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!

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!

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. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Industry Practices

via Unsplash

I've had a lot going on at the office recently, making it a bit difficult to find time to blog! I've also been finding this summer rather languid and listless-feeling, I've been wanting to laze around every weekend instead of writing or going out and about. I haven't even really been reading that much either, just watching a lot of TV shows or Youtube clips. (For the latter category, I've recently been obsessed with the delightful "Gourmet Makes" series from Bon Appetit. Claire is the best!) Between all that and my recent bout of writer's block, I don't think I'll be posting here too often in the next few weeks, unfortunately. Hopefully I get inspired to write more soon! 

There's recently been a bit of industry gossip, thanks to yet another employment discrimination lawsuit against Jones Day, a biglaw firm well-known for a somewhat... atypical... approach to associate compensation, which had also been a central feature in another high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit. The full complaint for this newer case can be read here, brought pro se (without the formally assistance of another attorney) by two former Supreme Court clerks, who are also a married couple, and who both previously worked at Jones Day, with some overlap in their respective tenures at the firm. The firm has made a possibly unwise public statement in response to this newer lawsuit. 

This particular firm is perhaps becoming a bit well-known for arguably heavy-handed responses to employment  discrimination litigation brought against them. Their full answer to the complaint in the other, larger-scale case can be found here, and it's... a lot. The firm is representing itself in that case, rather than hiring outside counsel. I suspect that means they'll do the same in this newer case as well. 

One of the primarily allegations in this new case is that Jones Day's parental leave policy, which sets different caps on the maximum amount of paid leave available based on whether the associate is the mother or father to a newborn, discriminates on the basis of sex. Mothers allegedly get a maximum of 18 weeks, while fathers allegedly get a maximum of 10 weeks.

In practice, most biglaw parental leave policies for attorneys have the same practical implications as this alleged Jones Day policy, though they're often framed in more gender-neutral language. A longer period, often in the zone of 14 to 18 weeks, is available to new "primary caregiver" parents, while a shorter period, as little as four weeks - the number at my previous biglaw firm - is available to "non-primary caregiver" parents. As an aside, regardless of the amount of leave available, it's also not uncommon for both primary and non-primary caregiver parents to take less than the maximum time allotted, for fear that it'd harm their future prospects at the firm. During my time in biglaw, one of my "non-primary caregiver" colleagues ended up taking four days. There are a lot of distressing facts about how parental leave is treated at biglaw firms.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Reselling with TheRealReal

The four items I dropped off at TheRealReal, three of which they accepted. 

As I mentioned in early June, after letting certain more pricey unwanted items in my closet (which I knew that neither my sister nor any of my close friends would like) collect dust for years, I finally decided to try reselling them in the only sufficiently low-effort way that would suit me: I took them to one of TheRealReal's brick and mortar shops here in NYC and dropped them off for consignment in the last week of May. Now that all the items they accepted from me - three of the four things I brought in - have been sold, I am writing about my experience reselling with TheRealReal. 

Overall, I was very satisfied with my TheRealReal consignment experience. My only real goal was to resell these items after having spent as little of my time or effort as possible to accomplish that goal. I didn't have a specific price in mind for anything I sent in. The most important thing to me was that each of the items would find a buyer, and if I only got paid a nominal amount, that was fine by me. Hopefully, the buyers of each of my things will get far more use out of them than I did. Like I did with one of my items, these buyers may even someday send the items back to TheRealReal for another round of resale when they're done with them.

Some of my items were extremely old - I purchased two of them, the Rebecca Minkoff Morning After Bag and the Ferragamo Varas, nearly a decade ago - and I didn't think there was much of a market for anything I gave to TheRealReal. I had no interest in continually listing or re-listing the items myself on places like eBay or Poshmark until I found a buyer. (I was actually shocked that my items sold out so fast, within a month or two of being posted for sale!) Plus, I find the chore of shipping things out far more annoying and tedious than most people would, so that was something I preferred to avoid, which left me with basically no other practical option besides dropping off these items for consignment in person. 

In terms of whether my experience is a representative one, keep in mind that the items I sent in are probably some of the most modestly priced ones in TheRealReal's entire product catalog. Just from my limited experience, I could see that they take longer to scrutinize and process some categories of items than others. And as you'll see, the pricing of your items by TheRealReal will affect the commission rate. Among other bloggers I read, Elaine (part one, part two) and Kathy have also posted in some detail about their experiences selling with TheRealReal. Both of them seem to have more experience than I do with sending in items from a wider range of categories, so their posts might be more helpful than mine, if you're thinking of consigning something.

Please follow the link below to read a step-by-step account of my TheRealReal reselling experience! 

Monday, July 29, 2019

July 2019 Shopping Reflections

This last part of the month has been, to say the least, an adventure. In multiple matters I'm working on, we've recently won some favorable rulings. Except that, with all the trouble caused by other implications of the court's other rulings this week, including on some smaller issues we lost on, it really doesn't feel like we're winning. This was not a phenomenon I would have understood at earlier stages of my career, but now I know. Let's just say that litigation is a field with lots of surprises, which generally come around with little warning. I work with great people, and we, as a team, manage the surprises fairly well, with as little fuss as possible, but it's still challenging. We certainly can't control the actions of the court or opposing counsel! 

All the work-related stress has the side effect of amplifying those desires to shop I mentioned last month. As you'll see, this hasn't resulted in many actual purchases in July. But I think August and/or September will end up being far more eventful on the shopping front. Fair warning, I've been feeling a particularly strong impulse to treat myself to something nice after the time I've been having with work recently, enough that I think it's safe to assume I'll be indulging that impulse sometime soon. 

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!

As for what I expect to indulge in, that's still a bit of an open question. I have a fondness for the idea of printed silk scarves, as seen in a few images on my personal style inspiration Pinterest boards, so I've been thinking about getting a secondhand Hermes silk scarf, probably from TheRealReal. They generally have a fairly wide selection of the 90 cm x 90 cm silk scarves. I also keep looking at more Alighieri necklaces, although it takes me a long time to decide on which designs I think are prettiest or will suit me best. I keep changing my mind! At the moment, it's either something with a longer chain length, like the Initial Spark or the Odyssey (some retailers may have a version of it with a shorter chain), or maybe the Fractured Cloud because I find the shape of the pendant particularly intriguing. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $16.00)
  • Falke Invisible Liner Socks, black - $16.00 - I still don't have a go-to brand or design for liner socks designed to be worn with shoes like ballet flats. Previously, I've mostly been buying ones from Hue with silicone grips at the ankle, but they're only so-so at best. They slip off my ankle semi-frequently with many shoes, aren't "no-show" enough for some shoes, and also aren't very durable. I've been wanting to try different kinds to see if I can find something better, so I got a pair of these more expensive Falke ones to try, because I know from experience that Falke tights are pretty good. Sadly, these liner socks aren't great for me either. They're not no-show enough for the only pair of ballet flats I currently own, the Cole Haan Tali flats. The elasticized cuff with no silicone grip also did not stay on my ankle well at all when I tried them on for a day with my Sam Edelman loafers. Thus, they're less functional than the Hue ones for me. Alas, it's back to the drawing board for me when it comes to my search for a good pair of no-show liner socks. 

Does anyone have recommendations for a particularly good brand of no-show liner socks? Then again, maybe it's a category of item I don't actually need. With how my feet are now, I'm not likely to wear that many more ballet flats in the future, given that they all tend to be too uncomfortable for all-day wear for me these days. The shoes I am more likely to wear in the future, such as loafers or slip-on sneakers, are all much higher-coverage than ballet flats, so I could just stick to wearing more high-coverage socks. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Equifax Class Action Settlement

via Unsplash

Nearly two years ago, news broke about a massive data breach at Equifax, one of the major credit reporting bureaus here in the US. The scale of the breach was massive, affecting more than 140 million people. Given the number of people affected (I've occasionally seen reports that the figure represents 44% of the US population), the odds aren't great that one's information wasn't included in the breach. Equifax later reported to the SEC with firmer details about the total numbers of individuals that had certain categories of information stolen. Let's just say that one might not be left in good cheer after seeing the Social Security Number category!

Fast forward to a few days ago, and a settlement has now been preliminarily approved by the court in the class action arising from the Equifax data breach.

Before we go any further, an important disclaimer: Please note that nothing in this post constitutes legal advice and this post does not create an attorney-client relationship. While I am an attorney, I am not your attorney. This post is intended for general informational purposes and entertainment only. All opinions are my own and not those of my employer. 

Back then, I hemmed and hawed for quite some time about whether to freeze my credit or take any steps beyond the CreditKarma membership I already had (which, in my experience, gave me reliable notifications any time a new account popped up on my credit report). I ultimately decided against taking additional action. To be frank, I thought that freezing my credit sounded like too much of a hassle, given that I had some interest in future credit card signup bonus accumulating activities. I never even used that website Equifax made available for checking if one was affected by the data breach! (Back then, I remember some journalists were reporting that said website sometimes gave conflicting answers when they tested the same person's information multiple times.) Gradually, I forgot about the news story. 

The court has now given preliminary approval to a class action settlement arising from the Equifax data breach. A copy of the court's order can be reviewed here, along with certain other key documents from throughout the history of this case.

I imagine that people are leery about going to and trusting what could appear to be a random website when it comes to something like this, so I first looked to the Federal Trade Commission's ("FTC") announcement of the settlement to point me to the settlement administrator's website. On that website, there's a place to check whether one's personal information was affected by the breach, i.e. as the website calls it, to "check your eligibility" and whether "you are a settlement member". Using that feature requires typing in one's surname and the last six digits of one's Social Security Number (which might reasonably have caused me some suspicion if I had not first been directed there by the FTC's website). 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Shopping Survey

via - The Lo & Sons Pearl in Pacific Blue is one of my favorite and most functional  purchases from the past 12 months.

I've had a bit of writer's block lately, and I thought that this survey Elaine shared from the Good Trade (which covered groups of people who had spent under $500, $500 to $1,000, and over $1,000 on fashion last year) was a nice and slightly new spin on a way to discuss my shopping. Because I focus primarily on how I'm feeling month-to-month with my shopping check-ins, it's easy to lose track of longer-term trends and changes to my approach. My answers to these questions cover the past twelve months, from July 2018 to June 2019. 

In addition to my actual total spend for that period, I also threw in the number for how much I spent minus jewelry. In recent months, I'm starting to think of jewelry as a somewhat separate category from everything else in my closet, something which I enjoy collecting for its own sake rather than for practical reasons (almost like collecting wearable art, I suppose). With almost everything else, I'm far more inclined to think about utility and whether the item would be redundant of things I already own. But with jewelry, my desire for a new item is pretty much always a "want," there's never really a case to be made for it being a "need." 

Also, what I'm willing to spend on jewelry has been inching up towards being disproportionately large relative to what I'm currently willing to spend on most other categories for my wardrobe. There could come a time (it might already be the case now) when the jewelry portion of the total cost of my shopping each year distorts the analysis of how much I'm spending spend on clothes, shoes, and other accessories that I see as more utilitarian. 

Age: 30
How Much You Spent: $3,452.58
How Much You Spent (Minus Jewelry): $2,305.48

A Purchase You Planned: This is a surprisingly difficult question for me, given that I pride myself on "planning" every purchase! Most of my purchases in this one-year period - especially after I became more regimented about using Pinterest to track all my potential shopping - were planned out ahead of time by at least a few weeks. When everything is planned in a similar way, not much stands out as being a particularly good answer to this question.

I would say that the purchase I planned out the most in the past year was the Elizabeth Suzann Georgia dress and Asawa belt I received last month. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about all the ES dresses before I first saw a photo of this particular dress and belt combination and could finally make a decision. Because of the four week production time and ES's store credit-only return policy (though the secondary market for ES seems robust enough that one should have little trouble recouping close to the full cost of the store credit), I had to feel extremely certain about this purchase before I put in the order. And it turned out well, the dress and belt together really work for me, and it's a combination that I like wearing for both work and weekend. 

An Impulse Buy: This may sound contradictory to what I just said about how much planning I do with my shopping, but I also find this question difficult to answer because, in actuality, one of the main reasons why I spend all that time planning out purchases is that I'm otherwise very prone to sudden impulses and compulsions as a shopper. I know this about myself, and so I need to take those "extra" steps to rein those tendencies in. Enough of my purchases in the past year were originally inspired by fairly sudden impulses (even if I ended up sitting on the idea for at least a few days - usually at least a week or two - before letting myself go ahead and put in those orders), that it's hard to pick just one item as an answer to this question. 

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If I had to pick just one thing, I'd say the Sam Edelman Lior Loafers in gold glitter (similar) from November 2018 were my most impulsive purchase. I definitely wouldn't have gotten them if I hadn't seen them for a particularly good price during the Black Friday sales. I had an easier time putting these into my semi-regular rotation than I imagined, and I wore them almost once a week since I got them, mostly on casual Fridays. At the same time, maybe because these shoes are made of fabric backing under the glitter and not leather, they're not as durable as my other Sam Edelman loafers. There's a rip developing near a seam on one shoe. So this was initially a more successful purchase than anticipated, but also ultimately a little disappointing. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Link List: The Farewell

This past weekend, K and I watched The Farewell, the new film from director Lulu Wang, starring Awkwafina. I hadn't realized that it was only released in four theaters nationwide last weekend, so I guess we were very lucky to be able to see it! The movie is really good, all the actors and actresses are excellent, especially Awkwafina. Although the subject matter is quite sad, with clear parallels to things that have happened in my own family, there are also surprising moments of levity. 

1. // I couldn't imagine creating a piece of art that's so personal, it must be incredibly nerve-wracking to see how audiences will react. This article in The Atlantic about Lulu Wang and the movie is great. One particular quote from the director was especially poignant, I thought, and really captured something I think about whenever I recommend something that speaks to facets of the Asian-American experience I find familiar and that resonate deeply with me: 
“I was just really hoping people didn’t hate it, because it is so personal, and it is my family. If they hated it, then they hate us, in a way, you know?”
That's even a sentiment I've expressed, though it was only buried deep in the footnotes of a post focused on something else

Whenever I recommend Kathy's novel Family Trust (affiliate link), I always do so with some trepidation because it's about people so much like me, my parents, and the community I grew up in. It's not exactly the same (there are some substantial differences, including in socioeconomic class), but before I read her novel, I would never have dreamed of seeing something so much like my lived experience depicted in a creative work, one that was receiving a fair amount of positive buzz and attention. To the extent that anyone out there found the characters in the novel absolutely loathsome or completely irredeemable, I would take it a bit personally. Such a strong negative reaction would suggest to me that the reader might not be inclined to show empathy to people a lot like like my parents and I, and that would make me sad. 

2. // Because I so recently wrote about my past notebook-hoarding habits (which did not go hand-in-hand with actually using said notebooks), I was a bit tickled when I saw that Vox's The Goods recently published an article about that exact phenomenon, of how difficult it often is for people to use up their notebooks and journals:
“A new, unused, good-looking notebook represents pure potential. The words we inscribe into this beautiful notebook will be words of pure genius, we tell ourselves,” Korkki says. “A used notebook is sullied — it shows how we attempted to achieve something impressive and fell short. [] I hate to continue writing in a journal I have previously abandoned months or even years before because that journal represents the ‘old’ me. A new journal represents the new me, who will always be disciplined and inspired.” 
But what about actually finishing the notebook once you’ve started? 
Korkki believes that “people lose steam because the idea of perfect writing in their heads never matches what they end up putting on the page, and they become discouraged.” 
I can certainly relate to all that! It's only now that I've accepted that notebooks have the most utility to me when I'm not too "precious" about them, and when I prioritize using them frequently over needing the words I put in them to be particularly high quality (or to be done in especially neat handwriting), that I actually can use them up. With my writing and journaling style, anything I handwrite tends to be in a very stream-of-consciousness style, and I never really go back to read over it. Once I've written out whatever I was thinking, the words are no longer as meaningful to me. 

3. // I was glad to see that one of my favorite bloggers, previously at To Universe, with Love, is back and newly blogging at Of a Certain Vintage. Recently, Luxe did a good entry about the importance of knowing one's values when making money-related decisions. In some ways, at least to me (a major homebody and also a fairly shy introvert), it was also an entry about introversion, about choosing not to do (or spend money on) certain kinds of social outings. 

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4. // There are a few small items from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that I have bought in the past, and that I think could be a good deal: I got these Nordstrom-branded cubic zircona stud earrings last year, on Kathy's recommendation. They're a solid choice, and more importantly for their being a good value, Nordstrom does not seem to discount them at any other time of year. 

A lot of the more interesting items in the sale are from the beauty section: I recently bought one of those Slip silk pillowcases to see if it would help reduce the tangles and split ends my hair's been prone to. (It helps noticeably, but it definitely isn't a miracle product either. I'm satisfied with my purchase, but I won't really be able to compare it to any other silk pillowcase because I don't plan to buy any others to try.) Nordstrom is offering sets of two Slip pillowcases at a substantial discount, in white or beige

Monday, July 8, 2019

An Infatuation With Good ~50 GSM Paper

One of my old vices - small-ish in total cost, but unfortunately maybe not that small in resulting waste over many years - from before I started this blog and before I started examining my spending habits more carefully, was buying up notebooks and journals that I'd then proceed to write or sketch in for only a few pages at most before moving on to the next book. Happily, things have changed quite a bit since then. I've cut down significantly on that habit of overbuying notebooks and have started actually using up the ones I have in their entirety.

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My KonMari-style decluttering (including of my desk and bookshelf) back in early 2015 was enough to teach me (among many other sobering lessons) not to wastefully accumulate notebooks anymore, given my horrible track record with actually using them. And when I returned to the private sector in late 2017, I learned that I actually could stick with and use up a notebook after all, utilizing a somewhat bullet journal-like system for keeping track of my to-do lists and other notes. I spent approximately a year and a half filling up my A5-sized Leuchtturm notebook with dot-grid pages, writing in it just about every day. Through that, I trained myself to be a lot less "precious" or finicky about how I used my notebooks, learning to not feel a little anxious, like I'd permanently marred a once-clean and perfect notebook - making me want to pull out a new one instead - if I made spelling or other errors, or if my handwriting wasn't always neat, or if I needed to cross some things out.

Looking back, I'd actually mostly stopped with my bad habit of over-buying and under-using notebooks and journals while I was in law school, I suppose because school and internships were keeping me busy. At the time, there wasn't any appeal to the idea of doing any more writing for fun in addition to what I needed to do for school and work. Plus, relying on digital solutions like Google Calendar proved to be far more practical than keeping a hard-copy planner while I was in law school. Once at my first job, a combination of my work calendar in Outlook and my personal Google Calendar was more than enough for scheduling purposes. And for a time, I added on the Wunderlist app as a way of keeping track of both months-out long-term deadlines and also small, immediate things I wanted to remember day-to-day.

Though I eventually did buy some smaller Rifle Paper Co. notebooks later on at my first workplace, to keep a separate and more condensed list of upcoming deadlines and important tasks, when my note-taking system on the firm-provided legal pads grew a little too haphazard and voluminous to be a good system for that purpose. (I take super-wordy, stream-of-consciousness-style notes at meetings or when I'm researching and planning out how to write something work-related.)

Much more recently, I might be slightly finding my way back to my old weakness for collecting pretty stationery, now that I think I've finally learned how to be fully committed to actually using it all up. The resurrection of this quirk of mine likely began with my trip to Japan last September, as stores there really do have the most wonderful selection of stationery.

It was in Japan that I finally had the chance to handle one of those popular Hobonichi Techo planners. While I ultimately tore myself away from them because a pre-printed planner just wouldn't be functional for me, I had become quite taken with the texture of the 52 GSM Tomoe River Paper used in the Hobonichis. That paper was lovely and smooth (but not too smooth and almost slippery, the way the Clairefontaine-made paper in Rhodia notebooks feels to me), and also much lighter and thinner than that of any other notebook I'd ever used, while still being reputed to be a high-quality paper on which most inks and pens would not bleed through. People even color in pictures or paint with watercolors on the pages of their Hobonichi planners, and the paper's supposed to hold up!

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Year Later: The Shoes of Spring/Summer

Outside of my trusty FitFlops, the vast majority of the shoes I currently wear in the warmer seasons are approximately a year old. I bought my trusty Sam Edelman Loraine loafers in black leather (now on sale in limited sizeslast May, the same month I bought my somewhat impractical Soludos llama slip-on sneakers in pale pink canvas (discontinued, but discounted in navy blue or burgundy velvet). I'd bought my M.Gemi Felize in gold shimmer-effect leather that March (discontinued, similar gold leather). I also bought a pair of Rothy's Points last June, and was really hoping they'd be as durable for me as they are for many of my colleagues, such that I'd still be wearing them now. But alas, that was not to be, and I got barely a few months of heavy use from them before they started developing holes in the outer edges, the way all other ballet flats also tend to do on me.

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That was a lot of shoe shopping in just a few short months last year, but part of my rationale was that I wanted enough pairs that I wouldn't need to wear the same ones two days or more in a row, in hopes of getting more longevity from my shoes than I did before. Now that I've had most of my spring/summer shoes for a year (the Sam Edelman loafers also get worn in fall/winter, but not the rest), I thought it was a good time for an update on how these shoes were doing, whether I was actually getting a longer lifespan from them than before. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the styles I choose, or my wide feet and my manner of walking, or because I don't yet do much work to maintain my shoes, this update won't sound too impressive or exciting. While I don't think I'll need any new shoes for spring/summer this year, I don't expect that the shoes I currently have for those seasons will last too much longer into next year, particularly if I need my shoes to be presentable-looking at work.

Sam Edelman Loraine loafers, black leather: These have gotten the most wear by far, as I also use them frequently in fall-winter, so long as there's not too much slush and ice on the ground. I've gotten them reheeled once, within the first three months, but they haven't needed another visit to the cobbler since, though they'll need another trip there soon. In terms of physical condition and sturdiness, these loafers are holding up fairly well, having only accumulated a few small scuffs, just normal wear and tear. As I observed when I bought them, they're made of a very soft, pliable leather which makes them fairly comfortable if they fit your feet well, but likely isn't as good for their durability. In terms of aesthetics though, the leather is starting to look quite worn-in and dull because I haven't done anything to maintain them, outside of the one time I got them reheeled. (Not sure if this is the type of thing shoe polish is good for, as I'm completely clueless about shoe care and maintenance!) 

If I'm not able to learn how to maintain these loafers better, then I'm not sure how much longer they'd stay presentable-looking for work. It'd be a pity if I couldn't spiff up the leather a bit and get them looking better, since they've otherwise proven to be comfortable and sturdy. One additional note: From my experience with the gold glitter version, which are made of fabric rather than leather, the fabric ones are not as durable. A rip developed last month long one of the seams on one of my gold glitter loafers, and I'd generally only been wearing them once a week since I got them, so they hadn't seen anywhere near as much heavy use as my leather ones, which have not had this problem. 

M.Gemi Felize, gold shimmer-effect leather (similar): I'm very careful with these and never wear them out if there's any chance of rain, so they generally only end up getting used once a week, a little less often this year because we had a rainy start to the summer. I'd never before owned a pair of driving moccasin-style loafers with rubber pegs instead of an actual sole on the bottom, and I was a little concerned these shoes would wear out very quickly, but they haven't been too terrible on that front. It was only towards the end of last summer that some of the rubber pegs near the heel started getting close to being so worn down that the leather on the bottom of the shoe would start rubbing against the ground soon. The outer edge of my right shoe is also starting to rub against the sidewalk a little, thanks to my wide feet and the way I walk, though it isn't too close to developing a hole yet, it's just that some of the gold shimmer-effect on the surface has started to rub off. I think these shoes will last through part of next summer if I continue wearing them once a week-ish, though not too much longer than that.

As someone who doesn't have remotely adventurous tastes in shoes, I continue to find M.Gemi's business model perplexing, because it seems to be so focused on constantly developing trendy new styles, colors, and leather textures, including the shimmer effect on my loafers. They so rarely stock their more classic designs, like this Felize or the similar Pastoso, in neutral shades of leather. (I continue to resolutely avoid suede shoes of all kinds because I think they wouldn't do well on NYC's super-grimy sidewalks.) Even if M.Gemi's bread and butter is weekly releases of limited runs of exciting new styles, I suppose I'd imagine that it should still be a no-brainer to also consistently stock more classic, neutral shoes as well, since I'd have assumed there'd always be a market for those more "boring" designs, the kind that almost never go on sale from other brands either.

Soludos llama slip-on sneakers (navy velvet, burgundy velvet): Similar with the Felizes, I also try not to wear these out if there's even the faintest chance of rain. I'm almost more careful with these than the Felize because the pale pink canvas is so prone to getting dirty! I ended up wearing these about once a week last year, but have only used them once this year because we had such rainy and unpredictable weather for a while. As with the Sam Edelman loafers, when it comes to the physical condition of these slip-ons, they're holding up well. The only flaw they've taken on now is aesthetic, that they're already looking noticeably dingy despite infrequent wear, as can be expected due to their light color. With the llama applique and the cork-looking insole, I doubt these could be machine-washed like some other sneakers.

With slip-on sneakers like these, I'd expect them to be durable enough to last through a good long period of frequent wear, at least if they weren't a color that's prone to showing dirt and dust. I suppose I should have learned from that mostly-white pair of Keds I wore a lot back in 2015 to 2016 that slip-on sneakers in light-colored fabric are just not a very functional choice when one lives in NYC and does a ton of walking! I'd be better off with something like the black leather Vans I wore from 2016 to 2018.

Rothy's Points, gray birdseye: Well, I don't have these anymore because they weren't capable of enduring a full year of frequent use at my hands! It was such a big disappointment too, because they're not cheap, and they do also have some noticeable advantages over most other ballet flats I've ever tried. So many of my women colleagues really love these and have been wearing theirs frequently, including on their commutes, for ages, certainly well over a year. I'd hoped I would have a similar experience. Alas, I think it's just the way I walk, I grind down almost all of my ballet flat-style shoes with remarkable speed, in as little as a month or two of frequent wear. On me, these Rothy's points lasted around three months of 3-4x/week wear before they started developing holes in the outer edges.

I would still recommend Rothy's to other people who don't destroy their ballet flats the way I do. They're remarkably comfortable for a ballet flat, I was able to walk around NYC and stand in them all day most days, which I can no longer do with other ballet flats. I also loved how light and easily packable they are for travel. Being machine-washable (cold water wash and air dry only,  I'm told that any exposure to heat will cause them to shrink) was a huge plus, though because they're made of recycled plastic, they did make my feet sweaty, and the shoes would get quite smelly very quickly between washes. Being plastic and machine-washable, exposure to rain will not cause lasting damage, though I did hate how they felt on my feet when they were damp, so if I got badly rained on during my morning commute, I'd need to switch to other shoes at my desk for the rest of the day. (And they generally wouldn't be fully dry yet by the end of the day, when it was time to head home.)

What does a proper shoe care and maintenance regime, particularly for good leather shoes, look like anyway? I'm eager to learn, and any suggestions would be much appreciated (and of course, the internet provides many easily found and helpful resources for such things, which I'll also look into). Additionally, I'm still daydreaming about someday having a pair of those famous Gucci Jordaan loafers in black leather, after seeing, on another woman while we were both in an elevator, how much sleeker and more chic they looked compared to my well-worn Sam Edelmans. But I wouldn't dare buy a pair of shoes that fancy if I hadn't first learned to take scrupulously good care of them first!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

June 2019 Shopping Reflections

As the months go by this year, I continue to feel as if I'm settling in to a slightly new way of thinking about shopping. The jury's still out when it comes to whether the results will actually look different, of course, but as of this month, I still feel as if my mindset has changed. This isn't a process that's completely without growing pains, however, and I still wouldn't claim to have a particularly noteworthy level of self-discipline about shopping. Regardless, things feel different from 2018. 

Among other things, I'm gradually becoming more accustomed to some purchases being "slow", including in the purely literal sense of the word of needing to wait a few weeks for an item to be made-to-order. I think I've also better internalized the idea that, if an item has the right details and meets my criteria, then it's worth a longer wait. But because I'm super-indecisive sometimes, a longer production time could also mean that I end up not being able to make a decision about something until such a late date that I definitely won't get it until after its season is already over. 

I was maybe still a bit disheartened this month by some of those "growing pains" I mentioned feeling. They felt like the thoughts of a person who might be a little addicted to some aspects of shopping, namely to that sometimes-fleeting excitement of receiving something new-to-me that I think is awesome and beautiful. (There have, of course, been times when I start off with that feeling and still end up realizing, fairly quickly afterwards, that the item actually wasn't as suitable for me as I first thought. So that early excitement can be a deceptive thing!) 

This past month, there were times when I found myself browsing retailers' websites for an extended period, and I felt some real disappointment when I realized that I wasn't going to find anything new to add onto my Pinterest "shopping list". My usual next step was to go back to Pinterest, browse through the section of my "wishlist" dedicated to items I've been thinking about more seriously, only to feel further disappointment that nothing there struck my fancy as something I could order to try on right now. These feelings are so silly, the only real explanation for them is that I'm definitely addicted to something about shopping, likely to the novelty and excitement of getting my hands on something new-to-me. And it's not even like I've been deprived of that feeling recently, given that I've still shopped each month of 2019 so far!

I don't think it's inherently a bad thing to enjoy new-to-me and shiny, pretty things. If I saw something really awesome, for which the price was right, which fit my preferences and criteria, and which I expected would be functional to me for the foreseeable future, I'd totally still buy it.  

But it might not be a great sign that I get wistful about not currently having more new-to-me things that I'd like to think about buying imminently. If the open market isn't currently presenting me with ideas for new items that would actually be functional and useful for me, at the right price for my budget, and that meet all my requirements for whatever category of potential purchase I'm thinking about, I shouldn't feel disappointed! Instead, I could spend that specific time or energy appreciating what I already have, or doing something else that's more productive than, er, wishing I had something new to buy right now, or soon. 

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That faint but sometimes recurrent desire to shop for the sake of novelty or entertainment is something I'll need to keep an eye on. I've at least observed that the feeling of adding a few pins to my Pinterest boards (most recently, on a board dedicated to more fantastical and larger-than-life "Abstract/Runway Inspirations" that I don't think would ever translate to my day-to-day life) can sort of scratch the itch just a little, by giving me the chance to think about something pretty and new, even if it's just pictures. Plus, I always have various wardrobe-maintenance and clothing-care tasks in my queue, including actually making use of that handheld clothes steamer I got from my friend when I traded away my full-size one during my recent bout of free-cycling

Fashion - (TOTAL: $356.46)
  • Elizabeth Suzann Georgia Dress in Midweight Linen, black, OS - $205.00 - As I mentioned last week, I received my Elizabeth Suzann order earlier this month, almost a week ahead of schedule. I've worn my items a few times, and I'm really enjoying them so far, though I still haven't spent quite enough time with them to feel like I can give a detailed assessment. Note that the midweight linen material is a bit too thick and heavy for this to be a "perfect" summer dress for me. When temperatures climb into the upper-70s Fahrenheit under typical NYC summer humidity, I sometimes start feeling a bit overheated in this dress if I'm outdoors wandering for a long period of time. 
  • Elizabeth Suzann Asawa Tie Belt in Midweight Linen, black, OS - $60.00 - I don't think I'd have become interested in the Georgia dress in linen if it weren't for this belt and seeing an Instagram photo of someone in this outfit. While I very much like the idea of voluminous, relaxed-fit items such as the Georgia (everything in this vein looks so comfortable!), I personally think that amount of extra volume is often not suitable for the NYC business casual office environments I'm familiar with. Plus, with linen's natural tendency to wrinkle, the unbelted Georgia would start feeling even more casual. With the belt, I'm comfortable wearing this dress to work on days without formal meetings, though I prefer to keep it mostly to casual Fridays. I find the shape and design of the Asawa fairly unique and special, it transforms the shape of the dress. I like how infinitely adjustable this belt is, and with the texture of the mid-weight linen, it stays in place reasonably well (no real wardrobe malfunction risk). Though I do still find myself slightly repositioning the belt maybe two or three times throughout the day, as the widest part of it sometimes folds down a bit and shifts a little, particularly if I spend most of my day sitting at my desk.
  • Ficcare Ficcarissimo Hair Clip, gold, medium - $40.49* - I had seen Ficcare hair accessories recommended in Corporette comment threads. This was the month I finally decided to try one, now that my hair is more recovered from a recent... situation... with a failed "magic straight" perm, and I can start growing it out and going longer between haircuts again. Because my hair is quite thick, and also because I have essentially zero hair-styling skills, I've always had trouble getting most hair clips or barrettes to stay on. Whomever recommended Ficcare must have said the hair clips were unusually awesome, and that no other brand had worked for them before. With my lack of hair-styling experience, I can't fully vouch for whether that recommendation is entirely true, but I've found this clip to be easy to use. All I know how to do is to twist my hair up; position the resulting twist of hair in a loop towards the middle or lower part of the back of my head; and use the clip to keep the loop mostly in place (which results in what looks like a neat-ish updo from the front, but one that necessarily has some ends of hair sticking out a bit in back). That style stays in place the entire day with both this clip and the Maximas. 
  • Ficcare Maximas Hair Clip, caramel, medium - $50.97* - The price here takes into account a promotional $10.00 "Nordstrom Note" I received out of the blue. After getting my Ficcarisimo early this month, I couldn't stop thinking about the more colorful enamel Maximas clips. I kept going back to both Nordstrom's and Ficcare's website to try and decide which one would best suit my wardrobe only to end up with this fairly neutral "caramel" shade in the end. (And I must say, Nordstrom's photography is much better than Ficcare's, and makes the colors look far more appealing.) Note that finding the right size with both these hair clips is important. With my roughly shoulder-length (sometimes a little longer) and fairly thick, somewhat wavy hair, the "large" Maximas clip is too big for me to style my hair the way I described. The hair falls out of the clip more easily when the clip's too big. The "medium" size of both is about the right size for my hair texture and length.  

*Includes sales tax. 

With the Elizabeth Suzann purchases this month, I should be done with my warm-weather clothing purchases for 2019. There are other technically warm-weather friendly things I'm still thinking about, including the ES Bel Skirt in silk, but I don't think of that skirt as being a summer-only item. Then again, it may be that a longer silk skirt wouldn't have the right look with tights, which I find to be a necessity when wearing skirts and dresses throughout the colder months of the year. 

My one potential weak spot for an item that I see as being definitively "summer-only" comes about as a result of LinenFox's recently debuted bright teal-looking "emerald green" shade, which I think is gorgeous. I don't need any more summer dresses, but I really want one in that color. Except that, after factoring in the naturally wrinkly tendencies of linen; my preference for designs without too much extra volume; and how I prefer a design that would mostly hide my bra straps, I'm not sure any of LinenFox's dresses are guaranteed to be suitable for my tastes. There are a few designs on my "shortlist", but nothing in that group really stands out from the rest of the pack.

Admittedly, I have recently been a bit preoccupied with other shopping that's not for my wardrobe. Specifically, Bloomingdales has two styles of Smythson notebooks on sale: a pale blue Panama notebook with "Notes" embossed on the cover for 30% off and the larger Soho notebook for either 30% or 70% off, depending on the color. (And there's also an extra "buy more, save more" discount for the rest of June, which will be applied upon checkout.) These days, after starting to keep my daily to-do list (in a vaguely bullet journal-like style) and other notes in a hard copy notebook, I'm a lot better about using my fancy stationery than I used to be, so if I ended up getting one of these ultra-fancy notebooks, it'd be a major indulgence, but most likely not a wasted one.

Anyone else sometimes feel that sort of addiction to the novelty or excitement that comes from buying new-to-you things? How does one go about learning how to style one's own hair anyway, without having a patient sibling, friend, or parent willing (and also able, which is not a given) to do the teaching? Youtube tutorials are probably helpful for most people, but alas, I'm truly hopeless when it comes to hair-styling!