Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Wardrobe Life Lately

Some of my favorite personal style inspiration photos recently. I keep a smaller, more tightly curated board for a small number of photos that I feel like best and most accurately capture my current ideal aesthetic.

We're only a few weeks into 2019 and what I'm hoping will be a year of more restrained shopping than in recent years past. I think it's going well enough so far, though it's obviously far too early to even attempt to claim victory or success. I've stuck to only browsing for things on my consolidated "wish list", or items substantially similar in design, and have generally not gotten distracted by anything else. With certain items from the original list, I've had the chance to try them on, only to realize that they won't work for me after all.

Spoiler alert, I have shopped this month, but only for jewelry so far, and I think it's likely to stay that way. One item technically hadn't gone on my formal "wish list" before, so I sort of broke my "all shopping must be from the central wishlist" rule, but it was something I'd tracked on another of my Pinterest lists for at least a month or two before, so I gave myself a pass.

Changing Plans

Some of my plans for the first part of the year may be shifting. Savings-wise and spacing of time off work-wise, everything's in place for me to start scheduling a certain procedure, something that should, in practical terms, keep me away from most clothes shopping for quite some time. However, now that I'm finally so close to actually being able to take concrete steps towards getting this longtime goal accomplished, I may be balking a bit, mostly because of the expected price tag. Outside of my law degree, it would be far and away my most expensive single purchase ever (keeping in mind that I've never needed a car, and that I'm not yet in a stage of life where the purchase of a home is a feasible and sensible possibility). On the one hand, I've thought about this for years, saved in earnest for nearly a year, and wanted it badly for most of my adult life. I've rarely been so sure of anything. On the other hand, such big purchases should never be undertaken lightly, so if I'm feeling any sort of doubt or hesitation, however faint, I should certainly wait until those feelings have all dissipated.

I think I'm also feeling a bit of anxiety about the risk of another protracted economic downturn. Given my age, where I grew up, and the industry I chose to enter, I've always felt like a "child of the recession", always expecting a market slowdown to cause serious disruptions to life and career at the worst possible time. It is, to be frank, a specter that has haunted every year of my life since I started law school, and that haunts me still. When I matriculated, I was well aware that recessions were highly destructive to the careers of junior attorneys and, almost more importantly, to their ability to pay off their typically massive student loan balances. I don't think I can be completely free of that kind of fear until I'm completely done with my student loans, which is likely to take another three years (though within another year or two, I should have enough cash saved that the remaining loan balance won't be as big or scary a concern any longer). And when I'm feeling nervous about the economy, I want to save more cash, not spend it.

There's also the question of whether there are other things I should spend on first, namely some cosmetic dental work. One unfortunate and otherwise permanent aftereffect of my 2017 accident is that I still have a front tooth that doesn't look quite right and is a little out of alignment. I've never actually looked into what it would take to get it back into place and looking pretty again. From what I know about cosmetic dental work, it'll probably be extremely expensive, and maybe I should prioritize that first, before any other elective medical procedure!

Shopping Lately

Sweaters are among the things almost guaranteed to fit differently if I go through with the plans I'm currently hemming and hawing about, but because we've got plenty of winter weather to look forward to, I still get tempted to try on more sweaters, the cozier the better. I'd also been so busy at the office that I was feeling some stress-induced urges to shop. Though actually, I also discovered that when one is truly busy (for the first half of the month, I was on pace to bill 3,000 hours in 2019 if I worked at the same rate all year long, a formidable number for even the busiest of biglaw associates), there is barely any time to really think about shopping or even to make some online orders. Though because I like clothes and get excited about sales, I still made some orders nonetheless. And well, things have quieted down considerably at the office now, but hopefully that doesn't increase how much I shop.

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With regards to this year's rule that I only buy things after they've spent some time on my one consolidated wishlist, it may need to be amended slightly to allow for items that are substantially similar, including in color and design, to ones on my list. I tried on a gray Club Monaco waterfall cardigan (sold out, other colors available) that was very similar to a Bloomingdales cardigan on my list, and also a funnel-neck Club Monaco sweater I thought might be similar to the one from Vince that is on my list (both items now sold out). Neither of the Club Monaco sweaters worked, though, I think their items better suit people who are a bit taller and less busty than I am.

In terms of other items on my list, I also ordered the Bloomingdales tie-waist cardigan in burgundy, but didn't like it, it had awkwardly high side slits and the waist tie didn't sit in a flattering spot on me. Outside of sweaters, there haven't been any other types of clothes I'm interested in, except maybe that, if I end up deciding not to have that procedure in the foreseeable future after all, I might want to try the MM. LaFleur Etsuko dress in blue and black brush jacquard print. Although I generally find MM. LaFleur overpriced, they don't have that much competition when it comes to workwear, especially now that I tend not to be interested in most of Ann Taylor's and J.Crew's new offerings.

Wardrobe Maintenance

One other thing I'd like to do a little better this year is wardrobe maintenance. I'm pretty good about laundry: I don't put any of my nicer clothes in the dryer, I always air-dry them on a drying rack instead. I either hand-wash my delicate clothes or machine-wash them in cold water and in a mesh baggie. While these steps seem to help with the durability and longevity of my clothes (I've never had a laundry-related accident damage anything in a lasting way, except for my perennial bad luck with various merino wool sweaters shrinking seemingly on contact with the inside of a washing machine, even in cold water), there's a lot more I could do to keep my clothes in good shape.

This is a bit embarassing, but although I've owned a full-size clothes steamer for years and was very excited about it when I first bought it, I've only ever used it once. It simply takes too much time and effort to set it up. It seems clear now that the only way I'd regularly use a steamer is if it were a smaller, handheld one (maybe the Joy Mangano My Little Steamer mini, though I haven't really researched that market extensively yet). Also, for my many sweaters that are prone to pilling, which includes both cashmere sweaters and those J.Crew Sophie and Juliette sweater blazers in the cotton-poly-wool blend (both styles worn here), I probably need an electric sweater shaver. I've previously tried de-fuzzing my sweaters by hand using those little sweater combs, and found that it doesn't really get the job done that well.

Oh, and hopefully this isn't kind of gross, but I also need to figure out how to launder my down coat which I, er, haven't done in the years since I first got it. In my defense, the synthetic outer fabric of those puffy down coats is really quite resistant to getting dirty, it's very easy to spot clean with a damp towel. And because of all the layers of clothes I'm inevitably wearing underneath the coat throughout the winter, the lining never gets sweaty or dirty either. The main reason for my having delayed this long (I was totally planning on washing it last summer, but never got around to it) is that I can't quite figure out the best way to clean it. The care label says it shouldn't be dry cleaned, only machine-washed and machine-dried (other sources suggest putting some tennis balls in the dryer to help keep it fluffed), but I always get nervous about putting clothes that are important and/or expensive in the washing machine. If anyone has any tips or personal experience with laundering down coats, your thoughts would be much appreciated! 

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