Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Life Lately: Vacation Plans and "Big Cleans"

Photo from a recent visit with a good friend and her cats. Her other cat is much more shy and still spends much of the time hiding whenever I visit. This one is much more outgoing!

Things have been hectic at the office recently, which I think is actually the new normal, given the current status of some of my biggest projects. We may have several months of steady work to look forward to, but that's a good thing. And don't worry, it's not going to be anywhere near as intense as the busy periods I had earlier this year! We likely won't have court filings of quite that size and scale again for a few months, and thank goodness for that.

I have a good number of fun and relaxing things coming up, though: A law school friend is visiting from out of town this weekend, and then I'll be heading off for vacation in early May. For this year's big trip, my sister and I are chipping in together, in shares proportional to our income, to take our mom to Hawaii. (Alas, both my sister and I completed graduate school with student loans a bit in excess of our first year salaries. But we're both working hard on repayment, and still get to splurge once in a while, clearly!) None of us have ever been before, so we're very much looking forward to it. We'll be in Maui for around ten days, and will also get to celebrate Mother's Day there. Any travel recommendations for Maui would be greatly appreciated, of course. 

This past weekend, I spent Saturday cleaning the apartment to get ready for my friend to visit and stay over. K was working all weekend long, so I did 100% of the cleaning this time around. See, even if he's far more likely to initiate and do the lion's share of our occasional "big cleans," including a few weekends ago, I'm capable of doing my part too... when I absolutely have to.

And good golly, if I may fuss for a bit, my back and my joints ached something awful the rest of the day, mainly from scrubbing the bathtub and the tile floor in the bathroom. (For the floor, unlike in the kitchen, the Swiffer has always proven entirely unequal to the task of scrubbing hard enough to get it clean.) This may well be what drives me to the point of finally declaring that we must hire semi-regular cleaning help. Now that K and I are both consistently busier at the office, the decision calculus for that particular question has changed significantly since this time last year. And I absolutely plan for us to pay well and tip generously, given that I've been driven to this choice by a deep appreciation for the difficulty of the labor.

On Sunday, I was shocked to find myself completely without the motivation to write anything for the blog. That almost never happens, I spend some of just about every single weekend writing or revising something that will eventually be posted here. Alas, I think I'm just very ready for that vacation. Given how my schedule looks between now and my departure flight, it's probably safest to assume that I probably won't be able to write here in the meantime. See you again in mid-May!

Oh, and in other recent blog-related news, I only recently realized that Disqus's default settings for website moderators resulted in my not getting email notifications when comments here are automatically blocked as spam. And it's not even particularly easy to figure out where on Disqus's site to view and moderate such comments, it took quite a bit of clicking around. To add insult to injury, the algorithm they use to flag spam is prone to inaccuracy, with maybe only a 55% success rate at best (at least when it comes to comments here). Nearly half of the dozen or so things they flagged as spam since I started using Disqus were real, substantive comments, including from people I frequently have conversations with in the comments here. I've approved all the wrongfully flagged comments now, some of them from more than a year ago. I'm terribly embarrassed that I didn't notice this problem sooner. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

That Five or Ten-Year Plan

Via the New York Times, from a series where they interviewed a group of women junior associates at one biglaw firm in 2001, and then checked in again with some of them in 2013.

I'm a regular reader over at Corporette, a habit that began around 2016 or 2017. It's a bit of an odd internet community, more a message-board for whatever readers want to talk about rather than anything to do with the blog's actual content. Things get weird sometimes, people occasionally say absurd and unkind things (see, e.g., this discussion), and there's the occasional troll about. But many other comments can be insightful or interesting, and so I keep going back. And hey, to the extent that I still feel a powerful nostalgia for an old-fashioned and "retro" style of blogging (circa 2009), Corporette certainly fits that bill! I specifically remember a college friend recommending the site to me in 2009, but I couldn't quite get into it then, maybe because I hadn't yet started working. In any case, the site has changed very little since.

There was a great discussion there recently about people's five or ten-year plans, both on a personal and professional level. A little over five years ago, in November 2013 (so if one is inclined to split hairs, it's turned out to be a discussion about six and eleven-year plans instead), they'd posted something asking about where readers hoped to be in five years, and then in ten. This year, it was time to check in about whether things had gone as planned. The answers were a mixed bag, which isn't exactly surprising, as life is complicated and unpredictable. When it comes to my own life, things also didn't turn out exactly as I hoped. But that's actually a good thing! If things had happened the way I planned, I wouldn't be in this new job that I greatly enjoy.

The original inspiration for this discussion was a set of New York Times features that had done essentially the same exercise in the decade prior, interviewing 21 women junior associates at one top biglaw firm in 2001, and then going back to some of them in 2013. And the pattern of how things changed between 2001 and 2013 is, in my view, substantially similar to the pattern of changes for the 2013 and 2019 group. That's consistent with how diversity and equality-related conditions have not improved substantially in the legal industry between 2001, 2013, and now. (Things are far better than when Justice Ginsburg was starting out, when many firms openly stated they would "engage no women" as a matter of policy. But it's commonly understood that, at some point in the decades since, things began to stall.)

One theme common to many of the Corporette updates was that people (particularly those on the cusp of starting their career, or in the earliest stages of it, in 2013) often found that certain obstacles in their industry or workplace, particularly ones related to discrimination, including harassment and #metoo problems, were far more powerful than expected. Oftentimes, people who, in 2013, were optimistic that discrimination might not directly affect their own career trajectory or workplace had those hopes dashed somewhat, and would now describe themselves as having been too naive about these realities in 2013. Many who encountered those types of challenges made a choice that it wasn't worth it to stay where they were. A lot of those people were attorneys, and I can vouch for how common that experience is in this industry.

More happily, there were also many who found that, for serendipitous reasons, life moved in a different direction from what they originally planned. And indeed, even for some who ran face-first into discrimination-related challenges and found that they couldn't stay with their original company, or even in the profession they originally planned on, there was also some of this more positive effect at play. That's another thing I've also found to be true for myself.

With that context in mind, this is how I would answer the questions about where I was in 2013; where I am now in 2019, and whether things had gone according to plan; and where I hope to be in 2024:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Outfit Post: First Signs of Spring

Top: Grana Silk Raglan Tee (old)
Shoes: Sam Edelman Lior Loafer, gold glitter (old, similar design or similar color)

On the morning I was getting dressed in this outfit, I managed to accidentally navigate my phone to the weather for the California Bay Area, where I'm originally from, instead of for NYC, so I thought I was dressing for 55 degrees Farenheit and a clear, sunny day, instead of for something in the mid-40s with a chance of rain. It was only after I'd already put on the entire outfit that I realized I was looking at the weather for the wrong place, but I decided to wear it anyway, though with a wool-blend coat and these shoes (which hold up okay to rain and don't get dirty easily), instead of the pink canvas Soludos llama sneakers (only size 9 left for now) that I was originally planning on. 

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!

K joked that, if I was willing to speak to the Google Home and ask it what the weather was, I would not have had that mix-up on my phone. But I continue to categorically refuse to talk to my technology, much in the way I refuse to use Siri on my phone. It just feels too awkward to me, the idea of talking to a device! I'm pretty sure I'll never be willing to do it. 

Anyway, with a heavier coat, this outfit was reasonable for the weather we had that day. It was the first day I was able to wear my new Uniqlo x J.W. Anderson wrap skirt outdoors, and I was happy to find that it stayed put fairly well throughout the day, and that it was easy to adjust the way I liked without too much fussing in the morning. The tie did loosen up a little and the waistband did shift slightly by the end of the workday, but not so much as to be annoying, or to need any significant adjusting or re-tying throughout the day. It's a true wrap skirt, but with enough fabric that there's no real risk of a wardrobe malfunction. Although the size S of the skirt would have worked for me as well, and in fact, looked quite similar in the mirror, I picked out the size M so that I could wear the skirt a bit more relaxed at the waist if I wanted to. 

I really enjoyed wearing this outfit, and I loved wearing my new skirt. The look is quite simple, but it was nice to be able to go out with bare legs for the first time this year, even if I had a heavier coat on. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Money Diary: A Somewhat Typical Week, Part 2

And now for the rest of the Money Diary for my somewhat more typical week (part one here) than in last year's diary (part one, part two)! This week is not fully "typical" in the sense that I don't spend like this every average week of every month. That ~$45 Target order should be our only large purchase of shared household goods or cleaning supplies this April, we typically spend around $50 to $60/month on that, and we split the cost. Sephora orders are a twice per year-ish thing for me, and my next one this year, if needed, probably won't be anywhere near as sizable as this week's ~$109 order because I only wear makeup twice a month or so, and none of my other products are running out. Also, I don't get any skincare products from Sephora anymore, and the only other things I buy there are the Cocofloss and Olaplex No. 3 treatment. Furthermore, I think the additions to my closet captured in this Money Diary should be close to it for the whole month.

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!

With that additional context, this Money Diary gives a good sense of what my spending looks like most of the time. A few of the biggest things are happening off-screen in other weeks, of course, including my student loan payments and travel spending. (I generally go on one big, long vacation per year, and maybe take one or two additional long weekend trips to visit friends or family.) And I'm often a little coy about the exact amount of my rent, mostly because I'm a bit embarrassed by the fairly high total. Outside of that, though, the diary is accurate in how it depicts my typical approach to spending, including for restaurants, groceries, and coffee shops. My food costs combined are the next biggest spending category for me by far, after student loans and rent.

Another fairly typical day at the office, and I can't help but order the same Sweetgreen salad with kale, spicy chickpeas, spicy broccoli, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, and burrata again. I may be ordering it almost every weekday from now until they discontinue the burrata at the end of the season.

With the upcoming trial, K's been having a hard time at the office, so after leaving work a bit past 6:00 PM, I go a bit out of my way to stop at a nearby bakery and coffee shop to get a brownie, cookie, or chocolate croissant for him as a little pick-me-up. I didn't realize that they actually close at 7:00, so they've already sold out of most of their baked goods. Happily, they have a few of their giant chocolate chip cookies left, so I get that and it comes out to $4.87 with tip. Normally, I'd get a second item so we can split both, but they don't have anything else left that I think we'd like, so I just get the one cookie for us to share later.

As for dinner, I get Chipotle. Unlike in last year's diary, this time I add guacamole to my steak salad, as I often do these days (one of the many bits of lifestyle inflation I've indulged in since graduating from law school), bringing the total to $13.50. I eat at home, and after resting and digesting for a while, I use the stationary bike in our apartment to do a workout. Afterwards, I try to do some pilates exercises, but it's been a very long time since I was last doing those regularly, and so my muscles are no longer capable of much. K gets home pretty late, and we share the cookie.

Please follow the link below for the rest of this week's money diary!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Money Diary: A Somewhat Typical Week, Part 1

Almost exactly a year ago today, I tried my hand at a Money Diary post (part one, part two), having been inspired by the Man Repeller format. That week turned out to be highly non-typical, involving no less than two purchases of small household appliances, one (an upright vacuum cleaner) that K and I had dragged our feet on for more than a year, and the other (a hand mixer) brought about by my sudden desire to try baking, a hobby I'd never previously shown an interest in taking up before at any other time in my adult life. As it turns out, I enjoy baking, but don't often get inspired to try new recipes: I've since made Alison Roman's chocolate chunk shortbread cookies four more times and two batches of cheesecake-swirl brownies (using Smitten Kitchen's recipe, but with sour cream added to the cheesecake mix the second time, adapting from an America's Test Kitchen recipe found here, I'm still figuring out the right balance of cheesecake to brownie). 

A few things have changed since the week of my last Money Diary. I've refinanced my student loans. I've quit Blue Apron and eventually quit Hello Fresh with no plans to try another similar service for a while. Hometown Hot Pot has become a lot more popular and much busier on Friday and Saturday nights, to the point where the wait is generally well over an hour, and we don't go half as often as we used to (sad!). I've switched around my preferred lunchtime orders; I now go almost exclusively to Sweetgreen and rotate between two salads, the kale caesar and a custom one.

Most other things have stayed the same, however. K and I still have similar grocery and eating out habits. We still split shared expenses in the same sort of eclectic way. And of course, I continue to pay a similar (very large) proportion of my take-home pay to my student loans, $3650/month now, and will continue to do so for at least another two calendar years, probably closer to three. Alas. (Those payments still happen offscreen though, in other weeks.) 

I wake up late this morning, around 11:00 AM (as is my usual weekend inclination). We used to go out for brunch once a weekend most weeks, but while the weather is cold, we've started staying in. I cook brunch for us, consisting of hash browns, eggs, and bacon. K cleans up after, as is our usual practice. 

Before long, I head out for a quick trip to Trader Joe's, by far our cheapest local grocery store. I've found that Friday nights and Saturdays are generally the best times to go. People in our neighborhood really like to stock up on Sundays, to the point where even Fairway (worse quality produce, also more expensive for everything) gets heinously busy, so I make it a point to get the grocery shopping done on Friday or Saturday if I plan to cook. Today, I get ingredients for dinner tomorrow: flank steak (the most expensive item at ~$11), the "potato medley" (a quantity that lasts us two meals), and some broccoli. I also get more frozen hash browns, maple chicken breakfast sausage, cereal for K, fresh mozzarella balls, truffle cheese, and these chocolate cookies. We still split groceries the same way as before, where I'm typically the one who shops for us, a bit more than 80% of the time (strange as it might be, I actually enjoy grocery shopping*, even in NYC where the aisles are cramped and popular stores, including Trader Joe's, get heinously crowded). When I go, I keep track of amounts I spent on bigger items we'll both eat, such as meat or fish, and we'll split those. I cover everything else fully, such as vegetables or snacks for both of us. (On the rarer occasions when he shops, he pays and doesn't record what he spent or "charge" me for my half of anything he gets.) It may sound weird and nitpicky or complicated, but I swear it's not!

K's parents are visiting us today before they head off for a long vacation, so while I'm out, K starts doing one of our "big cleans" so we won't be embarrassed by the state of our apartment when they come by. He cleans the bathroom and vacuums, and is pretty much done by the time I get back. Whenever K starts one of our "big cleans", I usually jump right in and help (but as I mentioned over at Jess's, I'm almost never the one who thinks to proactively start doing one of our "big cleans"). But today, by the time I've put away the groceries, he's completely done and I don't see anything left for me to do, and so I relax and work on my blog.

Later in the afternoon, I go to the in-building gym and run on the treadmill. These days, I only wear my newest pair of running shoes when I actually run. If I'm doing any other kind of workout, I wear an older pair that's been "retired" from the high-impact exercise of running. It seems to have helped with the longevity of my shoes.

K's parents arrive around dinnertime and we head straight downtown to Congee Village, one of our favorites. Normally, we might suggest Hometown Hot Pot when they visit, but these days, the wait on Saturday nights is just too long. As it turns out, Congee Village is also quite busy, so we end up waiting close to an hour anyway. (It would have been an hour and a half or longer for hot pot, though.) We get seafood chow mein, sauteed string beans, pan-fried bean curd with soy sauce (one of our favorites!), sweet and sour pork (not something I'd normally get, but it's great here), and clams with black bean sauce. And we actually eat almost everything, except maybe 1/4 of the noodles and 1/3 of the string beans, which K's parents take back with them as leftovers. Dinner was $94 before tip, tip is $19. K treats us, as he often does when his parents visit. (Thank you, K!)  Afterwards, we head home to relax and chat in our apartment for a bit, before they drive back home.

Please follow the link below for the rest of the week through Tuesday.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Link List: On "Wealth" and Other Miscellany

By now, everyone has probably already seen Nathan Pyle's comics, but if not, I highly recommend them! His Strange Planet series, example above, is cute and clever. His other comics are also good, expecially this one, which I think is too frequently relevant these days, alas. 

1. // And here are some other things on the more light and cheerful side of the spectrum: After seeing her work on the the Pokemon Go subreddit, I've started following @miscellaneousmao, who does some really awesome baking and dessert-making, including some Pokemon-shaped truffles. Her April Fools' "sushi" cakes also look remarkably like the real thing. What a talent!

I don't follow celebrity red carpet fashion and street style quite as much as I used to in my teenage years, though I check in at Tom and Lorenzo a few times a week to get the general scoop. Not much celebrity fashion catches my eye, even if it's often nice to look at, but I just had to share this round-up of Marsai Martin's recent red carpet and public appearance outfits because every look is so fun and awesome. And her upcoming movie, Little, in which she is both the star (along with Issa Rae and Regina Hall) and executive producer, looks really funny. 

2. // I keep doing that thing where I save up a bunch of links related to a general theme, in hopes of writing a longer post about them, but then other current events or viral stories come along and displace my older post ideas. One idea I was working towards, but that I don't think will get its own post anytime soon (it wasn't very focused, was maybe a bit too abstract, and I don't think I have enough useful things of my own to say about it regardless), was about the nature of "wealth", and social perceptions of where the line is at which a person becomes "wealthy." It's a question I don't think American society at large understands. That's probably why we perennially get those really annoying articles about households that make multiple six figures, but apparently feel very middle class and far from "wealthy." I don't have a good answer for that question either. 

My set of links related to this larger theme are, in keeping with the amorphousness and half-formed nature of the idea, a bit all over the place. A few months ago, I mentioned that I was enjoying the money-related content on Glamour's Youtube channel, particularly the "Different Women, Different Salaries" series, where they gave a money-related survey to several anonymous NYC women across a range of different incomes, and then had a set of actresses read the responses. It's not quite as much information as, say, Refinery29 Money Diaries, but I think this small set of interview questions, combined with only minimal additional details about each respondent (just their income, age, and occupation), is still quite illuminating. It's a very interesting series, though one thing to keep in mind is that the way each actress "plays" the "character" of their corresponding interview subject may, of course, not fully reflect the exact tone or "feel" of each answer as the respondent intended. I even got a little attached to the first set of "characters"/actresses, but haven't been able to get into the more recent set they just started.

When I watch the videos one after another, it really struck me that, for the women earning $100,000/year or more, their answers to a lot of the tougher questions often sound more relaxed, more self assured, and a lot less stressed out than for the under $100,000 group. Okay, okay, it's a totally obvious and unsurprising observation, and the reasons behind it are also extremely obvious. But I thought it was still a helpful extra set of perspectives that really drove home the point that $100,000/year is a lot. And it allows for a lot of comfort, splurges, and luxuries, while still leaving room for saving (at least before taking into account children and other dependents, which few of the survey respondents seemed to have yet), even in an ultra-expensive locality like NYC.

As it turns out, the other links I saved may not have been quite as related to the exact same theme. I've also been interested in stories about how people view and manage their money in relation to their obligations to their parents and extended families, some of which are culturally learned. Aminatou Sow's interview with The Cut got into this theme, as did this article about one of the first things Ijeoma Oluo wanted to do for her mom after getting a big royalty check from her book.

3. // Lots of great blog entries to read recently: Speaking of the difficulties society has with identifying the line at which a someone is arguably "wealthy", Kathy initiated a discussion about something that was making the rounds on Twitter. Because the source material for the viral tweet she was referring to was purportedly about two attorneys very similar to K and I, I had to chime in too. As you can see, I was skeptical about the truth of the original personal finance blog source material that CNBC adapted the tweet from ( link in order to not give page-views to something I view as likely inaccurate click-bait).

Two bloggers I follow, Olga and Talia, both posted recently about their perspectives on how blogging and social media have changed over time. They come at it from different perspectives, one more focused on fashion blogging since 2010 and earlier, and the other more about general social media use since that time, particularly on Instagram, and how that interacts with what she wants to accomplish on her blog. Both raise very good points. I always love when Adina goes in-depth about thrifting, resale, and related topics, because she writes so thoughtfully, and from ample experience. This time, she wrote about her experiences with the challenges associated with reselling clothes. And Luxe wrote a great post about the process of choosing how much to pay for housing. I'll contribute my thoughts to the discussion soon, if I haven't already!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Updated, Slightly Less Minimalist(ish) Skincare Routine

It's been ages since I last wrote about my skincare routine, and I thought it was high time for an update! All of my drugstore-priced, longtime favorite "holy grail" products are still in there, but the set of prescription products I use has changed slightly.

As I suspected, once I started my current job, I was no longer able to see my fancy dermatologist on my new insurance plan, but it's turned out not to be a big deal. My general practitioner has been happy to prescribe my acne-related medications, so it's all good. Insurance co-pays continue to be weird for my topical prescription medications, but that's not exactly new, as I'd already experienced paying anywhere from $40 (with manufacturer coupon) to as much as $80 per refill (a number I was previously shy about disclosing) on my old plan. Alas.

Please keep in mind that I'm not a medical professional, and can only speak to my personal experience with various skincare products and routines. To the extent that one has the misfortune of suffering from moderate to more severe acne (my sympathies!), the best first step for me has always been to start with the doctor or dermatologist, and what they prescribe.

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 background, I have long had bad skin. Its main problem, for at least 18 years now, is acne, primarily the big, icky, under-the-skin kind that could hang out for a month or more, even when I was on both Retin-A Micro 0.1% (the highest dose) and the contraceptive Yasmin or its generics. I get other, more typical breakouts with smaller blemishes too, but those heal so quickly in comparison, and are so easily covered up with makeup, that they've always been easy for me to ignore. Doctors sometimes refer to my acne as cystic, though anecdotally, there may be a distinction between what I  typically get (which eventually "comes to a head"; can pop, often by accident; and is then helped along by hydrocolloid bandages, in my case the CosRx Pimple Master Patches) and actual "cysts" which, on the thankfully rare occasions I've had them, tend to be smaller and and less inflamed most days, but also don't ever "come to a head" and start healing. Instead, they hang out for months on end before, sometimes, mysteriously disappearing.

Various combinations of additional products, including some over-the-counter ones, have helped reduce the frequency, size, and average healing time of my icky, under-the-skin blemishes. But even now that my skin has turned a bit of a corner, mainly thanks to prescription spironolactone, I still don't have perfect skin. I also don't think "perfect skin" is possible for me, it's just not a realistic goal, and I've long since accepted that.

Even if I never got another blemish again (unlikely!), the aftereffects of the years-long battle with acne will remain, mainly in the form of some oddly textured skin on my cheeks and chin. While those patches don't quite rise to the level of what's in photos of atrophic acne scarring, they're still noticeably bumpy if one gets really up close and personal, and the condition appears to be permanent. Nearly a decade of daily Retin-a Micro use hasn't been able to make that odd texture go away. Most days, I also have small dark spots left over from recently healed blemishes, but those, at least, tend to fade significantly over time, sometimes within as little as four to five weeks. (Though with my ongoing acne issues, by the time one dark spot has faded, another has popped up.) Whatever can be done about the oddly textured, slightly bumpy scarring, it's probably going to be expensive, and not covered by health insurance.

Some may remember the hullabaloo surrounding that silly The Outline article claiming that the entire skincare industry is one giant con. Many objected, including at Man Repeller, Racked, and Vox. Had I been paying attention then, I definitely would have objected too. From years of experience, including months-long periods where I stopped the Yasmin or dialed back the Retin-A Micro, only to find that I really couldn't do that if I valued the appearance of my skin, I've learned my lesson that, at least for me, there are times when extensive use of clinically-proven skincare ingredients (whether prescription or over the counter, and in my case, oftentimes both) is absolutely necessary, even if I just want to eke out a few weeks in an average month when I don't have one of those big under-the-skin blemishes hanging out.

In the meantime, however, I've also learned that "more" is not always better when it comes to those more clinically proven "active" ingredients. Indeed, though there was a time that my skin did very well with one of those Korean or East Asian skincare market-inspired 10-plus step skincare routines of legend (both morning and night), I may have been slightly in denial about how well it was actually working for me overall.

When that routine was working for me, as it did most of the time, it was fabulous! My skin got almost completely clear of those gross breakouts, for as little as two weeks to as long as a few months at a time (all of which is excellent results by my standards), and it often had an attractive "glow" that can't be replicated now that I've cut certain more expensive items from my routine. (In my experience the Missha First Treatment Essence, a SK-II dupe, is pretty unique in imparting a certain "glow" I don't get from any other product. Though your mileage may, of course, vary.) During the good times, my skin even got to the point where I honestly thought it looked better without makeup than with! Though I must admit, one factor there was that I don't have particularly excellent makeup skills.

When that routine wasn't working, however, probably because the combination of all those active ingredients, mainly the BHA (whether from the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid or the one-two combination of the CosRx BHA Skin Returning A-Sol and BHA Blackhead Power Liquid) was a bit "too much" for my skin, I'd get irritation-related breakouts, or my skin would get red and blotchy, or dry and flaky, and would need quite a few days of rest with a dialed-back "gentle, moisturizing products only" routine. I used that 10-plus step skincare routine, switching a few products in and out, for nearly three and a half years before the dermatologist asked me to take a step back, to let my prescription products better do their work. Since then, I've realized that, while my previous routine was great sometimes, those "good skin" months or weeks were always punctuated by semi-regular bouts of irritation-related breakouts. So maybe that super-extensive skincare routine wasn't the best idea after all.

Please follow the link below to read about my current routine!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Summer Dress Shopping

Shoes: Fitflop "The Skinny" Sandals (old, similar or in gold)

When I put on this dress, my first thought was: "Darn, I look like a cupcake." I'm definitely sending it right back! Among other things, the dress is definitely a bit too frilly and dressed-up looking to really go with my summer shoes of choice, the super-casual and flip-flop like Fitflop "The Skinny" sandals (similar). And it doesn't fit me quite right, either.

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!

This particular J.Crew "Point Sur" flutter-sleeve dress in printed cotton (also available in solid colors) has been selling out remarkably quickly on their website. They've already taken the petite sizes off their website entirely, and the regular and tall sizes are almost all gone as well. I'm maybe a bit surprised that it's selling quite this well. It's very eye-catching, of course, and that's why I rushed to order it to try on. The store photos make it look pretty and appealing, and the fact that it's lined and still all-cotton is a huge and necessary plus, as I absolutely refuse to wear anything with a polyester lining in the summer if I can help it. However, although this doesn't fully come through in my photos (the only other try-on photo I've seen of this dress is here on Instagram), the proportions are off when it comes to the sleeves. The sleeve ruffles are way too exaggerated, and I found this to be true for both the petite and regular sizes. I think one might need to be a fair bit taller than me (at 5'3'') for the sleeves not to look silly. This particular design also doesn't suit my busty figure, as it ends up looking almost like an empire-waist dress, which is definitely not the intended design.

I probably could have predicted that this dress wouldn't have worked for me. If you look at my various purchases over the years, you might notice that my summer dresses tend to be fairly simple in shape and design. (Though there's an occasional ruffled sleeve here and there, I'm clearly not 100% opposed to that feature!) When one starts adding in more design details like elastic waists, ruffled or tiered skirts, and the like, dresses in lighter, floatier summer-friendly fabrics start being more and more likely to look awkward on me. 

For the coming summer season, I have a few other possible ideas for new dresses that I'm currently thinking about, and most of them are much simpler in look. The only more interesting design that's caught my eye recently is the polka-dot print A.P.C. "Clare" dress in cotton-linen blend, though in practice, I don't think I'd like the ruching and tie details at the shoulders, so I don't think I'd ever actually try it on. It's mostly just a nice idea, but I'm much more likely to try one of those other dresses I'm thinking of. Basically everything else on my list, whether from Elizabeth Suzann or one of the linen shops on Etsy, is made to order, so I might have to get a move on if I want to have a new dress in time for summer!