Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tips for Buying Shoes Online from a Serial Shoe Returner

As I have mentioned before, I am trying to build up a more polished and professional wardrobe.  In building up my wardrobe, I’ve started to shop online a lot more.  With online shopping, on top of a great sale, I’ve got the entire warehouse inventory at my finger tips, and I can usually find online promotion codes with a quick Google search.

Some of you may recall my post where I ordered 10 pairs of shoes online.  Well, I did it again :).  Below is my spreadsheet (click to enlarge) that I use to track my purchases and returns.  This time, I ordered 10 pairs (again!), and kept one pair, so far.  I am still awaiting my last pair of shoes to arrive (*fingers crossed*).

Why So Many Pairs of Shoes?

If I were to go into a store and find a pair of shoes, I usually try on about 3 or 4 pairs.  Out of those 3 or 4 pairs, there may or may not be a winner.  And as we know, with sales and clearance items, the inventory at each store changes so often, that maybe the person just before you walked away with your shoe soul mate.

So, the way I see it, instead of going to the store to try on the shoes, the shoes come to me, and I get a much better selection of styles and sizes.  Some styles are only offered online, or certain styles may not be carried in all stores.

I’m Picky

I used to not wear high heels because they hurt my feet, then I didn’t like flats because there usually wasn’t enough arch support.  What I didn’t realize until recently is that heels can be (somewhat) comfortable, and flats can be even more comfortable.  It all depends on your shoe and how it fits your feet.

After buying so many pairs of shoes that were just kinda “okay”, I think I’ve come up with a fairly good checklist of my “must haves” when buying a pair of shoes.

Frugirl’s “must have” for heels:

  • leather, suede, or a comfortable material which does not hurt my feet
  • heel height between 2″ – 3″
  • classic shape
  • cushion for balls of feet
  • must not slip off
  • $100 – $150 or less

Frugirl’s “must have” for flats:

  • leather, suede, or a comfortable material which does not hurt my feet
  • have a solid and cushioned sole
  • have good arch support
  • must not be a “boxy” shape (emphasizes my already wide feet)
  • no frills or bling at the toe
  • $100 – $125 or less

Some Tips

A lot of what I learned is through trial and error (as with most things in life).  And, sometimes, you don’t know how a good shoe is supposed to feel until you’ve tried one.  When you find that special shoe, it really is love! 🙂

In-Store pick-up

Two of the shoe retailers I recently bought from are Soft Moc and Aldo.  Both these retailers have a free shipping option where you can pick up the shoes at a store location.  I prefer to have my shoes shipped to the store locations, so that I can try them on, return the ones that don’t work out, and just bring home the ones that fit me for further evaluation.

You usually have to make a trip to the store to return some shoes anyway (they never all work out for me), so why not save yourself some work.  Trust me, lugging back eight pairs of shoes to return is definitely not cool.

Return Policy

Always, always be very familiar with the return policy of where you are shopping (online or elsewhere).  I suggest reading the return policy prior to every check-out, because you never know when a store decides to change their return policy.  I pay extra attention to the return policy of sale or clearance items.

I also like to check that the refund is made in the original form payment, as opposed to a store credit.  The store credit may not be a big deal if you shop at that retailer often, but I just like to have the cash in my hand, as soon as I return an item.

Most of the retailers I shop at allow in-store returns; however, if in-store returns are not possible, make sure you are clear on who pays for the return shipping.  If you are responsible for paying the return shipping, know the cost, and perhaps re-evaluate if this purchase is still worth it.

Test out your Shoes!

This might be a no-brainer, but always give your shoes a good test run before taking them outdoors.  Most return policies give you up to 30 days (sometimes 45 –  90 days for online purchases) to return.  And as we all probably found out the hard way, standing in a pair of cute heels for 5 minutes in the store, can be very different than wearing them all day.

Since my work place is carpeted, I like to bring my “test” shoes to work with me, and walk in them for a day or two.  Make sure you’re careful not to walk outside or get them dirty, or else you can’t return them.

Other Thoughts

One of my friends told me that my behavior (returning a lot of items) doesn’t really “jive” well with retailers, as they are losing money from my returns.  I don’t really agree with this, as I mentioned that if I were to buy this item in a store, I would have to try it on, as well.  The only difference is that I now have purchased the item first, and then tried it on.  In fact, my argument is that it probably requires equal or less effort/cost to ship an order from a warehouse and process the return, than to have the expenses of  running a storefront and paying for your employees (cashier, changeroom, etc.) for the same result – making the sale.

Readers, what are your experiences with online shopping and returning items?  What are your thoughts regarding my “serial returns”?

Cheers,

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Filed under Budget, Fashion

Currently Obsessed with the Oil Cleansing Method!!!

I currently have an obsession with the oil cleansing method.

Oil Cleansing Method

The lovely Sonia (psst!  Go check out her Etsy store!) introduced me to the oil cleansing method last summer, and I’ve done it on and off – usually when I do my spa facial nights (as I mentioned briefly in this post).  Then I started to use the oil cleansing method as my regular evening make-up remover and cleanser last week, and my skin has been LOVING it!

I’m by no means an expert in skincare, so please do your own research and consult your dermatologist or aesthetician before trying any new skincare routine.  But I have suffered from acne prone skin for the last 17 years, and I wanted to share how I use the oil cleansing method (OCM).

I found these sources had useful information when I was learning about the OCM.  My understanding is that the OCM breaks the cycle of stripping our skin of its essential oils be using drying soaps, which causes our skin to go into overdrive, in order to compensate for the dryness.  OCM uses an “astringent” oil (castor oil) to cleanse the impurities/break down the oils that are on my face, and a moisturizing oil (i.e., olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed, etc) to moisturize and balance the dryness from the castor oil.   Check out Crunchy Betty’s post for which carrier oil is more suited for certain skin types.

Making your Cleansing Milk

The ratio of castor oil to your “moisturizing” oil will depend on your skin type.  The more oily the skin type, the more castor oil you need, and the more dry your skin is, the more moisturizing oil it will need.  My skin is very oily, and so I used a mixture with 2/3 castor oil and 1/3 olive oil.  I also added a few drops of lavender essential oil for its soothing properties, and pleasant smell.

I suggest you make a small test batch and play around with the ratios until you find one which suits you.  If you plan to use the cleansing milk often, I’d make a little bottle, otherwise, I suggest mixing it fresh for each use.

Applying the Cleansing Milk

I like to apply the cleansing milk by massaging it gently into the my dry face and neck, wait about 10 minutes for the oil to “absorb”, and then gently massage the oil over my face and neck, again.  At this point, I usually start feeling black heads popping out from my pores ;).  I massage the cleansing milk over my eyes last, to remove my eye make-up.  Then, I run a small hand towel under hot water (as hot as your face can comfortably tolerate), wring it dry, place it over my face to steam, then wipe away the oil .  I repeat running the towel under the hot water, then steaming my face for about 3 times, or until I don’t feel greasy anymore.

Moisturizing

My face always feels so soft and supple after the OCM.  Some people prefer to wash away the cleaning milk with cleanser, but I prefer steaming so that I still get the moisturizing affects from the oil – it’s up the you.  I follow up with my usual night time moisturizing routine – serum, face oil, then moisturizer.   (Note: the face oil part is an addition to my usual regime, which I started about a week ago.  Review to come.)  So far, I’m really liking it, as I wake up and my skin is super soft and supple.  My skin is acne prone, and I have not had any breakouts so far, from using oil to cleanse and moisturize.

Readers, have you tried the OCM?  What are your thoughts?

Side note: In a recent chat with a co-worker who also used the OCM method, she told me she was using an Shiseido Cleansing Milk which was really expensive.  The sales associate who sold it to her told her it was the same cleansing method that Marilyn Monroe used – which of course, my co-worker jumped on.  From the lovely Annabelle at Shopping Detox, I’ve read a few things on the frugality of Marilyn Monroe, so I’m guessing the SA took a bit of liberty and tried to link her product back to Marilyn, but I doubt that Marilyn used the Shiseido product.  One quick look at the ingredient list shows that mineral oil is one of the first ingredients!  I’m not expert in skincare or face oils, but mineral oil clogs pores (but it’s cheap!).  I’m not sure how good of an oil you need, since you’re washing off the cleanser, but I would think that for the $$$ you pay, you’d get a better oil.  So, if you are going to buy a pre-made cleansing milk, please read the ingredient list!

Cheers,

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Filed under Health

Dove Dry Shampoo FAIL, and Shoppers Drugmart Rant

Dry Shampoo & me

I’m a big huge dry shampoo fan.  I’ve probably tried every drugstore, to mid-range dry shampoo out there – Tresemme, Klorane, Suave, Batiste, Oscar Blandi, Ojon.  I haven’t tried to Bumble & Bumble one, because I couldn’t wrap my head around a $50 dry shampoo.  [If you ladies attest to it, then I may try it out.  Maybe.]

Dove Dry Shampoo Quasi Review

Anyway, when I saw that Dove had come out with their own for only $7.99 and Nouveau Cheap’s rave review, I was excited to give it a try.  So, I skipped, hopped and danced over Shoppers Drugmart  (a very popular Canadian pharmacy chain similar to RiteAid, Walgreens, or CVS) and picked me up a bottle.

I tried it out right away, and my first thoughts were this:

  • strong smell (which I didn’t like)
  • not as much “dry shampoo” was dispersed from the pump as I would have liked

I used it again on the Monday following the weekend I bought it, and in addition to the above, the dry shampoo felt kind of like hair spray (similar to my experience with the Tresemme dry shampoo).

I like to try a product a few times before I deliver my verdict, because, you never know, right?  Well, I will never know, because the third time I picked up the Dove Dry Shampoo, it stopped working.

I knew something was wrong when I shook the bottle and it sounded like it was empty.  When I went to test spray the dry shampoo on my hand, a clump of wet powdery stuff came out, and that was it.  FYI: This has happened to me before on a defective bottle of Ojon, which I took back to Sephora, and they happily gave me a new bottle.

Shoppers Drugmart Rant

I wanted to take it back right away to Shoppers Drugmart to get my refund (or a new bottle), but I didn’t get around to it until a week later.

I brought back the bottle to a cashier and explained what happened.  I also told her that the bottle is defective and the product is likely all clumped together at the bottom of the can.

The cashier checked my receipt, and the bottle.  Then she tried to spray the bottle – which of course, nothing came out.

Cashier: It’s empty.

Me:  No, it’s not.  I just explained to you why it sounds like it’s empty.  The product is clumped together at the bottom of the bottle. You can’t get it out.  This has happened to me before with a defective bottle of aerosol dry shampoo.

Cashier: No, it’s empty.

Me:  No, that’s impossible, because I just bought it last week, and I only used it twice.

Cashier:  It’s empty.  Plus, you got it at another location.  I can’t refund this. 

I know she was just trying to do her job, but at this point, I should have asked to speak to her manager – someone who had authority and cared about customer service.  But, instead, I lost my cool because she was basically calling me a liar.  I raised my voice and said told her this was ridiculous, the product was defective, and stormed out.   What did it matter that I got it at another location – there are a GAZILLION locations for a reason.

I know, I know.  It was only 8 bucks.  It wasn’t very mature of me.  I just wasn’t expecting this kind of service from Shoppers Drugmart, and I don’t appreciate being treated like a liar, when I was the victim. 

Well, now I know better.  In the future, I will try not to lose my cool, and not take comments personally.

Readers, have you ever had a similar customer service experience?  Do you have any suggestions for how I can better deal with situations like these in the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Update:

I was still very dissatisfied with the customer service I received, so I decided to go back to the Shoppers Drugmart and talk to the store manager.   I calmly explained what happened, and said that I was taken aback from the refusal to process my refund request, when it was a defective item, which I clearly explained to the cashier.  I also admitted that I took the comment as a personal attack (that the cashier basically told me I was lying), and I left very angry, leaving behind my receipt and defective product. 

The item itself was not very expensive, but I felt that it was the principle of the matter, and wanted to bring it to her attention.  I also brought with me printed reviews I found online with other people who also had the same problem as me and provided her with a copy of these reviews.  I explained to the manager, I understood the cashier was trying to do her job, but it was a frustrating experience.  The store manager apologized, and refunded me my money, even without a receipt, and said that her staff should have asked for another assessment before making such a judgement call. 

So, even though I felt I was “wronged”, I am glad that I went back to talk to the store manager.  I have always received great customer service from Shoppers Drugmart, and now I feel better when I go back to the store.  On another note, it would be hard to boycott Shoppers as they are just so convenient and have some great sales! 🙂

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Filed under Review

Stuff I Bought (July & August 2012)

So, I’ve been spending bleeding money for the past two months and I have a lot to show for it.  This post was inspired by Mochi & Macaron’s monthly post of what she buys 🙂 [check out what she bought in August!].

I previously mentioned that I started a new job in June, and my new work place’s dress code is more business casual than the jeans I wore on a daily basis.  For the first month, I was alternating between 2 pencil skirts, and 1 pair of dress pants*.  I had a pair of white linen cropped pants which I wore on “casual” Fridays, but I felt it was too “casual” to wear between Monday – Thursday.  I needed an updated and more sophisticated wardrobe.

Anyway, there were just so many great deals in July and August for things that were on my “list” that I just went a little bonkers and bought  A LOT.  Keep reading below for an inventory! 🙂

Fashion/Clothes

Clarks Flats – $70 (on sale)

I’ve been searching for the perfect pair of basic, comfortable, black flats, since, well, FOREVER.  I love Clark’s shoes, even though a lot of their styles are a little “cloggish” to me, they also carry sleeker styles, which are really comfortable and quite affordable for amount of wear.  I would have preferred the flats without the bow, but these were just so comfortable, that I couldn’t walk away (no pun intended).

Clarks Brown Sandal – $70 (on sale)

I had a pair of beloved brown wedges from Clarks which I sadly left behind in a hotel last summer.  I called the hotel several times to ask them to send it back to me, but I never did receive it :(.  I don’t have many pairs of sandals (summers are short in Canada), but I prefer a brown strapped sandal over a black strapped sandal.  I stand at a towering 5’3″, and I find the brown sandal helps to lengthen my legs, as opposed to a black sandal which truncates my leg.

Payless Black Pumps – $25

The last time I bought a pair of shoes from Payless was in university, and I remember them not being very comfortable or of good quality, so I’ve stayed away.  Then, I was in Payless with my mom looking for a pair of running shoes (she wanted a specific pair my sister got there), and noticed their “Comfort Plus Basic” line.  These shoes were the exact classic, almond toed, 2.5″ basic black pump that I have been searching for!  I’ve been wearing them all week at work, and can attest that they are indeed a great work shoe at an awesome bargain!

Ann Taylor Patent Leather Skinny Belts $46USD (on sale)

I love leather skinny belts!  I experimented with a cheap H&M neon skinny belt, and I’ve been wearing it so much that it’s all frayed now.  So, when I saw an Ann Taylor patent neon yellow skinny on sale, I couldn’t resist!  Then, I saw the patent black leather on sale, and I couldn’t resist that either…

J Crew Minnie Wool Pants – $118 USD

I’ve been hearing so many rave reviews about the Minnies [thanks, Mochi!] that I had to try them out on my recent trip to the USA.  I walk about 2.5km to and from work every day, and I do it in flats, so I really wanted some nice tapered work pants, that wouldn’t drag on the ground in flats.  There were almost the perfect pair of work pants – they fit me very well, had belt loops (seriously, why make pants without belt loops?), and had a bit of stretch.  My only qualm is that I wish the wool was lined!!

Leopard Print Infinity Scarf $20

I’ve been searching for the perfect leopard print scarf, and I even bought one in Hong Kong, only to be unsatisfied.  So this one is really perfect.  The material is soft, and the print is perfect.

Gap Coral Jeans $30 (on sale)

I am completed in love with Duchess Kate’s wardrobe and I loved her coral jeans.  I had a pair of cobalt blue Gap jean leggings from February (but then I botched them in the washing machine – doh!), so when I came across these coral ones, I knew it was fate :).  These jeans are super comfy and bring some much needed colour in my boring vanilla wardrobe.

Talulu Navy Shorts $35 (on sale)

I don’t usually shop at Aritzia [how teenagers afford it is beyond me], but these shorts caught my eye and my co-worker talked me into it.  I’m glad I got them because these shorts are so comfy and chic.  I’ve worn them almost everyday since I got them!

Ralph Lauren Aviators $120 (on sale)

I’ve been craving a pair of aviators since last summer.  I love the lassez-faire, yet glamorous look to them, and I love that most of them come with polarized lens.  These pair of Ralphs are made for women, so they aren’t as overwhelmingly large as some unisex aviators were on my smaller framed face.

Beauty

Urban Decay Naked Palette – $60

I’ve been eyeing the Naked palette since it first came out, and haven’t been able to bite the bullet.  In fact, I bought several other palettes which were “dupes” (i.e., Sephora moonbaked, QUO smokey eye palettes, NYC, etc) for the Naked, but not quite.  So, I used a $25 gift card and scooped up the original Naked palette.  And as I paid for it, the SA mentioned that she’s seen me in the Shoppers Drugmart before petting looking at the palette…

Cover FX Concealer – $24

I have been having such a hard time with breakouts this summer.  I’ve heard great things about Cover FX, and I wanted to try their concealer.  I love it!  It’s got great coverage and I only use a tiny dot for my blemishes and under eyes.

Cover FX Blotting Powder – $22

I’ve been using the MAC blotting powder religiously for the past 4 years, but lately, I’ve been finding the powder falls apart as soon as I hit pan, and I wasted so much make-up that way.  *sigh*  I gave Cover FX a try, as I have been quite satisfied with their products and their price points are comparable to MAC.   So far, I really like this powder – I use it with the concealer and it’s awesome.

Home

IKEA Statement Full Length Mirror – $80

I haven’t had a (non-warped) full-length mirror, and I think that I will need one in order to work on my style.  I also think that large statement mirrors not only add a perception of more space in a room, but also just looks so elegant.

Used Wooden Dresser – $25

I haven’t owned a real dresser, ever.  I really needed a dresser  (my closet is pretty small), and I wanted to put my “vanity area” on the top surface of my dresser.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I decided to use a used dresser as my project – I will need to sand down the dresser and paint it.  The dresser above is a similar dresser – I couldn’t find my camera to snap a pic.

Used Antique Mirror – $25

I saw a beautiful antique mirror as I was browsing for my dresser on Kijiji, so I picked it up, as well.  The mirror I got is a similar shape, but has been painted a mint green, so I will have a little project to strip the paint, sand it down, and repaint.

IKEA Step Stools (2) – $30

I saw these little guys and thought one would make a great little night stand – I asked BF to cut a piece of wood to fit in the bottom for a shelf.  The second step stool, I was use as a purse holder, since I tend to just drop by bag on the floor when I get home.

Shark Clothes Steamer – $65 (on sale)

I hate ironing.  And it was on sale for half price.  Fate, I tell you.

Shark Steam Mop – $50 (my half – on sale)

My new apartment has all hardwood floors, and as beautiful as it looks, it was tough to keep clean.  Not to mention  both my sister and I hate mopping.  This little guy is AMAZING, and it was also half off.  Done.

Miscellaneous hooks, filing, storage –  $100 (guestimate)

I bought a bunch of stuff to help organize my closet, including an extra rail to increase closet space, some velour hangers, purse holders and some hooks.

Gifts

Ray Ban Aviators $190 (on sale)Not only was a very generous to myself this month, I was also generous to others :). BF was going to do his MBA, and I’ve wanted to get him a pair of nice polarized sunglasses for the longest time [we’ve been quasi sharing my old banged up polarized pair for the past few years].  He wore them as soon as we got outdoors, and kept exclaiming how everything was so clear!  Adorable 🙂

GPS – $180 ($60 is my portion – on sale)

It was my dad’s birthday in August, and my sisters and I pitched in to get him a GPS.  Even though, my dad kept saying he didn’t need one, and listed out a gazillion reasons why he didn’t need one, he secretly wanted one.  So, we got him one that also speaks Cantonese (quite common), and he can use all over North America.  He loved it.

In conclusion

Total spent on “just stuff”, as Gail would say: $1,264 + taxes = $1,401.

Whew!  Even though this is a lot of money, it’s not so bad now that I have it written out.

Please note:  I assumed $1USD = $1CND, as the Canadian Dollar is basically at parity.  Items which I didn’t add a 13% tax are USD items and my used items.

Sooo… what did you buy in August and July?  I’d love to hear about your purchases 🙂

Cheers,

17 Comments

Filed under Budget, Fashion, PF Confession