Happy Halloween!

Hope you all have had a safe and fun-filled holiday. I'm still pretty stuffed from the potluck we had at work, but I gotta eat something for dinner. Yes, it's 10 pm and I still haven't had dinner. I was very well-fed.

We had a costume contest. The costumes had to be "office appropriate." I didn't win--the winner had a fabulous costume--but I didn't have to spend any money on mine. I took clothes from my closet and came up with a new concept for an existing theme.

Call this Little Red Riding Hoodie.


Strict Scrutiny

Hello again, folks. I apologize for not exercising due diligence when it comes to blogging for these last couple of weeks. Work got really busy, and when I come home, I have to cook, eat, and build up inventory for the holiday season. Once I get my license to sue, my crafting time would probably be drastically reduced, which is why I'm bulking up now. I'll still be blogging at least once a week, though I hope it'll be more than just the once.

OK, I'm done making excuses. On to the regular swing of things. Yesterday I actually went on a shopping spree, which is something I haven't done in a while. Another thing I haven't done in a while was to *gasp* pay full price for things. That's right, I actually paid full price. I've searched through many discounted items to find what I was looking for to no avail, and so I had to take that drastic step. You'll see what I got over the course of the next week or so, as I start wearing them.

Usually the things I buy are rather cheap, so I never had to worry about the possibility of returning them. At most, the damage would be a little snag or dirty spot--nothing that would have deterred me from buying or making the purchase not worth it. But with higher-priced items, I do worry about finding something wrong with it once I get home. If I'm going to spend more money on things, I expect them to last for a while; I don't want to think about that costly mistake every time I don my apparel.

Yes, that little phrase was totally intentional. We're getting closer and closer to the holiday shopping season, and it's time to really pay attention. When I bought a full-priced sweater from Forever 21 yesterday, I took a look at the store policy like I've never done before. To my surprise, they now allow only store credit and exchanges, no refunds. It wasn't like that before, to the best of my recollection.

I have no intention of returning my sweater, but this is good information to know when I start shopping for Christmas presents. I don't know if the policy will change for the holiday season, but that goes to show little details like this can sneak by if you don't pay attention. This isn't limited to Forever 21--other stores have either changed their policy permanently or roll out special policies just for the holidays. You certainly don't want your family and friends to be stuck with gifts that they don't want or can't use. Just something to think about when you start gift shoppinig.


Rocks Rock

For all the seriousness in the office, a little levity is a good thing.

My new, affordable, and decidedly unstuffy office decor from Magic Yam also doubles as hand warmers...makes sense for a cold office. I'm all about dual-use =)

Let's start with the service and packaging. The proprietress is super-friendly, and the packaging is so cute that I didn't want to rip it open:

The contents are even cuter. Check out the tags with similar yet different rock piles:


And here they are sitting next to a free stress ball. They fit right in! Lumpy the Coal is made of black fleece, and Grumpy is made of felt. Both of them are really soft and well-stitched.

Excellent workwomanship, great service, and cute overload--definitely a great value. I've waited a long time to be able to afford little things like this, and they're worth the wait. I think that's all the toys I'll have, though...any more than these will make me start to look unprofessional.


The Perfect Pants...nope, not this time

How hard is it to find the perfect pants? That's a rhetorical question. I found the perfect jeans before I can find the perfect pants for work. Funny, huh?

Work pants are pretty standard in colors. I have a lot of black, and they serve faithfully for years. But black starts to get boring after a while, and contrary to conventional wisdom, black doesn't go with everything. I wanted to find something gray, or brown, or beige. The ones I have now are starting to fray or no longer fit right.

Last weekend I was actually ready and willing to shop, but alas, I ended up spending a lot of time in traffic and wasn't able to find what I was looking for. A perfect pair was found at the Banana Republic outlet, but alas, it was $80. Sure, I may be ready and willing to shop, but not that willing (they call that an outlet price?). I did, however, find a pair of olive chinos. They're comfortable, durable, and even though it isn't perfectly tailored, the fit is amazingly good for $12. Besides, a "drab" color like that is the perfect counterpoint to jewel-toned shirts:

(And here's the entire ensemble)

Banana Republic isn't the first place I'd go for great deals, but when I get lucky, I get really lucky. Several years ago, I found a nice striped top for just $5. It's still a regular in my outfits. And now I've scored again. Unfortunately, a sweater I've been eyeing is no longer available, and the dress shirt I got on sale last time is no longer on sale. Oh well...we can't always win.

It's gonna be a while before I can buy those $80 pants. November is approaching, which means my private student loans are coming due. Unless I pass the bar and get that attorney's paycheck, it's back to belt-tightening again. At least this time there's a little bit more breathing room.


Ring, ring

I've lusted after this ring for quite some time. I had to look away many a time because of insufficient funds. Finally, I could afford to buy it, so I treated myself:

There are lots of bubbles in the green amber, and that's the way I like it--more things to refract light. It's so pretty! The price is really affordable given that it's sterling silver.

The green goes with the day's color scheme, which is a change from the prior day. This time, the shirt is brilliant but the outerwear is dark. I like this effect too.


Lawyers Love Ross (and great bargains in general)

It's funny how much I've been talking about shoes lately, but shoes and clothing have been great topics for breaking the ice when I entered new social circles. A sense of style is one thing we all have in common, no matter what our styles are. A simple "cute shoes" or "cute outfit" can lead to a longer conversation. Fashion ain't shallow, folks--it's called networking and "professional development."

Seems like I'm not the only one who thinks that cheap $15 shoes are capable of being more comfortable than some expensive pair, yet just as professional-looking. A couple of us were wearing Ross shoes today, after chatting about it the other day. Totally awesome.

My suit is a cobbled-together effort. It looks expensive because it is--at full retail price, that is. The $25 blazer came from a crazy BCBG warehouse sample sale from a couple of years ago, and the $20-or-so skirt came from Loehmann's. The skirt is actually a shade darker than the blazer, but it works pretty well because the difference is barely noticeable. I'd rather have the top lighter than the bottom, since the difference is less apparent that way. $17 dress shirt hails from from Target. The shoes, of course, came from Ross. Instead of some expensive brand, they're just good ol' Rampage for around $15. As long as they look sophisticated and are comfortable, they're going to hearings and depositions with me.

Here's a close-up of today's color scheme--blue, beige, and green. Dark dress shirts are great for dressing up boring beige suits. If you don't like blue, try other colors like berry red or emerald green...anything but white. The green ring came from Etsy just days ago. I'll show a closeup tomorrow.


The Shoe Stays On

If you look at my work clothes pictures, you'll notice that my black peeptoe pumps get a lot of airplay. A lot. If variety wasn't the spice of life, I'd be content with wearing them every day. They were the Nine West pumps I bought from the outlet store several weeks ago, and I absolutely love them. No need to put on sneakers to go out to lunch, because they're that comfortable.

Sometimes it's necessary to upgrade to more expensive shoes if you need to be on your feet all day. They don't need to be all that pricey, either; mine were $40. But a higher price tag doesn't guarantee comfort. I've ran into shoes that retail for the high 2-figures and they're stiff and they hurt. Conversely, I've found really cheap shoes that were ridiculously comfortable. If I'm going to pay extra for shoes, I shouldn't have to spend weeks and even months breaking them in. They may be a just little bit stiff at first, but after walking for a few steps, the shoes should mold to your feet. But how do we know that they're going to be comfortable in the long run?

It seems easy enough at first. Obviously, trying them on will give us a clue. The toes shouldn't all jam in at the pointy part, and your big and pinky toes shouldn't hurt from being squished by the sides of the shoes or from being rubbed against the stiff uppers. But there are other qualities that we can't observe just by wearing the shoe--it's time to run a little field test. Don't forget to actually touch and feel the shoe in detail. Run the upper between your fingers just like you would with fabric, and bend a little. Is it flexible to the touch? If the upper is also soft and smooth, they should be easy to your feet. If it's not flexible, you'll have to decide whether they're cute enough to justify the pain of breaking them in. Also, push on the insole to see if there's any cushioning, especially for the balls of your feet. Finally, bend the shoe a little to see how flexible the sole is.

Having cute but not necessarily comfortable shoes is fine in my book, with a caveat. If we want variety but don't have much money, the trade-off has got to come from someplace. It's not like we wear those shoes every day, anyhow (t-shirt/jeans/sneaker days, anyone?). But having one or two comfortable, classic pumps for work goes a long way. If you have to be on foot for extended periods of time, bad shoes are going to cause expensive podiatric problems somewhere down the line. People say that pain is the price of beauty, and "no pain, no gain." There's a bit of inevitable truth in that, but make sure that the price isn't going to be more than you can afford.