Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How to Shop the Shopbop Sale

A dear reader told me that she is overwhelmed by the Shopbop site and so missed out on the recent site-wide 25% off sale. I can understand: it's a huge site offering thousands of products. On the plus side, Shopbop offers a huge range of brands we simply can't get here. And free shipping over US $100 is a great incentive. They also have a great returns system where the courier will collect your goods for a flat fee of NZ $35 and courier them back to Shopbop in the U.S.

In this post, I want to share my secrets to a successful Shopbop sale (or just general shopping from the site).

Rule 1: Create an account
This will make it easier to check out when the site is busy (especially if you store credit card and address details). An account entitles you to site services such as wish list, favourites and notification emails. Shopbop also emails out a look book several times a week which is great for style inspiration.

Rule 2: Know what you want
The sale is never scheduled, it lasts only three days and things sell out fast. If you have unlimited time to trawl through all items in all categories on a deadline then fine, have fun! But there are THOUSANDS of items on this site, so forget that malarkey! Well before the sale, narrow down what you want and search the relevant categories. For example:

- A pair of black skinny jeans (Clothing > Jeans)
- A set of gold midi rings (Accessories > Jewelry)
- A tan cross-body bag (Bags > Cross Body Bags)

When the sale email comes through, you can purchase straight from your favourites list (see more about favourites below).

Rule 3: Make use of the filters
The filters are vital for narrowing down items that you can afford and that will actually fit you. There are three:

- Designers
- Sizes
- Colours

In addition, you can also sort items to suit. For example, prices low to high will force the cheapest items to the top of the page. Filters and sorts are KEY time savers. For example, I'm a size 32 in jeans. By filtering out all other sizes I drastically reduce the items to browse through.

Rule 4: Build up a favourites list
The little heart icon on product pages lets you easily add items to you favourites list. Shopbop holds a lot of stock and re-stocks regularly. Even if an item sells out, keep it on your list. Chances are it'll be back in stock at some stage.

The point of the favourites list is to speed up transfer-to-cart. Traditionally, when the sale is just announced, the site slows down and it's hard to use. With items already saved, you just need to add them to the cart and purchase.

Rule 5: Know which brands are stocked
Shopbop is different to Net-a-Porter which specialises in high-end designer fashion. Shopbop does stock high-end designer goods, but it also stocks those designers' affordable lines. For example:

- Marc by Marc Jacobs
- T by Alexander Wang
- RED Valentino
- 3.1 Phillip Lim
- MICHAEL Michael Kors

Shopbop also stocks many mid-range designer brands such as:

- Acne Studios
- Karen Walker Eyewear
- A.P.C
- Ash
- Camilla and Marc
- Tory Burch
- Rebecca Taylor
- Dion Lee
- Equipment

Many great lower-price brands are available too, such as Gorjana, Blank Denim and Steve Madden. There's also a huge range of denim on offer.

Rule 6: Get familiar with sizing
Read the size charts and measurements. Check the model's vital statistics (and height). See what size she is wearing and also check her body shape. Hey, they are all a NZ size 6 or 8 but does she have a long torso or long legs? Is she a skinny pear? Are your ankles as fine as hers and will that strap go around YOUR ankles?

The general rule is that American designers size larger and European designers size smaller.

Also, read the customer reviews and get an idea if an item runs smaller or larger. I have found reviews really helpful as women tend to share their body measurements which is great.

Rule 7: Use the sale for smart shopping
If you have been coveting a $400 pair of jeans for months, use a generous discount like this to buy them at a reduced price. Or, stock up on something you've bought before elsewhere and love (and you know your size).

Of the three items I bought in the last sale, I kept two (the jeans and the cashmere) and returned the stripey top. It was a perfect fit but just not a very flattering cut.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hair Update

And... rye flour shampoo is a fail I'm afraid.

By the end of today my hair felt like straw and with today's rain and humidity here in Auckland, it was starting to look really special. So, I washed it with my regular shampoo and smeared conditioner through it.

Now, I have some rye bread baking to do!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Beauty Experiment

Today I washed my hair with rye flour and rinsed it with apple cider vinegar.

For some time, I have wanted to eliminate some toxins from my life so I started this weekend with my locks. The 'shampoo' is made of finely-milled rye flour whisked or shaken with water. I used two tablespoons of flour and about a metric cup of warm water. Use less if you want a thicker paste. I wet my hair, massaged it in, rinsed very well then repeated. For a 'conditioner', I mixed 1tsp ACV with about two cups of warm water. I poured it over my hair, left it on for about 15 seconds then rinsed it out.

My natural hair is extremely porous, dry and frizzy. It's like a loose afro in its natural state. I noticed as it was drying (I always air-dry my hair), that it had a little more body than usual. Otherwise it seemed to follow the same pattern as when I use my regular shampoo. The ACV smell was strong at the start but completely disappeared once my hair dried.

My normal routine is to run a tiny amount of my lovely hair treatment oil through my hair before I straighten it. I still did this as it's quite a natural botanical product and doubles as a heat protector. I then used my GHDs to straighten my hair as I always do. I'll admit that the straightening took slightly longer than normal as the hair was a little rougher in texture, but the result is lovely, shiny soft hair with perhaps a little more volume than normal.

Why rye flour? Well, it's loaded with minerals and vitamins and is also the same PH as your own scalp. It cleanses without stripping natural oils (unlike shampoo, which forces your scalp to produce more sebum to compensate, and so results in lank hair). The ACV is there to restore shine, tone and volume to the hair. Plus, it's a natural antiseptic and disinfectant which is handy if you have athlete's foot, cuts or scratches and/or a stinky shower drain hole!

I use Liz Earle products for all of my skincare, makeup and hair care needs. For the most part, I've been really happy with them. Whilst I couldn't do without my hair treatment oil, from this experiment I'm beginning to see that I can live without their shampoo and conditioner. My hair wasn't extremely dirty when I washed it today so I'll wait until Thursday after a couple of gym sessions (yep I am back there in a low-impact non-bouncy way) and allow some more hair product build-up.

In terms of cost, I bought a 500g bag of rye flour from Clevedon Farmers' Market today for a fiver so that's a lot of hair washes considering I only wash my hair twice a week and I only used a couple of tablespoons of flour. The ACV costs about $7 for a litre.

Other products I want to make myself are:

- Soap
- Laundry power
- Face exfoliant
- Body butter (next on my list)

I'll see how clean my hair remains over the next few days and keep you posted. Right now it feels squeaky clean!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Navy + Cognac

Jacket: New Look (similar here) | Jumper: Sass & Bide | Jeans: Citizens of Humanity 'Ava' (similar here| Boots: Sezane | Bracelet: Veronica B | Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs | Sunglasses: Karen Walker 'Deep Freeze' in Black
All Images © Copyright Sara Mole

Friday, 17 October 2014

Shopbop Sale: What I Bought

Luckily for me, I have had these babies on my Shopbop favourites list for some time, waiting for the next friends and family 25% off sale. So it was a cinch to just pop them in my cart and purchase before stock ran out.

I already own two pairs of Citizens of Humanity jeans (one Avedon). I bought another pair in a slightly different shade in a size up due to a little weight gain since I've been recovering from my surgery (no serious exercise for another 2 - 3 weeks I'm afraid).

The T by Alexander Wang striped top is one I have been thinking about for ages. Online reviews suggested sizing down, so I got the medium instead of the large. As my bust size was always the showstopper in the past, I'm hopeful that I can now get away with smaller sizes.

As for the Equipment cashmere jumper, well I have wanted one for ages. I see myself wearing this casually with blue skinny jeans and my Superga white sneakers. For work, with a black pencil skirt, black high heels and a chunky gold necklace.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


On 3 September, I underwent a breast reduction.

I have suffered from back, neck and shoulder pain for years. I always blamed sitting at a computer all day, poor posture etc. So, in recent years I've made a real effort to invest in correct chairs for my height, sort out my posture and exercise regularly. I lost weight. I got fit. I started regular chiropractic and massage.

In the last two years, my pain levels dropped to a manageable level. I also started to enjoy the benefits that a lighter, fitter more upright body brings. However, I was still having pain. In June, my doctor recommended I see a breast surgeon. I had honestly never made the connection between the neck and shoulder pain and the size of my bust.

The first consultation with my surgeon revealed that although my breasts weren't the biggest in the world (F cup), they were very tissue-dense and heavy. That's why they stayed the same size despite my weight loss. She suggested that I could stand to lose several hundred grams of tissue from each, to take me down to around a small D/large C. I thought about it for about a month then decided (after a second visit) to go ahead. My surgery took place on 3 September 2014 so I am now at the five-week mark.

My partner Paul, and friends and family have been extremely supportive all the way through. The company I work for has also been really flexible, as I took a week off and have been working from home since mid September. I'm healing well although very a lot of the time.

It took me about a week to get to grips with my new profile. I just couldn't make the mind-body connection. Now I am very used to my new size (after the swelling subsides I estimate I'll be a C). I'm already noticing improvements in my posture and balance. And, from a fashion perspective, it will open up a whole new world for me.

I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about the relationship between a woman's bust size and her femininity. To my surprise, I actually feel more feminine now than ever. Society sends us such mixed messages. Every day we're bombarded with images of busty women and told that it's sexy. But conversely, fashion designers design for flat-chested, almost androgynous women. Confused?

For me, it was a medical decision to have a breast reduction but the cosmetic benefits are also exciting. I look forward to styling the new body and sharing my shopping adventures with you all in the coming months!

P.S. All blog photos up until now were taken back in August. The photo below is from Instagram, taken about two weeks ago.

Photo from Instagram

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Le Copy Cat

Remember the Sezane J sweatshirt I bought a couple of months back?

Sweatshirt: Sezane | Jeans: Zara | Sneakers: Superga | Earrings: Found Jewellery | Sunglasses: Karen Walker 'Deep Freeze' in Black
All Images © Copyright Sarah Chamberlin