Thursday, September 12, 2019

Link List: Sweater Blazer Edition


I was quite excited to see photos of the Duchess of Sussex wearing a very familiar J.Crew collarless sweater blazer (affiliate link) recently. I'm not sure I attain quite the same level of lovely, effortless casual chic when I wear mine, but I can certainly vouch for how this sweater blazer makes a nice and versatile topper. The one downside to the item is that, given my terrible luck with wool-containing items from J.Crew in the past, I don't think I dare machine or hand-wash it, so I'm stuck with dry-cleaning when it eventually needs laundering someday.

Things at the office have continued to get more hectic. Not long ago, I had an emergency assignment to research the standard for mandamus, which, let me tell you, is a major sign something's gone terribly off the rails somewhere, and likely for reasons entirely beyond any one party's control. I do find these odd and urgent legal research questions sort of fun and exciting, though.

1. // I wanted to put in yet another recommendation for Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy (affiliate link), and also for True Justicethe recent HBO documentary about Stevenson's life and career thus far. I've written here to recommend his book quite a few times now, and I simply cannot understate how much I admire him and what he has accomplished, as well as the outlook and perspective he brings to questions of racial justice and criminal justice. Fun fact, though I probably overuse the term "extraordinary" in my writing, to describe various things, it seems clear that I use the term most often when I'm recommending Just Mercy and describing the person behind it.

The inspiration for recommending his book again was the recent release of the trailer for a movie adaptation, from which it looks like the film will be depicting the earliest part of Stevenson's career. I'm excited that there will be a movie. Just Mercy is such an important book, and any opportunity for it to be shared with more people is therefore a wonderful thing. But I may admire the real Bryan Stevenson so much that no movie could ever possibly be fully accurate in embodying everything I admire about him. 

2. // A while back, I wrote a little bit about the process for making a claim in the Equifax settlement, the result of a widespread data breach a while back. I was also pretty cagey about exactly what type of claim I intended to file, and about the other implications of various provisions in the court documents, because I didn't want to inadvertently sound like I was giving legal advice. (As always, nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship, etc. etc.) 

In any case, tons of news sources out there were not so shy about recommending a type of claim to make. Events played out from there, and the FTC soon needed to amend its information page to, essentially, explain that class action settlements are not as straightforward as the general public may have originally been led to believe. Based on my review of the court-approved documents pertaining to the settlement, I have not personally been surprised by any of these developments. 

People were not at all pleased, to say the least. Nor should they be, as class action settlements are rarely that satisfying for individual class members. (A cynical view of the class action device may be that settlements are generally still quite satisfying for plaintiffs' class counsel, regardless of how the actual class members feel.) Note, however, that it seems to me as if a lot of the angry reactions mischaracterize many key facts, particularly about who technically is to blame. Plaintiffs' counsel - the people who, in theory, represent all us affected class members - did need to consent to how the settlement was structured, or else there wouldn't have been a settlement at all.

3. // So, uh, nothing literally like anything in this viral story from The Cut has ever actually happened to me. But upon a quick look at the article to help me decide whether to save the link to read later (given my situation at the office, I don't really have time to fully read and digest long-form articles at the moment), I found myself relating... a lot, actually... to some of the themes and feelings described therein. And that's a strange feeling. Especially because a lot of public reactions are fairly dismissive of the story, and not really receptive to Natalie's perspective.

That's complicated for me because, even if my own experiences are ultimately very different, I too had a time in my late teens and early 20s when I just... made poor, sometimes inexplicable (to my adult perspective) decisions about friendships because I was terribly insecure and didn't know myself, or how to draw boundaries. And I don't think it's that rare to have had this experience. I take responsibility for having made those poor choices, and I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me. (And I'm not accusing the people I felt overawed by of doing anything wrong either. We were all very young, and sometimes immature. Sometimes they were unkind, and sometimes so was I. But ultimately we mostly meant well, including to each other. All of us have grown up a lot since, we're all very different people now.) But I also think it's something that's worthy of empathy. A lot of people have a toxic-to-them friendship or romantic relationship at some point in their lives. Or at least I think so? 

Anyway, college and the year immediately after it was a highly strange time for me. I'm still fascinated by how strange and disorienting that period of my life felt, and I continue to be befuddled by how I thought about social situations back then, how I reacted, and how I handled things. 

4. // A few blog entries elsewhere that I've been enjoying: I'm still thinking through some of the ideas raised in Adina's recent entry about personal branding. I have different ideas about "personal branding" in my profession on the one hand - the legal world is extremely small and one's reputation will precede you* - and for social media purposes on the other hand. Decluttering is clearly one of my favorite things to think about, and Luxe's post about the topic was a great read. It's always interesting to hear about different people's perspectives on the process and what it means to them. JENKR recently discussed a topic that's always near and dear to my heart, about how one's wardrobe might be different, if one's profession were different. 

Did you end up making a claim in the Equifax class action settlement? Have all the news stories about it also been giving you whiplash? I'm not necessarily shocked by the contents of any of the news coverage about the settlement, but I had thought it would take a lot longer for these problems to become fully apparent. Is anyone else following that story from The Cut, and the public reactions to it?

*Seriously, it could take as little as one bad day or bad event to ensure that tons of industry people will be gossiping about you for years to come (albeit not constantly, just whenever your name comes up, but that includes things like when you're a candidate for a new job opportunity).

Friday, September 6, 2019

Laundry Tales

via Unsplash

Although I have strong opinions about my laundry and how my clothes should be washed - I can't envision a scenario in which I would entrust the task of washing my clothes to anyone else; and now that K and I have experienced the profound luxury of having in-unit laundry in our NYC apartment, it's something I'll never want to give up so long as our budget allows - I don't actually write about laundry or "clothing care" that often. Admittedly, even with all my strong opinions and somewhat quirky preferences, there's not actually that much to say. Laundry is simply not that complicated!

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Plus, it's not like I'm an expert on laundry anyway. I can't fully vouch for the necessity of many of my preferences about what should be hand-washed, versus what can go in the machine. Fabrics that other people generally have no trouble with in the machine - provided that items are washed carefully, most likely in cold water,  preferably in a mesh baggie, and then line-dried, in my case on a drying rack drying rack (exact) indoors - have a history of shrinking in the wash on me. By this, I'm referring mainly to merino wool sweaters. (Over the years, I've had the most heinous luck with merino wool sweaters from the J.Crew or Madewell-ish price point.) Furthermore, I still have not the faintest idea about how to get stains out of silk without damaging it.

And if at all in doubt about whether I can wash something at home without causing damage, I'll send it out to the dry cleaner. More structured, expensive items like my suits, my wool-blend coats, and my cotton twill Everlane trench coat (current version) all go to the dry cleaner as a matter of course. I'll probably also send my cotton, polyester, and merino wool-blend J.Crew Sophie and Juliette sweater blazers to the dry cleaner as well, as I don't know if they'll hold their shape well if hand-washed. (Though, after wearing those frequently last fall/winter, none of them have needed cleaning yet.) I don't end up at the dry cleaner that often, mainly because none of these items need laundering that much, but I also don't see any likely alternative solutions for those items.

Today's post is all about laundry, a chore I quite enjoy. I even enjoy hand-washing things, though it can be a bit time-consuming, especially if I've let a backlog of items accumulate. (I hand-wash clothes in a Rubbermaid dishpan in the bathtub or the bathroom sink. I bought a bottle of Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo for sweaters and Laundress Delicate Wash for everything else while I was still in law school, and am still using those bottles today, even though it feels like I hand-wash things frequently. I often put a capful or two of white vinegar in with the detergent as well.)

In particular, this post is about a few laundry-related questions that were giving me some trepidation, some of which I now have answers for, some of which I still don't: How do I wash my down coat? Does that secondhand Tory Burch stretch cotton poplin dress I bought last year actually need to be dry-cleaned? Why is some viscose or rayon so poorly behaved and unpredictable in the wash? Spoiler alert, I don't have an answer for that last question.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Little Life Updates Q3 2019

My pencil bag and the notebooks (including a splurge-y Smythson Panama notebook) that I currently keep in my work bag (still the Madewell Medium Transport Tote). 

I say this all the time, about any given time period - and it's not as if anyone ever actually disagrees with me - but dang, time sure goes by fast, and 2019 is just racing by! It's looking like things at the office will be hectic for both K and I through at least November, and probably for longer than that, which is a bit daunting. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in a commission, typically a few cents, for me if you click. Thank you for your support!

One result of this continuous busy period is that we, as a household, may finally be done hemming and hawing over whether to hire someone to clean. We've had a few "false starts" with making that decision in the nearly 18 months since I wrote that post, times when a weekend "big clean" session turned out not so bad after all, or times when we had a slow period at work for a while and felt reinvigorated to do the chores ourselves. This time, though, I think we've finally made the choice. We're likely going to hire someone through Si Se Puede, a NYC-based women-owned co-op that recently came highly recommended via Anne Helen Petersen and a few of her readers. 

Billable Hours

Though I must say, despite having had several intense - including by biglaw standards - periods at work this year, my billed hours are still barely on track for a 1,950 hour year, i.e. one that's still a bit less busy than what some biglaw firms consider the minimum to get a full market-rate bonus (2,000 hours). And well, look at how, in its answer to a sex discrimination class action complaint, a certain biglaw firm sneered at some of the named plaintiffs' histories of ~1,700 or 1,800 hour years. (I once wrote about day-to-day life during an ~1,850 year, and while it wasn't bad at all by industry standards, it did involve quite a few late nights at the office and working through a few weekends.)

I'm only really tracking my hours out of curiosity, by the way. My current workplace does not base bonus amounts on billed hours. (Our bonuses are significantly less than the biglaw market rate.) Plus, even with all that's going to be on my plate at work for the rest of the year, there's at least a moderate chance I'll still finish at closer to 1,850 billed hours, or maybe even a little less than that. After all, there's the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods coming up, and I'll also take one more week-long vacation this year. 

Fall/Winter Shopping

Now that the weather's starting to cool down a bit, I can't help but look ahead at potential shopping for the fall/winter season. I just enjoy sweaters and coats so much more than summer clothing! There are a few things that I've been mulling over, as seen in my Pinterest shopping list

Sweater-wise, I have plenty, including from earlier this year, but I really enjoy sweaters and so I don't think I can stop myself from buying at least one. (Ideally, it'll be the only one.) Last year, around Black Friday, I became interested in a Vince funnel-neck sweater in boiled cashmere that they seem to bring back most years, but by late November, the color I liked was already sold out everywhere in my size. So if I want to try it this year, I expect I might need to order it earlier in the season, even if there are no discounts available. 

Shoe-wise, I'm actually pretty well set for fall/winter, since boots are so much more sturdy than my warmer weather shoes. But as I mentioned not long ago, some of the spring/summer shoes that I continue to wear sometimes in colder weather are kind of on their last legs. They're likely not in good enough shape that I'll still be wearing them next summer. So I've been thinking a little about new shoes. I've become interested in the somewhat menswear-inspired shoes by Office of Angela Scott, including the Mr. Colin monkstrap oxfords, the Miss Button mid-heel shoes, or the Mr. Franklin loafers. (In all instances, the fullest range of colors is available at the brand's website.)

Please follow the link below for a few other little life updates! 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

August 2019 Shopping Reflections

Like I mentioned last month, my cases at work have been a bit of a roller coaster lately. It's just a normal part of life as a litigator. Because there's some amount of randomness involved (certain actions by the court or opposing counsel being outside of one's control), last year was far more quiet for me than 2019 has turned out to be. I'm learning a lot, though, and I work with a great team. Plus, it's kind of fun to be thrown a few curveballs once in a while. It's very intellectually stimulating, to say the least. I enjoy my job most when I'm dealing with a novel, new-to-me challenge. (Naturally, I'd prefer if said challenge was of a modest enough size that it could be dealt with without too, too many late nights at the office. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.)

And yes, just like I predicted, those impulses to shop and treat myself to something nice came roaring up with a vengeance this month. With August's purchases, I've also firmly established something I'd been slowly realizing, that jewelry is in a separate category all its own for me, budget-wise. When it comes to buying pieces from smaller, women-owned brands, such as Alighieri (a bit more well-known in the fashion-world) or Porcelain and Stone (a bit smaller and more local to places I've lived in the past), I feel almost like I'm collecting art. To use the parlance of KonMari method, all those pieces sparked joy for me when I chose them, and they've continued to do so every time I put them on. 

I feel like my maximum budget for jewelry veers disproportionately high - as seen most vividly from this month's big-ticket purchase - compared to my maximum numbers for clothing, shoes, or other accessories. My jewelry habit is, at the very least least, still kept in check by the outer limits of my overall budget, student loans and all. There's a definite ceiling to how much I can indulge, even though I'm not as strict about keeping this habit in check as others in my shoes might be. Particularly if they don't enjoy jewelry as much as I do.

Anyway, I'll continue to track my monthly shopping totals the same way I always have. (I think it would get too confusing if I separated out the cost of jewelry from everything else when I did these monthly round-ups.) And I'll still calculate my total spend, including jewelry, at the end of each year, or for whatever other multiple-month time period I choose to look back on and discuss. But when I do those more in-depth analysis posts, I'll also start putting more emphasis on the "total spend, minus jewelry" number going forward, like I did for one such post in July.

Fashion - (TOTAL: $871.11)
  • J.Hannah Duet Earrings, Yellow Gold - $688.00 - Speaking of Marie Kondo, she wore these earrings to an awards show once, and I think Alice Gao has a pair too. I had these on my "Thinking About" shopping list for quite some time. When J.Hannah was doing a 20% off sale recently, I decided to go ahead and get them because I didn't think another opportunity to do so with a discount would come again that quickly. Because this was my first ever purchase of solid gold jewelry for myself, the price of these earrings blew all previous jewelry purchases completely out of the water, even after the 20% discount. These are beautiful though, truly. 
  • Mejuri Blue Lace Agate Necklace - $96.02* - That day I dropped off my items at TheRealReal, the "consignment specialist" I met with was wearing one of these Mejuri "gem collection" necklaces - I think the black spinel - layered with the lariat slide necklace. It was a super-chic combination, and I pinned the discontinued lapis lazuli gem necklace to my "Wishful Thinking" shopping list shortly after. I looked unsuccessfully for the lapis version on Poshmark and eBay for a while, and also looked at other lapis lazuli pendants, before deciding I was open to getting this blue lace agate instead. From browsing around for other lapis lazuli pendants, the Mejuri gem necklaces did seem somewhat unique, a bit more modern-looking and daintier than most similar things on the market. (Heavy emphasis on dainty, by the way. As with some other Mejuri pieces, once I had it in hand, I found it smaller than I expected, even though I'd seen it in person before.) 
  • LinenFox "Summer" Dress, emerald green - $87.09 - This order hasn't arrived yet, and it might have another week or two before it's shipped from Lithuania. But I reported my previous LinenFox purchase the month I ordered it, rather than the month it arrived. (With my Elizabeth Suzann dress and belt, which had a similar time gap between order and arrival date, I did the opposite, so there hasn't been 100% consistency with when I report made-to-order purchases.) Ever since LinenFox debuted this teal-looking "emerald green" shade this summer, I've been obsessed with the color. I kept going back and forth about which dress design would suit me, and sort of surprised myself that I went with this more pinafore-looking "Summer" dress. Given how I often worry that more voluminous linen clothing - taking into account linen's natural texture and tendency towards wrinkles - might be too casual-feeling and maybe a bit too "rustic" for my personal tastes, I was surprised I ended up going with this style. There's a fair bit of extra volume and it's a very casual-leaning design. But, after mulling over some photos of other people on Instagram wearing this dress, I felt like I wanted to lean in more to the casual feel of linen with this dress purchase.
*Indicates that the price includes shipping charges. 

It's starting to cool down a bit here in NYC. While I'm always excited for the end of hot and humid summer weather, this does mean I probably won't have much of a chance to wear that LinenFox dress this year.

How was your shopping month? Are there any wardrobe or other spending categories that you splurge on in a way that feels slightly disproportionate to the rest of your budget? Outside of my closet (and my student loan payments, hah), the other main thing I spend disproportionately on is probably housing. K and I spend a little bit more than most of our similarly situated peers; there are definitely cheaper comparable apartments in our neighborhood, though many of them don't have in-unit laundry. While my food expenses are also rather dramatic and shocking to anyone who doesn't live in NYC, I actually think my number is not that unusual compared with other white-collar professionals with similarly long and unpredictable hours.