Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pretend Sale Haul

I'm trying to resist this week's Anthropologie sale.

I know, I know---who do I think I am?  But until I have a paycheck or two under my belt I won't have a great idea of my new shopping budget.  On top of that, I carried a balance on my credit card last month for only the second time in the three years I've had the card.  Of course, I planned to carry a balance last month to facilitate my Eurotrip, knowing that my paychecks would be coming soon and would clear the balance within a month (and also knowing that, due to work demands, the Eurotrip was probably my last big vacation for a year or more).  Still, I am keeping a closer eye on my discretionary expenses until the credit card is paid off.  My strategy with the card has been to use it only in place of cash I have on hand in order to earn points, and regularly carrying a balance is not part of that strategy.

We can talk more about my overall financial strategy---which is still developing as my income increases---another time.

One thing I did splurge on last week?  This bracelet:

I'd been keeping an eye out for it since March or so, despite it's stupid price.  It's been sold out for a few months, but it popped back into stock on sale last week and I nabbed one immediately, planning to deliberate after it arrived.  Then it was reduced by another $30 this week, and Kate Spade kindly credited me for the price adjustment.  The price was still a little stupid, but I love its quirky vintage print.

In any case, my current attempt to be frugal won't stop me from imagining a bit.  Here are the items I would have added to my closet if not for these pesky interest rates:

Slubby Tulip Dress, now $80
But I can't pick a color...

Shapeshifter Maxi, now $80
This dress wound up on my radar after seeing it here.  I haven't tried it on yet, but I still have room for a handful more maxi dresses...

Glossed Loafers, now $80
I already have these shoes in turquoise, but if I had an unlimited budget, this closed-toe option might be more appealing.

Botanist Heeled Loafers, now $100
How great do these look on Lisa?? I was hoping these guys would drop down to $50 before I caved on them. They might still...I would be willing to call around to a few stores to track them down if they sell out online.

Floradoodle Baking Dish
Such a lovely dish! Things like this really underline Anthropologie's status as an "aspirational brand" in my mind. I see this dish and I think to myself, "I would make casseroles ALL THE TIME if I owned this!" History, of course, has proven this to be false.

Really, some of these might have slipped through the cracks of my discipline if I thought a maxi dress would be a work-appropriate purchase.  Floor-length dresses and skirts don't count as business casual, do they?  DO THEY??

Did you buy anything fun this week?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Look: I made you a brain smattering.

Holy crud, people.

The working world?

It is emeffing DEMANDING, yo.

With our first week of orientation behind us, I've finally started doing billable work for the last two days.  Incidentally?  The number of days I've stayed in the office after 11pm?  Also two.  Imagine that!  What a non-coincidence!

All this to say, I've got a list of posts I want to run, but in order to run them I have to write them, and in order to write them I really need my brain to function longer than twenty minutes between arriving home, catching up with Drop Dead Diva on my DVR (#guiltypleasuredon'tjudgeme), and...actually, I'm not really sure what comes after that because of the aforementioned brain-ceasing-to-work thing.  I know this sounds like I'm complaining, but I am actually really excited about the work I'm doing.  I got pretty much exactly the first assignment I wanted (I'm on a trial!) and I'm still doe-eyed and fresh-faced and childless enough not to mind staying late for much of the week.  Free dinner helps, too.  My coworkers being wonderful people also helps, perhaps even more than dinner does.

(PS:  Does anybody watch Drop Dead Diva?  How gross and simultaneously cute was the finale?  And can we talk about Owen for a minute, because I think he's better for Jane than Grayson.  That look he was giving her on the plane?  Swoon.  Love him.)

Also, it would help with the outfit photos if I got home while there was still decent light to take mediocre pictures.  And aw, you guys, I was wearing something REALLY cute today, too.  It involved my bright turquoise Band Over Band heels (which have now been on sale so long that I suspect they'll be reduced down to $30 within three weeks), and a woman actually stopped me on the street to compliment my shoes, saying, "I saw them from two blocks away and they are awesome."  Maybe I'll try to recreate the outfit in a photo over the weekend.

I did manage to take one mediocre outfit photo in my hotel room last week.  I wore this to grab dinner with the lovely Usha...

Hey, did I mention I bought that dress for $20?  Mind if I mention it again?  No?  Fabulous:  This dress was only $20!  Originally $170!  I mean, $170 is ridiculous, but so is $20, just in the other direction!  Hooray for Anthropologie's crazy sale reductions!  (FYI: I sized down from a 6 to a 4.  It's ABSURDLY full, so you need to want the poofy silhouette in order to even consider this.  The black color helps it look more chic and less froufrou, I think)

I added a blazer for work on Friday:

With Anthro's Thatched Palm Blazer.  See also Anthro's So Saturated Blazer, now on sale.

Anthropologie at work Business casual FTW.

One thing I'm looking forward to this week:  picking my Use it or Lose it items!  Have you entered the challenge yet?  Don't forget to let me know so I can add you to the list; I haven't updated the participant list yet for this round, but I will by Monday.  As a reminder, we're covering shoes and cardigans/jackets, so it should be a fun round!  I'll put up a post with my chosen items on Monday, the first day of the challenge.

Finally on the list of Jewish Girl's public brain dump:  the aforementioned Usha (see para. 8, supra) is considering selling her blue Kate Spade Head in the Sand Melinda:

I also have this now-unavailable bag and several of you have mentioned pining for it (here and here, for example), so I am giving you a heads-up to get your head OUT of the sand and send Usha an offer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

OOTD: Not-so-lazy Sunday

Ya know, I really miss the days when weekends were weekends.  When I didn't have any school, bar exam, or work-related stuff seep into my me-time.  When I could just enjoy the slower pace of Saturday and Sunday without a responsibility in the world.

Of course, I'm not exactly sure WHEN was the last time I had such a weekend, but I'm pretty sure that they existed at one point in my life.

This weekend was not such a weekend.  After spending a combined total of six days in my apartment since July 31, I found myself with a mound of chores to do, groceries to buy, and yes, even work to do.  Le sigh.  Vacation is definitively over.

At least it's still warm enough to wear my new Cuernacava Maxi dress.  I had my eye on this dress when it first went on sale, and once it was reduced a second time I couldn't resist.  It is extremely comfortable; I felt like I was wearing pajamas all day.  The color combination and the print just scream "mellow-fun" (although screaming is neither mellow nor fun).  For this frustrating transitional weather---too hot for light jackets but too cool for sleeveless---I find a button-down shirt to do just the trick.

And while I barely accomplished half of the things I'd hoped to do on Sunday, I did manage to get a free bag of lettuce at the farmer's market by showing up just as the vendors were about to pack up and throw out their greens.

...If you think I didn't go home and immediately write "Get a free bag of salad greens" on my to do list just so I could cross it out, you'd be sorely mistaken, my friend.

How was your weekend?  For those who sometimes need to bring work home, how do you balance your working-weekend time with your playing-weekend time?

In this Outfit:
Anthro Cuernacava Maxi (4) (check for popbacks here)
J.Crew Factory Perfect Shirt in Washed Chambray (S)
Payless Shoes (circa 2009)
J.Crew Factory Necklace
Anthro Encircled Effulgence Posts (here)
Anthro Rock Candy Ring
Coach Sabrina Satchel in Cinnamon
Fossil Watch (similar here)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

OOTDs: Goodbye, Sweet Summer (part 2)

While some people actually did something productive or interesting over the course of their summer vacations, I mostly traveled, ate, and made an effort to wear relatively clean clothes.  My constant travel meant that I was always working with a limited version of my closet out of my suitcase, and I looked forward to the day when I could wade through my closet unencumbered by carry-on bag restrictions and frolic about in my summer clothes.

Then, summer seemingly quit without sending me its two-week notice.

While I still hold out hope that we'll get a brief resurgence of sundress weather before the brunt of autumn is upon us, I finish my "so long" to summer with a teary-eyed reminiscence of a few summer outfits I never got around to posting (largely because I got distracted by something shiny).

Anthro Printed Boy Tee in Stripes (M), Anthro Circle the Globe Skirt (4), Anthro Band-over-Band Heels (9) (here), Necklace from Miss November Studio (here), Earrings and bracelet from Florence, Italy.

Shirt from Nordstrom Rack, J.Crew Horizon Stripe Mini Skirt (6 - too big, need a 4), J.Crew Skinny Belt (M), Flip Flops from Payless, Necklace from Miss November Studio (here), Anthro Encircled Effulgence Earrings (here), Ring and purse from Florence, Italy.

I matched the shower curtain.  Does that make this photo seem classier?  What about the fact that you can deduce my oral hygiene regimen from the evidence on the counter?  (Sensodyne FTW!)

Shirt from Banana Republic Outlet, J.Crew Horizon Stripe Mini Skirt (6 - too big, need a 4), J.Crew Skinny Belt (M), Flip Flops from Payless, Necklace from Miss November Studio (here), Anthro Encircled Effulgence Earrings (here), Ring and purse from Florence, Italy.

Fare-thee-well, my sweet summer.  Fare thee well.

Are there any clothing items you will have to retire for the autumn?  I think my flip flops and sandals are probably done until spring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

OOTD: Goodbye, Sweet Summer (part 1)

Could it really be that barely a week ago I was working on my tan on the beach in Florida?  I could swear that before I left D.C. for Florida two weeks ago, the weather was warm.  A bit hot, even.  I looked happily at the light dresses and shorts in my closet---although I couldn't take them all with me on vacation, I was confident there would be time to wear them upon my return.

And now what?!  It's chilly and gray in the mid-Atlantic and the prospect of allowing only a thin layer of cotton to separate me from the elements is about as appealing as identity theft.

Don't get me wrong, I love autumn.  The changing leaves, the spicy warm drinks, the offerings in the farmer's market, the holidays---it's all fantastic.  It's just---well, I'm just not ready to say goodbye to my summer wardrobe yet.  Perhaps the weather and I can strike a deal:  one more week of warm summer weather, and I'll execute three wardrobe changes a day until I grow bored and start reaching for my cardigans.  Whaddya say?

Is it just me who always drags her feet at the start of the new weather season?  I wasn't ready to let go of my light cardigans at the start of the summer, and now I still gaze longingly at my shorts and light dresses.  Come spring, you'll probably hear me begging for my scarves and cords.  Is there a particular season for which you find it easier to dress?  Any basic tips on "winterizing" your summer clothes?

Perhaps this is a sign that my closet is too full.  I gotta tell ya, The Year of Nothing New makes more and more sense to me every day.
In this Outfit:
Anthropologie Bayside Dress (S)
J.Crew Painted Denim Belt (M)
J.Crew Factory Patent Tortoise Ballet Pumps (8.5 - 1/2 size down)
Kate Spade Head in the Sand Melinda purse
Kate Spade Lay in Lavender Bangle
Anthropologie Pave Posts ($24 here)
Anthropologie Bassotto Necklace

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Use it or Lose it, Round 2

The votes are in, the results were tallied (a few hours late), and Ernst & Young has been pulling their hair out trying to figure out what to write down in the little white envelope.  As of this morning, there was a tie between the top two contenders for the next round of the Use it or Lose it Challenge---Cardigans/Jackets and Shoes.

Rather than cast the tie-breaker myself (which would be rather like choosing a favorite child), I will simply declare round two of the challenge to be a double-header!  Both footwear and sweater-wear are fair game for this challenge!

So now I'm officially announcing...

Use it or Lose it, Round 2:  A Double-Header!
Cardigans/Jackets and Shoes

The challenge will begin on Monday, October 3rd, and will end on Tuesday, November 1st

The Use it or Lose it Challenge is meant to be a figurative gun-to-the-head in the face of an overfull closet.

Your task:  go through your unused or underused clothing items and find a way to integrate them into your wardrobe---or else acknowledge that it's time to part with them.  You've got 30 days to use them or lose them.  You can identify as many or as few challenge items as you want.  The time deadline is aspirational; if you need longer than 30 days, go for it.

Link up with the challenge to be listed as a participant on this website and to include any eventual blog sales in our directory!

If you'd like to participate, here's what you need to do to link up:

1.  Create a Label/Tag/Filter/whatever for your Use it or Lose it posts (like this)

2.  Add this html code to your blog:

It will display a button that looks like this:

3.  Email me with the link to your "Use it or Lose it" blog label and I'll add you to the blogroll of participants.

4.  If you have a blog sale page that you'd like to include, send me that, too.

Use it or Lose it Posts:
  • On the first day of the challenge, start with a polyvore set or post a photo identifying your "at-risk" items.  
  • As you wear your at-risk items, take photos of your outfits and spill your decision---are you going to keep using it, or are you going to lose it?

It's that easy!  I'm looking forward to culling my closet with you all in October!

Monday, September 19, 2011

All Grown Up, All Knocked Out

Today, ladies and gentlemen, today is my first official day of being a real, productive member of this economy!

Sure, I've had jobs before, but today I am starting my career.  I decided I wanted to be an attorney when I was in third grade.  I participated in my first mock trial in fourth grade at a "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" event.  I prosecuted Goldilocks for breaking and entering, and after I finished my closing statement one of the attorneys in my dad's corporation came up to me to tell me that I would make a great lawyer.  I told him I knew that.

It took me nineteen years of education to get here (twenty if you include the master's degree).  I don't know what law firm life will hold for me, but I know that I'm ready to get started.

Here's what I wore on my last day of zero responsibility:

True story-based explanation of this pose:  I wore this outfit to a Chinese buffet on Saturday (yep, totally wore it twice in a row) (yep, totally rocked a Chinese Buffet like the value-seeking Jewish girl that I am) and a guy came up to me while I was contemplating the General Tso's chicken, squeezed my arm as he passed by me, and told me, "You're an absolute knockout, you know that?"

I still don't know what to make of that, except that I was pretty sure I shouldn't approach the buffet after that without utilizing the buddy system.
In this Outfit:
Anthropologie Thatched Palm Blazer (6)
Anthropologie Wreathen Blouse (S, but I would say this runs a size small)
Joe's Best Friend Jeans (27)
Lucky Andria Boots (8.5---size down a half size) (here in black)
Earrings via Ideeli
Necklace via Garage Sale

I made the most of my last day of freedom in this outfit:  I visited THREE Anthropologies in THREE different states!  As it turns out, my hotel is only a block away from one of the NYC Anthropologies, so I found myself wandering over there tonight before dinner just to stroll through the store and touch some pretty things.  Throughout the day, I scored a few fun items on the cheap:

Three Anthros, Three States

1.  Sunrise Shirtdress: $20.  This is an ABSURDLY full-skirted dress, but the black color slims it down a bit.  It's a unique shape for my closet, and I'm pretty sure I'll get $20 of use out of it.

2.  Harmonious Pairings Chemise:  $20 (this is going to be worn as a nightgown, not a dress)

3.  Dotty Shorts, $7.50 (button missing, so I got a 15% damage discount):  I was unconvinced about the virtue of the Dotty Shorts over the summer, but I figured I would give them another shot given their insanely low price.  The size label was torn off, but I think they are a size four, which fit me better than my usual size six.

I felt a little bit silly hanging up my clothes once I arrived at my hotel; I've got five days of work and potentially two weekend days in NYC, but I still overpacked:

I'm still working out my "in the office" style, so I brought a lot to experiment with.  My workplace is business casual, thankfully, so I have a bit of room to be creative with my clothing choices.

Of course, creativity with my clothing is utterly secondary to the quality of my work.  Here's hoping I knock 'em dead at the office!  ...In the good way!

Happy Monday to you all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Don't forget to vote! Or file charges!

Two things.

First, click here to vote on our next round of the "Use it or Lose it" challenge!  The poll closes tonight.


I want to say one other thing about the scam involving Kim from Anthroholic.  For those of Kim's victims who are still unclear on whether they want to file charges against Kim, I want to share with you a recent email from Kim, sent to a photographer Kim worked with in Chicago.  This photographer took some free photos for Kim before this scandal broke, and Kim emailed her to explain why the photos would not be appearing on Anthroholic [emphasis added]:

Hi [Name Omitted],
First, I want to thank you. These photos are absolutely amazing and I will treasure them for years to come. You and [name omitted] are truly talented. Second, I need to tell you something. I have shut down my blog. Unfortunately, I have made some mistakes and now I have to pay for them. When I had my personal shopping business months ago, I took some missteps. I got in over my head, became overwhelmed and failed to follow through on some requests. I've owed people some money or their goods. I have since rectified the situation with everyone involved, however, I have been outsted by the blogging community. Much of it is my fault, but I have done what needs to be done to fix it. Perhaps it's too late. There are A LOT of horrible things being said about me, a lot of speculation and I'm getting threats, hate mail, etc. A lot of what is being said is untrue, lies, etc. You know how people love to jump on a bandwagon and that's what they are doing. I absolutely have made mistakes. I have rectified them with every person, but I have let my loyal readers down. As of now, because of all of this and the threats I'm getting, I have taken my blog down for now. I don't know that the majority of people would ever accept me again, and I don't know that I'd feel safe in posting myself. You can blog the photos on your photography website - and use them in your portfolio if you wish. If you don't want to associate with me, I will not blame you, but I hope you'll give me a 2nd chance. I enjoyed working with both of you so much. I love these photos so much. I can also share them, with a link to your photography blog on my facebook. Please let me know what your thoughts are. I do hope that after gettingn to know me, you'll know I'm a person who made a huge mistake, learned a huge lesson and have rectified all of it. I hope you'll consider still being my friend and sending me the rest of my photos. I hope to hear from you, hope we can move forward and hope you don't hate me. Whatever the case, thank you for the wonderful photos."

So, here's my honest question:  HAS Kim rectified the situation with all of you?  Are there any people who have gotten in touch with Kim about a refund but have not yet received it?  Is there anyone who has asked Kim for a refund in fees and is still waiting?  If there's nobody left, fantastic!  If you have not emailed Kim about a refund yet, please do.  If you have and still haven't had resolution, then this email strikes me as yet another example of NOT learning one's lesson and continuing to manipulate and lie for personal gain.

I'm sure we're all a bit sick of talking about this, but this email struck me as a great example of the need for the victims to file charges to make sure none of this happens again.  (Remember, it did happen before.)  I almost didn't publish this post, as I'd planned to let my coverage of this subject die with Thursday's long blog post about it (see link above), but I felt as though not mentioning this would fall into the "TOO NICE" category of behavior that we've all come to question a bit in the last few days.  I am not trying to call for a lynch mob here---but I do want to ask whether all of this HAS been resolved, as Kim is telling potential sponsors.

Please see Roxy's blog for more information about filing charges.  I'd like to underscore something Roxy said on her blog---that even if everyone HAS gotten their money back, filing charges with the Illinois Attorney General can result in a "permanent ban from online solicitations and profitability," ensuring that this never happens again (in a way that your forgiveness simply cannot).  [Edit:  charges begin to be filed against Kim.]

Thanks for indulging me; feel free to share thoughts on the subject or to simply move on with your Sunday and enjoy the weekend.  One bad apple certainly has not spoiled my Anthro bunch...I'll be taking a trip to one (and maybe two!) Philadelphia-area Anthropologies today!

[Edit:  it's truly a shame that I need to make this explicit, but I will not tolerate bullying in the comments.  I'm all for disagreement, but there is absolutely no reason to personally attack other commenters.  Please keep those remarks to yourself.]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Girl Crush Strikes Again (also: severed toes)

"We're PRETTY!"

Oh Wendi McLendon-Covey.  Are you ever not hilarious?  I suspect not.  Each time I see you, I grow a bit more giggly with admiration.

Let's be friends who hug a lot, okay?

Also, unrelated, but is it totally crazy to think I could maybe rock this severed toe jewelry as seen on True Blood?  ...Not on Halloween?

In other news, these guys still languish in my closet.

Finally, don't forget to tune in to The Stylish Soprano's podcast tonight at 7pm EST!  The topic for discussion will be healthy shopping habits, with a guest psychologist at bat to answer questions.  For more information about the podcast, click here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anthrofans: Where do we go from here?

It should come as no surprise to those who have read my blog for any period of time that I am a fan of the store Anthropologie. I wouldn’t presume to know the interests of all of my readers, but I know that many---and perhaps most---of my regular readers are also fans of the brand. One of the many reasons why Anthropologie is so special to me is that, unlike most other stores, it comes with a friendly online community of people to share information about availability of popular items and sizing tips for online shoppers, help you find the best price on clothes (often alerting you to when you are entitled to partial refunds due to lowered prices), and just plain gush about how pretty some of the items are.

Because of the slant of this blog, the interests of at least some of my readers, and my love of and respect for this great online Anthropologie community, I feel I should add another voice to the choir of people commenting on the unfolding scam involving Kim, formerly of the blog Anthroholic.

I’ll start with a summary of events, since I’ve noticed quite a few “WTFs” floating around in response to all of this. I’m including links to everything, since it’s all out there in disparate and should be in one place in the aggregate. I don’t mean to rehash bad feelings, but I do think the story should be told somewhere in one piece. Allow me to warn you---if you’re not interested in Anthro, you’ll want to skip this entry entirely.

The Background
Kim Baker, a blogger in Chicago, ran a very popular Anthropologie blog called “Anthroholic” (now offline). Kim’s blog title was apt; the blog focused on her love of the store Anthropologie, and often featured outfits from the brand. Kim had a large following relative to Anthropologie-centered blogs with approximately 2500 followers. She was a high-profile figure in the Anthropologie community due to her readership and affiliation with the brand; she periodically partnered with Anthro to hold events in the Chicago area.

For as long as I’d followed her blog, Kim ran a personal shopping service in which she offered to find items for customers, purchase them, and ship them for a fee. I never used this service, but many others did. It was particularly appealing to foreign readers, since many companies charge exorbitant amounts to ship abroad---Anthropologie charges $40 to ship to Canada---and some companies refuse to ship abroad at all.

Kim’s service filled a gap, and the service was utilized by both domestic and international readers. Nobody was aware that anything was wrong. Until…

”Get Off My Internets” Features an Anthropologie Blogger
Get Off My Internets, or GOMI, is a “snark blog” dedicated to making fun of various style and lifestyle bloggers for various internet crimes including disingenuity, inflated sense of self-importance, and sometimes just a perceived lack of expertise from bloggers who make a living selling sponsorships on their blog. Anthropologie blogs, being smaller on average than other fashion blogs, are usually not featured on this website.

At the end of August, GOMI stumbled upon an Anthropologie blogger named Bonnie of Small Town Fashionista, and GOMI posted an entry about her here. A week later, Bonnie found out about the GOMI post and created her own blog entry about the situation (now deleted). This blog entry led many people to the GOMI website and new people, including Anthro fans, began commenting on the GOMI entry. Eventually, it emerged in the comments that several people had been given the run-around by a well-known Anthropologie blogger who ran a personal shopping service.

As people continued to discuss the issue on GOMI, it became clear that there were multiple cases of a personal shopping customer paying for services and then never receiving the item or the shopping services they paid for, even after many months of email requests. Moreover, they all seemed to receive the same excuses---all of which seemed genuine in isolation---that Anthropologie delivered the wrong size, that the item had been damaged, that UPS lost the package, that emails were being sent and lost. The more people chimed in, the harder it became to write off the situation as a hoax.  [Edit:  Note also that someone on GOMI EA found a discussion thread on "Authentic Forum" from April 2011 discussing similar problems with Anthroholic, here [edited because the link was posted on EA first, then reposted to GOMI]

Then, GOMI posted a new entry about the controversy here. Even more people emerged in the comments who had seemingly been scammed. Another blogger, Tracy at In Pursuit of Hippyness, posted a long entry about her experience here. That night, Kim posted a vague apology on her blog explaining that she’d done something wrong, that she was sorry, and that she was trying to make it right. Most of her readers seemingly had no idea what she was talking about, and those who had something more substantial to say saw their attempted comments deleted. (Read the GOMI page about this “Anthro-pology” here)

A commenter on Effortless Anthropologie (EA), a very popular and well-respected Anthropologie blog, posted a link to GOMI in the most recent EA blog post (here). People began commenting on the link from EA, some chiming in that they too had been victims of this scheme. In response to these comments, Roxy, the EA blogmaster, posted a separate entry to allow people to discuss the issue here. At this point, the scope and nature of the enterprise was still unclear.

As comments flooded in on Roxy’s post, more and more victims of this shopping scam came to light. Some of these commenters were people who have been posting in the community for months or years, some were other bloggers---everyones’ stories aligned and were too numerous to be anything but the truth in their aggregate. Kim initially tried to defend herself on this thread, but was caught in another lie (she insisted she never had a debt problem, but at least one woman in the community had seen her speak about this issue in a different fashion forum).

Where Things Stand Right Now
Kim has shut down her blog and her twitter feed.  (Read GOMI entry about it here)  Facts are still emerging, and it’s still unclear whether this scam was malicious or just an example of a woman getting in over her head with an entrepreneurial endeavor and then turning to fraud in a panic. Some of her victims have gotten their money back through Paypal, while others are waiting for resolution. There has been talk of reporting Kim’s actions to the proper authorities, including the Illinois Attorney General and the FBI. It seems as though none of the victims---even those who have received some refunds---have been refunded the fees associated with Kim’s service or with using paypal.  [Edit:  As noted in one of the comments to this entry, at least one person who received her refund today did receive a refund of the fees as well.  Hopefully this bodes well for those who only received partial refunds.]  Jezabel has even picked up the story, here.

This information coming to light has caused a lot of anger, sadness, and even some mistrust in the online Anthropologie community. This community was built on trust---many members trade Anthro items with each other through the mail, for example---and to see someone so well-known take advantage of that trust is unexpected and hurtful. I spent more time than I care to admit reading information about this and trying to make sense of it in my head, but I was mostly just dumbfounded that such a thing could really happen. Part of me still feels like I'm waiting for a reasonable explanation to emerge.

Mostly, I’m sad. I’m sad for the men and women who lost money dealing with Kim, sad for the community that has now spent days talking about this, and as unpopular as it may be to admit, I’m sad for Kim.  Anthropologiesque posted an entry today about her completely deserved anger over all this, questioning why anybody would ever feel bad for a person who seems to have stolen many thousands of dollars from potentially a hundred victims.

She makes great points, and frankly I can’t tell you why I feel sad for Kim. Perhaps because I feel as though I’ve watched part of her life crumble right before my eyes. Valid criminal charges may be pressed because of this. The course of her future may be forever altered. My mom worried for her safety.

Don’t get me wrong---the people who most deserve our sympathy are the victims of this scam. No doubt about it whatsoever. And Kim deserves whatever justice is coming to her as a result of her actions, including jail time if that’s what the law demands. Still, I think it’s okay to feel sad that this happened. Nobody wins in this situation, no matter how you slice it or resolve it.

Where do we go from here?
Roxy has encouraged the victims of this scam to file reports with the Attorney General in Illinois (where Kim lives) or with the FBI. You can read Roxy’s instructions for doing so here. I’d like to emphasize that even if you are a foreign national and do not think the U.S. Justice system will be able to resolve your problem or get your money back, please do still contact both of these justice agencies. There may be something that can be done for you individually, and either way, your evidence may help the case.

For those who lost money with Kim, my heart goes out to and I fervently hope you are able to get it back. I also want to tell you not to feel embarrassed or ashamed that you have been victimized. This was not your fault. Nobody blames you, nor should you blame yourself. I have been the victim of violent crime twice---once in May when I was robbed and once in college, which I’m not comfortable talking about on the internet yet. I know that sometimes, what hurts the most is not the damage that you suffer physically or financially, but rather the damage to your ability to trust yourself and others. Do not let those negative thoughts get to you. Stay strong!

Despite my sadness, I find myself filled with hope and optimism for the future of Anthropologie and the online Anthropologie community. Way back when this drama was just a few mean comments on the internet (ohhh, three days ago, how I long for your innocence), we seemed to realize that taking ourselves too seriously was not a virtue. We learned the value of accepting critiques, changing, and broadening our horizons.

I think there is a lot to learn from what has happened with Kim. These are just a few lessons we can take from this crime:

  • Talk more about financial health. Some have speculated that Kim’s scam may have emerged from a potentially troubled personal financial situation. This is conjecture of course, but in it lies a pearl of wisdom for those of us who love clothes shopping. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with spending money on clothes, shoes, and accessories, but I do think our blogs present somewhat of a skewed perspective on the whole financial picture of a person. As much as I love reading about the new items people are buying, I would also love to read about the ways in which young women such as myself are saving, investing, paying down school loans, and still finding ways to shop and live fabulously. Sarah O. commented on this suggestion on EA, calling it “financial literacy.” I think we could all stand to be more financially literate and more open about building wealth as opposed to just spending it. I highly doubt that NONE of us have savings accounts, investment plans, or debt repayment strategies. So let’s talk about these things, too! It sounds as if several bloggers are interested in engaging in discussions about finances, budgets, and the like. In just the time it took me to write this entry, two bloggers already started the ball rolling: Tara at Little Girl Big Closet and Roxy have posted here (Tara) and here (Roxy). I think this can only serve to enrich the community and might help to put the shopping in a better perspective. This does not require 100% financial transparency on any blogger’s part, just a more well-rounded discussion. I am very, very excited about this potential change!

  • Make ourselves more open to (but not obsessive in response to) critique. Part of the reason why it took so long for Kim’s scam to come to light---about a year, in some cases---had to do with the fact that Kim has a very high profile in the Anthropologie community and many were reluctant to suggest that something fishy could be going on. Perhaps we can take from this experience the lesson that it’s okay to have healthy disagreements, whether those be about clothes-sizing or ways of doing business. This is not to suggest that meanies should get free reign to tease, but rather that constructive comments or suggestions should not be taken as insults, and neither should be taken as a mandate to change doing something we like just because it may not be universally popular.  And when they are insults, I hope we can learn to laugh it off and embrace the fact that our individual senses of style are ours to own.

  • Exercise caution about what we do on the internet.  More of a general life lesson than anything else, this whole week has been an excellent reminder that the internet gets around. Once you put something out there, it’s out there, so you better be able to stand behind the words you write and the photos you publish.

  • Push Anthropologie to modify their shipping and pricing policies. Part of the reason that Kim was able to take advantage of so many people is that Anthropologie’s international shipping charges are so unreasonable. Canadian Anthro fans must pay $40 per shipment to receive their order---an amount I have been told is much higher than the customs and duty taxes in place. Now, I don’t know exactly how this shipping cost is calculated or if it is in fact an accurate reflection of Anthro’s expenditures, but perhaps the folks at Anthropologie can look into lowering this cost, either by cutting it directly or opening up a Canadian warehouse to avoid the duty fees. Moreover, many European and international buyers noted that prices between the US and European site are different, with European products costing more money across the board. Many international customers engaged Kim’s services for this reason. Is this price differential a function of inflation or exchange rates? Is there a way for Anthropologie to make this pricing more consistent? I don’t blame Anthro for this situation, but I do think the company is in a unique position to address some of the issues that fed it (through no fault of their own).

I would bet that many of us might describe ourselves as “Anthro-holics.” It would be a shame if one person’s actions soured our feelings for a store we love and an online community we value.  I believe, in true “Inception” style, that the human mind wants to embrace positive emotions more than negative ones. This does not necessarily require forgiveness, only that we focus on healing. My hope for this community is that we take this opportunity for positive growth and change.

 I still have faith.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthright Israel Sign-Ups Are Open (and you are VIPs!)

Just a quick post tonight while I compose my thoughts on Anthroplosion 2011.  Before too much time elapses, I wanted to post a few quick links for my fellow MOTs about Birthright Israel, since trip registration opened today and will probably be closed by tomorrow!

The Birthright trips that are open for registration will run during winter of 2011--2012.  Winter trips last until Spring Break in March.  You are eligible to go on Birthright if you are between the ages of 18 and 26 and have some Jewish heritage.  Note:  I was 27 when I went on my trip, but 26 when I applied.  If you're close to the age deadline, you can learn on the Birthright website the exact date on which you must be 26 to be eligible.

The Birthright trip is a 10-day tour through Israel led by a tour guide.  The trip is free---included is your roundtrip airfare, hotel/accommodation costs, all meals (you are given a small sum of cash to spend on the on-your-own lunches), transportation within the country, and costs of admission to attractions.  Not included are souvenirs, airline change fees (in case you extend your flight), and booze.  You have to pay a $250 deposit, which you will get back once you come back from the trip.
Photo courtesy of Ashley.

I had an amazing time on this trip and would highly recommend it to everyone who is eligible!!  Please let me know if you end up applying; I can help you get VIP status on your application through your affiliation with a past participant (me!).  (Edit:  My VIP status may only be good through Israel Outdoors; I'm not completely sure!)

  • The Birthright Israel website, with information about various trip providers.  Note:  This information is really convoluted and confusing.  Instead of signing up for the Birthright Israel program and then choosing a provider later, you sign up directly with the provider, who operates under the umbrella of Taglit.  There are lots of providers and it can get pretty confusing to parse through them.  The main thing to keep in mind is that, due to the conditions of Taglit funding, ALL trip providers must do 90% of the exact same stuff.  The 10% of ways in which they differ probably has very little impact on your trip experience.  The most impact you will see is in the type of people who choose to take your trip.  For example, choosing a provider that focuses on the religious aspects of the trip will include more people who went to Sunday school as kids than a secular trip.

  • Israel Outdoors, the trip provider whose trip I took back in March.  I HIGHLY recommend them!  I had an awesome time on the program and my fellow participants were some very chill, laid-back Jews.  Despite the name, there was only one night of camping!  Lots of walking and hiking though, which was a fantastic way to see the country.

On a hike through the Nachal Jilabun Canyon.

  • My trip recaps.  If you're not sold on taking this trip, or not sure what it involves, or not sure whether you'd enjoy a winter trip, you can read more about my experience at that link.  I went on a trip in early March and found the weather to be great---not too hot during the day, although a bit chilly at night.  (PACK LAYERS.)  I don't know what a trip would be like in December, or in July for that matter.  I do know that all trips have awesome, if not different, activities.  For example, winter trips visit a hot spring while summer trips go tubing down a river.

Please let me know in the comments or via email if you have any questions, and do let me know if you end up applying so I can help you get VIP status.  (Edit: I know Israel Outdoors considers alumni connections/VIP status, but I can't say for sure about the other providers.)

These trips fill up incredibly quickly, so I recommend that you pick a provider with minimal agonizing and fill out your application right now.  Don't take too much time to think it over or you may have to wait until Summer 2012!  (If you're turning 27 before then, you won't be eligible, so don't hesitate!)

Use it or Lose it, Round 2! (Plus, odds and ends)

A few orders of business for you on this Wednesday morning.

First, over brunch this weekend, my friend Tony suggested I create a blog feed for people like him, who are interested in following my posts about travel, food, miscellaneous thoughts, etc. but could care less about what I wear or what I buy.  For similarly minded people on my blogroll, I've created a new blog tag that includes everything EXCEPT clothes and shopping-related posts.  You can access it by clicking here, or by clicking the self-explanatory link under my blog header.  You should be able to set up an RSS feed for that link, too.

(In that vein, I've put a few other fun quick links to post categories in the blog header as well.  There's also a list of links in the sidebar that will take you to some of my favorite blog features.)

Second, it's time for the next round of the "Use it or Lose it" challenge!  The first round, featuring skirts, was small but mighty.  As a reminder, the goal of "Use it or Lose it" is to identify items in your closet you're not wearing anymore but have still held on to; the goal is to use them within a limited span of time (ideally 30 days), or else sell them/donate them/otherwise part with them.  Many of you have asked for a second round, and I want to deliver!  For now, I'd like your feedback on the type of item you'd like to see featured in this round of the challenge.  Please vote using this poll, and I'll announce the result on Monday:
Third, I know that some people are not fans of GOMI, but seriously, some of these comments are AWESOME.  I'm not going to admit say that I've been reading this website since Friday, but I will tell you that I've been introduced to some seriously great stuff through the comments.  For example, LMGTFY.  What, you may ask, is LMGTFY?  Click here to find out.  I'll now commence using this all the time.  My friends will now commence phasing me out of their lives.

Fourth, I was remiss in not pointing out my post over at Gigi's Gone Shopping!  Gigi recently had a baby and asked several bloggers to list their five favorite items for fall.  You can read my list here.  Congratulations on your new baby, Gigi, and thanks for the opportunity!

Fifth, oh bajeez, I was not a good girl yesterday when most of my (remaining, small) Anthropologie wishlist went on sale.  If you haven't already seen it, check out Roxy's sale post.  Once I get back from Miami, I'll share the damage with you.

Sixth, did I mention I'm in Florida?  ...Suckas!
PS:  my Eurotrip shorts tan is slowly dissipating.  I might develop melanoma before it blends in entirely.

We're counting down my last days of ZERO responsibility before I start my law firm job on Monday.  Downsides:  far less spare time; increased risk of becoming a bigger douchebag than I already am.  Upsides:  valuable experience with excellent attorneys; travel; finally beginning the career I've wanted since I was in third grade.  And, of course, the paycheck doesn't hurt either. :-D

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eurotrip Desktop Backgrounds!

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to hunt for interesting textures and patterns that I can use as backgrounds for my computer desktop.  There's something fun about reliving vacation through my desktop background, and it's an added bonus when the images are unique and interesting.

I'm sharing a few of my favorite new desktop backgrounds with you, in case you share my odd enjoyment of unique background photos!  You can download a high-quality version of these photos in this flickr album by clicking "all sizes".

Pattern from the Pompidou Center of Modern Art.

Found in a Parisian Church

A curtain in Marie Antoinette's bedchamber at Versailles

Marie Antoinette's canopy bed at Versailles

Painting at the Pomidou Center

Chain link fence art at the Pompidou

Colors/Pattern at Pompidou Center.  I love purple + green!  (see also, my blog color scheme)

Pompidou painting

Bizarre Pompidou painting

Bricks in the town square of Sienna.  Crayola based the color "burnt sienna" on these bricks!

Tiles on the floor of Sienna's Duomo

Pattern on the floor of a church.


The Coliseum

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Funday: Fight For Your Flight

There comes a time when you must fight for your right to exist in the face of a neighbor who wants to take over your space and quash you into oblivion.  There comes a time when you must ask yourself, “Am I a person, or am I a doormat?”  There comes a time when you must push back against oppression on the borders.

I am, of course, talking about an airplane seat neighbor who is encroaching on your space.

Having faced this situation many times in my travels over the last few months---and having spent several flights reading “Clash of Kings” in the “Game of Thrones” series---allow me to offer some thoughts on fighting for your kingdom territory armrests in this situation.

Don't be dwarfed by an aggressive seatmate.  
Image from Zap2It.

I.  First, determine your claim of right.

Of course, we all WANT more space.  Human societies have fought generations’ worth of wars in the name of gaining more space.  Unless you plan on engaging in open warfare with your airplane seat mate (unlikely, given that you are probably unarmed in light of the post-9/11 security measures), you should first ascertain whether you have the right side of this territorial dispute.  Possession of the armrests means nothing without possession the moral high ground.

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two clear possession rights in an airplane:
  • The middle seat gets both armrests.  The middle seat sucks, so the end seats should throw this person a bone and not compete for the middle armrests.
  • Each individual’s space begins at the left and right ends of her seat and extends upwards for the length of her body.  Encroachments that poke over the armrests into this space are not acceptable.
All other territorial rights are up for grabs, and may result in fighting a losing battle against a stubborn or clueless opponent.

The delicate armrest dance.  
Image from Meilbox.

II.  Second, assess your adversary.

In order to defeat this person, you must know what you’re up against.  Are you facing a stubborn aisle seat determined to crowd out your armrest?  Or are you seated next to a timid soccer mom who doesn’t realize she’s touching your arm with her bunched-up cardigan?  As you might imagine, each individual requires a different strategy.  But how can you tell what you’re dealing with?

I recommend something I like to call the “Continuing Contact Test.”  To conduct this test, place your body in a position in which the offending incidental contact can occur.  For example, if your neighbor is stealing your armrest, try putting your arm on the armrest adjacent to theirs.

Then, gauge how your opponent responds.  Does he move his arm immediately upon contact?  Does she keep her arm in place until you become uncomfortable?  Does he push you off the armrest and onto the floor in a bloody heap?

Image from YourKloset.

If you’re dealing with the first type of adversary, your course of action is simple---stake your claim and watch your neighbor scuttle in fear of your cooties.  The second two type of people, however, require more advanced maneuvers.

III.  Third, realistically settle on a course of action.

How you address an encroaching neighbor depends on your amount of comfort with touching a stranger.  Do you like touching strangers, readers?  Do you?  Now is not the time to be shy.  Speak up if you enjoy touching strangers or forever lose your armrests.

Note:  Before engaging in any of these maneuvers, determine whether your opponent has control over their invasion.  If your neighbor is spilling over into your seat through no conscious will of her own but rather due to her unfortunately reversed ratio of seat square feet::butt square feet (airplane seats are pretty small, folks), then immediately stand down.

Resistance is futile.
Image from SocietiesMirror.

Notwithstanding this possibility, here are your options:
  • If you don’t mind rubbing up against the lady in the window seat, your first course of action should be to place your arm where you want to place it and then tough out the awkward contact until she gets the hint and moves her offending limb.  You may even try exerting a little outward pressure to prompt a move (especially helpful if your opponent is asleep).
  • If this doesn’t work, whip out the heavy artillery:  subtle sighs, tsks, fidgeting, and sharp quick stares at the encroaching neighbor.
  • Your last-ditch scenario is the mini-nuclear bomb of the war for armrests/seat space:  get up to use the restroom.  This extreme move only works if you are sitting in the window or middle seat, battling against the middle or aisle seat.  Your restroom trip essentially decimates the two-foot radius around your seat, forcing your adversary to get up to allow you to step in and out of the row.  Instead of actually using the restroom during this time, take the opportunity to do a few stretches and squat-thrusts to ensure that, upon your return, you are able to quickly resume your seat and take control of the armrests in question.

The only known way of deflecting the nuclear bomb maneuver.  Not classy, but effective nonetheless.  
Image from Bing.

Once you obtain control of the space against an aggressive opponent, do NOT allow yourself to lose any ground.  This is not a joke.  An aggressive neighbor is just biding his time, waiting for you to slip up so he can reclaim the armrest that should rightfully be yours.  Do not remove your arms from your space, even if you become uncomfortable or begin to lose blood circulation.  PRIORITIES.

Now is not a time for fear, friends, nor is it a time for anything but passive-aggressiveness.  You have to fly next to this person for the rest of the flight, and you may possibly end up dying next to this individual if something goes terribly wrong.  Do you really want to turn this cold war into a hot one?  Do you want to create an explicit enemy rather than an imaginary one?  No, of course you don’t.  Don’t be insane.

On that note, resist the urge to strike back in other ways if you fail at reclaiming your space.  Retaliatory farts hurt everyone around you, not just your neighbor.

Image from HipsterTravelGuide.
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