Making an effort

sunday
Uniqlo top, Rachel Comey lure pant. 

Each time I do outfit photos I have to set up the tripod. No photo is the same because I have to move some furniture out of the way to set up the tripod and then take few shots. After taking a few for today I had gotten some full photos and seeing my face in them had me thinking: WHAT HAPPENED TO ME? I LOOK SO OLD! The lighting wasn’t flattering to my skin tone or the angle it was on my face. I haven’t washed my face or done my hair yet today. I have epic bedhead because of how I sleep and my hair is extremely short, so it spikes up in odd places and looks like something tried to nest in it – for a week. But more than that, my face. The lines, the creases, the dark under eye circles…. “My poor husband” is all I could think. He’s 9 years younger than me. We started dating when he was barely 20. I’m not one to base my looks on others’ opinions, but if there is someone who I do make the effort for and want to look nice for – it’s my husband. So getting older and it starting to show is something I’ve always struggled with.

I might sound shallow and narcissistic for saying this, but when I was younger I was always told how beautiful I am. In college, “Jen has the perfect body” was a common refrain among my friends. I won’t deny some of it went to my head. Vanity is unavoidable. Everyone likes being told they are beautiful and given compliments. This was before my metabolism went *poof- bye-bye* and before my skin tone became sallow (thanks genes from my mother’s side) and the lines showed up on my forehead and around the edges of my mouth. Knowing I am getting older and these symptoms will only get worse with age  sucker punches me in the gut emotionally. For the longest time I was even told I look ten years younger than I really am, but I’ve not been hearing that as often as I used to. This sounds so terrible to admit, or is it? I’m being brutally honest with myself here – not hearing things I’ve always heard in the past has had some affect on me now that I’ve noticed the silence.

I am trying to keep myself in shape – or rather, get myself back into shape. During my 30s I ballooned out a bit and now have The Roll around my stomach that is so hard to get rid of. The weight is down – that part is done, but reshaping the body is a whole different matter. Part of me wonders if wearing skinny low-rise jeans exacerbated the problem. Is there any research on that? You know, muffin top syndrome? I totally had it.

This is not at all what the title of this post was supposed to be about! I had originally meant I’m making more of an effort to take care of my clothes and to get dressed on the weekends when I know I’m not doing anything (like today) and it somehow devolved into some seriously depressing, navel-gazing pity party about aging!

Hodgepodge

Friday

Friday: Everlane long sleeve, Fantasy Linen tunic, Grana jeans.  I had to wear green to work on Friday (I technically didn’t have to, but I figured I’d at least look like I cared even though I didn’t – it’s better than not attempting to be a “team player” at all…. right?)

It was so incredibly dark Friday morning. I was surprised Z didn’t get up to exercise. He grumbled and hid under the covers. Walking downstairs felt more like 4 am than 7:30 am. Why so dark? Oh right, massive rain storm the entire day. Although I left early, I was still late to work because no one was capable of driving without hitting something. So many accidents all over the place.  Everyone grumbled about the rain. At least it’s not snow. Considering the time of year, this downpour would’ve equaled almost 3 feet of snow. I’ll take the rain, thanks.

I left work late and a coworker for second shift asked people where they lived so he could tell them if their routes were flooded. He and I live in the same direction and he shook his head, “No good, road closed at the overpass due to flooding.” UGH! Then I remembered I had to go buy cat food anyway, so taking a detour didn’t sound so bad. That was before I ended up sitting at the same light for 10 solid minutes because 5 cop cars, one fire truck and two ambulance cars (all staggered over the 10 minutes and 6 light changes) made moving impossible. I got to the vet half an hour later (it normally takes 10 minutes max) and then choked when I saw the bill: $125 for a case of prescription wet food and 17 lb bag of prescription dry food. Well that’s a big expenditure I wasn’t expecting this month. I blame Bento for this. I love the stupid, demonic cat, but he’s got urine crystals so he must have prescription food. And because Yuki would end up stealing his food (since it’s better quality) we feed it to both of them.  I shake my fists at why pets are so expensive and then stop myself: well, last least we don’t have kids to worry about. Correction: our pets ARE our kids.

The rain starts up again. I finally get home and hobble out to the car twice because I can’t carry all the items (work bags and cat food) and keep my balance on this boot at the same time. Half a minute later Z shows up. It’s nearly 6 pm and he orders Indian for us (Thank you Uber Eats! We can now get our beloved Indian food whenever we want!). Meanwhile, we grab beer, he snaps my outfit photo as I’m taking off my security badge and we melt onto the sofa. It’s been a long, draining week for both of us. Post dinner down time: 4 hours of Zelda.

study
My desk where I’m currently writing. I’ve got several papers I need to sort. I just got a Jury Duty summons *head*desk*.

I’ve been thinking so much about saving money. The freshness of the new year and determination keep me going right now. The only expense I’ve had all week is that cat food, but I always put it in context of what’s spent out of the month. I don’t spend much money at all during the week, but end up doing “chunk” expenses all in one go at one point during the month – usually weekends towards the end. So the cat food was a “chunk” expense I wasn’t expecting so soon. I also noticed utilities were taken out this week and the electric/gas was pretty high. That was expected due to the holidays and company.

My end goal is for my credit card bill to only reflect necessities for at least one month. I’m trying to zero it out of discretionary expenses. Then I’ll be able to better budget out my discretionary expenses each month and not let it get out of hand. All bills are directly taken out of my bank account and it’s easy to track them since I get email notices every month. I’ll admit the cat food is a necessity, but it was one I hadn’t even considered before now and need to budget for. The dry food will last upwards of 9 months, but the wet we buy every month. So it needs to go into the monthly bills section.

doll
Huge doll on my sofa in my study. This was on my Amazon wishlist for so long I forgot about it and then was shocked to get it for Christmas this year from my MIL. Isn’t it cute? The little green/beige pillow is full of pine needles and smells like a tree. 

I do have things I want. Items are in my Amazon wishlist for later. One will possibly be used for all outfit photos in the future. Not sure yet if I’ll do it, but the idea seems fun and a way to make the posts more entertaining – if only for myself. I’ll wait until I’m out of the boot before I get it. So I have something to look forward to and when that time comes around (2 months from now) if I still feel excited about it then I’ll purchase the item.

There’s also this site with all things gorgeous! Thanks to Talia I now have another site to obsessively swoon over and “window shop” (screen shop? is that better term for this?). I was good about only limiting myself to Totokaelo and Rosen (where I buy most of my Yohji stuff), but alas, now I have a new site love. Check the pretty:

 

blackblue
DYING! This outfit screams ME!
teal
Outfit color goals. Also, long cardigan goals. I love that teal color too.
whiteblack
Another straight up JEN OUTFIT. I could actually already pull this off with my Yohji pants, but I’d need a new top. I’m digging the gold shoes too.
silhouette
Silhouette goals. This is very Audrey Hepburn-ish I think. Not sure what I’d do about shoes though because I have hobbit toes and ballet flats really don’t work for me. 
Enzo
Avant-garde pant love. These are hella expensive.

 

A few financial thoughts

Part one of this holiday week is over. I knew I’d be too busy to post anything before, but things are starting to slow down and I can catch up on reading blogs and write a little more now.

We had a full house. My sister and brother-in-law came to visit from Scotland.  My parents also came up from Florida. My parents stayed at a hotel, but were at our house for most of the day while visiting. All of this started last Tuesday and today the last of the guests will be gone. My house has exploded and needs a thorough cleaning again. The cats got spoiled by all the attention, especially Yuki, who will curl up into any and every lap available. My fridge and pantry are full of foods we normally don’t eat, but will be eaten nevertheless because I can’t stand wasting food – even if it was all bought by my parents. (Aside: It really freaks me out how much the rest of my family worships Wegmans.) Each day I was drinking wine, scotch, and/or mixed drinks of some sort and I feel like I need to take a very long break from alcohol. I doubt I will drink much of anything on New Year’s.

Why are holidays so exhausting!? I’m more sleep deprived than ever and I’ve needed a ridiculous amount of caffeine to get me through the work day.

Anyway, the point of this post was to touch on a subject that’s been hovering in my head for a couple months now.

When I started this new job I took a look at my finances and realized I spend too much money on things I don’t need and I could be saving a lot more. I then doubled the amount of money that goes directly into my savings account and double my buy-in amount for my Vanguard Roth IRA, which has done gangbusters this year. I also just got notice I can set up a 401K at my job as well, which I need to set up.

My husband and I sat down and went over our monthly expenses and figured out who owes what and if the general prices of expenses has gone up. He and I are the oddball couple who primarily do not have joined accounts. We do have a joint checking account, but it’s only for house related items (emergency/upkeep/improvement) and “us” things like vacations and anniversary stuffs. He has his own checking, savings, IRA, 401, etc… and I also have my own completely separate accounts. We are very autonomous financially and prefer to keep things separate. It makes it easier for us to track our own purchasing and due to the huge difference in our salaries (68% him/32% me) it makes it easier to be accountable for our own things. We figure out percentage-wise who owes what and divvy up the shared utilities (gas/electric/sewer/water/insurance), mortgage and groceries for the month. He generally pays the mortgage and insurance and I generally pay the monthly utilities and we alternate who buys groceries because we go shopping twice a month.

When we updated everything and I included my own expenses (savings/IRA/car loan/ anime subscriptions/ phone bill/ car gas) I still came up with a lot of extra money. Btw, I always count money put in my savings/IRA as part of my personal monthly expenses – those two accounts must be paid like a bill. This way I will always have money going into those accounts and anything outside of that is extra. I then wondered – where the hell is all that extra money going!? I know some months the bills run more than others – like right now gas is up because we have a gas heater – but by law of averages I should still be seeing a general increase in my checking. However, I’m not, which means I’m spending more than I should be, which then offsets my averages and my checking goes down. I was shocked when I saw the amount that I general “waste” each month and realized I need to be more accountable.

We have several house projects we want to do, but don’t have nearly enough in the joint account for them. So part of my goal for this year is to curb the extra spending (once I figure out where it’s going) and start putting money into the joint account the same way I do my savings/IRA – treat it like a monthly expense that must be paid. Btw, after I tallied up all  my expenses I still had just a little less than half my monthly paycheck available to me. Goal: figure out where the hell I’m spending that much money and shut it down!

 

Kuro

Ys1

“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: ‘I don’t bother you – don’t bother me’.” – Yohji Yamamoto

I’ve read a lot of interviews with Yamamoto-san and there are lots of famous quotes by him about fashion and style. His quote about the color black is one of his most famous. There is another I read somewhere about him always looking for a new kind of black. In looking at my own wardrobe, I can see why he’d look for it – there are many shades and hues of black.

I was going to write a different title to this post, but after ironing out my new clothes last night, kuro, which means black in Japanese, was the only one that fits.

Last week I mentioned I got a couple packages and in them were my first items by Yohji Yamamoto. I can’t afford his newest creations and can’t even really afford anything on sale by him either, but some not-as-expensive vintage items and used items are in my affordable range.

Ys2

One of the items is the shirt I’m wearing today. While ironing the shirt last night I noticed all the details that went in to making it. The collar has elongated points for dramatic flair, but also a slightly more than usual curve at the back to lay perfectly flat when curved around the neck. That slight camel-hump kind of curve is something I’ve not seen in any other collared shirt I have and when I compared it to others, I was thoroughly impressed with how well it lay when worn. Although the buttons are large for this kind of shirt and there’s a larger than usual gap in between them, the shirt still lays flat and doesn’t bulge out in between buttons. The slits at the side ended up being much higher on me than I thought when ironing the shirt, but I like the difference when looking at it from the side while wearing it today. I love the detailed darts on the back of the shirt and the slightly puffed front pleats below the shoulders. Despite the darts, which tend to make a shirt constrict more, there’s enough pleating to still make moving around in the shirt completely comfortable. There’s also the color. In some light, the black could take on a sheen, but then also look matte. It’s a perfect black and I’ve never had any shirt look this black before, which makes it very beautiful and exciting to wear. It makes me think this is what the title to one of my favorite anime means: Darker Than Black. This is that color. Yamamoto-san knows his black. The fabric is also nice. It’s a blend of linen and rayon, which makes it slightly stiff, but still rather soft and very smooth to the touch. It does wrinkle, but those wrinkles look like added details.

Ys3

I’m sure Yohji-sama would say – it’s just a shirt! – and he would be right. It is just a shirt, but I’ve never had a shirt this nice before made by a designer I admire and that makes it extra special to me. I appreciate all the detail and work that went in to making it. I already want to wear it with different bottoms for the rest of the week. I want to own more clothing with this attention to detail and artistry. This is what makes clothes fun to wear and makes me want to preserve them and keep them forever.

Many fashion blogs I follow focus on sustainable and ethical clothing choices. Some of them might even be offended that I referred to them as fashion blogs – I think the term is influencer sites? I guess because they influence lots of other people to buy and wear the same clothes from the same sustainable and ethical clothing manufacturers or whatever it is they are promoting. I still don’t get it, but that’s the only way I can explain it. If there’s a better definition then feel free to correct me. I don’t wish to offend any of them.

But that’s just it – these influencer bloggers all wear the same clothes, just in slightly different ways. Reading one or two of them is fine, but after that… you’ve seen them all. I was very much on that train for a while, wanting to wear the same things they did because they promoted sustainable and ethical means, etc… There’s nothing wrong with that – other than I got bored because I’m tired of seeing the same thing so many times.  I found it kinda ironic that the same thing happens with fast fashion as well, but those clothes get rotated out faster because they fall apart more easily or because something new is in. I do follow some influencer sites, but I’m actually more interested in the other tidbits they have to say. I’m more interested in them as people and find them interesting. Sure, I’ll end up finding out about some good deals on Everlane or Garmentory or wherever as a result, which is always a perk. Finding good staples is never a bad thing.

But now, I think I’ve found my way of being a more conscientious shopper. I’m more interested in the designers/ clothing brands I enjoy and realized there’s a lot of it available that’s used or pre-owned. These are limited items that have been worn or tucked away and need a new home and I’m searching for them to add to my home. Sure, I could buy some more wide-leg pants from Everlane, but I could also wait until I find a pair of wide-leg pants from Yohji Yamamoto, 45rpm, Kapital, Comme de Garcons, or other designers that may be in the same price range if I look enough through ebay, poshmark, or discounters.

There’s an excitement to owning something you really desire from a designer or artist. It’s about appreciating their craft. While I applaud Everlane and companies like it that work towards ethical fashion, I still don’t feel the clothing is as precious to me because they will still make many more runs of the same clothes over and over again. Sometimes the styles are phased out, but there isn’t as much novelty to them, especially since so many other companies like them are doing the same thing. Also, I don’t feel there is the same sort of attention to detail with the clothing. This is not to downplay the importance of these companies. I’d rather see people buy from them than Walmart or Target or other fast fashion types of places. However, why would I want to spend $200 on pants from Elizabeth Suzann that I know every other blogger I follow wears when I could buy some vintage Y’s pants around the same price instead that make me really happy?

This isn’t to say I’m not going to buy from those companies anymore. I prefer to put more effort now into waiting and finding the clothes from the designers I desire and if I need items to supplement that wardrobe, then yes, I’ll happily spend the money on more ethical clothing retailers.

Who knew one shirt could create such a long, rambling blog post? This is probably two or three different topics’ worth of information, but I’m not too good at being succinct.

outfit

Shirt: Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto. Jeans: Grana. Shoes: Nisolo.