Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Casual Outfits with J.Crew Sweater Blazers

Sweater (Left): J.Crew Sophie Open-Front Sweater Blazer, heather khaki, size XS
Sweater (Right): J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer, heather gray, size XS
Shirt: Old Navy Relaxed Lightweight Cap-Sleeve Shirt, blue/white stripe, size M
Shoes: M.Gemi Felize, gold shimmer (sold out, similar in non-shimmer suede)

Note: I am currently on vacation, but wrote and scheduled this post before I flew out. I'll be back by early October! This is just a super-quick outfit post of something I can't generally wear outdoors in NYC for some time yet. Back when I was thinking about whether to keep the J.Crew collarless sweater blazer, I also wanted to try it on with pants, and ended up throwing together this look really quickly to accomplish that. Then I also thought it'd be fun to show the other sweater blazer in a casual outfit.

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!

Because my interest in the collarless sweater blazer was based so much on the look I thought it might have with workwear dresses and skirts, I don't think I like it quite as much with pants, or with casual outfits. It just isn't the look I had in mind.

I really like the collared sweater blazer with casual outfits and pants though! I think the collar and lapels may give it a slightly more interesting look with many casual outfits than the collarless version. I've often worn the J.Crew Factory version of the collared open sweater blazer (which has a fairly different look and sizing than the J.Crew version, as seen in my photos here) in casual outfits with jeans, so I'm sure I'll wear the J.Crew one out that way too, once the weather cools down a bit more. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Link List: A Few Quick Things

via Sarah Andersen comics - I love her work and think it's hilarious, I relate to this and also to many of her comics

Note: I am currently on vacation, but wrote and scheduled this post before I flew out. I'll be back by early October! Today's post is about a few things I was looking at online right before I left for my trip. As usual, given my writing style, it was really difficult to be quick and concise so that I could actually get this post completed and scheduled before I left.

1. // In the midst of a renewed discussion about the Eileen Fisher-ish "menocore" aesthetic, one r/femalefashionadvice commenter, u/PalmSignet, made some interesting points about the increasingly casual and relaxed standards of professional dress in many industries these days.

I can't relate to every single thing, but she makes some good points that ring true to me. My overall experience with workplace dress codes is ultimately quite different, but some of the key details still feel real. (I've never been in an employment situation where I felt the dress code expectations were unfair. While I wouldn't be terribly pleased about a "business formal every day" rule, it wouldn't exactly be an unreasonable thing for many attorney workplaces to demand.) Anyway, I won't be able to articulate my full thoughts on that discussion any time soon, but I wanted to share that specific discussion because it was novel and interesting. Oh, and this other discussion about (mostly workplace) dress and what it might signal was also interesting, though it didn't get much traction. 

2. // There've been a few interesting discussions about "influencer" (mainly Youtuber) campaigns and compensation recently. I'm not at all familiar with the world of makeup Youtube anymore, I last followed it back when Michelle Phan was in her heyday (and that was ages ago) but it seems to be a wild and highly compensated world for the top players. The r/blogsnark discussion about this topic wasn't too active, but someone took a screenshot of a comment from someone in the industry that noted that some Youtubers solicit companies to pay them to do "dedicated negative review[s] of a competitor's product" (and for that particular anonymous Youtuber, this option cost significantly more than a "dedicated product review" of the company's own product). Now that is wild, and is probably enough to make some makeup and beauty reviews on Youtube sound potentially suspect.

Somewhat relatedly, a r/blogsnark user mentioned the parameters of that Olay Whips campaign that's been around on Instagram lately. Among other things, I feel like these campaigns can look inauthentic because they go live at the same time, and because many of the people promoting the item typically use higher-end stuff. (Not that skincare products need to be high-end to be effective. My own routine is mostly prescriptions and drugstore products!) Of course, there are probably data-supported reasons why Olay set those campaign parameters.

3. // Both Leigh and Bitches Get Riches recently wrote about the important topic of splitting and sharing finances as a couple. Given my stage in life, it's a topic about which I currently have surprisingly little to say. K and I are remarkably aligned in our values when it comes to money and related topics, so we haven't felt much of a need yet to discuss most of the gritty details. We're also both very flexible about things like how accounts should be arranged. Many people might find this lack of having hashed out the practical details to be a bit odd (maybe even irresponsible), but well, it works for us.

And that's it for this slightly abbreviated link list post! Any thoughts about those workwear discussions I linked? I guess I'm generally not a fan of the "dress for the job you want" idea if it requires things like pantyhose or blazers when I'm not in court. Also, I only wear heels when I feel like I have absolutely no choice, with great reluctance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Money News Lately: Grab Bag

Coach Foldover Card Case Wallet (affiliate link)

In a little less than a week, I'll be off on my travels! K and I will make a quick stop in Taiwan to see my family, and then we'll be off to Tokyo and Kyoto. Things will probably be quiet around here until I get back. I might be able to get another post or two written and scheduled to go live during my trip, but that will depend on how some things go at the office in the next few days. I'll be fully back to writing here and reading and commenting elsewhere in a few weeks, once I get back from my trip and have gotten over the jetlag! 

For today, here are a few quick thoughts about some money-related news items (and well, yet another unpopular Refinery29 Money Diary) that I've found interesting lately: 

On Fleeting and Ill-Gotten Gains

Congressman Duncan Hunter from San Diego is a personal finance cautionary tale for us all (as well as a "don't commit federal crimes" cautionary tale, but that's a given). The indictment is a doozy, let's just say. I personally think its worth skimming through just for all the very many alleged instances of money mismanagement and misuse it contains, detailed down to specific transactions. Among other details, the Hunters allegedly incurred approximately $37,700 in overdraft and insufficient funds fees on their personal bank accounts over seven years. All this despite his annual congressional salary of approximately $174,000, and allegedly siphoning off $250,000 in campaign funds over the years on top of that! 

In other news that's, at least in part, also about, er, how quickly even a large quantity of ill-gotten gains can potentially be spent, there's also that saga of the $400,000 GoFundMe. The story, and the related civil litigation (and possible criminal investigation), are all still developing, but there's an allegation that the couple that raised the money depleted it all without actually giving it to the person they raised it for. It sounds like GoFundMe has committed to giving the intended recipient the money that was raised for him, but there could be potential criminal proceedings against the couple regardless

The Case of Another Unpopular Money Diary

I know it's terribly silly of me to regularly think too hard about comments and reactions to Refinery29 Money Diaries, but sometimes, I just can't help myself! With this particular diarist, or rather, the reader reactions, I may yet spin off my thoughts into another post at a later date, but I thought the story was also worth sharing now.

The initial Money Diary, by a purported 24 year-old NYC-dwelling software engineer with $118,000 base salary, and additional bonus and stock worth approximately $168,000, was... unpopular. I did find a few details odd (including that a Duane Reade purchase of batteries, decongestant, and a box of tissues would cost significantly more than $5.50). Except that I feel like most Money Diaries probably fudge some numbers, both intentionally to protect anonymity and accidentally because of mistakes with record-keeping or math. I don't think that kind of slight adjustment or error prevents a Money Diary from being substantially true and interesting. Furthermore, I generally find a lot of the reflexive skepticism and criticism about high-earner Money Diaries to ultimately be ill-founded, so I'm generally not inclined to nitpicking individual details as if that might call the whole thing into question. People hated that Brooklyn-dwelling biglaw attorney's Money Diary, for instance, and some even declared she must be defrauding her firm with some of the reimbursed expenses. Trust me, because of the generous reimbursements associated with summer associate programs and business development (charged to the firm, not the client), those charge were likely all proper.

I thought the software engineer diarist's follow-up with Refinery29 about her approach to investing should have calmed some of the criticisms. I thought she came across as being practical and hard-working. Alas, if you go through the comments there, not everyone agreed. I know it's particularly foolish of me to think too much about the especially mean comments, particularly ones I can identify as baseless or incorrect, but I really am interested in the psychology and mindset behind them, as well as in whether those comments suggest that there's a need for better personal finance education for everyone. 

There are some real awful things in the comments, some of them buried deep in the discussion threads and responses to other reader comments: 
  • One reader accuses her of having an "I'm only here for the cash y'all" attitude towards her career, and maybe her life in general. (There's some terrible and horrifyingly sexist aspersions about the diarist's personal life in that particular gem of a comment, if you find it.) Um, isn't compensation, and seeking fair market compensation for our work, something we should all value? 
  • Various readers turned up their noses at the idea that someone who was average in school could get themselves to that compensation level by their mid-20s, which just seems really wrong-headed to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like anyone who's been in the working world for a while, whether they were excellent students or not, quickly realizes that grades have almost nothing to do with career success and compensation after one has gotten their foot in the door? 
  • The diarist noted that, given her many successes in the years since school and a challenging search for a first job, "[n]ow it's easy to think I was always a superstar". Many readers gnashed their teeth about this. Some readers were skeptical that any real person would say that about themselves. I found that entire set of reactions particularly bizarre. (I tend to be a bit self-deprecating, but I'm also not afraid to own up to my successes when it's warranted...) 
I totally shouldn't get so absorbed into Money Diaries comments sections, but I really do have a strange and intense fascination with it. How do people get so opinionated, sometimes based on incorrect assumptions? (There are many other times when commenters on other Refinery29 money-related discussions are actually extremely sensible, it is mostly just the Money Diaries where the comments sections get really wild.)

Have you been following the Duncan Hunter or the depleted $400,000 GoFundMe stories? What did you think? Particularly if you're familiar with the STEM industry in the US, do the numbers in that Money Diary seem plausible to you? 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Review: J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer

Sweater: J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer, heather gray, XS
Dress: old, from Loft (similar from Loft or Ann Taylor)
Shoes: Sam Edelman Tristan, black leather

Today's post is about a quick try-on of a new J.Crew item, the Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer, which I was drawn to as soon as it popped up among J.Crew's "new arrivals". A few bloggers I follow have also mentioned their interest, though I don't think I've seen any blog posts featuring it in an outfit yet. (I've seen one post on Instagram, though!) Like with the collared J.Crew sweater blazer, now called the "Sophie", which I tried on and bought earlier this summer, it may well be another month before NYC weather cools down enough for me to wear it out of the house. I'm still thinking about whether to keep this, after trying on the size XS in heather gray, above, and the size S in burgundy, below. I haven't photographed the gray to its best advantage, as it got creased in transit. It also may be a bit difficult to see the differences between the two sizes in my photos, but of the two, I'd "size down" and keep the XS in gray. (I also sized down to XS in the "Sophie" sweater blazer.) 

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!

My interest in this item may be a bit idiosyncratic. It was ignited by my fondness for a very specific kind of business formal(ish) look, one involving a long "topper" jacket (something like this from Calvin Klein or this from St. Johnover a workwear dress. It's not conservative or formal enough for job interviews or a jury, but it's a look I've seen some stylish women pull off for other somewhat formal professional occasions in NYC (usually in a less matchy-matchy way than in many photos of similar outfits).

Opting for an "almost-jacket" or "pretend jacket" that's actually a sweater, and is therefore less structured and doesn't hold its shape as well may not actually be the best choice for someone who was interested in the look of an actual jacket. This is a notion I keep revisiting with all these sweater blazers, that I'll never be able to fully replicate the look of a jacket with them, but that I might not really care and still always opt for the sweater blazer over a real jacket nonetheless, because well, I kind of hate jackets. (They rarely fit completely right or comfortably over my chest and shoulders!)

Dress: old, from Loft (similar from Loft or Ann Taylor)
Shoes: Sam Edelman Tristan, black leather

For reference, I'm 5'3'' with shorter "petite" legs and more "regular"-sized torso for my height. My measurements are approximately 37''-27''-37''. To the extent that size XS has even a chance of being a better fit for me than size S, this item definitely runs large. It's hard to tell from the photos, but the sleeve length is  better on the XS, cutting off right at the wrist, rather than hanging over it a bit. The S could overwhelm my frame and be too loose in the arms when viewed from some angles. Naturally, the sleeves and body are both a bit slimmer on the XS, and as you can see from the photos of the XS in gray, it still has an intentionally oversized look. With the model photos (they took one for each color, which you can see when browsing their "sweaters" section, but not on the Juliette's actual product page), I think they're generally wearing the item in their "typical J.Crew size", i.e. one that's maybe a little too oversized for them, rather than sizing down as I'll do if I end up keeping this.

Oh, and I think this comes across in my photos, but the burgundy colorway is a noticeably darker and richer red than in J.Crew's official photos, particularly the one of the burgundy sweater blazer laying flat by itself (as seen on the Juliette's product page), where it looks like more of a medium-red. It's a significant color discrepancy, and I personally prefer how it looks in real life. I'm definitely not keeping the burgundy one I ordered, as it's the wrong size for me, but I like how the color looks on me... Ack, I don't know why I'm such a sucker for all these sweater blazers, I'm definitely long past the point where I have any need for more! 

Both the collarless Juliette and the collared Sophie sweater blazers are made of a 35% cotton, 35% polyester, 30% merino wool blend. The label says "dry-clean only" for both. From my past misadventures with laundering J.Crew merino wool cardigans (they often shrink after machine-washing in cold water, even though I never put them in the dryer and laid them out flat on a drying rack instead) I wouldn't dare machine-wash any of these J.Crew sweater blazers. The risk of damage is too great.