two items had tiny holes in them, I got them free!!! Apologies for my poor styling. I do these clothes no justice. The one with the pink fringe is a shawl-like open cloak-y thing. So unlike me. But I will waft around wearing it. The sequinned top is so me. I know, I know. I am meant to be decluttering and saving for my year off and my travel and my renos.)

    Comfy shoes

    I have thrown out a pair of shoes. 

    I bought them three summers ago. They were my first foray into “leisure shoes”. 

    Mr S hated my new leisure shoes from the start. He thought they looked ugly and did nothing for my legs. I admit I normally wear something more structured and with a heel. If I am in walking shoes I tend go wear runners. Still these were so comfortable and I was in them non-stop through three summers.

    (Yes, they were the start of my move into “comfortable shoes”, a sign of aging and an insult. Mr S says that about ugly shoes, “They must be comfortable”. Implication for those who don’t get it, “because you wouldn’t wear them for any other reason.”)

    But they started dying. First the inside of the heel went. I persevered. Then the sole started separating from the top in different spots. Then the sole was nearly worn through. Then they stretched. And the last sraw: the inside became quite dirty. 

    But never fear. I have another pair. A friend bought a very similar pair on my recommendation. While she was amazed I would take to leisure shoes (it was she who coined the phrase, as she normally wears such shoes.) she didn’t like my recommended pair. So passed them onto me. 

    Quite handy having a friend with the same size foot.

    We fade to grey

    I have a higher standard of “worn out” for items that are worn in public than for those I wear at home, and under the covers of my bed sheets. I’m sure you’re happy to read that, considering my last post. 

    I just popped this coat in the op shop bag. 

    I really like it and am sad it no longer meets my standards. I’ve tried to ignore that the white is not white. It has become grey from washing with the black. Poor dying chemicals? Anyway without the crisp contrast, I just feel schlompy. Others mightn’t notice it. But there you go. I do. 

    I’ve put it on several times, felt not quite right and put it back in the wardrobe for another time, telling myself I am just being picky. Each time has been the same. It’s good. Just not good enough. 

    (And the lining is slightly ripped along the back seam. But that wouldn’t bother me, cause it doesn’t affect the wearing or look.)

    It’s not like I am going to be cold. I have a thing for coats. Five or six or so more in my wardrobe. But you see, each is unique and each one fits a purpose, fits different outfits. 

    Goodbye my zebra like coat. I hope you make someone else happy. 

    Do you have a thing about the whiteness of white?