Tag Archives: shopping

Ultimate crave: free ASOS shopping for a year

30 Jan

The savvy marketing bods over at ASOS headquarters have come up with a series of very dangerous competitions for weak-willed shopaholics such as myself. Launched just under a week ago, Crave it? Save it. Win it. has been tempting online shoppers in their thousands to log on to asos.com and spend hours filling up their virtual shopping carts with dream purchases, in the hope they might be one of the lucky ones picked to win their wishlist.

Fill your online shopping cart

(Image credit: Maximum PC, via Wikimedia Commons)

Of course the chances of winning are minute, but the prizes just suck you right in:

  • Starting small, the first round offered one winner a basket of goods up to the value of £300.
  • For round two, ASOS upped the stakes to £500 for five victors (although, it was on the proviso that 25,000 people entered – which then happened, of course).
  • And now, they are on to the grand finale, which will see one lucky so-and-so secure a jackpot of £1000 of goods, plus an outfit each month (for 12 months) up to the value of £200 for themselves and four of their most-prized friends.

As marketing plans go, it’s genius. It’s cheap as chips, with the only real outlay being £13,800 for the prizes, and yet going on my experience, the returns should be ridiculously high…

Why it works

Having spent over an hour selecting my wish list for the first round, and another day convincing myself I would win and picturing myself in all my lovely new clothes, the defeat was hard to take. (Other entrants also took it badly,  with the message boards getting increasingly bitchy about how the winner’s choices weren’t up to their standards).

But, ASOS saved the day and gave us all another chance for victory: cue another hour finding £200 of extra bits and bobs to add to my basket. Alas, the second prize eluded me too, and my Friday afternoon was spent overcoming the disappointment.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I should get out now and avoid the final devastating loss, but I’m in too deep. So tonight will be spent finding another £500 of items in a last ditch attempt to secure the prize. But we all know what will happen: I won’t win and I’ll be left with £1000 worth of clothes and accessories sat in a basket, that I feel like I deserve. It’s funny, I hadn’t  realised it before this whole exercise, but I really do need a pair of brown brogues, a new watch and a lovely leather handbag.

And here is where ASOS wins. I’m going to try and be good but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up buying at least one thing from my wishlist, and if others do the same (looks likely going on the message board chat) that’s some serious wonga for the retailer. This is a very rough (and probably a low) estimate, but if you imagine that the 25k who entered round two buy just one item each at approx £25 – that’s £625,000 of revenue. Clever.

Time to Vote


(Pic credits: asos.com)

So anyway, now the damage is done, maybe you lot can help me decide which my one purchase should be. Above are all the accessories included on my wishlist, as it stood at £500. And below is a poll for you to pick your favourite item. (Mum, don't just pick the cheapest!)

Oh and if you're as ASOS-obssessed as me, you can still enter the competition yourself until Tues 9am, here. And as I was kind enough to alert you, please bear me in mind when you're picking your four friends to win with you!

 

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Blog benefits and faux fur overload

12 Jan

FOUR BLOG-RELATED CHRISTMAS PRESSIES

A nicely-lit corner, educational too....thanks aunties!

Who drank all the wine?...Thanking you Mr and Mrs Brown!

New book and ends...cheers Jane and Mick!

Last but not least, my new blogging aid. Big thanks parentals.


Happy New Year my lovely blog readers.
Yes I know it’s a little late, what with it already being 12th Jan and all, but I’ve had a bit of a sluggish start to the year (I only took down my Christmas tree yesterday—I hope that doesn’t mean I’m in for a year of bad luck). So, my Christmas break was really rather enjoyable, with two full-on turkey lunches and lots of amazing presents. It turns out having a Christmas wish list on my blog really does work—see pics above, thanks all! After a drunken New Year’s Eve, Steve and I decided to put off going back to work until 7th Jan, with a short excursion to a pretty countryside house in Kent—complete with a secret room hidden behind a bookcase—courtesy of Steve’s cousin and wife (thanks Lindsey and Vicky). The purpose: further cheese eating, wine drinking and the odd countryside walk.

My intention was to feature a fetching shot of me dressed in my winter gear on one such country walk, in order to bring me neatly onto the topic of this blog post: faux fur. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught a rather severe dose of Steve’s misplacing things disease, and left my camera in Kent. (Other items currently missing, presumed lost, are my favourite gold bird necklace and the aforementioned bargain of the century £3 waterfall cardigan. If anyone’s seen them, please let me know, I might stretch to a reward!)

Anyway, in the photo I’m wearing two of my recent purchases (now demonstrated below with product shots), which were bought specifically for a last-minute work trip  to -24 degree Moscow last month. On hearing of the baltic temperature, Steve recalled an old Norwegian saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” I decided that this (and a small handout from my generous father) gave me permission to buy ‘good ‘ clothing.

Pick up a puffa, Esprit - £95

Stomping through the snow boots, Snow & Rock - £59.99


(Photo credit: Esprit.com)

Now, I’ve never been one for puffa jackets in the past (this blog, is enough to scare anyone off) but for once in my life warmth was going to have to come before fashion. So in between the numerous trips to the Russian visa centre (it’s seriously labour intensive to get into that country!) I trotted off to Esprit on Oxford Street to pick up a coat in the style of a Russian oligarch’s wife (i.e. luxurious fur trim – mine’s faux though, don’t worry). The shop assistant revealed, as if sharing a dark secret, that once you wear a puffa jacket you will struggle to put on anything else until Spring. And, oh how she is right—I’m a convert. Snow boots were next on my, ‘let’s ignore my blog challenge’ shopping list and these furry bad boys are amazing. Surprisingly, there wasn’t any snow in Russia, as I was unfortunate enough to go in an unusually cold spell—think numb fingers, toes, legs and face within minutes, but they were great for whizzing past people who were skidding around on the ice last month on my walk to work. Smug, who me?

Anyway, since discovering the joy of being warm and yes, smug, I’ve basically gone a bit winter accessory mad (you’ll realise it’s mad when you see the state of my scarf drawer in the pic below). Clearly, at the end of 2010, resisting my consumer cravings went out the window. So just to get the confession off my chest, here is my latest loot:

Overflowing scarf drawer, but I still want more

Naughty purchases

Seriously comfy slippers

Now here’s to a better behaved 2011!

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Christmas shopping commences

28 Nov

It feels like only yesterday that I was excitedly posting about the start of autumn and its potential for new purchases, and yet twice in the last week I’ve been asked if I’ve done my Christmas shopping yet. Are they mad? It’s not even December! Of course, the purpose of this question is purely to provide the person asking with an opportunity to reveal that they’ve already done all theirs with more than a hint of smugness. But, the result has been panic on my part. I tried telling myself that for as long as I can remember I’ve managed to complete the whole gift-buying/wallet-emptying process in two manic days in the week before Christmas, but the damage has been done. The stressful experience will now have to be dragged out over the next month.

I’m currently undertaking stage one: inspiration-seeking research. This has involved scouring some of my favourite mags: Elle Decoration and Stylist, and trawling websites such as Etsy, Bouf and a new design blog I’ve been enjoying called ACHICA Living. Take a look – you’ll soon be sucked in. Although if you can’t be bothered, I’ve been kind enough to share the fruits of my browsing for your perusal below. Feel free to steal my finds, or if you are friends or relatives kind enough to want to buy me a present this Christmas you might like to bear in mind my gift-buying strategy I mentioned in my previous post—I tend to look for things I want myself!

So here goes:

10 present ideas for friends and family – better known as my Christmas list

(Photo credits: retailer websites as listed below)

I decided it was too dangerous to start looking for clothes as gifts at a time when I’ve been wobbling in my no shopping challenge, so I’ve stuck to looking for quirky knick-knacks for the home. Strangely without my realising, the majority of my picks are book and bird related. The first is not hard to understand: the vast amount of books I keep acquiring through my work is making my colour-coded bookshelf hard to manage, as such I’ve been keen to find some new book display methods. But I’ve got no idea what my bird obsession means—read into it what you will. That said, I defy anyone not to find the bird house for storing your keys seriously cute! Unfortunately, Steve told me I wasn’t allowed to spend £10 on a key ring and reminded me it is impossible to put anything up on our concrete walls without a commercial drill and plenty of drama!

Details of my picks and where to buy them are below:

  1. Silver Book Ends, £17.50 – Dutchbydesign.com
  2. Flock of Birds Wall Sticker, £19.99 – Zazous at Bouf.com
  3. Eames House Bird, £109 – Ivor-innes.co.uk
  4. Umbra Conceal Book Shelf, £10 – Exitinteriors.com
  5. Cubic Black Sparrow and House Key Ring, £10 – Exitinteriors.com
  6. FSC Wooden Wine Rack, £85 – Johnlewis.com
  7. The Hound of the Baskervilles Complete Text Poster, £24.99 – Spinelessclassics.com
  8. Illuminated World Globe, £39.95 – Kitsch.co.uk
  9. Wild and Wolf Green Trim Phone, £40 – Heals.co.uk
  10. Orla Kiely 1L Blue Poppy Meadow Storage Jar, £19 – Heals.co.uk

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A moment (or three) of weakness

15 Nov

I seem to be making a habit of leaving it far too long between blog posts, which makes me a very bad blogger indeed – sorry! I do have an excuse prepared though: I’m blaming Stieg Larsson. Since my chair entry, I’ve spent a remarkable amount of time sitting in said chair glued to the Swedish author’s millennium trilogy. I’m only managing to write this now as I’ve got to the end of book two and don’t have book three instantly available to me. In fact, I’m almost too scared to buy it, as once I get into a crime thriller as good as Larsson’s it takes over my life until I reach the end (picture me reading until 1.30 am in the morning, nearly missing tube stops etc and you’ll be on the right track) and once I’ve rattled through The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest then that’s it—there’s no more. Sad times.

Addictive book one of the millenium series

Book two - led to many late nights!

Book three - not to be read if I'm going to keep this blog going!

Unfortunately, now the apologies are out the way, I’ve got more sins to confess. After nearly a month of controlling my consumer cravings, I’m afraid I cracked. I’m going to bring into play the “essentials” disclaimer I mentioned in my first post i.e. there are some things you just have to buy. And, that can be extended to new jeans, nail varnish, and an eyeliner, right?? Hmm, this might take some justification.

  • First up, the jeans. My workplace is pretty casual, so jeans are an everyday staple for me. As such, my old faithful H&M dark blue skinny pair have definitely had some use (see photo evidence ).

    Unusual rippage - new pair required!

  • I admit it is a rather peculiar place for jeans to wear out—I’m not sure if this is an indication of unusually fat knees or a rather weird walk—but we won’t dwell on that. When you combine unsightly fraying on an essential item with a pretty stressful week at work, you’ll understand that a visit to Topshop for some retail therapy is a must. Obviously, nature then took its course and I found myself £40 poorer, one pair of Indigo Baxter jeans richer, and a very happy lady. If you too are after some new skinnies, I would definitely recommend this style—they aren’t made of that awful, unflattering stretch material, and yet seem to have kept their shape after a week of non-stop wear (they’ve made it into the wash this weekend, don’t worry).

    New jeans - an essential surely?

  • As an aside, in a bid to further justify my purchase I thought I’d go through all my old pairs of jeans and get rid of any I no longer wear. In doing so, I came across one major error of a purchase. I seem to have in my possession an unworn pair of dark blue skinny jeans (noticing a pattern yet?) from Uniqlo in a size six . Now bearing in mind I haven’t been that size since my early teens,  I was clearly having a moment of madness (or hadn’t eaten for a week) when I bought them last year. As I don’t really like being reminded of the fact I’m not a size six, I wondered if any of you reading this who are lucky enough to be that teeny, would like to take them off my hands for free? Just comment below or send me an email.
  • Now on to my reasoning behind the beauty goods. I don’t know about you, but I always find buying presents for my friends a lot trickier than buying things for myself. In fact Christmas shopping usually results in me buying one gift for a family/friend, and one gift for me (naughty, I know). Recently, my way around this is to pick something I would like myself and then accept I can’t have it, and instead buy it for the person with a birthday. It seems to work quite well. So a few weeks back I was in Urban Outfitters (my ultimate shop of temptation) looking for a gift for my friend Rachel, when I came across the shop’s new nail varnish range, which now includes the colour of the moment: greige (gray/beige) or taupe if you’d prefer to use its real name. I’d been wanting to try out this shade for ages, but hadn’t come across a version I liked, other than at Chanel (which at £16.50 a pop isn’t very fitting with my new budget), so with this pot’s price tag of £6, out went my original plan and now Rach and I both have greige nails.

    UO Nail Polish - the lovely new range for £6 a pot

    (Photo credit: www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk)
  • As for eyeliner, well that really is essential and I won’t have anyone argue otherwise. I’m fed up of buying cheap eyeliner that needs constant re-application so this time I’ve gone for the £13.50 MAC Technakohl Liner in Graphblack. It goes on really easily, doesn’t need sharpening and if the sales assistant is to be believed will stay put even after a vigorous game of netball (I’ll soon find out!).

So Sunday’s confession time is up. All I can do now is promise to be much better next week. Although, just to add to the pressure I’ve got a trip to Milan to negotiate on Wednesday. I guess I’m going to have to keep my mind on the job (going to see a book printers – glam!) and not get distracted by the shops!

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No such thing as a free lunch

14 Oct

I’m one week in to my ‘no shopping’ challenge and I think I might have found the secret to my ongoing success: bringing lunch from home. Ok so it’s not rocket science and I think my colleagues might have already twigged, but after a few days of eating boring old soup and homemade sandwiches (no offence Steve, my wonderful boyfriend who makes them for me), it has dawned on me that by avoiding Covent Garden and its enticing array of shops I have been keeping a few extra pounds in my bank and losing a few from my waistline (that second bit is just wishful thinking).

Boring £-saving sandwich (not representative of Steve's efforts).

This groundbreaking theory was confirmed yesterday, when Steve failed to make my lunch in the morning, having been ‘forced’ by his friends to stay out in the casino until 4am the night before. As such, I had to venture to M&S for my back up roast beef & horseradish sandwich (Charley that’s for you) and cheese tasters (Sal that’s for you). I just so happened to wander past a rather bulging sale rail (I’m such a liar as the food is downstairs and the clothes are upstairs) when out jumped a cute little black jacket, down from £39.50 to a mere £19. I tried to resist, but began thinking about all the outfits it would go with, and how great it would be for both work and nights out. Justification complete, off I trotted to the till. But, disaster struck; I’d left my wallet on my desk at work. There was no way I was losing the jacket now, but the mean shop assistant refused to hold it for me, mumbling incoherently about the shop’s policy for sale goods. She then tried to take it out of my hands (probably to have for herself) so I did what anyone else would do: panicked and ran out the shop with jacket in tow. Joke! Actually, in a much more dignified fashion I grabbed it off her, walked briskly to the corner of the shop and stuffed it at the back of a rail of really ugly tops, before sprinting back to the office to get my wallet.

I know this is becoming one of those long rambling stories that my family loves but no-one else does, but bear with me, it gets good! You’ll be relieved to hear that on my return to the shop the goods were where I had left them, so I jubilantly made my way back to the till, proud of my quick-thinking and happy to see a different lady serving. And now for the best bit. As she rang the jacket through, £12 popped up on the register. Awesome I thought, it’s even more of a bargain. But, wait, she wasn’t finished yet. She then typed in some code, and down the price went to £3. Result! Must-keep-straight-face-and-not-look-surprised-at-major-mistake/deal-of-the-century. Turns out my jacket was cheaper than my sandwich.

And here it is: the super-soft, day and night, waterfall-style jacket, that went very well with my work outfit today.

Posing in my £3 purchase: this kind of shopping is allowed right?

So the moral of the story: bringing lunch from home is bad; shopping at lunchtime is good. Ah, not quite what I had in mind for this post.

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On the straight and narrow

11 Oct
So I’m only on my second post, and aleady my new mantra to spend less has been severely challenged. Worringly weak I know, but what is a straight hair-obsessed girl to do when her ghds malfunction on a Monday morning. After five long and happy years, my loyal straighteners gave me a shock (literally) when sparks started shooting out of their base. My first instinct was to immediately order some new ones as I’m pretty sure the shaggy dog look isn’t coming into fashion anytime soon.

Me minus ghds (photo credit: Zach Flanders)

However, the £100 price tag made me have a re-think. Instead I decided to embrace my blog challenge and brave a ghd repair service. On Tuesday, I nervously shipped my favourite beauty aids off into the abyss, and prepared myself for their disappearance. But, three days later, just like magic they arrived in my pigeon hole at work, fixed with a new plug and cable, freshly polished plates and free heat matt. And all for just £19.95.

It turns out, frugality is pretty pleasing. Well, unless someone else is paying, of course. If that was the case, then I’d go for an even pricier breed of straightener: the Cloud Nine, costing £129.95. Created by the original founders of  the ghd, they offer adjustable temperature control to reduce damage, and apparently “a secret ingredient that adds shine and sparkle to the hair every time they’re used.” Sounds good Santa, don’t you think?

Cloud Nine Styling Iron (photo credit: http://www.cloudninehair.com)

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A good place to start

7 Oct

Hello, and welcome to the first Consumer Cravings blog post. I’m going to start at the most logical place—the beginning—with an explanation of why this blog came about and how it is going to solve all of my shopaholic tendencies. So here goes:

There are two clear signs that summer has been well and truly relegated to the memory bank. These are:

  1. An umbrella has become an essential everyday item (if you also have a wayward fringe you’ll understand the necessity).
  2. Seasonal Addiction Disorder has set in. The symptoms:  a) Morning anxiety about the lack of suitable clothes to put on despite possessing a bulging wardrobe and having coped perfectly well last autumn. b) A combined sense of glee and panic created by all the new autumnal clothes filling the shops and magazines (glee due to the greatness of the goodies and panic for the purse).

Last weekend during a flat tidy up, it came to my attention that these autumnal signs are actually problems that need resolutions.

Problem 1: Over the summer, during a period of reduced use, my three umbrellas (functional & black, handbag sized & patterned, and elegant & long) appear to have formed a union, gone on strike and then abandoned me for a more loving employer, leaving me umbrella-less and curly fringed. Thankfully,  the conundrum has been cleared up with a trip to H & M, where I picked up a cheeky £5.99 leopard print number.

Problem 2: S.A.D, is less simple to solve. I am a girl who loves to shop, but the arrival of this season’s gorgeous collections (think sheepskin and leather, camel and greys, pretty blouses and masculine brogues) has left me all in a tizzy. Why? My bank balance and my wardrobe aren’t big enough to cope with the onslaught of new purchases. So, on Saturday, with the assistance of my Mum (who I might add, loves tidying and was not forced to help) I managed to fill four big black bin liners with unwanted clothes and shoes to be shipped off to the charity shop she works in. Great I thought,  room for a few new choice items. My Mum however had other ideas. “Don’t think that the purpose of this clear out is so you can buy new things. You can’t afford it,” she said.  Unfortunately, she has a point, and that is where the idea for this blog came from.

Shopping and I are trying out a temporary ceasefire (aside from buying the odd “essential”* item of course). Instead, I am going to document all the unnecessary, but oh so delightful things I am craving, in the hope that writing about them will give me the same buzz I would have got from actually buying them. This extends to clothes and stuff for my flat. It’s wishful thinking, but worth a try. At the very least it’ll give me lots of items for my Christmas list.

So first up on my autumnal clothes wish list, that are not to be bought, we have:

  1. Mannish brogues or boots because they go with everything from skinny jeans to ladylike dresses, and last year’s shoe collection just isn’t doing it for me anymore
  2. A shearling aviator waistcoat or leather jacket, crucial to take me through that tricky in-betweeny phase when it’s chilly, but not quite wintry enough for my cape to come out

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(photo credits: www.topshop.com and www.office.co.uk)


*Disclaimer:  The definition of “essential”  is open to the author’s interpretation and may well be expanded in the coming months as the ceasefire runs into difficulties.


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