Hacks to Save Money When Travelling in Europe

  1. Find a Geographical Focus

It is easy, if not natural, to get wrapped up in the excitement of endless possibilities when planning your voyage throughout Europe. When considering what historic streets and enchanted cities you want to roam, many look solely at the well-loved destinations such as Paris, London (although no longer in the European Union), Milan, Rome. Whilst some do jet-set from corner to corner of Europe to experience major cities, it is imperative to be methodical and geographically focused when planning your route.

My best friend and I ran into this issue whilst booking our voyage.

We had both visited different countries respectively and neither of us were willing to overlook unseen cities for those that were familiar. In out attempts of working around said issue, it became apparent that we would have to invest thousands upon thousands for a few weeks of travel to jet-set throughout Europe.

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DUBROVNIK>KORCULA>PRAGUE>AUSTRALIA

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In retrospect, our excitement and naivety led us to making inefficient decisions that lost us valuable time and wads of cash. What is painfully apparent is that you cannot see all of Europe at once, and to be frank, you probably shouldn’t either. If you are lucky enough to do so, travel at multiple stages throughout your life, when you have different passions, interests and desires.

If you, like us, have no idea where to start and how to determine what the natural route of travel is, I recommend referring to established bus and train routes to grasp the most efficient way of seeing as many cities as you can.

2. Stay Central and Travel by Foot

An ethos I have worked by throughout all my trips domestic and abroad. Whilst residing in
central city locations can be on the pricier side, savings from not using public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services should be accounted for in the price of your central location.

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3.  Continental Breakfasts 

The gift that keeps on giving.

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I am yet to stay at a hotel or hostel in Europe that does not provide a continental breakfast,complimentary or not. A sneaky penny saving tactic that I have used in the past is packing lunch on the go at the breakfast bar.

A simple ziplock bag can house a sumptuous rustic sandwich made with fresh and healthy product, too often overlooked whilst travelling.

In doing so, I am unashamed to have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars with packed lunches.

4.  Travel with Countries not on the Euro

Exchange rates can be a make or break when travelling on a tight budget. Eastern European nation such as Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania that have a favourable exchange rate in comparison to the AUD/US Dollar/Pound will not drain your pockets and accounts.

Note: Strong economies that do not adhere to the Euro currency, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK can be onerous on the back pocket. 

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5. Pack a Flask

No, not that type of flask.

I mean, each to their own but that’s not what I’m referring to.

A trick I recently learnt on my cruise is to take a lightweight flask that can maintain theh999bu078_t2-stainless-steel-flask-lilac_r1
warmth of tea or coffee for the duration of the day. Whilst some may see this as a ludicrous proposition, for someone like me who drinks 5+ cups of
tea daily, I can save on average $700AUD within the month of travel.

6. Beauty Maintenance 

Calling it out for what it is, beauty maintenance services in travel hubs is the equivalent of a daylight robbery.

Forget the gypsies and pick-picketers, the lay-traveller should fear the beautician and how much he/she will charge you.

Every time I return to Europe, I learn the hard way (over and over again) that shellac is not anywhere near as popular and affordable as it is in Australia.

Whilst I am consistent with my fortnightly shellac maintenance, affording that same maintenance overseas makes me feel like I’ve sold my soul for a fresh pair of non-cuticle, coloured claws. For the sake of your monobrow, nails, spirit and account – tick a pair of tweezers, a bottle of nail polish and hair treatments off your ‘to pack‘ list.

7. Be an Aware Passenger (Taxis)

Before departing for Budapest, I was advised by fellow travellers that the taxi-drivers in Eastern Europe are notoriously known for ripping tourists off. I, ever the optimist, paid little attention to the advice offered to me, being:

A. Familiarise yourself with the rate of the side of the taxi.
B. Ask the driver whether they can estimate how much the fare will come to, and/or whether they are willing to establish a set price before the meter begins.
C. If all else fails, bargain with different drivers until you are offered a reasonable price.

Even with this advice, we were ripped off and charged a ridiculous amount for a 10 minute adventure. Ironically, the driver who was perfectly competent in the english language and conversed with us throughout the whole journey, claimed there was a language barrier when we questioned the final fare cost charged.

8. Hop-on-Hop-off Buses

2016 was the year of the hop-on-hop-off adventures. The amount I crammed into a limited amount of time stands testament to how fantastic these services truly are.

The beauty of the hop-on-hop-off service is that it is tailored to facilitate the ‘go-to’ placed for tourists whilst still allowing the option to sight-see solo.

When I sit and calculate how much time, effort and money would be funnelled into catching public transport and hiring a tour guide, it is evident that these services are both efficient and economical.

9. Travel Insurance

Need I say more?

You are potentially saving yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars if one of your adventures turns pear-shaped.

In the meantime, happy travelling!

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Styling Menswear

Throughout my years of retail experience, I have met men from various walks of life who have different levels of competence when ‘outfitting’. As a result, I felt it necessary to share some helpful hints and tips I have aquired from my 2.5 years working in men’s fashion.

1. Trans-seasonal Layering

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Tran-seasonal periods are when both men and women have the opportunity to exhibit their personal approach to fashion.

Unlike the warmer months, it is hard to dress with style in mind when your primary concern is not melting in the heat. Personally, I believe that during the colder months one can layer high street pieces into a decadent (yet stylish and affordable) outfit that both looks and feels incredible.

The best tip that I could ever offer is to invest in staple pieces.

Whilst fast fashion can be riveting and playful – certain items of clothing should not be compromised for trends. A classic investment piece of clothing can be worn hundreds of times without looking worn and tattered. Whether it be a wool jacket, suede desert boots, a comfortable pair of boat shoes, high quality yarn knit-wear or a cashmere scarf – pay attention to the fine details of your clothing investments, as these are the pieces your outfits will revolve around.

Now I know what you’re thinking – I bet that you’re scrolling through your phone or sitting behind your computer screen rolling your eyes thinking… “yeah okay, and how much do you expect me to invest?“. Well, the truth of the matter is that high fashion companies are lifting their game – no longer do luxury materials and well fitted pieces have to be purchased from the luxury market. Newsflash, in this competative market, quality garments and expensive price tags are no longer mutually exclusive. Everyday accessible brands such as Connor, Tarocash, YD, Industrie, Saba and Country Road can offer fantastic alternatives to designer clothing, with a similar finish.

When investing in basics, pay close attention to the fabric content and don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate of the best ways to clean the garment, or how it will wear over time.

Alternatively, if you own a classic coat that needs updating, take that coat to an alterations shop and taper the shoulders and waist to flatter your figure. The smallest details can be the difference between items looking mass-manufactured and made for you.

2. Everyday-wear

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Working in men’s fashion you quickly learn that every sales assistant gravitates towards different styles, so much so, that as colleagues we direct customers to one another if we feel our personal style aligns with a customers. If you are after trend-driven casual streetstyle that revolves around fresh sneakers, I could blindly assist you with sizing and not much else. On the other hand, if you are after a collared shirt, fitted chinos and boat shoes – I’m your girl.

For everyday outfitting, I suggest that you consider what appeals to you most and working from there. Determine whether you appreciate sportier styles, trend-driven streetwear styles, or anything in between. Once you know the look you are trying to achieve, it is easier to shop for individual items.

The ‘preppy’ look always spoke to me – the timeless blend of comfortable everyday clothing with a touch of formal flair. This appreciation inspired me to style the model (pictured above) in a quintisential preppy look appropriate for university, casual fridays in the office, or weekendwear.

3. Work-wear

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Dressing for work isn’t too complicated. If you stick to a few golden rules, there’s not much that can go wrong.

Firstly, always match your belt and shoes (and workbag if you so wish). Far too many times men have come into the mens-wear store I work at with the intention of purchasing a semi-matching belt for their work outfit.

I’m sorry, but no.

There are some things in this world that are fundamentally wrong…this is one of them.

The purpose of wearing a belt other than for functional reasons, is to tie the details of an outfit together to achieve a polished look. If your belt and shoes do not match, the proportions of the outfit are scewed and you are better off untucking your shirt and sporting the shoes on their own.

I note that whilst in this image the workbag is black and the other accessories are a deep chocolate brown, the subtle hardware of the bag paired with the brown patch detailing on the strap ties the outfit together.

Further, do not fear the ‘dress chino’. Whilst a lot of mens fashion brands are yet to jump on the bandwagon, I am a great believer in the versatility, practicality and beauty of the dress chino. This is a pant that can be worn for work and paired with a different top, can be transformed into an everyday pant for casual day-to-day life. If purchased in a subtle color such as black, navy, ink, camel or sand, the dress chino can be the perfect addition to a capsule wardrobe (whilst still looking professional and polished).

Whatever your style, experience or confidence with men’s clothing, we all have to start from somewhere. Thanks to my delving into clothing styles, I have progressed from the completely inexperienced 19 year old to a reasonably well-versed near 22 year old – I have no doubt that you can do the same!

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February Favourites

Fashion

1.  Dior Tribal Earrings

The En Dior Tribale earrings have quickly established themselves as a staple piece of every bloggers wardrobe. For that specific reason, I vowed to never show interest in the seemingly over-hyped pair of earrings. Whilst I am a huge pearl enthusiast, I like many was unwilling to look past unbranded accessories that exhibited great craftsmanship and individuality, for mass-produced pieces that are not even freshwater pearls.

My stoic attitude was however challenged by one of my favourite bloggers Lydia Elise Millen, as she unboxed a stunning sterling silver pair of Tribal Earrings from Paris, with an unrivalled intricate design. From there on, I could not get the less common tribal earrings designs out of my mind, helplessly watching the items sell for ludicrous prices on the consignment market. For that reason I decided to invest when I had the opportunity and jump on the tribal bandwagon…and I have not looked back since!

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2. Gucci GG Blooms Continental Wallet
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As exhibited in my previous posts, the GG Blooms print truly is the apple of my eye. With that in mind, let’s not act surprised that I am insanely in love with my GG Blooms Continental ‘Zip Around’ Wallet.

Even though fashions are moving away from continental wallets towards sleeker card cases, I proudly rock my floral beauty like a nana with her decades old fur jacket – wearing it without a care.

If you are on the market for a sturdy canvas wallet that can be utilised as a clutch (and that isn’t sported by every Tom, Dick and Jane) – I would unreservedly recommend this piece.

3. Zoe Wittner – Clide Shoes

Quite literally my ‘go-to‘ shoe.

Work? Clide.

Date night? Clide.

Mountain walk? Clide.

Wedding? Clide.

Funeral? Clide.

Okay, perhaps exaggerated slightly, but nevertheless these shoes scream Aquazzura vibes to me (minus that painful Aquazzura price tag) ! This attention grabbing pair is always the focal part of conversations, and/or outfit. After spending a day in the city shopping with my mother, she came to the opinion that women and other on passers spent more time staring at my shoes than they did anything else. They are the perfect comfort sandal, with a durable suede lining, paired with that certain pazazz you do not often see in high street.

My love runs deep for them, so much so that I returned to purchase the style in all provided colours – not even sorry!

Beauty

1.  Guerlain ‘Rouge G de Guerlain’ Lipsticks

Guerlain is a brand I always wanted to try, but somehow never got around to (like most things in my life). Hearing esteemed lifestyle bloggers rave about the velvety and luxurious pigment of the lipsticks made me instantly lust for one of my own. As if that wasn’t enough, the heritage of the company had me swooning unimaginably, with the House of Guerlain was founded in 1828, when Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain opened his perfume store at 42 in Paris.

I finally took the leap into Guerlain, and have not looked back since.

The two colors I can not get enough of are the Orgueil M69 and Luxure M27 (pictured below). As someone who rarely stray from my holy grail nude shades, and in the rare occurrence that I do it is to sport another nude, these shades are a well needed sophisticated nighttime shade.

2. Omorovicza Skincare

I first encountered Omorovicza products in Mecca Cosmetica and to be blatantly honest, the moment I heard of the process behind the product, the efforts chemists went to and the active ingredients, I was listening.

The moment they told me the story of Margaret and Stephen, the founders of the product, they had my attention.

Fast forward to the early days of this century Margaret and Stephen met in Budapest. Stephen took his future wife on a tour of Hungary and their first stop? The thermal baths. Here, they were amazed at the transformation of their skin and so enlisted the help of a Nobel prize-winning laboratory to harness these healing waters into a pioneering new luxury skincare range, using Hydro Mineral Transference.

Origins of Omorovicza

The moment they told me the product originated from Budapest – I was sold.

Irrespective of the product packaging, indifferent to the scent and/or the popularity, Omorovicza is by far the best skincare I have ever used (finally, something knocking Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Review off it’s pedestal).

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3. MECCA COSMETICA (store)

Okay, so, newsflash to everyone else out there who like me, didn’t know that Mecca
a does not purely specialise in makeup (Mecca Maxima), but also in skincare!

Further to that, I can hand on heart attest to the fact that I have never been so impressed with the sales assistants as I was in Mecca Cosmetica. After wandering aimlessly into The Galleries store, I was so thankful to have met a brilliant sales person named Alma who spent in excess of an hour with me, discussing the heritage, stories and skincare products within the store. What struck me was how much knowledge these women possessed and the inconceivable passion they had for exceptional product and helping
clients with their skin needs.

I will be hard pressed to shop anywhere else for my skincare needs from now on. Through old fashioned customer service, I will happily blow the trumpet and be an ambassador for Mecca Cosmetica. If you too feel like you are wasting hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on ineffective creams – head into your nearest Mecca Cosmetica and merely ask for help.

4. Carolina Herrera, Good Girl

My first encounter with this scent was in the duty-free shopping of the Pacific Jewel.
From that first whiff, I could not get the flirtatious fragrance out of my head, so much so that I woke up the next day knowing that I could not resist brining the stiletto shaped bottle home. Carolina Herrera’s new fragrance is a delicate balance between sweet floral scents and deep sexy undertones.

5. Priceline Hair Care ‘Goody Bag’

This month Priceline offered customers a ‘Goody Bag‘ with product amounting to $260 when customers spent $50 on hair care products.  This bag consisted of various full-sized products which to my surprise were of impeccable quality and value.

Miscellaneous

1. 7/11 Iced Coffee

At the risk of sounding like a ‘BB’, iced coffee is the man-kinds greatest creation since sliced bread.

Why not enjoy a guilt free iced coffee that will only set you back $2, in comparison to cafes that will end up being a robbery by daylight?

2. ECOYA White Peach & Orange Blossom Reed Diffuser

As an appreciator of all scents peach, it seems fitting that my room constantly smell of sweet citrus!

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3. Spotify – Sleep Playlist

I am still unaware of what the third track on the playlist is… I am always in a peaceful slumber by that stage.

4. T2 Tea Flask

I was lucky enough to be gifted the much anticipated tea flask for Valentine’s Day. H999BU078_t2-stainless-steel-flask-lilac_r1.jpgWhilst I was advised that the tea will stay hot for 6-8 hours, a claim that I was sceptical about, I found that tea could stay hot for much longer. I can confirm that these claims are not mere puff and they are completely and unreservedly worth the money.

My flask was my number one item used on my recent cruise, addressed in Travel Tips & Tricks: Cruises. A stunning gift and addition for anyone who loves there tea anywhere near as much as I do.

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Luxury Addict Tag

As a lover of luxury goods, evident within my previous luxury goods post, I thought it about time to publish my ‘Luxury Addict Tag’ post.

1. What was your first designer piece?

My buy-in luxury brands was the Australian label, Oroton.

From the ages of sixteen until eighteen (16-18), I accumulated a vast array of both bags and small leather goods (SLG’s) from the company. Luckily, Oroton have not deviated from their style roots, meaning my bags are still trendy and easily recognisable.

My first ‘international designer’ purchase was the Gucci GG Blooms Pouch (as pictured in Work Christmas Party Outfit).

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2. What do you consider your best investment?

In accordance with the cost-per-wear formula (described in Buying into IMG_3477.JPGLuxury?), my Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 in Damier Ebene has paid off exponentially. I use the traditional luggage piece as an everyday bag, a travel bag, an overnight bag and anything in between.

Whilst the Speedy is a common bag that near every Tom, Dick and Jane of the luxury community have, I appreciate the durability, the agreeable price point (in comparison to other bags) and how versatile the design is.

However, if I were to apply a traditional ‘investment’ approach, whereby I consider whether I can resell my bag after it has appreciated in value, my Louis Vuitton Capucines MM in Noir was a fantastic purchase. Whilst I somewhat regret not choosing the Capucines in the BB size, I appreciate this bag is considered to be the new ‘it’ icon bag for the company.

The signature bag may look simple, but it’s anything but. The bag is a marriage of two leathers: rounded, strong bull-calf leather alongside supple, silky calfskin. The combination adds a level of discreet elegance that is hard to ignore.

Consumers have turned away from monograms as a whole, from luxury designers and contemporary brands like Coach alike, and clearly Louis Vuitton listens to its shoppesr. Sure, some may still want to buy the classic monogram bags, but many prefer the timeless elegance that remains part of the brand’s heritage.

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Considering Louis Vuitton is arguably attempting to incorporate higher price point bags that compete with designers such as Chanel, I would not be surprised in Louis Vuitton introduces price rises at corresponding times.

3. What is your criteria when looking to buy a piece?

Questions that I pose to myself when looking at a possible addition to my wardrobe, are as follows:

  1. Determine whether this item is a trend driven piece (if so, does the trend correspond with my long-term personal style?)
  2. How versatile is this piece and can it be worn with your current wardrobe?
  3. What are the main materials of the potential purchase? Personally if I am paying more than $500 for an item, it generally will have to be leather (with the obvious exception of the Speedy 35).
  4. How are the finishes of the item – is their attention to detail? is the stitching neat? is there fraying? how will the item wear over time?
  5. What or who inspired you to consider the item? If it is an individual who you idealise, are you merely interested because you appreciate their personal style?
  6. What will the cost-per-wear be?
  7. Does the item fit into your lifestyle? For example, my lifestyle does not allow for micro or small bags. As a result, it would be a waste to purchase smaller bags.
  8. Are you genuinely passionate about this item?
  9. Question whether you are merely interested in the item because of the brand? If you removed the logo, would you appreciate the raw design?

4. What has been your stupidest/most regrettable purchase?

$200 aud (two-hundred dollars)  for a gold-plated glass ring. Yes, I was foolish img-thingenough to spend that type of money for the Yves Saint Laurent Arty Ring.

In my defence, I purchased the ring as I knew demand for the discontinued ring would rise, so why not purchase the ring second-hand, from a reputable seller who was offering a receipt.

I distinctly recall being underwhelmed when I opened the postage box. Thankfully, I did not struggle to re-sell the ring, although I broke-even on the purchase.

My second most regrettable purchase was the Louis Vuitton Trunks Bandeau in Rose Poudre.

Whilst Bandeaus/Twillies are glorified in the luxury lovers community, I regret purchasing mine for the simple fact that I struggle to justify $220 aud (two-hundred and twenty dollars) on a strip of fabric.

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5. If you have sold any of your luxury goods, have you ever had sellers regret?

Yes. I hope to God that my mother never stumbles across this tag and reads this response, otherwise I will be instructed to move out.

I frequently list my luxury goods online to recycle my funds to newer and more desirable products. However, there was a huge error of judgement when I both listed and sold a Louis Vuitton backpack that my mother passed down to me. After purchasing the classic monogram bag from a second-hand store in the early 2000’s, my mother never used the bag. During a wardrobe clean-out, my mother gave me the bag to wear. Unbeknown to me, the bag was actually an authentic piece that retails on the luxury second hand market from $800-$2,000 aud. Unfortunately, I sold the piece at a slight fraction of that cost, with the belief that it was a replica piece.

Sorry mum.

I still kick myself about that decision. As a result, I ensure that I engage a certified authenticator before I sell luxury goods that are vintage, or purchased and resold on the second-hand market.
6. What is a piece that you think everyone needs/should have?

I am not a great believer in dictating what material goods people should or shouldn’t have, as luxury goods are just that – an opt-in, opt-out system.

However, I do strongly recommend hot-stamped leather goods, such as those from The Daily Edited (TDE) or Monpurse.

Whilst some may not see these small leather goods (SLG’s) as ‘luxury’, the concept of luxury is highly subjective. I personally conceptualise hot-stamped leather goods as luxury items, as you would not be hard pressed to find similar items, that are of similar quality (without inscriptions) at a significantly lower price. My previous blog post, titled Personalising a Trend: Monogram, further details why monogram leather should be on every luxury lover’s radar.

7. What is a piece that you think is over-hyped?

I echo the sentiments of near all YouTubers and bloggers who have answered this question – anything that is commonly peddled by bloggers and online influencers tend to be over-hyped.

The Gucci Dionysus, Celine Trio and Chloe Faye are some examples of bags I would veer away from.

Further, I would not recommend investing in Louboutin. I struggle to reconcile a designer who openly affirms that these expensive shoes are not to be worn frequently. On the basis of both comfort and your hip-pocket – veer away.

8. What is next on your wish list?

I adore and have been eyeing off the Zimmermann Circular Link bag. What I appreciate most is the quality of the leather, the attention to detail with the finish and the fact that I am yet to see another sporting this bag.

Further, I am seriously considering the Valentino Rockstud Heel. Whilst I
recognise that I am incredibly late to the Valentino party and that to some they are so ‘three seasons ago’, I would love to expand my luxury shoe collection with these beauties.

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Work Christmas Party Outfit

Tis the season ladies and gents.

With every candy cane and Christmas carol comes another right of passage for this time of year –

Christmas work parties!

Having attended my Christmas party in the week past, I encountered the ever so common conundrum of deciding what to wear. In my pursuit of trying to put together the perfect outfit, I came to the conclusion that outfit choice is actually pretty important.

Whilst colleagues are accustomed to one another in  corporate wear , Christmas parties allow you the opportunity to express yourself and your love for fashion.

Having conceptualised the significance of choosing a fun and playful outfit, I too dug through my closet and put together an outfit that I really enjoyed wearing. I would encourage you to dig through your wardrobe and pair items that you are passionate about, yet never had the opportunity to wear.

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Shop my look:

Dress: Romeo and Juliet Couture dress available at Trade Secret and/or online.

Bag: Gucci ‘GG Blooms’

Shoes: Furla (available at Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre)

Bracelet:  Hermes ‘H’ Cuff

 

Other outfit inspiration I put together are also available here:

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Happy experimenting (and merry christmas), xx.

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Christmas Gift Guide: Women who have Everything!

Listen up here Santa, (or my family if you are reading) – it’s time we talk business.

A Christmas Gift Guide for women who have it all, or are super picky.

Year after consecutive year, the same question. Year after consecutive year, responded to with an identical answer.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

“I don’t want anything. I work. Everything I want, I own.”

Whilst some may see this as a polite response from a humble young woman, who does not want to financially impose or force expectations onto others, for me, this is a legitimate conundrum.

I identify as that woman who has everything. That woman whose name you dread picking for Chris Kringle. That woman who has everything and is painfully picky. That woman.

Whether you are the parents, boyfriend, best friend or colleague of that woman, I would be obliged to provide you with a Christmas present guide for 2016. This is equally my Christmas wish list, so Listen up here Santa, (or my boyfriend if you are reading) – it’s time we talk business.

As a disclaimer, you may look at this gift guide and question where my sense of reality is. Gifts for $100-$500 – is she crazy?! No, no – not crazy. Every family does Christmas differently. Some save up for the whole year to purchase a huge gift, whilst others purchase a small gift as mere symbolism. Irrespective of how you celebrate Christmas, there are options for everyone on any budget.

I acknowledge that others like myself who tend to have expensive taste, might be hard to buy for. I suggest that depending on how close you are to the giftee and how you approach Christmas gifts, you could either purchase or offer to contribute to a larger purchase that the giftee is saving for. Let’s be honest here, there are a lot of twenty-something year old women with a savings account dedicated to their dream designer handbags or shoes. A humble fifty-dollar contribution to said account makes for a beautiful and thoughtful gift.

Likewise, other stunning gifts available in 2016 for women who have it all, include the following…

*drum roll please*

  1. Zimmermann Lace Scallop Waist Belt

Zimmermann is recognised as an elegant and eclectic designer, that does not compromise 2cfff388577a8321e19f41e242cc9d03on quality or finishes. Weighing in at the $120 price point, the Scallop Waist Belt is available in both mink (nude) and black. The stunning leather piece somewhat resembles the previous Zimmermann Filigree range ((pictured to the right)that is still available in the Zimmermann Outlet, Rosebery). Made of supple leather, the on-trend piece is both versatile and timeless.

2. Monogrammed Small Leather Goods (SLG’s)

It is apparent by my previous blog Personalising a Trend: Monogram, that I am the loudest cheerleader for hot stamped leather. There are items for every price bracket and styles that cater to individual taste. I am personally eye-ing out Monpurse’s Crescent Grainy Cosmetic Case in the large size. The beauty of shopping for women (in my experience), is no matter how many cosmetic cases or SLG’s they have, there is always room for more. It doesn’t matter if that woman already has a cosmetics bag, the real question is – does she have a leather one with her initials monogrammed onto it?

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3. The Daily Edited (TDE) Leather Stickers 

I’m going to call it – The Daily Edited co-founders are by far the most ingenious business women! Sydney women (and men) are absolute suckers for TDE’s glamorous and youthful take on monogrammed leather goods. Long behold, the girls have come up with a new product where leather stickers are sold to further personalise your hotstamped item.

‘Customisation just got even more fun with our new range of leather stickers with adhesive backing illustrated by Aaron Favaloro.Stick them to your pouch, phone case, bag, whatever works! You can never have too many of these little bad boys.’

At the affordable price point of $20, the stickers are ever so playful. This gift is perfect as a Chris Kringle gift, or for a colleague that you are close with. It is also highly unlikely that the recipient will have already purchased any of these stickers, let alone know about them, as they were only launched recently.

I have already purchased and fallen in love with the French Bulldog sticker. I can attest to the fact that their adhesive will not damage your SLG or pouch and that you will receive many compliments on the accessory.

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4. Leather Bag

It wouldn’t be right of me without suggesting gifting one of my favourite items ever… Bags!

*shock horror*

A beautiful piece that I have been lusting over is again, one of Zimmermann’s pieces. The Circular Link Bag was sent down from the heavens with my name written all over it. Experiencing this bag in store was a remarkable experience – I have literally never felt such beautifully supple, yet robust leather in my life. The craftmanship reminds me of Moroccan leather bags that my mother used to buy me as a child. I equally appreciate that there is no branding on the bag and the real hero is the design and quality. I note that whilst this woman has it ‘all’, this is most definitely a underhyped piece that you are highly unlikely to see on the streets.

Let’s not ignore that the bag is priced at $550 – however this could be one of the pieces that you contribute towards.

5. Experiences

Stating the obvious when I explain that if someone already owns a lot, paying money for them to experience something is an easy conclusion. I don’t think it matters how many times someone jumps out of a plane or goes to see their favourite band, the experience is different every time.

Why not scower Red Balloon , invest in a New Years Eve event or merely purchase them a gift card for a facial. To some, money spent on memories is more of an investment than money spend on anything else. I would however drop hints to the recipient of the gift before you go ahead with the purchase, as to some this isn’t the case and they would prefer material possessions.

6. Donations to Charity

Tis the season of giving, right?

For my family, Christmas is a time of religious worship and a time to celebrate the family unit. For us, irrespective of how much you spend on another, there always a tradition to spend some money in the recipient’s name, to worthy charity.

I love this tradition as you inadvertently feel like you have contributed to a less privileged individuals festive experiences. Again, this gift idea depends upon the individual whose name it would theoretically be donated in. Obviously this road isn’t for everyone, but I would encourage you to consider – if someone is privileged enough to own so much that they are hard to buy for, is it perhaps a wise thing to provide another with basic necessities instead?

I love charities that provide you with little tokens that stipulate where your money went with a Christmas message. Last year I invested in World Vision, whilst the year before I donated to Catholic Missionary Work. Again, each to their own, yet the option is always open.

Irrespective of what you purchase for that special lady, your family member, your friend or the person you drew in Secret Santa, never forget that thought and effort accounts for a lot more than a monetary fund in this day and age.

 

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Buying into Luxury?

From a ripe age, I recall my mothers mantra (which was often shared with me purely out of frustration) ‘buy one thing – but buy one good thing. Don’t waste money on plenty of cheap items. Invest in your purchases and yourself.’

My mothers stern warnings and my at times extreme work schedule, allowed me the opportunity to dabble in the luxury market and develop my own sense of style. As an avid shopper and keen bargain-hunter, I have developed my own criteria and rules when investing in my wardrobe. This criteria caters to my desires to own certain  pieces and the ever-present reality that Sydney house prices will probably be the direct cause of me moving out when I’m merely forty-five.

Like Madonna said “’cause we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl“, I don’t shy away from the fact that I want nice things. In fact, if you claim otherwise, it’s about time to cut that **** and own up to reality.

Like any other young woman from my generation, I trust the experience and reccomendations of You Tubers, bloggers and others who are in the influencing community. Considering this, I frequently find myself gravitating towards #Luxury Addict Tag videos on You Tube. What has become incredibly obvious to me is that there is always a counter-community who judge and criticize You Tubers and bloggers alike for how they invest their money. As a result, influencers frequently feel the need to make disclaimers about how they spend their money and what they choose to do with their material items. Comments range from ‘what do you do to get your money? what a waste! Does your family fund your habits?’. The truth is – it’s no one’s business. So long as lifestyles isn’t funded by the proceeds of crime and no-one is getting hurt, who are you, or I, to tell another adult what to do with their money?!

This article is written for the benefit of those debating whether or not to invest in a piece, and equally to those who don’t understand why people choose to spend more money on fashion items (not that any of us should have to justify what we do with our money).

 

1.Luxury goods and inflated price-tags aren’t mutually exclusive

Something you come to realise as you get older, is that ‘luxury’ is a subjective term. Luxury doesn’t mean spending a small fortune on a pair of shoes,  a bag or a blazer. To some, yes, that is luxury and to others a garment with 5% linen or cashmere constitutes luxury. Just like anything else in the world, the value is in the eye of the beholder.

Irrespective of how you conceptualise this term, there are shopping villages such as direct factory outlets (DFO‘s), where you can find designer pieces at a fraction of the cost. Further, consignment stores, luxury second hand stores and markets are a great place to scower for that showstopping piece (without devastating your purse).

 

2. Invest in staple pieces

I’ll put it out there, I am a complete and utter sucker for fashion pieces. Anything a blogger hypes up, I’m all over it. No matter how ridiculous or un-versatile the item is, I am indifferent and needed the item yesterday.

My all-time ultimate love goes to the GG Blooms Dionysus Bag. Safe to say I drooled on nmv2m85_bk
myself slightly when I first caught a glimpse of the beauty. Yet, I am no fool and recognise that I might not ever reach for this bag after a few years, as it will likely look outdated. I compare this bag to the Gucci Boston bag (back in Gucci’s heyday), where sporting metalic loveheart patches was ‘the’ trend. In retrospect, my automatic reaction is ‘cheap’. I fear that if I was to splurge too heavily on the GG Blooms collection, I would find myself in the same boat. I do however promote purchasing small leather goods (SLG’s) in bold prints – better to not put $400AUD to good use, rather than $2805AUD.

Invest in staple pieces that you are sure you can get years out of. Whether that be a tapered coat, supple leather booties, a soft warm scarf or a designer bag. Go for staple pieces, pieces that age well and can undergo years of rain, hail, shine and spilt drinks on a friday night.

 

3. Quality, finishes and fabric

As an adult, I recognise that my mothers motto came from a place inspired by the quality of garments. She maticulously inspects the stitching on jumpers, the fabric content in pants and jumpers and sticks to recommended care cards like the Bible.

I continue to admire my mothers dedication to good fabrics, finishes and above all the quality of pieces (although it’s takes forever for her to choose the ‘right one’).

 

4. Cost-per wear is everything

Cost per wear is the magic formula of shopping. Whilst many dismiss the notion as a ploy  sales people use to up-sell, I genuinely believe in it’s merits.

Cost per wear is effectively conceputalising your potential material good as something that can be rented. If the GG Blooms Dionysus Bag retails at $2805AUD and I was to theoretically wear it on 250 occasions within the year, the cost per wear ($2805 ÷ 250 = $11.22) – meaning you are paying $11.22 everytime you wear your bag. The more you wear your item, the lower the cost per wear is, meaning you made a successful purchase.

I correlate this formula with a ‘renting’ scenario (whilst others don’t), as I compare cost 8per wear to the renting dress and luxury goods market. Yes, you can pay a handbag conniseur $300 for the weekend to borrow their Chanel – but at the end of the day you are paying off their purchase.

Whilst I love this business model and would be the last person to criticise it – why pay off another persons item, when you can pay off your own?! Likewise, I would rather pay slightly more and own my own home, rather than someone elses investment (again, I’ll probably live at home until I’m forty-five, so no worries there).

 

5. Elevating an outfit
Never underestimate the power a beautiful luxury piece. Pair it with a pair of $30 jeans from Dotti and a plain white top and you’ll still look incredible.

It will probably come to you as no suprise that my ‘thing’ is bags – in my eyes a good bag takes any plain old outfit to the next level. You can save your money for the bag or shoes, or whatever you invested in, on the rest of the outfit. Polyvore: Outfit Ideas & Inspiration sets it out perfectly!

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6. Making money on investment pieces

The amount of time I have been laughed at when informing others of the value of a Chanel is ridiculous. Read it and weap my friends, Chanel handbags have skyrocketed in value, far past the stockmarket.

Images attributable to: BagHunter

7. Everyone has ‘their thing’!

At the end of the day, we are all adults here. We all make sacrifices and work for our material goods. So what that you think someone is wasting their money? So nothing.

Many young people splurge every weekend buying bottles upon bottles at clubs. Others love doing up old cars. Some love eating the most sought after delicacies in Michelin Starred Restaurants.

Some like clothes, fashion and bags ( and only God and my bank account, knows that I’m one of them).

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