Neck and Neck

I hate turtlenecks. They're pretty boring and they don't look very flattering, but I wear them because they're functional. Until I discovered the magic of layering, I actively avoided them when I could. Unfortunately, that meant my purchases were not being used very efficiently.

This week I discovered that pairing them with boatneck tops works wonders. I love boatneck sweaters because they show off the collarbones and shoulders, but it's too cold to wear them alone at this time. Now I can, and I'm pretty happy about it. The combo just looks better than a turtleneck paired with a crewneck tee, and I think it's because there's such a huge contrast between the two styles.

This is arguably my most creative work outfit of the week, after wearing suits and other boring office staples:

And this is my weekend look. Not as nice, to be sure, but it lets me wear my casual clothes. It's been very rainy and cold here. I don't know when it'll warm up again.


Sound Investment

All that effort into getting that Hello Kitty sewing machine was not for naught. I didn't get that machine, but I did come away with this:

Since I'm in the office for long hours, sometimes it's good to have a non-addictive stimulant around. I saw some iPod docking speakers in a few offices and wanted one for myself. I wanted something that's not too expensive (of course), looks good, and sounds decent for the price. With speakers, I know that it's better to get something with a mid-range price. Cheap speakers make expensive gadgets sound terrible.

After failing to find that Hello Kitty sewing machine, I decided to walk around the rest of Target to see what good deals were abound. Since I had just arrived from the office, I looked around for office stuff, which eventually led me to the audio-visual section of the store. I saw a cheap iPod docking speaker for $39, but it looked cheap already. Then my eyes fell on the sleek beauty you see above.

Normally, the Logitech speakers would have been quite pricey, but at $69, it didn't seem quite so bad after all. Besides, I have some experience with Logitech speakers, so I knew what to expect. I bought a 5.1 surround sound set of speakers for my desktop computer years ago, and I got a decent amount of sound quality for a very reasonable price. When I took it home, I started opening the box right away. There were quite a few wonderful features--it came with a carrying case, and it could be operated by AC power or 6 AAA batteries. It also came with a remote. While the sound quality isn't awe-inducing, it was pretty good. Did I mention that it is pretty?

It's now sitting happily in my office. I love it.


Bye Bye, Kitty...

After working hard for a couple of weeks, it was nice to get a chance to run some errands and buy some stuff. I've been looking for a second frame for yet another fancy piece of paper to go up onto the office wall. To maintain a cohesive look, I wanted a frame that differs from but matches the frame for my degree.

Lucky me, Target was having a sale on frames again. So I got a sleek one for about $12.

And then I went wandering through the aisles for some good clearance deals. I hit the sewing machine aisle because I've always wanted one, and if I can get one cheaply, all the better. I saw a Singer machine on sale for $69, a discount of $20. That's a decent price, but...I don't know. I'm not sure I want to spend money now when I don't have a whole lot of time to learn to sew. Then I moved a couple steps to my left. Holy smokes! The Hello Kitty sewing machine was $25! I knew how expensive this machine was, and I read good reviews for it, so if I could really get one for $25, that would have been great. Sure, there's a Hello Kitty on it, but if the machine is functional, I could care less; it's not like I would carry it around with me on the street.

Alas, there was no more other than the floor model. Even the Target employee who tried to help me track one down marvelled at the price, since his friend spent a pretty penny for it. I then asked Customer Services for help, and they gave me a list of a couple of stores that supposedly had a few left. I called all of them, but nope, they're out. On the next day, I went to a Target store near work. They didn't have one either.

The effort I put up to find a Hello Kitty sewing machine is rather amusing. And silly. But it was kind of fun, too. On that last trip, I ended up picking up something more grown-up for my office. I'll give it a bit of a test ride and will provide a good report next time.


Materially Cheap

The 7-day workweek is tough, even when you love the work. That's why I try to do stuff like this: blog. Cook. Clean. Make things. It's strange how the simple things in life make such a huge difference for your energy and keep you going. It just takes a little effort.

On long days in these long weeks, it's hard to make an effort to dress nice. I've been grabbing the same old sweaters and dress shirts...just not very me. So the last time I got to go shopping with my Forever 21 gift cards, I went looking for a blousy top that's easy to wear and easy to care for.

There are certain items that I won't go too cheap on--for coats and sweaters, if things pill too easily, you're not going to want to wear them much anymore. Then there are certain things that I'm not going to spend too much on, like those really thin, blousy things that may tear easily. But then again, it's tough to find something satiny or chiffon-like that doesn't crease and crinkle too easily. They do exist, however...just takes a little bit of luck.

I found this lovely black top at Forever 21. There's a remarkable amount of pleats and details for something, well, from Forever 21. The fabric is much more amenable to handwashing than an expensive fabric. Easy to wear, and cheap to care for--that's what I'm talking about. It's also comfortable, which is important for those stressful long days. Getting bogged down by clothing is the last thing I'd want.


Sugar Coated

I suppose I created enough buzz about my big ticket purchase--my friends who read my blog were just dying to know on the day they met up with me. Lo and behold, I was wearing the subject coat. They approved. Now it's time for you to decide if I did well.

I still can't believe that I dropped $215 (including tax) on that coat--I haven't spent that much money on any article of clothing, and I can count with one hand the occasions when I've spent that much on any one thing. When I paid for it, I felt a tinge of horror: "What have I done?!?" Like Eli said, it is a weird feeling to be able to spend after being so thrifty for so long (this is a great topic to expound upon at a later time). I was quite nervous to make that leap, and I think I'll remain hesitant to make big purchases. This is a good thing--it's a self-preservation instinct.

In the end, I think this Nave cashmere-blend coat is really worth it. This is sort of an impulse purchase, but it's a highly practical one. I've been looking for some sophisticated sweaters and outerwear, something that's practical but a bit unique. The gathered Peter Pan collar and poet sleeves looked intimidating and impractical (bordering on a little too sweet and cute), but once I tried the coat on, I was hooked. After I took it home, I was hesitant about cutting the tag off. I was concerned that I'd change my mind about the aforementioned detailing and come to think of them as silly, and then I'd come to own something I can only wear on the weekends. Instead, I wore it for the rest of the night at home. Then I wore it for Christmas the next day. Then I thought, "I can wear this every day."

Then the light bulb went off. Yes, I can wear this every day. Isn't that the point of getting something expensive and high-quality? A coat like that should be pretty enough to wear every day and tough enough to withstand wear and tear. That kicked off a week-long experiment of literally wearing it every day, with the exception of a Saturday that was too warm for the coat.

Since I bought the coat on Christmas Eve, I started off wearing it on Christmas Day.

When the gift-opening madness was over, it was back to work. It looks great with the bold striped Gap scarf I got for Christmas.

Here's a close-up of the detailing:

And more work outfits. You might recognize the red shoes:

Here's the outfit for a party for viewing the floats for the legendary Rose Parade. I figured the hair flower is quite appropriate given the occasion. It's a modification of the Christmas outfit, but the boots make the outfits look more sleek.

Skip a day of shuffling through the mall in grungy clothes, and it's back to work on New Year's Eve:

Just thought I'd show a pic without the coat. I love this top, which was picked up from the BCBG outlet during the after-Christmas sales. The pattern reminds me of the wings of monarch butterflies. It wasn't exactly cheap at $30, but it's versatile and seems like it can withstand the spin cycle quite well. The back is slightly scooped and ties at the top, so I wore the tank top under to make it work-appropriate. For New Year's Eve partying, I wore the top on its own.

I've finally put the coat aside for a bit to give other outerwear a chance to see daylight. If they were animate objects with feelings, I'd say they're starting to get jealous. After the rainy weather goes away, the coat will come out of the closet once again, and again, and again.

All in all, it's a good investment. Not only is it cute in a grown-up kind of way, but it's very warm for being so lightweight. On the streets, I saw people shivering in their puffy jackets, yet I enjoyed a carefree walk.