Tuesday, October 26, 2021

October 2021 Shopping Reflections


Work has suddenly gotten super-hectic again, so things will be more quiet on this blog for the next few weeks. Alas, I think October will also end up being another month without a reading reflections post, I'm probably not going to finish any books due to being too busy or mentally preoccupied with work. Oh well, I never had a goal for how many books I wanted to read this year or anything like that, though I'm a bit sad my brain isn't up to the task of enjoying reading for fun right now. 

Though actually, from my past experience billing fairly extreme hours from late 2019 through early 2020 - before the pandemic intervened and shut down my cases for a time - when my hours get past a certain point, I actually end up wanting to read for fun a lot more because it's one of the only ways my brain can briefly escape from thinking about work. I really hope my pace of billing doesn't get back to that point, and I don't even think it's likely given my current caseload, but who knows. 

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I guess it's also clear now that, unlike what I said in August, I actually do feel like shopping for fall/winter this year after all. That doesn't bother me too much, though if I get much busier at work I need to be careful I don't start shopping more impulsively due to work-related stress. There are definitely times when billing long hours makes me want to online window-shop more because of stress, and there are also times when it doesn't because I just don't have any extra time or mental energy left. It's hard to say which way I'll react until I'm in the thick of it. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Thinking About Tees

It's been a while now since I last purchased a new tee shirt, a gray linen v-neck from H&M (old, similar in other colors) back in June 2017 (unless we count my LinenFox "Mona" top from April 2019, which I don't really because it's dressier than a typical tee). I currently own three tees that I wear outside my home or the gym: (1) that H&M gray linen v-neck; (2) an Everlane white linen scoop-neck (old, discontinued); and (3) an Everlane black v-neck in cotton (old, similar) purchased around 2013 or 2014, before I started this blog. 

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In truth, tee shirts are not a mainstay of my wardrobe, even on weekends. Throughout spring and NYC's typically long summer - I've only just stopped wearing my summer outfits more often than not, in mid-October! - I generally don't reach for separates at all, I strongly prefer to wear dresses. Back when I started this blog, tees played a bigger role in my casual outfits for fall/winter when I wore more cardigans on the weekends. Since 2019 or so, however, I've preferred pullover sweaters rather than cardigans, so my tees only really get used for layering purposes, and thennthey're completely hidden. 

But during my recent travels - to Crested Butte, CO in mid-August and upstate New York in late September - where the temperatures and settings didn't suit my light summer dresses, but also didn't require sweaters, I found myself feeling like I'd outgrown the styles in my current tee collection. Back when I was buying those tees in 2017 and earlier, I avoided crew necks because I found higher-cut crew necks unflattering for my bust. Over time, however, as my proportions have changed somewhat with age and a few periods of significant lifestyle changes due to long commutes or the COVID pandemic, I'm actually finding I may prefer the look of a higher-cut crew neck over some of the alternatives. 

For a while now, I've been feeling like more typical or classic, somewhat higher-cut v-necks like on the Everlane cotton tee (similar) are just not flattering to my current bust and shoulders, at least to my eyes and because I'm a bit self-conscious about those parts of my body. That type of higher v-neck just feels awkward on me right now. As for my linen tees, both the very wide v-neck from H&M (similar in other colors) and the rather open scoop-neck from Everlane are just a bit too wide or open for my tastes now. With those tees' intentionally relaxed fits combined with their low necklines, both could easily shift around as I go about my day and accidentally expose my bra at times. They just feel sloppy to me now as a result, and so I'm not fully comfortable wearing them out by themselves anymore. Also, I think I'd prefer cotton jersey to linen as a material, the linen can feel a little less smooth on the skin. 

Long story short, I'm currently in the market for a few new tee shirts, maybe two or three total (one white and one black, maybe also one in gray). Though I feel like tees may be difficult to shop for online, since so much depends on how exactly a specific tee will sit on one's body, something very difficult to discern from store photography on mostly very tall, slim models. In the past, I've found that seemingly near-identical basic tee shirts from different brands can all fit me very differently. I'm currently thinking of starting with an ATM Anthony Thomas Mellilo schoolboy slub cotton tee in black (also available here; as recommended by Michelle) and a James Perse vintage boy cotton jersey tee in white (also available here). 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Stay at Mohonk Mountain House

Thank you all for your kind congratulations and well wishes about K and I's recent wedding! I can't reply to every comment individually, so I wanted to make sure to thank everyone. 

As part of my mom and sister's recent visit - our first time seeing each other in person in nearly two years - I treated them to a few nights' stay at Mohonk Mountain House ("Mohonk"). It was an extremely fancy outing, one I would probably have considered solidly out of budget were it not for spending $0 on travel in 2020 and the earlier months of 2021, after already saving up a substantial "travel budget" for that trip to Taiwan and Japan K and I were supposed to take back in April 2020. Mohonk was even featured as a location for an exclusive business conference in an episode of Billions, so that's how you know it's really fancy! 

It was maybe impulsive of me to go ahead and spend a large percentage of the money I originally saved for two weeks in Taiwan and Japan on three nights at Mohonk. But it'd been so long since I saw my mom and sister that I wanted to treat us to something special. And we all really enjoyed our time at Mohonk, the grounds are absolutely beautiful; the hotel is charming and comfortable; and the food is delicious and served in generous portions as part of the all-inclusive price of a stay. (Alcoholic beverages are extra, of course.) My mom and I aren't quite as accustomed to moderately strenuous hikes as my sister, and we still had plenty to do. 

One thing to be aware of when researching a potential stay at Mohonk: They currently charge 15% in service fees on top of the entire base price of the stay. They refer to it as an "Administrative Fee" in the fine print when booking, and note that it covers rooms, dining, (non-alcoholic) beverage, and room service. While they don't refer to this fee as a gratuity, they do note in the fine print that there's no need to offer gratuities or voluntary tips on top of these 15% fees. The fee definitely wasn't a surprise, it's quite clearly disclosed when booking. But if I wasn't used to significant resort fees from some other trips I've taken in the past, I might've felt a little sticker shock. 

COVID safety-wise, because most activities at Mohonk are outdoors, it's possible to make it an extremely COVID-safe trip. Guests and employees are all required to wear masks while walking around the hallways in the hotel. It's only if you choose to partake in indoor dining in the dining room that you'll spend time unmasked, and around other unmasked individuals. I actually know someone who stayed at Mohonk last summer, long before COVID vaccines were available, and back then all dining was apparently room service-only. These days, you can still choose to have all your meals via room service, and there's no extra charge as long as you order during regular mealtimes. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Try-On: Madewell Balloon Jeans

Top: H&M Linen Tee (old, similar in other colors) 
Shoes: Kate Spade Croc-Embossed Loafers (old)

I've mentioned a few times now that I've recently become inspired by the way Amy Smilovic - the founder and head designer of Tibi - describes her personal style and the concept of personal style in general. (She discusses these topics on her Instagram stories and through "Tibi Style Class" live sessions on the brand's Instagram, also available on YouTube. Many fundamental parts of Smilovic's "Creative Pragmatist" personal style and her suggested approach to shopping and personal style are also summarized in this Coveteur article, which Kathy recently shared.) 

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I haven't yet had the chance to sit down and articulate what my personal style is using Smilovic's approach, which focuses on a list of core adjectives. Hers are "Chill, Modern, Classic." (I do like "Chill" and "Classic" for myself, but I think the way I interpret them is a little different than how she does, and I'm not sure either or both would make it onto my list of primary adjectives.) But I do know she has inspired me to think more creatively and expansively about what I might like to wear. I'm slowly becoming a bit more willing to think about designs or silhouettes outside my somewhat conservative and "safe" personal style comfort zone.

Separately, because people have been talking more vigorously for a while now about how skinny jeans may be on their way out for good - finally? I'm actually somewhat surprised skinny jeans remain so ubiquitous; I felt like I was already a late adopter of skinny jeans back when I first started wearing them in college in 2009, and obviously there have been many rounds of different jean silhouette trends in the decade since - I was already becoming interested in trying different, wider-leg denim styles, even before I first learned about Amy Smilovic. 

But because of the no-jeans, more "formal" business casual dress code at most of my workplaces, I simply don't need more than two or three pairs of jeans in my closet. (And the third pair is solid black and exists solely to sneak around the no-jeans rule on casual Fridays, hah!) Plus, because I'm quite short - 5'3'', but with shorter-than-average legs for my height - finding jeans that even fit properly off-the-rack is a major chore no matter what, before even starting to factor in more interesting, wider-leg silhouettes that definitely won't fit all body types the same. 

I've dabbled somewhat with looser-fit straight-leg jeans. In fact, my Uniqlo jeans (old, worn here) are technically straight-leg cigarette jeans. But in practice, I personally feel like most straight-leg jeans still look and feel quite skinny-fit or slim-fit on me. The Uniqlo straight-leg jeans may technically look different from my Gap skinny jeans (similarworn here) in photographs, but they still feel like the serve the exact same function in my wardrobe. When I look at them in the mirror and compare, they both feel like interchangeable slim-fit jeans to me. (It doesn't help that I bought both pairs in near-identical dark blue washes.) 

I think I'd need an intentionally very slouchy-fit or wide-leg design for me to notice they're a different-enough silhouette from my usual to be worth keeping. And I'd also like this new pair of jeans to be in a medium blue or light blue wash to add some variety to my current set of dark blue and black jeans.