Frugal Friday’s TPS Report: Pim + Larkin Dot Print Button Down Blouse

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Pim + Larkin Dot Print Button Down BlouseI love this fun, funky print from Pim + Larkin. The coral dots seem very “now,” and I like that they’re kind of abstract floating blobs instead of ordered little dots. I’d wear it with light gray pants for the office, and perhaps a white sweater vest. The blouse is $49 at Piperlime. Pim + Larkin Dot Print Button Down Blouse

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(L-3)

Comments

  1. AnonInfinity :

    OMG LOVE THIS

  2. Really cute print, but ugh, 100% polyester…

  3. this shirt is totally me, but i probably wouldn’t style it the way kat suggests. i think it would look great under a navy skirt suit, or with colored trousers (camo green or eggplant?), or peeking out under a black sheath dress. seriously endless possibilities.

    • Or coral pants. That would be obvious but still super fun,

    • I usually don’t question the styling choices, because I know everyone has a different aesthetic and even if I don’t personally like it, I recognize how it could look nice, but . . . white sweater vest? I can’t even imagine what kind of white sweater vest would look okay over this. I picture those tennis sweater vests from the 80s. And, putting aside the idea of a sweater vest, there’s nothing about this shirt that makes me think it would look nice with white.

      • I’m not a wearer-of-sweater-vests myself, so no comment on that, but I think it would look nice with white. White + coral + navy are a super crisp, clean, and pretty color combination to me. So I’d wear it with white on the bottom. Also, since I appear to be basically integrating this shirt into my closet without owning it, maybe I should buy it for myself as an I-will-apply-for-my-50th-job-today present, even though I’m going to pay my mechanic two and a half paychecks worth of money in the next couple of days…

        • I can see white bottoms (although that wouldn’t be my first choice for a top to pair with white bottoms). Maybe the problem is that the color is reading more as a brown than a bright color on my computer. I don’t actually see coral at all.

      • It’s like Rick Santorum wanted to put a little funk in his look.

        (Sorry Kat)

  4. Diana Barry :

    More colored prints, please! I feel like all of the prints lately have been black/white or navy/white.

    I am very tired today – arr. Baby only slept from 11-3 and then from 430-630.

    • Always a NYer :

      I was just going to post about you today! Hope the family is doing well and congrats? Baby stats? =D

      • Diana Barry :

        Thanks! :) Baby is 4 weeks old today! She was 7 lbs, 19 inches. I think she has grown a lot – we’ll see next week at the checkup. I am not getting enough sleep though. Also my in-laws are visiting this week and driving me CRAZY. :-P

    • Get thee to Boden’s website. There are lots of colored prints there to keep you happy ALL DAY LONG.

    • In-House Europe :

      Hey, DB, 4 hours at a stretch for 4 weeks old actually is pretty good…not that it helps when you are going through it. Ugh, am I mommy warring? What I mean to say is – hang in there, it gets better!

    • I feel your pain. Baby woke at 3am and just after 6am.

    • My 3.5 month old slept from 10:30 pm to 8:30 am last night for the first time. He’ll probably be up every 3 hours tonight but for now I feel like a NEW WOMAN. We’ll both be past the sleep deprivation before we know it and missing the snugly newborn days. Hang in there!

  5. Loved it until I zoomed in. Really don’t like the dots inside the dots. Worried it looks like flying boobs or something. Now that I’ve thought that, it would always hang in my closet being the flying boob shirt.

  6. Threadjack – I’m wearing a beautiful, silky blouse today that wants to crawl out of my skirt and come untucked. Are there any options for keeping a good tuck-in other than the underwear tuck?

  7. This morning, a coworker and I were talking about running (weekend plans convo) and she told me she used to run but stopped. I asked why and she told me she was pregnant. She seemed happy to tell me but I wonder if it was a bad thing that I asked, sort of forcing her to tell me even though it may have been early since she’s not quite showing yet?

    • She could have easily chosen not to tell you. You didn’t force her to do anything. I wouldn’t take it as license to tell others, but I wouldn’t feel bad for asking – you had no idea when you asked.

    • If she didn’t want to tell you, she could have said she tweaked a knee, got sick of it, or just took up something else. There were a million other answers. Don’t worry about it and just be happy for her. (And you can’t constantly worry that asking the most routine questions about our co-workers lives are somehow forcing them to disclose things…I mean, don’t pry if someone seems uncomfortable, but really, how else can you interact with someone???)

    • I don’t think you did anything wrong. I mean, if she didn’t *want* to bring it up, she could have said something more vague in response to your question. Or not volunteered the part about she used to run “but stopped.”

    • Did you tie her down and shine bright lights in her eyes? No. You asked a question, which she was free to dodge however she saw fit. And she didn’t, so give her some credit and let her own that decision.

      That being said, I wouldn’t go spreading that news, since it hers to tell as she wants.

    • She could have easily blamed it on a bum ankle or knee.

    • a passion for fashion :

      totally dont worry about it. she probably used your question as a way to tell you she was pregnant. its often hard to find a way to tell co-workers.

    • phillygirlruns :

      sounds like she wanted to tell you (or at least tell someone)! it’s not at all an inappropriate question and i agree with the others that she definitely invited it and could have said any number of things instead if she didn’t want to spill about being pregnant.

    • If anything (and if you’re close to her), you might swing by her office and see if she wants you to tell people. Sometimes when I have news like that that’s sort of hard to work into a conversation, I try to tell one or two people in the hope that they’ll tell others. And then they go all quiet on me and three months later I find out no one knows!

      :-P

  8. MaggieLizer :

    You guys… I just got a job offer at an AmLaw 100, but I’m not sure whether to take it. Sorry for the long post and TIA for any advice!

    The good about my firm:
    - Excellent mentoring/sponsoring
    - High-quality work, even as a junior, and a lot of client contact
    - I’m very involved in firm life (I’m on two committees and I’m an associate mentor), and that involvement is frequently praised

    The bad about my firm:
    - Poor treatment of women, esp. mothers
    - Poor work/life balance, with a particular hostility for family issues
    - Though neither of these things has affected me directly (yet), I’ve become increasingly demotivated and bitter 1) as I’ve seen people I respect and admire treated like cr*p because they have kids, and 2) because I know someday that will happen to me too no matter how good I am.
    - Face time
    - People don’t really socialize.

    The good about the other firm:
    - Better work/life balance and respect for family time.
    - Awesome people. A very dear friend works there and I’ve socialized with the partners and associates I’d be working with. I think I’d really fit in there.
    - No face time. Again, my friend has assured me that’s not just talk.
    - As far as I can tell, respect for women. This office is very small, but the managing partner said many female partners have children.
    - They assure me I’ll have high quality work, but that’s an unknown really. My friend has had great work.

    The bad about the other firm:
    - I’d be taking a pay cut with base salary when you factor in the cruddy benefits at the new place; the bonus would make up for it and they assure me I’d be eligible for a full bonus, but… it’s a bonus and thus uncertain
    - Really horrible health care compared to what I have now
    - Basically no mentoring, but the managing partner is a great sponsor for the office.
    - Probably more work than what I have now, though that’s balanced by less time in the office.

    • I’m confused. You got a job at an AmLaw 100, but the offer firm has better work/life balance, and worse pay and health care benefits than you are currently? Where are you now? AmLaw 5?

      For me, when you said AmLaw 100, my first instinct was – whatever they say to you about the balance being better there is a lie – but that’s why I’m confused about your description. But if you have a confidant at the new firm that you trust, then clearly the question here is whether you want better work or better balance. It seems clear that these 2 firms represent these two sides. I’m not sure we can help you with that choice.

      • MaggieLizer :

        Thanks. I’m in midlaw now. I guess I don’t really know how much to trust the other firm and that’s a big part of my trepidation. My friend used to work at my firm and has been much, much happier at the new firm.

        • Did you work directly with your friend? It might be helpful to consider how similar you two are in personality and work styles. If she has a completely different work style (or just social interaction style) than you, it might not be helpful to generalize her experience, but if you two are similar, then you would probably be happier there, too.

    • Seattleite :

      Once you’re down the “demotivated, bitter, resentful” track, I think that’s unlikely to change. Especially unlikely since office cultures don’t change.

      Assuming the pay cut/lesser insurance wouldn’t ruin you financially, I’d take the job. Insurance benefits are changing everywhere – my own firm’s premiums are up 50% over last year, and the deductible is likely to rise as well. Beef up the emergency fund and call it a cost of doing business with respectful and supportive people.

    • Former MidLevel :

      I would go for it. If your current firm is making you “increasingly demotivated and bitter,” a cut in pay and benefits cut would be worth it, in my opinion.

    • AnotherLadyLawyer :

      The above doesn’t really highlight what drove you to interview at the new firm (I’m guessing the demotivated and bitter part), but look at what drove you to interview and if it’s likely to be fixed by the move, I vote move.

      Also, w/r/t the “bad” at the other firm, mentoring will come — sometimes informal mentoring is even better than formal mentoring and it sounds like you have a good resource in your friend for figuring out who to target as a potential mentor.

  9. SO and I were just having a conversation about my work. I’m working on a huge project and it has many pieces that all have to fall into place over the next couple of months. Some of it is carefully planned and some of it (like the timeframe) is out of our control. I’m pretty tired because we’re at it constantly and it involves many meetings going over details that could make your head explode. But I am surprisingly calm and unstressed. SO asked me why – I truly think it’s because of people. I’ve learned to let go of having to know how everything is going to fall – I know it’s all going to work out fine in the end. But, one person on my staff left last year and was replaced with someone who is a go-getter and high energy and who pitches in on whatever we need and does it all well. Another person, who would have thwarted this project at every step and yelled at me regularly, retired in December. It is amazing how much we allow people to do this kind of thing in the workplace, isn’t it?

    • a passion for fashion :

      yes, it is. the people you work with i think make all the difference. You can be at a firm, for example, that the whole world thinks is awful, but you work with the 6 great people there and your experience is wonderful. the opposite is equally true. My husband and I both work at big law firms . And amazingly, we both have great people to work with and ths love our jobs.

    • Couldn't Wait to Quit :

      People really make all the difference. I just quit a job where I could have coasted along for years, picking up a big paycheck for doing uninteresting work. I had been there quite a while, but a few new hires over the past year, and their relationship with my boss, just totally demotivated me and I dreaded going in every day. On the flip side, my job before that one involved high-stress, angry clients and annoying corporate overlords, but my co-workers were wonderful and despite the negatives I really enjoyed my job.

    • NOLA – Just want to let you know that your posts make me think you’d be an amazing person to work with/for. Seriously.

      • That’s so sweet! I think, in general, my supervisees are very happy. I work hard at it and try to be fair and acknowledge great work. People like the guy who just retired – nothing I could do would have ever made that better.

    • new york associate :

      People matter — a lot — but firm policies do make a difference, especially when for whatever reason — pregnancy/maternity leave, disability, part time, illness, etc. — you cannot perform at the top of your game. And no one can be at the top of their game 100% of the time.

  10. AnonInfinity :

    Completely over-analytical TJ: I’ve gotten lots of really kind, unsolicited, feedback from partners at my firm lately (YAY). It makes me want to tell them how much I love working here, how much fun I’m having, and that I’m happy to come to work every day. Too cheesy?

    • a passion for fashion :

      yes, too cheesy. that said, i would say thanks and let them know that you appreciate their comments. I dont think everyone knows how important it is to hear when you are doing good (as well as when you are doing bad). By letting them know their comments are appreciated, hopefully it will encorage them to keep giving such comments when warranted to you and others they work with.

    • Anon for this :

      As a small law partner, I would love to hear this kind of thing — that an associate is enjoying the work, is learning a lot and is happy to be with the firm. We have a part-time associate who came here with her father as part of the deal for a merger of his firm into ours. She doesn’t keep a regular schedule despite our repeated requests, is constantly “sick,” does truly half-*ssed work (the long threads recently started by young associates about proofreading, because they want to get things right, almost made me cry), is entirely uninterested in our practice area and just generally doesn’t care. (And don’t get me started on how she dresses . . . ) Maybe my perspective is skewed by having to deal with — and pay — someone who clearly doesn’t want to be here, so that I would really value an associate who is happy and motivated. But I think you can express your feelings in a professional way and the partners will appreciate it.

    • I think Anon for this’ comment illustrates that often, your supervisors already know your attitude based on your work and behavior. In her case, it’s obvious the associate doesn’t care; my guess is that in your case it’s obvious that you’re happy to be there.

      That said: recently I got a bunch of kudos from my own higher-ups after a specific task I completed, representing our unit to many VIPs. I found myself saying to each of them, after they gave the positive feedback, “it means a lot to hear that, thank you.” I didn’t systematically think it through beforehand, but I think it worked because it made clear: I care about our work, I’m glad to be here and want to continue to excel, and I value your assessment of my performance. This is basically your message, it sounds like.

      • AnonInfinity :

        I did say something along those lines at the time. It just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy to know that people are noticing my work.

    • karenpadi :

      Like you, I really enjoy working with the partners in my office and they give me great feedback. To avoid being a brown-nose, I have done a few things. At a Christmas party, during a conversation with the partner’s wife, I told her that I really enjoy working with the partner for reasons X, Y, and Z. During an informal debrief/status check on my changing responsibilities, I mentioned that this was a skill that some other mentors have mentioned I should be learning at this point in my career and that these mentors have (unsolicited) offered me a job at their firm but that I enjoy working here. I am also pretty active on the recruiting front which, for me, requires me to be enthusiastic about working here. And what better way to show I like the partners I work for than to do unbillable work that promotes the firm?

  11. From the purple pumps post a while back–my favorite are these from Cole Haan and they just went on sale! Maybe someone else can snag them at a cheaper price than I paid :)
    http://www.colehaan.com/colehaan/catalog/product.jsp?catId=102701&productId=460338&productGroup=519666

    • Yes. But.

      The La Roche Posay Anthelios products are great for sun protection, but if you’re sensitive to parabens, you should avoid them because they’re loaded.

  12. Legally Brunette :

    Reporting back on the Talbots Olivia dress that I believe AIMS recommended. I bought the teal color, which is absolutely gorgeous – a really nice bright blue. Unfortunately, the fit was off for me. My usual size dress was too va va voom and too tight across my hips. Going up a size made the dress look too big and untailored and was way too big in my bust area. It also did not nip enough in the waist for me.

    So unfortunately, the dress is a return for me. However, if you’re a classic hourglass, I think this would be a great dress for you.

    • I’m sorry it didn’t work out! Talbots is always hit or miss fit wise for me – that one just worked for me, but I can see how that would not be universal given that it is a pretty structured design and the fabric didn’t have a lot of give so it would either be right or would require some tailoring.

      • Legally Brunette :

        It is a great work dress, just not right for me. But I’m glad I tried it on because it made me feel a whole lot better about Talbots. Years ago their dresses were like sacks on me, but this was one was pretty fitted and tailored – just not the right fit on me.

  13. Just hired... :

    Question for the academics out there….do you put blog posts (that are relevant to your area of expertise, at least) on your C.V.? If so, what heading do you put them under? (I’m going into legal academia if that makes a difference.)

    • My sense is no. Given recent discussions that I have been a part of, most rank and tenure committees are looking for single-author scholarly publications or books. Obviously, people also track presentations and other kinds of publications, but I think blog postings are too informal, except for establishing reputation. I’m not in law so I checked the online CVs of a couple of our law faculty who I thought might do blog posting and they do not list anything like that on their CVs. If you are recently hired, check the online CVs of the faculty in your new department to see if they do otherwise.

    • PharmaGirl :

      I would say no to having blog posts on an offical resume but they could be submitted as writing samples.

    • River Song :

      I’m going to say no as well. I’m in the humanities, but I’ve not heard of anyone putting blog posts on their CV. If the posts have been (re)published in other formats–an online or print journal, for example– that’s another story, and I would include those. I would also double-check with people in your field. If you’re on the job market or going to be, I would check with friends who have been recently hired to see what people are doing now in your field, and what search committees might be expecting.

    • Depends on the blog. If you were invited to write a column for a good blog (not necessarily a well-known one) that is in your field and interesting, *and* you have other publications, sure. One thing it communicates is that you are tech-savvy and have contacts in interesting parts of the field.

      The random blog of your friend? No.

      • Just hired... :

        That’s a great point. I was thinking more along the lines of law blogs, especially ones that are well-read and well-respected in a given field.

        • Well, hey, [this website] is well-read and well-respected — it’s on the ABA top 100 blawg list. But we’d probably have to use real names if we wanted to cite our posts on our resumes. :)

  14. I also love the blouse, but mostely b/c I love fruegal Friday’s!!!!!

    It is JUST that I can not buy this for work, b/c the manageing partner will NOT let us wear blouses that do NOT tuck in NEATLY into our Skirt’s, and I want my 20% back!

    The manageing partner took us out yesterday to lunch and he did NOT pay any attention to me, but talked all the time to Fred. I did NOT even know people who’s name is FRED any more, but HE is a real FRED. The manageing partner thinks FRED would be good for the firm, but I dissagree.

    Fred started to look to much at me, and it was creepey! Then the manageing partner said if he joined the firm that I would mentor him. FRED grinned at me, and he has VERY dirty teeth from drinking to much coffee. Ptooey!

  15. Follow up on last weeks’ Lord & Taylor “coral” blazer–I’m returning it for several reasons:

    1. On my laptop, it looked like a bright, summery coral. In person, it’s more of a pale, pastel peach. That probably wasn’t a dealbreaker like the fit was, but did take down the excitement a notch.
    2. Poor fit that would’ve required enough alterations that it wasn’t worth it. It had shoulder pads, which I don’t need (my Butkus Award candidacy is locked up, thank you very much). And the sleeves were *huge*! I would wear this if I was looking to shoplift baguettes and needed room in the arms to stuff 2 or 3. I know I have scrawny arms compared to the average woman, but this was too much. Also, is it just me or aren’t most women’s forearms smaller than their upper arm? The sleeves were the same circumference on top and bottom, so the huge-ness was even more pronounced in the forearm section.

    I was sad to have to send it back, because I never wear blazers and thought this one was cute and feminine to break out of my cardigan rut, but I guess it’s back to looking secretarial for now ;)

    • The mental picture of smuggling baguettes in your sleeves totally cracked me up. My new-ish secretary is getting used to me laughing out loud at my desk at random moments and, I hope, no longer thinks I am certifiable.

    • MaggieLizer :

      I just got a blazer this week with the same problem at the sleeves and was also so, so confused. I know my tailor can take care of it, but seriously, if it weren’t for that it would have fit perfectly. Grrrr.

  16. Does anyone have suggestions for a memory foam mattress topper? I recently purchased a new mattress that turned out to be way too firm and I’d like to get a topper to help out, but I want to make sure I get a good quality one.

    • I got one about a month ago for $70 on Amazon – the “2.0″ Visco2 Ventilated Mattress Enhancer”

      It took two days for the minty smell to evaporate but now there is no rubbery odor. We got the 2″ thickness to lay on top of a fairly firm mattress. I am a total convert – it’s not too hot (as I feared) nor so doughy it feels like you’re stuck in bed – just enough depth so that I don’t wake up with my arm having fallen asleep.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      Get one that is at least 3in thick. Less than that and it honestly doesn’t make much difference and you may as well save your money.

      I have an Isotonic Structure Zone Topper that is 4in thick and I love it, but you can feel some of the ridges, even under the sheets + cover, so if that will bug you, don’t get it.

    • migraine Sufferer :

      You might find that after a month or so the mattress becomes more comfortable. The ones you try out in the store have about 30 days of use on them. Mattresses need to be “broken in.” You can try crawling around on the mattress and jumping on your knees to speed up the process.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Is it too late to exchange the mattress? Also consider getting a gel memory foam topper instead of just memory foam, which is known/notorious for heat retention. I think I saw gel memory foam toppers at Costco last weekend, so that’s worth a shot given Costco’s fabulous return policy.

  17. I accidentally returned amazon shoes to zappos–any way I can fix this?

  18. I got offered a new job! I’m excited and going to take it, but am having some serious anxiety about talking to my current supervisors. They are both wonderful people who I’d like to stay friends with after my departure (which will be a bit of a surprise). I’m not planning on presenting it as a I got this offer so pay me more and I’ll stay. My reasons for leaving have to do with work/life balance and the fact our team is consistently drowning in work with no end in sight. Any tips for communicating that while I love the substance of what I do, it is way too much for a single human being to handle? I’ve discussed this before with them, but had an offer unexpectedly crop up. Also, should I have a list in my back pocket of things that would make it worth it to stay? Any suggestions on how to ask for “more work life balance” and actually have it happen?

    • I think if work-life balance is imbalanced for a lengthy period of time, your team has been drowning with no end in sight, it is unrealistic to think you can ask for more work life balance and get it. I’d take the new job and part on good terms. If your current job loses more people due to situation, they may reconsider, but for now, I wouldn’t plan on negotiating the work volume and having it “stick” more than a month or two.

      • Thank you! I wrote that and then thought the same thing. Some times confirmation helps. Are there any things that are reasonable that I could ask for to achieve more work life balance? Regular telework schedule? Do people ever ask for these things…

        • new york associate :

          When you’re drowning in work, the only way to get out is to get more people in. Telecommuting buys you a little extra time, but doesn’t really fix the problem.

  19. So my SO, who I will probably be marrying within the next couple years, is Indian (as in from India, not Native American,) and I’m caucasian. We’ve had a number of discussions about me piercing my nose. He is in favor of it, and I kinda really want to, mainly because I think it will look well on me, and I like it’s connection to his heritage and his family.

    The problem, of course, is that I’m starting at a fairly conservative firm in October (ie, we wear jackets every day, except for Friday, where our business casual is no jackets). I know you’re not supposed to take the stud out for a number of months, in order to ensure it doesn’t heal up, so I think I’d have enough time if I got it done right away, but this would be it. I obviously wouldn’t wear it during work at all, but I’m wondering if it’ll be too much of a hassle to take in and out everyday, or if it would be visible even if I’m not wearing a stud.

    Basically, I’m just not sure if it’s worth it. Thoughts?

    • October may not be enough time to have it not heal up when you take it out. I have one, and almost a year after I had it done, I tried to put a ring in, it swelled a little, so I took the ring out and didn’t have a stud to put back in. By the time I went to get a stud the following day, I had to have a piercer repoke the hole — this is a little ick — it had closed on the inside of the nose side.

      It will also be visible with the stud out. Not hugely so, but a person can definitely see a hole if they’re looking/observant.

    • I’m Indian and the nose piercing isn’t obligatory for a wedding.
      Can you wear clip on nose rings? That should solve the problem.

    • I am from the indian subcontinent, and I did have have it a long time ago. But I just couldn’t find a way to make it look biglaw professional. I now have the resulting scar that takes some spackle to cover.

      If it helps, they do have noserings that fake a real piercing. both hoops and pretty studs.

    • anon in tejas :

      I am indian, and I haven’t done it. I would wait probably to check out your firm’s culture before doing something like that. It’s going to take a lot of explaining for you, as it is a culturally referential peircing, but not your obvious culture.

    • Legally Brunette :

      I LOVE nose rings and I think it’s really sweet that you’re considering getting one in part to connect with your SO’s Indian heritage. With that said, here a few thoughts:

      1) It’s hard to take the stud in and out. When I had a nose ring several years ago, I took it out once and literally within 15 minutes the hole had pretty much closed back up.

      2) I think it’s easier to “get away” with a nose ring if you’re South Asian because people understand that it is a cultural preference. Being white and having a nose ring AND working at a conservative law firm, I worry that you will stand out in the wrong way. For bad or good, when you’re Indian and have a nose ring, people tend to think it’s cool or exotic. When you’re non-Indian and have a nose ring, people think that you’re alternative, hippy, etc. Of course, I’m seriously generalizing here but people do have these prejudices.

      I agree with others that you should first try a clip on version and see if you feel comfortable wearing one every day. And maybe start at the firm first and see what the culture is like before getting the piercing.

    • Others have already covered your more technical questions. I am caucasian and married to an indian guy. I think the sentiment behind this idea is lovely, but I would make this decision based entirely on how much you want a pierced nose. If you wouldn’t do it if he were caucasian, I wouldn’t do it now. How many women in his family even have his? In my DH’s family, I’d put it at 50%, maybe less. A lot of the older women who did have pierced noses at one point (circa their weddings in india), haven’t worn nose rings in the 7 years I’ve know them, including my mother in law. Only a handful of women under age 30 in his family have this done and none of them currently wear studs regularly. And the nose jewelry for weddings is super traditional- I’ve been to 4 or 5 indian weddings w/ indian brides and none of them wore nose jewelry.

      Anyway, it’s hard to extrapolate from my situation to yours because every family is different. I’m just saying, as a caucasian woman who had an indian engagement, indian wedding (w/ mehndi and a bollywood-style dance), and is trying to learn the local language, my in-laws would have found it strange if I pierced my nose unless it had absolutely nothing at all to do with indian culture. Especially before we were even officially engaged. Anyway, just parse out your motivations before you make the decision and tread lightly. If your SO is anything like mine, he might not be the best barometer of social expectations. If he has a sister, I’d run it by her.

  20. Hey gang, it’s me again!

    I’m throwing my mom a surprise 60th birthday party in about a month. I’m bringing in friends and family as an added surprise. I’d love to have some cute, fun party games or things to give her (like everyone signing a big poster, etc). Anyone have any fun or unusual ideas? I’d love to make this special since, well, she’s the best. :)

    • Senior Attorney :

      One party game I really like is to have a bunch of name tags with the names of famous people (real or fictional, contemporary or historical) and as everybody comes in the door, you slap one on their back. They then have to find out “who they are” by asking “yes or no” questions of the other guests. You can say “you can’t ask any one person more than three questions” to keep people mixing and mingling. It’s a great way to break the ice with a bunch of people who don’t know one another, and the names you use can be anything you like. Maybe people who were famous when she was growing up? Or musicians she likes? Her favorite fictional characters?

      Have a great time! You are awesome for doing this!

    • You can ask everyone to bring in a picture of her (if they have one) and then have like little gift tags to hang off a tree where they can attach the pictures and write in a special memory about your mom. That would be nice.

      Also, those cakes where you get child-hood pictures of people printed on them are always fun. :-P

    • along those lines, what about making a photo book with pics from her life & having people sign that?

    • Great ideas, thanks!

    • Anonymous :

      For my parents’ 50th anniversary, I got a great guestbook/scrapbook and sent a page to all of the guests in advance and asked them to include photos, notes, etc., and then assembled them in the book. It was great. You could also just give the pages to people when they arrive. It’s guestbookstore dot com.

  21. Threadjack :

    Long lead up to a question: My husband and I both graduated in 2011. We had a student loan of 16,000 and a car loan of 16,000. We are both lucky to be employed and have been renting and paying down the debt the past 6 months so we’re now at 20,000 total. I just changed jobs from a clerkship to a stable long-term career, something we thought we were still years away from so now we are thinking about buying a house next year. In your experience, does the hive think we should keep paying down the debt aggressively and then not have a 20% downpayment and take PMI or make minimum payments on the debt (totaling like 400 a month) and save between now and then to have the 20% required.

    We’re both property virgins so any advice would be appreciated! We’re planning to buy a modest house in an area with low property values , so about $150,000.

    • We chose (with more student loan debt than you, frankly) to make the 20% downpayment. You get a much better interest rate, you don’t have PMI, and you have a greater amount of equity in your house from the start, so if you do have to sell, it will be easier.

    • My answer about saving vs. agressively paying down debt depends on the interest rate on your loans, but I wouldn’t buy a house if you need PMI. To me, PMI is just a huge waste of money — it’s better to postpone buying a house until you have the 20% down payment.

      On a separate note, I’m hugely jealous of living in an area where you can get a modest house for $150k.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        You’re so right, Anastasia, but I wish you weren’t. With Facebook’s IPO today, the real estate market around here just got even more insane. The likelihood of our ever being able to come up with 20% down just went from slim to miniscule. $700k for a 2 bed/2bath condo plus closing costs means $150k in cash. Apparently one can buy an entire house for that money where the OP is. SIGH

    • Seattleite :

      I’d pay down all your debt, then get an emergency fund and then get 20% down, and *then* buy. Houses are always way more expensive that we think they will be, and owning a house without an emergency fund is disaster waiting to happen (or more debt waiting to happen, which can lead to disaster). It’s tempting to get in a hurry to buy, but I promise that there will be houses for sale in 2014 and beyond.

      I’m over 40, so all of my friends have been homeowners for many years. None of us says, ‘wish I’d bought a house sooner,’ but several of us say, ‘wish I’d waited to buy my first house until I was financially more settled.’

    • Do whatever you can not to pay PMI. It’s a total waste of money and benefits you not at all.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I say talk w/ a lender. We found a local lender that found us a loan w/ very small up front PMI (less than 2k) and we only need 5% down. No monthly PMI. We are also in a low COL area so the houses we are looking at are $230k max.

      We tend to take a bit more financial risks than others though and are comfortable with it. We still own a home in another state and rent that one out.

      I loved the blog post commenter Kathryn did. She basically says stop trying to figure out if it is smarter to rent or buy and invest in your happiness and buy if that is what you really want. Stop figuring out if you will be “on top.” Will you be happier w/ a place to call your own? Then if you can afford it, do it.

      Different people have different definitions of whether they can afford something. Know yours.

    • Put 20% down on a house. You will get a better interest rate and just in general have an easier time of getting approved for a mortgage. If you put down 20% and get a 30 year mortgage, your monthly payments shouldn’t be too high (unless you have crazy high property taxes, which I’m guessing you won’t have since you’re looking at modest homes at 150K in an area with low property values). I’d think between you and husband, you’ll still be able to put a good amount of money each month to the student loans after paying the mortgage.

    • Threadjack :

      Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the comments. I think we’ll call our bank and talk with someone there to find out more about the PMI and avoiding it.

  22. Co-worker from Hell :

    I posted a few weeks ago about a co-worker that was trying to keep me out of meeting in an attempt to cut me off from infomation so I would have to rely on him and he could portry the image that he was “managing” me. Well my actual manager called him out on his behavior and I thought the issue was resolved but he is at it again!

    There was a meeting for a projct I am working on (same project that he has tried to exclude me from previously) and I discovered I was not invited. I didn’t find this out until a day after the meeting happened. A different co-worker in the meeting confirmed the meeting. I sent the co-worker from hell (CWFM) a note asking if any meeting had taken place and he replied “no, not formally”. So in our next conferece call with CWFH and the real manager I asked the same question again. CWFH tried to cut me off by saying “I already answered to your email” the other people on the call said yes there was a meeting Monday. I said I was not invited and asked when the next meeting would take place and if there are notes I can review from the meeting I missed. I am sure the manager picked up that I was intentionally excluded from the meeting.

    I also found out yesterday from another co-worker (A) that CWFH has been telling my manager he is “disappointed” in my work because of the time it has taken to get it completed. The reason it has taken longer to complete is because CWFH has not completed the tasks I have assigned to him. I already shared this with the manager before I knew CWFH complained to him about it. The manager mentioned to A that CWFH did this and he doesn’t know why he is acting like this.

    Sorry this is so long but the bottom line is I am dealing with a jerk who is not beyond using subterfuge to get his way. I don’t want to give the impression to the manager that he is managing middle schoolers but I don’t know what to do. I was thinking about setting up a one on one meeting and asking him point blank what is going on. Thoughts?

    • haha… you just put in words what I’m currently facing at work. I am going to watch out for replies for this post

    • Sorry for the typos! Just to clarify the CWFH is the one who is responsible for setting up the meetings so not being invited is in no way an accident!

    • It seems like your manager is pretty clued in to what is going on, although it sounds so terrible to have to deal with this person. I would just keep acting professional about it, which it sounds like you have been doing. You say that CWFH is the one who is delaying projects by not completing things on time–do you have email records of your polite reminders to him about deadlines, just to back up your side of things?

    • To quote Carolyn … GAH! Do not set up a one-on-one meeting. That’s just asking for he-said-she-said trouble. Try not to be alone with this person.

      Go to your manager and explain the situation, say you thought it was resolve but it’s not, and ask if you can have a meeting – the three of you – to discuss. Think about other action steps you can take with your manager’s support and suggest them to the manager in your one-on-one session with the manager (like: copying manager on all emails to CWFH, etc).

      • What Circe said.

        I’d also add that your manager needs to be really firm with this troublesome coworker. He (the coworker) is not just testing your boundaries but also the manager’s.

        If I was the manager, I’d have nipped this in the bud from the first get-go and let the person know that under no circumstances should this sort of thing happen ever again. And if it did, I’d get the gears oiled for firing this person for trying to usurp my managerial authority, which is also what he’s doing.

    • OP with Co-worker from Hell – it sounds like you are in a project environment. Hopefully, my advice won’t sound harsh (it’s not meant that way) and of course you can take my advice or not as you wish. And as I don’t have full information and I apologize if I don’t understand the situation correctly.

      Unfortunately, it may seem to your manager that he is managing two middle-school students, though your manager sounds like he is a bit short on management skills or is not providing sufficient oversight. Talking with other co-workers about your differences may appear to be gossiping or going behind CWFH’s back too.

      Who is actually in charge of the project? On one hand, you say that “CWFH has not completed the tasks I have assigned to him” and on the other hand, CWFH is in charge of setting up meetings. (I’ve read your posts last week and this week – apologize that I can’t remember who is in charge.) A project can’t succeed with two leaders who don’t agree. I don’t have my PMP, but the principals of project management are similar to any good team project: set measureable goals, agree on them, develop a time-line and measurement points. Use the SMART mnemonic to set parameters – goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

      If he’s in charge, ask for a meeting via email and propose that you nail down who does what, deliverables and dates. Bring along a scribe – someone who is part of the project who can take notes. Develop a recap of the meeting and email to the entire team with a cc: to the manager. Provide daily/weekly update emails to the whole team stating your goals, next steps and road-blocks, if any. If he gives you tasks that are impossible and won’t take your input, report that to the manager and team, either very logically and persuasively via email or in a private meeting with your boss after you’ve exhausted other alternatives.

      If you’re in charge, you’ve got to get his buy in on the tasks you “assign” to him. If you don’t, the team will fail. Find out why he’s not doing the tasks – just to be difficult, because he thinks they’re useless goals, sabotage, too busy, whatever. (If he doesn’t give a reason, you get the default answer – sabotage.) Again, propose a meeting via email with a copy to the boss and suggest topics to be covered in the meeting and decision points.

      Bring along a team-mate or two even if they’re not involved in your specific task: They will help keep the team on track and reduce the “he-said-she-said” risk. If you can’t get him to agree on deliverables, send out the notes from the meeting and put the monkey on his back: The email should ask him to respond by X time with results from tasks A, B and C and if he misses the time deadline, report that by email to the group. Document the progress of your part of the project once or twice a week, highlighting anything that is not done.

      If he won’t take direction from you, it will be obvious to your manager via the emails that CWFH isn’t pulling his weight. Be careful not to engage in whispered campaigns trying to get allies on your side. You may be right but you could still get burned with this strategy.

      Good luck!

  23. So what’s the deal with managers who find out you’ve been interviewing else where?

    I’m consulting at the moment and my manager offered a full time position. I told him I’m interested and that I’ll think about it. In reality, i’ve had a TON of problems here, people have been extremely rude to me, I’ve never gotten any recognition for the work I’ve done – I keep getting praised from upper management when I show my work in meetings, but soon after such incidents, I get a cold treatment from the rest of my team including my manager. I’ve expressed this earlier, had a crying episode, given my two week notice, but he talked me back into working here, and the team had started behaving a little better. I know I’m needed and I do the best job possible.

    Two weeks ago, the manager saw me all dressed up in a suit and pantyhose and it was pretty obvious that I was going for an interview elsewhere. I do know that it may upset him but he’s been acting like a jerk ever since. It’s back to my pre-crying episode.

    I have no intention of staying here. When I’m so passionate about my work, I want to be at a pplace where all of my sincerity is recognized. They practically treat me like I’m nobody at the moment. I know it’s time to leave but isn’t it petty of him and his team to behave that way. I mean, with what cheek can they offer me a job and treat me this way?

    • Just to clarify, the only reason I said I was “interested” in the full time offer was because I wanted this as my backup. I was only trying to keep my options open

    • anon in tejas :

      I would suggest that you decide whether or not they are a viable option for you or not. If they are, you need to sit down with your boss and get some terms on the table (i.e. I have been interviewing, and I’d like very much to stay here, but X, Y, and Z are issues and if I do decide to stay, I’d like to see A, B, C)

      If they are not a viable option, do the best job that you can. And count your days. They’ll likely be pissed, but they can’t really do anything about it– except let you go when you give your notice.

      I felt like I was in a similar position, and actually no one noticed I was interviewing and my resignation was a “huge shock” to everyone.

  24. Shopping help? :

    My SO just got a new job and lost about 40 pounds in the last six months. He needs a whole new professional wardrobe and we’re on a tight budget. Any tips on where to shop and what to buy? I know nothing about menswear and he’s relying on me for advice. I, in turn, am hoping the hive can help. :)

    • It depends on where you are regionally, but if you can find a good outlet shopping center that is how I do it. Most outlets also have a website where you can print extra coupons – for instance, we have a Tahari outlet here in CA, and when I went a few weeks ago they had a 20% off any purchase of $100+ which was added on top of any discount they were offering in the store.

      When you get to the outlet, the will also often have yet another coupon book to give you with the “daily deals.” Check online, because sometimes you need to print a little voucher to get one.

      Our outlets have a Brooks Brothers, Saks, Tahari, and a few others that would have men’s suits. Banana Republic has great men’s stuff, as does JCrew but the JCrew outlet doesn’t always carry the work wear line.

      My other tactic is watching my email. Banana Republic is great about sending out daily coupons, for instance 40% off one item. Once I had my basics, I watched for these and I’ve been picking up one item at a time. BR’s sizing seems pretty standard, so once you know his size you’re set.

    • I’d also think about what he currently owns and if any of it was particularly high quality (like if he had a couple really nice suits or something), he should perhaps consider taking them in and seeing if he could get them tailored at a good tailor — as that would probably be cheaper than the several hundred dollars that a nice new suit costs.

      Also, for men’s clothing, my husband really likes Macy’s and JC Penneys and tends to get good deals there (not necessarily the most stylish place in the world…but men’s work clothes are all the same anyway). I’d also check out Target.

    • One of my brothers gets stuff from JosA Banks a lot. They always have deals to the tune of buy one, get one free (or close to it), so make sure you’re not paying full price. Another brother loves JC Penny. Brooks Brothers sport shirts are great if it’s business casual–you can generally get them at the outlet. Most of my husband’s suits are from Syms.

    • I’d try thrift stores/second hand resale shops. Don’t know where you are, but in SF, my SO gets almost all of his workwear at these — menswear holds up well & lots of really nice designer stuff cheaply.

    • Seattleite :

      Nordstrom’s men’s sale starts June 15. Go in now, make friends with a sales associate, and be clear about your budget. Men can get by with fewer clothes than women, so I’d vote for buying fewer suits/slacks of higher quality.

    • Shopping help? :

      Thanks everybody! Now I just need to develop the willpower to shop for him and not for myself for a while. lol

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