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!)”

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.”

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.”

closet update: more linen, Organic by John Patrick, and soft footbed Birks

The past couple of weeks have been way too busy over here (big changes at work and a possible relocation to Brooklyn is in the works!)… But now I’m back and have a few closet updates to share.

The picture above shows all the tops I wore this past week.  Notice the 3 linen tops?  They’re all secondhand EF shell tops, slightly cropped.  They feel very airy without the frumpy factor seen with EF’s longer tunic-y tops.  I love the way linen bounces back after each wash.  It doesn’t shrink.  It contracts.   Continue reading “closet update: more linen, Organic by John Patrick, and soft footbed Birks”

when vintage is better than new

[vintage bags from top right 1, 9. Coach; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. Dooney & Bourke; 7. Prada clutch]

When it comes to big name designer bags, vintage is better than new.  

As you might know, I’m trying to buy less leather and buy leather secondhand when I can.  I was in need of a small crossbody bag to carry my giant phone and pager while at work, searched for one at Poshmark, and was just blown away–99.99% deserve a big thumbs down 👎🏼 .  There were a few quality bags in the mix — all vintage .  It turns out the internet is full of affordable vintage designer bags in excellent condition and most are made in America and go for under $100.  I’ve included some of my favorites above.  Dooney & Bourke and Coach were the most common bags on sale.  Of course, I ended up purchasing the tiny minimalist black crossbody that’s just barely big enough to hold my iPhone 6+ (top right).  I like the ultra thin strap, sleek design and low profile side pocket where I can store my notes. Continue reading “when vintage is better than new”

outfit: functionality

northface_4535

I’m having a hard time deciding whether to keep this NF ski jacket or not.  I bought it about 6 years ago at the REI store for a ski trip.  Used it once.  Later I zipped off the outer shell and used the interior quilted jacket as a lightweight jacket for medium cold days.  The outer shell has been stored under my bed, unworn, for years.   I rediscovered it when I was cleaning under the bed.  I took these pictures with the intention to sell this jacket, but now I’m starting to feel attached to it.  All its little details– vents, hooks, hidden pockets, detachable hood– would make it great for cold weather hiking trips upstate.  This is the only non-neutral color in my wardrobe and my perfectionist mind is like: get rid of it! it doesn’t fit in!  But I think the loud color actually works well for the occasions this would be worn (even if that’s rare).  On the other hand,  it is kind of ugly and I’m not a fan of wearing big logos.  And the reality is I rarely go hiking and it seems silly to keep this for those rare occasions. There’s a tan colored Patagonia jacket, I bought at a rock bottom price secondhand, coming in the mail soon.  I bought it for ordinary rainy spring days in the city.  I needed a small rainproof jacket for mild temperatures.   I don’t like carrying around umbrellas because in New York they often work against you.  If the tan jacket can replace this and look better, I will put this pink monstrosity up for sale. Continue reading “outfit: functionality”

the feng shui of seams

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I’m a big fan of form school feng shui, a branch of feng shui attuned to our natural tendency to seek safety and comfort at home. Form school is concerned mostly about the way we arrange furniture, but the same principles can be applied to almost anything, even clothes.

As I was folding laundry today, I realized that I had always been turned off by clothes with seams running down the middle of the front or back. Same goes for shoes. Ever notice a beautiful pair of boots from afar, only to become disappointed up close when you discover a seam running down to the tip? I could love everything about the silhouette, fabric, color, etc… but add a seam down the middle of it, and it’s ruined!

Continue reading “the feng shui of seams”

closet mindfulness

tank-everlane
When my closet is in order, I am in order.
 My favorite place at home is my closet room.  I’m grateful to have an entire room dedicated to my wardrobe and dedicated to myself.  I don’t have a dining room.  I don’t have an office or a desk, but I have my closet room.  It’s a quiet place where I can get ready in peace.  What happens in my closet sets the mood for the entire day.  As such, I’m careful about what enters and ruthless about what should go.  With age, getting dressed feels easier.  I’m left with more energy to start my day and do better at work.   Continue reading “closet mindfulness”

wardrobe planning: 11 necessities for the freezing cold

ariat-insulated-boot

I’m going to dress for winter right this year, dang it.  For the past 7 years, since moving from LA to NYC, I’ve been freezing my ass off every winter.  It took some traumatic experiences and nearly being frost bitten to convince myself to finally invest in the dreaded “poofy” coat.  I also went years without any proper winter boots.  I can’t really explain why it took me so long to learn how to dress well for winter.  Maybe it’s denial? Continue reading “wardrobe planning: 11 necessities for the freezing cold”