Shopping in Chicago

Given the fact that I am living in Europe, there is no greater joy than coming to the other side to do some reckless spending. Even if I wouldn’t trade Cluj for a different place just yet, it’s nice to see what the US has to offer when it comes to a good session of well-deserved shopping.

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When I left home, the only “must” from my list was a Kate Spade purse, I’ve been wanting one for a while now and in the tragic recent events of her death, prices have been going up, unfortunately. Having also a budget and not so much time on my hands for shopping I went on a crazy hunt for both gifts and things for my little sole.

One of the best places to shop in Chicago is TJ Maxx, Bloomington or Marshalls, usually, there are 2 together, or at least this is how I saw them in this city. If you have the nerves to go through all of their items you will get some really great deals. In the week that I’ve spent in the city I think I went there almost every day, I could say that I am able to do all of my shopping in this amazing place. Yes I know there are others and I’ve heard of the big outlets near the O’Hare airport, but when you don’t have the time or a car to go there you just have to stick to what it’s offered.

 

Same as last year, I’ve spent a lot in these shops, but walked proudly out of them with 3 purses, one of them was the colored Kate Spade that my heart desired, the other 2 were just pretty, 2 Fossil watches, his and hers for me and my boyfriend, a blanket as an mermaid tale (you’ll get it once you see the picture), a pair of Sketchers (best shoes in the world, if you don’t have a pair yet, run to Bloomington now!), 3 pairs of sunglasses one from Guess and 2 from Tommy Hilfiger, a Tommy Hilfiger wallet, that I am still debating if I should keep for myself or offer it as a gift as initially intended, and a set of t-shirts from Polo for my boyfriend. Since the limit of the budget was reached and also the maximum allowed for a number of purses I could buy, I had to give up on a Guess and Michel Kors bags that I fancy, but there is always next year. 😀

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Having done the heavy shopping in the places I mentioned, there were just a couple of more stores that I love in the city: Sephora, brought the Kat Von D eyeliner(not as great as I’ve hoped), Old Navy, a cute top for a few bucks, Victoria’s Secret, you can all guess what I brought from there and Walgreens for some drugstore makeup.

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While in the US I don’t usually go to the stores that are also found in Europe, like Zara, Forever 21, etc, since these have more or less the same prices everywhere. Same for the European designers, Burberry, Michael Kors, Louise Vuitton and so on, most of them will have higher prices in the US compared to what they are offering in their country of origin.

Since Chicago is not a very touristic place, any souvenir that you want to buy will cost you, even a magnet can reach up to 10$, compared to a touristic place where you can get the same item for about 2$. Last year I replaced the magnets with panties from VS for my girlfriends and sweets for the others, this year I preferred bringing them wallets, t-shirts, miniature cars, sunglasses or shot glasses. Keep in mind that Chicago has 10% taxes and in the US the prices are displayed without them, so when you will reach the counter you will pay 10% more, in Europe the prices including the taxes are always displayed.

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After 8 days in the US, 14 km walked every day, a suitcase that just wouldn’t close and so tired that I could sleep a week, I was happy that I managed to check everything on my list while still visiting and doing all the activities I’ve planned. I already started the list for the following year, even if I don’t know 100% sure I will be returning to Chicago. If there is one thing that I love about shopping in the US is that you will find about anything if you just do your research in advance. With the new GDPR law in the EU, many of the online stores stopped shipping in Europe and unfortunately there is no sign of them changing their mind.

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Brands: Quality With A Trademark, Or Just A Fancy Logo?

Being in the Quality Assurance business it’s my job to look for flows, whether that is in the code, the websites or in other industry’s. When it comes to perfection the famous brands seem to be always the answer, but is it like this or is it just perfect marketing?

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The commercials will always want to falter you, to play your ego and tell you that buying an exclusive product will make you part of a special group. The most aggressive ones are for cars or luxury watches, but even the common brands want you to feel “special”.  Clearly buying an item will not make you any different than you are, but is there a small piece of the truth behind these campaigns?

If I learned anything over the years is that a big price doesn’t guarantee you the quality, but the small price will definitely give you no quality at all. So this takes us to the big brands that advertise the perfection for their items. I am a declared fan of a few of them since it proved that their items pass the time test. One of those brands is Tiffany’s, I truly believe that when it comes to jewelry they are one of the best, clearly at a huge price.

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For electronics I love Apple, I know that some people find them expensive and less efficient, but for me, these proved to be sustainable. Since I don’t change my phone, laptop or tablet based on the latest release, but on the fact that the old one broke, I found that you use them for a very long time. To give an example, I had the iPad 2 since 2012 and it’s still working, also my MacBook Air is from 2014 and it’s still doing its job very well.

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Another big brand that I am a fan of is the UGG and their famous classic boots, I know the story behind it is now a pretty one and even though they sell their boots as Australian ones, they are made in China, the product does come with a special quality: comfort! So during the winter, I love the casual look the UGG’s are giving me. Yet I fantasize about buying the real deal from an Australian shop.

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There are other brands that I fancy like Burberry and their pattern, Jimmy Choo and the golden sandals, Christian Louboutin and the So Kate black stiletto and the list could go on for days. Yet I don’t rush into those stores and buy their products because I am not 100% sure they are worth the price. When you are paying for things with the precious years of your youth, it becomes clear that sometimes you need to think twice before handing over the credit card.

One question still haunts me, are all the famous brands worth their money? Or are we brainwashed into spending it all to have the trademark on us? They say an item will cost as much as someone is willing to pay for it. That story might be very true when it comes to diamonds, but I don’t own any, so I don’t want to have an opinion of this. Yet I do love a lot of things that come with a fancy label and I keep on wondering if I am looking for perfection in the wrong places.

All the big designers or brands started small so I think it’s best to look for the perfection of the items ignoring the label and focus on the quality of the materials and if these can pass the test of time. You might be surprised by the variety of items you can find at a common-sense price. As for when you want to have that special piece that costs a fortune, do your homework and see where you can purchase it to be original, yet at a decent price.

For me what worked was finding a couple of boutiques and online shops that gave the material quality that I wanted for a decent price. One of these is the Mango Outlet and Sports Direct online stores.  Also when I travel abroad I always visit Primark, if you look closely at the composition of the clothes you will be able to find some pretty decent deals. Whenever I visit Italy, I look for leather stores since these are very popular in the peninsula.

For the Romanian market, there is Fashion Days online store that has some great deals for smaller designer clothes, especially during the sales period. This is the place I bought a pair of Bailey Buttons UGGs for just 110$ and a Ted Baker purse for 170$.

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Lastly, I found from my best friend Silvia, from MyStyle5, a couple of really nice online outlets and some very useful tips on how to create a designer’s wardrobe without going bankrupt.

There are many ways you can find that statement piece that would make you stand out, yet it is not the logo of a brand that will do that for you, but the design of the item, the quality and, most important, your attitude. A Rolex on a pig, will not change the pig into a gentleman, yet a Fossil on a gentleman will make some panties drop. So shop wisely and don’t get caught in the marketing trap.

Tiffany’s: A 90’s Obsession

Who hasn’t heard of the famous Return to Tiffany collection? Even the kids nowadays know about the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie and the notorious store. For those of us who were born in the ’90s, having jewelry from the brand was a dream, especially for the non-American ones. Even if it would come at an enormous cost, we still wanted to be Elle Woods for a day.

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As time passed by, the new trends came and somehow we manage to forget about the old jewelry. Now it’s all about Pandora and their expensive items, if you ask 10 random girls to show you their writs, chances are 8 of them have the charm bracelet.

Since I am a 90’s b*tch, my obsession never really changed and when I finally got my hands on the Return to Tiffany necklace, I felt as if I have conquered the world. The fragile piece is so beautiful that I couldn’t take it off, until now.

No, I am not betraying the brand, I just got my hands on some new items from them. It all started when I found a new app that allows you to post items for sale in a very user-friendly manner, I will not name the app since I know for sure you all have your “trusted” one. So as I was just testing the newly discovered ground, I thought why not search for Tiffany and so I found the pieces I have been dying to buy ever since I was a teenager. But before I wound ‘seal’ the deal, I made a little investigation about the fake market, one that I totally despise, I prefer buying something pre-owned, then fake. I know it’s tough to find out, but you have to do your research.

And so I found a lot of very useful articles that tell you all about how to spot a fake. I will name here only a few that I also got to see on the market: the letter arrangement and the way it’s imprinted, the space between the words, the chain links, the material and of course the seller. The one thing that I thought I could trust is the price, I never buy the cheapest item, but since the Romanian market is not the best place to sell this type of jewelry, I was impressed by the deals I could get.

I know for some of you this article will make your eyes roll, but we all had that childhood obsession that made us behave like kids, even when we are clearly not in that spot anymore. Therefore, I am more than happy with the gift I got myself for my 28th birthday, I have to say that 4 original Return to Tiffany pre-owned items cost me as much as a single new one, so if you are still searching for your teenage crush, make sure you do your search and research.

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Why Wearing Red Can Make You Feel More Powerful and Attractive

This season came with a new trend color: Red. Red shoes, red dresses, red lipstick, red coats, anything that comes in the red color will immediately draw the attention towards you and make you the star of the day. And it’s not applied only to wardrobe items, but also to hair, lipstick or makeup. But why is it so powerful and why does it make you feel like you can conquer the world when wearing it?

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Lets first bring science into action and explain why are we so susceptible when it comes to the color of passion.

Red is one of the four primary colors, along with blue, yellow and green, and it’s the one representing physical emotions. Our ancestors first started to paint their bodies red using natural crayons and it stands for the color of blood, that could have been associated with either life or death, depending on the ceremony. It was used by all the cultures around the world and we often see it in the items discovered by archeologists.
Although it is not the most visible one, it has the most power when it comes to attracting attention, this being the reason why traffic lights use it and also error codes in the IT field. Often associated with masculinity, red makes peoples heart rate increase and triggers the “fight or flight” reaction.
Sometimes it stands out for negative sentiments, such as aggressiveness, domination, violence or quick-temper, but also for positive ones such as affection, love, passion or life.

Old society was afraid of its power.

Unfortunately, in the past, it was also the color of whores and witches. They were condemned by the early society for the power that inflicted on men. It was often said that a woman with red hair had the power to put a spell on even the most powerful man and make them obedient, this led to a series of crimes made against redheaded women and they were burned alive for witchcraft.
If we go back to the era of courtesans and geisha’s, we would find out that red was their favorite color, especially for the lips, makeup and hair accessories, due to its power to attract the attention from both sexes. The Red Light District from Amsterdam become notorious by using it and also the Red Carpet that it is used at events took advantage of the colors power.

Nowadays red is the color of love, desire, determination, and lust.

In the countryside when a girl had red cheeks that would be a sign of both health and beauty, giving her more chances for a proposal, reason why we now use blush to make our cheeks resemble roses.
Getting attention from the opposite sex is easier when you are wearing red, science also says. This vibrant color will surround you with an allure of both power, dominance, and confidence. There are rumors of waitresses confessing that wearing red will make them earn more tips from customers, whether this is a fact, or not, cannot be proved by science, but we can for sure give it a try when we want to burst our charisma. The BDSM culture has red as it’s trademark color and when it comes to lingerie, the red one is definitely ranked as the sexier.

From my experience in working in an office, I can tell you for sure that moving from blonde to scarlet red made me far more attractive to my colleagues but also to man in general. I have been receiving more likes on Facebook or Instagram. Also, I see myself as more self-secured when it comes to expressing myself and standing up in my opinion.
I have made it one of my routines to add a little more red to my look when I want to draw the attention to myself when giving a speech or having a meeting where I want to make my voice heard. I see that mansplaining is less likely to occur when I am wearing this slightly aggressive color. My most in-handy solution is red lipstick. I have it always in my purse and I add it as soon as I am in need of a new vibe of confidence. For me, it’s like a shield in an office mainly filled with men. If you want to put its magic to a test you should definitely give it a try.

As a woman that is working in the IT world, mostly with men and for men, it can be quite hard to make myself heard or taken into account, so I am constantly trying to find solutions to empower myself and the women around me to make our voice heard. Red somehow manages to give me that extra burst that I need when comes to confidence so I encourage all ladies around the world to give it a try and see what it can do for them. Maybe it is the ingredient they were lacking.