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.) 

Monday, January 30, 2017

January Shopping Reflections


So this ended up being an odd month shopping-wise. I started with good shopping-fast intentions, but had some of my usual sudden and powerful shopping impulses, some of which, thankfully, went away. (Dagne Dover Simone, you’re cute, but no. I don’t need a laptop bag that would be the most expensive bag in my collection.) Some of of the impulses did not leave and I, er, ended up giving in to a J.Crew sale when running another errand, resulting in the purchases below. Spoiler alert, it was a very J.Crew month and I continue to be unable to stick to a shopping fast. Oops. I could try again, but because of upcoming interviews (I still haven't ordered interview shoes), I'd be setting myself up for failure next month. I might revisit the idea of a shopping fast later this year, instead. 

Separately, disaster struck, if you’ll indulge my tendency towards melodrama when it comes to lost property. (In college, someone stole the Longchamp Le Pliage I bought for $80 when the British Pound was weak while I was studying abroad. I cried like a baby and mourned it for weeks. I get emotionally attached to my clothes and accessories.) K and I live in a nice building (the customary rent increase with each lease renewal could price us out next time) where more than half of the apartments have in-unit washers and dryers, so one usually has the communal laundry room entirely to themselves at any given time. It breeds a false sense of security. despite the common knowledge that leaving anything unaccompanied is strictly at your own risk. I’d set a timer, but left my things in the dryer for an extra forty minutes because we were eating. All my nice clothes get line-dried in the apartment, anyway, so it was only a few ratty tshirts, pillowcases, etc. that were in there.

Horror of horrors, someone took about a quarter of my items from the dryer before I got there. All of the underwear that was in there, a few tees, both of the black H&M camisoles that are essential to my slouchy sweater-wearing at work, and enough of my socks to throw off my two weeks between each laundry session equilibrium were all gone. 

Reader, I am bereft. (And also utterly convinced that we have an underwear-stealing pervert in the building.) I may or may not be excessively paranoid. I have been known to have my Gift of Fear instincts kick in when it proves entirely unwarranted. My, shall we say, post-November blues make me a bit more emotional than usual. Nonetheless, I humbly submit that how only a portion of my items were missing (but all the underwear) is suggestive, as is the fact that no one else was doing their laundry at the time, with nothing else in any of the other machines and the time gap being too brief for anyone to have finished their laundry entirely while I was away. Nobody had a legitimate reason to be there but me. This series of events resulted in a few traditionally off-budget purchases of socks and underthings.

Fashion - (TOTAL: $94.79) 
  • J.Crew Ruffle-Trim Shift Dress - $76.80 - I couldn't shake my interest in this after seeing someone wear it, and the J.Crew store I stopped in while running the errand had my size. I tried both a 6R (too big all over and a little too long) and 8P, and the 8P was the way to go. This is the only photo I've seen online of this dress on a real person. It's a more A-line shift on me, given the disparity between my chest and hip measurement on their size chart. To get the fit it has on the model, or on other people, I probably should consider getting it taken in.
  • J.Crew Ribbed Hat with Faux-Fur Pom-Pom (sold out, similar from Ann Taylor) - $17.99 - I wanted this hat way back, when I was thinking about the Cocoon Coat, but never pulled the trigger. I saw it again (the last one in store) and decided that now was the time, as I was still interested. The fur pom-pom is a bit exaggerated in size, making it a bit girlish compared to  my general style. (Extra-large pom-poms are trendy, judging by the number of similar hats I see people wearing in the city.) I think it's cute!

Beauty and Skincare - (TOTAL: $16.95) 
  • CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Miucin Power Essence - $16.95 - This is a refill for something I've been using for a while now. It's a good product, moisturizing and soothing. It has an unusually sticky, gloopy texture that could take some getting used to. Amazon generally has the best price and it's often Prime-eligible from a US-based reseller. 

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

Have you been able to maintain a shopping fast of whatever length in the past? Any lost or stolen laundry horror stories to make me feel better? (I'll totally get over it, but, good golly, it's just so strange and makes me feel rather creeped out.)