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!