There are many things I focus on when I decide to buy something. I think about the fabric, leather, manufacturer, the color, how it will fit in with the rest of my collection, the price, likelihood I’ll wear or use the item… Really, it can take me a really long time to make a purchase*. Yet, when traveling all of these considerations are easy to ignore due to being rushed, being excited, or simply choosing not to think too much. Over the years I’ve learned that I tend to regret it when I totally throw caution to the wind and purchase items without much thought, and my bank account wasn’t pleased either. I was pretty determined to avoid these shopping mistakes, and here’s how things worked out.
I Planned By Making a Spreadsheet, Naturally
I will be the first one to admit that I make too many spreadsheets, but I swear, there’s just something magical about an application that can be so soul crushingly dull being put to use for something more exciting. Such as making a plan of what to buy while traveling in Italy. I knew I wanted stick to things that were cheaper in Europe, missing from my collection and my yearly shopping plan, and important to try on in person. This led me to focus on shoes and accessories. I decided to buy the following:
- Two pairs of heels or dressy wedges: one pair for work and one pair for dressing up.
- One pair of causal sandals that look more stylish than Birkenstocks.
- One Hermes 90 cm silk scarf, since I have five and I’d like to have enough to rotate between while wearing them daily.
- A belt, preferably one that has two colors. I was hoping to find one at Hermes.
- A new Hapi bracelet. I use the one I have pretty much daily.
- A cashmere shawl from Chianti Cashmere. I love Hermes shawls, but I’m not ready to make that commitment yet. I love that they are handwoven and hand knitted.
I Stuck To My List. Almost Completely
1. Ferragamo Heels
When I took stock of what I owned and what I planned to buy, it occurred to me I never seemed to think about shoes, or heels for that matter. This changed when I recently attended a formal event and realized a nice pair of heels would help my more causal outfits be a little less casual (and help me feel a little less frumpy).
While waiting for my flight in Rome, I decided to go visit Ferragamo and met the most persistent saleswomen I’ve ever encountered in my life. Having assured me that my shoe size was extremely difficult to find, she helped me try on about 10 pairs before finally settling on a pair of Carla pumps and peep-toe heels (similar). The Carla pumps are perfect for work and more formal occasions, while the peep-toe heels seem more dressy.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I dreamt of finding the ever elusive Chanel slingback heels, but opted for the above heels instead. I felt that my odds of buying these beauties were low due to my shoe size (35!) and availability of said shoe. Funny enough, I was right. About a week after I bought my heels, I saw a beautiful black pair of slingback at Chanel in Florence, but of course they didn’t actually have any shoes my size. Any. This will end up being a recurring theme.
2. Hermes Round Up: Belt, Scarf, Bracelet, Sandals
Oh Hermes. If there’s a place I try to never be spontaneous at, it’s at a Hermes store. I love everything a little too much, but I am nowhere near affluent enough to just go at it. This is where sticking to my plan was crucial, and since Hermes only had sandals in my shoe size I totally managed to stick to my plan. And also managed to color coordinate my purchases without being aware that I was doing it.
Scarf: Under the Waves
I’ve been totally in love with this design ever since I saw in mentioned in the Purse Forums. Honestly, I really wanted to find the mousseline version of it, but alas that was not to be. I tried on all the colors they had of this particular design (and of many more thanks to incredibly patient and helpful SAs at the Rome airport store), and finally chose this one. I like the neutral colors, and it’s the only item I own that has any pink in it.
I was so happy to have found the belt buckle I was looking for, and even more happy to find a belt strap with the gold color and white stitching. While I initially wanted a brown/black belt combo, I was actually quite happy with the Peacock Blue side and how it plays well with all the items in my wardrobe. Having one belt that’s reversible means I can stay minimalist, and the kit means I can look for other straps should I need something in the future. The lovely SAs at the Rome airport store, and the Florence store punched several holes in this belt for me, allowing me to wear it with my dresses as well as my super high-waisted jeans.
Bracelet: Hapi 3 – Malachite
I’ve worn the Hapi 3 I bought last year so much that it actually shows quite a bit of wear, but I decided to buy another one since this is the only type of bracelet I’ve ever been able to wear, as my wrist is so incredibly small. Luckily, the Hapi 3 bracelet comes in XS and Hermes will punch extra holes in it, if you ask nicely.
Sandals: Oran Box Leather Sandals – Gold
Casual, but way better than Birkenstocks visually speaking. I decided to wear them during a full day of walking around Florence and had the immediate wounds to prove it, but otherwise I find them to be comfortable for my lifestyle. I’ve been pretty much wearing them nonstop, and they are work appropriate for me.
By the way, the top of the sandals does tend to expand a bit with wear, so I recommend choosing a pair that feels snug when first trying it on. Mine have expanded, but not to the point of them flying off my feet or being unwearable, thankfully.
I was also quite interested in purchasing the Neo boots, but alas, Hermes literally didn’t have one pair of boots (any boots!) in my size. As expected, the Hermes store at the airport also didn’t have my shoe size. Plan accordingly, ladies with shoe size 35-35.5.
3. Cashmere Shawl – Chianti Cashmere
Ever since I read about the Chianti Cashmere farm at the amazing A Girl in Florence blog, I became determined to purchase a cashmere shawl there. After much driving around we found the farm and I purchased the last big shawl they had. It’s made of 70% cashmere and 30% silk, and is incredibly soft and large. I’ve loved wearing it, and see myself ordering another shawl one day and a blanket too. I also picked up some goat’s milk soap, while I was at it. If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping there since their collection is so beautiful and the shop owner is incredibly friendly. If you are not in the area, their online store does have some of their lovely cashmere creation.
A Note About Being Spontaneous
Very rarely have I been told that I am spontaneous. My propensity to plan ahead has been well documented. My ability to stick to my shopping list even surprised me. Having said that, at the end of the trip I felt that something went amiss in my grand shopping adventure. It was hard to describe, and even harder to admit. Sticking to the plan meant I didn’t buy anything just because I was drawn to it or because it simply brought me joy.
True, I did veer slightly off my plan and buy a Burberry trench on sale. Having donated all my jackets meant I had none, so when I saw a black trench I knew it would fill a gap in my collection. But this isn’t the kind of purchase I am talking about. I’m not suggesting one should be irresponsible or spend money needlessly, but I am suggesting not only sticking to wardrobe gaps when making your shopping plans.
That doesn’t mean I am disappointed in what I bought, or that I am not grateful that I could find and afford these beauties. It just mean that at the end of the day I feel like there’s something to be said about veering off course and buying somethings that thrills you.