Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales on Things I Like

via Unsplash

It isn't too common for a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale to include clothing, shoes, or accessories I've had my eye on. Generally, the better sales for products in that category come after Christmas or New Years, provided the specific products I was looking at didn't sell out in the meantime. This year, I thought I'd make a list of Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales that include specific items I've bought and liked - generally available in at least slightly different colors than when I bought the item - or fairly narrow categories of items I feel I can somewhat vouch for. 

I'll keep this list updated throughout the next few days. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US, or who are currently celebrating the holiday! 

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Babaa Sweaters and Lounge Sets: The Spanish slow fashion knitwear brand Babaa is running a fairly broad holiday sale, apparently through this weekend. The brand doesn't offer sales too, too often, and their products are - reasonably - quite pricey, so this is an alright opportunity if you've been eyeing some of their sweaters or lounge sets. A number of the merino wool lounge sets are on sale, through sadly the light turquoise "seaside" color I bought is sold out. That dramatically chunky No. 15 jumper I got is also on sale in a few colors, including the gray-brown "oak" color I have. Admittedly, the No. 15 jumper is so intentionally oversized and chunky that it isn't too practical, I can't layer it under any of my coats. 

Jasmine Chong Ella Silk Organza Scrunchie: This handmade pleated silk organza scruchie was a social distancing-time pick-me-up I purchased in June this year, and I think it's quite lovely and well-made. I was happy with my purchase at full price, though I know I won't likely get too, too much use from it once I'm back to working in-person. I definitely don't expect super-small brands and businesses to run Black Friday sales, though I certainly appreciate when they do. Jasmine Chong is running 20% off accessories this year, including this scrunchie (use the code HOLIDAY20). 

Cuyana Leather Totes and Cases: Cuyana has put a limited number of their leather totes and leather cases on sale through Monday, with a 15% off discount applied at checkout. K got me this set of two leather travel cases for Christmas one year. I also own the non-zipper version of their classic leather tote -  the zippered version of which is on sale - and both are good, unbranded, and very simple-looking leather tote for work. Their classic totes are nice and feel sturdy, but the leather is also very soft and pliable, which makes the bags a bit floppy. 

L.L. Bean Boots and Blankets: L.L. Bean is running a sitewide 15% off sale (with code THANKS15) that includes both the Wicked Cozy blanket I've recently become so fond of and my trusty L.L. Bean boots lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate

J.Crew Sweater Blazers: This is admittedly a set of products that doesn't get any use from me while I'm not going to the office - for now, I prefer softer, less structured sweaters - but in normal times I wear my J.Crew sweater blazers frequently throughout the fall and winter. (Though always layered under a wool-blend or down coat, these are not made to block the wind, as I personally found from wearing one out without a coat on one chilly day.) I particularly like the collarless Juliette sweater blazer (styled for work here; styled casually here) for wearing over sheath dresses as part of my "work uniform". I mostly keep the collared Sophie sweater blazer (styled for work here; styled casually here) at my office for use year-round as an "office sweater" when the HVAC system runs too cold, though I think it suits my outfits best as a more casual piece. Note that, at least when I bought them, both sweater blazers ran very large. I ended up taking a size XS in both, which is almost unheard of for me! 

As of today, November 25, J.Crew is currently running a 50% off full-price items and extra 60% off sale items Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale (use the code EARLY) that includes both sweater blazers, though some colors seem to be backordered and might not ship until after the New Year. 

In the past, I believe J.Crew has sometimes run a pretty good sale leading right into Thanksgiving and then slightly hiked up the discount percentage afterwards for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. But given the size of the discount right now, I'm not sure that's likely this year. One relevant anecdote: I specifically recall holding on to a bunch of potential J.Crew purchases to take advantage of this hoped-for increased discount in 2018. I wasn't the only one with that idea, because J.Crew's website couldn't handle the volume of customers throughout the Black Friday weekend that year, and it took me several hours of trying on and off before I could check out successfully online. J.Crew's social media accounts were inundated with a dramatically large number of complaints that year, and I was taken aback at how intensely angry people were willing to get on Twitter and Instagram, where the comments are publicly visible. 

Vince Boiled Cashmere Funnel Neck Sweater: I was just talking about how much I enjoyed this cozy, very soft (but a bit unusually fuzzy, zoom in on the most close-up store photos to see what I mean) sweater I bought last year. Sizing-wise, it's intentionally oversized, and even at a 38'' bust measurement, I still get a slightly oversized look from the size S. Vince is currently running a 30% off sale site-wide (use the code NOVEMBER30). (I feel like I  recall last year's Black Friday or Cyber Monday discount being only around 15%!) From browsing the Vince store and Nordstrom in person back in pre-COVID times, I've found that Vince sweaters for the fall/winter season generally all feel nice, thick, and soft in person. Though I'd still look carefully at the fabric composition details when shopping, because I'd prefer all-natural fibers at their fairly lofty price point! 

Alighieri Jewelry: As is typical, based on at least some of the past few years, Alighieri is running their own sale this year on a limited number of designs. This year's "Archive Sale" has the most generous discounts (more than 40%, I think) I've ever seen for the brand, though not on any styles I own. But because this is from the London-based brand's own store, prices are in GBP (and will incur a foreign exchange fee unless you're using a payment method without one) and international shipping will also be fairly pricey. 

More Alighieri Jewelry: A number of Alighieri jewelry designs are currently on sale at SSENSE and Matches Fashion, though not any of the styles I own. I've bought a slightly extreme number of Alighieri pieces over the years, and haven't seen any tarnishing with the 24 carat gold plating they use. I just love their organic, antiqued aesthetic. (I store my jewelry in a set of stackable jewelry trays with a lid from Amazon, to keep the vermeil and gold-plated pieces away from too much exposure to air. But that isn't enough to keep some of it from tarnishing, unfortunately, as most of my Mejuri collection isn't doing that well...) I'll drop my favorite of the currently on-sale designs of Alighieri jewelry into the Shopstyle widget below. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

November 2020 Shopping Reflections

It may be premature to draft this post before some of the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have begun. But given that any post-Thanksgiving orders I make will almost certainly be delivered after December 1 - and that I generally don't report purchases until I've made a final decision about whether to keep or return, with occasional exceptions for made-to-order items with a longer lead time - I think the tally for November should already be final.  

No surprises this month, my sole purchase is something from my planned shopping list for the rest of 2020. Preorders for The Curated's Classic Coat in camel (many sizes still available) opened in the first few days of November, a little earlier than I originally expected. Shipping was also remarkably fast, they sent out my package barely five days after I put in my order! 

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!

I'm satisfied with my Classic Coat purchase and I think the price is very fair, but my feedback also needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt because I likely won't get a real chance to road-test this coat outdoors until some time in 2021. As The Curated is a very small direct-to-consumer company - and each of their out-of-stock items seem to be on its own schedule when it comes to when the next preorder might begin - it can be a bit difficult to shop from them. I felt like I needed to follow their Facebook group (thank you to Kristy for recommending it!) and Instagram to keep track of things. But the company owner is very responsive in their Facebook group, and I'm sure their customer service team is responsive by email as well. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $375.00) 

  • The Curated Classic Coat, camel - $375.00 - The price of this coat for US customers is $350 and shipping costs $25. They generally use DHL to ship items from abroad, which may account for the significant shipping price, particularly with larger packages like coats. Much like the bloggers I linked to in my previous post about this coat, I really like it! The 70% wool, 30% cashmere blend feels nice and it's fairly thick and soft and drapes nicely over the body, even though the coat is unlined. I don't have experience with many good comparator items because wool or cashmere-blend coats with no synthetic fibers in the shell are not common at this general price point. 100% wool Fleurette coats on sale may be the only generally available thing fitting this criteria. A number of Fleurette designs get into the ~$350 range when discounted, for example at Hautelook or Nordstrom Rack here, here, and here. (I tried on a 100% wool shell Fleurette coat in 2018 and it felt nice, but was also a bit stiffer or more structured than this coat feels.) I own an older Polo Ralph Lauren coat (no longer available, worn here) - a generous birthday gift from my mom -  that's 90% wool, 10% cashmere and which started at ~$550, but went on sale for closer to ~$350 when my mom got it for me. That material is noticeably thinner; a little rougher to the touch; and drapes less well, even with a lining. I'm 5'3'' and roughly 38''-28''-38'' right now, and the size M of this Classic Coat was the correct choice, I think it fits exactly as intended. One thing to watch out for is that this coat is very straight up and down, it doesn't taper out at all around the hips, unlike most other women's coat designs. I think the smaller-than-expected hip measurement tends to be what throws things off for people who feel they ordered the wrong size. 

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US! K and I are staying home, and we'll cook a special meal for just our household. We'll use Google Meet or FaceTime for a video chat with his parents and my family. K's cold symptoms last week were super-mild and fleeting, he's already feeling much better. But given the timing and our inability to get COVID-19 testing without additional indoor exposure to people outside our household, canceling our Thanksgiving plans was absolutely the correct and responsible thing to do.

As for Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, I'll definitely only be shopping online, but that isn't too different from other years. The Reset is doing a 25% off discount code starting now, so I'll think about that polo sweater a bit more and possibly put in that order towards the end of the week. Recently, some sparkly slippers have caught my eye, like these colorful sequin Ugg "Scuffette" slippers (I particularly like the dark purple "medallion" color) or these gold glitter Birdies (mostly sold out, may not restock in time for Christmas), but I've never really liked wearing slippers at home when given the opportunity, so I think I should stay away from this idea. Plus, I'm not sure either shoe will be part of any special Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Social Distancing Life Lately: Change of Thanksgiving Plans

via Unpslash 

Well, we always knew this was a possibility. Two days after my previous "Social Distancing Life Lately" post went live - on the ninth day of our stricter-than-usual 14 day pre-Thanksgiving quarantine - K started experiencing some very mild cold symptoms. Naturally, our plans for K's parents to come pick us up and to spend Thanksgiving with them are now officially cancelled. 

K's feeling just fine, the symptoms are almost nothing compared to when we both came down with nasty colds a few weeks ago, and I haven't been sick at all this time around. But in this situation, where symptoms began within 14 days after our last outings - one masked grocery trip together and my visit to the office for some work that needed to be done on-site - and it's not currently possible for us to get a COVID test without additional indoor contact with people outside of our household, the right thing to do is clear. We cannot spend time indoors with K's parents and risk getting them sick. (See, for example, this CDC-derived graphic that's been going around, and these charts from the New York Times, which I learned about here.)

We're all disappointed. K's parents haven't seen him since February, except for a few curbside exchanges where they drove to our apartment building in NYC and stayed in their car with masks on while we also masked up and dropped off some things they'd asked for in their trunk - typically some Asian groceries delivered by Southeast Asia Food Group - and picked up items they'd gotten for us, including their extra Instant Pot. We wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if we got them sick. Cancelling our plans now is the correct and necessary thing to do. 

To tell the truth, K and I had been feeling some uncertainty about whether our original plan to spend the holiday together was going to work. Because we would need to travel through our apartment building's lobby - a shared space that generally has at least our or two other people around, even if everyone is masked - at least one time when they picked us up, it's impossible to have a perfectly airtight 14 day quarantine before we see each other. The risk there is probably minimal, it'd take barely a minute to pass through, but it can't be eliminated. 

Plus, COVID-19 conditions in all parts of the US can change so rapidly, both the NYC-area COVID data and the national conversation surrounding how to approach Thanksgiving kept shifting between when we first formed the plan in late October; when we started quarantine after I got back from the office on November 10; and as the days of our quarantine ticked by. The situation throughout the US has only gotten worse - far, far worse in some parts of the country - throughout those weeks. 

It's strange, I felt sometimes like K and I had sort of been outliers since July or August, in terms of still taking so many precautions and staying home so much while NYC was doing great with its COVID numbers. But, by having potential plans with his parents until today, we suddenly sounded reckless and foolhardy in the past week or two. So many of my friends - generally all very cautious, but who didn't always stay in quite as much as we did during the summer, particularly if they had their own car or could rent a car - cancelled potential holiday plans with their families at least a few days before we did. 

K, his parents, and I are still holding on to plans to start another 14 day - or longer - quarantine before Christmas Eve, in hopes of maybe trying again to be able to spend a holiday together. (We may even be able to arrange for it to be 17 or 18 days.) Once again, we are all in agreement that we would pull back and cancel if any of the four of us gets any symptoms during the 14 days, or if work makes it impossible for me to adhere to the quarantine due to being needed in the office again. But with how easy it seems to be to pick up a cold just from masked grocery trips outside the home - and with our lack of easy access drive-through COVID testing in NYC and the unknown availability of outdoor testing -  the likelihood of moving forward with December holiday plans may not be great. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Recent Small Joys

Part of me still feels the occasional flutter of stress about the recent US presidential election. Obviously, the outcome it abundantly clear, it's not a remotely close call. President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris will be inaugurated next January. But with all the undignified posturing and truly bonkers lies about election-related litigation coming from our outgoing President and his team, it's hard for me not to feel some momentary distress at times. 

All that "amateur hour" litigation work done on behalf of the Trump campaign by the time major news networks called the election results last Saturday has been followed only by maneuvers plumbing shocking new depths of incompetence. I cringe frequently from secondhand embarrassment when reading about their lawyers' statements during hearings and in some written filings, knowing these are the sort of things that'd likely earn a well-deserved scolding and withering retorts from basically all judges I've ever practiced before. And that's usually exactly what happens. 

Admittedly - at least in the SDNY, where I practice most frequently - judges regularly administer remonstrations and sharp words even when it actually isn't particularly warranted, something I've personally experienced more than a few times. So any tale of judicial exasperation or anger, no matter who it's directed to and how richly they deserve it, brings back bad memories. But I digress. Long story short, anyone as pleased as I was with the outcome of the US presidential election has nothing to fear at present from the courts. 

Ah, but let's move on, because this is meant to be a light-hearted post about things that have brought me some small bits of joy and levity in recent days! 

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!

Election Celebration: Following the widespread acknowledgement of the presidential election results last Saturday, K and I couldn't help but want to celebrate, just the two of us at home. I made the Cook's Illustrated "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies" and K made us Instant Pot ribs. (His parents gave us their extra Instant Pot - not sure how they ended up with two - during a socially distanced and fully masked curbside exchange a few months ago, when we gave them some Asian groceries they requested from Southeast Asia Food Group's delivery service.) Both recipes are pretty good.

The Swan Rescue: I thought this was a sweet and very NYC story, about how an experienced wildlife rehabber rescued a sick swan from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Getting the bird to the Wild Bird Fund in the Upper West Side of Manhattan was apparently an arduous journey that involved taking the swan on the subway, where apparently none of the other passengers had any real reaction. (It's definitely typical NYC behavior to ignore strange sights on the subway.) There's a video update in this Daily Show clip, among other places, and the swan seems to be on her way to recovery. 

Time's 100 Best Fantasy Books: I've read and enjoyed 27 books on Time's list of the "100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time". I thought it was a great list, with an expansive view of the genre, including works geared towards all age groups and books that aren't all shelved in the sci-fi/fantasy section of your average bookstore or library. My one small quibble is that maybe it's a little arbitrary to include two books from certain series but not others. (Though in each instance where I've read both books on the list from the same series - C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; the Harry Potter books; and Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms - I agree that both books are strong.) 

Standout favorites of mine include: The Ken Liu books, particularly The Wall of Storms, though you'll need to read The Grace of Kings first; N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but the only reason I can't yet vouch for her other novels on the list is that I haven't been able to read them yet; Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, though I'd personally recommend The Lions of Al-Rassan or Sailing to Sarantium instead to a first-time Kay reader; and David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks. But it's really hard to choose, because so many of the books I've read on this list are wonderful!