outfit: hem and haw (+ what I’m reading)

ootd 2018-02-26 at 5.31.14 PM

I usually show you guys what I wore to work during the week, but today I didn’t wear this outfit to work.  I put it on when I got home actually, after I picked up this shirt from the tailor/dry cleaners.  I got this Trademark top from TheRealReal for like $30 a few months back (the MSRP is probably around $300-400; they no longer manufacture clothes btw).  I had prior good experiences with Trademark and try to stick with brands that I know make high quality garments when shopping secondhand, because otherwise, it’s a real crap shoot.  But when I received this top in the mail, I was disappointed to find out it was shaped more like a tunic and bulged out in unflattering ways when I sat down.  There were still a lot of winning qualities about the garment though so I fussed over it for a while debating if I should return it or try to make it work.  

before 2018-02-26 at 7.04.54 PM

This picture shows the original length of the top.  The large iridescent button at the collar was a big selling point.  It felt very old and futuristic at the same time.  Like a detail you might find in a vintage store or on a Star Trek costume.

ootd 2018-02-26 at 5.31.44 PM

The seam work inside and out was really impressive as well.  And although the fabric is thick and structured, it felt soft against the skin and breathed well.  It’s a blend of linen and cotton and woven in a way that looks like tweed. In the end I decided to try to make it work.  I decided to chop off 10 inches from the bottom to create a more cropped top but not quite a “crop top” (I’m too old for crop tops).  I didn’t expect the tailor to be able to keep the original hem but she said she’d do it if I was willing to pay more.  She charged me $35, up from her usual $20, and needed a time extension because it was so difficult to execute.  It was worth the wait because she did a really great job!  The top doesn’t look like it’s been altered at all.  Here’s a close up of the hem.

ootd 2018-02-26 at 5.31.53 PM

I used to paint primarily with a family of oil colors in the ochre range and I always loved the way faded army greens paired with ochre, so much that I’d used that shade of green to paint the skin of the people I painted. These are colors that can be found in nature. They stand out but they don’t beat you over the head.  I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed the matching ochre button at the fly.   It made me feel like this top and pant combo was meant to be.

It’s too cold right now to wear this outfit outside, but when the weather heats up above 60 degrees, this will be the first thing I reach for.



Right now I’m reading The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh.  It’s a good book so far but I’m not sure that I would recommend it to some one who has not already read a lot of other books about Buddhism.  If you have a solid foundation though, the book can offer a lot of affirmations.  But if read without much background, it can feel too abstract and non-specific.  This book helped me with a difficult interaction I had with a woman who works at the hospital coffee shop today. She got extremely offended by me reaching over to her side of the counter to grab one of those coffee stirring straws.  She made a really big deal out of it, and when I apologized, she became even more enraged. It was hard for me to understand why she reacted so strongly. Then it got worse because she had to ring me up at the cash register.  As I was waiting in line, I tried to collect myself and thought about Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings.  When it was my turn to pay, the woman continued to berate me for reaching over her, saying “And now you expect me to ring you up!?”. Even though I felt terrible inside, I tried not to show it, and said “I hear you.  I want to apologize again.  That’s all I can do.”  Then she finally let up and said “It’s all right”.  This woman is usually very nice to me but almost always complains about something, I’ve noticed.  Like when I say “Morning, how are you?”, she always replies with something negative, like “Huh! At least the week is almost over, so that’s good”.

Today it seemed like she was already angry about something beyond me, and was ready to take it out on anyone for any little thing. Accepting my apology early on would have meant that she needed to own her own anger again, so I can see why she didn’t want to accept my initial apology.  When I got back to my office, I felt really unsettled.  It’s frustrating to start a day this way.  But as Thich Nhat Hanh says, it’s OK to feel anger and pain, and its best to just notice it, observe it, and try to understand it.  I sat there for about 10 minutes, staring at the wood grain of my desk, took a few deep breaths, wiped away the tears, and felt a lot better.  This woman couldn’t handle her own pain, and so she passed it onto me.  I’m not sure that this did anything to lesson her own pain though, but I’m glad I was able to contain it for a while and let it out, without passing it on to someone else.  The rest of my day went much smoother from that point on.  I wasn’t moody or mean to anyone.  I was able to give my presentation and got good feedback on it.  Thinking about this all over again makes me so grateful to have the BF, who is the exact opposite of this miserable woman.

Has something like this ever happened to you?  How did you react?  What makes you feel better?

[outfit: *trademark cotton-linen top (altered), *madewell straight chinos, *kork ease wedges; *pre-owned]


18 thoughts on “outfit: hem and haw (+ what I’m reading)

  1. I like the idea of recognizing pain or anger, observing it, and then trying to understand it. I think we often feel too busy to work through our own complex emotions. We end up snapping and taking it out on strangers (or, the people closest to us) – like the cashier this morning. Despite being even-tempered in general, I had been guilty of this at times. I think we all have at one point or another.

    On a positive note, your top looks amazing! Changing the silhouette was a great decision. I’m impressed by your tailor’s work, especially the trick hem. With just $65 invested in the top, you’ve got a garment with at least $300 value. The fabric is beautiful.


    1. I agree, we’ve all been there, ie. snapped at others. While others like this woman seems inconsolable and just keeps berating over such minor things. But yes on a positive note, the top came out good =)! Thx.


  2. When people snap at me, I don’t react(most of the time) as I’m paralyzed with surprise, but then I cry, so I can start to let it pass.I remember 10 years ago, when taking my ID from the police(they give it in my country), the clerk gave it to me, but started on a loud voice to ask me:”You know what this means?!!! You are bed! Mean things will happen to you!…number of Devil” I didn’t understand why he was talking like this, just looked at my ID when I got out of there(the number which showed how many ID’s were released that year showed mine to be 666) .He made me feel horrible and even if I haven’t done anything to him, I burst in tears…

    I’m curious…do you recommend any books for starting to read about Buddhism?I would like some recommendations on what to start with…


    1. What a strange thing to say to someone. I hope he was just kidding… I think his tone of voice and whether he was laughing/smiling while saying it would let you know that he was kidding. But if he wasn’t, then that person may be psychotic and need meds. Sorry that happened to you! As for a good place to start with Buddhist reading, I’d recommend books by Noah Rasheta, he also has a free podcast.


  3. First of all the button on the pants matching the top is amazing. The tailor did a really great job on the hem. Worth it.

    Second of all, I’ve learned when people are shitty to you (anyone) it’s almost never actually about you. I think you handled the situation as best you could. I have been there in that staring at the desk moment too. It’s deeply upsetting that other people go through the world making other people’s days worse off, and not to any benefit to themselves. I can’t imagine she actually felt better about herself after crapping on you. Boo.


    1. Agreed. It’s almost always about their own issues. This type of interaction seems to happen a lot more here in New York than it did when I lived back in California. Maybe it has to do with higher levels of environmental stress here. I did wonder how she would feel if she had seen me cry. She would probably feel bad about it. I don’t think she is heartless, but she does seem deeply unhappy.


  4. Recently one of my neighbors felt slighted by another neighbor and there was a very large commotion about it in our lobby with lots of yelling, following and finger pointing. I knew this had happened before with someone else and he very clearly wanted someone’s ear for validation of his hurt. I ran into him again on my way out and just let him cycle through it over and over, as much as he needed, until it ran out. He didn’t feel heard when she said sorry 50x. It was like he needed to say it 100 more times before it was out of his system and I felt like better me than her since my presence wasn’t going to rile him up again over the issue whereas hers was. I totally agree – sometimes people just need someone to “hold” their feelings and be there with them even if they’re “wrong” to the rest of us.

    I also just try to sit with my feelings, name them. Ones that are the hardest to shake/process are shame and anger.


    1. Wow, yeah, sounds like he needed to prove to himself that he was in the right. People need to learn how to let things go. Not every battle is worth the fight. Seems like you really helped the situation. Shame and anger are hard to shake. Shame is probably the hardest, especially if no one else ever hears it.


  5. The top looks amazing now! Great call on getting those inches chopped off the bottom. It definitely looks a lot better now. The color scheme of your outfit is excellent as well. Those colors really do go well together.
    It’s a shame that woman was taking out her anger on your for whatever reason. She’s clearly miserable to some degree to keep harping on you. Honestly, if that was me, one apology for reaching over the counter is enough. When she said, “And now you expect me to ring you up?” I would’ve said, “yes, because it’s your job.” And it is. She works in a service industry. It’s one thing for her to chide you for reaching over the counter because maybe you’re not supposed to do that, but she’s still got her duty to continue the transaction so her making that comment is totally unfair to you and her just being unreasonably emotional and taking out her anger. I could understand the first incident but her continuing it is in bad taste on her part and I have not tolerance for that sort of stuff. If it was me: ok, I understand I made a mistake. I apologize and now let’s move on and she should continue her job. Don’t belabor it because it does no one any good.


    1. that’s how i feel too.. i guess some people cannot just let things go. so when its outta proportion like that makes me wonder about other things going on that might explain it.


  6. Hey! Just wanted to give a heads up that Hopp is having a sample sale that started today…may or may not have picked up another pair of oxfords and clogs to add to my collection. Not sure if there are any pairs left in your size but thought it was worth mentioning!


  7. I like how you handled this interaction. I’m often the person who has a lot of pent-up rage and I have to remember to check myself and not blow up at others. For me it mainly manifests as giving dirty looks to drivers who don’t yield to me when I’m walking, but I’m carrying around the weight of all the times I’ve been treated badly and then a small incident will bring those collective memories to the surface. On the other hand, there’s a cashier at my local grocery store who seems to resent me for having a full cart when I go through her line. She always has to make a comment about how my order will probably make her late for her dinner break or whatever. Now I just avoid her line, but I can see that she has high anxiety and I suspect she’s been taken advantage of many times and so has to assert herself in these little passive-aggressive ways.


    1. Seems like there is a story behind all over reactions. I guess people could learn that if they over react then they are inviting others to wonder what their real problem is..


  8. This story reminds me how emotions, good or bad, are energy and how energy in a system does not simply disappear. There is so much negative energy in our system ‘society’ and it can be passed along to you without you having any control over it. You can only control what you do with it once it reaches you. To not simply pass it on to someone else but to either transforn it into a non-harming energy (eg. to turn anger into motivation) or to release it out of the system entierly.
    In “avatar the last airbender” there is a technique fire benders can use to cast lightning. If they master that technique, they can redirect lightning by letting the energy flow through them, in and out, without getting hurt themselves.
    I guess the best thing we can do to protect our wellbeing is to learn to let negative energy flow through us, directing it out of us without it hurting us or others.

    releasing energy almost always includes tears for me 😉


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