Monday, January 27, 2020

January 2020 Shopping Reflections

Clearly, I have a favorite color, or a favorite family of colors.

Between this month's post and the last, I'm tempted to go back and revise my previous three shopping reflection posts, to retcon the timeline, so to speak. The November 2019 post arguably wasn't the shopping reflection post for that month, since there were Black Friday purchases I'd already ordered by the time that post went live. The December 2019 post was actually the November 2019 post, given when the orders were made. Similarly, all these "January 2020" purchases were technically made during the first days of the post-Christmas sales, before the year turned. I haven't bought anything else since 2020 began, only made decisions on the things I ordered in late December. So, really, this month's shopping reflection post should actually be considered the December 2019 post instead!

Lately, I've had a lot on my mind. I think I've always been fairly candid about how I never expected to stay in biglaw-ish law firm practice in the very long term. But up until this month, I'd never actually thought about a specific timeline for the transition to what comes after. These days, I'm thinking far more concretely than before about how much longer it might be before I start applying in earnest for something different, likely something in government. 

Clearly, I have many big questions to think about. Among other things, those financial projections in my money management spreadsheet may no longer be valid - particularly through the end of 2021 or 2022 - since all my calculations were based on remaining in the same job all that time. And I think it's safe to say that I won't be able to spend or shop quite as freely anymore.

But you'd never know that from my extravagant list of "this month's" purchases, which I'd actually ordered in late December, before I started changing my mind about how much longer I expected to stay in private practice. I really enjoy everything I bought, but it's hard to sound enthusiastic about them when - shortly after deciding to "cut the tags" - I suddenly realized there were big changes to what I wanted my professional life to look like in the fairly near term. It feels almost like I was a different person back then, back when I was eagerly scoping out the post-Christmas sales and making these orders (without much of a second thought about my total spend for the month). 

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Anyway, I'll have to write more at some other time about what I've been thinking about my career trajectory, wait until I haven't just indulged to an extent that would only feel appropriate to me if I planned to remain in biglaw-ish practice for the indefinite future. I expect the rest of 2020 to look very different on the shopping front. And I feel like anything more I have to say about my expected career trajectory - and about my ability to plan seriously for, and implement, practical steps to prepare for a significant pay-cut in the nearer, rather than longer, term - will just ring hollow when juxtaposed against the list of "this month's" purchases, and against the rather extreme total spend. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $1037.37) 
  • Brora Cashmere Gauzy Polo Neck, teal - $302.99* - Last year, my Brora purchases from their UK site came with a surprise discount - something like $20 to $30/item - in the form of a more favorable exchange rate than expected. This year, the exchange rate I got was exactly the market rate according to Google, no more surprise discount! Either way, it still makes sense to purchase direct from the UK site, as the US prices are generally at least $100 more per sweater. The downside is that one would need to ship unwanted items back to the UK fairly quickly, on one's own dime, to get a refund. I'd been waiting eagerly for this teal sweater to go on sale since October or November, as I don't think a lot of other brands had slouchy turtlenecks in a similar color. This sweater is quite boxy on me, and the size S/M runs quite large for what I expect from UK sizing. I find the "gauzy" weight Brora cashmere plenty warm for just about any temperature I regularly encounter in NYC - when worn with appropriate layers outdoors, of course - though the fabric does feel quite thin. 
  • Smythson Mara Small Zip-Around Purse, bluette - $154.69* - (sold out, other colors) - What can I say? I have a rather extreme fondness for small leather goods, particularly for "mini" wallets. I've already amassed quite a large collection of small wallets I'm fond of - my favorite is probably the Italic Albee card case I bought last year, though I find their brand's premise rather tedious - but it's still difficult for me to resist buying more when I see a good one on sale. Particularly in light of my recent decisions about my career trajectory, I'll try to keep this habit under control. This particular zip-around design has a bit more space and capacity than most of my other "mini" wallets. I love this rich, sort of dark teal-looking "bluette" shade, it's a particularly nice example of that family of colors. And hey, this wallet was another way to indulge in that recent trend of colorful, croc-embossed leather I was so taken by
  • Johnston of Elgin Reversible Cashmere Silk Square - $375.00 - I've had this exact scarf pinned to the "fantasy or lucky secondhand only" section of my Pinterest shopping list for ages, so when I saw it discounted significantly in the first wave of the post-Christmas sales, one could say it was a "no-brainer." This scarf is a beautiful color, in that general family of dark, rich blues or blue-greens I've been so fond of, and the shade works as a neutral. The scarf is a generous size, it definitely resembles those giant blanket scarves that were popular a few years back. In person, the color isn't quite as bright, and doesn't have as much of a sheen to it, as in the model photos on the store's website. The store photos of the scarf by itself are more accurate with regards to the real-life color. 
  • J.Crew Resume Dress, jade melange - $204.69* - This wasn't techncially a post-Christmas sale purchase, as I ended up ordering it at full price when my size became available in late December. I'm a bit shocked at myself, actually, as I thought I'd never buy anything full-price from J.Crew, given their extremely frequent - albeit sometimes unpredictable, and generally heavily excluded-from - discounts and promotions. I don't keep close track of J.Crew's new products anymore, so it was only when this jade melange color of the Resume dress - a staple workwear dress they've stocked for years - was nearly sold out that I first learned about it, after seeing it on someone's Instagram. And then I had to have it. I kept checking the product page every day for around a week before my size popped back in stock briefly, and then I ordered it immediately. This jade melange shade isn't quite that bright, rich teal I've been so captivated by - it's a more faded and neutral-ish variant - but I'm still fond of it.  
*Indicates that price includes sales tax and/or shipping. Brora and Smythson charge fairly substantial international shipping fees. 

All this shopping combined was, at the very least, not my biggest expenditure in January 2020. That honor goes instead to my backdoor Roth IRA contribution. (Since I returned to the private sector after clerking, my habit has been to fully fund my backdoor Roth IRA right at the start of the year, out of last year's year-end bonus. Though I likely won't be able to continue that practice after I fully follow through on some of my new plans.) Oh, and I also made an extra student loan payment of significant size out of said year-end bonus.

In the coming months, I plan to shop significantly less than in 2019, though I haven't sat down and laid out a concrete plan yet for exactly how much less I think I should shop. There aren't any pieces of clothing or jewelry that I'm currently interested in, taking into account my new expectations for my career, and the attendant spending restrictions. K and I may be planning a vacation with a lot of walking around in big cities in April, which reminds me that I may prefer to use a small backpack, rather than one of the tote bags I already have, during such a trip. A top candidate for that purchase is the Knomo Beauchamp backpack.

How were the post-Christmas sales for you? Were you able to find any discounts on items you'd been keeping an eye on for a long time? How's your 2020 going so far? 

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