outfit: sweat shorts (I was referred to a money coach + no-sew mending)

ootd shirt repair 2018-02-19 at 11.58.48 PM

I used paypal earnings from selling some clothes on Poshmark to buy these pre-owned (new with tags) James Perse sweat shorts (MSRP = $165 vs. price I paid = $35).  These shorts had been in my “likes” folder for quite some time.  It’s something I would consider buying new as well, which helped me figure out whether I wanted it because it was discounted or if I really wanted it for what it is.  In the end, I decided yes I really wanted it for what it is, because I could see myself wearing them a lot, and especially because I don’t already own anything similar.  The Paypal credit and the 80% off retail price tag helped seal the deal too, of course.

At home, my legs like to breathe, and while frolicking around the apartment sans pants is totally acceptable, a lot of times a little bottom coverage is necessary, like when I’m stir frying something in the kitchen and need to avoid oil splatter or when I’m doing chores and need pockets to carry my phone around with me because I’m in the middle of a super long text conversation with a friend.  Anyway, I like these shorts a lot.  They have become the first thing I change into when I get home from work.  They are very soft and I love the functionality of the 3 pockets.  The length is nice, but the opening is a bit narrow so if you have medium to large thighs, these might feel too constricting in that area.  For reference, I’m wearing a JP size 1 here, and normally I’m a size 27-28 in pants.

Too bad JP doesn’t offer detailed size charts for every garment.  I don’t understand why retailers don’t post these measurements. Seems like it would be cost-saving to go that extra mile to prevent avoidable returns.  It would also help customers overcome the fear of buying something online.

I’m doing pretty good with my spending in the month of February.  So far I’ve only used credits/paypal earnings for new additions, so I don’t really count that as real spending, but of course it is.

Today I had my final session with my personal finance coach (provided free of cost by my employer) and she referred me to a “money coach” / retirement specialist with another agency (also provided free of cost by my employer) for further guidance about financial matters beyond budgeting and saving.  I made sure to check that there is a fiduciary relationship between adviser and client with no sales component to their business before signing up.  I’ve felt very confused about retirement/investments and the question of disability insurance.  There’s so many conflicts of interest, and an entire blood sucking industry out there that preys on naive physicians, so I’m looking forward to hearing from an expert with no financial incentives to sell me on one thing or another.  I’ll write more on this in another post.

A couple days ago, I found this hole in my favorite (only) ribbed tee!  But thank god I had some tear mender glue laying around and was able to glue the hole shut.  The whole process took less than 2 minutes.  Easy peasy.

ootd shirt repair 2018-02-19 at 11.58.23 PM


ootd shirt repair 2018-02-19 at 11.58.38 PM


I can’t sew very well, and honestly don’t have the patience for it, and although I would love to learn how, and went so far as to look up the best sewing machine and finding local sewing classes in my area, I decided against it in the end; I don’t have room for another hobby in my life at this point.  Do you sew?  Do you own a sewing machine?  If yes, how often do you use it?

[outfit:  *cuyana scoop silk tank, *james perse brushed fleece shorts; *=pre-owned]

a few good links


  • I recently discovered a blog called “The Petite Pear Project”, dedicated to writing about getting dressed as a pear shaped petite woman.  I admire the narrow focus of her blog (some of the best blogs focus narrowly on one topic, and do it well).  I liked her new post on the issue of variable sizing across clothing brands, here.
  • I was moved by this Racked article about one woman’s experience of guilt over getting dressed in expensive clothes against her background of starting out poor. Having been between two classes my entire life, I can’t get dressed without thinking about class politics and feeling guilty about finances too.
  • And for those of you who are physicians or future physicians, I discovered this great new blog by Wall Street MD.  He wrote a very concise and clear article on the importance of disability insurance recently.  He personally answered a lot of my questions through e-mail.  The other day I listened to an episode of Dave Ramsey and was horrified by the bad advice he gave one poor physician who was in a deep hole of student loan debt that seemed insurmountable with her relatively small income.  At least in that episode, he was not up to date with the nuances of the student loan forgiveness programs and basically gave her advice that would cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars! I’m disturbed by how many people might have gone down a path of financial ruin by following his shallow advice.  The White Coat Investor wrote a letter to Dave Ramsey to call him out on it.  I think finally Ramsey has updated his knowledge, but for years he was giving out bad info.  This does not give me much confidence in his advice beyond some of his simpler points of paying down debt and tracking your expenses.  I want to be better informed about these personal finance gurus, so next on my reading list is this book, Pound Foolish:  The Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.

[image:  Fan pattern on cloth at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum]

outfit: the same thing every day (+ January expenditures)

ootd 2018-02-02 at 3.41.06 PM

“Feels like” temperature today: 12 degrees F 🙄

There’s 6 more weeks til winter is over.  During the winter in NYC I wear the same outfit every day.  So sorry guys, not much variety here.ootd 2018-02-02 at 3.40.49 PM

The fabric on these Kamm pants feel dry and crisp.  It’s structured and hangs away from the body, leaving enough room for freezing cold miniature tornadoes to engulf your legs and turn them into icicles.  To prevent that from happening, I’ve been pairing these with my synthetic workout leggings. The shiny surface of work out leggings don’t cling to pants as much, so I do prefer them as a base-layer with pants that are a little on the tight side.

Here I am with my HOPP studio oxfords again.  I have a couple other options for shoes, but have not worn anything else on my feet since I got them.  They are seriously comfortable.  This past week though, I noticed an ache at my heel on the left side that I think is being caused from improper alignment of my foot.  I’ve been told the ligaments in my feet are weak, so I’m going to try using an ACE wrap to give it more support and slow down any further deterioration.  Ah, the joys of aging.

Anyway, I’m excited for the month of February because things at work will be a little more flexible so hopefully I’ll be able to share more OOTD photos with you guys here.

I finally did my personal finance homework today and tallied up all my expenses in January and made a bar graph of discretionary spending in each category.  This graph does not include regularly occurring bills for rent, utilities, loan payments, my subway card, etc.

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 4.59.55 PM

I spent $400 on clothes in January, but I didn’t actually buy a lot of clothes.  The one purchase that drove up that dollar amount was the HOPP studio oxfords, which cost $245 with taxes and shipping.  For the quality and the fact that I’ve worn these shoes every day, I think the purchase was a good one.  The rest of the $400 was spent on inexpensive workout clothes and underwear.  Because I’m working out more, I end up taking showers every day, and needing more bras, athletic wear, and underwear to go with that change in lifestyle.  I see it as a one time investment that I’ll probably need to maintain about once a year.

In any case $400 feels like a moderate amount to have spent, so in the month of February I’m going to be a little more conscious of my spending in that category.  I think another area where I could cut back a lot on is home supplies.  I probably went a little overboard with the scented candles and other random amazon purchases this month.  Areas where I did really well on were in the “fun” and “beauty” categories.  I bought a pair of concert tickets to see Men I Trust in March; this went into the fun category.  The tickets were only $26 for both me and the BF.  I’ve been to a million live concerts in my lifetime and the best ones are always lesser known indie acts (rather than the mainstream trash you tend to hear on the radio).  These bands tend to play at small venues that are dirt cheap to get into.  Usually the ambience and sound quality is a million times better than anything you might find at an arena or stadium type show.

No big plans this weekend.  I’m going to file my taxes.  I better get to it soon before the identity thefts beat me to it.

Anyway, thank God it’s Friday!!  I hope you all stay warm and cozy on your days off.  And thanks for visiting me here.  I always love reading your comments and feedback. Stay tuned for more updates from me later this weekend.

[outfit:  xmas gifted beanie, pre-owned everlane wool-cashmere sweater, kamm ranger pants size 6, gold toe socks, HOPP studio essential oxfords, old everlane winter puffer, baggu crossbody]

closet clean out + personal finance


Today I tried to be productive even though I’m home sick; decided I would clean out my closet and put a few things up for sale.  I’ve been putting this task off for a while but was motivated by the indoctrinated guilt of being out sick while working in the medical field.  Back when I was in medical school and when I was an intern, I never took the day off when sick, even when I had pneumonia for two months and fractured my rib from coughing, I still went in.  Things are much different now but it’s still hard to shake the guilt.

I became short of breath when I walked the dog this morning.  By the time I got home, I needed to use a rescue inhaler that the NP gave me after he listened to my lungs.  I don’t have asthma and have never used one before!  The flu test was negative, but I tested positive for RSV, which is not as bad as the flu but worse than a common cold.  It’s like a cold but with a lot more congestion and asthma like respiratory symptoms.

There were a few items in my wardrobe that were in good condition but were just items that I didn’t gravitate to anymore.  They are up for sale here (if you leave a comment that you found any sale item through this blog, I’ll let you have it for whatever you offer, except for the Nisolo shoes because that belongs to the BF).  After I photographed flat lays of each item, I clean them up with a lint roller, package them into pink envelopes, label them, and store them all in the back of my closet.  That way they stay clean and out of the way.  When someone buys, its quick and easy to just then drop them off at at the mailbox on my way to work.

I got an email from my personal finance coach today to check in on me (my job provides free personal finance coaching to its employees).  She wanted to know if I had been doing my homework of tracking all my expenses.  I had to admit that I had been delinquent on my homework and that I didn’t think it was possible for me to keep up with tracking every expense because I’m just too lazy.  I also don’t trust apps like Mint.  I read the book Art of Invisibilitywhich made me very paranoid about hacking and identity theft.  She emailed back saying that it was OK to not track every expense as long as I was setting limits on my spending.   A part of me wonders if she is being too lenient on me.  I kind of want her to get all tiger mom and scold me for not being more responsible, lol.  I think the biggest accomplishment I made with her help has been reducing my spending on food by 50%, saving about $500 per month, but as a result I’ve been washing dishes all the time.  I’ve also scheduled two nights per month where I’m doing my “side hustle” job to earn extra $1000 per month.  With this extra money, I’m hoping to pay off a loan and save for my move back to California.

I’m very close to taking a job in LA right now.  I can pretty much say I have the job but signing on the dotted line takes time with this particular institution.  During the job hunt, I’ve been asking my sister for financial advice in analyzing benefit packages.  As you all know, I am absolutely clueless when it comes to finances.  But luckily for me, my sister is a senior financial specialist for the city of Los Angeles.  She manages the city’s 5.5 billion dollar debt.  I’ve been reading a lot of personal finance blogs out there, and think my sister could actually blow them out of the water if she started one but I think she’d rather spend her free time not thinking about finances since that is what she does all day at work.  The other night I had a thought that maybe it would be a fun idea to interview my sister on this blog, have readers submit personal finance questions for her and post her responses here.  That would be a big shift from what I normally do here, but thought maybe it would be of interest to you guys.  Just an idea that is floating around my head at this point.  Whenever I diverge from the topic of getting dressed here, I have to think long and hard about it.

In any case, after crunching the numbers, my sister advised me to imagine that I will be making much less income than my real income, after she calculated the amount I would get in my retirement and compared that to my pre-retirement income, so that I don’t experience a drop in quality of life when I retire.  So for example, if you’ll get 50% of your pre retirement income after you retire, you should live like you are making 50% of your actual income, and put the rest into savings/investments.  Then the worst case scenario would be that your standard of living remains the same, but if you had been saving up your whole life, then you might have extra in your retirement.

She also reminded me that we have family obligations and aging parents (with no retirement of their own) to take care of as well. The bottom line was to live like you are poor even if you aren’t, #thepoorlife.  She also advised me to decide after two years if I want to stick with whatever job I’m in long term because of how many years it takes to qualify for retirement, ie. people who switch jobs often will have the clock reset and will have to retire much later in life to get their retirement.

My next step is to decide whether or not to buy long term disability.  A lot of doctor friends tell me this is wise, but my sister expressed doubt about this.  Luckily my cousin has a high level position at a major insurance company, so at some point, I will consult with him about whether the disability insurance route is something that makes sense for my unique situation.  So stay tuned for that.

new yorker caption

And just for fun, here is what I submitted to the New Yorker caption contest today.  Fingers crossed I win (fat chance).  🤷🏻‍♀️

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”

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.


[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.”