Reality checks of the fashion and financial kind

beige grey black

Land’s End cardigan – Vince top – Y’s pant – Nisolo shoes

The other day I looked at a fashion blog I’d not checked on in a long time. The blogger has a large following and everything about her site is perfectly curated for being the most picture-perfect eye candy site trendy women could ever want for. The color palette of the site is soothing, her clothes are soft and the tones and hues all match or blend together perfectly. She is beautiful with token long looking limbs and hair. Everything about her, her site,  and her instagram remind me of fabric colored by steeping tea bags in that calming, neutral sort of way. It’s a soft neutral that’s warm and soothing and the text in her entries has the sing-song, candy-coated advertising sugar-pill happiness that everyone loves to hear – even whens she puts her serious voice on and “gets real” with her readers.* And while feeling numbed by this fluffy cloud of perfect eye candy I started to take note of her clothes and got interested in certain pieces she was wearing, which she definitely linked to because sponsors. The photography was done in a way to show the best qualities of what she was wearing, which was that stylized “don’t really care, but I’m not letting people know how long this photo shoot took” way of casual slouchiness that can only be accomplished by spending at least half an hour fussing with the lighting, clothing, body angling and camera settings.

I found myself leaning in more to look at the details and then drink the kool-aid. The click-bait worked and there I was shopping for the same item of clothing she had. She made it look perfectly easy to get and wear and I didn’t have anything like that in my closet even though it’s clearly something that should be a staple, right? How much is the item? Almost $200? Pshaw! That’s practically free compared to x, y and z designers…. *saves item to pinterest/wishlist/etc*

The following day I got up and went to work and looked at the item again on my phone. Reality started to settle in and I shook my head, thinking: wait, I don’t even like that color! WTF? And I just spent x amount of money on other things recently so I really shouldn’t be spending money on this stuff. Plus, I have other clothes coming first so I should wait and see if those work out first. I also need to check on my refunds at these other places….

Later on in the day I woke up further and realized I don’t want to take that red pill. I’m not going to fall for that because it looks perfect. Too perfect. It also made me scrunch up my brow when this blogger mentioned her capsule wardrobe and minimalism…. DUH! Keywords! *smacks self in the forehead*

The nail in the coffin and the reason why I’ll most likely never look at that blog again: I don’t want to look that perfect or try to mimic that kind of look/perfection. I know she wouldn’t think it’s perfect and it’s harsh of me to call it that, but ultimately that’s the end result of all the stylization in everything from her person to her clothes to her home to her instagram to even the look on her face in the photos.

That’s her and that’s fine. It works for her and I’ll admit: it looks great. It’s beautiful, it’s safe, it’s easy to copy (if one wanted to) and even makes it capable for one to piggy-back off her success to a blog of similar value that could easily rise in the ranks with sponsors for free clothing and blog monetization. Her site is basically a template. She might consider that quite the insult, but let’s call spades here….

And then the real REAL reality check came when Z told me about the plumber coming because we have  leaking cast iron sewer pipes that are 65 years old. On top of that I got an email with an invoice from the estate attorney for my dad. Yeah….. no spending for quite some time….

*My inner goth was vomiting and screaming: how can so many of you sheep flock to that!) 

Old self

old self

Uniqlo flannel top – Grana jeans – Coach boots

For some reason I’ve been feeling very raw over the past 48 hours and so bear with this post full of navel gazing and pondering.

This is an “old me” outfit. It’s probably one I’d wear in some variation every day, seven days a week several years ago. Something made me think – ok, let’s do this Casual Friday thing the old school way. I felt like I needed to go back to where I was and simply accept that sometimes I do need that version of me. I’ve now been wondering a lot if I’m changing myself too much for the sake of the change and not because it’s been what’s best for me.

When I got to the office the admin complimented my outfit, especially the boots. She said they looked nicely faded. I took a paper towel and wiped away dust from the top of my boot: Nope, it’s just dust, it’s not really faded. I’ve not worn these boots in two years. I joked about keeping the dust on to keep the faded look and she cheerfully said I must keep the dust on! She also liked the whole ensemble in general. I then noticed my top was covered in cat hair and dust because it had been in the back of my closet. It also smelled a little musty and I probably should’ve washed it before wearing it. I think my perfume did a good job of keeping the musty smell away unless people got really close to me. Now reading all of that – it sounds kinda gross, doesn’t it? But one thing did stand out to me – I looked “normal”. Granted, what is normal is relative, but compared to what I normally wear, I basically looked like most other people in the office today or like I’d match well with typical women my age – minus the pram and two kids in tow. But again, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t being myself – it was just going back to a version of me I’d not visited in a while. That got me thinking – what is the real me nowadays?

Talia‘s brutally honest and raw post about wanting things she doesn’t need really struck a chord with me. Her honesty in that post felt like a breath of fresh air and also like a kir of liqueur that I’d sip and savor, comforted in the familiarity of knowing her words mirrored mine internally – the difference being she had the guts to write it. The desire to stand out and not wear the same things as everyone else, but also wanting all the things everyone wears is a real struggle. With so much marketing around us – especially Pinterest, which I think is one of the most clever and fucking demonic forms of modern marketing touted as a virtual mood board – it’s really hard not to be wanting something that someone else has whether it be a blog influencer or not. Raise of hands, who else has a wishlist on their Pinterest like I do?

That post also reinforced the fact that I really don’t need anything and need to stop this trigger-happy reaction of adding items to wishlists because all that does is itch the instant gratification cat in me. And then I purr when I decide to buy the item and then go sleep on some other item for six months until I feel like coming back to it. It really is a vicious cycle and I need to stop justifying getting stuff because I can.

Just in the same way that exercise does make me feel better, I need to get back to doing things that really matter and will help me emotionally and mentally.

There is a guy in my office who goes to concerts almost every other week. He’s around my age or older and a lot of the shows he goes to seem very nostalgic in nature: Def Leopard, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, Jon Bon Jovi, etc…. As we stood at the microwave (because there’s always a line at lunch) I asked him what his next concert was because he seemed to go to a lot of them. He simply said: I prefer experiences to things.

That statement alone sent me into an emotional vortex of WTF have I been doing buying all these clothes when I could’ve been doing everything else instead! Even my work itself was reminding me of things I used to do – like photography. I’m in the process of figuring out if the money we spend on our marketing company is worth it or if I can handle doing it. We’d cut back money on that expense to the company, but of course I’d be compensated for doing the work instead. Today I brought in my camera, dusted off the dingy light box I found in one of the back shop cubicles and started taking product photos. I then went to different departments to take a few shots for B-Roll footage here and there. Many didn’t mind at all that I was taking photos of them working and some were really happy to help out. It reminded me of other photography work I’d done in the past and how even doing mundane shots of products still takes a certain amount of creative effort. When I looked at the photos on my computer I kinda pat myself on the back – I still got it. Not only that, it made me actually want to work on things for work. That is fucking scary! But back to the point, the creative outlet of doing something completely stopped me in my tracks and instead of browsing online all I want to do now is go outside and take photos of the autumn foliage while I still can. I was really big into taking outdoor photos, especially close ups of plants. 50-60mm fixed lenses are my jam and I pray to the almighty Bokeh. Also, for several years I took photos of my breakfasts and even published a book with photos and recipes on Blurb.

One last thing to add to this already totally meandering, bumbling entry – I love anime. Karandi‘s post about loving anime and the stigma that comes when people find out was another raw one that nailed it for me. I’m over 40, childfree, and I prefer to watch anime over anything else on tv/internet. I don’t have cable, but I do have Netflix, Crunchyroll, and HiDive streaming accounts. I’m lucky enough that most of my friends really DGAF what I watch, but they will definitely berate me for not attempting to watch other shows. If anything, now they’ve all got kids they come to me for recommendations on shows they’d like their kids to watch if available on whatever services they have. However, I was a bit nervous about letting people know at work. While some do think it’s weird and give me the side eye, most others just shrug it off or don’t care. I’m wondering if there’s a certain age where we simply DGAF because I know that’s mostly the case for me at this point in my life, but also seems to apply to many around me who are in similar age brackets or much older. There is a younger engineer who also watches anime and we chit chat about the shows we’re watching and give each other recs as well. He’s really big into JoJo and I’m amazed I’ve convinced him to watch Banana Fish all the way through since BL stuff is very much not his cup of tea. He did remind me to watch the rest of Castlevania on Netflix, which I’ll be doing this weekend.

Like Karandi, I too love the music and characters and over-the-top plots. Considering tv shows that are popular these days some of the anime I watch seems on par when it comes to oddness, but there’s definitely a difference due to the medium itself. Having that oddness animated and then taken to DefCon Levels of Exaggeration is most of the fun with these shows. Today I even admit to the admin that I loved anime music so much I usually listen to that more than anything else. I’m a total anime soundtrack junkie and even have specific playlists for exercising, chilling out, etc…. Kuroshitsuji is my go-to for plane trips for zoning out/falling asleep. When I’m gardening? Totally a mix of all seasons of Natsume Yuujinchou. Maybe I’m hoping I’ll find yokai in my yard.

I don’t write about anime much here anymore, but I still very much love it and still watch it.

I think I’ve rambled on enough now. I’m still on the fence with myself and my style, but maybe that’s because I’m over-thinking it and need stop thinking about that and DO things I love again. Thank you for reading thus far. Now have a good weekend.

 

Mental health

blah day

Everlane top – Uniqlo pant – Dries Van Noten shoes

I left work early today for mental health.

Since my dad died and now my mom is alone to deal with all the shit she’s been through I’ve had severe anxiety issues. I’ve not had them this bad in a long time – at least ten years. I know it’s severe when I have angina attacks. Angina can have several causes, but in my case it’s due to severe anxiety and stress. The muscles constrict so tightly it reduces blood flow to the heart and causes pain similar to a heart attack. I freaked the fuck out the first time I experienced it while in college. I went to a doctor when I started experiencing the pain, thinking I was having a heart attack. The doctor told me what it was and it was due to anxiety and stress. Many years later I experienced it again as a reaction to a medication so I knew not to take it ever again. But now it’s back and it’s mostly due to me thinking about my mom’s situation all the time.

I’ve had two attacks in the past week.

After the pain finally subsides, which can take upwards of an hour, I feel as though someone used my chest as a punching bag. The first time last week the pain was so numbing afterwards I felt sore all over and couldn’t do anything the following day. The second time was in the middle of the night. I hadn’t been sleeping well and it made me even more awake at 5 am.

I couldn’t sleep last night and could tell I was feeling the anxiety tension build up. The tightness in my chest becomes unbearable and then the pain stabs and doesn’t let up until I’ve figured out how to calm down or take lots of medicine. All morning at work my chest felt tight and I was extremely emotional. A coworker immediately noticed and pulled me into her office to talk. She’s had angina before so she could relate and knows what’s going on with me as well. The other day she said she was amazed how calm and controlled I can look under the circumstances, but I’m really not. I feel like I’ve been cracking lately. Today was one of those days where nothing could keep it down. I went home and screamed and cried and went out for a run, which did help briefly.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment later this week. I know I need medication for this while I’m in the thick of it and until my mom’s situation is sorted out I may be on meds for a while. I really hate taking medications and I know the line of drugs anxiety meds falls  under can be harsh on the body. Anxiety/anti-depression drugs are very easy to get addicted to and the side effects and withdrawals from them can be monstrous. I know about coming off anti-depression drugs from when I was in college, so I’ve never been keen to go back on anything like that. However, I may have to suck it up and take it now if I’m to get through a day of work or even get a decent night’s worth of sleep.

Near the limit

It’s hot. I hate.

Friday: Ann Demeulemeester top, Pas de Calais pant, Lems shoes.

Friday

Monday: Yesstyle linen top, Won Hundred pant, Jil Sander shoes.

monday

Tuesday: Rosen linen top, YY skirt, Dries Van Noten shoes.

tuesday

I think I’m nearing the point at which I’m comfortable with the size of my wardrobe. I have a few other items I want to get but then I might consider a clothing ban. I didn’t say shopping ban, but a clothing one because I don’t think I need much more. Items I still want to get:

  • Dress shirts for conferences/ client meetings – because this is going to be a thing I have to do now for my job and I need to be prepared.
  • Still on the hunt for black oxfords.
  • New pair of pumps for conferences/formal events…. maybe. I can make do with the wedges I have but wearing them all day isn’t ideal.
  • Sweater to replace one I am donating. I know which one I want as well, it’s just a matter of when I buy it.
  • YY shirt (used, available at Rakuten) that’s been on my wishlist for ages and I don’t know why I haven’t gotten it yet.
  • Rosen Hakama pant – because I’ve been obsessing about those as well for a long time and I should just bite the bullet. They will be my token super wide leg pant.

Over this past weekend I looked through pages and pages of tops on TRR. I “liked” several of them and then when I went back to look at what I liked, I noticed a weird trend:

  • I like baroque, but don’t want to wear it. I’m totally attracted to big, ruffly sleeves at the cuffs and/or shoulders, lots of buttons that would be a total pain in the ass to button/unbutton and lots of darting – everywhere – front, back, sleeves… ALL the darting to create a fitted silhouette. The likelihood of me buying stuff like that and wearing it is next to nil. Note: elastic ruffled cuffs are still fugly to me.
  • I find Tory Burch boring as all hell. There’s a ton of her tops on TRR.
  • Hobo/peasant style tops repulse me for some reason and this probably goes into why I don’t like Tory Burch clothes. There’s a plethora of that style made by her.
  • I love all the wild color combinations of Diane Von Furstenberg and Missoni, but I would never wear them. Also, DVF has a thing for making wrap shirts that look really nice, but make me wonder how practical they are for wearing in the office.
  • I do like V neck shirts, but can’t wear them that low in the office.
  • I still gravitate to grey. I will always love grey.
  • MY KINGDOM FOR A DEEP FOREST GREEN SHIRT. Why are they all that boring, muted olive/army green??!
  • There are a LOT of silk shirts on TRR, but are any of them good quality? I am loathe to buy a silk shirt because I keep thinking of the Everlane one I had that was kinda crap to begin with due to being so thin.
  • I do not like red or yellow. I am slightly attracted to red in a pattern, but as a whole, it doesn’t do anything for me. I’m also attracted to browns, but then feel weird when I wear them so I usually stay away from those as well.

Half-moments

Friday: Banana Republic top, YY skirt, Frye shoes.

This weekend was one of those half-moments-of-zen where I was all wabi-sabi about my shoes and clothes. I know it won’t last, so I’m writing this down for posterity and to remind myself I need to do what I did this weekend more often.

I did a lot of laundry this weekend. I normally wear my clothes many times before washing them because I only wear them in the office or if I’m just hanging around the house. However, due to the hotter temps I’ve been sweating more so this weekend was a full-on laundry extravaganza. In the process of constantly washing, mending and ironing clothes I felt like I was in a bit of a trance. It was a peaceful one, definitely, but what really made me want to smack myself was: why don’t I give more care to my stuff like this regularly? For instance, the shoes I’m wearing in the above photos are horribly scuffed and water stained. Water. Stained. Leather. Shoes. Ugh.

I know I should’ve been taking better care of these shoes and even starting feeling very self conscious wearing them in the office due to how shoddy they were looking for the past month. Luckily, same-day delivery with amazon prime meant I got a shoe care kit and brushes pronto so my manic must-save-my-preciousssss mood could play itself out and I spent two hours today cleaning, conditioning, and polishing three pairs of leather shoes. I still may have some water stains on the shoes, but they will look a lot better than they used to. Also, considering I’m planning on buying several more pairs of shoes (mostly leather) I wanted to have a shoe care kit immediately anyway.

tops

I felt very satisfied seeing all of my tops ironed and organized, but I swear I developed a new form of profanity while trying to iron linen gauze. I know, I know it’s supposed to be wrinkled, but when the sleeves look like I wrung them dry and stay that way – it’s not a good office look.

bottoms

Part of the reason why I wore my YY skirt again on Friday was because I told myself I must wash my pants and when Friday morning rolled around I was panicking looking for my pants and then realized they were all crumpled in the laundry bin. ALL THE PANTS are clean and ironed now!

This is a skirt. And way too much ranting on running shoes.

Wednesday: Rosen linen top, Rachel Comey Menace Pant, Eileen Fisher mules.

wednesday

We’ve been wanting to go back to the restaurant where we were married for a while. It’s hands-down the best food to be had in a 50 mile radius and the biggest reason why we chose it for our wedding. It’s also very pricey. We had a gift card from Z’s dad and wanted to use it before our next anniversary. We tried to go a couple weeks ago but it was booked up until 9 pm and that late of a dinner doesn’t work for us.

Since the hotel is right off the river, there’s a walking bridge 50 feet away from the building and we also go for a walk on it – or in our case, more like a post dinner waddle.

IMG_6800

I don’t have a photo for Thursday because it was my last PT session and I forgot to take a picture that morning. I also had a follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon this week. He said unless my ankle got worse or started to bother me, there was no need to have any more visits. If in the next couple of months anything goes wrong, I could get an MRI.

The general verdict is: I still need to spend many many MANY more months strengthening my leg. I have a list of exercises to do at home now for flexibility and strength. I’ve been given the ok to run, but to build up at a glacial pace so I don’t overdo it again. Also, I might never be rid of the bump, which is slightly frustrating because that means I may always have problems wearing regular shoes with a hard back. The only thing that could technically get rid of it is surgery, but that would put me at square one again and I don’t want that. It’s also possible that over time it will eventually go away. How long that takes is anyone’s guess.

Friday: Ann Demeulemeester top, Uniqlo linen pants, Adidas Boston 7 shoes.

Friday

So how’s that for a funky, DGAF-because-it’s-Friday look?

These are my new trainers. Did I need to buy ones that have Boston Marathon on them with the the Unicorn mascot (on the back)? No, but damnit, they are slick looking and I got them at a hell of a discount AND they actually feel really good. Earlier in the week I went out to three different shoe stores to look for new running trainers and hated everything I tried on. Nike shoes fit so weirdly nowadays I can’t find anything in their line that feels right, despite how nice they look. I’m more of a New Balance type because those were always so comfortable, decent looking and had the right amount of support and cushioning. But now a lot of their line has gone with this weird cushion insert thingie that’s like memory foam. I have a basic pair of NB cross trainers but my foot slides everywhere inside due to the slickness of the insert. They have a Cush runner, but it’s not nearly as good their older types of running shoes. I’m not too keen on the other kinds of runners they have these days either. I’m not a huge fan of Saucony and don’t think their running shoes are all that great. Brooks, while having a running lineage, are just too damn expensive for what you get. To me, they are just as ok as Asics, but with a bigger price tag and more wacky colors. Mizunos are good, but for some weird reason, I’ve never gotten the sizing right and when I think I do, they change the style of the shoe and I have to start all over again. The last pair of Mizunos I had were a full size over what I normally wear, but still felt small in the toe box.

I went home feeling a bit defeated that I spent two hours at 3 shops trying on I don’t know how many running shoes and came away with nothing. To feel better, I screen shopped the new Y-3 summer catalog that just came out and then it hit me: why the heck haven’t I looked at Adidas? Oh right, because trying to find Adidas around here is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The market is so  insanely saturated with Nike and Reebok (*shudders*) that Adidas isn’t easy to get a hold of. I looked up their running shoe line and read several reviews. Of course, my eyes were immediately drawn to the colors of the 2018 Adizero Boston 7 and I found a coupon. I really don’t like buying running shoes online because I spend a lot of time going over the shoes before buying. When I was out at the stores, I walk up and down the aisles with different shoes on my feet. I even run standing in place and run up and down the aisles. I’m insanely picky about them because running in shoes that don’t work only ends in disaster. I’ve had plantar fasciitis in both feet, countless blisters, and nearly snapped my calf muscle. The right running shoes are very important.

Luckily, the Adidas worked out. They even come with a replacement set of shoe laces (or if you just want a different color – the extras are navy). I’ve only done a treadmill run in these so far, but they are so much better than the Sauconys I was running in. I’m a believer now in the Boost cushioning system. So much so that I’ve already bought another pair of Adidas, which should arrive tomorrow. The other pair – Adizero Tempo 9 – also has the Boost, but more than the Boston 7. That’s another thing about running – you can never ever have too many running shoes. In fact, having several to rotate through is a must in order to stave off injuries.

I’m not giving up on the other brands, but I may wait a bit until some of the styles change over before looking again. The two Adidas will hold me over for a little while, but I generally like to have 3-4 pairs of running shoes to rotate.

Sunday: Yohji Yamamoto skirt and Eileen Fisher mules.

skirt

Yep, this is a skirt. I recently got another order in from Rakuten – two YY shirts and this skirt. Even though the skirt says it’s a size 1, which is technically too small for me, this is one of those weird cases where the style of the item makes sizing all but impossible to figure out. The dimensions on the site for the skirt made it sound like it would fit me perfectly. When I got it I was incredibly confused. The skirt is very wide at the waist. I’d say it’s 36 inches and since I’m a size 28 waist that’s a lot of extra fabric. There is zero elastic. The only fasteners are one snap button and two pieces of string placed apart on the side. Whut? I spent an hour trying to figure out how to wear it as a skirt and it dawned on me that this is one of those truly avant-garde pieces. One is not supposed to wear it normally. More like – one gets to interpret how to wear this item correctly and no one way is or isn’t correct. It’s like my skirt/pants. It can be worn in half a dozen ways and no one – not even the designer – would really tell you what’s right or isn’t.

I bought this skirt because I loved the dress part of the YY suit I have so I got curious about wearing more skirts. I like the length of most YY skirts I’ve seen and believed this simple, lined linen skirt would be my gateway into wearing more. End result? Look at this fantastic, lightweight summer dress! I’m not wearing a bra and the only thing keeping me from flashing the world is one little bow and a snap button. Oh and I do kinda have to watch the top because the snap is actually a flap over. The upper part of the dress in the photo shows a line. I can actually put my whole hand through that. So bending over and letting that flap open too much might flash some boob as well. However, I’ve been wearing it all day today and love it so far as a dress. There is a bit of side boobage depending on how I move since there is no elastic up top and the width is greater than my bust size, but so far this is working out great. There’s also that big slit up the middle, which technically goes to the side when it’s worn as a skirt, but I’ve not had any issues with that either. The linen is blended with a little rayon so it’s super soft and lightweight and it doesn’t wrinkle like crazy. Being lined on the inside makes it very smooth and easy to drape as well. Despite the seemingly immensely easy ways this dress can go wrong and cause outfit malfunctions it’s super comfortable and I’ve not had to fuss with it at all. It’s really weird how I went for one thing and ended up with something else entirely that became a win in the end.

Today is Z’s birthday. We went to see Incredibles 2, which was much better than I thought it would be. The beginning of it started off with a very sexist slant that doesn’t entirely justify how it works itself out of that by calling out how well Mr Incredible and Elastagirl know each in their marriage, but overall it was an enjoyable watch.

Freak outs and being human

outfitbad shoe dayfridaymonday

Last week I made a bad shoe decision and freaked myself out big time about my ankle. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster again because of it. I’m so completely and stupidly stubborn.

Thursday and Friday of last week were actually kinda slow for me. The earthquake that was the huge ordeal with one of my clients was over and now we are dealing with a few remaining tremors – getting product out on time. I left work early on Friday and instead of exercising I went straight to bed and slept.

I did remember a few funny things that happened last week. There’s been a firearms safety session going on because management freaked out about something. I was offered to join in the “lunch training” meeting, which meant we sat around eating food and not really training at all.

Coworker (jokingly): So, welcome to the training session for firearms. Do you know how to handle a firearm?
Me: Yeah keep the safety on and point the gun downwards at all times.
Coworker: Wrong, you wear gloves… to hide finger prints.

We all had a laugh and ate lunch.

Sometimes I think about how much food is such a driving force for interaction in our world. We base a lot of our schedule around eating and actually watching other people eat can be a gruesome experience, depending on the person. But we still do it because we need to and sometimes I feel mechanical about how we must refuel so many times a day. It’s funny to think of myself as being robotic in how I need to refuel. If I were a game character I’d need a green energy bar (food) and a battery energy bar (sleep).

During lunch we talked about foods we like and which ones “don’t like us” so to speak. For the record, I don’t like bananas and I’m allergic to fresh figs and goat milk and mussels.

Around half hour after lunch I watched another coworker go towards the bathrooms. She opened one door and barely had a foot inside it before she came stumbling out, shaking her head. She saw me watching from down the hall and we both burst into laughter. She had been at the lunch meeting as well and we knew: someone bombed out the bathroom. She went into the other bathroom and I remembered I’d heard some rather…unpleasant noises coming from the bathrooms earlier. I wondered if the coworker who said he can’t handle onions had onions in his sandwich.

backpacklunch

 

plum blossom

This weekend was really nice outside. We drove to a park on Saturday and the trail was so uneven Z gave me a piggy back ride so I wouldn’t hurt my ankle.

On Sunday the weather was warmer so we packed up a picnic and went to another park. A family friend gave us a fancy picnic backpack – like a picnic basket. It’s been 3 years since we’ve been married and this was the first time we used it. We stopped at the store to buy cheese, crackers and fruit. I was drinking jasmine tea in the silly plastic wine glass. The backpack does have a wine bottle opener and insulated areas for cold foods.

It was really nice to see the trees blossoms at the park and smell freshly mowed grass. It does feel like spring is finally here.

On buying Japanese designer clothes

I wasn’t going to post today, but I got my clothes! So, you know…

yohji isseyhyacinth

Don’t mind the brown socks. I was wearing them to keep my feet warm and then my clothes came and I was just trying stuff on. I didn’t actually wear this today because it’s very warm out. The bottom photo is me making fun of myself wearing a turtleneck when it was already 75F outside. Z took the photos and told me to hold the hyacinth flower I cut the night before from our yard. He said he wanted a contrast color (other than my socks).

Z: You know you can’t touch any surface in this house with that outfit on. You need to just hover.
Me: Hover? I need to learn how to levitate?
Z: Yes, hover, and always hold the lint roller in your hand because otherwise you’ll be covered in Yuki hair. You probably already are.

saturday

This is the outfit I wore today and I only wore the blue shirt for when we went to a restaurant with my parents for lunch. I’m always cold in restaurants. Right now I’m just in the linen tee and my linen pants and my feet are swollen and hot because it’s hot outside. I’m about to turn on the AC. WTF weather!?

Ok, so the point of this post is to relate where I bought the above black outfit and other pieces I have from Japanese designers.

The top is Yohji Yamamoto and the pants are Issey Miyake. I got one other black top from YY I’ll wear later this week.

I buy from the following specific shops:

Rosen – Owned and run by Gracia Ventus. Her pricing is great and she’s very easy to contact and communicate with. I’ve bought 4 items from her (YY pants, YY shirt, YY skirt/pants and Sacai Luck pants) and each time she’s sent me a really nice note. I think she knows my preference now for YY based on the last note she sent me. I’ve contacted her before about sizing and she was very honest with it and even sent me photos of the garments to show me how the size could be adjusted. The clothes come in a cute rice bag (I have three of these now) and a message. This is from the latest order, which was in December ’17:

rosen

She does have a return policy where customers incur a restocking fee and must pay for shipping costs. This is a small establishment that’s run abroad so I’m not surprised by it. The last item I ordered is a little too small (a shirt) and I didn’t return it because there is a chance I may be able to wear it yet. Plus it’s gorgeous and I’m stubborn and this is a whole other story, so moving on….

I do recommend contacting her if you have any doubts at all about how the clothing might fit. She also has her own line of clothing, Rosen, she runs with a guy named Daniel (I forget his last name) and they make unisex clothing. I’ve not tried any of it yet, but from what I’ve seen it’s all gorgeous if you like that kind of thing, which I do. They make the clothes from Japanese dead stock so once the stock is out, that run for the item is done. Her blog is really awesome as well.

PLAYFUL – at Rakuten. Rakuten is a ginormous online shopping place. They have tons and tons of shops and sellers. It’s like if Amazon and Ebay had a baby – in Japanese. I wouldn’t be surprised if one runs the risk of finding fakes there, but I don’t think I’ve run into that problem. This is where I bought the above outfit and the other shirt I got today. Z also bought my Limi Feu sweater from there. While there are hundreds of sellers who have designer clothes on Rakuten, PLAYFUL has the most that I’ve seen of the Japanese designers I like. They also pride themselves on authentic items. Most of it is second hand/used with a grade system. They are exact in what defects the clothing has and even circle it and tell you what it is. It is a bit precarious to shop from the Rakuten site because the English is not so great, but if you pay attention enough you can understand it. Also, paying is a weird email two-step process. You “order” the clothes from the site and they send you an email. Then they send you another one once they’ve figured out your shipping fee and give you a link to pay with. They send another email asking you to reply with “authorized” written in the reply. If one didn’t want to buy from a site with so much Japanese text and a really weird payment system then the PLAYFUL shop does have an alternative: an eBay store called dc-playful. It’s the exact same inventory. The seller does not accept returns – so I don’t think they do at the Rakuten site either, but you are covered under the ebay return policy if the item is not as described in the listing. The difference between the Rakuten and eBay stores is the pricing. Rakuten pricing is a little lower, but you do pay a shipping fee. Ebay prices are higher because the shipping fees are included in the pricing – and then they say “free shipping!” on them. I opted for the lower priced Rakuten store and bought multiple items, which combined the shipping cost so instead of paying a built-in shipping fee for each item, I paid for each item and only one shipping fee. Shipping fees in general are $20, which is also what it is for Rosen, but it may be different depending on where you live. I do believe the prices are a little higher than they should be for the items and other sellers on Rakuten, but they do occasionally have sales.

I have also bought from the eBay shops artwearjapan and tsano2012. I’ve gotten a YY shirt and all my 45rpm clothes from those shops. Both allow returns with the customer paying for shipping. Both are good and communicative and there’s no language barrier issues that I could foresee. When I bought multiple items I was issued a refund on shipping because they combined the shipping fees into one instead of charging me a fee per item.

I have my eye on some clothes at TheReaReal but haven’t bought anything so I can’t comment on that. The same goes for Poshmark. I did ask about a YY skirt I saw on PM but the seller took forever to get back to me and didn’t even complete my request for information and then the item was sold. So, just like with any reseller, it can be a crap shoot of whether or not the experience will be good or bad.

A note about sizing: It’s also a crap shoot if you just go by the vanity size. You really REALLY need to know your specs when you buy, especially if you don’t have someone to contact to be straight up with you about it. That’s why I like ordering from Gracia. For the Rakuten order, I spent 3 days agonizing over sizing. I have a fabric measuring tape so I went and measured and remeasured and measured again clothes that I have that are similar to what I want to buy, clothes from the same designer and even myself. For the above shops, sizing is in cm (with Gracia having both cm/in). Google is your friend for getting cm/in conversion. I always have the window open next to the shop window. For designer Japanese clothes, see the super rough size chart, but this is NOT AT ALL set in stone. In fact, I’d say the sizing runs a gamut of up to three US sizes.  I’m basing this information on sizing I’ve seen after looking through hundreds of items. Many of them I see the vanity size and the cm size and think: ok, that makes sense. Sometimes, I see the vanity vs cm size and have no fucking clue where they got the measurement from or if it’s right. I’m just using waist measurements because I have the most issue with those:

size 1  = XS (anywhere from 24″ to 28″ waist, US size 0ish to 4ish)
size 2 = S (anywhere from 26″ to 32″ waist, US 2ish to 6ish)
size 3 = M (anywhere from 28″ – 35″ waist, US 4ish to 8ish)

I think I’ve only seen a size 4 once, but have no recollection on what the specs were on that. Yes, feel free to say it: these sizes are biased towards skinny people and you’re absolutely right.

Take the above sizes with a huge grain of salt because I’ve seen size 2 pants with a 35″ waist – because they were low-rise pants that fit more at the hip. So while the clothing may truly fit a US size 4 person, the waist measurements may be due to the cut of the item. If the sizing seems really odd then it’s probably cut low or maybe the waist is meant to be loose, because you know, this is weird stuff we’re dealing with. The skirt/pants I have from YY can be worn in three different ways (skirt, pants with pocket up front OR back).

 

The majority of the clothes I have bought are listed as size 1 from all the tags I’ve looked at, but I do have a size “s” for small, a size 2 and the turtleneck above is a size 3. The material is a super stretchy cotton that almost feels like polyester, but the tags read 100% cotton. With clothes that are very form fitted, I feel I would definitely go up a size to be on the safe side, like I did with the turtleneck because it fits great. I based everything on the cm size for the turtleneck and didn’t rely at all on the vanity sizing. It all really depends on what end of the size scale (in centimeters)  the vanity sizing (the 1, 2, or 3) falls under. That’s how I ended up buying a too-small size 1 shirt. Simply put, know your size in centimeters backwards and forwards. Also take into consideration the material the item is made with.  I would caution when in doubt, size up because as a general rule lots of Japanese clothes are made to the smallish side. That being said, I’ve taken lots of gambles with these clothes. Some of my pants are snug in the waist, but not uncomfortably so. Should I have bought a size 2 instead of size 1 in some cases? Most likely. I felt as though I took a gamble with the Issey Miyake pants above because those are listed as a 74 cm/29″ waist (size 1). My waist is 28″ but these pants sit just below the natural waist line, so they are snug. I bought them anyway and they do fit great because the material has some stretch to it. The material is a mix of cotton, spanx and polyester I believe. It’s extremely lightweight, which is just what I wanted – a summer black pant for the office.

I can’t afford new designer clothes from the designers I enjoy the most, but it doesn’t stop me from taking risks in buying older items from them second-hand. I spend a lot of time going over them (days) before pulling the trigger to buy. Now that I’ve got some experience under my belt I have a better idea of where I fall in their sizing system, but there may always be a surprise if I’m not careful.

Perpetual autumn

I may very well be broken. Even though we are finally in spring, all I want to wear are clothes from Yohji Yamamoto autumn/winter 18-19 collection.

yy aw18yy aw18-2yy aw18-3yy aw18-4

To be fair, we’re not really having a Spring per se. We’ve gone straight from ass-freezing cold to WTF-why-am-I-sweating-so-much summer in a span of 12 hours. It started yesterday when the high got up to 85F and will be again today. Ugh, I’m over these extremes. I want perpetual autumn weather please.

Also, I’ve been looking at skirts a lot lately, mostly YY ones because 1) they look comfortable and 2) they are granny length long – and that’s a compliment. I hate short skirts and I can’t even tolerate ones that come to my knees. This is highly unusual for me because I technically only own 2 skirts (one is a YY) and will always choose pants over a skirt any day. Even the skirt I own I wore as pants (YY one). Maybe this is just a phase, but I am tempted by a few I’ve seen at discounter sites.

4 months, 1 shoe

vince

For 4 months one shoe (right) has been on my foot and the other (left) has been in a box. Btw, the heel of the shoe above is falling off now at the very bottom layer.

I kinda knew I wanted to do a comparison post when I first bought these shoes. Ideally, I’d wear the one during boot time and then be able to wear both afterwards. That’s…. not so much something I want anymore.

I bought these shoes because of the platform on them. The shoe I wore allowed me to be evenly balanced while wearing the medical boot. I still hobbled about a bit, but at least I felt more stable being on the same walking plane.

To give an idea of just how much I relied on this shoe, here’s a breakdown of every day, including weekends:

  • Wake up, get dressed and put on shoe and boot.
  • Wear both all day at work with the exception of times I had to take off both and put on my non-slip shoes for going out on the shop floor. I tried wearing the boot once on the shop floor and terrified myself. I seriously thought I was going to fall and break both my legs.
  • Change into workout clothes on M, W, F and put back on shoe and boot to exercise in – I would take it off for doing push ups because the pointy toe end wasn’t very stable for that.
  • During evenings I’d put my feet up on the sofa or a pouf and only take off the shoe.
  • The only other time the shoe was off was during showers or at night when I’d wear a different brace to sleep in.
  • Weekends: wake up, dressed (sort of) and put on shoe and boot.
  • Again, only time I take it off when either lounging, showering or sleeping.

I lived in this shoe constantly.

Pros of this shoe:

  • It made me feel stable and more balanced.
  • It works well with the majority of my wardrobe.
  • It is easy to take on and off in a second, which is what I wanted.

Cons of this shoe:

  • The break-in period was awful. I’m not used to wearing shoes that pinch my toes together because I’d been wearing so many barefoot styled shoes beforehand. I feel as if I’ve cramped my toes together completely during these 4 months.
  • Wearing thick socks to keep my ankles warm was painful until the shoes stretched out a bit. This also goes along with the break-in period. Not good.
  • After the beginning of the second month a squeak developed in the forefoot area of the shoe and no matter what I’ve done it will not go away. The boot already sounds awful – like someone running around in a diaper due to the padding for my leg and all the velcro straps moving around. Adding a squeak to it on the other shoe has made wearing both boot and shoe highly annoying for me every. single. day. I made a joke with a coworker I’m the walking Squeaky Diaper and we laughed, but I think part of my anger and grumpiness is due to this damn squeak in the shoe.
  • It’s not great to wear in cold weather and has zero traction, just like the boot. I’m basically in ice skates during inclement weather. Big, cumbersome, annoying ice skates.
  • It’s also not warm at all, which is why I had to wear thick socks, but that just made the shoe more uncomfortable until I managed to stretch out the shoe, dealing with a lot of annoying pain in the process.
  • Expensive – I definitely got my money’s worth out of wearing the one shoe constantly, but I still feel a bit bitter about paying as much as I did for them and only wearing one out of the pair.

As I’m starting the tapering off period (FINALLY!) I don’t have much longer in this shoe and I’ve learned a few things from it.

  • I only like the look of platform shoes. I can’t wear them. I felt like I was tripping all over myself until I got used to it and it just wasn’t me. I know I’m not that tall, but I still need to be closer to the ground. I still trip over myself from time to time and it’s not the boot, it’s literally because of the shoe itself.
  • I hate break-in periods on shoes. This was a big reminder of why I’ve switched to barefoot style shoes or shoes that I know I won’t be fighting for a few months to feel “right” wearing. No one should have to deal with that when wearing shoes and it amazes me how women put up with it for the sake of fashion/style/their ego/prettiness/looking like that girl/ etc…. Hell, men do it too. ANYONE wearing shoes that are uncomfortable – just stop it! You’re not helping yourself look awesome if you’re in pain!
  • I will burn any shoe that squeaks! Ok, so that’s a rage response, but still, if any of my regular shoes squeak when I go back to wearing them, they are OUT!

In the end, I will not be wearing the other shoe even though it is brand new because I don’t want to look at this pair of shoes ever again once I’m done with this one. I don’t think Vince shoes are for me or maybe I need to look at their more casual ones that might have bigger toe boxes. But they all have a lift right? Hmm… nope. Never mind. No Vince shoes.