Tuesday, February 26, 2019

February 2019 Shopping Reflections

This is not going to look like an impressive month, in light of this year's goal of shopping "less". (Yikes, but let's see how the next few months shake out before worrying too much.) Looking back over the past two years, I may have a recurring habit of really splashing out and splurging around February or March, with the biggest purchase usually coming from the last waves of post-Christmas sales.

For months now, I've had heavier-knit, hopefully luxe-feeling turtleneck sweaters on the brain. It all started with last January's sweater of not fully known material (worn here), which I loved wearing, despite the inherently dubious provenance of many items bought on Taobao. The seller called it cashmere, and back then, I was inclined to believe it, because I thought the material was behaving similarly to that of my other cashmere sweaters (including by being prone to pilling quicker than most wool or synthetic blends, and machine-washing well in cold water and a mesh bag). But more recently, I'm less sure, now that I have a little more to compare it to. In any case, I knew I was assuming the risk of not getting what was "promised" when I bought it.

At the same time, I'd become disillusioned about the durability of sweaters from J.Crew or Ann Taylor-ish, which was a bit of a reversal, as I'd previously said I thought the synthetic-blended machine-washable sweaters commonly offered by those retailers were great for my work wardrobe, and a practical fit for my lifestyle. The sweaters I purchased in that spirit mostly proved to be poor choices. They didn't hold up terribly well, and started pilling badly or looking worn and tired fairly quickly. One developed holes just from normal, not especially frequent washing and wear.

Separately, even before I started this blog, I'd always had a hard time with wool sweaters from that price point. Merino wool sweaters from J.Crew or Madewell had, in my experience, a remarkable propensity for shrinking up noticeably from (usually accidental) contact with cold water in a washing machine, even though I was careful about never putting them in the drier. A few months before I started tracking my shopping, I purchased two Madewell Assembly sweaters (pictured in this post), made of a thick, chunky wool. While I adored them, and wore them all winter, they pilled dramatically and started losing their shape and looking oddly stretched out, and, for lack of a better word, lumpy, even though I was careful about hand-washing them gently and laying them flat to dry. I wanted to wear them again the following year, but couldn't bring myself to, they just looked awful.

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So I was in the market for a thicker, heavier sweater, and I also expected it to cost a pretty penny, especially if I preferred it in fully natural fibers. The J.Crew-ish price point had already disappointed me repeatedly, so I was primed to look above it. I considered Everlane's waffle knit cashmere turtlenecks, but they never had the right sizes and colors in stock whenever I looked. I also tried on this Club Monaco "Kikoka" cashmere funnel neck sweater, but it didn't suit me, I didn't like the more sweatshirt texture of the fabric, and, more problematic, the website failed to disclose that it was a synthetic blend. I'd even gone to Nordstrom while in California to take a look at Vince sweaters and the new-ish and similarly pricey "Nordstrom Signature" ones. I found that both brands' thicker, heavier sweaters really did feel nice, with a heft and weight to them, and in the case of the cashmere ones, a softness that was noticeably different from any sweater I'd tried on before. That's possibly in keeping with their price (even when on sale, generally far more than double what I ever paid for any sweater previously). Note that, between the Vince and Nordstrom Signature sweaters I looked at, the Vince ones seemed nicer, the material just a bit thicker, so if it comes down to those two brands at the same price, Vince may provide better value. 

And then, while things were hectic at the office earlier this month, I started looking at the Scottish brand Brora, which I'd occasionally seen mentioned on other blogs, including Feather Factor. They have a store in NYC (though I've never been), as well as a US-based website, but I found that it was definitely best to shop from their UK site, as it ships internationally and (after factoring in the exchange rate) the UK prices were consistently cheaper, sometimes by more than $100 an item. (For whatever reason, once each transaction was processed, I got a noticeably more favorable exchange rate than what Google said was prevailing at the time of each order. I wouldn't count on that happening in the future, though, and it really confused me.) International shipping cost me 15.50 GBP per order from the UK site, and items were shipped remarkably quickly, arriving in as little as four days. Returns are, or would be, complicated and expensive, as orders from the UK site must be shipped back there fairly quickly, on the customer's dime. If one purchased from the US site, the order could be sent back to their NYC store instead. Also keep in mind that UK and US sizing are different, a UK 8 is roughly equivalent to a US 4, and that the US site uses US sizing.

Oh and in terms of more modestly priced sweaters I think provide the best value, I've generally been most satisfied with Uniqlo's more classic sweaters, the cotton, merino wool, or cashmere ones they offer in basic style every year in a wide range of colors, and also some of their cotton-cashmere blend sweaters. I don't have as much experience with the other, trendier sweaters they sometimes do, but had some isolated bad experiences with the durability of some in the distant past. I was extremely satisfied with the linen and rayon-blend long open cardigans I bought last year, though. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $706.70)
  • Italic "Albee" Leather Card Case - $50.00* - wrote about and photographed this item recently, and also discussed my general impressions of Italic, a paid membership-based (fees currently waived) online retailer startup claiming to sell goods manufactured at the same factories as Prada, Celine, and the like. Most of their product line is quite dull, and this particular item likely a bit too transparently a copy of the Saint Laurent Five Fragments card case. It's not a 100% copy, there's an extra pocket in the back that isn't present in the original, and there's no logo on this. But the similarities are certainly undeniable. 
  • Brora Donegal Cashmere Polo Neck Sweater - $268.30* - For the Brora purchases this month, I had pinned similar-looking items onto my wishlist, sometimes only briefly before these orders, but chose to buy these instead. Part of what inspired me to start looking at Brora was that I didn't think Vince would restock the funnel-neck sweater I was interested in this season, and it didn't seem like the Nordstrom Signature asymmetric funnel-neck sweater I was also looking at would be discounted for the post-Christmas sales. I'm also easily convinced to try a brand if I see it regularly being complimented as "high quality" or a bit special in trusted internet circles, and I also trust Kathy's tastes. When I received this and tried it on, I was indeed impressed. It was so soft! And I thought the pale blue "Air Force" color was beautiful, rich, and more complex than it looks in the store photos. Brora's styles and colors may not be for everyone, many of their items have a more "boho" or quirky feel to my eyes, somewhat reminiscent of things Anthropologie would stock, or of Boden's aesthetic. There also weren't that many neutral shades available in their post-Christmas clearance section. 
  • Brora Gauzy Knit Cashmere Poncho - $116.80* - These other two items were part of my... second order from Brora this month. I'd been stuck in the office most of the weekend I put in this order, so there probably was some stress-induced retail therapy at play. Also, the prices from Brora's US site for both orders combined would have been a whopping $1079 dollars before tax (and sales tax likely another ~$100 on top of that), so the feeling of getting a huge discount (a total steal!) may also have played a role. I do love these purchases, and I do that thing where I admire them whenever I wear them, in this case by marveling at the softness and the colors of the poncho and donegal sweater. But this is also such a dramatic step up in price compared to any knitwear I'd previously purchased that I can't say for sure that I can accurately assess how good a value I'm getting. I couldn't get an exact photo of the "Ocean" shade of my poncho, which is a bit brighter and closer to teal than the picture above. I think this two-ply "gauzy" material, which Brora also uses for sweaters, is an adequate thickness and warmth to be part of outfits for most climates I'm familiar with. The four-ply funnel neck sweater below (which has a textured, chunky knit that adds to the thickness) is heavy, enough that I sometimes start feeling a little overheated once I get indoors, even though my apartment and office aren't that aggressively heated. In comparison, the three-ply material of the donegal polo neck sweater above is maybe a better, slightly more versatile weight and thickness.  
  • Brora Textured Funnel Neck Sweater - $271.60* - This "fig" color was a bit less exciting and complex than the others I picked. I took a UK size 12-14, the equivalent of US size 8-10, in both sweaters, and they are a slightly more relaxed fit than I expected. Though I also suspect that the next size down, UK size 8-10, may have run the risk of being too fitted in the bust for my tastes. This sweater is also a little long on someone of my height (5'3''), which I probably should have guessed, as it already looks a bit long on the model, who must be significantly taller. I still enjoy this sweater, even though it's maybe a bit too thick and warm to be fully practical on any but the coldest days here (about two to three days a week this winter so far). And if I ever moved back to California, this sweater might not be practical anymore.
*Indicates that price includes shipping costs, which in the case of each of these purchases, were all quite substantial.

What brand makes your favorite sweaters? Do you regularly shop from brands or retailers for which you need to pay international shipping and/or might encounter more difficulty shipping back returns? Does anyone else ever feel a bit... insecure about their ability to fully assess whether they're getting a good value from items that are outside their typical shopping "comfort zone", whether in terms of price, or maybe the genre of item? (Like if it's your first ever business formal suit when interviewing for a new job, or a heavy winter coat when first moving to a new climate, or something like that.) 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Take What's Useful, Ignore the Rest: On "KonMari" and "FIRE"


Back in December 2014, when I started writing here, I first encountered both Marie Kondo's book and the Financial Independence, Retire Early ("FIRE") movement at about the same time. Although one wouldn't necessarily know it from my writing (I started writing about "KonMari"-style decluttering immediately, but my first mention of FIRE by name was not until early 2018, though I did link Frugalwoods in mid-2016, so one could infer I had become familiar with FIRE by then), I was thinking about, and learning from, both schools of thought simultaneously, since the beginning. Both sets of ideas were major influences to me at the start of the money-conscious minimalism-ish journey that I've been documenting here all this time.

In my personal interpretation of KonMari method and FIRE, the two have significant traits in common. Although I don't think think this is clear from the Netflix show, Kondo's book explains that when a person goes through her "tidying up" process and learns what physical objects "spark joy", it often causes them to think about more abstract things, including how they want to live their life and spend their time. "The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life." To me, KonMari is about keeping the things (both physical and intangible) that you want in your life, that you like and need, or that you value, and then leaving the rest behind. And some of the ideas associated with FIRE are similar. Because FIRE is, to a large extent, about increasing one's savings rate, which often means reducing expenses, many adherents recommend aggressively cutting spending on things one doesn't need or value. Furthermore, the theoretical end goal is the "dream" of not needing a traditional full-time job, so it's very much about being able to spend one's time living the life one wants.

On my initial reading of these ideas, I thought of both as being the sort of flexible and relatively "friendly" type of self-help and advice that I favor. As a general matter, I prefer to be gently cajoled into doing things with light-hearted, supportive words and reassurance. I find any judgmental language in minimalism and personal finance discourse, anything harsh and lacking empathy for different people and their situations, extremely distasteful and off-putting (i.e. suggestions that if you ever wear or buy any "fast fashion" ever, you must be a decadent clotheshorse who hates the planet, or, that if you ever buy a latte or a more expensive piece of clothing or makeup, you're a profligate spendthrift). And to me, when one isolates the actual, required fundamentals of each concept, it seems clear that various important and helpful elements of each can be adapted to a wide range of lifestyle choices and circumstances.

Thus, when it comes to both theories, KonMari and FIRE, I've always thought it easy to take and learn what was useful to me from each and ignore the rest of the pieces associated with them. If there's something in either set of ideas I find unhelpful or unproductive, then that's fine. The ideas are flexible enough that I can continue on with the rest.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Link List: Some Movie and TV Show Chatter

It was only after Sandra Oh won her Golden Globe that I finally watched Killing Eve. I had heard a lot about the show when it was originally running, but wasn't sure if it was something I would enjoy. I think I had envisioned something more dour and serious, which isn't quite to my tastes. Instead, it turns out that Killing Eve is wickedly funny, and that the two leads, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, are excellent, both perfect in their roles. I would try and describe the show more, but I don't think I would do it justice. In short, I highly recommend Killing Eve!

1. // This series of comments from the wonderful, thoughtful Courtney Milan (seriously, she's the best, everything she has to say about problems in the profession, law school, and the institution of the federal clerkship is always super on-point, as someone who has been there to experience all those things, and from following her Twitter account for months now, her general sheer brilliance as a person is also in full view all the darn time) regarding some of the harsh truths about success in law school and the, er, general inability of professors to give good advice about whether the law school investment will pay off, is super accurate.

I adore my professors from both college and law school and credit them with a lot of good and important things, but providing me with career advice or actually knowing anything concrete about what I've faced in student loan repayment or in building my career are not among them. The best advice my favorite undergraduate History professor gave me (theirs was a field I loved dearly, though that wouldn't have prepared me to pursue graduate studies) was that I should absolutely not, under any circumstances, make the decision to go straight to graduate school in their field without having spent at least a year or two doing something else. I was honestly a bit heartbroken to hear it, but dang, it would have been a bad life decision if I had ignored their advice. 

2. // Definitely check out this interview with Lulu Wang, the director of The Farewell, a new film starring Awkwafina, which just premiered at Sundance. The premise is something I hadn't realized might be a more widespread Chinese cultural practice, but it is something that has happened with my extended family in Taiwan, with my maternal grandfather. (In my family's case, there was only a very short period of time between his lung cancer diagnosis and when he passed, so the situation was less... complicated than it is for Ms. Wang's family.) 

3. // There's currently a lawsuit going on between Chanel and TheRealReal disputing, among other things, TheRealReal's ability to reliably authenticate Chanel products. (There's also a r/femalefashion advice discussion, though I should note that one's ability to fully discuss a legal case might be limited if one hasn't reviewed the papers. I also haven't looked at the filings for myself.) This case is in its earliest stages (there's apparently been a motion to dismiss, and now an amended complaint), which means there's been nothing but allegations thrown around, no actual evidence has yet been assessed by the court, much less a jury.

Although I am, on balance, a fan of TheRealReal, I know that some bloggers I follow and link to have had mixed experiences with their quality control. (I don't think anyone I read has reported issues with suspected counterfeit product, though.) I'm also generally aware that there are lots of fake designer bags out there, some of which might be difficult to discern from the real thing, at least when looking at photos. Thus, as a customer with no real firsthand experience with designer bags anywhere particularly close to the Chanel price point (and who can't, therefore, reliably authenticate any purchases on her own), I'm inclined to being nervous about any company's ability to have a 100% accuracy rate when authenticating an incredibly large volume of items from a wide range of brands. There have also been other allegations about TheRealReal letting fake designer items slip through, though that was about clothing, not bags. Because I've only ever bought anything from TheRealReal that they priced in the $50 to $100 range, I'm not actually that worried about my items being fake. Still, these allegations may be important food for thought for anyone considering a more expensive purchase from them.

4. // Luxe wrote about using a credit card perk, car rental insurance from Chase Sapphire Reserve, to recover slightly over $6,000 in fees. What a saga, and as she explains, it was extraordinarily time-consuming, took ages, and must have been quite stressful! Thankfully, it had a happy ending. I commented there about my own experience with using a credit card insurance perk (travel insurance from Chase Sapphire Preferred, an offer that may have since been discontinued), but my experiences (with only ~$200 at stake) were definitely far less lively. 

Audrey wrote about her bullet journal layouts - we seem to share the practice of keeping a bare-bones and un-prettified bullet journal. Mine are, alas, not presentable to the public, even in blurred out or redacted form. My handwriting is too messy, and even with a notebook with gridded pages, I have a hard time drawing neat, straight lines. Michelle has been sharing photos from her new apartment, including her living room. I always like seeing how other people decorate their living spaces!  

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5. // I've been doing a bit of window-shopping lately, though I haven't seen many items in those searches that have made it onto my shopping list for more serious consideration. I can't help it, I swear, I just really like to browse shops online! 

This isn't quite consistent with my sense of my own personal style (which doesn't have much use for a leopard-printed skirt, though I like leopard print on other things, particularly shoes) but I found this J.Crew outfit from their website extremely compelling (but for the shoes and headband). I'm quite fond of the idea of whimsical printed sweaters, but can be very picky about the print or design, so I rarely see ones I would actually want to buy. This particular sweater seems to be just the right amount of whimsical to me, not too cutesy while still being fun. 

Uniqlo seems to have brought back that long, open linen-rayon blend cardigan I loved so much last year. I can't tell if this year's blue shade is identical to last year's, but they've brought back what looks to be the same gray one. I really like wearing these cardigans over both my work and casual dresses once the weather warms up, and I wore mine throughout the whole summer last year. Also, I was intrigued by these new linen-rayon blend "short sleeve long shirts" until I realized they aren't dresses. To me, they definitely look long enough to be worn that way (as long as the side slits aren't cut scandalously high for that purpose, but that can't be easily discerned from the website photos). 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

On Adulthood, (Not) Having it All, and the Marie Kondo Show


In some ways, 2018 was the first year I felt like a "real" adult. Although I graduated college nearly a decade before, and had been financially self-sufficient since, the path I've taken since graduation has also been rather circuitous, full of arguable fits and starts. I went from school to short-term academic fellowship; to law school; to what was technically a full-time biglaw job of open-ended duration (but because of the known end date to start my clerkship, combined with the firm's reluctance to staff soon-to-be clerks on long-term projects, it sometimes felt artificially like a short-term gig); and finally to the clerkship, another short-term job. For nearly a decade, everything had a definite expiration date that I knew about well in advance.

It's not that I wasn't technically an adult, or that I didn't act like one. In all that time, I made many big, grown-up decisions, some of them with huge financial implications. Going in to law school, I felt very certain of myself and what I wanted from life, and I felt quite grown-up as a result. I knew I wanted children someday (hopefully two, as it's wonderful, especially now, to have a sibling close in age, though we fought like cats and dogs as children), that I wouldn't like to raise them while living in the city (because I just couldn't imagine that, being a lifelong child of the suburbs), and that I'd like to continue working after (far and away the most common scenario for my peers and professional role models). I was fairly sure of all these things back then, and remain fairly certain about them now. 

Except that, looking back, I was also rather willfully not thinking about some of the practical realities associated with those things I wanted, as I started reflecting on last year. I still want these things nonetheless, but I hadn't really thought about just how hard it might be to have all of them at once. Heck, I've been known to get driven slightly to tears by the prospect of cooking a poorly-designed, highly inefficient Blue Apron meal after a long day at the office, in a week when my hours were biglaw-ish (and K's even more so, so if anyone was going to cook and avoid wasting food and money, it had to be me), and we don't even have kids yet!

2018 was the first year of my adult life spent entirely in a job or other pursuit with no clear, built-in end date. Because of that, it also felt like the first year I truly had an opportunity to begin thinking concretely about the type of life I wanted in the long term, that I would choose for myself. Do I want to stay in the private sector, or do I want to someday go into public service? Will I want, at some point, to make the tradeoff of taking a significant pay-cut for fewer working hours and greater scheduling flexibility? If and when I have children, will I be able to go to school events that take place during business hours? How much childcare and cleaning help do I expect our household to hire*, exactly, give that we are both likely to continue working full-time?

This isn't meant to be a sad post, by the way. By now, I think most women around my age have long since realized they probably can't have it "all", both a high-powered career and everything else they want at home. Nine times out of ten, "leaning in" probably won't work as well as one might have hoped. And in biglaw, new associates, men and women alike, quickly realize it's a tough industry in ways they didn't fully understand as law students, and that the hours and expectations might not be compatible with a lot of what they want from family life. That's if there's even room at the top for them to stay in the industry in the long, long term. (Let's not even talk about the particular challenges for women and minorities, that's a story for another day.) One has to be prepared for tradeoffs, that's just part of life.

And even after thinking about all these questions for a year, I (predictably enough, for someone who is likely still a few years off from starting to make any of those big decisions for real) don't have any clear answers. I would imagine that working through some of these questions is a lifelong process, one for which the correct answer, and the work-life balance or compromise captured in it, is constantly being revisited. Circumstances will inevitably change from month to month and year to year, and with that, one's position regarding all these concerns (amount of hired help; what salary one is aiming for; what expected working hours one can, or needs, to accept, etc.) will need to change too.

I maybe feel a bit silly writing all these paragraphs of introduction when I truly have no answers, only questions. Actually, the only thing I feel particularly sure about sharing today was my thoughts regarding episode three of the Marie Kondo show, about the Mersiers (a charming family of four struggling to downsize from a multiple-story house in Michigan to a small, two-bedroom apartment in the Los Angeles area). Specifically, the episode illustrated something I found painfully real about some of these questions surrounding housework, emotional labor, and the gendered dimensions of those things.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Shopping From Italic, and Some Thoughts on Startup-y Retailer Marketing

Italic's "Albee" cardholder bears a strong resemblance to a certain Saint Laurent cardholder I used to want.

Some of you may remember that, a few months ago, a startup called Italic did a big marketing push, getting featured in places like Vox and TechCrunch. Their premise was simple, they claimed to offer products made in the same factories as well-known designer brands such as Celine and Prada. As The Fashion Law noted, this approach to marketing may be iffy, to the extent that it involves the explicit use of other brands' trademarks to sell their products. (I don't know enough about "soft IP" law, copyright or trademarks, to know whether this is actually an approach that's potentially going to lead to legal issues, but it sounds plausible that it's something to research further and be cautious about doing.) 

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! None of the Italic links are affiliate links, and this post is not sponsored, I was intrigued by the company and bought an item on my own volition. I quite like the cardholder, but am lukewarm about most other things to do with the brand, as you can see below.

I suspect that most who read here are inclined to be skeptical about Italic's marketing taglines, "luxury goods, no brands" or "no brands, no markups". If nothing else, it vaguely sounds like concepts that are old hat to us by now. For instance, it's not that unlike some of the ideas behind Everlane's original, more limited product line. As late as 2014, when I bought an Everlane slim zip wallet and Petra tote, their bags had no visible external branding. Cuyana's handbags also have minimal external branding. And, if you recall that "fancy millenial" article Michelle and Elaine also shared, lots of these startup-y brands that target our demographic build their brand identities on claiming to offer products comparable to those from fancier, more expensive and more well-established brands for relatively modest prices. (Away seems to try and compete with Tumi or Rimowa, for example, and Everlane used to claim the "traditional retail" price of the Petra Magazine Tote they sold at ~$450 was ~$1,200, the price of a Chloe tote. Their "traditional retail" price claims for their current line of leather handbags are a bit less ambitious.) None of those brands have, to my knowledge, ever claimed to use the same factories as this or that other bigger, more well-known brand while identifying said brands by name, that much seems unique to Italic. 

Also, I don't think it's a surprise to us that higher-end brands and other brands may use some of the same factories for certain products. That much is stated in both Dana Thomas's Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster and Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion, both of which were already old news when I read and reviewed them back in 2014. It's not really a selling point for any brand, I would think, it's just the reality of how the industry works. And I'd suspect, without actually having any specialized knowledge about the business side of the industry, that just because one company uses the same factory as another, it doesn't mean the resulting products would necessarily be comparable. It seems to me to be common sense that the design, materials, and many other non factory-specific details must also go into determining the "quality" of the resulting product.

Still, just as Everlane and Cuyana bags (and their general brand identities and marketing campaigns) appeal to me, I was also curious about Italic. With all these "fancy millenial" brands, I'm basically the exact target customer, and am often a total sucker for their marketing regardless of my occasional bemusement. So I signed up.

They currently have a "waitlist" for new registrations, which I find rather gimmick-y, and it took a week or so for me to be able to sign up and shop. Oh, and they also plan to charge a $120/year membership fee someday, though they've "waived" that fee for now, for everyone that signs up prior to a certain unspecified cutoff date in the future. Obviously, from all I've ever written here, one can probably guess that there's absolutely no way I'd ever pay $120/year for the "privilege" of shopping anywhere! Once they start charging a membership fee, I'll be out of there immediately.

Even if I'm skeptical about quite a few things to do with Italic, when I saw this "Albee" textured leather cardholder for $40 (also available in gray and black), compared to the $200-plus of a certain Saint Laurent "Five Fragments" card holder I've long been interested in (but that is far too expensive for me for a wallet when I have other perfectly functional ones), I decided to try it. There are some differences in the two designs, including the lack of visible logo on Italic's, the leather zipper pull, and an added pocket in the back that's not present in the original (see photos of original at TheRealReal), though the, er, source of inspiration for the "Albee" is still quite obvious and largely undeniable.

Presently, shipping from Italic is quite slow and expensive. I didn't keep close track of the order date and delivery date, and I don't think they did a shipment notification email either, but I believe it took close to two weeks, if not a little longer, for it to arrive. Shipping cost $10, so my purchase cost me $50 in total, which I think is still a fair price for the cardholder.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Link List: Money Lessons and Other Things

Wearing my new to me Alexis Bittar bracelet. In this light, one can almost see why my recent interest in jade bangles led me to it, at least in terms of the color!

It's now been long enough since I graduated law school that I have a few friends who have left their first workplaces, sometimes in order to leave NYC and sometimes in order to do something that's not biglaw. I've found it exciting to see where my peers and former colleagues end up, though we're still so new to this profession that it's still impossible to predict what our careers will actually look like in the long term. I am always a bit sad, however, when any of my friends move out of the city. Of my closest law school friends, only a few are still here!

1. // I enjoyed this article about Kathy's novel, Family Trust (affiliate link). There's a very particular perspective presented in the novel, one that I'm very familiar with. It depicts a community that's very similar to the one I grew up in (some would call it the exact same one, but I'm not sure that's 100% correct, mine was a few zip codes away, among other things). A lot has changed in the Silicon Valley since I was a child. 

2. // I also enjoyed Carly the Prepster's post about her thought process when making a recent large designer handbag purchase, in this case, a Chanel bag. Among other things, it gives some insight into how she runs her successful social media-based business (for further context, she once indicated during an AMA two years ago that her blog brought in mid-six figures of revenue/year at the time). It also touches on larger themes I'm interested in, including about the money lessons one learns from one's parents (whether those lessons were intentionally taught or not, a theme I last discussed over at Sherry's). And well, as one can see from much of what I write here, I too enjoy writing at somewhat excessive length about my thought process for various purchases! 

I was a little surprised to see that many at r/blogsnark found that post annoying. I can see the reason for some of the criticisms. For instance, it really sounds like her parents were a perfectly reasonable level of frugal (through things like not ordering sodas or desserts at restaurants most of the time, driving older cars, paying off their mortgage, and prioritizing things like paying for college tuition for their children, etc.). While I'm definitely familiar with how a parent's sensible approach to money can still have unintended consequences, in which their child interprets from it certain unhelpful lessons (in my case, the focus on "sale section only" shopping I was raised with may have fed into some of my bad shopping habits later), I don't generally think it's fair to be too critical of one's parents for something like that, at least when it's clear that the odder, less useful lessons were accidentally conveyed.

Also, I agree with Luxe that, like Carly specifically mentioned, it's perfectly reasonable, and even rather smart, to save for a wedding before such an event is actually, er, concretely on the horizon. Weddings can be expensive, and the sometimes brief window between engagement and when people start putting down deposits for wedding-related expenses could mean that, if one has a certain type of wedding in mind, one can't exactly... wait until the engagement has happened to start saving, given the amount that might soon be needed. 

I do understand that it's not exactly "cute" for someone in an extremely strong and privileged financial position to fuss overly much about money-related anxieties. It could easily sound bad or terribly out of touch. That's why I try to be cautious about how I write about my own finances, to always keep in mind that I've been incredibly fortunate to have the economic opportunities I have. At the same time though, I do see the US as being a society where it's perfectly normal even for people in an excellent financial position to still be afraid about money and their future. A major medical emergency could decimate almost anyone's finances here, and that's legitimately terrifying, and reasonably so.

3. // And now for some other blog entries that I've been reading lately: I found Adina's detailed, thoughtful post about her local thrifting scene very interesting, as she's definitely an expert. I was entertained by Kitty and Piggy's post about how to write and cash checks, which, let's just say, may no longer be a skill that one learns naturally in the course of becoming a young adult these days. I don't think I had a checkbook until I was in law school, and that was only because student housing didn't accept rent payments any other way. And I admit that I had to do some research on Google before I really knew how to write my first check. Elaine's posts about her experiences with selling through TheRealReal (affiliate link) will be helpful if I ever decide to resell anything that way.