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My Top 11 of 2011

December 29, 2011

Last year I considered doing a 2010 roundup but passed, mostly because my “Top Picks” were maybe Easy Mac and a peacoat after surviving bare-bones internships. 2011 was my first year of continuous full-time employment, and hot damn, I spent my money wisely! (Mostly. Does not include Black Swan Halloween ’11 weekend.)

The theme of my top picks is Cole Haan, shoes, and quality over quantity.

(Full disclosure: a friend of mine works at Cole Haan, receives a very generous discount, and reaps the benefits of sample sales. I did not spend hundreds on these items, and am very grateful I’m able to snag them at such a reasonable price. I’m aware a $500 bag is absurd for most — it is for me! Nonetheless, they’re still my favorite items from this year.)

1. Cole Haan brown satchel

This is the first nice bag I’ve ever owned. Before this one, I was wearing Kohl’s purses until they ripped, in the $30-$50 range. This one will surely last me a few years.

I love the dark brown belt-like strap on this, and the burnt siena (can I get away with that Crayola namedrop? Is it siena?) color of the leather. The inside is generously sized and has nice small pockets for phones or lipstick or whatever. I’m wearing this bag 9 times out of 10 during the week, as it mostly goes with everything. Unfortunately, it’s been caught in the rain a few times and has a bit of wear and tear from that. Otherwise, I never let it touch a subway floor and it’s always by my side when I’m out and about (never trust a coat check with a nice bag!).

2. Cole Haan black interview/messenger bag

This one will only be taken out for special occasions. It’s very “I’ve made it in New York” to me. Fits a laptop and tons of other crap. The next important work meeting I have, this bag will definitely be in tow.

3. Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan ballet flats

Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan Ballet Flats, $178.00

I got these in black, not sparkly, but I couldn’t find them online.

THESE ARE NOT JUST ANY FLATS, so don’t freak out that they’re $178. These are the queen flats, the best of the best. The shoe is made with Nike Air technology, meaning the soles and heel have these cushiony pads that make them super durable and comfortable. After going through several $30 pairs of black flats in my lifetime, I’m psyched that these are going to be able to take a beating on NY sidewalks.

4. Brilliant blue GAP legging jeans

GAP legging jeans in brilliant blue, $69.95

One of the best things about being unprepared for a night over at the significant other’s is that you’re “forced” to “have to” buy a new outfit for work the next day, instead of the unthinkable repeating the outfit from the day before, or concocting something smelly and horrible from whatever has accumulated at his place over the past several months. Such was the reasoning behind this purchase — bright blue legging jeans from the GAP.

The legging jeans here are so unbelievably comfortable and offer a flattering fit (not too tight/not made for Amazonian-esque models). It’s amazing how much of my wardrobe is boosted with bright blue as its bottom half. I’ve worn these over and over and they still feel brand new.

5. TOMS shoes in black

TOMS, $44

As described here, I love my TOMS shoes. Unless it’s raining, you don’t have to think twice about throwing them on and going to run a couple errands in your neighborhood. They’re easy, comfortable, and match with mostly everything.

6. Asics Cumulus running shoes

Asics Cumulus running shoes, $109.95

I can’t even talk about how badly I needed a new pair of running shoes. Before these, I had been running in the same pair of ripped, pathetic New Balances for years — it’s been at least 3. I’ve put it off because I’m not a serious athlete, and it’s hard to spend more than $100 on something that you don’t absolutely need. After getting identical recommendations at Jack Rabbit and Paragon Sporting Goods, these Asics were the winner.

I’m on week 4 of 9 of the Couch to 5K running program right now (no treadmill — real deal running!) and training for a stairclimb in March, and so far, these shoes have been great. They’re breathable and very cushioned for the beginner athlete.

7. Under Armour flip-flops

Under Armour flip-flips, $24.99

If I had to pick one item from this list that I think everyone should have no matter what, it’s these flip-flops. My aunt Nancy was wearing these shoes on our yearly trip to Vermont. I slipped them on real quick when I needed to walk outside and grab something, and was completely blown away.

I really can’t even describe how these feel on your feet. It’s like, putting your feet onto Memory Foam. The rest of the Vermont trip I kept yapping about how much I loved these shoes so much, she ended up giving me the pair to shut me up. They are so marvelous and decently priced, I would buy fifteen more pairs.

8. Origins Peace of Mind On-the-Spot Tension Relief

Peace of Mind On-the-Spot tension relief, Origins, $11.00

“When the world closes in on you and your head feels a size too small, apply just two dabs of Origins mind-clearing formula on the back of your neck, temples and earlobes. You’ll feel a tingling sensation as pressure, tension and tightness begin to melt away.” — Origins website

This sounds like a load of marketing crap, right?

Believe it or not, it’s actually legitimate. The next time you have a throbbing hangover, use this stuff. It’s wonderful. I keep mine at the office for stressful days. Maybe it’s all in my head, but something about the smell and numbing sensation soothes me.

9. MAC lipstick

I went to MAC and told the saleswoman I wanted a lipstick that was noticeable but not ridiculous. She returned with Lustre lipstick in Viva Glam. I tried it on, loved it, bought it, and walked out the door. I wear it almost daily. $15. End of story. (Sorry Beyonce, I’m sure your firefighter red lipsticks are just lovely for you but make me look insane, see below.)

10. Old Navy compression capris

Old Navy compression capris, $39.99

Lululemon, I’m still avoiding having to buy your $80 pants like the plague. I know you’re great, I just can’t do it.

Until that day comes, these Old Navy compression capris are great. They keep me warm during cold a.m. workouts and have a little zipper for your key(s) in the back. They’re the kind of workout pants you have to constantly wash because they’re your go-tos and it’s almost disgusting how often you wear them.

11. Vera Wang glasses

Vera Wang eyewear, Sol Moscot, price varies

2011 was the year my beloved but aesthetically awful glasses broke (not pictured, thank God). I had them since I was in middle school and they finally cracked. It was time to take advantage of my big girl insurance and buy new frames.

I was horrified at my exam that my vision had become even worse (you think yours is bad? I’m -13.00 in my left, -12.50 in my right. Yeah.) Even with “thin lens technology” that I paid an extra $100 for, the lenses are still super thick, but I’m aware I have abnormally terrible eyesight, so whatever. I love these frames and despite their nerdiness, they look a million times better on me than my old ones.

There you have it. My 2012 Thrifty Threads resolution is to make more trips to Goodwill than I did in 2011, both for donations and for shopping. Happy new year, all!

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