Friday, June 25, 2021

June 2021 Shopping Reflections

I'm publishing this shopping reflections post a bit ahead of the actual end of the month because I'm pretty certain the list of purchases I will receive and make a final decision on in June is already set in stone. As you'll see, this was a month of shopping for jewelry for me. 

There's admittedly a huge asterisk on this month's shopping list because I technically have two customized - to make the dress a little longer or shorter to suit me - made-to-order summer dresses in the pipeline, both of which are final sale due to said customizations. I've never been that consistent about whether I list my made-to-order pieces in the month I order them or in the month I receive them. I can't figure out which approach makes the most sense!

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Like I previewed in my recent post about summer dresses, I decided to get a Linenfox slip dress in sea green customized to a shorter length, given that I'm at least four inches shorter than most of their models. I also saw Heinui's Instagram account post about a voluminous knee-length summer dress in a delightful green on white print (sold out for now), and I decided to order that too, this time customized to a longer than default length so the hem has less risk of blowing upwards and causing a wardrobe malfunction, due to the regularly-encountered wind tunnel effect while walking around in NYC. 

You're probably going to think I'm a bit silly because one of this month's purchases - an extremely fancy one, no less - was very directly inspired by the relatively understated costume design choices on HBO's Succession. Specifically, in a scene or two around episode seven or eight of the second season, Siobhan "Shiv" Roy - the only daughter of the main family at the center of the show - briefly wears a set of small diamond hoops, and so here we are. Her character's jewelry choices are intentionally more conservative than the already quite understated average on the show and are definitely not meant to grab attention. So it's probably a bit weird to be inspired by something she wore!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Thinking About Handbags

Unlike with my recent post about summer dresses, I don't think I'm actually leaning towards making a purchase anytime soon, but one other wardrobe category that's also been on my mind recently is handbags. Out of all the types of items in my closet, I think bags may be the area in which I'm the most firmly stuck in my ways, I almost never stray from my rather conservative and arguably kind of boring tastes and preferences. 

My current handbag collection is pretty much fully represented by this Pinterest board. And, well, I think you can definitely tell what I like, it's mostly neutral colors and simple totes or shoulder bags. There are outliers - in particular that pink Longchamp "miaou" tote I found incredibly charming and cute, though I almost never have occasion to wear it - but not many. I clearly have a rather narrowly-defined "type" when it comes to my handbags. 

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For all that one of my big shopping-related daydreams and aspirations from when I started this blog was that I might someday buy myself a really fancy designer handbag, I never actually had a real idea of what that bag should look like. 

Even after I graduated law school and started working in biglaw for a year - such that I had enough disposable income so that I could technically afford a really fancy designer handbag if I wanted to make it a priority right away by cutting expenses aggressively in other areas - I still didn't have any clear ideas about a specific handbag I would actually like. (I named some extremely disparate-looking designs as possibilities in that 2016 post, including the Givenchy Antigona, Mulberry Bayswater, and Saint Laurent Duffle.) These days, now that I know my own tastes better, the only designer bag I seem to be interested in from this general price point is the Celine Seau Sangle. But I probably don't like it enough to actually want to spend that amount of money.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Reentry Thoughts

Maya Lin's Ghost Forest at Madison Square Park. Some days, the lawn is open so people can sit on the grass under the trees.

Completely unexpectedly, my workplace still doesn't have an official return date after which attorneys need to work full-time - or even part-time - in the office. But because of some projects on my plate through the end of the month, I'll probably still be going to the office four or five days a week through the end of June. After that, we'll see what my work schedule looks like for the rest of the summer. It's very strange to me that we don't have an official return date yet, though in practice most of my colleagues are back in most days of the week regardless. 

For those of you in parts of the US or other parts of the world that are almost fully reopen, how are you feeling about it all? K and I are comfortable with indoor dining, with my return to the office, and with whatever social gatherings or visits our close friends or family - nearly all living in fully vaccinated households - want to do. Our first plane trip will probably be in August, to a friends' wedding in Colorado, though we have no objections to traveling now if we had anywhere to go. (It goes without saying that I'm happy to continue wearing a mask whenever and wherever it's requested or required, especially indoors. In NYC, I've seen that most people continue to wear masks indoors everywhere, except when seated at a restaurant or bar.)  

But even though I'm pretty much back to the office full-time now, I still don't feel fully "normal." It takes me so much longer to get ready to go to the office than in pre-pandemic times, and I'm always completely exhausted in the evenings if I went in, even though I have a fairly easy 15 to 20 minute walking commute. I'm also not fully back to wearing my "real" work shoes yet, I've mostly just been in sandals and sneakers.

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I've been dragging my feet on some of my many reentry-related errands. I still need to schedule appointments for long-delayed routine checkups with my dentist and primary care doctor, just to make sure everything's in order. I may also need to make an appointment with the optometrist, as my vision is noticeably slightly worse off now than after my previous visit in early 2019. (I spent a lot more time staring at screens than usual when working almost fully from home. Normally, at the office, I do a lot of my reading on hard copies.) 

It may also be high time to refresh my makeup collection, as my Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner has dried out in the jar and it's been way too long since I first opened my current bottle of Nars eyeshadow primer. I almost never wore makeup in pre-pandemic times - it was only for special occasions, court, and important work meetings - and obviously I wore it even less while social distancing throughout 2020 and early 2021. 

One other side effect of our 14 months of pandemic social distancing is that I have a number of extremely expired Metrocards with money left on them. Normally, if the Metrocard's been expired for less than a year, one can just use the machines at each subway station to switch them out for new ones. But because my cards are more than a year expired, I apparently need to snail-mail them in for replacement, which is quite inconvenient! (And apparently, if the cards are more than two years expired, one is completely out of luck. Happily, mine are not quite there yet...) 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2020 Year-End Shopping Reflections Revisited

Now that NYC is almost fully reopen and I'm back in the office at least a few days each week, I'm slowly returning to being able to more accurately evaluate my 2020 purchases based on what I actually like to wear when I don't spend essentially all my time at home, in the interest of public health and COVID safety. In that light, I'm starting to find that, maybe... I wasn't making the best shopping decisions for my wardrobe last year. 

I was aware of this possibility when I wrote my original year-end shopping reflections post for 2020. I refrained from doing my usual analysis to classify my purchases as good, middling, or unwise choices using red, yellow, or green dots - like I've done for 2019 and the period from 2015 through most of 2018 - because I knew I wouldn't be able to do any real analysis before I was able to move freely out in the world again. I couldn't meaningfully "road test" any of my new clothes or accessories or think about their actual functionality for my life outside the home if I wasn't really going anywhere except for a once-monthly trip to the grocery store. 

But now things are getting back to normal here in NYC: I'm going back to the office most weekdays, and K and I are comfortable with dining indoors at restaurants again, including with friends from other households. We're also comfortable with traveling to visit friends or family without quarantining beforehand. (The vast majority of our friends and family and even my close work colleagues do not have young children under 12 in their households, or any other household members who cannot receive the vaccine, which probably makes it much easier for us to just jump straight back in to something resembling "normal" pre-pandemic life with remarkable speed.) 

With all that, I feel like I'm now able to start evaluating my purchases from my usual perspective, taking into account my personal style preferences and actual day-to-day lifestyle in "normal" times. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Life Lately

Our first trip to Shake Shack since getting fully vaccinated!

First up, a quick announcement: I'm not sure if any of you rely on the "Follow by Email" widget in the sidebar to get notifications about my new posts. That widget is powered by Feedburner, and they are disabling the email notifications feature starting next month. If you would still like to receive email notifications about my new posts, I'm thinking of using Tinyletter to send out emails when I've updated my blog, and you can subscribe at this link. (I first opened this Tinyletter account years ago when I thought I might have it in me to do an email newsletter, but I never managed to find any inspiration to actually write anything in that format.) If there's any interest, I'll commit to sending out a quick note every time I post here starting in July! 

Today's post is a grab bag of small, not shopping-related things that have been on my mind recently. 

Shockingly, my workplace has yet to announce a formal return date for attorneys to go back to working full-time - or even part-time - at the office. But due to a busy period in one of my cases, I've still been back in the office at least two or three days a week since May 24. Because my workplace hasn't announced new COVID-19 policies since last July when NYC-based offices were first allowed to reopen, everyone is continuing to wear masks in the communal spaces at the office. In other words, we have not yet implemented the new CDC guidance that vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most indoor settings. 

I totally love Olivia Rodrigo's recently released album, Sour. "Good 4 U" is my favorite track, such an addictive song I can listen to on repeat even if I totally don't have the life experience to actually relate to the lyrics. (I don't think I have the right life experience to relate to any of the tracks except maybe "Jealousy, Jealousy" and "Brutal" for more general types of teenaged or social media-driven insecurity. I didn't really have any experiences of youthful romantic heartbreak or anything like that!) "Drivers License," "Hope Ur Okay," and "Brutal" are also pretty great tracks.  

Now that I'm back in the office at least part of each week for the foreseeable future, our grocery shopping routine will need to change to account for how I typically buy lunch when I go to the office. (I eat Sweetgreen for lunch on most of my office days.) K's still at home all week for the foreseeable future. But between the two of us, I'm by far the more experienced cook, so he relies more on sandwiches or frozen foods when I'm not home to help with lunch. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Thinking About Summer Dresses

We had such a cold and rainy weekend that it hardly feels like the time to think about summer dresses, but that's still the wardrobe category that's been on my mind recently. NYC tends to be hot and humid in summer, and it doesn't cool down much at night. Outside of days when I'm adhering to a more formal dress code for work, I generally wear very light dresses throughout the season, often somewhat flowy and relaxed-fit, in summer-friendly fabrics: typically linen, cotton, silk, rayon, and blends thereof. (If it's a casual dress, the lining also needs to be made of one of those summer-friendly fabrics, I've become a stickler about that detail.)

I find these casual summer dresses are generally the most fragile items in my closet. Out of any other category of things I've added to my wardrobe since I started documenting all my purchases in January 2015, my summer dresses are the most likely to have experienced significant wear and tear. 

Probably unsurprisingly, given the nature of the material, silk and silk-blends are particularly fragile. My casual dresses in silk that have a front center seam have an unfortunate tendency to start tearing at the bust, away from that seam (perhaps because my top-heavy figure causes a bit of strain to the fabric there; cross-body bag straps may also be a factor). I gave away my Everlane short sleeve silk dress from April 2016 to my younger sister around 2018, before the tear could really develop. In 2019, I clumsily sewed up the tear in my Grana slip dress from November 2017, though I'm not sure how much longer that dress has. I also have another Club Monaco silk dress from before 2015 that I've mostly retired due to similar issues. It's enough that I should probably have learned by now that unlined silk or mostly silk dresses with a center seam are just not a good idea for me! Oh, and there are also little rips in the embroidery at the hem of my Madewell silk-cotton dress, which I bought used back in May 2017, just because I wear it so much. Though that's a more superficial bit of wear and tear that's easier to live with. 

I generally don't have great luck with laundering rayon, so with summer dresses in that category, the wear and tear is mostly from laundry mishaps. I machine-wash most of my clothes in cold water in a mesh washing bag to protect it - and then line-dry it all on a drying rack - but some rayon items still mysteriously and randomly shrink up from that gentle treatment, sometimes after months or years of previously being washed that way with no ill effect. I lost two H&M rayon jersey dresses that way, and also an Old Navy dress in "smooth" rayon, they all shrank up so much they became indecent to wear outside. I do my best to avoid 100% rayon clothes as a result of these experiences, but I can't guarantee I'll be able to stay away from all rayon blends, now that they're so common at various retailers.