July Classics Shopping Recap + Ann Taylor F&F Sale Picks

For me, July was a fantastic wardrobe month – knocked three items off a long-withstanding “classics” wishlist after much research and patient waiting. A few readers have asked what my monthly wardrobe budget is, and I have to say I don’t have one. I keep an annual wardrobe spending target as a percentage of after-tax income, determined as a limit up to which I can shop without affecting any savings goals (and there are so many). I much prefer this over keeping stringent monthly budgets, because my spending fluctuates greatly. Although my overall spending hasn’t changed much over the years, I have noticed that I now spend increasingly more time planning and evaluating purchases than before.

1. Camel tote bag: For nearly 6 months I had been seeking a classic neutral satchel, and my search quickly closed in on the durable Prada “saffiano” line. I pushed the purchase off until after my June exam, in order to sufficiently explore the pre-owned market and do as much research as possible. The moment I opened the box last week from NM, I couldn’t stop grinning and knew that it was the perfect choice. There’s something to be said about well-made, classic and functional items that pair effortlessly with all sorts of outfits…I haven’t felt so strongly about a wardrobe purchase since buying a Chanel caviar flap. I hope to record a video this weekend comparing bags from this line, and discussing the features available plus any options to save a little.

2. Little red bag: I had also been itching for a small, richly-colored purse to add interest to neutral outfits. True red -whether on lipstick, nails, or clothes- is just so classic with a touch of sultriness. I had bid on several via eBay over the course of a year, before my shopping fairy Elle alerted me that this J.Crew bag was on major sale in-store. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any left at a clearance price (I used storefinder and ordered one of the last ones in the US), but it’s a bag that J.Crew makes every season and I suspect it will go on sale again..

3. Red ankle trousers: Starting tomorrow, Ann Taylor is having their friends & family sale – use code FRIENDSFB to get 30% off everything online, or print out this coupon to use in-store. Continuing with the red kick, I pulled the trigger on these adjustable waist-tab pants during an online BOGO sale. I cannot wait to start fulfilling my classic red pairing dreams. These run a little smaller in the waist and slimmer in the legs than AT’s other pants, and the 00P fit me wonderfully throughout:

These red pants are not perfect, but they met most of my requirements (fit, don’t wrinkle, price point) and were a quickly-decided “keep” compared to so many other ones I’ve tried on. The color is red with a twinge of orange, which I didn’t notice at all the first time I tried them on. I would prefer a more true red, but the boyfriend convinced me this shade was just fine. And if I had to nitpick, there are two front pockets that are almost vertically-placed slits, and I prefer angled side pockets. On the plus side, the back pockets are classic horizontal-style and there are chic ankle cuffs at the bottom openings.

Measurements of 00P pants: 13.75″ across waist, 14.2″ across hips, 24″ inseam on the petite length, 5.75″ leg opening.

Also in my order was this ponte pencil skirt in “avocado” color. This color is refreshing yet not too bright, and reminds me of a cross between chartreuse and a muted lime green. This skirt runs about a size smaller than AT’s other items and fit me perfectly in the waist and hips, but the length was then too short for me as a work skirt. As mentioned previously, if you can wear regular sizing, I’d suggest ordering a size down but in regular length. Or, you can let out about 1″ of the hem.

Ann Taylor Petite Ponte Skirt in pink or avocad, old H&M; blouse, AT belt, LV Speedy 25 bag

I have purchased a ponte skirt from AT during previous seasons, and it was around the same price point but was completely unlined. The full lining makes a world of a difference both in the feel of the quality, as well as how the skirt moves while you walk.

Measurements: The 00P measures 12.25″ across the waist, 16.5″ across the hips, and 17″ in length.

The inside waistband is lined in a wide grosgrain ribbon, and there is a back zip closure:

I really liked the look, fit, and quality of this skirt and seriously contemplated keeping and letting the hem down. In any other month, I think it would have been a keep. But last month, there were just so many other classic items which I felt more strongly about, and thus this was returned.

Lastly, I ordered these shoes using a gift card (with an extra 40% off sale items) as replacements for my overly-worn Target sandals. They run on the smaller side and look nice on, but I do miss the stable, chunkier heel of the Target ones. Overall, these are comfy, great quality, and I appreciate the warm brown color that goes with ev
erything, plus the leather-covered heel (vs wood!). I am still debating whether or not to keep them at this price point, but I am overdue for a replacement pair of neutral sandals.

Ann Taylor Darcy Leather Sandals, comes in black or brown
PS – If you are looking for sandals or pumps, Talbots has an amazing shoe blowout going on right now. From my past experience, Talbots shoes are made mostly of genuine leather, are of lovely quality, and they start in size 5 and come in multiple widths. They’re a great value when bought on major clearance (I just don’t recommend their flats, which can be stiff).

Readers – What are (or were) the top items on your wardrobe wishlist this year?

Leave a Comment


  1. Many online cheap hermes handbags stores are committed to bringing their customers top of the line products in an honest manner. You can expect to receive 100 percent authentic cheap chanel shopping if you take the time to search the best online stores. Even if you have a taste for the best louis vuitton outlet online in the world such as Gucci or Louis Vuitton you can find them at discounted prices as well.

    Posted 10.18.12 Reply
  2. Wendy wrote:

    Hi Jean!

    One more thing. 😀 How about the middle zipper? Sorry, I did noticed that you have the strap (after a double take! & saw that you had already replied).

    Love the NM coupon you posted!

    Thanks Again!

    Posted 8.14.12 Reply
  3. Hi Wendy! Thank you : ) I got the largest one available with a strap. That was a major deciding factor for me and the strap makes a huge difference.

    Posted 8.14.12 Reply
  4. Hi there! If you're attached to the old ratty black t-shirts (esp if they've been worn so much they are beyond soft and cozy) then there really is no need to get rid of them, right? I had a run-in with an excessively gravel-ly parking lot at a food festival and these shoes got very scuffed, also the heel is starting to creak, thus I've been on the lookout for a replacement. On the other hand, I'm also guilty of buying replacements for things that do not wear up (but I'm "afraid" they will), and end up selling the replacement pair after realizing.

    Posted 8.14.12 Reply
  5. Wendy wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    I love your new Prada bag. I've been contemplating with vs. without the shoulder strap. What made you bite the bullet for the one without the strap?

    Do you ever feel it a pain to carry it on your arm?


    Posted 8.14.12 Reply
  6. i love these buys – you are so thoughtful about pieces you add to your wardrobe. thank you for these reviews! xox P

    (ps i'm SO happy you finally got red pants!!!)

    Posted 8.12.12 Reply
  7. Easy E wrote:

    Long-time reader, first time comment(or?). Would love a post about when a replacement item is "due". I tend to buy replacement items for things i love, but then can't bear to part with (i.e black t-shirts). The ratty one stays in the closet, and the new one too..

    Posted 8.8.12 Reply
  8. I wish they would bring back the Cynthia vincent for Target sandals! They were very similar to the yellow wedges I have but a little better. I was talking about the Palani gladiator brown sandals which I've been wearing for a few years.

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  9. Thank you for reading, Shirley! In high school I used to almost exclusively shop at TJMaxx and Marshalls, plus F21, before realizing how much junk I had amassed that was neither well-fitting nor classic. I am glad that we are both on our way to having well-curated, streamlined wardrobes.

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  10. Yes they do have a few options – I got the medium double zip.

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  11. I had the item number (you can get it online) and call a store and have them punch in the item # and do a search. Make sure you're speaking with someone actually working in a store, because their special group who locates items are the group that actually cannot find sale items. I haven't seen the Edie wallet in person yet but an orange wallet sounds lovey.

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  12. Hi there – I got it for around $95 by calling around in-stores. You can try your luck that way for a lower price!

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  13. Thank you! I am not in school anymore but was studying for the CFA certification.

    Posted 8.5.12 Reply
  14. Lily wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 8.4.12 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    I love the way you make a simple outfit to look so stunning. This is off-topic but would you mind telling what do you study/what's your major? I'm just curious when you mentioned the exams.

    Posted 8.4.12 Reply
  16. sophié wrote:

    I havent used it yet – but I think it will look really smart with one of J.Crews lady day coats. I hope they bring it out again this season – so adding that to my wishlist… heh heh. and then of course I need to think about shoes… oh dear!

    Posted 8.4.12 Reply
  17. Anonymous wrote:

    How much did you purchase your Edie purse for? It's on sale online for $198 + 30% offw/ code SHOPNOW and I'm wondering if I should hold out for a better price.

    Thank you!

    Posted 8.4.12 Reply
  18. Jackie wrote:

    That red bag! *_* On my wishlist is a true red bag among other classics that need to be replaced! *sigh*

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  19. Emily wrote:

    Love every piece. Great shopping month is right!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    Jean, Can I ask how you used Jcrew locator? I am searching a skirt and online chat told me s/he can't locate sale items..Also what do you think of Edie wallet? I am thinking of getting one, maybe in orange or nude…

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    What size is the Prada bag? – I know they do a couple of options?

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  22. Anonymous wrote:

    Jean, before I started reading your blog, I bought clothes almost exclusively from the junior's sections at Ross and TJ Maxx. But now, at age 30, I am finally starting to acquire a more adult and professional wardrobe, taking care to consider whether something truly fits, whether I love it and will wear it even if it actually fits, and whether the quality justifies the purchase price. Thank you so much for your careful and insightful reviews, for showcasing your fabulous outfits and pairings, and for introducing me to H&M;!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  23. Joy wrote:

    Hi Jean, that Prada tote looks very classic and sturdy, great fashion choice!
    which Target sandals are you talking about? Are they the yellow wedges you used to wear a lot? probably not since they were not neutral, but I LOVED those and I sometimes still regret missing out on them. I wish Target would bring them back.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  24. Thank you so much, Alice!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  25. I bought it at full price. However, shortly afterward my friend let me know of a small discount via Neiman Marcus online for new visitors, but it doesn't seem to come up for everyone!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  26. That is the price I got it at too…not bad at all for a fully lined, comfy skirt.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  27. Wonderful wishlist items, Lauren. After you find the right items, you will know it has been worth your time and patience!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  28. No – it's one of their classic style bags so I don't think it will run out…at least, I've never seen it run out online.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  29. Sure – they were Calvin Klein from last year bought on Piperlime, but I don't remember the style name!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  30. Cassie wrote:

    The top item on my list for this year was a Canada Goose down coat for winter. I just ordered it, it should be here in a week 🙂 The next item I'm saving for is a Mulberry Alexa bag. In the mean time I've managed to add some belts and ballet flats, as well as a button up shirt on sale, for relatively cheap. Keep up the great posts!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  31. Everyone has a different financial situation so please take my budget with a grain of salt…my cap is at 10% but I have historically spent 7 to 8%. The average American household spends about 2% on wardrobe expenses.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  32. I got the medium : )

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  33. Oh I cannot WAIT to see your riding boots!

    Also, I had no clue the red edie was on AN forum! That was on there for such a good price, I would've bought right off of there!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  34. That is one gorgeous, utterly impractical bag that I wouldn't mind having as well!

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  35. I was studying for CFA level III earlier this year and I pray everyday that I passed, so that I can be done forever : )

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  36. Thanks for sharing! A few ladies have actually posted that link as a lower-priced camel bag alternative.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  37. Like you, I have yet to find ANY pumps as comfortable as AT pp's. Talbots leather is a little more stiff so I think they will require more breaking in than Ann Taylor. That being said, I've never tried on any closed-toe pumps from them in my size so I can't say for sure.

    Posted 8.3.12 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Jean, I checked out the website Talbots you recommended and found a really cute pump for under $30. I want to ask you is it as comfortable as the AT perfect patent pump. I owned many pumps, but at the end of the day I still stick with my AT pump. Can you give me feedback on the Talbots pumps as how comfortable they are and how they are fitted?

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  39. Great purchases, Jean! I especially love both handbags. I was lusting after the Prada East West Tote a couple of years ago (still wouldn't mind having it), but instead of buying that one bag, I ended up getting three AW bags that exceed the cost of the tote altogether. The Prada tote is still on "The List", but I'm saving up for a different bag right now.

    I like the idea of a yearly budget since I'm sure clothing purchases fluctuate each month for many women. Expensive item one month and nothing the next!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  40. That J Crew handbag is fab!!



    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  41. lisacng wrote:

    I love all of your purchases! I like your idea of a yearly budget as a percentage of your after tax income!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  42. a rose wrote:

    Thank you for the sale alert at Talbots!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  43. Anonymous wrote:

    Love you blog and the detail you put into each post.
    A more budget friendly version on the Prada bag is the Tory Burch Robinson Double-Zip Tote. It's has almost 2 inches more in height and the shoulder strap is 24” vs the Prada’s 37”. The TB site does not specify handle drop length so that may impact holding the bag on your shoulder, but for $1200 less it may be worth investigating.

    Link to Tory Burch Site

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  44. I've been eyeing those same sandals from AT but I just couldn't get myself to pull the trigger because of the price tag… plus I know I won't wear it that often. Instead I "invested" in 4 pairs of AT's perfect pumpa thanks to your wonderful review! Got all three at less than half off!!! Love your blogs and please continue doing great reviews for us!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  45. Anonymous wrote:

    What exam are you studying for? Thanks for the heads up on the friends and family sale!!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  46. sophié wrote:

    well I make this lists – and sometimes I forget to look at my real lifestyle. So what do you think I ve done? I bought myself a vintage Hermés kelly. I already have a chanel classic – which hardly gets used – so now I have another gorgeous, utterly impractical bag to complete my beautiful wardrobe. Having said that I like your choice of bags, my fave of yours is the little clutch you use so much in your photos. My next wishlist – which hasn't been compiled yet as my finances are still recovering – is mostly yoga clothes. I cannot believe you dont do yoga BTW. You look superhealthy, slim and gorgeous. So- to stay that way do start ashtanga…. just so you can give us fashion tips… 😉

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  47. Cee wrote:

    How satisfying was it to check off so many items off your wishlist? An OCD person like me would be on a high after all these checks, hahaha.

    I'm glad you went with your heart and chose the camel color over the nude/pink. Definitely a more classic color that you can wear for years down the road, imo. Can't wait to see the video!

    I noticed that after you put up the Instagram photo of the red J.Crew Edie, two people immediately jumped on an AN forum listing, which had been sitting there with no buyers for a few days, haha. Excited to see this bag in future outfit posts!

    Are your Target sandals so worn out that it's on its last leg? If not, I say return the AT pair and keep on looking for ones with a chunkier heel. I'd hate to see you keep the AT only to have it relegated to the back of your closet when you come across a better pair later down the road.

    As for my wishlist, hmm… I've been wanting a pair of black riding boots since last winter. Stiff enough leather, tall enough, and a slim enough calf were a tricky combination when I started searching… and I may have found the perfect ones at the recent Nordstrom Anniversary sale 🙂

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply

    CHECK OUT THE GLITTER LIFE! http://theglitterlife.wordpress.com/

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  49. Ren wrote:

    The Prada Saffiano tote is a classic. Which size did you get? I'm looking into getting one and don't know if I should go with a smaller size or the large size! But I am really liking the shoulder strap, so wondering which size you got. Thanks!


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  50. Love your review posts! That AT skirt is a great color! I just bought a BUNCH of Talbots heels on clearance, spent more than I usually do but they're for staple items so I'm happy!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  51. Joanna wrote:

    I love your blog! It is so practical and helpful. I have been following it for a long time and learned so much. I have a question though, you mentioned that your annual wardrobe budget is calculated as a percent of your after tax income. Would you be able to disclose what that percentage is? I am about to enter the work force so this information will be very helpful. Thanks!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  52. Would you mind telling me the brand and style name of your animal print shoes?
    Love them!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  53. Wonderful reviews! That Prada bag certainly is a classic piece. I had the same length issue with the AT skirt, but do not have the sewing skills or the patience to let the hem out. I am constantly surprised how often skirts/dress are too short for work despite being so short myself!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  54. yeehaa! so finally here's a sneak peak for the Prada saffiano. I've been waiting for you to post this since you upload it to your instagram. Can't wait for you to make a video for this one.Congrats for a new purchase! Worth the wait!<3

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  55. Vivian Fan wrote:

    The Prada bag is absolutely gorgeous… and such a classic piece. Love the post.


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  56. All items are gorgeous…but your bag is truly a timeless staple. Glad you finally got it and enjoy it 🙂
    Thanks for the Ann Taylor heads up!


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  57. Christine U wrote:

    Thanks for the tip about Talbots blowout sale! I just bought the patent leather pumps in pink salt for $35 w/ shipping!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  58. Mady wrote:

    love the J.Crew bag and the Ann Taylor pieces…love love this kinds of posts…



    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  59. Suzie Q wrote:

    Love the two bags that you got. I agree, red is so classic yet sultry. I've been wanting the same type of bag! That's a great idea that you base your budget on your yearly income rather than monthly.


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  60. Really like this J.crew bag, will definitely get one. Do u think it will run out soon? or should I wait to the next sale season.

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  61. The link on the Prada reads USD 1,810!!! Holly Pricing!


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  62. Anonymous wrote:

    I stopped by Ann Taylor today and the hot pink and avocado ponte skirts were on sale for I believe $39.99. It looks like it is still full price online. For reference, I visited the Ann Taylor at the Beverly Center in LA. They had a large selection of petite and non-petite items on sale.

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  63. newpetite wrote:

    Love both the bags! Prada the classic chic and the Jcrew one is is one of those fun and flirty bag. waiting to see your comparison video.

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  64. Wendy wrote:

    Wow, your Prada bag is simply gorgeous! Did you happen to get that on sale or did you buy it at full price? I can't wait for your video on it! I also like the Red J. Crew bag you mentioned, it's a very rich red. I hope to see you style these bags in your outfits! 🙂

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  65. Mary Ann wrote:

    Great purchases, Jean! Love the Prada bag (and the leopard pumps in the neighboring picture). 😉

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  66. Alice wrote:

    Hey there Jean!

    Even though I'm not petite myself (well I suppose 5'6" is petite to a giant!), I really enjoy reading your blog and going through every post you make.
    I love all the advice you give as well as the reviews you provide of pretty much all the things you buy. You have amazing style and never fail to provide me with lots of inspiration! 🙂

    Congratulations on crossing off a few things on your classics wishlist!
    There are a billion and one things that I currently have on my wishlist…I can only hope that i'll be able to cross them all off one day!
    Since I'm currently unemployed and a student, I really can't afford any of those amazing things. At least I can live vicariously through you and your purchases though 🙂
    Thanks for always sharing!

    Your new bags are absolutely gorgeous!
    The Prada bag is the most gorgeous camel and I can definitely see it pairing with some amazing things. I love the bright red of that J. Crew bag and can see it perking up loads of outfits!
    As for those pants, wow they're a lovely color! I'm sure you'll show us plenty of awesome ways to style red pants.

    Thanks for sharing about all your new purchases as well as about the blowout sale Talbots is currently having.
    With prices that low, I may be able to grab a pair or two…

    Anyways, have a lovely day Jean!
    I can't wait to see you style all your new purchases 😀


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  67. Neiko wrote:

    Ok, LOVE the prada bag! I would be grinning from ear to ear too if I had just bought one!! 🙂 I think you made excellent timeless choices on both the tan Prada and the red bag!


    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  68. Valery wrote:

    Love the classic purchases! I love me a good carmel bag. And thanks for the heads up about the sale! I fell in love with some Seychelles shoes, missed out, and have been on the quest for neutral leather sandals ever since.

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  69. Katherine wrote:

    The bag is here! So happy for you that you finally got it, and I think this is a bag that'd be hard to get for a good price in nice condition on the resale market – so you made a good call getting it from NM 🙂 It's gorgeous and I'm glad you went for the camel color, it'll pair wonderfully through fall/winter too!

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  70. Your Prada tote is amazing – such a wise yet stylish purchase – also loving your Hermes belt – another classic piece!
    I know the satisfying feeling of crossing a wanted-for investment off your wish list, I feel the same with my last 2 anniversary gifts from hubby (black balenciaga city and Chanel woc) – I wanted them forever and plan on using them forever 🙂

    Posted 8.2.12 Reply
  71. Lovely purchases & thank you for the Talbots tip; I'm definitely going to check 'em out. 🙂

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  72. thanks for letting us know about the sales!

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  73. Lauren wrote:

    absolutely LOVE your prada tote and agree with you about the red you are incorporating in your wardrobe. I have been researching, scouring and searching for the perfect black Chanel caviar flap for about a year and have yet to pull the trigger. That, along with some gorgeous, high quality nude pumps are on my "classics" wishlist.

    Such classic style as always 🙂

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  74. Love your purses and that lime coloured skirt. Great finds all around.

    ~Natasha Fatah Giveaway~
    ~Natasha Fatah Giveaway~

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  75. Mindy♥ wrote:

    Love your purchases this month!

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  76. That prada bag is insanely gorgeous!! So beautiful.


    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  77. Angie wrote:

    that citron skirt is the perfect length and looks so comfy! stretch cotton is the best for skirts 🙂

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply

Get the newsletter!

What updates would you like?