Boots with crepe soles are good for the winter.

apc armelle

I road tested these crepe sole boots on the snow/ice covered sidewalks of NYC today.  I felt very steady on my feet.  And love the sort of simple Americana-work-wear aesthetic of the design.  God bless Jean Touitou for designing a chic women’s ankle boot with a sensible wide toe box.  I normally wear a US size 9, but always size up with APC shoes to a size 40.  The leather is thick and soft and sewed directly into the the leather mid sole with a tan colored thread.  This tiny detail is key.  If the thread were a bright white, it would look tacky and would have ruined the entire boot.  The crepe (a cheap crude rubber material) is cemented in layers to form the sole and heels.  Eventually the rubber will wear down but according to Reddit, crepe soles can be easily replaced as long as there’s a midsole that’s still intact.  I’m very happy to keep this one boot while getting rid of all my other (three) boots.

[outfit:  levi’s 501ct jeans, APC armelle ankle boot]

p.s. I just started using the Joby Gorillapod flexible camera stand today and it really made taking outfit photos a lot easier, since it hardly takes up any space, I can just leave my canon DSLR camera out with the settings in place to take quick high quality pictures.  I’m hoping this will translate into more OOTD posts.  Stay tuned!

Some things on my radar + thoughts about “shopping”.

hopp

I keep a running list of things that peak my interest in a folder on my google chrome browser. Thought I’d share them with you here.

You might recall how much I talked about my ugly but comfortable SAS shoes? Well I just read about SAS making a line of minimalist comfort shoes, called HOPP, from the former Opening Ceremony designer, that are actually not ugly. The mules and boots look amaze and are supposed to be very comfortable.  I’m not in the market for new shoes right now but when I am, these will be top on my list. Continue reading “Some things on my radar + thoughts about “shopping”.”

a few links

eucalyptus and carnations

  1.  I love this new song from Men I Trust and love the je ne sais quoi of the woman in their new music video.  That black mock neck and those wide leg jeans!  The lyrics are also really amazing.  “I dream about my future, remote from time bounds, becoming myself without any end”  … wow.   Lots of buddhist undertones.
  2. I updated my blog roll and think you should check out Ethel Grace, brand new personal style blog by Talia with old school OOTD posts and tasteful mirror selfies.
  3. I’ve made this authentic Chinese chicken recipe many times from Mark Bittman of the NY Times.  It’s one of my favorite.  You will never eat chicken more tender than this.  And you might never cook chicken the same way again after you try this method.  I usually use two large chicken breasts with bone in and leave out the cucumber and tomato garnish.  If pressed for time, you can also just use plain white rice instead of cooking it with broth like the recipe calls for.

[photo:  eucalyptus and red carnations in my living room]

high quality clothes are pretty on the inside

trademark top_0860

Just a quick post to marvel at how beautiful this Trademark label top is on the inside.  I discovered Trademark a couple years ago when I found an incredibly durable cotton canvas military shirt with 4 pockets (the one you’ve seen me wear a million times here).  But sadly the company stopped making clothes and only sell high end shoes and handbags now.  Sad face. Their designs remind me of what someone might wear to a Scandinavian modern art museum and some of their clothes are just weird looking.  But they sure knew how to solidly construct garments and you can see that when you inspect the garment inside and out.  The brands’ leftover inventory can still be found at theRealReal selling at amazing prices.   This shirt for example probably cost $300, looks and feels that way too, but I got it for $35, and actually only paid $10 because I had store credit from the time theRealReal sent me the wrong item.  Just look at these beautiful seams on the INSIDE of the shirt!  Such attention to detail.  It’s amazing.  There are no loose threads or exposed seam work.  The fabric is substantial and feels like it will last forever.  Even the tag looks amazing.  The interior seam work reminds me of my Cuyana silk tank–well done, edges are folded over and sewn with no raw edges exposed.  If not for the tags, you might not know which is the exterior vs interior. Continue reading “high quality clothes are pretty on the inside”

how to wear a top knot (on your bag!)

baggu crossbody brown

It took me about 6 months to finally decide to buy this cross body bag from Baggu;  I finally bought it when it was on sale for 20% off on black friday.   I almost never carry my laptop around with me so I didn’t need a larger bag than this.  For years I used my APC half moon bag primarily, but because my job now requires me to carry around a bag and I’m constantly digging around my bag for a pen, index cards to write notes, or to check my pager, the half moon bag with its stiff zipper became impractical.  For a while I used a vintage coach mini bag but that quickly deteriorated.  I learned my lesson:  I’m never buying vintage leather ever again.  I chose this baggu bag because it was the smallest size that was still big enough to be functional; it’s easy to open and close; there’s no frills; and the leather feels thick and buttery soft; I also love the thin round strap that tie easily into a top knot to create a cute short length.  I took a leap away from the usual black leather I’m prone to and went for brown.  I’ve been leaning toward light colors, tan, oatmeal, and browns as much as possible.  I think it reflects my desire to go back to California and be among the dry desert landscapes again. Continue reading “how to wear a top knot (on your bag!)”

outfit: this is what I wear everyday but now with clogs (+ a mini apartment tour!)

no 6 clog slingback 2017-12-03 at 1.57.48 PM

The title of this post says it all.  I’ve worn this linen shell top from Eileen Fisher and these Levi’s jeans together countless times.  Probably once weekly for at least a year.  Both were under $30, so the cost per wear is probably something less than 50 cents! Pretty good if you ask me.  Continue reading “outfit: this is what I wear everyday but now with clogs (+ a mini apartment tour!)”

mega post: Everlane’s first permanent IRL store + every anti-trend aesthetic + what I’m currently doing/eating/wearing.

line outside everlane store NYC

Just look at this massive line outside the first ever permanent Everlane store in NYC!  It filled a whole city block.  I really wanted to go inside but someone in the front of the line told me she waited 45 minutes.  I don’t have the patience for that!  I’ll try coming back when it’s less crazy and report back to you guys.

I went down a rabbit hole reading about anti-trend aesthetics yesterday.  It felt like I was reading a manifesto in some ways.  I think a lot of blogs (like mine) are talking more about “basics”, “classics”, and “essentials” but when you take a closer look there are subgenres within that with slightly different ethos and functionality.  Continue reading “mega post: Everlane’s first permanent IRL store + every anti-trend aesthetic + what I’m currently doing/eating/wearing.”

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.”