the bargain effect

it happens to me all the time: i save up and get a chunk of money ready to go shopping, and I decide I’ll be good and buy one nice thing rather than waste it on the little fripperies it’s too easy to dribble it away on.

and then…I spot something from a fancy brand, a dress maybe, at some crazy sale price that’s still more than I should be spending, in just my size, and it must be fate. so I try it on, and it looks so ‘different’ in the mirror when I try it on, and it fits perfectly.

and then…i buy it. i take it home. i wear it the next day, because i always wear new clothes the day after i’ve bought them.

and then…i never wear it again.

that’s what I call the “bargain effect”: it’s s much harder to make a sensible choice when the price tag is bothering you. it happens almost every time, and that’s why 90% of my regular wardrobe is made of cheap clothes I buy in bulk.

and then… I put together an outfit in the morning, and sooner or later, I end up thinking: “I can’t wear that, it was $12”. and I feel guilty wearing that item, all day long.

i don’t know how to fix it, but lately here are some strategies that have been helping:

  • actively researching the pricey items that would work with my wardrobe. that way, next time i feel like splurging i’ll have a list of options to go to, rather than casting around for inspiration.
  • avoiding wasting my money on fripperies, so there’s more in the bank and less pressure to go for bargains when I do go shopping.
  • experimenting with new ways to work my wardrobe so i can get some use out of those splash-out items. otherwise what’s the point?

here’s my wishlist at the moment:


a gorgeous watch (this month The Fifth is donating part of their profits to charity, so i might even splurge on this one)


a pair of edgy, high-high-high heeled boots to fix up any outfit i have the slightest problems with


comfortable trousers that aren’t jeans. i haven’t met the right ones yet. these are pretty close but i have to build up my confidence first…


and a nice black or grey skirt that isn’t long enough to be frumpy, but isn’t short enough to raise eyebrows

and then… maybe I’ll have learned my lesson.

now which to buy first…


One Hundred Dollars


I could. So easily.

For out-of-towners, Priceline is a huge discount pharmacy brand we have here in Australia, filled with every kind of cosmetics, skincare, health supplements, and actual pharmacy stuff. When I was a tiny girl, my mum took me there as a special treat after a hard week at school, or on a girls’ day out – it seemed like this huge warehouse filled with toys for me to test out, but that I couldn’t possibly need. Mum would get herself a lipstick – and as I got older, we’d get one each – and we’d take them home and try them on and soak up the feeling of having something new and a little bit fancy. That’s where I learned about retail therapy.

Now I’m an adult and I have my own money and a commute that makes me past at least three separate Pricelines, I still love that new-lipstick feeling. And after a long, tiring day, with a grubby train journey ahead of me and the prospect of class readings and assignment preparation after that, retail therapy is hard to resist.

I’ve posted here about my goal of saving my money to spend it more sustainably, on items that make me feel good about myself and that don’t harm the environment. One of the ways I’m trying to go about that is to cut down on the small expenses that I make without thinking, but that add up quickly and suddenly I’ve spent enough that I could have bought this supple genuine leather skirt, or this sophisticated cape.

I’m always a sucker for a gorgeous nudey, peachy nail colour. And lip products are so easy to justify to myself: this one is the best I’ve ever tried for conditioning and protecting my lips, and I’ve only got one of them; I’m hearing good things about this new lipstick, and these are just the right middle ground between a colour and a balm. Plus a few health supplements to keep me fresh and healthy are always a good idea. Add in a nice cleanser and eye cream I love using, because with winter coming on it’s getting more important to take care of my complexion, and we’re actually over the limit! One hundred and forty dollars plus change.

And that’s why, instead of going there for real, I’m leaving these here in case someone out there needs some recommendations.

Do you love these little chunks of retail therapy? What are your biggest spending weaknesses?



1. essie nail colour 16.95 each. shown here in ‘picked perfect’, ‘back in the limo’, ‘comfy in cashmere’ and ‘sequin sash’. 2. swisse ultiboost immune supplement $15.99. 3. people for plants organic lip balm in vanilla and cocoa butter $9.99. 4. yes to grapefruit daily facial scrub $14.99 and dark circle correcting eye cream $23.99. 5. burt’s bees tinted lip balm $14.99 each shown here in ‘rose’ and ‘blush orchid’. 6. revlon ultra hd lipstick in ‘hd magnolia’ $23.95. 7. swisse high strength chlorophyll $21.99. 

= total $142.94

En Premier


hello everybody, my name’s Dora. I’m 21, I live in sydney, australia, and I’m a student on a marginal budget. but I’m bad at spending money.

here are some things I currently spend money on:

1. cute mugs;
2. magazines;
3. cheap online clothes stores;
4. nail polish.

But here are some of the things I need:

1.quality leather shoes
2. gorgeous and practical clothes, ethically and sustainably made from natural fibres, that go with everything so I will keep on wearing them for years
3. a handbag that doesn’t break after one season.

there is zero overlap between those lists. THIS IS CRAZINESS!!! ten fashion magazines that I will read once and then put on the shelf, that I could switch out for reading fashion blogs free online = one amazingly expensive pair of nice, nice jeans I would love for ever.

and that craziness is what this blog is about. trying to scope out the right decisions and get a stand-back perspective on why I like what I like.

I’m calling this project FRENCH GIRLS DO, because the french girls are the ones we imagine as always flawless. who can maybe only afford one perfect outfit, but hey – they have one perfect outfit. french girls are classic girls, and that’s where I’m trying to end up, and it’s so exciting to me right now that maybe I can end up feeling like that.

maybe I’ll work out at some point that it isn’t about the clothes. I definitely feel like, despite everything I said up there about my budget and my cheap splurges, it’s not about money. it’s about being classic. and those perfect french girls you read about? that’s how to be classic.

enjoy, darlings.