SPEC-TACULAR

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This post was sponsored by Eyemart Express, however all opinions are my own. Thank you for helping me to support brands and retailers I love!

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit my local Eyemart Express. I’ve owned my current pair of lenses for at least two years now, and while they’re great, I definitely needed a new pair. Specifically, a pair of prescription lens sunglasses. I spend a lot of time at the ballpark and I don’t love wearing makeup when I am there – hello, Alabama summer that melts all makeup away. However, to wear sunglasses I currently own, means I have to wear contacts because I’m blind as a bat without them. Not to mention the fact that none of my current lenses are UV polarized. So off I went!

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The store was pleasant, filled with a variety of lenses. A number of sales associates buzzed around and laughed alongside their customers, as men and women tried on glasses and sunnies. I signed in, waited a little, until my name was called.

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I perused all the collections online prior to arriving at the store, so I already knew what I wanted to try on: the High Street Collection London and LadyBird lenses.

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Ms. Joan helped me try them both on, and I immediately fell in love with the Pearl version of the London eyeglasses.

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With my prescription in hand, she quickly filled out paperwork on my behalf and sent me on my way! “Be back in an hour or so”, she said, “or, we will text you if your glasses are done before then.” UM WHAT? In an hour?? I had no idea my glasses would be done within the hour! I had some grocery shopping to do, so off to my Super Target I went. I browsed the clothing and home section, did my grocery shopping, and was loading groceries in the car when I got the text: my glasses were done. It turns out my eyeglasses were ready more quickly than my sunnies, but my sunnies were done by the time I got to the store and someone was able to help me. For someone who’s always in a hurry and often doesn’t have the time to “return 1-2 weeks later” to pick something up, being able to return within the hour, while having run other errands, was simply perfection.

Today, I ended up at the ballpark for the first time since the fall, and just as I had imagined, I was able to wear my sunnies without makeup and didn’t have to wear contact lenses. The day was cold, but sunny, and I was SHOCKED how well I was able to see through my sunglasses. Having never worn polarized lenses, I had no idea 1) how clearly one sees even when the sun is blasting rays in your face and 2) how awesome prescription sunglasses are given you are essentially getting a two-for-one deal…shade and sight!

Pictured below are the High Street LadyBird frames in black, with Polycarb SV (2 Lens), polarized lenses, and Platinum Pro Plus Poly. Not sure what the first and third things mean, but surely someone at Eyemart Express will. 🙂

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My second pair, the High Street London pair, are so fun. I’ve never owned a lighter colored pair, but I’ve been inspired to branch out a bit more, so I did!

If you’re like me, then by now you’re probably wondering how much this all came to. Well, as seen above, each pair was $99.95. The add-on’s you get, will ultimately determine what your final price will be. I have a Vision Service Plan, or VSP, otherwise known as vision insurance. Each year, I am able to cover my eye exam and either contacts or glasses. Eyemart Express takes VSP and other types of insurance. This can help offset immediate costs, should that be a concern.

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Eyemart Express has locations all over the US, with three located in the Birmingham area. If you’re in the Hoover, AL area, be sure to stop and ask for Ms. Joan and Mr. Thom. Both helped me that day and were absolutely delightful to work with!

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Feel free to email me if you have any questions about my experience or the glasses/sunnies I selected; otherwise, hope you enjoy an Eyemart Experience soon!

yours truly, dr. b (1)

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DOLLA DOLLA BILL Y’ALL

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A couple weeks ago, I surveyed my Instagram friends, and a large majority were interested in a no-spend February, wherein we all commit to not spending any money on clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. No money spent on unnecessary wants; only on needs like food, utilities, gas, rent, etc. The idea is to be able to put any money you might have spent unnecessarily on clothes, etc, towards retirement, debt, and such. While initially I was quite gung-ho about the idea of not spending any money at all next month, questions starting pouring in about exceptions: What about Valentine’s Day? Birthdays? Can we use gift cards?? So I went back to my public health roots and thought about about the theories I learned about human behavior and what we think about when we consider new interventions: primarily, I thought about sustainability. WHAT IS THE GOAL HERE?

My person goal is to spend more consciously and stop spending money on food that will get thrown away because I didn’t meal plan; clothes and shoes I bought on a whim that I never wore; or makeup products I bought and didn’t like, and ended up cluttering my makeup bag until they expired; because, yes, they expire!! More to come on that.

Years ago, I read a post by Jeanette Johnson of J’s Everyday Fashion. It was the first time I’d read about setting a “clothing budget”. As you know, I was a grad student, then a post doc, and didn’t make a lot of money during either of those training periods. So budgeting was something I did out of necessity. When I became an assistant professor, I was making more money, but school loans have also kept me from over-spending. Still, one of the things I love to do is shop, and since embarking on my purging journey the past two years, I realized that some of that money might have been better spent. J’s clothing budget allows you to set aside 2-8% of your monthly salary on clothing. In general, I have followed that rule, but I could also benefit from spending less, accumulating less clutter, and buying more thoughtfully moving forward.

Okay, so if you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering: SOOOOO, are we shopping or not shopping??

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In public health, when thinking about health interventions, we often think about ensuring that outcomes will be sustainable. So I asked myself, “Is it sustainable to not shop at all for the rest of my life??” Of course not. Is the point to do this for a month and what? Save $100? No. The goal, a sustainable one, is to learn how to budget and spend mindfully. So, I’m proposing a variation of J’s clothing budget, to 1) learn how to budget; 2) ensure more mindful spending; 3) redirect more money towards other long-term goals, debt, etc.:

$60 a month for the rest of the year. YIKES!

 

$60 a month. How did I arrive at that number? Well, when I polled my Instagram friends, the most popular response was that many were working with about a $3000 budget (the sliding scale and other questions pictured below). If we take the lower range of J’s shopping budget percentage, then we’re looking at 2% of $3000, which equals $60. $60 a month!!

Have you recovered from the shock yet?? I’ll tell ya, once you write down every single thing you spend money on, you will think $60 is too much to spend. $60 dollars is enough to visit the Dollar Spot a couple times a month, buy a Who What Wear top from Target, and pick up a pair of shoes on clearance from TJMaxx. Not to mention a pair of earrings from Forever 21. Hello, $5 J Lo hoops!

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What are the rules??

  1. $60 to spend after groceries, bills, mortgage/rent, etc. $60 for clothes, shoes, accessories, the Dollar Spot, etc.
  2. Can you use gift cards to increase my clothing budget?? Absolutely!
  3. What if I make extra money? Can that be used to to increase my clothing budget? YES! The goal is simply to not take more from your take home income. If you’re comfortable meeting goals without allocating that extra income towards those goals, then spend away.
  4. What about credit card points. Again, YES. If many cases, you can’t turn these into cash, so might as well get yourself something nice if you have enough of them sitting around.

Have I piqued your interest?? If so, know that I will be keeping you updated with the purchases that I make myself these coming months, along with a summary of what I spent and on what. I do plan to be savvy and do extra things to try to pad my clothing budget. What kind of things you ask?? When I polled people on Instagram, the tips and tricks for making extra money when running low at the end of the month, were numerous.

  • Sell clothes on Poshmark
  • Pick up an extra day at work
  • Donate plasma
  • Sell things on eBay
  • Make extra money pet sitting
  • Consign clothes, shoes, accessories, etc
  • Teach (yoga, crafts etc)
  • Freelance (eg on Upwork)
  • Sell, sell, sell anything and everything that is extra in your home
  • Participate in research studies
  • Work overtime
  • Use credit card points
  • Offer to babysit for friends and neighbors
  • Photography
  • Sell/pawn used items
  • Uber, Instacart, and/or Shipt
  • Market research participation
  • Review textbooks
  • Sell kids clothes online (like eBay or ThredUp)
  • Tutoring
  • Sports leagues (coach a team and charge a fee for your time)
  • Sell things on Facebook
  • Bring on new clients (for those with a business)

Now, how do you start? Last month, I wrote down everything I had spent the past three months, and I categorized my spending into categories. Your categories will vary from mine depending on your household, personal, and professional needs. I, for example, no longer have to budget for daycare, but I do have to budget for after school care. So write it all down. Then, write down what you bring home each month. Deduct every single expense (down to the penny) that you will anticipate spending that month. Then decide how much to put away in your 1) emergency fund, 2) retirement account, etc. After that, take your $60 for clothing. If you do not have $60 left over to dedicate to clothing/etc, then use some of the ways above to try to make extra money, if shopping is how you want to spend that extra money.

I checked the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in 2017, women made the following median salaries per month:

  • 16 to 19 years: $404 weekly/$21,008 annually
  • 20 to 24 years: $508 weekly/$26,416 annually
  • 25 to 34 years: $727 weekly/$37,804 annually
  • 35 to 44 years: $877 weekly/$45,604 annually
  • 45 to 54 years: $851 weekly/$44,252 annually
  • 55 to 64 years: $869 weekly/$45,188 annually
  • 65 years and older: $800 weekly/$41,600 annually

According to statistics provided by Instagram, people I interact with on instagram (followers and people I follow) are on average 25-34 years of age, with a smaller proportion in the 35-44 years of age. Based on the data above, if you divide $37,804 by 12 months, you arrive at $3150 per month, of which 2% equals $63. As it turns out, the data I collected on Instagram was not too far off from the median salary reported in the US.

Some tips I plan to keep in mind as I strive to keep to my $60 budget: 1) keep receipts! I might buy something that fits within my $60 monthly budget, but that I change my mind about later, so I’ll roll that money over to the following month; 2) shop thrift and consignment stores; 3) accept gifts!!; 4) have clothing swaps with friends; 5) sell, sell, sell!!

So what do you think? Are you in, or are you out?? If you’re in, I look forward to going on this money saving journey with you! Let me know in the comments section if you would like a post on creating a budget, although based on my data, most of you already know how to budget, so perhaps that isn’t as great a need as finding fellowship in spending less. Onward, and save!

yours truly, dr. b (1)

 

 

 

COPY CAT

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Years ago I read an article in Elle Magazine written by the illustrious

“I had learned a lesson about Western culture: Women who wanted to be taken seriously were supposed to substantiate their seriousness with a studied indifference to appearance. For serious women writers in particular, it was better not to dress well at all, and if you did, then it was best to pretend that you had not put much thought into it. If you spoke of fashion, it had to be either with apology or with the slightest of sneers. The further your choices were from the mainstream, the better. The only circumstance under which caring about clothes was acceptable was when making a statement, creating an image of some sort to be edgy, eclectic, counterculture. It could not merely be about taking pleasure in clothes.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Women in academia, medicine, and other fields have similar experiences. They/we are judged for dressing too nicely, for wearing make up, or wearing heels that are “too high”. When I started Chic in Academia, I wanted this to be a place where professional women who did love fashion, makeup, accessories, and the like, had a place to readily access that information, provided by a peer academic/professional woman. I’m hopeful that CIA has done that to some extent over the years, but more importantly, that it continues to reinforce the fact that women can indeed be intelligent, productive, and serious, all while also loving fashion; the two, after all, are not mutually exclusive.

As a result, I too, over the years, have continued to foster that love for fashion and all things related. A few posts ago, I shared images found on Pinterest that I was hoping to use as guidance or inspiration for my own work outfits this week. Out of the outfits shared, I had my eye on one in particular; an outfit by Ahn of 9 to 5 Chic.

I love the simplicity of her outfits, something that I can use in my own wardrobe these days. My life has become increasingly busier: increased workload and responsibility at work; busier school and sports’ schedules for the boys; busier social calendar; and a number of other to-do’s that consume my days. There is something to be said for streamlining a wardrobe. While I agree with Chimamanda, and do still love prints and mixes, ultimately, I think I’m striving to achieve a wardrobe more like Ahn’s. This week, I had a good mix of both Anh-like and Chimanada-like outfits.

First, the Ahn copy-cat outfit. I found the dress on a Target clearance rack last week. Paid $11 for it. I also recently found the heels I’m wearing at a local TJMaxx. Lemme tell ya. They are AH-MAZING. Buttery leather, like gloves on my feet. They are Sam Edelman and also a full size smaller than I typically wear on my feet. Dancing, pregnancy, and genetics have all blessed me with widening feet over the years; feet that until now I’d dressed in size 7 heels, but comfortably fit into a 6W with this Sam Edelman pair. Y’all. All these years, and only now am I realizing that extended sizing had a purpose for me. It was a come to Jesus moment for sure. Goodness. God bless this hot mess express. Ooh wee! Anyway, how close did I get to recreating Ahn’s outfit??

 

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Dress, Target recent clearance item (similar) / Coat, Tahari via TJMaxx (similar) / Shoes, Sam Edelman via TJMaxx and Amazon / Bag via Amazon

Second outfit inspiration came from Pinterest as well. Refer back to this post to see if you can figure out which of the outfits I shared inspired the following:

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Sweater Marled via Marshalls (similar) / Skirt Halogen via Nordstrom Rack (one in size 4P via ebay) / Heels Forever 21 (similar)

I also came up with on my own (hello, I too got skillz!):

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Coat Tahari via TJMaxx (similar) / Dress via Trilogy Threads (use code CHIC10 for 10% discount) / Boots via Zara

Finally, my Adichie-inspired outfit:

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Coat via Forever 21 / Top via Zara / Bag via Amazon / Pants via Forever 21 (similar)

There are some who say that how you dress affects how you feel and how others respond to you. In fact, that is exactly how I feel. If I have a presentation to give, I gain confidence from wearing something that fits well and that feels “put together”. Looking less-than-put-together feeds my insecurity; especially in times when stress and insecurity may be at all all time high (e.g., before a big presentation, meeting, etc). Thus, an attempt to pull together an nice outfit, and give my confidence a boost, is not a bad thing to implement, in my opinion. My friend, and fellow girlboss, Michelle of Gold Dust & Sugar Lust agrees:

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Do clothes affect how you feel or how you feel people respond to you? I have to say that we all should feel free to wear what we like and what makes us feel comfortable, without fear of judgement, especially when our work should speak for itself. However, if you’re like me, and you love fashion, and it helps to add a little boost of confidence, know that you have a whole tribe of other girlbosses behind you – cheering you on and complimenting you on those bright colored lips and pattern-print clothes, or that monochromatic outfit that screams fabulosity. ❤

yours truly, dr. b (1)