an updated closet tour + other stuff.

closet fall 2017

This is my entire closet in one photo.  The only thing not shown is my underwear and sock drawer.  If you’ve been a long time reader here, you’ll notice that not much has changed about my closet except I added a hanging closet organizer on the right to store my knitted sweaters the proper way (as opposed to using hangers).    I found a good closet organizer at the Container Store with shelves that don’t bend (a minor thing about most hanging organizers that I find so annoying).

I’m lazy about folding and hanging up my clothes, but since I do wear pants many times before washing, I find that storing my pants by throwing them over the lower closet rod is the easiest way to arrange them.  This keeps me from throwing my pants all over the floor like I used to.

In other news, I had a nice time this weekend with the BF and his mom.  She brought over several eye glasses inherited from the BF’s grandpa who recently passed away.  I thought they looked cool all lined up like this.  There’s a bunch of hipsters out there rockin glasses just like these.  Isn’t it interesting how some styles loop back in time.  I love “old people” style.  When I’m old I’ll already have been dressing my age for decades.

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Continue reading “an updated closet tour + other stuff.”

Trusty old shoes. And life as an ectomorph.

I took a picture of my pre-owned SAS Siesta work shoes while waiting for the subway on my way home today.  These shoes are arguably really ugly, but there’s something unconventionally charming about them.  I’ve found myself reaching for them daily ever since it got cold in New York.

Here’s what I love about them:

  1. They’re comfortable for long periods of standing at work.
  2. They make me look taller without feeling like I’m wearing heels.  (SAS makes taller versions as well).
  3. It’s top to bottom black, even the metal shoelace holes and stitching are black.
  4. They are great for autumn weather and rain.  No need to buy a separate pair of rain shoes if you have an umbrella for downpours.
  5. They come in a gazillion width sizes. (These are “slim” or extra narrow!)
  6. And you can find pre-owned versions all over the internet for less than $30, although they are worth a lot more ($130)!  I got mine on eBay for $26.
  7. The design has been around for decades so you know you’re getting something tried and true and can replace them easily when they wear out.  Plus they are still handmade in America.
  8. They make your feet look two sizes smaller and hug your feet (unlike Danskos which were always too wide and clunky for me)
  9. And lastly, they’re humble and smart looking, and go with literally everything I wear to work.  Socks that peak out look fine with my more cropped trousers, at the expense of looking like the nerd that I am (something I embrace wholeheartedly).

Continue reading “Trusty old shoes. And life as an ectomorph.”

a fast fashion holdover, my personal finance homework + other updates

levis 501 ct at 11.06.14 PM

This is an old photo, but I posted it because it’s finally cold enough to break out the old wool socks + Birks combo.  Yes, I know it’s ugly, but I’m shameless, and for casual days lounging around, walking the dog, it’s not too offensive.

I’m wearing one of my favorite sweaters here.  It’s a 5 + year old cotton knit from Zara.  I think it’s true what the Luxe Strategist has said about fast fashion– they don’t all fall apart quickly.  Some do last, if you choose carefully and properly care for your clothes.  But I do think the quality can vary to the extreme at fast fashion retailers.  And quality is only one factor when deciding on what brands to buy from.  At this point, ethics and the environment drive my decisions more than anything else.

I just got back from a week in Cali where I gave a talk at a conference.

I was shocked to discover that the Forever 21 headquarters is now located in the very same neighborhood I grew up in (boooo!).  I’ve heard some terrible things about how they treat their employees, a culture of women bullying other women in the work place.  Why am I not surprised?

But anyway, since being back in NYC, I’ve been busy doing homework that my personal finance coach assigned to me.  She had me total up everything I spent in October and calculate the percentage of my take home pay that I spent on each category.  This is the breakdown of how much I should be spending in each category according to my coach:

housing 25-35%
savings 5-20%
utilities 5-10%
personal 5-10%
recreation 5-10%
food 5-15%
transportation 10-15%
clothes 2-7%
medical 5-10%
misc 2-5%
unsecured 5-10% (student loans, credit cards)
charity 10-15%

Turned out my biggest expenditure was on food.  I was shocked to find out I spent the same amount on food as rent!  Eek!  I don’t go out for fancy dinners, but I guess all those seamless orders + tip add up.  My coach challenged me to not order from Seamless at all in the month of November and cut my food bill in half.

Tonight I made cauliflower tacos (vegan) from the Thug Kitchen website.  It was really good.   I bought pre cut cole slaw to save time on food prep and toasted the tortillas on a frying pan instead of microwaving them to get a crunchier texture.  Tomorrow I’m trying the mushroom tacos recipe from NYT, for something a little different that will still use up all the leftover ingredients from tonight’s dinner.  Cooking every night is going to be a challenge but it will force me to be more creative and actually plan out my meals the night before.

I just finished reading The White Coat Investor, a book two friends from med school recommended.  I highly recommend you read if you’re also in the medical field.  And I just started reading Ikigai  (a japanese version of Hygge) [update:  I just finished reading it; it’s not well written; not a book I’d recommend unless you are very interested in the topic] and Why Buddhism is True  by Robert Wright, who was recently on the Secular Buddhism podcast, which if you have not listened to yet, you should.  It’s gold.   One of the most helpful episodes for me has been the podcast on perfectionism and the problem with comparing.

[outfit:  old zara knit sweater, levis 501 ct*, vietnam wool socks, birks]

 

How much money I spent on clothes in 2017.

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[picture of NYC marathon runners near my apartment]

2017 is nearing the finish line.  How much did you spend on clothes this year?  How much should one spend on clothes, anyway? 

The answer is very personal and different for everyone of course.  I hesitated to write about this, but it’s something on all our minds, isn’t it? Unless you’re loaded, we can’t look at clothes without considering how much it will cost us. It’s probably something we are not supposed to talk about in real life, so I’m glad this blog isn’t ‘real life’. I appreciate it when other blogs write not only about the clothes they’re wearing but the cost as well.

I’ve been reading Invincible Summer (highly recommend), a personal finance/style blog written by a lawyer in NYC, and what she referred me to over at Refinery 29, Money Diaries, a series of posts that take you through how a real woman spent her money each day over the course of a week. It’s interesting to see how other women with similar salaries spend their money in your city, but it’s also fun to read about how really wealthy women spend their money. It’s easy to get all judge-y about what you read there, so you gotta keep your negativity in check.

It might sound crazy, but I just signed up for a personal finance coach. I probably wouldn’t get one on my own, but my employer offers free financial counseling for all its employees. It’s free, so why not? Plus, when it comes to finances, I am clueless. I spent my entire life as a student, studying stuff that isn’t useful in the real world. So my financial literacy is really poor. Financial coaching starts off with a 30 minute prescreen interview, followed by a one hour initial assessment over the phone, then homework assignments and follow up sessions. I’m only in the early stage, but hope to come out a little wiser about money issues.

So how much should one spend on clothes? I googled this question, and read a general rule of no more than 5% of your monthly income. Most women spend about 3-10% of their income on clothes. I was actually relieved to hear this, because I fell within the “normal” range, and I was under the impression that I spent way too much on clothes. Mainly because I compare myself to the BF, who rarely buys clothes; maybe about once or twice per year. His wardrobe is limited to t-shirts and khakis. He basically shops only to replace clothes that are stained or ripped.

Like a good student, I did my math homework, and added up how much I spent on clothes in 2017. This was easy because I only ever shop online. I bought one thing this entire year at a brick and mortar store (when I needed last minute shoes for a special event). My spending habits were interesting to dissect. This year I shopped probably more than any previous year but I think I shopped smarter. I expected my clothing budget to be high because this year I made a concerted effort to build a long lasting functional wardrobe.

In 2017, I bought a total of 69 clothing items, 16 of those items were brand new, 53 were pre-owned, and 12 items cost $0 because I used credits I earned from selling my own clothes. About 1 in 5 items I purchased were bad decisions, that I either re-sold or donated if pre-owned, or returned if bought new. All in all, I spent $2824 in 2017 on clothes. November just started, so that makes my monthly average about $260. The average cost of each item was $50. But if you remove the outliers, (ahem $400 Kamm pants), the average cost of each item is probably closer to $30. That’s pretty good considering all the clothes I bought were from ‘ethical’ brands and made of 100% natural fibers. Continue reading “How much money I spent on clothes in 2017.”

Review: Everlane cashmere crop mockneck + my sweater care routine.

everlane cashmere review 2017-11-03 at 11.06.10 AM

Wasn’t this the week for sweaters?  It felt like autumn finally arrived!  To celebrate, I hand washed all my sweaters this week.

I soaked them all day in this gentle delicate laundry soap.   Rolled them up in bath towels and laid them out to dry a la Martha Stewart.  Did you know it’s actually better to hand wash cashmere than to dry clean? I was so relieved to learn this.  My sweaters looked and smelled better than they did coming from the cleaners.  Dry cleaning is so over rated.

Big news!  I received this cashmere crop mockneck as a gift from Everlane to review (a first!).  I had one bad experience with a sweater from EL, so didn’t expect much, but actually ended up really loving this sweater.  I’ve worn it three times this week already. Continue reading “Review: Everlane cashmere crop mockneck + my sweater care routine.”

Post-normcore, anti-basic minimalism.

thai mattress

Did I ever mention my love for Jean Touitou (the founder of A.P.C.)?  Everything this man says about his penchant for wardrobe basics is outrageously genius.

He’s been out promoting his new book Transmission published on the 30th anniversary of the fashion label.  I can’t wait to read it, but I’m holding out for used copies to become available.  This recent New Yorker article on the topic validates my excitement for, and enormous amount of time and effort spent, over seemingly boring-ass clothes.

Have you read this other New Yorker article on Everlane?  I never really paid attention to how the brand creates clothes for specific “use cases”, but can see that now, and in my eyes the whole utilitarian factor is a plus.  Fashion should be stripped of fashion.  Our over saturated stressed out millennial minds can’t really bear any more.

And finally, just a few sensible household things I purchased recently:

  1. This electric sweater de-piller with a beautiful minimalist aesthetic of course.
  2. The simplest cold brew coffee maker in a classic mason jar, to make a week’s worth of coffee without the fuss of filters or cords.  Although it’s marketed for cold brew, I use it for hot brews without any issues.
  3. And a dozen 8 oz. wide mouth mason jars, which is the perfect size for so many uses around the home:  cocktails, food prep, coffee, tea, snacks, beauty supplies, or simply use it as an extra measuring cup.
  4. A thai floor mattress made out of 100% natural materials (pictured above).  Bought to replace my old barely functioning air mattress.  Just roll it up and put it away when not in use.  When you’re ready to dump it, you can bury the thing in your backyard as compost.

The clothes I’m stalking now.

ribbed tee

I keep a running list of clothes that I want to buy.  And recently added a classic ribbed tee to the list.  I own a few high rise trousers that only work well with fitted tops and need some tees to go with them.  You know the kind that’s fitted but not too fitted, with a crew neck and fitted sleeves.  It’s actually pretty hard to find a good quality version made of natural fibers.  Continue reading “The clothes I’m stalking now.”

outfit: the last generation on earth

splendid tank nisolo everlane

This outfit is plain and simple.  Not much to say here.

Through work, I’ve met a lot of people affected by the recent hurricanes and find myself more worried about climate change than ever before.  I was asked recently about a comment I made earlier about whether it’s ethical to have children in the wake of an impending environmental catastrophe… Continue reading “outfit: the last generation on earth”

outfit: slouch potato

everlane nisolo apc margiela 2017-10-15 at 2.38.48 PM

I’m a little out of my comfort zone here.  These are my very first pair of white pants!  Let’s hope I don’t spill coffee all over them.  As you might know, I’ve been stalking the slouchy chinos from Everlane for a while now and absolutely fell in love with them (to my surprise) when I tried them on in the Manhattan showroom.  Finally a pair of pants that look much better on a “real” body than on models. Continue reading “outfit: slouch potato”

A Few Good Links

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There is so much going on in the world right now.  Sometimes I just want to bury my head in the sand.  Just tell me when it’s all over.

I almost never talk about my work here, but the other day I was asked to see a woman for anxiety.  She was dying of cancer, had gone through a horrific bout of pneumonia and was on a ventilator.  Because of the ventilator, she could only communicate by writing.  The first thing I said to her was “with all that you’ve been through, the cancer, the chemo, the pneumonia and now the ventilator, it’s understandable that you’d feel anxious… but is there something making you feel particularly anxious right now?”  Her arms were weak; she could barely lift her pencil to the notepad.  Very slowly, in faint squiggly letters she spelled out:  T R U M P!  We both sort of just looked at each other.  I shook my head, sighed, and she knew I felt the same…

So with all this terrible stuff happening, I took extra care to share some enjoyable things with you this week:

This week, I read this beautiful short story in the New Yorker called “Likes” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.  It’s a modern story about a father who struggles to communicate with his teenage daughter as she is consumed in the world of social media, instagram, and “likes”.  After I read it, I immediately wanted to know what message the author wanted to convey with the story, and was happy to find they interviewed her about it here.

Have you listened to the Secular Buddhism podcast yet?  It’s my favorite podcast of all time.  I’ve learned so many valuable concepts from Noah Rasheta.  He has this wonderful ability to take abstract concepts, that no one is actually able to put into practice, ie. how to stay in the present moment, how to let go of anger, how to forgive, etc…  and turns them into simple practical actions that you can incorporate into your daily life.  If you are new to the podcast, listen to the first 5 episodes in order, then listen to this recent one about anger and hatred.  There’s another amazing episode on how to teach your kids mindfulness.  It involves turning meditation into a game!  How clever!

And lastly, the new Bjork music video is genius.  I’m just blown away by the artistic vision and technical execution of it all.  It’s created by artist Andy Huang, who was actually in my college class.  We took a couple painting classes together and worked on a post modern video project for art theory class during our senior year.  He seemed like a nice guy.  Very quiet and humble.  I always knew he’d make it big.

 

 

outfit: linen, oxfords, and socks

nisolo oliver oxfords elizabeth suzann eileen fisher outfit

Maybe I should sit down for all outfit posts?  I re-arranged furniture in my living room again this weekend (no surprise!).  After rearranging things like 10 times, I think finally, the layout is right.  The space feels open and airy.  Good feng shui all around.  My money tree is nice and happy in that corner soaking up sun.  In the all the rearranging though, I lost my white wall for outfit posts, so you’ll be seeing me with different backgrounds from now on.

I found a great deal on a pair of like-new oliver oxfords from Nisolo this week.  I was stalking these shoes for a while in preparation for fall/winter.  I thought a simple classic oxford that could be worn with socks for the fall and winter would be nice.  And had heard that Nisolo makes comfortable soles, which is surprising given how thin they look on the outside.  There’s quite a bit of cushion in the toe box and a strip of raised leather along the arch as well.

I ventured for a half size up, which makes the shoes a little roomy for thick socks in the winter time.  With regular socks, my narrow feet swim around in them a bit so I’ll have to put sticky arch inserts to fill them out.  I’ve been using these leather stick on arch inserts from Amazon.  They really stay put and don’t look ugly.

The rest of this outfit feels relaxed.  I’ve been pairing linen pants with linen tops a lot lately, mainly because its been hot and humid here in NY.  I think socks that are a shade lighter than the color of your shoes looks good.  I found these socks made out of re-used yarn at Muji.   They come in lots of different colors.  I like their socks because they have a 90 degree angle at the heel so there’s less fabric to bunch up at your ankles.  It’s a minor detail, but I love thoughtful little details like that in the design of clothes.

Anyone know what they want to dress up as for Halloween?  This year I think I’m going to go for something happy and cheerful.  The world is already a pretty scary place as it is.

[outfit:  eileen fisher linen top*, elizabeth suzann tilda pant in midweight linen, muji reused yarn socks, nisolo oliver oxfords*,  * = pre-owned]