Carbon Copies XIII

How much are you losing from buying from boutiques at full price?





Princess Polly She Blooms Dress, $70 | Little JC, $50 (You’re gonna have to take my word for it in absence of an online store)–UPDATE! Now available to buy minus petticoat at SES for the bargain price of $25!

Princess Polly Miss Kiss Collar, $20 | eBay, $2.60 (Lots of colours here!)

Princess Polly The Prodigy, $55 | eBay, $6 (+ however much the turpentine costs to scrape off that multi-coloured paint)

Ally Floral Dressy Short, $25 | AliExpress, $11.70

Ally Short With Floral Organza, $20 | AliExpress, $11.50

Princess Polly Coconut Sky, $70 | Ally Dress in Tropical Print, $25 | Dissh, $70

Princess Polly Cat Eyes, $65 | AliExpress, $21 (Also available in cream)

Princess Polly Floral Jeans, $60 | Ice, $30 (I gave a low estimation of Princess Polly based on their existing range of jeans)

Dish, Princess Polly, Sunnygirl, and many other so-called “high end” boutiques in Australia are no more high end than your local Ice, Temt, or Ally Fashion. (Now with proof!) Everything comes from suppliers in China who make the same stuff as each other. Sometimes they produce lines at high quality, and sometimes their lines come out looking shocking, with loose threads, weak seams, and faulty zippers.

Really, I would argue that boutiques like these are no better than rip-off websites like Romwe, Sheinside and Oasap. They both contain a mixture of ridiculously marked up Alibaba stock and otherwise stock that is seemingly impossible to find anywhere else. I made the purchase of that floral dress in the first picture with full knowledge that I’ve never seen something like that on any of my online trawls (and I’ve been everywhere, man), even though I had already seen it in several different boutiques in Australia for way more than it’s actually worth. Knowing now that it comes in a different colour makes me all the more eager to find it, but it’s trickier than you think!

The difference between “high-end” boutiques and low-end stores like Ally Fashion, Temt, Valleygirl, etc, is not always just a difference in quality. While the latter stores do get their things from Chinese warehouses as well, you will not find them charging half as much as the high-end stores do, and for what? It’s not couture, girls! Same with jewelry and bags–I’ve never failed at tracking down a boutique bag on AliExpress when something pretty catches my eye!

A good indication of whether or not a store mass-buys their items from a Chinese wholesaler is if you’ve got the niggling feeling that you’ve seen that particular print before. Old followers of mine on Instagram will remember the dress that I found in a Queen Street boutique that had that same horrible yellowish -multi-coloured flower print fabric that I’ve seen featured on a pair of pants from Ice. Now, I can’t even unsee that pattern, I recognize it everywhere! Another pattern that I’ve seen everywhere is the tropicana print that you see in this post. I have spotted so many different items utilizing this same print, from bralette tops to short shorts, dresses to leggings. I see it everywhere! A distinct mark of a store that buys their stuff from Chinese wholesalers.

Living near Stones Corner offers me many opportunities to visit the small, humble boutiques that reside there–specifically two of my favorite called Little JC and Oz Jeans. Oz Jeans frequently has “nothing over $30” sales (and they mean $30, unlike those stores in Queen Street mall who have those “Nothing under $30, except for items over $30!” sales) and I’ve taken note of a couple of dresses in there that are also sold on Princess Polly and Dissh, as with the dresses I’ve found in Little JC, which also has frequent sales, albeit not frequent enough!

Now the point of this post wasn’t to shame any aforementioned boutiques, but to serve as a warning to their buyers–before laying down your hard-earned cash on that pricey dress you see in the window.. have a peek online. Check out AliExpress, try to Google it (e.g. “cat face dress site:aliexpress.com” or something like that) and scroll through Google Images for anything familiar. Be aware that Australian retailers are notorious for marking up stock for way more than it’s worth. When you’ve done that–try the dress on in the store, if it fits and the quality is up to par with your standards, buy that baby online!

First Anniversary Giveaway

It’s been exactly one year since the launch of Carbon Chic! So what better way to celebrate than a giveaway?

We have a handful of goodies to give out here, and because all of them were cheaply sourced (and that’s no fun at all for the entrants), there’s also a special gift up for grabs in this giveaway to supplement the small trinkets the winner will be receiving.



 

The Main Prize Pool

The entire Ulta3 set of Summer 2012 Pastels–these have NOT been used other than the initial colour swatching I did for the review. Value is $12 ($2 each). The colours in this collection are lovely and fresh and go with so many outfits; it was so hard to resist using them!

The Zara gold sequin clutch replica as featured in some of my outfit posts. This clutch is so versatile and great when you just need to carry a couple of items on you and run out the door. It’s surprisingly roomy, though.. (You will be receiving a brand new one, not the one in my outfit posts because it’s starting to show signs of how much I’m obsessed with it!)

A collection of jewelry from my eBay and AliExpress adventures. I’ve been collecting for a few months to ensure a fantastic prize for the winner, so there are quite a few pieces here! These pieces are brand new and never worn.

Last but definitely not least, and the most expensive piece of the bunch–a completed, coloured, bust illustration of a single character of your choosing! If you’re a fellow blogger, I can draw you in one of your fabulous outfits (and you can use it as a header image or whatever you wish); if you write fanfiction, I can illustrate one of your characters; if you’re a romantic, I can draw your partner, or if you’re massively dedicated and not afraid to lay down some cash, you can pay me extra to draw the two of you together. Whatever you’d like, really! Whee! The value of this prize is $50.

Altogether, I have around $80 worth of prizes right there. And…

The Runner Up Prize

Just because I hate people missing out, I’ll also be offering the runner-up the very same aforementioned prize of a personalised illustration.

How to enter? Simple, just enter through the widget below.. Sharing this post, Tweeting this post, and adding a comment counts for additional entries too, which means more chances to win! Isn’t that awesome?

Remember, this giveaway is only for those who have an Australian address! Sorry international followers, maybe next time :(

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I can’t wait to read some comments and see some entries coming in–I’m pretty excited for this giveaway, and I hope you are too!

(To see more of my illustrations, click on “Illustration” under the Categories heading in the sidebar)

Ice-Cream




Ohmygoshpastelsokay?

You ever get that epiphany where you finally find something (a hair cut, bow ties, strappy sandals, chunky or thin jewellery, or something else entirely) that suits you brilliantly and you never want to wear anything else ever again? I am stuck in that rut with pastels. When this trend is over, I don’t know what I’ll do anymore. In my particularly violent throes of depression, I’ll probably start resorting to buying nothing but knicker shorts from ASOS because I can and life isn’t fair.

Chain Necklace – AliExpress, $2

White Lace Blouse – Temt, $15

Mint Skinny BeltDotti, $5 (2 for $10 sale!)

Gold Sequin Clutch – eBay, $6.60 (Also available in black, silver and pink. Link has it reduced for $4.70!)

Spikes and Roses Bracelet – Lovisa, $3.33 (3 for $10 sale on now!!)

Triple Ring Pack – ASOS, $5

Lace Short With Scallop EdgeASOS, $11 (With 10% off discount and GDP conversion, boo yeah)

Beetroot Sandals in PastelWittner, $35 (Excellent deal, these babies!)

Total: $82.93

(The bracelet is a graduation present from my mother and the watch is a birthday present from Michael, if anyone’s forgotten)

It’s not fair, I’m starting to get a bit more extravagant with my spending. Just give it time and I’ll have to change the focus of this entire blog because I’ll have become one of those “good quality” snobs we all hate. No, I’m kidding, only I hate them (and that’s after a cocktail and the fiftieth time they tell me that their shoes are heirloom quality and mine will fall apart by next year).

What also isn’t fair is my life this week.

Delving into the land of makeup with my best friend Louisa, I tried to be a bit more proactive about putting on makeup throughout the week but I just broke out all over the place. I’m over it and I’ve put the brush back into that corner of my closet.

Little bit of trivia for you–did you know that Queen Elizabeth I and her fellow upper classes wore a make-up on their faces called ceruse, which was a mixture of white lead and vinegar? Even though they wore it to hide blemishes, because of the components of the makeup, it caused even more blemishes which they had to hide with an even thicker layer of the stuff, and thus the vicious cycle continued until that pallid complexion became her trademark in those old portraits you see of her today in museums and art galleries. Whenever I spot girls who have managed to mask and disguise every single pore and wrinkle on their face with a thick layer of foundation, I think about Queen Elizabeth I and the silly fashions back then and forgive them all those times they’ve stained that last sale blouse on the rack in just my size with the long, unsightly smear of bronze down the front.

Here’s another way that God is telling me that I should be staying away from the makeup:

Exasperated sigh. Buying Revlon online for a whopping saving of $3 in comparison to the same product in Myer has its risks, certainly, but I didn’t anticipate one of them being that someone at the post office would step on my envelope and crush it. Crush it like this little girl’s hopes and dreams of owning makeup that she actually bought and didn’t receive as a present from someone.. when she was 11 years old. Yes, I keep makeup for that long; I’m always deluded by the idea that one day I’ll pick it up and look like Emma Stone just like that, bam. And then I eat my lipgloss within the half hour after applying it, rub the sleep (and eyeshadow) out of my eyes, and watch as my knuckles progressively turn different colours throughout the day in that fashion. In the end (or maybe it looks like that at the beginning too), my face develops that certain je ne sais quoi about it that reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer J. invents that makeup shotgun and tests it out on his wife (with hilarious results).

It definitely reminds me that natural beauty is best anyways. And that, er.. beauty is on the, um. Inside. (Wait, is that what ugly people say?)

Stay tuned for the some Just Bitten reviews coming up soon!

Summer Shoe Sales

On sale now: Everything under $60!

Pictured shoes:
Wittner | Zu | Wittner
Jo Mercer | Zu | Zu
Zu | AirFlex | Zu
AirFlex | Airflex | Airflex

I thought I’d bring this to my readers’ attentions before it was too late! The new year shopping period brings us many opportunities to find cheap, yet high quality shoes that have been massively discounted from their original price. I’ve been going on a jolly little spending spree lately when it comes to shoes so I could stock up for the work year ahead before prices start going up, and you should consider this, too. I’m going to be investing in some good neutral staples this year, but there are a lot of bright colours, metallics and pastels on the table for most of these stores, so if you’re not looking for neutrals, it’s still worth a peek!

wittner

Appeal: With over 300 different styles of shoes on sale right now on their website, there’s definitely a little something there for everyone’s budget, in a great amount of sizes, too! In Brisbane, your best bet is to go straight to the city for sizing checks–there are two different stores (an outlet store and a retail store) in the heart of the city where you’ll sure to find something you’ll like and you’ll be able to try them on in person. The materials seem very good quality for the prices, with genuine leather uppers and inners, and Spanish resin soles. They also have a wide selection of flats (see the sidebar to the left) and I’ve even seen the odd boot or two being sold in store for way under RRP at $50 a pop! Great if you want to stock up for the oncoming Winter.

Shipping: Unfortunately, the shipping is not free unless you’re putting in a large order, so it’s probably worth looking in-store first.

Returns: I don’t like the returns policy for Wittner–if you stuff up on a purchase, or have any hint of buyer’s remorse, they’ll only offer you store credit for your purchase. Choose carefully!!

Sizing: I’m generally a 39 everywhere except for Wittner–I always have to size up to a 40.

zu

Appeal: There are a lot of sales going on for Zu at the moment. They’re having their end of season clearance (when are they not having an end of season clearance, seriously) so you’ll definitely find some nice staples here. Zu seem to be the store for unique-looking party shoes, so if glamour and glitz is your calling, check in here first! Only downside is that there’s limited stock online and you’re usually luckier in-store with your selections. When their shoes aren’t made from satin, they’re usually leather uppers (and lining) with a synthetic sole. Some styles also offer additional padding along the insole which is a nice touch. New customers to their online store will also receive 20% off their first purchase. Lovely!

Shipping: Free!

Returns: Free! Either in-store or online.

Sizing: I’m specifically a 39/8.5 usually everywhere I go, and it goes the same for Zu sizing, I usually find them pretty accurate. Size up if you’re between sizes and they don’t offer half sizing (this applies to a few styles on their website), because you can always add an insole–it’s significantly harder to stretch a shoe or alternatively shrink your foot! Not that it matters too much with the free returns anyways.

jo mercer

Appeal: Now there may not be that many styles available online, but in both Jo Mercer stores that I checked, they have a huge variety of shoes at around the $40, much more than the website shows. Some nice neutrals and glitter/metallics there, but they have some weird colours thrown into the mix as well. Their shoes have leather uppers/linings with a padded footbed and synthetic sole. Another bonus that seems to have been recently introduced is a further 25% off already reduced shoes! So all those shoes around the $40 are now $30 and still just as fabulous.

Shipping: Free(!), but considering the pathetic selection of shoes available on the website, it’s only really worth looking in-store.

Returns: If you stuff up on a purchase, or have any hint of buyer’s remorse, they’ll only offer you store credit for your purchase. Choose carefully!!

Sizing: Very accurate sizing.

airflex

Appeal: This isn’t a very well-known brand but I had to include them in this list because their shoes are so darn comfortable and well-made! AirFlex is a little sister company of Betts which is a sister company of Zu, so you know the quality is top notch. These guys are specifically geared towards comfort, which I love, with a huge range of mid-height heels for when you want a little lift but without the chronic back problems of the future. I cannot praise that enough! Unlike their sister company Betts, which usually only has leather linings with synthetic uppers (if you’re LUCKY, even!), AirFlex generally has all-leather shoes with lovely, padded, soft suede insoles for extra comfort. Drooling on my keyboard here, sorry guys. The only downside here is that these shoes are as rare as hen’s teeth in Betts (where they’re supposedly sold), so you’ll most likely be ordering online.

Shipping: Free!

Returns: Free! Either in-store (at Betts) or online.

Sizing: Considering that they’re in cahoots with Zu and Betts, they predictably have the same sizing patterns throughout their range. Easy!

Found any shoe-tastic bargains about, frugalistas?? I’d love to know about them! Feel free to post up any links to cute shoes or amazing sales down in the comments below. <3

Bow and Arrow



 

Oh, I’m so punny. Only when editing these pictures did I notice that almost every element of my outfit has something to do with bows. I’m embracing the girly so hard right now. /Aussie

This is one of the few times that I’ll ever break the self-imposed $100 limit to my outfits.. I could have changed elements in the outfit to make it cheaper, of course, but I loved these shoes too much to hide them away.

The best time for shoe shopping is January. Jo Mercer, Zu, and Wittner, some of my favorite shoe stores, are having amazing new year sales right now, and you can pick up a trendy pair of heels or sandals for under $50 (EXCELLENT quality ones, I mean!) to add to your collection. Me, I’ve always wanted some pretty pastel pink party pumps (Oh Roger, what alliteration!) so when these dropped down to $65, I uhmmed and I ahhed and I ended up buying them. And wore them every day of that week. Surprisingly cost-effective if you look at the cost-per-wear (which we never do, because this is generally a shopaholic’s worst excuse to buy something that she can’t afford).

So with all that out of the way, here’s the rundown as you see before you:

Gold Hair Cuff – eBay, $1.70 (Unpictured. Considering buying a different one because I have thick hair and it doesn’t fit over it very neatly..)

Gold Deer Skull Necklace – eBay, $3.00 (Wear with everything. Must buy a backup.)

Bow Neck Top – Mix Apparel (Coles), $12 (Most versatile top ever.)

Pink & Gold Bow Belt – Colette, $5

Navy Bow Print Shorts – Temt, $25

Choo-Choo Pink Patent Pumps – Wittner, $65

Total: $106.70

I threw in a $15 bag from AliExpress that I got from my last AliExpress order because the pink perfectly matched the shoes. Lucky me!  Because I was buying two at a time, I went on a private chat with the seller and haggled down the price to $30 for both. If you’re considering buying more than one item from a seller, haggling is recommended because unlike eBay, AliExpress is specifically designed with haggling in mind–hence the chat function!

A lesson on frugality: The shorts I’m wearing here are full-priced. I often say that you should never buy anything full priced because of how often stuff goes on sale, but when you spot something that’s excellent quality at already a pretty low price, you have to be wary that people might get there before you and leave you with nothing. As an example, I went to the shops the day after I bought those shorts and I couldn’t find a single one left in that color (I think there was one in beige with black bows but.. yuck). So sometimes calculated full-priced purchases are worthwhile! For a pair of shorts from Temt, they’re really superb quality– they don’t wrinkle, they’re fully lined, and they’re not booty shorts (always an important thing).

Happy new year and happy shopping, frugalistas!