Tuesday’s TPS Report: Split-Neck Dress in Windowpane

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

J.Crew Split-Neck Dress in WindowpaneI love this print because it seems so much bolder than a simple windowpane, but that’s all it is — a simple pattern that men have worn for years (centuries?). I would avoid wearing the dress with red, but would otherwise have fun with a pop of color (and perhaps mising other black-and-white prints with shoes or even a scarf). The dress was $228, but is now marked to $198, but with code MERRYMERRY you can take 25% off the dress, bringing it down to $149. If you buy just a few dollars of merchandise more (such as, say, this $6 screen cleaning wipe), you get to take 30% off your purchase, and the dress and the wipe comes down to $142. Sales do not seem to be final. (You may want to also check out our thread last year on people’s favorite styles to buy at J.Crew.)  J.Crew Split-Neck Dress in Windowpane

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  1. Jcrew is also doing a cardholder discount of 30% regardless of purchase price (though you still need at least $150 for free shipping) – cardcheer.

  2. Love the dress! Although I’ve been totally geeking on houndstooth lately. I should have bought the Ivanka Trump Angeline in houndstooth. Saw some houndstooth gloves in a catalog. I guess I need to actually go in stores. I’ve been avoiding the mall.

    • Why is it so hard to find women’s clothing in the same basic suiting patterns that men’s suits come in all the time?! I am tired of solids, and super bright colors are too much for me, I wish i could have more houndstooths and windowpanes….

  3. Question for the hive: I once heard someone say that her family philosophy was to put her marriage first, above her children, which in effect put her children first by ensuring a stable and loving marriage to raise the kids. How do you all feel about that statement? It resonates with me because, while I want both a marriage and kids, I cringe every time I see what I perceive to be women putting their kids’ happiness above all else, including their own mental well being and their marriage/LTR. It just seems like an awful way to live, and coming from a broken home myself, I can’t imagine bringing kids into the world only to have my marriage fall apart later. I know you can’t always prevent divorce, but how do you ladies feel about this “putting your marriage first” mantra?

    • anonforthis :

      I agree with it. I’ve only been married a year and we have my husband’s child with us 50% of the time. I can completely see how you get lost in your kids to the detriment of your marriage. They need a lot of focus and attention and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the fact that you are completely responsible for this little person (whereas your spouse is an adult who presumably can fend for him/herself). But having us be a strong, loving, united front makes the parenting part SO much easier. We are expecting our first child together and I know I am really going to have to work to make sure I put my husband first but I do think it will help us. I can see now why my parents really made an effort to go out at least once a month and why they took a kid-free vacation every few years.

    • I can see this as being a flame-inducing discussion (I think I have heard this one some awful reality show or other — RHOC?). But I can see some truth in something I heard once a long time ago that one of the best gifts you can give you child is to love their other parent. It doesn’t always work out and that can make life a lot harder on everyone, but in a way the children are small and vulerable and will bear most of the downside risk if the parents’ relationship doesn’t work out.

      • I agree with this – the best gift parents can give your children is a good relationship with each other.

        • +1 A teacher told me this when I was a freshman and it really stuck with me.

        • I generally agree, but I would put it another way. One of the best things you can give your children is a loving, supportive, safe, and stable home. One of the best ways to accomplish that goal is to have that sort of relationship with your partner– safe, loving, and supportive. I think this also loops back into also putting yourself first. You will be most comfortable and most happy in a relationship and home that is supportive and loving. Of course, this all dependent on having a partner that shares these values and will be loving and supportive of you and with you.

    • FOOEY! I disagree. I think that b/c Children will alway’s be there, even if the marrage dissolve’s, So you MUST put children first b/c you bring them into the world, you must take care of them.

      If I ever had had a child with Alan (which was lucky that I did NOT), I would haveto care for the child, but NOT Alan. He became an alchoholic I no longer needed in my life. So it helps to be abel to get rid of husband’s who are losers, but you will alway’s have children. Fortunately, I do NOT have to worry about it. I need a NEW GUY to marry me and to have a baby with me so that I can have both. I also have a good job that I enjoy doing, so all is well for now. Since I already have a coop apartement to live in, all I need is a non-drunk man to marry me. If only I can find a guy to marry I will have everything I need. YAY!

      Myrna gave me the number of her freind’s freind in Myrtle Beach and want’s me to call him. FOOEY! Men should call women, right?

      • Baconpancakes :

        Ellen, you’re a strong and independent woman! You don’t have to wait for him to call you! If you call and have a great conversation, you can tell him to call you, and then if he doesn’t FOOEY on him, but if he does you’ll know he’s interested and willing to put in the effort. Just don’t call him a second time until he calls you, fair’s fair.

    • Seems sensible enough the way you explain it but also bear in mind that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to marriages, families and child-raising. Heck, one size doesn’t even fit one marriage all of the time, or at least not my nearly 20-year old one.

      • Thanks. I have kids with special needs and of course I put them first, because they need someone to advocate for them. Has my marriage suffered? Maybe to a degree, but it’s still pretty solid. Apparently parents of special-needs kids have very high divorce rates, so I don’t say that lightly. In any event, all I need (not) is guilt because I’m not having “date nights” with my husband, or showing him I care by picking up his dry cleaning.

        So, I guess I agree with ss and ELLEN.

        • I’m sorry if my post was upsetting at all- definitely not my intention. I can’t imagine what it’s like to raise a special needs child.

        • Also, to clarify what I mean by putting the marriage first- I don’t mean picking up someone’s dry cleaning (though maybe for some people that’s important)- I meant, making sure you have adult conversations at dinner sometimes- not letting the kids overrun every conversation (I’ve seen this in my family and it’s really annoying- I’m not saying kids should be seen and not heard, but they also shouldn’t be indulged at every turn), occasionally taking a parents-only vacation (if that’s an option) or just taking time to show the other person you care and that your only connection isn’t just running the kids’ schedules.

          • Actually, I agree with your points about not letting the kids’ details entirely take over life.

          • anonforthis :

            That’s mostly what I meant in my post too. Sometimes I find my conversations with my husband are 90% about stepchild and school/sports/scheduling/doctors appts/etc. and I have to step back and focus on connecting with him and not just talking about kid stuff.

          • YES. As a person without kids (yet), I am always annoyed and flabbergasted by parents who allow their children to monopolize all conversation, interrupt at every turn, and make the focus of every meal completely on the children. That just didn’t happen in my house. There were times when we were totally indulged and plenty of times where we were told “we’re having an adult conversation” or “the adults are talking right now.”

      • yeah that makes sense. I feel like this may be one of those mantras I take with me into marriage (if/when it happens) but is harder to implement once I have kids…

    • I think the key is what you say here: “women putting their kids’ happiness above all else, including their own mental well being and their marriage/LTR.” It’s not about choosing to put your marriage first instead of your kids; it’s about ensuring that you yourself have a stable life outside of your kids. You shouldn’t subordinate everything about your own life and desires for your children or your romantic partner.

      • I agree. Kids benefit from NOT being the center of their parents’ world all the time. They benefit from their parents taking time to focus on each other and maintaining identities that are separate from the connection to their kids (Johnny’s Mom, vs Actual Name).

        The sentiment also raises the point (to me anyway) that your children don’t have to be endlessly happy. Safe, loved, well cared for, yes – those are a parent’s job. But it’s also a parent’s job to teach a child to deal with sadness, disappointment, and not getting everything you want.

        • +100000000

          “But it’s also a parent’s job to teach a child to deal with sadness, disappointment, and not getting everything you want.”

          Yes, yes, yes. You will not win every time. You are not always the best. Everyone doesn’t get a trophy just for showing up.

          • This times infinity. Raising kids these days is hard enough, but to constantly fight the battle that “everyone wins” and “there is no such thing as second place” is so frustrating. I tell my kids all the time that life isn’t fair, there will be sadness and disappointment. Kids need to learn how to handle adversity.

            To the original question, I have a friend with a daughter the same age as my boys (13) and that girl runs her parent’s household. She gets what she wants at the drop of a dime, schedules are made around her and her wishes. She actually threw a crying fit in the middle of the mall a few weeks back because her mom didn’t want to go all the way back to the other side of the mall to make a second trip into American Eagle. (mom gave in, by the way, and took her back and bought her $100 worth of clothes) It’s actually painful to see what that is doing to my friend and her husband’s marriage – although they have no one to blame but themselves because they have been raising their daughter to believe that her behavior is appropriate. Marriage is important, kids are important. I think there’s something to be said for balance. Kids need to feel loved and secure, and so does your spouse or partner.

          • My 13-year-old daughter also threw a crying fit last week after we left the mall — it had to do with friends, middle school issues, wanting to get her way, insecurities, and all that comes with being a middle school girl. She was a piece of cake to raise until she hit puberty. So, I’m not your friend MU JD, but I feel for her. I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done (my son is completely different), just the challenges of girls at this age and her high-strung personality in particular. Our lives do not revolve around her given that we have 3 jobs between me and my husband, another child to raise, and my parents nearby, but still, this is tough. We’ve made it clear that such behavior is inappropriate, and yet it happens, which is either a sign of willful defiance or her not being able to control her emotions at this age. Who knows; we are just trying to be firm and get on with our lives despite all her drama.

          • In Rem, I have a 13 year old girl too and I hear you. Both my therapist and hers tell us it’s just her roller coaster of hormones and inability to think about things long term that lead to these “I’m overwhelmed and now I’m going to have a meltdown” problems. Most of hers also revolve around friends, boys, and middle school issues. We’re basically doing exactly what you suggest, being firm and getting on with our lives despite her drama, which I think is a different picture painted than the one above (child gets what she wants at the drop of a hat). It’s fine for her to meltdown (because in some ways she can’t help it), but she has to learn that crying isn’t going to change anything, the parent’s decision still stands.

        • I agree 100% with this.

          My husband and I don’t have children yet, but have seen other couples in our family really struggle because they put their children far above all else – including themselves and their relationship. We’ve talked at length about the fact that when we have children, we want to really make it a priority to not let ourselves and our relationship get lost. Children are SO observant, and I just don’t feel like I can teach my future children how to nurture and cultivate loving relationships without demmonsrating that in my own life.

          I know it’s easier said than done, and everyone’s situation is different, but I remember the hardest time in my parent’s marriage was when they stopped going out without us kids because they were too busy or didn’t want to leave us or something along those lines. Once they stepped back and really took the time to be a couple again, their marriage – and our family dynamic as a whole – really changed for the better.

        • saltylady :

          Times one squillion!!!! I was just reading about how young adults lack “frustration tolerance.” My husband and I were like, oh yeah, we can arrange for some of that with our kids. No, guys, we are not staying out until 10pm because the santa float will be here by then. I’m sorry, you’re going to have wait until the cookies are baked to have one. Nope, not doing iphones at age 8 or 10. Let the frustration sink in . . .

      • I agree. We were jealous of and even resented our mom’s independent life and hobbies, but I see now how important they were to her happiness and wellbeing and how unfair it was of all of us (including our dad) to expect her to give that up.

        As an aside, I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to remain friends even in the years after their divorce. Their good relationship is the most important gift they have given me and my brothers. I will always be grateful to them.

        • I had a tough time when my mom returned to full-time work (which was funny, because she had only a brief period of time out of the workforce – she worked full time from my birth until I was five or so, and returned to full-time work three years later), and was definitely jealous, but it was so, so good for me to see my mother as a person who had demands and obligations other than me.

          • saltylady :

            I agree with this, and I hope it’s true. I feel like some of the moms I know are setting up a dynamic where kids view women, or at least moms, as people who are at your beck and call, and who would have no reason to interact in the world outside the house and the elementary school. Not because they stay home, but because of the specific way they deal with their kids.

          • My nephews were SO BAD about this for awhile. My SIL did so much for them that they didn’t even know how to make a sandwich! And they never said please or thank you to their mother. It was appalling! I fussed at them about it and corrected them when they said “Hey mom, make me a sandwich” as did my stepmother (another strong woman). My SIL realized that, as they became teenagers, they really did need to learn to do things for themselves and they are much better now. They are such sweet, loving boys, I hated to see that.

        • Lady Harriet :

          +1 My parents have what I call the world’s most amiable divorce. They’ve been split up much longer than they were ever married at this point, but they do a good job of making us feel like a whole family and not two separate factions. They came to visit me one time in college and a friend of mine said “If you hadn’t already told me your parents were divorced, I never would have known it when I was actually around them.” I realized how lucky I am. My parents have keys to each other’s houses (sometimes cars, too!) My mom still cuts my dad’s hair. I’m so grateful for this.

          • My Stepkids' Mom :

            Do you mind if I ask, has either parent re-partnered? Also, did either one ever bully the other?

            My 18 year old SD has a friend whose parents sound very similar to yours. She is forever saying that her friend’s parents’ divorce is normal and her parents’ divorce is bad. I appreciate that her life would be easier if her parents behaved like yours do. On the other hand, my husband’s life would be easier if my SD’s mom hadn’t bullied him and her kids for the past 20+ years. Also, neither of the “good divorce” parents has re-partnered after many years divorced, and I wonder what message that sends their kids?

            If this is too intrusive, I understand and please feel free to ignore. I have just always wondered how to respond when my SD brings this up. What I want to say is “Your friend’s parents have sublimated their chance at a happy second marriage, and anyway this can never happen until your mom stops yelling all.the.time.for.no.reason and breaking ever.single.promise.she,makes (which you somehow ignore even when she does it to you).” Thankfully, I have managed to smile and change the subject instead.

          • Lady Harriet :

            I wouldn’t say that there has really been any bullying between my parents. They weren’t the best match for a number of reasons, but that wasn’t an issue, at least that I’ve observed. This isn’t to say that they’re BFFs or never fight. My mom is definitely type A and my dad is type B, so she is more domineering, but there isn’t really bullying or manipulation. Neither of my parents has remarried or really dated, and I realize the family dynamic would change if either one did. However, my parents were in their mid-late 30′s when they married and early-mid 40′s when they divorced, so age may have something to do with it. My father is naturally very shy and doesn’t enjoy socializing much, so I would be shocked if he ever remarried.

            My mom had been married before (in her late 20′s) but her first husband turned out to be a violent alcoholic and they divorced after a couple of years. My mom is not opposed to the idea of getting married again, but she’s pretty happy with her life and not actively seeking it out. Up until she moved for a job 2 years ago she was living in a town where she didn’t fit in culturally or politically, so the population of people she’d be willing to date was miniscule anyway. In many ways my parents’ divorce is like a marriage between wealthy people in previous centuries who weren’t well-suited to each other–they live apart and have their own concerns, but when it comes down to the bottom line they’re still a big part of each other’s lives. I don’t think they’ve sublimated their chances at happiness by any means, but it doesn’t sound exactly analogous to the situation you’ve encountered.

          • My Stepkids' Mom :

            Dear Lady Harriet,

            Thanks for the details. Your parents’ situation sounds more like my SD’s friend’s parents than it does like her own parents. My gameplan remains to let her discover why by herself. For human psychology reasons that I confess I do not understand, if you tell someone something unpleasant, she will hate you (not the thing), even if what you tell her is true and she hates that it is true. Let her discover it by herself, and she hates the thing (not you). Go figure.

            I did chuckle a bit about your parents’ ages when they divorced playing a part in their not having repartnered. I was 30 when I divorced and 40 when I met my husband (47 now). He was 43 when he divorced and 44 when we met. Love can happen, even at the most unexpected time.

            Anyway, many thanks for the insight. Take care.

    • I guess it makes sense, but it’s an awfully weird and cringey way to phrase it. It almost sets it up as spouse vs children. I think spouses need to be partners and see themselves as a team (whether they have kids or not). And well-being of kids as well as health of the relationship are goals that the team is working towards at all times.

    • My Stepkids' Mom :

      A lot of the research on remarriages with children says that the relationship between the two adults must be the first priority precisely because that is the best way to secure the household’s stability and future, which is best for all the kids involved.

      FWIW the research also says that remarriages with children have the highest rate of divorce EXCEPT that once they pass three (five?) years, they have become so strong that they have the lowest rate of divorce.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Your second paragraph makes a lot of sense to me. My dad and birth mother went through a truly ugly divorce at the end of a very bad marriage that I have some memory of. My dad ended up marrying my stepmother and I got 3 new siblings out of the deal. Things were really difficult for all of us for a few years at first but now we have an incredibly tight knit family and I view their marriage as something to aspire to.

        I was 8 when my dad and birth mother divorced so I remember some of their marriage. My understanding of it is not that it was bad and fell apart because one of them put us kids ahead of the marriage. I’ve talked to my dad about it some and it seems like they had plenty of issues before having kids.

        So I guess I see both sides of this and I agree with the poster above who said there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. A bad marriage, even if it is prioritized over other things can be harmful to children and I can see how in certain circumstances putting the children above everything else can be harmful to a marriage and children as well. Tesyaa provided an example where prioritizing the children’s needs can be very necessary.

        I do think it is important for everyone to make sure they are taking care of their own needs too. Put on your own oxygen mask first and all of that.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          Oh and my opinion comes solely from my experience as a kid in these situations and not from being a parent myself. I’m sure that, as with anything, my views would change from personal experience.

      • I just ended a three year relationship with a man with two children from his first marriage because I felt like our relationship was never the priority and never would be. His children and his ex-wife’s needs ALWAYS superseded mine. I don’t think you can apply absolutes to relationships whether they are parent/child, spousal, or sibling relationships. While I believe that your children should be “A” priority, you should not lose yourself in their needs/wants. I grew up in a two-parent house where my parents made their marriage the foundation for our family. My brother and I did not always get our way, nor were our needs always considered more important. My parents presented a united front to us, pursued hobbies/interests and friendships outside of our hobbies/friends’ parents, and set a great example for how things could be. I realized that I was not getting what I needed from my partner and ended the relationship because I was tired, frustrated and hurt that my needs were always going to be subordinated to the ex and the kids. I felt like I was doing all of the compromising. I would have been reluctant to bring a third child into the mix. I agree with premise that the relationship between the two adults must take priority. That doesn’t mean you are neglecting your kids and it certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be situations where one person’s needs subordinate another’s.

        • My Stepkids' Mom :

          I’m so sorry about this. It must be hard. I could never, ever do it without the full partnership my husband and I have. There are just too many opportunities for chaos and scheming to invade our household, and we protect ourselves/our household/his kids from them as a team. I feel for you, and I’m sorry.

          • Thanks very much for replying. I’ve read many of your responses/much of your advice on this site over the past year and without knowing you IRL you were a tremendous help as I was navigating the possibility of stepkids and being a second wife.

    • Clementine :

      Totally agree that there is no one size fits all; however, a happy, functional, lower-stress, household is important for kids. One of the primary ways that I think my spouse and I can work to achieve this is to maintain a strong, respectful partnership. I think that means putting your marriage first.

      My parents did not (although this was a case where addiction was put first), ended up divorced and the subsequent financial stress, emotional distress, worry, chaos, etc. that I experienced as a child was definitely noticed and was not something that in any way contributed positively to my upbringing.

      I also think that it’s important for kids and human beings in general to realize that the world does not revolve around them. One of those things that my mother drilled into my head is having respect for others- including respect for their time and priorities.

    • I admit that I’m stealing this idea from a ‘r e t t e (shoutout to the wise CBK) but my plan for future marriage and babies is to be Team Lastname. There will probably be times when marriage comes first, and times when kids come first, and times when I come first (or future husband does), but at the end of the day, it’s about the Team.

    • I think there’s no such thing as a winning formula for this sort of thing. But I think pretty much everything in life requires a certain amount of balance and moderation so whatever you do, balancing of interests is probably a good thing.

      For your specific question, I know people who seem to really value their marriage above all else and make a wonderful family life for themselves and their kids as a result, and I know others who have unhealthy relationships where they focus on each other to the detriment of their kids (these people also tend to have volatile relationships, get jealous, suspect cheating, etc.). Ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you. I do think there is a measure of wisdom in not forgetting your SO just because you suddenly have kids. I have heard enough women (and men to some extent) say things like, “I’m a mom, I can’t worry about looking cute and shaving my legs” where ultimately I don’t think that helps their relationships, their self esteem or for that matter their kids. But to each their own. I don’t have kids so I try not to judge. I do hope that when/if I do begat a child or two of my own, I won’t just discard my individual identity and relationships (friendships count too) out the window in favor of just reading cardboard books and attending Mommy and Me classes.

      • I think for some people, it’s freeing and does help both their self-esteem and their relationships to not be worrying about looking cute or shaving their legs on a daily basis. If it’s because they feel like they don’t deserve or have time to do something nice for them because they’re a mom, that’s not good. If it’s because they no longer hinge their self worth or the solidness of their relationship on particular appearance signifiers, that can be.

        • Agree on the freeing aspect. If it empowers you and makes you happy, awesome. But it doesn’t always and you have to make sure your SO is on the same page with you too.

    • I would strongly agree, with a few caveats – first, that of course it should be reasonable and consider that the child is weaker and more helpless (i.e., if the spouse is abusive, the kid comes first; in a dangerous situation the kid comes first – obvious stuff), and I think it’s different if the kid is from a different relationship – in that case, the parent has a responsibility to the kid that the spouse does not, so they’re not united as a team in the same way (they should certainly be united as a team, but the responsibilities are different), so in that case, the parent has the first responsibility to the kid.

      Perhaps a better way to put this comes from the priest who did my husband’s and my pre-marital sessions – he said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to be a good husband to their mother. (and vice versa, of course).

      • I am a banana. :

        I disagree that the team is united in a different way with a child from a prior marriage or that the non parent’s responsibilities are different. I don’t see that as a sustainable relationship.

        We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but in my little house with my SO’s son, our responsibility is to be a supportive, loving home for him (together), and we handle the unpleasantness that comes with his ex-wife (together) and enjoy the sweet moments that come from a wonderful kid (together).

        I think approaching it any other way is dooming the relationship to failure, but maybe I’m missing something?

        • My Stepkids' Mom :

          Banana, this is what every book I’ve read says to do. Starting with that book “Step-Coupling” (forget the author), through Wednesday Martin’s “Stepmonster” and all the others. Plus step-family therapists etc.

        • It’s great that you’re united as a team like that. I think that you misunderstood what I said – what I mean is that the step parent may love the child an incredible amount, but it’s still not the same as if that step parent is the actual parent. My statement is more for the parent than the step here – if there were a problem with you (and I’m certainly not saying that there is!), it would be your husband’s responsibility as a father to put his child first, even if that meant ending your relationship – while that’s sometimes the case with two parents as well, it’s more unusual and different, because each parent will still be the child’s parent, so it would do no good for the child to end the relationship (barring such a severe situation as would justify limitations of parental rights and such, of course).

          • I am a banana. :

            Your whole statement is premised on the assumption that a non-biological parent is not capable of loving a child like a biological parent. I disagree with that assumption. It may have been your experience that biological parents, as a rule, love their children more than anyone else ever could. That is not everyone’s experience.

            My opinion. I respect your right to yours.

          • Anonymous :

            I loved my stepson more than anything in the world and was absolutely convinced I loved him just like I would love any child of my own. (He was 5 when I met his dad).

            Then I had my own child.

            I was wrong.

            See, when you don’t have your own kids, you think that because you think it’s like adopting a child. But it’s not. Because the bioparent is always there, being the PARENT. And you aren’t. You think you are, until you have kids that are yours (by birth or adoption, but there is nobody else who can override your parental decisions except your spouse) and you realize it’s really, really different.

            I understand your defensiveness. You love your SO’s son. And I don’t mean to diminish your love for him or your contribution to his life. And it feels like that’s what people are doing, diminishing your importance in his life, and his in yours.

            But the fact is, tomorrow your SO could break up with you, and you’d have no relationship with that child from that point on. His mother would. Because she’s his mom. And if you never have kids of your own (bio or adopted, again), then you’ll love that boy like you never loved anybody.
            But unless his mother is out of the picture (like, disappeared or deceased out of the picture) she will always be his mom. And the failings of a mother will always be hers. And maybe you’re a better mother than her. And maybe when he’s an adult, he’ll appreciate how his stepmom was there for him when his biomom was not. But she’ll still be his mom, and he’ll still ache for whatever he didn’t get from her.

    • Sounds like a good mantra. Since it is probably very difficult to do in practice, reminding yourself of that philosophy will probably result in more balanced priorities. Reality tends to fall short of goals.

    • Interesting question. Someone gave me this advice when I was pregnant. It was coming from a “treat your spouse well and your children will learn a lot about human relationships and how to treat people with love and respect” theory, I think. I can see the value, and definitely keep it in mind, but it is also hard to pull off in practice. Louis C.K. has a very funny bit on this subject, basically observing how when you have a kid they seem SO much more important to you than your spouse.

    • I guess I think of it more as a balance. Just like we always hear about work-life balance – sometimes the balance swings to work and sometimes it swings to life. The goal is to make sure that the balance isn’t permanently on one or the other. I think the same is true with spouse and kids. Sometimes, the kids really need most of your energy and focus. That being said, it’s important to make sure that this doesn’t become the norm. Sometimes the kids can amuse themselves and you can take advantage of that time to focus on your marriage/LTR.

    • I am coming from a family where the parents didn’t put each other first, but are still married, and it can also cause stress for the children when they are ready to fly the nest, so to speak. I feel guilty for leaving my parents to each other, and its not fair for them to have vested so much of their sense of self in the kids, it causes a lot of pressure.

      • Me too, and people underestimate how hard it is when you WISH your parents would get a divorce so they could stop being such miserable people.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I think it’s generally a good concept for first marriages in which the children are the children of both parents and both parents are, therefore, equally invested in the well-being of the children. I’m not as sure that it’s a good idea to put one’s marriage to one’s children’s stepparent ahead of one’s children from one’s prior marriage. I think that once you have kids, your first duty is to them even if you do find some other dude to marry. (And I say this as somebody do did remarry after having a child with my first husband.)

      • I agree with this.

      • I am a banana. :

        I don’t have the experience you do, but as I commented to Lyssa, above, I don’t see that working out well in the long run. Isn’t it better to have a united front for the child? And what does it even mean to put one’s marriage ahead of the child? Unless the house is burning down and you can only grab one, this analogy doesn’t even make sense.

        • I agree. My husband and I prioritize our marriage. He has a 10 year old daughter from a previous relationship that we have full custody of. She sees us as a unit. We take adult vacations together and we make date night a priority once per week. She knows that Daddy and L-Boston need “adult time.” Our situation may be slightly different because we have full custody and she has known me since she was 2 years old. We are her only example of a marriage.

        • I’ll expand on what I said above – it means that the parent has to think about whether the relationship with the step parent is the best thing for the child first, before considering whether it makes him/her (the parent) happy. For example, say the step parent has a problem that is not necessarily their fault, but harms the family (i.e., mental illness, addiction). The parent may have a responsibility to limit the child’s contact, up to possibly ending the relationship, if the relationship is not good for the kid. The kid takes priority there. It’s different from two married parents because 1) both parents (presumably) have the same connection to the kid, beyond that of a step parent, and 2) if the relationship ends, the each parent will still be equally important to the kid, so ending the relationship wouldn’t protect the kid from one member of the couple’s problems (except in extreme situations).

          Definitely not saying that parent and step parent can’t be a team, but they’re ultimately not an equal team. Parent has more skin in the game.

          (A lot of this would probably change if the other parent is out of the picture and the step adopts the kid – but that’s a different situation.)

          • Senior Attorney :


            And while we obviously have some stellar stepparents on this board, I am here to tell you that not every stepparent is willing or able to treat stepchildren the same as bio-children. Not every stepparent is able to have the same amount of skin in the game as a bio-parent. And when that’s the case, sometimes the second spouse will make requests or demands that conflict with the well-being of the children, and in such cases it’s my view that the well-being of the children should come before the well-being of the (second or subsequent) marriage.

          • I am a banana. :

            Fair enough. I don’t think it is fair to assume that a step is not capable of loving a child as much as a bio, but it is fair to acknowledge that it isn’t always the case.

            I still disagree with Lyssa about a parent and step not being an equal team, but I’ll stop beating that drum now.

          • Anonymous :

            But they aren’t on equal footing. If the relationship ends tomorrow, the step will likely have no relationship with the child from that point on unless the bioparents allow it. In many states, steps don’t have any rights to their step kids after a divorce if the bioparents don’t want the contact. It’s unpleasant to think about when you love your step kids, but the fact is they aren’t yours. They have two parents, and your relationship with them is totally dependent on your relationship with the bioparent continuing. So it makes total sense for the stepparent to put the adult relationship first. Number one, it’s important, and number two, if you lose it you lose the kids. Not so for the parent. You aren’t on equal footing.

            The step isn’t responsible for the kid in the same way either. The blame for any issues with the kid will fall to the parents.

            And the kid should come first in any situation where the well being of the kid is at stake. Kid always wants their way and throws fits? No, kid doesn’t come first.

            It’s your weekend but your girlfriend wants to go away for the weekend without kids? Guess what? Kids come first.

          • Senior Attorney :

            I think that’s a nice summary, Anonymous.

    • saltylady :

      I agree with this, but not in the “save husband in a fire first” way. It’s more like, that’s why you suck it up and get a babysitter when they’re little so you can have date night. Instead of being the uber mom in baby puke covered sweats who’s all like, no we can’t spend time together because I’m a mom now and I don’t leave my baaaaaby with anyone! I mean do what you want, your mileage may vary, but that’s just my take after living through the 2-under-2 years and 14 years of marriage.

    • WestcoastLawyer :

      I guess my problem with this statement is the need to define what your “first” priority is. So, if my husband is my first priority, does that mean I’m picking his need over my kids, or the other way around if I say my kids come first. The truth is that things are so much more nuanced than that. Depending on the circumstances at any given time someone’s needs are going to be on the top of the priority pile, but it varies greatly day-to-day (and even year-to-year sometimes). I would say generally that family comes first, but even then sometimes something comes up at work and there may be a few days where my husband is largely on his own with the kids because I’m needed at the office.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Have you read “bringing up bebe?” Similar concept.

  4. Gail the Goldfish :

    Does anyone do calligraphy? It’s my mom’s new favorite hobby, so I was going to get her something calligraphy-related for Christmas, except I have no idea what a good gift might be. Suggestions?

    • AnonInfinity :

      I don’t do calligraphy, but I love pens. You could get her a new pen if your budget allows. If not, colored inks and very nice paper would be great gifts. I love love love super nice paper, but I feel silly buying it for myself, so I never get it.

      For inks, I love Noodlers. For paper, I like Rhodia or Clairefontaine. If you go to a pen store, they can help you too :)

    • My grandfather did calligraphy/lettering, usually on the sides of boats, and from him I know there are many old instruction booklets about forming obsolete fonts. (Maybe they still make these books, but he had all “vintage” ones from the mid-2oth century or earlier.) If you can find one in good condition from ebay or something it might be special. Even for someone who doesn’t do calligraphy, it’s just cool to look at.

    • I do! I’ve taken classes with Maybelle Imasa, and she has a lovely calligraphy kit she sells on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/inkandbelle.

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      Thanks, everyone!

  5. Sidney Jacket + Paley Pant? :

    This is very timely! I am not crazy about the dress, but am thinking of the Sidney Jacket + Paley Pant in pinstripe (no less) for my spring suit purchase but buying it now b/c of the sale. Has anyone actually done this pairing (even if not in the stripe)? I think I’d wear suits a bit more if they were unconventional and a bit fun (which I think that this is). We’re business-casual, but that gets wacky sometimes and I am starting to agree that a suit is just easier than trying to figure out outfits when I’m in a rush.

    • I haven’t done the Paley pant with the Sidney jacket, but I wear the Paley pants with some other suit jackets (I think the 1035) and I love the look. Its not a really formal look as the pants are slim ankle pants, but I love them for less formal days.

      FWIW, I have the Paley pant in pinstripe and its a very subtle, not over the top pinstripe. The one drawback to the pants is that they don’t have beltloops.

  6. TJ– I’m moving to Cambridge in about 6 weeks. I think this has been discussed before, but I can’t find any of the threads. I’m not very familiar with the area and I know there are a lot of Boston r-e-t-t-e-s on here. My work is in the Cambridgepoint area- near the border of the south part of MIT. I’m single and want to live somewhere fun and safe and not overwhelmed by undergrads (I’m in my early 30s). Any suggestions for neighborhoods? Should I stick to Cambridge and Somerville? I’ll have a car and will be able to drive to work.

    This is also my first “real” job with my first “real’ salary. In a city like Boston with high COL, what is a reasonable amount of your take-home pay to spend on an apartment? I know this depends heavily on personal finances, so it’s a tough question to answer. I have no student loan debts, only a cheap-ish car payment. I’d like to start saving for retirement. But I also want an “adult” apartment– I’d like something nice, clean. Preferably renovated with amenities like central AC/Heat, gas stove, sunny and bright (I know, that’s asking a lot, but mainly I don’t want to live in crappy place with a rommate like I had as a student). Does anyone have stories on balancing the desires for having a nice place, feeling like an adult, vs. saving money? I wonder if I’m alone in having these feelings. Thanks ladies!

    • Before I lived in NYC, I was told housing should be about 25-35% of your budget. If Boston is anything like NYC, central a/c is going to be the most difficult part of your wish list. I’m sure Boston readers will have more helpful suggestions. Good luck!

      • anon-oh-no :

        as for the central a/c thing, when i moved to new york, i thought this was a big deal and was so bummed that no where had it. However, I actually came to love the wall units (assuming the work properly) and found it was pretty energy efficient becuase you could jsut heat and cool the rooms you needed to, not the whole house.

      • Baconpancakes :

        Hahahaha 25-35% is hilarious. Here in DC, I struggle to keep it at 45%. Not sure about Boston.

        For me, having enough light, central AC/heating, and space for a real table outweigh my desire for privacy and a gas stove, so I have a roommate in an ok part of town with a crappy electric stove. Not sure about in Boston, but in DC, the difference between a good-not-great 1 bedroom and a 2 bedroom is only about $500, with the 1 bedrooms starting around $1500.

        Laundry is something you should really consider. Having your own laundry, or easy access in the building is a huge, huge, huge stress-relief.

        • I totally disagree on the laundry point. I can drop off my laundry at a place around the corner from my apartment, and at the end of the day, it’s clean and folded for me. The hours are great (7am-10pm every day, even Sundays) and it is so much better to drop off my laundry than spend any time in the basement of my building with the trash and roaches.

    • I don’t know Boston/Cambridge well, but when I moved to my current city (Toronto) I did end up spending a little more than I would have wanted to on rent. This is partially due to prices being higher here than I had anticipated, but also due to me wanting to feel 100% safe and comfortable in my apartment and neighbourhood. I didn’t regret it at all. To me, a decent apartment (not a luxury pad, but somewhere well-maintained, with laundry in the building, and in a safe neighbourhood with libraries, grocery stores, parks, etc) is so important to happiness and peace of mind. I’m willing to skimp on other things though, if a trade-off is needed.

      And to look for a place I heartily recommend padmapper.com – so great, it aggregates Craigslist/kijiji/etc listings and shows them on a Google map, which is especially amazing when you don’t know the city you’re moving to so well.

      • Marilla, I think you put it more eloquently than I did. Having a place I’m safe and happy in, and that I feel good in is important for my peace of mind. I know that if I like my apartment, I will generally be more happy and less prone to depression. I know certain things (eg-not having laundry in the building) would drive me insane and really stress me out (more than it should). And thanks for the padmapper rec! I’ll check it out.

        Preg3L, I imagine Boston is a lot like NYC. AC is probably not a must for me, but it’s hard for this southern-born girl to imagine not having AC :)

        • Ugh, I hear you. I spent my formative years in Florida and realizing that most of the country doesn’t have central AC was a rude awakening! But for most of the year, you don’t need it. And for the times you do, you hibernate in the room(s) that have the in-window/in-wall ACs.

          • I’ve lived all over the US (Bay Area, LA, San Diego, New York, Philly and Northern Jersey) and “most” of the country does have central heat/air con in newer construction. It’s the older/unrenovated buildings that do not. I’ve only had one apartment without central heat/air con and I will never do it again (Hoboken NJ). Having pets in an un-air conditioned condo in the worst dog days of a humid summer is something I will never do again.

        • Gail the Goldfish :

          The lack of central a/c in NYC annoys me to no end, but realistically, you’ll only miss it for 2 or 3 months out of the year. Even in the new buildings I’ve lived in (like built in the last 10 years), they didn’t have central a/c. One had what my friend from Minnesota *thought* was central a/c, but definitely wasn’t to my Southern brain (if you have to turn on a unit in a room, it’s not central a/c, even if the unit isn’t a window unit…)

          Regarding balancing rent vs. a real adult apartment, for me, the solution was a further commute. I don’t know anything about Boston, but in NYC, if you live in the outer boroughs, the rent is considerably cheaper and you get a lot more for your money (excluding the trendy parts of Brooklyn).

      • I agree with this (and experienced the same thing when I moved to Toronto). I think it’s really worth it to have an apartment that you love and is in a good neighborhood and feels like home. Plus you want (need) to feel safe in your home – I would prioritize this over pretty much everything else that you could spend your money on, provided it’s within your means to do so.

    • Anon in MA :

      Argh, accidentally replied in a separate comment. Will re-post – sorry everyone.

      I live in Somerville and LOVE it and there are tons of young working professionals around (in Davis Square). I live in a small one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend in a great location, but we definitely traded space for charm and location. It’s been great, though, because our rent is very close to what we initially paid when we moved in a few years ago while the apartments in our neighborhood have only gotten more expensive. We’ll probably move next year to get a bit more space, but this apartment has been a great starting point for us. I spend almost exactly 30% of my take-home income on my share of the apartment and my boyfriend’s percentage is less. I’m at the upper recommended limit there, but it honestly wasn’t possible to spend any less. We have a small, clean, one-bedroom apartment with heat and hot water included in a safe neighborhood with easy commutes – that was worth it to us. We’re also far enough from the Tufts and Harvard campuses to not be overrun by students all the time.

      No matter where you live, I highly recommend choosing an apartment near the Red Line or a decent bus route. Anyone in Boston will tell you that the Green Line is a total nightmare. If you can be near the Lechmere Green Line stop in Cambridge, though, that might be convenient to your work.

      • I would also recommend Davis Sq for what you’re looking for. I don’t personally live there, but have several friends who do. It’ll only be a few stops down the Red Line for you (I DO NOT recommend driving through Cambridge to get to work). It’s more affordable and less student-y than areas closer to Cambridgeport. Kendall/Back Bay are pricey and Central Square is pretty undergrad-y. One other thing to consider is if you want off-street parking. This is generally in short supply in Boston (slightly better in Cambridge), but having a garage spot in the winter can be pretty nice.

        • I lived in the Brookline part of town (LOVED IT & you’d only have to take the 57 bus down to Harvard Sq.) However, I’d probably just choose to live in Cambridge or Davis Square if that is were your work or school is. I also have friends that live in Davis Square and their rent seemed ridiculously affordable and it is a super cute part of town. Just make sure to live off of the same T line or bus line from where your work or school is, it makes life way easier.

    • I live in Cambridge and love it. There are many different neighborhoods in Cambridge and Somerville so you can definitely find something that works for you. I personally like Inman and Davis squares. I recommend walking around the area before deciding on a place. Live somewhere near the red line or a good bus route.

      It is an expensive area to live, but I’ve been able to make it work by having a roommate. I have a nice apartment with a/c, laundry in unit, and a dishwasher. I pay about 40% of my take home pay on just the rent. I don’t have a car so I was comfortable spending that amount. I’m also able to save quite a bit every month. I would probably be spending quite a bit more to get a studio or 1bedroom in the same area.

    • Miss Behaved :

      I work in Davis Square and live south of the city. I live in a one-bedroom apartment in a managed building with all the amenities (a/c, laundry in unit, dishwasher, garage parking, etc). I drive to the red line and take the T in. My rent is a little less than 30% of my take home pay.

      Davis Square is really awesome. And my job is really cool, too. I work for the university.

      Oh, and when you get here, email bostoncorpor3tte at gmail and we’ll put you on the list for future boston meet-ups. Just remember to substitute e’s for the 3′s.

    • If you’re determined to keep your car, I think you’re going to have to focus on Somerville, especially places other than Davis Square. Street parking in Boston and Cambridge is very hard to find, and spaces are expensive. Also, unless you have a pet, I really wouldn’t worry about central a/c. There are only about 7 nights per year that are miserably hot/humid.

    • I live in Somerville and I love it! Specifically, I live near Union Sq, but I agree that Davis would be great as well. If you don’t mind driving, the rent is lower and you get more bang for your buck in Jamaica Plain.

    • This is definitely something I’ve struggled with as well, which is why I ended up living in Arlington and working in Cambridge. The commute isn’t ideal (bus to T), but we live in a nice, 2 bedroom apartment with 2 off-street parking spaces in a very safe neighborhood for only $1500. You really do have to make compromises and figure out what’s most important to you because you can’t get a nice, well maintained 1 bedroom with central air and parking for under $2k in a good location in Cambridge. Where are you moving here from?

      • Anon in MA :

        What neighborhood do you live in in Arlington (if you don’t mind sharing)? That’s probably where we’re going to look for more space/slightly lower rent next year.

        • We live a few blocks north of Arlington Center. It’s nice in that we can easily walk there, but the commute to Cambridge is not ideal. From what I understand though, most places in Arlington are decent and relatively safe.

    • Diana Barry :

      Don’t drive to work!! I would try to live somewhere along the Red Line and commute, as ladies above have suggested. Or better yet, if you can find someplace from which you can walk to work, that is the ultimate commute IMO.

      • Unfortunately, my work is pretty far from a red station. The co-workers I know so far all drive (although they live further out) and no one has recommended the red-line. I haven’t checked bus routes yet, though. I would love to just be able to work to work!

        Thanks for all the recommendations! There are so many squares, it’s hard to keep them all straight. I’m probably going to have to find a place with only a 1-2 day visit, so I’m trying to do as much research as possible beforehand to figure out what sort of places I would like.

        ~2k is doable for me. That’s over 30% of my take home, but I think in high COL, paying 30-40% for an apartment isn’t unreasonable.

        • You can get a lovely place for ~2k in the Cambridge/Somerville area (1 bedroom). Likely will have to compromise on central a/c, parking, laundry, modern amenities, or some combination thereof, depending on the place. The old houses are big on charm and often have high ceilings, larger rooms, older bathrooms and kitchens, and draftier windows than the apartment buildings. Closer you are to the T the more expensive, but if you’re okay with a 10-20 minute walk, you’ll have lots of possibilities. I’m partial to Davis, Porter, Harvard, and Inman Squares, but have friends who live in Central, Union, Magoun, and Kendall. From my experience Cambridgeport is wonderful but has more families with young children.

          In terms of where you’re working, I’d estimate about 20-25min driving from Davis or Porter Squares depending on where you have to park at work (my old lot was 0.8 miles from my building, tacking on additional time). However, you will be working near a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods so can make convenient stops on your way home!

  7. First Year Anon :

    Anyone want to help me with my mother’s Christmas present? She is difficult to buy for, to say the least. No real hobbies, likes plants, loves the ocean, and tends to have more expensive tastes than I can afford (ie something cheap but cute won’t do for her). Is sort of interested in brain-training games (like luminosity, but maybe something better)? She has an ipad.

    I’m willing to spend up to $150

  8. Looking for good ideas for a holiday dessert when I host my book club next week. Recent life events have left me unable to conjure up anything interesting. We usually have light snacks while we discuss the book (I can cover that) and then serve a more special dessert. Need to serve 10-12. Suggestions?

  9. Anon in MA :

    I live in Somerville and LOVE it and there are tons of young working professionals around (in Davis Square). I live in a small one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend in a great location, but we definitely traded space for charm and location. It’s been great, though, because our rent is very close to what we initially paid when we moved in a few years ago while the apartments in our neighborhood have only gotten more expensive. We’ll probably move next year to get a bit more space, but this apartment has been a great starting point for us. I spend almost exactly 30% of my take-home income on my share of the apartment and my boyfriend’s percentage is less. I’m at the upper recommended limit there, but it honestly wasn’t possible to spend any less. We have a small, clean, one-bedroom apartment with heat and hot water included in a safe neighborhood with easy commutes – that was worth it to us. We’re also far enough from the Tufts and Harvard campuses to not be overrun by students all the time.

    No matter where you live, I highly recommend choosing an apartment near the Red Line or a decent bus route. Anyone in Boston will tell you that the Green Line is a total nightmare. If you can be near the Lechmere Green Line stop in Cambridge, though, that might be convenient to your work.

  10. This dress is very tempting and I’ve been loving houndstooth recently. I would pair it with red and other colors. For me, combining red with houndstooth does not look dated if the shape of the pieces is modern.

    And thoughts on Duluth Trading Co tees? They’ve been advertising a lot here.

    • Anonymous :

      I haven’t tried the women’s ones, but my husband has the longtail ones and they have held up really well over the last two years. They are really thick and heavy fabric-wise. Totally worth the money. My dad also swears by them.

  11. Woods-comma-Elle :

    I just wanted to share my excitement as there have been a bunch of finance-related threads recently. I had a meeting with my bank today and refinanced a bunch of my student loans to basically cut my monthly interest payments by $200! I really don’t know why I hadn’t done this sooner, I had often thought about it, but somehow never managed to get around to it. It will all be paid off a fair bit sooner and I will actually be able to save something! Yay!

    • That’s awesome! I re-financed recently, and I have already saved a ton of money. Very happy to have done this!

    • Thanks, I needed the inspiration.

    • Congratulations on the smart move!

    • Ooh, can you tell me more? How did you (and anyone who’s done this) decide on who to refinance with? Did you just go to your bank? Are there any downsides? I’m thinking of doing this and would love to hear people’s experiences.

      • Woods-comma-Elle :

        Well I actually went to my bank after they called ME! I had an idea of what I wanted to do as I’d already thought about it before, so it was relatively straightforward. For me, because I still had a fair amount of law school debt, it was easier to refinance with my bank, because I have a good credit score with them and they were more likely to approve me, but certainly there are plenty of sources to help you decide.

        One of the items refinanced was a credit card, so the interest rate was astronomical and it was really a no-brainer to refinance that. Originally I had thought to only do the CC, but then decided to add on my law school loan because the combined repayment for paying the two loans was still almost double what I would be paying for just the one loan, so by refinancing both at once, I can still pay the same amount every month but I will actually be overpaying the loan, so it makes things much simpler.

        In terms of the amount I will be paying out of my salary each month, I plan to keep this the same (and thus overpaying), but the debt should all be gone in a year and a half instead of the scheduled three years!

        • So were your student loans from your bank? If I have federal loans, could I just walk into my bank and re-fi them there? I’m very interested in this (obviously for post-graduation) but like AIMS, a little confused on how you were able to do it!

          • Woods-comma-Elle :

            I’m in the UK so my law school loan was a bank loan, rather than a government loan. Basically I took out a new loan for the aggregate outstanding amount and will use that to prepay the two loans in full and then just pay it off. I’m not sure how it would work in the US but, assuming the interest you would pay was lower than interest you pay on your government loans, it could still work.

          • Oh that makes sense. Okay, thanks! AIMS, in case you’re interested, I plan to look into SoFi when I’m ready to refinance my US-govt-backed loans, because I’ve heard great things about them (and I think they had interest rates around 4% last time I looked).

          • Thanks, Woods-comma-Elle and preg 3L. I haven’t thought about just going to my bank, but I have gotten the SoFi mailers and have been curious. I will look into this some more. For a while, refinancing and consolidating just didn’t seem like options.

          • Gail the Goldfish :

            I refinanced my higher-interest government loans with SoFi. So far I have no complaints. As hoola hoopa mentioned, you do potentially lose out on some deferral options and loan forgiveness (sofi has deferrals, but the details are less clear than for government loans). So I only refinanced my two highest-interest loans with them for that reason.

          • AIMS and preg 3L, I just refinanced with DRB and found that they had better interest rates at the time than SoFi. Worth a look!

      • hoola hoopa :

        One potentially major downside to consolidating is that you lose any special advantages that exist for certain loans (such as loan forgiveness for working for a non-profit) and perhaps deferral options. Look into what you could potentially give up on your specific loans. Depending on the rate of your loan (some are well below market), you could end up with a higher interest rate. Check on with your specific loans to make sure this isn’t the case since I consolidated mine years ago, before the incredibly low rates around today.

        That said, I still did it and don’t regret it. I haven’t found myself (yet) in a position to use any of the special circumstances afforded by some of my original loans. My monthly payment went down but what’s almost even better is only having one payment to track.

        • Thanks, that was one of my concerns with the deferral/hardship protections. But ultimately I hate dealing with ACS so much that I would love to switch to a better lender.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            Is it a risk thatACS will wind up buying your consolidation loan? It seems like we have so little (or no) control over who winds up owning our loans.

          • Oh my god if I refinance and end up back with ACS my head may explode. I never thought I would *miss* Access Group but oh the good old days….

    • Congrats!!

  12. anon-oh-no :

    Kat — why avoid wearing with red? I think red would look good. Would you always avoid red with black and white, or is there something specific about this dress

    • I had the same question. Red seems like the most natural color to go with it.

      • Polished Pinstripes :

        I like the idea of mixing red with this pattern. the only convern I would have is that it looks kind of blocky to do b&w with one single other color. Sometimes it can look like “I just grabbed this so I wouldn’t be only wearing b&w.” But there’s no reason you couldn’t do red as opposed to any other color.

    • black + white + red is one of those combos that seems like it was super popular “power combo” when I was young (late 80s/early 90s) and so it feels less current than other options to me. For winter, I’d try a nice rich blue or purple instead, or actually I’ve been liking layering a sweater in the dominant color from the print (so here, black) as a way to treat the print almost like a different texture.

      • Agreed. Black and red reads so, so dated to me. I pretty much cringe whenever I see that combination.

        • hoola hoopa :

          I’m old enough to remember it, too, but I have seen it very nicely done in ways that look current. I feel like this dress could be paired with red accessories/accents that wouldn’t be reminiscent of the red power blazer over black slacks that I think of from that era.

        • anon-oh-no :

          I get this way about straight red and black a little, but im totally fine once you add white into the mix. And since this dress is a neutral, I’d wear it with basically any color (or no color at all), including red.

          I think if the fit doesnt also give off that 80s vibe, you are good to go. I’m actually thinking of a red swing coat in my closet that would look awesome with this.

    • I’m gravitating towards black+white+pink recently, I feel like it’s a stylish update to that style.

    • The first thing that came to mind with the black/white/red combo for me was a picnic blanket. Maybe because of the window pane?…

  13. Manhattanite :

    That pattern makes my brain hurt.

  14. Travel Bags :

    So I ordered the Lo&Sons OMG bag and upon inspection I just don’t quite understand the high price tag. It’s a fairly ordinary nylon bag with a few extra pockets. Can anyone tell me whether this has really made their life easier for short (day long) business travel and/or why the OMG is any better than a lower priced large tote?

    • Haha. No. I have one, and I use it a lot to justify spending so much, but no, I don’t think it’s very special.

    • I love it. It was the only bag I could find that was lightweight, not ugly and has the sleeve to go over the handle of a rollerboard. I have had my OG for three years and my love for it is renewed each time I fly.

    • I agree, that’s how I felt about them. I don’t get the interest. I have found very similar bags for WAY less money. I don’ t know why people love them so much. I know they do, to each their own, no offense meant. I just agree with you, OP. I don’t get the price or the love. It’s a well made nylon bag. But that’s all it is.

    • Try M Z Wallace Instead :

      I bought and returned the OMG. I thought the price point was WAY off for what is essentially a boring nylon bag with a few pockets. Based on a recommendation from someone on this site, I looked at the MZ Wallace bags and purchased one of those instead. I think they are more stylish, better constructed and look more like a real bag. I feel like the OMG and the OG look like those cheap, free give-away totes you get as a gift with purchase. The MZ Wallace bags come in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. I bought the Jane as the Kate was just too big for my frame. It’s held up really well through a year of business travel and almost daily use.

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        Second this post. I have the Kate and it’s gorgeous. Higher price point than the OMG, but not by much, and it looks so much nicer (at least to me).

        • I think KKH may have been the person to talk up the MZ Wallace bags which got me looking at them/purchasing mine! If you are, thank you!!

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            It was probably me – I’m obsessed with my Kate. You’re welcome!

    • I use mine daily and it holds everything I need for work and is light, comfortable, and looks nice. It far outweighs the utility of my last bag (a messenger style bag). I have the OMG and it holds my sneakers, lunch, wallet, kindle, keys, etc. I needed a bag that could hold my gym stuff (I work out either right after work or during lunch) and my lunch (I bring it almost every day) and this does the trick.

    • I don’t know but I for one would be infinitely grateful if we could stop talking about these bags.

    • How funny! I have been meaning to post a similar question. Based on all the rave reviews on this site, I just ordered and received the OG and the OMG. While they’re very nice looking, I was surprised that the opening was so narrow. Especially in the OMG, I found it somewhat difficult to slide my laptop into the pocket – not because it doesn’t fit in the pocket, but because it barely fits through the main opening. And in both bags, it just felt like the rounded top made getting into the bag kind of cramped. So I’m considering returning both of these bags but thought I’d ask whether folks who own and have been using these bags find the opening to be just fine. Thoughts?

      • WestcoastLawyer :

        I just got the OMG and had the same thought. I was considering exchanging it for the OG, did you find that it was less of a problem with the bigger bag? For what it’s worth, I also use the Brookline for work and it’s become less of an issue for me as I’ve gotten used to the bag (I guess I’m used to diaper bags and totes that open really wide so I can rummage around for things).

        • Don’t get the OG. It really is huge and the opening isn’t very large. I just ordered/received it recently and don’t get the hype either. I’m thinking about trying to exchange for the OMG, but the OG is weird because it’s deep and narrow which really doesn’t seem to make for easy organization unless you’re only carrying a laptop and papers.

        • It was definitely less of a problem with the bigger OG, but it’s still not great. I hate it when the small opening + zipper catches on my sleeve or tears at papers. I had pretty much decided that if I was going to keep one of the two, it would be the OG, just for that reason.

          I agree with Ginjury that the OG is pretty deep and narrow. It won’t even hold legal-sized folders. The one thing I liked about the height, though, is that once you have loaded it with the laptop, papers, etc., you can still fit a sweater or a purse on top of them, in the dead curved space at the top. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the OMG. However, I have to say that I don’t see how the OG or the OMG would really work for carrying lots of work papers, which is generally what I’m traveling with. Oh, to be so carefree and stylish that I could just insert my laptop, an ipad, a magazine and a book and jet across the country with my OMG…

  15. Flying Squirrel :

    Any thoughts on the new GM CEO, Mary Barra, first female CEO of a US auto company? Having grown up around Detroit, I’m pretty excited event though I don’t currently work in that industry. When I was an college engineering intern at a different auto company, I was the senior-most woman in any group that I worked with. I was told that this was partially because I was in the engine division, and more women worked in design and chassis. Still, the auto world is very male-dominated to the extent that it’s uncomfortable to be a woman there. I wonder if this will help change things.

    • J Crew sizing for dresses? :

      I don’t follow GM or engineering, but I was happy with Virginia Rometty @ IBM and hope that she gets in to Augusta National like her IBM predecessors (I also don’t follow golf but was pleased as punch with their first two choices). But, yeah, you go, girl!

    • I’m happy to see them promoting from within, especially someone from engineering. It’s great to see that she’s a General Motors Institute/Kettering grad. I hope maybe a few more women will go into engineering because of this!

    • hoola hoopa :

      I don’t follow automotive industry, but I find it extrememly exciting. I hope she has a good tenure.

      Related, NPR had a nice piece today about stagnation of percentage of executives and board members who are women. In it, they mention that companies with a higher pecentage of women in leadership roles have performed better (although no proof it’s cause and effect), and explored various theories of why. It was interesting: http://www.npr.org/2013/12/10/249862083/women-still-largely-absent-from-corporate-boards

  16. Jessica Glitter :

    Another Gift TJ – Some good friends (male and female) are preparing for a trip to Thailand. I would like to get them each a Christmas gift that would also be useful on their trip. Ideas? (they will be doing some scuba diving on the trip).

  17. J Crew sizing for dresses? :

    I’m 5-4, 125# and have a 29″ waist and 37″-38″ hips and am a 30D. I have a size 4 #2 pencil that improbably fits, maybe because the waist is low enough that my actual waist measurement doesn’t matter a much as the hip measurement suggets (which by the chart should put me in a 6). What is my JCrew dress size? [I don't like this dress, but maybe an origami?] I can see ordering a 4, 6, and maybe also an 8, but that’s crazy!

    FWIW, I tried a Lady Day coat and even the 10 didn’t seem to fit right on me when I was wearing winter clothes underneath it. I love their clothes but they never have what I like in my local store — it’s all order and return :(

    • I feel like J Crew has decided that petite women with chests are not its market AND the sizing vacillates wildly from year to year. I am similarly sized to you and my J Crew sizes are all over the place — I have size 4 (skirts) to 6 (pants and dresses) to 10 (winter coat). For example, I have t-shirts purchased in size S and M in various seasons and the M is smaller than the most recent S. For blouses, it varies so much based on styles – if there are buttons, I have to size up; if it doesn’t have buttons (like the silk popover shirts), I buy a 4. To fit my chest in dresses, I have to go up at least one size and then tailor because my mid-section to knees is swimming in fabric. Unfortunately the quality seems to have gone down in recent years so I’ve stopped purchasing a lot as it is just not worth the cost to tailor. And don’t get me started on the shipping costs as the stores never seem to carry a variety of sizes.

      • If you’re looking in the stores, do you ever use the red phone to order? There’s no shipping costs if you order from the red phone.

        • I always forget about the red phone. I guess I’ve become so used to the customer service at Nordstrom where the salesperson always offers to locate it and ship it for no cost. Next time I find something I can’t live without at J Crew, I’ll give the red phone a try! Thanks!

    • hoola hoopa :

      Also very similarly sized (only 2″ shorter) and mostly disregard JCrew because like Anon, I have decided that they don’t market to my figure. I do have a Jackie cardigan which is forgiving in fit since I leave it open and a halter embossed sun dress that similarly improbably fits like a glove. I have a hand-me-down Lady Day coat but rarely wear it because it doesn’t hang right. I will try out their #2 pencil skirt now, though.

      Ann Taylor/LOFT fits me perfectly, but unfortunately their quality has really gone downhill and their pricing scheme drives me insane. I’ve be struggling to find such a perfect replacement as my old AT items wear out or become outdated and so far Lands End is the winner. I also have narrow shoulders, and their tees seem to fit nicely without being too tight elsewhere. Initially attempts with pants have been less successful, but I’m going to keep trying.

      I’d be interested to know where you shop, too! I love my figure, but it’s hard to buy for.

      • J Crew sizing for dresses? :

        I own a scary amount of LE:

        XS for cardigans
        S for rashguards (should have gotten XS probably)
        6 for ponte dresses
        8 for ponte pants
        8 for button down shirts (not sure if these couldn’t fit better, but it’s good enough)

        FWIW, I was 5-4 in middle school, so it is still shocking to me that I am not a L or at least a M

        • hoola hoopa :

          Thanks, the sizing is super helpful since I’m still new to the brand. The tees I have are XS but a sweater that I wanted loose is a S.

    • Their dresses are seriously all over the map. I have an Emmaleigh in 10 (which I had to have taken in, but the 8 just hugged my backside waaaay too much), an Origami in a 6 (and the 4 really almost fit), and two others I forget the name of in size 8. I think you might just need to order three sizes and see what works on you.

    • I am very similar to you- 5’4”, 128 lbs, 32D, 38 or 39” hips. Very small rib cage and small waist. I usually order a 2 or 4 in dresses. A 2 if it is not fitted in the hips, a 4 if it is. It usually fits when I do that. I just ignore the sizing chart, to be honest. It doesn’t seem accurate at all.

    • National_Anthem :

      I doubt you need an 8, based on your measurements. I’m your height but weigh more with slightly larger hip and bust measurements, and I just bought the Origami dress in a 6. It fits me a little on the loose side – I have thought about having it taken in a little, but it’s not quite loose enough for me to make the effort. I’d guess most 8s would be too big for you.

  18. It’s never good when you get to the office and then realize your Starbucks cup says “Chad” on the side (and you are not Chad). I hope Chad enjoyed my drink as much as I enjoyed his. Oh man….good start to the day.

  19. I’m feeling a cold coming on (third of the season), any excellent remedies for warding it off?

  20. Well, back in the hospital for me, this time for the duration (or at least to 28 weeks). It’s not really that bad and actually a little less stressful than being at home. At home, I was so on edge that I’d spend hours lying awake, poking my belly and thinking “was that a contraction?” (No, it was generally just a baby butt poking out.) Also, we’ve had two icy, snowy (for DC) days around here and I know Mr. TBK is happy he’s not stressing about how he’d get me to the hospital if something happened. So one more week to minimum viability. Then two more after that until we get to still-scary-but-a-lot-less-scary territory. And two more from there until 28 weeks. My husband has told the babies he’ll buy them lots of toys if they stay put until 34 weeks. (Somehow I think among all the grandparents, plus great aunts, cousins, etc. these babies will get a deluge of toys no matter when they’re born.) So now I empathize with queen bees everywhere. It’s not as fun as it sounds to just lie like a slug and gestate, but I’m gestating just as hard as I can!

    • Aw TBK. Big hugs and good job taking care of your little ones!!

    • Hugs and best wishes!

      FWIW, I am part of a group that makes NICU items for our local hopitals. It’s me and a lot of retired crafters and high schoolers needing volunteer hours. I really don’t think I have time for this, but it is very important for me to do something that tangibly coveys to parents and babies that we are all rooting for you and that we love you and want to cheer you on.

      I see every baby as such a tremendous (even if momentarily teeny) gift and want each baby to be warm and snuggly and loved and in crazy striped blankies and hats.

      • I can tell I am a little overly emotional (very newly pregnant) because this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for loving those babies!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Thinking good thoughts for you and your family!

    • KS IT Chick :

      I work in a hospital … You might check with your doctor to see if they would allow your husband to bring in your dog a couple times a week to see you. If the dog is well-behaved & current on shots, we will allow people who have to be here for longer stays to have their pets come in to visit. I’ve seen anything from purse dogs to a Great Dane come in to see beloved owners, and it really helps both owner & dog emotionally to have visit time.

      • Anon in NYC :

        That’s awesome! My dog needs lots of snuggle time, and I would be so sad to leave her for weeks.

        Hugs, TBK. At least your mom can’t gripe at you about the state of your yard?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Hugs, TBK! And “I’m gestating as hard as I can” is definitely the quote of the day! :)

    • Hang in there TBK and keep gestating!

      • +1. Sorry to hear you’re back in the hospital, but I do hope this puts your mind at ease a bit. Still pulling for you and the twins.

    • Flying Squirrel :

      Aw, I’m sorry…I’m nowhere near in the same boat as you, but I’m cranky with the amount of rest I’ve got to take. I tried to go into work yesterday and ended up with fairly painful contractions off and on all day. So back at home for the duration now, I think.

      Baby and I have cut a deal, however, that she’ll hang out inside for at least two more weeks. Me and DH keep telling her that while we know she’s excited to see the world, she really doesn’t want to spend the first few days/weeks of her life in it inside a plastic box hooked to machines if at all possible.

      Here’s hoping your twins get to cook as long as possible. I think it’s totally okay to offer bribes at this point, they are just babies after all ;)

      As my mom reminded me yesterday, just take one day at a time. These few weeks of limited movement are just a blip in my lifetime…but I’ve already managed to buy my baby another 6 days to develop and grow stronger. I know you want to protect them as long as you can, but thinking about a month in the hospital can be daunting. Every single day that you keep them inside drastically improves their chances…so be proud of yourself for every day you give them!

      • Ugh, sorry to hear you’re cooped up, too! I forget, how far along are you?

        • Flying Squirrel :

          Almost 36 weeks…another week and the likelihood of NICU stay is nearly zero barring some unforeseen complication (right now it’s still in the gray area). Babies of my ethnicity have a much higher tendency toward jaundice, though, so even term babies sometimes end up under bilirubin lights. I know full term for twins is earlier, though (37w, I think).

          My cervix is so thin already that 40w is likely not in the cards…but hopefully she’ll hang on a few more days (a week or two would be lovely).

          • Hope she sticks around for another week! Yeah, twins are born earlier. Our dream is that I make it to 34 weeks. At that point, there might need to be a little bit of intervention but we can feel pretty comfortable that we’ll go home with two healthy babies (or at least that our risks aren’t that much greater than anyone’s). Right now we’re just really scared of them being born at 24-26 weeks, when things can be pretty gnarly, both right after birth and long term.

    • Aww!! I’m glad you are feeling a little bit less stressed. Sending lots of “Stay put and grow big” thoughts to those babies and Hugs to you!!


      • Yup babies – listen to your mom and stay put for a good long time! You don’t want a crazy horde of re**e ladies come waggle their fingers at you!

    • One day at a time. Happy gestating. That’s definitely going down in r e t t e lore!

    • Baconpancakes :

      Gestating is harder than we give it credit for, and gestating for two is a lot of work!

      Sorry you’re stuck on bed rest, TBK. At least you’ll be able to hold this over your kids’ heads for the rest of their lives! “I was stuck in the hospital for weeks on end, and I did it all for you, and then I was in labor, and THIS is the state of your room?”

      Bring in the puppy (all dogs are puppies), get some great books (just read White Apples – spooky, weird, great), and hopefully you’ve got an iPad with Netflix and Hulu. I recommend In The Thick of It and (appropriately) Call the Midwife. I’m sure you’re sick of book and movie recs and just want to get on with your life, but you’re doing great!

      • I agree re all dogs being puppies. We still refer to him as puppy at home. As in “puppy, have you eaten?” or “when did the puppy last go out?” He responds equally to his name, puppy, and buddy. (A service animal he is not. He is instead one spoiled pet dog, and very good at that job.)

    • PinkKeyboard :

      Completely anecdotal but my cousin had to go in just like you (with 2 kids at home) and ended up lasting till 36 weeks…. You are a gestation champ!

    • Hugs to you, your Mr. TBK, and the babies. Hope your dog can visit, and that you will find ways to stay entertained over the next four weeks. One day at a time!

    • Chi squared :

      As the recent mom of a 36 week preemie who spent some time in the NICU, I recommend the book “Preemies” (a search on Amazon will bring it up) – I wish I could have had on hand immediately after my daughter’s birth. I’m hoping you won’t need it, though!

    • Coach Laura :

      Hang in there TBK babies! (Do we know – are they both boys, girls or one of each? I can’t remember if you’ve told us. No pressure if you’re not telling.)

  21. Landies, do you have any recommendations for therapists in the northern Colorado/front range area?

  22. Manager - gift ideas help :

    Help! Another question on gift ideas I know and traffic might be slow today (hello 4 inches of snow in DC!) but I need some creative ideas…

    I manage a team of five dynamic, smart, productive consultants. I love my team. Very motivated, driven, high performers. They’re generally well-read and well-traveled, with a number of interests outside the office (e.g., dogs, horses, photography).

    I’m absolutely stumped on what to get them for the holidays -I’d like something useful but kind of unique/quirky. One of the ideas I’m exploring is a top business/management reference book (e.g., Trusted Advisor, Checklist Manifesto) along with a gift card of some sort.

    Ideas?? I’d appreciate any and all!!

    • AnonInfinity :

      You sound like a great manager. It’s a know-your-team situation, but some people might wonder if you’re passive aggressively critiquing their performance if you give a management book. I’d love one, but I can think of a few colleagues who would be less confident after receiving that as a gift.

      Have you considered a really nice travel coffee mug? I also once received a perpetual calendar (it’s a silver box with rotating wheels I line up each month to show that month’s calendar) with my bad ass nickname engraved on the top that I love.

      • First Year Anon :

        Yah it might come across that way- maybe include a note that makes it clear you aren’t critiquing them, just thought you loved the book and wanted to share with such talented people?

    • Hah, here in D.C. proper we have a grand total of about a quarter inch. I swear to God we’re in a snow desert.

    • Famouscait :

      I agree with the other replies that it could be misinterpreted poorly. What about something like the StrengthsFinder book? It’s a few years old but still interesting on both a personal and professional level. I had a manager once who had also done the test and we enjoyed sharing our top strengths, which was informative also.

    • Clementine :

      what about selecting for each one of them something like a business card holder or a nice leather folder?

      I wouldn’t like getting a performance book like that… it would make me a bit self conscious that I needed major improvement.

      Travel mugs are nice and always appreciated. As would be a ‘team Keurig’ or something with a big supply of pods.

    • While some people appreciate books, many people don’t. I love to read, but I can’t say that I’ve ever earnestly read a book that my manager has given me. Usually they’re cheesy and full of terrible buzzwords, even if I was interested in reading business books for fun in my free time.

    • What about nice leather luggage tags? Or Do you work with any international clients? My boyfriend recieved the following book in business school and thought it was great. He then bought it for his sister who is living abroad.

  23. Online shopping TJ …

    I bought a lot of shirts from Express on Black Friday, made sure they fit my measurements, got them and the entire thing ends up being too large. Rrrrrgh!
    Guess this is why I stopped shopping online.

  24. What do you think of this dress? I normally love Kay Unger and the color yellow (see username) but I can’t figure out if this reads too baby shower/brunch for an office in the summer. But the price!!!


    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      It’s way into baby shower territory for me, but I work in a conservative office in NYC – YMMV depending on region/industry.

  25. Tried the dress on in the store today. The front slit was ridiculously low. Too bad.

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