The Technicolored Cardigan

Am I wrong to be so fascinated by this cardigan? I can do without the hairy (or, as they call it "ruffled") trim, but the trim aside, it is oddly fascinating. I would totally wear this if, again, there isn't a hairy trim.

Dime and Dine

I've never been to the iconic Philippe the Original, where the french dip sandwiches have been much heralded. I've heard many people sing it praises (though I did hear one story of bad service), but I've never gone to Philippe's. Until passed by it on my way home from the UPS pickup site recently (to pick up my Sublet cardigan), I didn't know where this place was. When I did finally come across the restaurant (which had parking in the back!), I made a mental note to come back one of these days.

October 6 might be the day I'll go. That is the day when Philippe's celebrates its 100th birthday. Imagine that! To commemorate the occasion, Philippe's will be selling that famous sandwich for a dime. There will probably be several thousands of people there that day, and I'm not even joking about that, but maybe it'll be less crowded when I go there after work.

[The lowdown is courtesy of the LA Times food blog.]


Causing a Flapper

I've always been interested in stylistic elements from a bygone era, particularly the 1920's and the 1940's/1950's. During the past year or so, I've taken a more 60's mod approach to dressing, but I never cease to harken back to the days when ladies took the time to look glamorous. That's not to say I'll go out looking like I'm heading to a costume party, but it is nice to add a graceful element here and there, if only once in a while.

A long, long, long time ago, a woman would be considered impolite and unladylike for venturing outdoors with a bare head. Today, by contrast, a covered head is what draws attention. Not the negative kind at all, but hats stand out. I, for one, am not all that big into hats. I have a wool newsboy cap that only gets worn during the winter. I've been looking for a white or straw fedora to shield against the summer heat, but to date I have yet to find one that fits my small head perfectly.

However, I have been successful in finding a cloche hat, an idea which has been kicking around in my head for a few years, as many of my style cravings have been. I refuse to just "settle" when it comes to an accessory that I know I will be wearing for ages, which is why I bide my time. Maybe a lesson to learn is that I should stop craving something too much--I went to Forever 21 to continue that frustrating search for that perfect straw fedora, which never seems to materialize, and ended up running smack into this lovely felt cloche hat. It was almost too easy and anticlimatic. After walking out of the store, I tore off the tags and put it on right away. I definitely got a number of stares as I walked throughout the mall. To be sure, a cloche hat isn't as common as a baseball cap, a fedora, or a widebrimmed sun hat--it is decidedly historic. Fashion magazines have been touting the complete flapper look to go with the hat, complete with fringed dresses or very fluttery and pretty clothing. I, for one, decided to have a different take on the "modern flapper" look--a little bit of frilly, plus a whole lot of structure:

[Forever 21 hat, Matty M silk top, my own necklace with blue and green beads (which coincidentally matches the shade of the hat), Earnest Sewn jeans, Target flats with chain hardware]

Unfortunately, I wore this hat once or twice weeks ago and haven't had a chance to wear it again. The temperature has returned to the 90's after only one week of respite. It will be a while before I can wear it again. It will be interesting to see how it matches up with more of my modern outfits as well as with the vintage dresses and coats.


The root of...

I came across this interesting article in the N.Y. Times a few days ago. It discussed an emerging interest in "money disorders." One treament for "money disorders" consists of a mix of therapy and financial planning. While I don't necessarily agree with the treatment plan, given the ethical ramifications, it does bring to light an uncomfortable subject that is of relevance in today's economic environment.

It has long been said that money is the root of all evil. To some extent, it's true. Money sometimes does change everything. It is not uncommon for a person to change after coming into an inheritance. It is just as likely for someone to change when they lose money and cooped up by fear of creditors and bankruptcy. Marital strife often revolves around deteriorating financial situations or a growing imbalance in earning capacities.

At the same time, money can be the seed of goodness. While I struggled with adjusting from going from a broke student to actually having something of a disposable income, the struggle has made me better for it. It makes me feel like I'm doing something out of choice rather than necessity. Before, it was a very easy choice to refrain from, say, buying a pair of shoes, because I knew I need the money for something else. Now, I feel like that my choice to forego something I don't need comes more from willpower and discipline. Also, being able to help out family and good causes alike is something I didn't get to do before, and being able to do that now is great. Still, I have a long ways to go. Whenever I get something nice, I invariably question whether I should be spending that much money; sometimes it is hard to distinguish whether I'm having these thoughts out of guilt or if I'm really making a bad choice. To partly resolve this issue, I made a new budget and established some concrete boundaries. It's a good start, if nothing else.


I Don't Wanna Grow Up

That must be the only reason why I went ahead and got these. Either that, or I lost my mind, was possessed, or was blinded by their cuteness and forgot that I'm no longer Age 5.

Actually, let's backtrack to the time when I was in the Target shoe department; the purchase wasn't quite as devoid of reason as it seems. I came across these Mary Janes for girls, available in pink and in black. What impressed me was that if you look past the cutesy inner lining, the shoe could actually pass for something for adults. The design of the shoe is not at all childlike. Even the pink shine is pretty well done--the shoe isn't plastered with cheap glitter that flakes off at the slightest touch. Rather, it seems more like a network of mesh with hexagonal pieces of foil. Since the pink is more a fuschia pink, it's a little more grown-up; I think I could actually pull it off as a whimsical piece of footwear. And the shoe fits me, too--this pair is a Girls' 5.5. The inside is very well-cushioned and comfortable.

However, even if the shoe fits, it's not meant to be. Even though I'm convinced that I can pull it off without looking stupid, I really don't need these comfortable kicks. I already have plenty of pairs of colorful sneakers, and realistically, these will probably not get worn a whole lot when the other arguably more sensible shoes are vying for my attention. Thanks to Target's lengthier return period (90 days with receipt), I can take these puppies back...maybe to exchange for the black glitter ones.

Or not.


A couple of cycles

Most people I know tend to be pretty conscientious about recycling, so they'll appreciate my giddiness when this happened: I was pretty much jumping for joy when my apartment building finally had recycling bins, and again when my office building started to do that as well.

Not long ago, I decided to make used paper useful for another round before it heads to the recycling bin. One thing I use a lot of is notepads. I write all the time, be it notes of a hearing, or my wild and crazy ideas for motions (or opposing them), and a record of my time spent doing various things. Yup, in my line of work, time is worth a lot of money. Unfortunately, office supplies also cost a lot of money. I read a newspaper article a few weeks ago that the recent across-the-board price hikes have engulfed office supplies. The price of paper clips have apparently jumped 50% compared to a year ago. I can imagine how painful this must be for small businesses that require the use of lots of office supplies.

I learned a pretty neat and how-did-I-not-think-of-that simple trick from my former secretary. She used to cut used paper in half and staple it for her own notepads. That's such a great idea--much paper can be saved, and fresh notepads can be conserved for times when those premarked lines are actually needed. This idea isn't quite as innovative (or pretty) as this, but a little savings here and there will matter a lot.


Layer by Layer

It finally feels like Fall in California, which is both a blessing and a curse. I love the cool weather, but it came at an inopportune time--cold weather is not for people who have bad colds. The consolation prize is that I get to dress warm. I haven't gotten the chance to layer in quite some time, and I had a lot of fun with it.

My work outfits typically consist of a lot of black and a lot of neutral colors, plus a dash of color or a bold detail. Lately, I felt like I've been stuck in a rut of wearing the same few pairs of black pants, same few jackets, and the same few beige and gray tops. While it was simple to get dressed and I looked put together, I wanted to make the neutrals a little more exciting again.

A couple of new staples injected a little boost in my neutral lineup. The first is a cardigan from the eco-friendly indie label Sublet Clothing. I've had my eye on the simple yet very pretty Anais cardigan for months and months, hoping it would go on sale. When I checked again a couple of weeks ago, it was finally 50% off. Even though I was sick and tired, I drove out to the big UPS pickup center to get it, and I even brought my Lucky magazine along because I expected to a while (lucky me, my package is always lost, left on the truck, or otherwise not ready for pickup even after I requested same-day will-call.). To my pleasant surprise, I didn't even have time to flip open the cover--the package was on the shelf behind the counter, and I was back in the car in no time.

The cardigan is just as good as the omen I got from the quick package pickup process. The pleats and puffed sleeves are cute details, and they are subtle enough such that the sweater does not become too girlish. The fit is perfect. The cream color is tranquil and pleasant. The fabric will take a little getting used to, however. Bamboo fabric feels so different from cotton--it is very soft, but it feels like some slick synthetic fiber. The strangeness aside, it's good to know that the fabric is made from a very sustainable material.

The second wardrobe booster is a pair of Nikes that I've been eyeing for a couple of months at DSW. Once the shoes landed on the clearance racks, I made my move. The shoe is shaped somewhat like a skate shoe, but much leaner and more comfortable. The bold gingham pattern on the shoe is rather unexpected, and I thought it would fit right in and perk up my frequent neutral-and-black outfits.

Both the shoes and the cardigan fit in harmoniously with all the black pants and outerwear. I knew that the cardigan would work with just about anything. As for the shoes, they integrate into my wardrobe even better than I expected. They add an interesting detail to an overall conservative outfit, but because the black and white is so ordinary, the shoes do not stand out too much or look out of place.

It's nice to know I have a comfortable alternative to heels when I need it.

[Nave coat (yay! I get to wear it again!), Sublet Clothing Anais cardigan, Gap heather gray t-shirt (I've been wearing this all the time), vintage scarf, Forever 21 cocktail ring, Forever 21 pants, Nike Blazer Low sneakers]


Unconventional Partying

There is no place like home. As much as I enjoyed my short visit to Minneapolis, I am definitely glad to come home. I brought home some fun memories, some shopping loot, and, unfortunately, a nasty cold.

Although the primary purpose of my trip was business, there was ample time for networking and levity. I flew in near the end of the Republican National Convention, so there were some rather interesting political paraphernalia and decorations. You don't see an elephant topiary on a hotel lobby table on just any day.

After all the business parts were over, I went to a 1970's themed birthday party. I never buy a costume for costume parties, and this time was no exception. Thanks to clothes that I already have in my closet plus a pair of sunglasses from Forever 21, I looked like I walked right out of the 70's. The top was something I got from the Goodwill some time ago; it probably really was from the 70's era. Having to pack an extra outfit in my luggage added quite a bit of extra weight, particularly because one component was a pair of wooden platforms, but it was well worth it in the end.

I also managed to sneak in a little bit of shopping. Although my shopping buddy and I didn't hit Mall of America, as it was too far away in too little time, we did score at the nearby Nicollet Mall. We got good deals at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet, and on top of that, no sales tax was charged. I picked up a Theory blazer for 30-something bucks, along with this short-sleeved cashmere-blend Saks private label sweater for $26. Short-sleeved sweaters are great transitional pieces, especially for California climates.

The Macy's we went to next was a ginormous one. I spent quite a bit of time looking at accessories when I came across this beautiful and simple cuff for just $5. When I went to pay for it, I made some comment about the lower sales tax. The saleswoman informed us that Macy's offered a 11% discount to out of state shoppers. While I didn't take advantage of the discount, since I was done with shopping at that point, it is definitely something I will keep in mind the next time I shop while I travel.

Part of the outfit that goes with the cuff above came from the very last stop for that day. Right before we had to leave for the airport, we made one last stop at the Gap. Although this ubiquitous chain store is literally everywhere, I was curious to see if different regions stocked different merchandise, or emphasized one thing over the other. Sure enough, there was a lot of outerwear that I would not usually see when I'm back home. The sales racks were full of summery items that were significantly marked down. I picked up an ordinary t-shirt with pretty, fluttery sleeves--something easy to wear for work or play, but not at all bland. I also bought a canvas purse that I had my eye on for some time. Because I had a couple of $10 certificates in my wallet, I ended up paying less than $15 for both items.

An efficient shopping trip was definitely a great way to round out an equally-successful business trip. No money was wasted on frivolous things. I like that.