Friday, April 28, 2017

April Shopping Reflections


My interview season has finally come to a close and, with that, I'm hoping to get back to writing more regularly. With my commute on top of the normal level of busy for my current job (I've been spending significantly more hours out of the house for work than K at his biglaw firm for months now - many biglaw practice groups have been slow this year) on top of the interviews, I've been worn out. Part of the problem is that I don't think I'm physically capable of fully adjusting to my new sleep schedule. My law firm schedule aligned perfectly with my natural sleep cycle, and moving everything up by two and a half hours has not been fun. I've been on my current schedule for half a year now, and even with the assistance of melatonin, I still have trouble falling asleep every night. 

This was a fairly low-shopping month, which is proper, in light of last month's dramatic spending. I am now $240.91 over budget for the year (($150 x 4) - $555.98 - $154.21 - $94.79 - $35.93 = -$240.91), compared to last month's $354.98, so I'll need a few more low-shopping months to catch up, but I am on the right track. 

In other news, I've been seeing a kind of fancy dermatologist, mostly out of curiosity and because, as a short-term government employee, I briefly am in possession of the best health insurance I'm likely to ever have (biglaw firms are not known for robust health insurance offerings). This will probably be the only time in my life that I can justify regularly seeing a dermatologist for fairly routine care.

Spoiler alert: The dermatologist prescribed some new medications, but I don't think their course of treatment actually works better for me than my most recent over-the-counter CosRx BHA-centric routine (cheapest on Amazon, see my quick review here). Cortisone shots are miraculous, but imperfect, but those are expensive even after insurance. I haven't been reporting on my skincare purchases these past two months, because they've fallen more in the category of medical necessity rather than discretionary purchase while my skin adjusts to new prescriptions. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $35.93) 
  • Ann Taylor Mosaic Lace Shift Dress (only one size left) - $35.93 - I couldn't help but snag this dress when it briefly popped back in stock in my size. I actually have another one in a near-identical color (navy blue rather than this royal blue) from late summer of 2015. I loved that one so much, I wanted a back up. I couldn't tell from the stock photos, but the lace pattern on the 2015 version was different, a bit more delicate. The fabric is otherwise the same cotton and nylon blend for the lace with a polyester lining. The dress is quite light and good for most seasons, even summer (though if the lining weren't polyester, it'd breathe better). I also wear the older dress in cold weather with tights, a cardigan, and a coat. Ann Taylor is currently stocking a lace shift dress in this same cotton-nylon blend in bright pink and steel gray, but in a leaf-patterned lace. Note that this dress runs quite large, though it's also a bit short of hem. I normally am a 4 or 6 regular in Ann Taylor dresses, but a 2 regular gets a "just right" fit for me in this dress. 

Linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers as usual this month. Please do go check out what everyone else bought this month! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March Shopping Reflections


Long time no blog! The interview process, on top of my regular commute and work schedule, has been exhausting. I think it's starting to wind down at last (I'm leaning strongly towards my old firm), so I'll hopefully have more energy to write again in the near future. 

This month involves a bit of a first for me. Throughout the two years-plus of monthly budget posts, I don't think I've ever gone dramatically over budget without having "banked" enough to cover it from previous under-budget months that year. Until now. A few months ago, I mentioned an interest in a new colorful wool-blend coat, though the desire made me feel sheepish (I didn't need-need one) and it didn't pan out. What I hadn't mentioned was that I'd, somewhat relatedly, developed an interest in the Ted Baker wrap coat after seeing it on a few other stylish women in the city. The big sticking point was price. I wasn't seeing any sales on it before most sizes sold out and the sticker price was above the general range of what I'd feel comfortable spending. Then I saw the Ted Baker coat on sale ($384 before tax). Only the oxblood color was available, but they had my likely size. Past experiences with oxblood colored clothing suggested it wouldn't work for me, but nevertheless, I ordered it. I could always take it back to the store.

As for the two pairs of drapey black pants, there was a fleeting turn towards Spring weather here earlier this month that ended up being extremely deceptive. I expect to get a lot of wear from these once the weather warms up, even if they really may push the NYC attorney's business-casual envelope a bit. I'll write more about what motivated those purchases later, but it came out of a desire for more comfortable work clothing. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $555.98)
  • Ted Baker Long Wrap Coat - $418.08* - I was so sure I would be sending this back, but it was just too pretty, and I was fairly confident that this was the best sale price I would get without looking to the secondhand market. The oxblood shade is more purple and less red than other oxblood-colored clothing I've tried, and somehow it works (similar shades have previously just looked wrong on me). Size 3 (the equivalent of an US 8) was the right one to accommodate my chest. The neckline is a bit finicky though, as Julycheee had mentioned about the short version of the coat. 
  • Uniqlo Women Drape Jogger - $29.90 - Because winter returned with a vengeance and remained for most of March, I haven't worn this out of the house yet. On my short for my 5'3'' height legs, these pants are the exact right length, no hemming needed, though they may show a bit less ankle than on the model. 
  • Grana - $108.00** 
    • Silk Ankle Pants - As with the Uniqlo drape jogger, March weather has not allowed me to wear these out yet. I bought the short length, which are exactly right as ankle pants on me. 
    • Women's Oxford Boyfriend Shirt - This was an impulse buy, one I decided on before the Ted Baker coat ate up my budget for the next several months. I've never had a relaxed-fit white button-down that I could see myself wearing with casual outfits (I wre the J.Crew Stretch Perfect Shirt with my suit for interviews when I was in college, but that's a very fitted look and wasn't what I wanted for casual wear). Because I trusted Grana's size measurements and general quality, I thought this was one to try. This kind of shirt for casual wear is a little out of my comfort zone, so we'll see how it works out for me once the weather warms up. 
*Including sales tax. 

**After $20 referral credit, thank you to readers who signed up through my link. If you are a new customer and sign up through my link, you will get 10% off your first order, and I will get $20 Grana store credit for the referral after you purchase. Thank you for your support!

Off-Budget Fashion Purchases 
  • Sam Edelman Tristan pumps - I finally put in an order for the ultraconservative interview shoes I needed. These were the first pair I ordered, and they were comfortable immediately (for the duration of a three hour job interview with walks around the office building halls a few times, which is not always a given) and seem to require no breaking in. At a 3'' heel, they're a bit taller than my previous tallest pair of pumps, so I'm still getting a little used to the height. I my experience, Sam Edelman shoes have a better track record for comfort than Cole Haan ones (the alternatives I would have considered next) so I was fairly confident about keeping these instead of trying others. They're slightly discounted at Zappos, by the way! 

For 2017 so far, I am now $354.98 over budget (($150 x 3) - $555.98 - $154.21 - $94.79 = -$354.98), or over budget by about 2.4 months. This doesn't mean I absolutely cannot shop again until June, as my budget is flexible month-to-month. (I commit to staying under budget for the year, this year at $150 x 12 = $1800, but otherwise I don't sweat it.) This is the most off track I've ever been since I first started doing these posts way back in 2015, though, so I have to be significantly more careful for the rest of the year, at least until my budget starts looking more on track.

Linking up to Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers, as usual, this month. Be sure to go check out what everyone else bought! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

February Shopping Reflections


Lots of  J.Crew the year so far, when it comes to my clothing purchases (though this month's was done on eBay). As with the Ruffle Trim Shift Dress last month, the Presentation Dress (old, seen on other blogs here, here, and here) purchase was inspired by seeing a stranger wearing it out and about. Whereas the time gap between seeing the real life inspiration and ordering the Ruffle Trim Shift Dress was only about two weeks, I waited much longer on this one, almost seven months. I had doubts about whether this style would suit me, but I kept on thinking about it, on quite a few different occasions, so by the time I purchased, I was at least sure that I wouldn't regret it.

I ended up with the 6R in this style (which most people said ran large), though I had been hoping for a 6P or 8P (with, say, Ann Taylor, regular sizing dresses are often best, but with J.Crew, petite sizing works better for me). I'd been looking on eBay on and off without seeing the exact size and color combination I wanted, so when I saw this one, which was close, at a good price, I finally bought it. The 6R works pretty well. I find it right on the edge of snug at the shoulders (as in, there's slightly restricted movement if I reach above my head because of something odd about the sleeve design) and around the chest (a 6P may have been too small), though it's a little roomy in the hips, as is usually the case for me.

This month's other purchases were items I've bought before. I've worn the same cultured pearl earrings close to every single day since I purchased them in early 2015. I've been extremely satisfied with how they've held up. (I've occasionally lost one of the backs, and generally replaced with these sterling silver backs.) I finally lost a earring, and purchasing a replacement was a "must" for me. I've also been working out slightly more frequently and doing laundry a bit less frequently, so it was high time to add a second sports bra to my collection, in the exact same style as my other one.

Fashion - (TOTAL: $154.21) 
  • J.Crew Presentation Dress (old, via eBay) - $40.22* - It's fairly easy to find this dress on eBay, though it's often a little more expensive than the price I paid. I like this dress, though I do find the sleeves odd, as I mentioned above. 
  • Cultured Pearl Earrings, 6.5-7mm, 14k gold posts - $43.99 - Before I first purchased these, I wore cultured pearl earrings on sterling silver posts (exact, it's lower-priced than these), which looked about as nice, but were less durable. One of those pearls fell off the post about a year later, though I glued it back with super glue and kept wearing it for a while, repeating the procedure about once ever two months, until I purchased my first set of these.
  • Panache Underwire Sports Bra - $70.00 - I really like this sports bra, though I'll admit that a large part of why I picked it was that it was the only one that didn't run so small and tight (considering that I had bought them all in my actual bra size) that I could actually wear it comfortably! Note that it still starts out quite snug in the band even if it is "true to size," in my experience. I'm quite busty, enough that I pretty much need both my bikinis and sports bras to come with underwires and in bra sizes, which gets pricey. This sports bra does its job well, including when wear it to run, i.e. for high-impact exercise. 
*Indicates that price included shipping. 

Beauty and Skincare - (TOTAL: $29.23)
  • Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion - $9.39 - Best prices are on Amazon, with the lowest prices generally being from Japan-based sellers. I ordered this bottle in early February, but because of unpredictable free international shipping, it has yet to arrive. This was poorly planned out on my part, as I had already depleted my previous bottle almost entirely by the time I ordered...
  • Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion - $14.40 - ...Which led me to ordering this bottle from a Prime-eligible seller only a week or two later. This is a tried and true holy grail item in my skincare routine, and I can't even count how many bottles I've used up by this point. It's a moisturizing toner, not what most US-based people would describe as a "lotion." I'd imagine that it's suitable for almost all skin types.
  • CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch - $5.44 - Another holy grail item in my skincare routine, though thankfully not one that I need to purchase quite as often as the Hada Labo lotion. This item helps speed up healing for  certain types of acne, as I explained in this post

I'm a little over budget this month, though not by much, and everything should even out by the end of the year. I'm linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers this month, as usual. Please do go check out what everyone else bought this month!

Friday, February 24, 2017

(Shopping) Life Lately


Today's post is a quick one, mostly about items I tried on recently. It's been so long since I last interviewed for jobs in earnest, way back in the summer of 2013 before the start of my 2L year, and I had forgotten how exhausting it is!

Alas, I'm finding that the chances of getting a position that I would choose over returning to my previous firm are much slimmer than expected. There's this common wisdom that litigation associates generally have a hard time finding good "exit options" from their original firms, particularly when they're very junior, and I may be experiencing that. I'm also a fairly "average" post-clerkship candidate rather than a superstar, so that's another factor. I loved working with the people at my original firm, so this is no great tragedy, though it does make all this effort feel a bit wasted. 

The upside is that I may well be done interviewing before spring fully sets in, while it's still cold enough for black tights (Uniqlo Heattech when it's around 35 to 40 degrees Farenheit and fleece lined tights when its colder) and my trusty Sam Edelman Petty booties under my skirt suits. I'll be able to put off shopping for interview shoes for another good long while, which is probably for the best, as it's a genre of shoe that brings me very little excitement. 

As you'll soon see in my forthcoming monthly shopping budget post, I only did a little bit of actual clothes shopping this month. I also tried a few items that didn't pan out. I didn't like this J.Crew Cropped Lady Jacket at all (limited sizing, petite sizing no longer available, but judging from the regulars I tried, the petite sizes would have been too cropped on me). The neckline is a little too large and the material is much thicker and heavier than expected. With jackets in this style, I'd want to wear them indoors, like a blazer, but most NYC office buildings have robust enough central heating that a jacket of this weight and thickness would be too warm. 

While doing some off-budget shopping for underthings at Uniqlo (thanks to that misadventure with my laundry), I also tried on the Rayon Flare Long-Sleeve Tee Blouse, but found the sleeves too exaggerated. I shouldn't have been surprised, as I'm generally not sold on the bell-sleeve trend. I've been vaguely in the market all season for machine-washable long-sleeved blouses, whether in polyester or rayon, but nothing I've tried (mostly from Loft or Uniqlo) has worked As for underthings, I feel rather sheepish that I keep going back to Uniqlo, as its solidly "fast fashion", but I've found that their cotton styles (5% spandex) are considerably more sturdy, just as comfy, and a much better value than, say, pairs from Calvin Klein or Natori

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Civil and Appellate Procedure Imbroglio

The United States Supreme Court, via.
I wrote my last entry a few days before I posted it, as is my general habit. Thus, the post was written a few days before legal chaos was about to break loose. We live in strange times, lawyers especially. In my current role, there are restrictions on political activity, political speech, and practicing law, restrictions that I never thought would chafe as much as they do. I was having trouble sleeping, had fitful dreams about court orders not being enforced. Inspiration, blogging-wise, faded, and has been extremely slow in returning.

Without expressing an opinion regarding either electoral politics or the legal merits of issues in active litigation, my thoughts in November about the importance and the near-sacred duty of our judicial institutions now appear... perhaps remarkably prescient. In that general vein, below are several links that I find particularly educational in laying out some of the current issues. Certain links are, it cannot be denied, partisan in their implications, but are offered here only for educational and informational purposes: 
  • "The Quiet Grandeur of the Courts," a New York Times Editorial Board piece, is an elegant explanation of one of the underlying issues in the background of it all. This other opinion piece, by New York Times columnist Charles Blow, is a bit more fiery, but in the same vein. 
  • The Ninth Circuit has posted filed documents and other information regarding the appeal on an official public information page. The news media and twitter have generally been about 15 minutes ahead of this page when it comes to breaking news. Given the status of the case, however, I don't expect breaking news to appear in the next few days.
  • The Western District of Washington case and ensuing Ninth Circuit Appeal is actually in an exceedingly strange and confusing procedural posture, hence the title of this post. It's technical, but in a way that any law student with 1L Civil Procedure under their belt could at least begin to expound on and attempt to unpack. This informative and very accessible piece was written by Sarah Jeong, who graduated law school not long before I did, and I think it does a good job of explaining why it's odd. 
    • P.S. there's one extra step that Jeong's diagram omits. Ninth Circuit rules also allow for one additional stage after en banc review, should it occur,  a "super en banc" if you will. This has never actually occurred in the decades since the rule allowing for it was promulgated. 
  • What happens next? Due to the current procedural imbroglio, it's somewhat unclear. Prior to a Ninth Circuit's judge call to have the case heard en banc, Professor Josh Blackman wrote a post providing a very complete explanation of some of the options. Ensuing events have closed some of the doors he described. (Professor Blackman's more technical post, part 1, regarding the current procedural status of the case is here, but with more editorializing and commentary on what may or may not be procedurally proper or improper.) 
  • Judges rarely, almost never, make public comments that can be construed as directly political. Chief Justice Roberts may, however, occupy an unique position as the head of the Judicial Conference of the United States, as CNN reports. (The generally recognized norm that judges should refrain from political comment may or may not be as sacrosanct as many assume, at least as to the Supreme Court. All that is probably for historians and academics to comment on.)