Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PTI: Cheap Thrills (Michael Kors Watch Edition)

Two weeks ago, I took a small gamble on a couple of cheap watches by a brand called Geneva.  I was looking to indulge in the oversized watch trend without shelling out the money for a quality piece.

I posted about one of these watches already, but I've worn them each a few times now and I'm just so darn happy with them that I thought they deserved a special post.

Geneva Chronograph Look ....Acrylic Tortoise Link Closed Band..Extra Large Face...Gold Trim ($20 + $4.50 shipping) (currently unavailable, but this looks like the same one, for $30 + free shipping) (the clasp on this one is a bit tricky to fasten, but once it's on, it's on)

Make no mistake:  These are cheap watches.  While the Crawford watch is pretty weighty, the tortoise one is quite light and the band is plastic-feeling.  Some of the Amazon reviews indicate that the Crawford watch may shed rhinestones (this hasn't happened to me yet in about 5 wears).  The three mini watches are just for show---the three little hands stay firmly at 12:00.  And, of course, neither watch has any precious metals in it.

In short, these watches are not getting mistaken for the Michael Kors variety (they are $20 each, compared to $200+, for Pete's sake) but they have the same oversized silhouette and general aesthetic for a fraction of the price.  It seems like each time I wore them, someone complimented me on my watch (one girl, who I'd previously talked to about how much I like the Michael Kors watch she had, even said, "Oh, you bought the watch!").  The complimenters were genuinely surprised to learn (on the occasions I told them) that the watch only cost $20.

(Michael Kors on the right, Geneva on the left)

So, if you're just looking to add an oversized watch to your arm party but don't care if it's great quality, you may want to look into these Geneva pieces.  I'm really happy with mine.

Don't say I never did nothin' for ya.

(PS:  I feel the need to say, since this post is entirely focused on products, that this is not a sponsored post, although I am using Amazon affiliate links, because why the hell not.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anthro at Work OOTD: A Swing and a Miss

If you take note of my serious facial expression in the first photo, you'll realize that I definitely did not intend to look like a muppet all day at work the other week.

Last month, I had an absolutely wonderful evening in NYC with the fabulous Kate and Usha.  Usha mentioned her reaction to my proclamation (before starting work) that most of my Anthropologie clothes could fit into my new business wardrobe.  She thought at the time that business casual didn't really mean business casual, and that in no time I'd be forced into a more plainer uniform.  She seemed both surprised and pleased that my office really did embrace true business casual.

Of course, then there's this outfit.

Admittedly I am not an exclusively pencil skirt and blazer kind of gal, but this outfit was unprofessional even by my standards.

In my defense:  I leant my apartment (MY WHOLE APARTMENT) to some friends for the week, and I was limited to the contents of a suitcase for the week.  I thought in what could only have been a heroin-induced fever dream that purple tights would go great with this purple skirt.  And yellow pumps.

 Oh yeah, totally great combination there.

To top off my sartorial embarassment, I was invited to a last-minute lunch with a women's networking group, and sat with images of muppets running through my head as talk turned to non-black, and yet still professional, options for color in the workplace.  Of course, the conversation was general, and of course several women in the group were rocking purple.

But, I have learned, purple should have its limits.

Like an idiot, it took me until 7pm to realize that this whole thing looked a lot more rational (though only slightly better) without the tights.


In this Outfit:
Anthro Loosely Looped Tee (S)
Anthro Runny Yoke Skirt (6)
Anthro Tied Trails Cardigan (M)
Seychelles Password Pumps (9, TTS)
J.Crew Bangle (This is SO hard to get onto my wrist.  It's a cute design, but I wouldn't recommend it)
Antique Brass Eyeglasses Necklace from ninexmuse via etsy ($10 here) (now made moot by yesterday's Kate Spade Sample Sale purchase)
Disastrous J.Crew Tights (M/L)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sale Haul: Anthropologie's Black Friday 50% off Sale

For those who don't keep up with my love of Anthropologie, you may not be aware that my favorite store offered a 50%-off-sale-merchandise discount on Black Friday from the hours of 6am to 11am.

And, well, I may have gotten a bit carried away...

Anthropologie Black Friday Sale Haul
And this isn't even the full haul...I also repurchased several items I bought originally for 25% off, with the intention of returning the 25% off pieces and keeping the 50% discount.  (Hellooooo spotted satchel!) After Anthro, I picked up a few pieces at Ann Taylor (not pictured yet).

Many of these items, I'm sure, will be going back; since Anthro's 50%-off promo was only good for a few hours on Friday, I over-bought a bit to avoid the regret of missing out on something.  While I can always return what I bought, I can't always buy them again at 50% off.

My Black Friday Anthropologie experience was perfect, despite an inauspicious beginning.  I slept through my 5am alarm and woke up at 5:38, immediately realizing something was amiss.  I jumped onto the computer to refresh the shopping cart I assembled the night before, since I figured new items would be sold out and I wanted to have my cart ready so I could just click "submit" on my cell phone at 6am and be done.  (Even though I planned to go to stores, I didn't want to count on items being available in stores (I'm looking at you, Agnita Dress).  The plan was to buy what I could online and then fill in the gaps at the stores.)

To my surprise, Anthropologie's 50% off promotion was already up and running at 5:38, so I quickly submitted my order and headed to the first store on my list in Boca.  Yes, Boca.  Although my mom lives in Miami, I thought the stores in Boca and West Palm would be less crowded and better stocked than the Miami stores (I've been to Merrick Park a few times, and I'm unimpressed with the size of their sale room). My grandparents live in Boca---along with everyone else's Jewish grandparents---and they kindly hosted me for the night so I'd have a convenient jumping-off point for the morning's sales.

I visited both the Boca and the West Palm Beach stores, and both stores had tons of great stuff and very patient sales assistants.  I didn't have to wait in line at all for the fitting room, and no more than 10 minutes at either location to check out.  I was finished by 10:30am, with much damage done!

A sales associate at the Boca Anthro comes bearing bottled water and Christmas cookies.

Last night, I found myself engrossed in the angry comments about Black Friday on Anthropologie's Facebook Page.  Apparently, many people placed orders at various times during the 50% off promotion (supposedly from 6am to 11am, but clearly with many time zone glitches) only to have their orders canceled in the afternoon after it was too late to look for the items in stores.  While I can definitely understand the frustration (and yes, these are #firstworldproblems, but customers are also entitled to provide feedback to customer service agents), I have somewhat less sympathy when I read comments from people who woke up at 9:30am, leisurely shopped around the website for an hour while adding items to their cart, and then eventually checked out.  Perhaps it is unreasonable for me to expect people to be so ridiculous as to assemble their cart the night before and mindlessly click the submit button as soon as they roll out of bed...but yes, to some degree, that is what I expect.

That said, I believe that some people who DID send in their orders extremely early still got shut out.  When I look at some of my favorite items from this sale haul, I can definitely sympathize with their disappointment.  I actually had a sinking feeling while checking out at the Boca store---they had both Holding Horses bags I bought last week in stock and at 50% off, and even though I'd bought them online at 50% off in the morning, I had a terrible intuition that many orders would be cancelled, and was I really willing to make a $65 mistake by not just covering my bases and buying them from the store?  I ran back mid-checkout and added the two bags to my order, just in case.

Did you have any issues with your online orders?  There's so much anger on Anthro's Facebook page that I wonder if Anthro will offer a "make-up" 50% off sale day sometime soon!  Hey, I'm always looking for the silver lining.

I'm skipping full reviews this week; I am really itching to wear a lot of these items, so you'll see them in upcoming outfits very soon.  Not to mention the fact that I'm still waiting for a portion of my items to arrive in the mail, so once that happens I'll give you some more reviews.

In the meantime, I want to highlight a few of my favorite things, and to ask your opinion on three others that are at the top of the "send back" pile.

(PS:  If you want to do a bit of your own post-Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping, check out my sale blog!  I cleaned out my closet to make room for these new purchases---and dropped the prices on the items that were previously listed.  You'll find lots of Anthro and J.Crew over there!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And the Sheyna Jewelry giftcard winner is...

EDIT: Bizarrely, a little more than a week after pondering the ethics of running giveaways and discussing the steps I took to ensure that Sheyna was a solid company worthy of our time (and hey, even Oprah wrote about them), they have decided to end the company! They've posted a message on their website that they will be refunding all orders that have not yet been processed. If you placed an order with Sheyna and have any difficulty either getting your product or getting your refund, please let me know. I don't expect that anyone will have problems, but please still keep me in the loop.  I have personally arranged for Alicia to receive a different prize.

There were twelve valid entries in the Sheyna giveaway.  The winner is lucky comment number:

Alicia's Pick

Congratulations, Alicia!  Email me to claim your prize.  (For those who didn't win, use code THANKS25 to get 25% off your order of custom-made jewelry!)

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving holidays and prosperous Black Fridays.  As you might expect, I went a bit overboard in my Black Friday Anthropologie 50%-off indulgences.  I'll try to post a Polyvore tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

D.C. iGaming Community Meeting in Ward Six (or, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Give Into my Hatred of Politics")

A few of you asked me last week why I hate politics so much. Well, allow me to step away from the usual nonpolitical fare on this blog give you a very longwinded answer to a very simple question.

Last night, I participated in local democracy by attending a community meeting in D.C.'s Ward 6 (where I live) to discuss iGaming in the District.

For those who are unfamiliar with local politics in our nation's capital, you may not be aware that the D.C. Council passed its 2011 budget in December 2010 and included a provision allowing online gambling.  The "iGaming" structure falls under the purview of the D.C. Lottery and would produce revenue in a similar manner as powerball tickets or scratch-off cards---money spent on online games like blackjack would go back to the District, while the District would take a percentage rake on skill games like poker. 

Essentially, the structure of iGaming in D.C. will look almost identical to existing online casinos like, except it will be legal, regulated, and taxable.  Perhaps most importantly to citizens like myself, who had money frozen when the government seized offshore online poker websites like, iGaming will be safe, protected, and based in the District. It's legal and it's been approved by Congress. (Note: the seizure of the offshore online poker sites was related to financial crimes committed by its officers, and not for reasons related to the legality of poker.)

Because iGaming is online and trackable, the D.C. lottery is able to place limits on the amount of money people can wager.  Players are limited to adding $250 per week to their accounts, although there is not a limit on how much money they can win, nor is there a minimum deposit (i.e., players can put in anywhere from $1 all the way up to $250 a week).  [Previous sentence edited slightly for clarity.]  The iGaming software will even have a mechanism that can detect when a player consistently loses their money, and how fast they lose it, and will be able to intervene with potential problem gamblers.

The meeting was filled with supporters of online poker.
  • A deaf woman spoke about how dificult it is to play poker in live casinos, because she can't hear the players around her and she isn't allowed to speak in ASL for fear that she's cheating in an unknown language. Online, she said, "everyone communicates the same way, by typing."
  • Many people spoke about how much money they spend traveling to play at casinos in Atlantic City, Charlestown, and Delaware when they would much rather spend that same money playing in the comfort of their own home and knowing that their money would be going to the District in which they live.
  • One woman talked about D.C.'s illustrious history of poker-playing. Did you know that Truman's catchphrase, "The Buck Stops Here" refers to the dealer button (aka "Buck") that moves around the table in a game of poker?
  • In my favorite speech of the night, a black pastor from Ward 5 spoke up in favor of online gaming in the district. He pointed out the racial politics of the lottery---that almost all lottery revenue comes from poorer, black wards and that almost all lottery revenue is spent in wealthier white wards. He pointed out that iGaming would even this out, since statistically the people who play online casino games are "a different kind of player"---middle-class folk. The increased revenue, he noted, could be spent on the wards that need it. He also gave a wake-up call to those fear-mongers who suggested that people would begin gambling in church on their iPhones saying incredulously, "Do you think I don't know what goes on in my church? Nobody's going to be doing that in my church." Amen to that. [Edit: I was sad, but not surprised, to see Councilman Wells completely misstate the minister's speech on his twitter account last night.]
The objections you might expect to hear about online poker did not materialize; there did not seem to be any moral concerns, and the D.C. lottery representative on site to explain the setup of the program explained the extensive security procedures in depth.

The best part about this whole iGaming program, in my opinion, is the fact that it will bring much-needed revenue into the city.  Councilman Brown, who introduced the iGaming provision, estimates that iGaming will start making $9 million a year in revenue after a three-year startup period.

Now, you may be wondering why we're holding community meetings if this budget (and the iGaming provision) has already been considered and debated in the D.C. Council, approved by the United States Congress, and passed by the council.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the reason why politics drives me insane.  Meet the ANC.  From their website:

The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget.

In each of these areas, the intent of the ANC legislation is to ensure input from an advisory board that is made up of the residents of the neighborhoods that are directly affected by government action. The ANCs are the body of government with the closest official ties to the people in a neighborhood.

Imagine that every annoying Student Government wannabe at your high school began trying to control how your high school principal ran the school.  That's the ANC.  Ask any local D.C. businessman, and I'm sure they will have many unkind words about the way in which the ANC inserts themselves in even the minutae of running a local business.

The ANC is an advisory board. They are not government officials.  Still, somehow, for some self-important and entitled reason, they've come to the conculsion that they should have been allowed to SAY MMOOARRR about this budget before it was passed.  They show up to all of these community meetings---all five of them, most of whom left the Ward 6 meeting immediately after they spoke their piece---and get angry about the "process" that they say was lacking.

Here are the most interesting things I learned from last night's Ward 6 Community Meeting, hosted by Councilman Tommy Wells (author of a measure to repeal iGaming):

Councilman Wells. Image from People's District.
  • None of the people in attendance were against online poker.  Tommy Wells himself pointed this out.  The only people who were opposed to iGaming were the five ANC people in the audience, and all of them were just angry that nobody cared to ask them for their opinion before passing the budget.  (I DO intend to use the word "angry," by the way.  One of these ANC guys actually interrupted a woman in the middle of her question and shouted, "That's a stupid question!"  I kid you not.  THESE are the people Tommy Wells is kowtowing to?)
  • The vast majority of people in the audience were excited about getting to play poker and other casino games online, and nobody seemed to mind the $250/week limit.
  • Tommy Wells knows that the District needs revenue. In fact, Wells mentioned at the meeting that he'd tried to raise taxes in order to generate more revenue for the District. The great thing about iGaming is that---unlike a traditional tax---it will raise this revenue for the district in a way that people are actually EXCITED about! And since you will need to be physically located in the District in order to play, it will also drive people into the District to spend money on local businesses.
The ANC complained about what they saw as a lack of process surrounding the way the budget was passed. In fact, the way they talk about it makes it seem as though someone slipped this provision into the budget in the black of night and the councilmembers were forced to approve the measure blindfolded and at gunpoint. Here's what I learned about the actual process concerns:
  • The iGaming provision, when added to the budget, was added IN HUGE BOLD TYPE. Nobody reviewing the budgetary changes could have missed it.
  • Councilmembers had weeks to review the budget in preparation for the council discussion on it.
  • Michael Brown, the proponent of the budget, appeared on television to discuss iGaming before councilmembers approved the budget.
  • Congress, as in the fracking UNITED STATES CONGRESS, received a marked-up version of the bill containing the iGaming provisions and approved it.

Councilman Brown. Image from Washington City Paper.

Perhaps the most personally offensive moment of the night for me came when Councilman Wells got up to speak about why he approved the iGaming budget.   [backtrack: yes, you heard that correctly. The man who is trying to get this provision repealed signed off on it himself.]  What did Wells have to say? 

Tommy Wells said he didn't really read the budget before he approved it.  

Um, what?  I beg your pardon? 

I kid you not, this politician stood up before a crowd of 60+ working people and told them that even though it's his JOB to read and understand provisions before he puts his name to them and makes them law, that he just kinda didn't care all that much about any of this and didn't read the BIG BOLD PRINT!!!1111!! adding iGaming to the D.C. Budget. 

Guys, I hate politics because stuff like this raises my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.   I'm just a first-year law firm associate with nowhere near the power and influence of even a dinky D.C. Councilman, and if I make the mistake of not reading something at work and still sign my name to it, I WILL GET FIRED.   So I don't make those mistakes, because it's my job.   And I'm careful and I care about doing a good job. And somehow Tommy Wells thinks he can get away with saying, "Well, I didn't really read it?"  

No.  Here's what happened:  he signed the budget.  Five obnoxious, question-interrupting people at the ANC got mad at him because their pride was hurt when they weren't consulted first, and Wells started backpedaling.  Simple as that.  Here's the thing, though.  These process concerns are a sideshow.

Tommy Wells himself admitted at the Ward 6 hearing that absolutely everything the ANC wants to influence from a process standpoint, including directing iGaming revenues, can be effectively accomplished without repealing the budget.

So why, I ask you, does Councilman Wells think it would be an efficient use of local resources to repeal a budget that has already been discussed in Council, passed by Council, and approved by Congress, only to hold discussions and add revenue-directing measures that can be added right now without repealing the budget?  Beats me.  But the issue sure isn't opposition to online poker---as Mr. Wells himself said, he didn't see anybody opposed.

It seems as though all of this comes down to Tommy Wells trying to appease an irrationally angry faction at the expense of countless D.C. residents who would benefit from that lottery revenue now.

For at least one resident of Mr. Well's ward, I hope he gets his act together and gets behind this measure, which---do I need to say it again?---he already approved.  iGaming in D.C. represents an important source of revenue and an exciting opportunity for players and residents.  It's already been passed, so let's stop wasting time and money on a measure that's already passed and implement this thing, for crying out loud.  I'm not sure if YOU could use $9 million a year, but I know the District sure could.

I'll even be a good sport---we can let the ANC guys bet the first dollar.

To read more about iGaming in D.C.: 
iGaming info from the D.C. Lottery 
D.C. Citizens for Online Poker --- Summary of the Ward Meetings 
Online Gambling: A Good Bet for D.C.?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sale Haul: Paychecks and No Balances

I had SUCH a fun shopping week last week.  It seemed like everyone was having a 30-40% off sale, so I took advantage of a few of the discounts.  Then, a coworker and I went on a shopping trip in Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase.  We hit up LOFT, J.Crew, Sephora, Banana, and Anthro.  My coworker bought this GORGEOUS dress, which I would highly recommend based on how beautiful it looks on her:

I decided to pop into the Anthropologie accessories store in Chevy Chase before heading home.  While there, I had a lot of fun talking to blog reader and Anthro SA Bonnie, along with Dana, one of the store managers.  (PS:  props to Bonnie, who strikes a wonderful balance between helping justify your purchases and giving you good advice.  Plus she seems nice!)

Dana and Bonnie showed me their Doyle and Doyle estate jewelry collection.  Holy cow, these pieces are gorgeous (and horrifyingly expensive, but GORGEOUS).  If you find yourself in the possession of a small inheritance, I'd highly recommend checking out this collection.  As things stand, I nearly ran away screaming when Bonnie offered to open the display case holding these was almost as though I would be safe from the temptation if they stayed firmly in their locked box.  Like kryptonite to Superman.

The in-store shopping trip was a rare treat.  Mainly, I've been getting stuff shipped to my office, and on Friday one of the office tech guys gave me a scornful look.  I warned him that there would be two more boxes coming, and he said, "After that, maybe there should be twelve steps."  [I should add, in case you are inclined to read this seriously, that it was spoken with sarcastic scorn and acerbic wit in line with the guy's personality (which we love).]

Boxes in my office.

I probably shouldn't check my bank account on payday before my next planned shopping trip.  It's too encouraging.

Anyway, without further ado, I present my sale haul in three parts.  A few of the items I could not find online (i.e., two J.Crew fedoras I got on final sale that I didn't bother to photograph).  I need some advice on what to keep---scroll down to the third Polyvore set for the stuff I'm still debating, but of course feel free to chime in anywhere.

[edit:  I initially neglected to mention how much I appreciate your thoughts on the execution of the sale haul posts in Friday's post about ethical blogging.  I may experiment with different structures for this post (perhaps a "top five keeps" plus "maybes"?) but for now, I present (mostly) the whole thing.]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday not-so-Funday: The Ethics of Blogging

I want to get serious on what is often a Friday Funday.  Over the last week or so, I've found myself thinking a lot about ethics and integrity.  Many professions, including the law, have some kind of code of moral or ethical conduct that its members are expected to uphold.  Lawyers, for example, are bound by rules of professional conduct (see, e.g., the model rules of professional conduct). 

However, no such unified standard exists for bloggers.  We're all out here on our own in the wild wild west of the WWW with only our personal values to keep us afloat.  So how do we respond to some of the ethical quandries inherent in the hobby?

I.  Link Buyouts

Last week, I read an article on Gawker that sat badly with me.  The title of the article caught my eye right away:  "The Shady Marketing Scheme That's Buying Off Your Favorite Bloggers."  Hamilton Nolan, the author of the article, was approached by a marketing agency offering him $175 to include a link to a client in an upcoming post for Gawker.  The marketer wrote:

What we suggest (as long as you think it won't get you into any trouble — we don't want anything that isn't beneficial for both parties) is trying to drop a link in the article, and seeing if the editor mentions it. If he does, remove the link, and we'll go our separate ways. If he doesn't, we'll pay you handsomely, and we can continue if you want to. We don't do this for every article, and there is a certain "under the radar" element to it, so you don't want to over do it.

After posting this article on my facebook profile, my friend Michelle called this practice a "link buyout" and said she thinks it's somewhat of a fact of life on larger blogs. 

The disturbing aspect of the link buyout, to both Nolan and to me, is the destruction of "the fundamental...sanctity of honest writing in exchange for money."  I think about the feeling I get when I stumble upon a "special advertising section" in a magazine that's made to look like it's a legitimate article in the periodical.  I'll sometimes read part of those pieces and develop some kind of unsettling feeling---Why do I feel like someone is trying to sell me something?  It's somewhat of a relief when my eyes scan the borders of the page where the advertisement is disclosed.  Ah, I knew something felt off.

This all felt very distant to me until a few days ago, when I received my own offer for a link buyout.

From a nose surgery website.

Now, I'm not sure how you found your way to my blog (Welcome!  Glad you're here!), but "jewish nose" is the third most-popular search result leading people to my site.  It only ranks after "stuff jewish girls like" and "jewish girls."  You may remember that I wrote a post about the virtues of non-standardized noses and exploring the very ugly attitude plastic surgeons have taken to fixing "imperfect" noses.  When I google "jewish nose," that blog entry is the third link that appears in my results.  Same when I google "jewish nose plastic surgery" (no quotes).  I'm not sure if that ranking has to do with my browser's cache or not, but regardless, I know that post still gets a lot of hits per month.

Naturally, someone involved with nose surgery would want to get a foot in that door.  The terms of this offer seemed similar to those Nolan described---I was offered a sum of money (less than $175, but still sizable) to "write a short post about nose surgery" and link to the client.

If I am getting this kind of offer, I would be shocked if it hasn't already happened to many other bloggers out there---probably a good chunk of the bloggers I read and enjoy.

And here's the thing:  I don't think stuff like this is necessarily bad.  That chunk of money would have been used to run a great giveaway on the blog.  If I could have had the freedom to post the link in the type of article I wanted to write (i.e., this one you're reading right now), and If I could have disclosed the fact that the link was paid, I'm not convinced it would have been a breach of personal integrity to accept the offer.

But I don't think that's the type of post this marketer wanted.  I think what she wanted was a post completely out-of-line with my personal opinions and a link to a nose surgery website casually slipped in without a word as though I endorsed the idea.  In exchange for---what?  For some cash?

So, I don't know.  I don't know a lot of things.  Is it wrong to accept money from a client whose work you oppose more often than not if you can openly discuss your disagreement and disclose the fact that they've paid you to talk about them?  Where does the breach of integrity lie?  Is it in the type of sponsor?  The nondisclosure of the payment?  Or is it a breach to accept money regardless of the content of your writing?

II.  Giveaways

Another type of ethical integrity question most bloggers seem to face involves giveaways.  You may have noticed that I'm currently running what I think is a great giveaway with a company called Sheyna.  I'm not being paid to run this giveaway---Sheyna's $30 gift card will go directly to the winner of the random selection.  However, I had never heard of Sheyna before they contacted me about running a giveaway on my blog.  What is the blogger's duty to the reader in this situation? 

I mean, giveaways are fun.  People like getting stuff for free, and I like my readers to be happy, so I will rarely say "no" to an offer to run one.  I also recognize that giveaways, in some ways, encourage readers to shop at a website through either explicit or implicit endorsement.  So it seems clear to me that there is some duty of care in offering blog giveaways. 

As I saw it, my duty was to check into the legitimacy of the company, explore their type of product, and consider whether a customer trying their product for the first time would have reasonable options if they were dissatisfied with it.  After assuring myself that Sheyna was a real company with positive reviews, with what seemed to be nice people working there, and that they have a free two-way shipping policy with a seemingly accommodating return policy, I arrived at the conclusion that I would feel comfortable buying their product myself (knowing that I could send it back if it turned out to be something I didn't like).  Only after arriving at this conclusion did I agree to work with Sheyna on this giveaway (they've been great).

Was that enough?  Or should one refuse to run such giveaways without having personally tried the products in question?  What does the reader expect?

EDIT: Bizarrely, a little more than a week after pondering the ethics of running giveaways in this post and discussing the steps I took to ensure that Sheyna was a solid company worthy of our time (and hey, even Oprah wrote about them), they have decided to end the company! They've posted a message on their website that they will be refunding all orders that have not yet been processed. If you placed an order with Sheyna and have any difficulty either getting your product or getting your refund, please let me know. I don't expect that anyone will have problems, but please still keep me in the loop.

III.  Shopping and Wearing

In the wake of the Anthroholic scandal, there was quite a bit of talk in the blogosphere about whether bloggers have a duty to disclose their financial situation and shopping budgets, given the fact that their consumerism can have a very negative impact on some readers who may have a different budget or may be struggling with overshopping. 

You may notice that posts about my large sale hauls have almost completely disappeared since September.  Frankly, I just haven't been sure where these posts should fit in anymore, or whether they should continue.  The idea that sharing my shopping (or, sometimes, overshopping) could be driving others to feel unhappy with themselves or disgusted with what appears to be reckless spending or triggered to shop compulsively makes me feel terrible.  I want to post my most recent sale haul, but it's extremely large and I feel slowed by the weight of some unnamed, undescribed responsibility that I can't quite pinpoint.  Where I thought I was just sharing some fun purchases that I may or may not keep, perhaps I didn't realize that I was implicitly endorsing the idea of spending huge amounts of money or buying lots of new clothes all the time.

This ties in with an article about the superfluity of "c/o"s in fashion blogging (discovered via "The Snarky Wife"'s post on GOMI).  At what point has a blogger crossed the line from indulging in perks or endorsing a product that she does actually like to becoming an empty shill for any any brand that will send her something?

Sorry for the brain dump.  These thoughts have been percolating since reading that Gawker article, and the email from the nose surgery marketing woman made me question what our responsibilities are here in the wild wild west of the WWW.  I know I have had conversations with some readers to this effect, as well.

And let me emphasize, once again, that I would never have written a pro-nose surgery post while linking to that website.  That line, at least to me, is very clear. 

...But whether I could have included their link in a post like this, while disclosing that I was paid to put it there, with the intention of using the money to run a giveaway for readers---that line, maybe less so.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What ethical standards do you expect from the bloggers you read?  (I'm sure this goes without saying, but Please keep your comments respectful.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OOTD: Pantsed

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly a pants person.  Frankly, I feel kind of weird in them; I prefer the breezy swoosh of a skirt or a dress.  I like having my own skin touching my legs instead of cloth and seams.  I feel constricted in pants, and I just don't particularly like it, gosh darn it!

Maybe that's part of the reason I hesitated nearly a month between taking these outfit photos and actually posting the outfit.  While I dithered, Kristen of Lovely Apidae recently wore almost this exact same outfit here a few days ago and looked fantastic.  Her post-facto inspiration gave me the -- ahem -- kick in the pants I needed to finally post these pictures.  While I still feel uninspired by these pants, I do think I probably feel more awkward in pants than I look.

In this Outfit:
August Silk Cardigan
Anthro Loosened Shelby Blouse (4)
Anthro High Gloss Belt in Green (M)
Anthro Keep the Change Trousers (6)
Modcloth On a Wing and a Prayer Brogues (40)
Anthro Triphasic Earrings
Anthro Rock Candy Ring
Fossil Watch

PS:  EPIC sale haul post coming for you this weekend.  EPIC.  Embarrassing.  I may not even post it, that's how embarrassing it is.  ...Did I mention I have a paying job?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giveaway Time! Meet Sheyna Jewelry.

EDIT:  Bizarrely, a little more than a week after pondering the ethics of running giveaways and discussing the steps I took to ensure that Sheyna was a solid company worthy of our time (and hey, even Oprah wrote about them), they have decided to end the company!  They've posted a message on their website that they will be refunding all orders that have not yet been processed.  If you placed an order with Sheyna and have any difficulty either getting your product or getting your refund, please let me know.  I don't expect that anyone will have problems, but please still keep me in the loop.

Recently, I was contacted by the folks at Sheyna about their new jewelry website.  Immediately I was intrigued:  Not only does Sheyna feature thousands of different jewelry designs in their online shop (with prices ranging from $5--$5000), but you can also design your own piece in their online sketchpad.

Here are a few pieces that caught my eye:

Sheyna Jewelry
Pinkgrey Ring ($21), Classico Golden Earrings ($11.20), Carnelian with Aqua Rondele Earrings ($18.60), Ann Necklace ($16.90), Circles of Turquoise Earrings ($28.40)

Although I can't personally vouch for any of these pieces yet, I do appreciate the fact that Sheyna offers free shipping AND free returns, along with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  I shop online a lot, and I'm picky enough (and impulsive enough) that I need the freedom to send something back if it isn't what I expected (and I need that freedom to!  So, thanks for embracing the power of free, Sheyna. It pays off!

Speaking of free, Sheyna has generously offered to sponsor A GIVEAWAY for you, my glorious and fashionable readers (or my unfashionable male friends who dedicatedly slog through the OOTDs to get to my other thoughts and need to buy gifts for women on their holiday lists)!

To win a $30 gift card at Sheyna:

1.  Become a public follower of Stuff Jewish Girls Like.
2.  Visit the Sheyna shop and pick your favorite piece of jewelry (there are TONS of items under $30---hooray!)
3.  Leave a comment in this entry telling me which piece you liked best.

This giveaway closes at 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 22, so make sure you leave your comment before then!  A winner will be selected at random and announced on Wednesday morning.

If you don't want to wait for the giveaway in order to indulge in something lovely, Sheyna was kind enough to provide SJGL readers with a special promo code, sheyna10, which will give you 10% off your purchase.  (I note, however, that you can save 20% using the code spend20, which is listed on Sheyna's home page.)  (Pro tip:  assuming you can't stack these discounts, I'd recommend going with the 20% off :-D ) 

Shopping Jump Start:
Gold Jewelry
Silver Jewelry
Pendant Necklaces

A Word from Sheyna:
Sheyna is a new design-it-yourself jewelry site with a unique drag-and-drop digital sketchpad.  Customers can shop from among the 5,000 existing items made from more than 500 designers.  In minutes, you can design your own necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  With a wide assortment of beautiful bases, stones, beads and charms, more than 115 million aesthetic combinations are possible — there is something to suit every taste and budget.  Every item is handmade by skilled artisans around the world and shipped for free.  All prices on Sheyna are calculated as you create them so you can get the look that suits you at an affordable price ($5--$5,000).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Use it or Lose it: The Last Two

I know how irresponsible it was of me to take so long in posting my last two Use it or Lose it outfits considering the fact that you surely have been holding their breath for the last two weeks.  I hope you can forgive me now that the oxygen is properly flowing to your brain.

That said, here are my the final two outfits I managed to create with my questionable items:

Anthropologie Velvet Blazer (Thrifted)
Also in this Outfit:
T.J. Maxx Blouse
Citizens of Humanity Dita Jeans (28)
Necklace from Brazil (gifted)
J.Crew Factory Patent Tortoise Ballet Flats ($79 here(but note the wear and tear on the heel after only a few wears (photo in the bottom right corner).  They are comfy and go with EVERYTHING, but I can't say I recommend them due to this poor quality)

I wore this outfit to a D.C. United soccer game last month.  I had a great time; the energy of the crowd and the huge undulating D.C. United flags made me feel happy that soccer is gaining popularity in the states.  It's such a huge part of culture and source of pride in other countries, and it's fun to be part of the party.

We eventually found ourselves in the craziest of the fan sections---with every goal scored, fans throw full beers high in the air, splattering over everyone.  I think I may have been the only person in the whole stadium rooting for a scoreless game.  I didn't get one, but I also didn't get completely drenched.

The stadium is open to the outside air and the night was chilly, so I needed a light jacket.  I thought something cropped would help nip things in at the waist and keep the flowy top + jeans from looking lazy-casual.

Dexter Gillian Flats (via Payless):
Also in this Outfit:
Urban Outfitters Staring at Stars Embroidered Blouse
Ann Taylor Skirt
Alexa Crawford Bracelet (circa 2005)
Coach Earrings
Fossil Watch

I guess there's not much to say about these shoes.  Sure they're unexciting, but they're more or less professional and they serve a purpose.  They're flat so they don't take up much space.

Use them or Lose them?  Keep for both.  I'd been planning to sell the cropped blazer, but just a few minutes ago I found myself adding a cropped black blazer to an online shopping basket; I left it behind then started to work on this post, when I realized...hey, why don't I try to wear my existing black blazer for a while and see how that works out?

And despite the fact that the grey flats don't inspire me, they match at least one thing I own really well.  Maybe that's a good enough reason not to sell them.

PS:  I've got a giveaway coming up for you tomorrow!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quickie Reviews + A Small Sale Haul + OOTD

With my rare weekend off, I spent most of the day on Sunday strolling around Georgetown browsing the shops and buying a few fun treats.  I stopped by Anthropologie to return some of the no-gos from this week's sale and picked up a few pieces at J.Crew on my way home.

Here's the stuff that made the cut:

Sale Haul

Dots Within Blouse (6), $60 (sold out online) and Peppering Skirt ($128 here)
The $60 sale price tag on this shirt makes me want to cry, but it really is cute and professional.  I barely have a handful of work-appropriate long-sleeve shirts, so I suppose I should stop moaning and just be glad I managed to get my hands on one of these cute shirts.  These disappeared online pretty quickly, and I didn't see any in stock at the Georgetown store tonight.

I'm wearing my usual size six, which fits great everywhere except the shoulders, which feel a bit small.  I don't have a full range of motion in my arms, but I'd be concerned about sizing up given the sleekness of the overall look in my normal size.

The skirt you see me wearing in these pictures is Yona Baraschi's Peppering Skirt. I was surprised to see all the amazing reviews of this skirt online. The print is lovely, but the fit felt a bit off to me. I took my normal size six, and it felt comfortable at the waist, but the cut of the skirt seemed to poof out a bit around the pelvis.

However, the reviews of this dress are so positive that I may give it another try; it's certainly worth reconsidering at sale time.

Tweed Brigade Jacket, (now $40)
If you were keeping up with the comments on my last post, you may be surprised to see this piece in the "keeps" pile.  I'd pretty much resolved that I would return it due to its overly boxy appearance.

Then I found myself walking to the metro station with my Anthro returns in tow and thinking, "Man, I'm a little chilly.  I wish I had a light autumn jacket in some color other than black.  Something structured.  Maybe even something cropped."  D'oh.  Good thing I hadn't made it to Anthro yet.  It is SUPER-boxy, but buttoning it at the chest seems to taper it a bit.

I'm wearing my usual size 6.

J.Crew Blouson Dress in Royal Paisley, $90 $63 (now 30% off sale merchandise with code MUSTHAVE, very kindly retroactively applied to Sunday's purchase)

Man, I just love this pattern.  I'm wearing a size six; I alternate between a four and a six in J.Crew, it would seem.  The four fit and felt comfortable, but it was a bit unflattering in the belly area.

One could argue that this size is also unflattering in the belly area, but for now I'm a fan.  I mostly visualize wearing this with a pullover or a cardigan in the winter; maybe even a chambray button-down shirt.

And now for a few more Anthro reviews...

Twisted Ascot Tee (now $30)

I bought this piece online on Tuesday.  I loved the feel of the fabric of this shirt---it feels smooth, but yet thick and substantial.  However, I don't think the clinginess was doing my body any least not in this color.  Witness the following:

Yeah.  Not flattering.

Flurried Plumes Midi, now $40 in stores

I sized all the way up to a ten in this skirt (I'm usually a six).  I didn't find it particularly flattering, and the tweedy waistline was a bit itchy against my skin.  I was sad that this didn't work for me, because it's so cute, and who DOESN'T need another midi skirt?

Noon and Night Dress with Sleeves (not yet online) Embossed Basket Dress, $168 here (thanks Anna!)

Oooh, I was so excited to see an iteration of the popular Noon and Night dress in one of my favorite colors that I could barely resist buying it without even trying it on.  Try it on I did, though, and I can now see why everybody loved its sleeveless cousin so much.

This dress is comfy, flouncy, breathable, flattering, and GAWD IT'S SO GREEN.  I'm actually not crazy about the sleeves; they seem like they might show sweat, and I don't think they do your arms any favors.  I wish the neckline were a bit lower, too; the chest feels a bit boyish.

Here's what I need to figure out before I can take the plunge:  is it possible to successfully style a winter-weight dress in a summer color?  Because I kind of love this and I need someone to help me justify it.  I suppose this is as good of a reason as any to mess around on Polyvore.

The fabric is clingy, so I sized up to a medium for a bit more room.  You can see the medium in the photos above.  Here's the small:

And finally, here's what I wore on my afternoon-long shopping trip:

In this Outfit:
Anthropologie Tweed Brigade Jacket (6) (on second cut for $40 here)
Anthro Sunrise Shirtdress (4) (on third cut for $20!)
Anthro Triphasic Earrings
Anthro Rock Candy Ring
Anthro Go-Everywhere Tote (on second cut for $30!)
Hue Tights
Chelsea Flat (via Payless Shoes) (9, TTS) (here for $16.99, BOGO) (they need some breaking in around the ankle, but otherwise recommended)
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