Coffee Break: Birds Over Arches Scarf

kate-spade-saleKate Spade’s sale is on sale — take an extra 25% off all sale items with code SAVE25. There are a lot of cute clothes and bags in the sale — my pick for today’s coffee break includes anything with the “Birds over Arches” pattern, which seems intricate and cool. The wool scarf was $148, then marked to $103; with the sale it comes down to $77.  (Curious about how to wear scarves? Here’s our last discussion on it.) Do note that the pattern also comes in a shopper tote, a wallet, a coin purse, and two cosmetic cases, all ranging in price (after discount) from $26.25-$77.25. Birds Over Arches Scarf

P.S. Today is the last day for ShopBop’s Sale Event, with tiered discounts (spend $250, get $30 off; spend $1500, get $300 off) — it’s pretty easy to get some great discounts on things that never go on sale.  I’d zero in on brands like DvF, Theory, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs bags, and a great denim selection.




  1. Anyone have a good (and hopefully easy) recipe for pineapple pie? Google produces many results, but I’d like to make one that someone has made before and thinks is delicious.

    • I have made William & Sonoma’s pineapple upside down cake before with much success. Not sure if that’s what you had in mind though. I also generally have good luck with almost any Martha Stewart recipe.

      • This is the recipe:

    • Take a cue from Carmella Soprano and make a ricotta pie with pineapple. Delicious, and a good way to strong-arm people into doing favors for you.

    • Pioneer Woman pineapple upside down cake. Couldn’t find a direct link to her recipe (it’s in her cook book), but this looks like it:

    • I am now definitely craving pineapple upside-down cake… that could be dinner, right?

  2. 401 (k) ? :

    Immediate threadjack — is it possible to have a 401(k) outside of your employer? I don’t like my company’s provider (lots of fees, not many accounts to choose from) and would love to start one with Vanguard or somewhere similar, but do I get a choice, or am I stuck with what my employer provides? Has anyone done this?

    • Nope. 401(k) are employer sponsored retirement plans.

      You can have an IRA (individual retirement account) which is very similar, except for the difference in the contribution limit. an IRA is not tied to an employer and you get to pick the investment company.

      • But also, her employer will not match an IRA, and (hopefully) will match the 401(k).

  3. Immediate Threadjack:

    I got a job! A real, full time job not through a temp agency, with benefits, and a salary, and (I assume) my own office. Eventually I’ll even have a firm photo.

    You ladies have been incredibly encouraging throughout my interminable job search, and I’m so excited to finally be able to put all of the advice on here about actually working to use.

  4. momentsofabsurdity :

    Reporting back on the Skin Effects Resurfacing Effects microdermabrasion peel (which I bought as a potential alternative to the Philosophy Microdelivery Peel).

    Okay so I love the Philosophy peel. It’s fantastic. It’s also super expensive, which is why I’ve been investigating alternatives. I saw the Skin Effects peel on sale at CVS for $20 so I figured it was worth a shot. It’s the same general setup as the Philosophy peel – exfoliate with citrus crystals followed by a gel which activates the crystals and you leave on your skin for ~2 min before washing off.

    My thoughts overall:

    – Definitely a bit “harsher” feeling than the Philosophy peel – the “warming” sensation felt more like a burning sensation and didn’t go away until I dried off my face. No longterm ill effects on my skin though (like no allergic reaction, reddened skin, anything like that).
    – Definitely has more menthol or peppermint or something really strong that clears out your sinuses. I was surprised at how minty it smelled (rather than citrusy)
    – The crystals aren’t quite as grainy as the Philosophy peel, which might mean less exfoliation
    – The packaging is definitely worse than Philosophy’s – to get the “second step” out of the tube is a pain when your hands are wet.
    – The end result was pretty close to the same (!) — super soft skin, basically no pores for about 2-3 days after use.

    Overall, I definitely still prefer the Philosophy peel, I think, but this one is way more wallet friendly so I might stick with it and only splurge on the Philosophy one when I’m feeling like treating myself.

    • Must try that. I recently had a Philosophy sample in my Sephora package and took it on a trip. Loved it. Contemplating more Philosophy purchases.

      • lawsuited :

        Philosophy’s Purity cleanser is. the. best. It’s very gentle, smells great and removes ALL makeup including mascara and liquid liner.

    • S in Chicago :

      I’m a huge fan of Philosophy’s oxygen peel. No scrubbing-it’s a pill filled with powder that you mix with water, shake to become a gel, then put on your face for a few minutes. I think it works just as good if not better than the light peels I’ve had done at my derm’s office. I save costs on that by only doing half batches at a time (half a pill). Stretches it way longer and you still end up with enough product to do your whole face and neck.

      And yes, Philosophy rocks. I am a firm perfume hater. But even I can’t get enough of the Amazing Grace stuff.

  5. Gym etiquette commentary :

    I just needed to comment on how amused I am by the number of women in the locker room at my gym who won’t reveal their boobs for the two seconds it takes to take off their regular bra and change into a sports bra. Instead they do this complicated looking maneuver where they put the sports bra on over the regular one, and then peel the regular one out from underneath. I’ve seen people do it when changing into swimsuits too. I’m not a parade around the locker room naked kind of person at all, but really, what’s going to happen if a couple of other women that you’ll probably never see again in your life see your boobs for a minute? And this is mostly younger women (in their 20s) — I could understand if it was my mother’s generation, but it’s not.

    • I got used to doing this in middle school (when I was super self conscious, like most girls) and now still do it. I guess I honestly never really thought about it – but I really don’t think it’s that silly.

      At the end of the day, I just think people have different preferences in terms of nudity and modesty, and we should be live and let live about it. If you want to be naked and parade around, cool, if you want to change in the stall, cool. It’s your body, you get to pick who sees it and what you do with it. Nothing wrong with you if you’re more reserved, nothing wrong with you if you’re more modest. Neither one merits amusement-at-the-other-person’s-weird-choices, unless it trends into the truly absurd, IMO.

      • +1! Well said, anon.

      • Gym etiquette commentary :

        Well I didn’t say I was going to go up to any of these women and rip their bras off, but I can’t see much harm in me thinking its odd, and yes, silly. I get changing in a stall if someone is really very modest. But the contortions to avoid another woman seeing your boobs just strikes me as funny. I guess none of these women will be candidates for appearing on the cover of National Geographic.

        • No I didn’t mean you were going to actually do something – but clearly, you thought it was ridiculous enough that you continued to think about it to the point where you posted on a blog about it, right?

          There’s no harm in thinking about it per se – it just strikes me with, well, what’s the point of thinking it’s odd? So they have different standards of modesty than you. So they want to avoid showing their breasts to other women. So… what? They’re weird? They’re silly? Just because they’re different from you?

        • anonaswell :

          This isn’t really an etiquette question, is it? Nothing that this women are doing should be annoying you so it’s not about etiquette. You think it’s silly that women don’t want to show their boobs. The woman who’s letting it all hang loose probably thinks you are a prude for not doing the same. Being annoyed by nudity is understandable, but thinking that lack of it is a silly thing and thinking about it enough to post here is just ridiculous. Get over it

      • I think it’s silly, too. Maybe not enough to post about it, but I do. I’m not a parade around naked person either, but I don’t mind flashing the boobs for a second while I change out of one bra into another.

        • Totally agree. We all have the same body parts. I want to laugh to myself when I see women being overly careful about hiding themselves in the locker room (unless they are preteens or something). Just get over it, and stop assuming everyone is staring at you and just change like you normally would!

          • Kontraktor :

            Agreed. I loved bathouses in Russia and frequent Korean spas now and honestly it’s refreshing to be around people who just want to bathe/change/be there without pretense and not make a fuss about being human/having bodies. It’s totally matter of fact to me.

          • I don’t normally change in front of other people. Why would you laugh at someone who does things differently than you? I have to say, I just wanted to laugh to myself when I realized some obnoxious woman thinks its funny that I prefer not to show strangers by body, regardless of if they have a similar body. Honestly, your post is one of the pettiest I have ever read, and its wrong to describe it as an etiquette question. They aren’t bothering you at all! Just mind your own business.

          • But you ladies who are laughing at anyone who dares to have less comfort with their body obviously are looking at them.

        • I think it’s silly that you don’t mind flashing your boobs but have hang-ups about other body parts. Just be matter of fact like Kontraktor. What’s the big deal?

      • No, not cool to change in the stall. It is rude.

        • Anonymous :

          What could possibly be rude about changing in a stall? My gym has two stalls specifically for changing in, and that’s what I use (because I’m one of those “funny” modest people). If they didn’t have those changing booths, I’d change in the bathroom. Maybe if you change in a shower or toilet stall and take 400 years while there’s a line-up, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently rude about not wanting to share the sight of your naked body with everyone and their best friend. I don’t understand people who wander around the locker room naked, but I certainly don’t think they’re rude.

    • gym gripe :

      So I recently joined the gym, and I was actually a little shocked by the amount of women I saw in full nudity in the locker room. No underwear and all. I guess I haven’t seen another naked woman in person since like…forever. But I was just like “ah!”

    • I use the stalls when I have to change bras (I’m top heavy, so I wear my less fancy bras underneath a sports bra while I work out.) I actually don’t feel self conscious, but I feel like being topless might make some of the other girls uncomfortable, especially as the majority of my gym is a younger crowd. To each their own.

    • I do this, and I am a younger woman in my 20’s. It’s a trick I learned when I was on the soccer team in high school and we often had to change in restrooms (outside of the stalls) when we were travelling and there wasn’t enough space in the locker rooms for 2 teams. Frankly I never thought about the fact that I don’t really have to do that in a gym locker room – it’s just the way I got used to changing clothes!

    • Too many people on their phones for me to show my boobies.

    • This is preferable to the people who hang out nude in the locker room, just chatting or reading. I understand changing requires a moment of nudity, but there is no need to lounge around naked! The worst thing I ever saw in a locker room was a fully nude woman standing in front of the handdryer with her back to it, holding her butt cheeks open with her hands drying the crack. Seriously!!
      The bra over bra trick is great if you have to change in the car.

    • saacnmama :

      Are you a mother? Seriously, my impression is that by the time women have a couple of kids and have been to the gyno umpteen times, they lose the need for that kind of modesty, but I’ve chuckled at the young women hiding themselves many times. I don’t parade around the locker room, but I do what I need to do.

      Susie’s buttcrack comment is hilarious!

      • It’s a lot funnier now thinking back, I was a bit horrified in the moment!

      • My god I thought the whole “women are mean to other women thing” was a sexist myth. You are LAUGHING at women who are uncomfortable with their bodies? Or who just don’t feel like showing other people their bodies?? Honestly the thought of you women chuckling at other women who feel differently from you is outrageous. They don’t have to show you their bodies if they don’t want to. You don’t have to cover up if you don’t want to. Think of if these posts were the opposite. “I chuckle to myself when I see women just changing out in the open. You think we want to see that?” What a ridiculous rude post

        • Nobody is laughing at other women. Saying you can’t help but chuckle / shake your head / think its funny is completely different that laughing at someone the way you are meaning it. Lots of things people do make me chuckle / shake my head. Heck, in restaurants I often wonder what people are thinking when they order something different than what I would order. Its not actual judgement and of course, I can recognize that all people are different and people want and need different things than I. But, questioning people’s choices in an innocent, “huh! look at that…huh!” is completely normal and I’m willing to bet you 99% of people do it some form or another.

          That’s all this was (for me, at least) and to take it as more than that is blowing the whole thing out of proportion. The original idea is that the 2.3 seconds between removing one bra and putting the other is such a small amount of time, that it is an INTERESTING OBSERVATION that there are people that are really concerned about flashing boobs for such a small amount of time.

  6. Jackie, the Anon Threadjacker :

    How do you evaluate a salary plus bonus job offer?

    Right now, what I make is based entirely on what I bring in, and can be extremely variable. I’m getting better at making sure that I don’t work for free (I think), but the work has been slow, slow, slow! It’s killing me and I’m miserable. Last year, I made a little less than $70,000. While I would hope that I can do better this year, I also recognize that there seems to be the distinct possibility that I could do worse, because we’re just not getting the business.

    I’m considering a change – no offer yet, but we discussed salary a bit. They pay a base and bonuses based on productivity and advancement (learning and improving). Bonuses of “10, 20, even up to 50%” per the interviewer, though there was no stated minimum, so I guess it could be zero, too. They start new associates at 55 to 60. I’m not new; I’ve got a few years of practice, but I’ve not worked in that field at all or really at that type of firm (medium sized).

    The job would require some sizable hits to quality of life – the commute is 30 minutes, to my current 12. I would likely be working a lot more hours with less flexibility (of course, I’m hardly working full time now). I work with really nice, pleasant people now, and the new firm is unknown (though they seemed nice). I do think that I would like the work there a lot, and I really do not like the little work that I do currently, plus I get pretty miserable at least once every couple of weeks over feeling like a massive failure for my lack of work and earnings.

    I guess, based on all of that, I’m just not sure what base salary I *need* to make the change worthwhile, when I consider bonus. Both this job and my last wound up having far less work than I feel like I was led to believe coming in, and I’m scared to depend on having the work available again. Should I assume bonus (i.e., if I decide I need to make at least 80K, accept an offer of 70 on the assumption that I will bonus more)? Or not?

    Also, it looks like I need to make the first statement of salary – given the above, what should I ask for to start negotiations? (Please don’t think of it based on what’s normal in your city for lawyers – it’s probably different in my area.)

    TIA! (and sorry for the novel!)

    • Diana Barry :

      Is it a bigger firm? Would there be more people to feed you work – intra-firm referrals?

      Quality of life – if you are really stressed out about not getting enough work, and the new place has more (as far as you can tell), then the extra commute time will be OK because you’re not spending a ton of time worrying about not having enough work. Note – does the commute vary paid on traffic? If you do get an offer, talk to as many people there as you can to get an idea of whether they are nice/the fit is good.

      Definitely ask for more than you think you will get. I am assuming it is a bigger firm – I would ask for a salary of 90 or 100.

      • Jackie, the Anon Threadjacker :

        It’s a medium sized firm for the area, which means about 15 attorneys. Much bigger than my current or prior firms, though.

    • Chicken to use real name :

      Only agree to a lower salary in exchange for a bonus if there is a set criteria on how you will receive said bonus AND a written contract. So, for example you could get a base of $50k and 1/3rd your billing rate for everything over x hours.

      We see people on here every day working their tail off and getting a ZERO bonus from their firm. Don’t believe the old “we reward hard work” adage unless you are promised a set amount.

      Another option could be x salary with bonus range of y-z so you at least have a minimum of how low the bonus can go. This is particularly so if you will be an associate working where assigned and not controlling revenue. You probably won’t get to pick just well paying clients or clients where the fees and hours are higher. You don’t want to be resentful of working on CLEs for a partner or other things that don’t contribute to your bonus.

      If you have are several years out you should be getting $80k plus. I wouldn’t accept it unless I was getting a minimum of $80k/annual guaranteed.

      • Also, bonuses can be axed. This happened to me during the recession.

      • Jackie, the Anon Threadjacker :

        So, would you assume no bonus, so if it happens, great, but only take the job if you’re happy with the base on it’s own?

        • Kontraktor :

          I would. I negotiated a higher base because I don’t want to depend on bonuses. My company only offered a ‘target’ amount as my bonus comp, which I learned can range from (theoretically) nothing to (more realistically) about 80% of the target number they give you. I would rather have more money in my pocket now than depend on something not codified/discretionary/etc.

    • Jackie I don’t have any practical advice for you just wanted to say I love your handle!

  7. THREADJACK: Quarter-life crisis in the worst way.

    I’m three years out of college. Thought I wanted to become a corporate heroine, but realized that I no longer do. Am working at a decent job at a prestige company, but in a capacity that I don’t particularly care for (i’m a sponsored research/though leadership editor, which is fine but doesn’t really excite me and is not what I’d want to do forever). It was okay because other areas in my life were going well (I thought marriage was on the horizon), and I was considering next moves into the industry that I was really interested in with the help of my long-term SO, who was really well situated in it.

    Well. He dumped me. I’m devastated and not sure what to do next.

    I have a better idea of the industry I’d like to be in (fulfilling work in publishing/think tank mgmt), but it’s not clear what the path would be to get there. It seems like those jobs are mostly found through networking, but unfortunately my ex is smack dab in the middle of the network I’d need, which makes things really tough.

    My parents/sibling say I should get my MBA and figure it out from there, but I’m not sure that that is the right path. It would help me scale the corporate ladder, and I’d probably be okay at it, but I’ve realized that I don’t really want that sort of intense life. But what else is there now? It’s not like I have a family to focus my energies on (which is what I wanted), or anywhere else to go — but I guess I have to think of a new goal?

    How did you figure out what you wanted to do? Is it too late to change paths, and what would you do? Does anyone on here work at a think tank or advocacy group?

    I just want to know that I won’t be permanently sad and dissatisfied with my life…

    • TO Lawyer :

      Can I ask when you and your SO ended things? And if it was a bad breakup?

      Just my two cents (that have nothing to do with your current or future career path), but if the breakup was recent, I would wait a while before making any other moves. When things in your life change all of a sudden, it can be hard to deal but you don’t want to make a potentially life-altering decision when you’re especially emotionally vulnerable.

      I would not get your MBA and figure it out from there if you’re not 100% sure you want your MBA. I’m assuming you’re around my age (25) and what I’ve realized is that we likely have over 40 years to work. That gives us a lot of time to figure out our path and even if I’m slightly discontented at 25, I have a lot of time to move and learn more and make adjustments as I go. I don’t think that because you’re sad and dissatisfied now, that it’ll be the case permanently.

      I need structured lists and plans to survive so YMMV but I would focus on you right now and getting over the breakup. If you find another job that you may like more, great but I wouldn’t try to move into another field or do a graduate degree unless you’re 100% sure you want it.

      Maybe there are other small things you could change (hobbies, going to the gym more, eating in front of the tv, a haircut) that might make you feel better without being a life-altering decision?

      Hugs! I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now.

      • I agree with TO Lawyer. You are still so YOUNG (like my Sister Rosa), and you should realise that you have alot of other option’s then some guy who dumped you. I figured out that A man is NOT the end-all in life. I do think it is good to have a man, but it has to be the RIGHT man for you to become his wife and have to put up with his burpeing and everything 24/7.

        Since your so young you can get an MBA, and you can be an acountant or a business person. Since you already are a thought leader, you can also be a lawyer if you get a JD (like me) and you could litiegate case’s! That is fun for me (Yay) so it could be for you to.

        I had a boyfreind who I had to dump b/f he dumped me for the bottel. Yes I was sad, but not when I figured out I would have to buy him liquer every week and he would get drunk watcheing TV. He also did not hold is booze well, so alot of times, he vomited and guess who had to clean the apartement up? ME. FOOEY on that.

        So go and look at educateing yourself, and at the same time, keep an eye out for an eligible guy who will respect and take care of you. I am older then you but I am alway’s hopeful that I will find the right guy to marry me and take care of me. Do not settel for some dufus who does not put you first. Make sure he value’s you for more then sex. That is the key. Good luck!

    • You’re not too late to change paths. I would hold off on spending money on an MBA though. I generally use breakups as excuses to do something drastic, like leave the country, so if you’ve ever had a yen for teaching english in china or the peace corps, do it now!

    • I agree with everything TO Lawyer said. Also, it’s just as bad to jump on the MBA bus-to-nowhere as to jump on the JD bus-to-nowhere. I hear bad things about the job market for new MBAs and b-school is not cheap. If you’re not sure you want to do the things MBAs typically do, I don’t think hiding out at b-school while you consider your options is going to make you very happy. Instead, are there any alumni from your college who work in the field you’d like to work in? This is really the time when informational interviews can be helpful. You can find out what the day-to-day of this work is really like (maybe you know this already through your ex, but always helpful to get another perspective) and start making some connections. If you’re really not sure, though, instead of getting an MBA I’d suggest using this time to do That Scary Thing You Kinda Always Wanted to Do. Do you want to live in Paris? Work in a school in Kenya? Spend a year surfing in Costa Rica? Maybe that’s not your thing, but this just seems like a perfect opportunity to do something totally different and come back to the US in a year or two with a new perspective, and something fascinating and fun on your resume.

    • Don’t go to grad school if you don’t have a clear sense of direction yet. I’d slow down, and separate the issues of your ended relationship and your meh career. Take some time for yourself to deal with your emotions. Connect with friends. Read good books. Exercise. Empower yourself in little ways so you don’t feel so negative. Then, take small steps to look into other careers. Ask you friends or family if they know anyone in a position you’re interested in and then take them out for coffee to see how they got there. Start looking for job postings and keep a dream jobs folder. Make a list of the skills that are required for those jobs and see if you can start gaining experience in those realms at your current job, by volunteering somewhere, or by taking a class. Remember that small steps can lead to big, big things. I would have been amazed to know I’d end up where I am in just a few short years. Things can change a lot when you work away at it and don’t give up!

    • What city are you in? Sounds like you could use a glass of wine, and I’m sure someone here would take you!

    • I agree with the posters who said not to rush into business school, but something else I would consider is talking to a career coach. It sounds as though you have some ideas of changes that might interest you, and a good coach can help you evaluate those and maybe provide some feedback on other ways to build your own network in that area. Good luck to you!

  8. Anonymous :

    Embarrassing question. I’m mid-career, so you’d think I’d have this figured out by now.

    How do you wear black slacks without a jacket? They seem like such versatile basics, but I feel my outfits always look… well… basic. I try different things but end up leaving the house in either: basic sweater, colored blouse with a black cardigan, or black blouse and colored cardigan. I suspect I’m somehow missing the right separates for on top. Inspiration?

    • Accessorize with a statement necklace or scarf or belt.

    • I think a sweater twin set looks more polished than just a basic sweater. And I often add a scarf to jazz it up.

    • I work in a very casual environment and wear black pants all the time w/o a suit jacket. (I would get asked if I was going to an interview if I wore that combo)

      Usually I wear a patterened, colorful knit top and a cardi on top. Sometimes, I’ll wear a denim jacket instead of a cardigan, but that may not be appropriate for some workplaces.

      Instead of solids on top try patterns. Or if you are wearing a solid shirt, try a patterened scarf or maybe even a patterened cardi.

    • I wear patterned blouses with a cardi over them.

      • This. I think a collared shirt under a sweater makes the look much more put together. I also like longer bf style cardigans with black pants (tank or blouse underneath) because it plays with the proportions a bit. My basic rule is to dress in at least 3 pieces most of the time – this avoids the black pants/single-color top combo that I have to say rarely looks good to me, or at least on me. Sometimes my third piece is a scarf or vest or a statement belt – but it makes the whole outfit look much more intentional to my eyes.

        • mama of 2 :

          I wear black pants with a jacket. I agree that three-piece dressing makes it look more intentional. Talbots has a great selection of jackets that can be mixed with pants or skirts as separates that don’t look like suit parts.

    • I usually just wear black slacks with a patterned blouse or collared shirt, very little in the way of accessories. It may be basic, but I say better than too over the top!

    • Anonymous :

      Thanks, all.

      For patterned tops or scarves, is black in the pattern? I think my problem is that I keep trying to treat black as a color and match it with my tops, rather than treating it like a neutral.

      • Meg Murry :

        It doesn’t have to be. For instance, if you would wear a blue, green or white solid top with black pants, then a pattern with blue, green and white should be fine with black pants. You just don’t want to wear a pattern that looks like it should be with a different neutral – like one with a chocolate brown or navy base that looks like “oops, I meant to wear brown or navy pants but I grabbed the black instead”.
        I have a hard time with finding patterns I like and are flattering, so I tend toward stripes instead of patterns – you could use that as a baby step to break things up out of the “all black with one color” you have going right now.

    • Kontraktor :

      I wear black slacks a few ways.

      1) With a statement blouse. I have a couple of pairs of skimmy cut black slacks and so I can wear longer tunic style blouses with. Sometimes these are really colorful or have an interesting cut (I’m wearing one today with a high neckline/some interesting draping).

      2) With other neutral colors. I have a blouse for example that is sort of color blocked tan, cream, and black that looks nice with black slacks. Also have a cream blouse with a bolder check/plaid sort of pattern (in black). I like these outfits with chunky gold jewelry.

      3) With some coordinated cardi/blouse set. Doesn’t necessarily need to include black. A fave outfit of mine lately is a cream blouse with a bright red sweater with gold buttons and some chunky gold jewelry. Sometimes blouse is darker patterned and my cardi is one of the colors in the blouse. I like wearing a white blouse with black dots and a saturated color sweater.

    • I think I have the same problem – I always want a touch of black somewhere else in my outfit so that it looks like it all belongs together. Sometimes I solve this simply by wearing a necklace with black in it. Sometimes I wear black bottoms, colored blouse & grey cardi. Or black patterned cardi. I’ve realized that I’m not one that likes tons of colors in her outfits (was a revelation just today, actually). And because of that, I usually pair black with a color & another neutral, usually grey, so I feel like me. I think patterned blouses, especially if there was a little black, would do the trick for me, but I don’t seem to be drawn to patterns very often. Unless it’s polka dots. LOVE polkadots!

    • I like to wear long cardigans with black pants on days when I know I’ll be in the office with no client meetings or anything. I have a long burgundy cardigan I wear with a grey silk sleeveless blouse, and a bright blue cardigan I wear with a white blouse. And a long red cardigan I wear with an ivory silk sleeveless blouse. And sometimes I wear a black cardigan with any bright color blouse that’s clean and handy. And that’s pretty much the extent of my casual black pants for work wardrobe.

  9. big dipper :

    TJ. I wanted to piggyback on a few related posts I’ve seen recently. Does anyone live in any lower cost of living cities/areas that they particularly enjoy? What made you move there to begin with? What are the biggest selling points of those cities?

    I’m about to move from Boston to NYC for a few years, but have been thinking a lot about my very-long-term future and where I might like to end up, and am looking for options I haven’t considered before.

    • Pittsburgh! It’s affordable, has great cultural offerings, great sports teams and civic pride, friendly people, excellent universities, easy access to state parks and nature. There are a lot of good things happening here and many young professional staying in the city and moving to the city. Only downside is it’s not super close to a beach.

      • You could go to the beach in Erie… if that’s your idea of a good time.

      • I’ve always heard this about Pittsburgh, but every time I’ve been there the cultural things are kind of disappointing, it seems like there are not a lot of young professionals (it seems like mostly college kids and older people), and there is nobody outside and walking around in the actual city itself. I don’t know if I’m visiting the wrong places at the wrong times, or what.

        • Duke Silver :

          I’ll admit, hardly anyone lives in “downtown” Pittsburgh, so it is kind of a ghost town on weekends. The fun, quirky neighborhoods with all the great restaurants are not always easy for someone from out of town to find – neighborhoods like Lawrenceville, Squirrel Hill, and Shadyside are really cool and there are many young professionals.

          • I’ve been to Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and they’re nice, but nothing special. I guess I just don’t get it.

        • saacnmama :

          I grew up less than 2 hrs from Pittsburgh, went there for a conference a couple years back, and was shocked at what a cool city it is. Why did I never know that growing up?

      • Duke Silver :

        Agreed! Pittsburgh is great. The winters aren’t any worse than Boston or NY, and the cost of living is super low. If you are thinking of having kids, it has many of the top school districts in the state. The people are really nice and, as a transplant, I have not found it overly difficult to make friends.

    • I’ll put in a plug for Portland, ME!

    • There was an article in today’s NY Metro paper about how apparently everyone is moving from Brooklyn to Texas. Austin, mostly, but also Dallas and Houston.

      I have a few friends who moved to lower cost of living places and enjoy it, but usually for love, work, etc.

      • A friend of mine decamped from here to Austin and loves it. She really, really misses the ocean and is totally squicked out by Texas politics, but is glad she moved.

        • Yeah, but beware of the Austin jobs market. EVERYONE wants to move to Austin, including everyone from all the other parts of Texas, plus all the people from the rest of the country who want to live there. If you’re in tech, you’re probably good, but the job market for other jobs (including law) can be really tough. I know a number of people who moved to Austin and had to leave because they couldn’t find jobs (or couldn’t find jobs they’d actually want to do). But, yeah, Austin is pretty amazing.

      • I moved to Houston from the Northeast for the BF. We decided that it made more sense for me to move since there are a lot more job options for us here than where I was (and frankly more than most other cities). I forget where I saw the article but apparently it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the US. It’s different, and I probably won’t be here forever, but I actually really like it here. I expected to feel like an alien among Texans but the majority of people I have met are not from Texas so that is not the case. My favorite part of Houston is that there is delicious Tex Mex food on every block. My biggest complaint is that it is hot and humid in the summer, though it is lovely right now in winter!

        • I love Houston! Some of the best restaurants in the country, the job situation is great, fantastic museum and theater districts, very international and integrated, really quirky areas, great coffee shops, etc. I love that it’s the fourth biggest city in the country with everything that comes with that, but it’s also in the south, so people are very friendly, smile at strangers, open the door for others, etc.

          There are two drawbacks in my view: the weather in the summer (but most places have bad weather in either the summer or the winter; I prefer the summer to be bad because the winter is awesome) and no public transportation. But you can live really close in, so that’s less of a big deal. It takes me six minutes to drive to downtown, and I have a wonderful old but updated bungalow that I adore.

          • And it’s an hour to Galveston, which is certainly not the best beach, but it’s a cute town with a great history and a serviceable beach, particularly for kids.

          • This makes me so happy! I am moving to Houston in April. Yay!

          • Houstonian :

            I love seeing posts complimentary of HTown. The city is so underrated! My favorite part is definitely the food. This is the first city I’ve ever lived in where you can find not only quality TexMex, but just about every type of food you can possibly imagine. Vietnamese, Colombian, Cuban, Ghanian, Creole, British, Lebanese, Indian, Pakistani, and on and on and on. On a related note, I also love how ethnically diverse and integrated the city is. You can go to Target and hear five different languages before hitting the checkout aisle.

            Love this city. Now if we can just fix our transportation problem we’ll be good to go!

    • The southeast really is awesome. I live in East Tennessee, and love it.

      Hubby and I get a total kick out of watching those HGTV shows where they’re buying/selling houses. Generally, the houses are 1.5 to 2 times the price we paid, and tiny and dumpy. We bought a house last year, brand new, brick, nice yard, gorgeous details and lots of extras (granite, fireplace, huge kitchen and bedroom), HOA with a pool, for $300,000. It’s just crazy how much better you can live here than most places.

      Yes, I know that the south has a bad rap, and it’s true that it’s sometimes deserved, but not really in the metro areas (the outlying areas are different, but people don’t move there very often). I didn’t choose to live here; we moved here from the NE when I was a kid, but I cannot imagine leaving.

      Biggest selling points: easy to get around, cheap, nice houses, friendly people, no state income tax

      Cons: some of the schools stink, though I don’t know that they’re worse than anywhere else, religion (Christianity) is assumed, which might bother some people, southern accents can be charming but hard to understand (again, not really a problem in the cities), little public transportation (I like driving, but some people don’t), some limits on what you can get as far as culture and the arts and similar things that you find in really big cities, country music, college football.

      Throw any other questions you’ve got at me.

      • I’ll echo much of this. Moving to Atlanta was like getting a $12,000 raise, just in terms of reduced housing costs (I did also get an actual raise). It’s amazing what you can do with that (pay off student loans, in my case!).

        Sure, Atlanta is a rawer, more complicated city that where I lived before. Many more of the people that I work with disagree with me on politics. I’m now typically the most liberal person in the room, not the most conservative. There’s more poverty, and schools aren’t as good. But there’s a realness to it that my former city lacked, and the sense of financial well-being is crazy.

    • Oklahoma City!

      • Hey, fellow Okie! I love living in Oklahoma City, low cost of living, pretty good economy right now, and lots more to do now (compared to when I first moved here), with Bricktown, Thunder basketball, OKC Museum of Art, all the things going on in Midtown, lots of lakes within driving distance if you’re into boating, it really is a good place to live. Housing is ridiculously inexpensive compared to some places.

        • I’ll agree. There’s tons of performing arts for a city this size (touring Broadway shows, lots of different theater companies, ballet, multiple modern dance companies, a large choral group, the symphony) plus all the stuff from the many many universities in the area.

          The sports are amazing (not just NBA, but AAA baseball, AHL Hockey, rowing, college sports, etc.).

          You’d better be comfortable driving, because you’ll need it, and the urban city schools are iffy (but I’ve had friends that love Nichols Hills Elementary and Wilson Elementary, as well as Belle Isle, Independence, Classen, Harding Charter Prep, and ASTEC) but several of the burbs have great schools!

          I told a friend in Virginia how much we paid for our house and her jaw just dropped. She couldn’t believe that nice houses could cost so little.

    • It’s like Brooklyn only you can actually afford to buy an awesome house in a great neighborhood and maybe even have a kid or two.

      • Really? My brother bought a place that is less than 1200 square feet and paid over $300K for it (in Ardmore). It’s fine if you have one kid, but I wouldn’t want to have more than one in such a small space. We paid the same amount for a 2600 square foot house with 3/4 acre of land in a small regional city in NE.

        • Ardmore isn’t Philly… it’s on main line, which is one of the priciest areas in the country.

          • Of course Ardmore isn’t in Philly proper, but many folks looking to relocate to a city will look at both city and inner ring suburbs, especially if they have children. My point is that Philly suburbs are not exactly inexpensive or “lower cost” areas. Philly inner city can also be extremely expensive.

        • You can find less expensive things than that in Ardmore, tbh, especially for that size. It’s still way cheaper than NY or Boston.

        • $300 K for ANYTHING is way cheap compared to SF or DC or NYC.

        • Ardmore is basically the fanciest suburb of Philly. Every metro area has a super fancy part to it and the mainline is Philly’s. In general though, Philly is incredibly affordable compared to other large urban NE cities.

          • And I will add that its a similar type of city to boston and nyc in that its dense, walkable, with good public transit. The majority of the other cities mentioned are entirely car focused (sidenote, i’ve always wondered how people go to bars in cities like that?)

          • Gone are the good ol’ days, sadly now when I go to a bar I am fine to drive home afterwards. However, I recently noticed one of our local dives has a free car service for a 5 mile radius.

          • You can’t use public transit to go to bars in Boston unless you plan on leaving by 12:30 or so (which is not a problem for me now, but was a decade ago).

    • I loved the research triangle in NC (Durham, Raleigh, chapel hill). Really beautiful, lots of culture

      • +1

      • I am currently trying to get out of NYC and back to the research triangle, so I’ll echo that. (NYC cost of living and weather finally got to me)

        • Merabella :

          When you get down here come hang out! I love this area, there is lots to do in terms of culture stuff, there is a growing foodie culture, and the cost of living is so much lower in comparison to the big cities.

    • Chicago is a low-cost city compared with Boston and NYC, but still has lots of culture/tons to do. We bought our place in an inner-ring suburb, and our townhouse w/great school district, beautiful streets, and 15 minute commute by mass transit to downtown Chicago, was sub $200k.

      • Wow! In what suburb? DH and I are househunting and aren’t finding anything in that price range!

        • We’re in River Forest. It’s not all that big, but I like it. You can even get a single-family home in south River Forest for sub $3ook right now. Good deals to be had in Oak Park, too. But these are not fully suburban style homes—mine was built in the 1950s and has alley parking, etc.

          • Divaliscious11 :

            Any deals like that in Oak Park will likely need a lot of work. I’m not convinced Chicago needs to be in this post. Having lived in Most of the listed expensive cities except for the Bay area, its not materially less expensive….

          • RF Native :

            Seriously? That cheap? I wonder if the aristocracy on the north side of RF realize that the “riffraff” can now afford to move in. ;) OP and RF both have insane property taxes (but great schools), though, so I’ve heard that a lot of people are thinking about moving to Berwyn.

          • I’m an L.A. native who lived in New York after college; my husband is from DC and has lived in NYC and San Francisco. Compared with those places, Chicago definitely fits the lower-cost-of-living bill. I mentioned it because of the OP’s mentioned affiliation with Boston and New York. Of the very big cities, Chicago is pretty affordable.

            If you’re not looking for detached housing or lots of square footage, there are most definitely deals to be had on nice places in the OPRF. Forest Park and Berwyn are both lower-priced alternatives, but the public schools are not as good.

    • Anonymous :

      I live in Buffalo, NY. It’s similar to Pittsburgh on a smaller scale. People are friendly, it’s on two lakes, skiing in the winter, tons of good food and drink. Two (bad) sports teams, lots of events in the summer and tons of civic pride. Beautiful, affordable houses (seriously, gorgeous turn of the century mansions). On an international border. Family friendly, close suburbs. Family friendly city neighborhoods. Independent businesses. Wings :)

      The one, glaring drawback is the long hard winter. But, I truly don’t believe it’s any worse than any other northeast city. And, we know how to clean snow quickly.

      Can you tell I like it here?

      • Other drawback is high taxes. But there’s no traffic.

      • I MISS Buffalo winters after the past three in New Haven. I would take snow every day over the entire state shutting down for six inches twice a month any day. Seriously, for the amount we pay in taxes, the DOT is just ridiculously incompetent.

    • Denver! Cost of living is almost exactly the national average. My brother just visited from DC and spent the whole time on trulia exclaiming about how cheap it is to live out here. It has a really young population (and if you’re single, it’s about 55/45 male/female). It’s growing, so the downtown is pretty vibrant (if you know where to go) and the mountains are Right. There.

      The only downside is that the food scene isn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be. So far I’ve had trouble finding good Asian places, although we do have a great dim sum place we go to regularly, so I can’t complain too much.

    • mama of 2 :

      Such a great post. Thanks all for these comments. I live in SF right now and the cost of living is just breaking my heart. I love being close to family, but I will fling myself out the window before I spend a million dollars for a 1200 square foot bungalow built in 1965 that just happens to be halfway between Palo Alto and SF.

      • My sentiments exactly, mama. I grew up in SF. I think I will say exactly what you said in six years or so. I do not know how to buy anything in SF or on the peninsula, not when properties are going for 20% over asking with all-cash offers. I feel so totally, totally f’d.

        • mama of 2 :

          Let’s just move to Texas. Or Denver. Or Portland. Seriously, I love NorCal, but this is ridiculous. My husband is looking at a potential relo for work in a few years and it might completely derail my career, but I almost don’t care.

      • Need to Improve :

        You do not have to pay that much. Yes, SF is expensive. But you can get a small but cute house for 800k if you hunt and are willing to live in Bernal or outer Mission. You obviously cant get a sparking new condo in nob hill, but to say it is impossible to buy is short sighted. Most of my friends managed to do it and with mortgage rates where they are pay 2500k-ish a month for a 600k-ish mortgage. That is way way way cheaper than renting!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      The Pacific Northwest is a wonderful place to live if you are willing to deal with the weather. Overall, its very mild. It obviously depends on where you are at, but many places don’t get any (or just very little) snow in the winter and summers can be 70-90 degrees but don’t often go above that for any long period of time. On the other hand, it is gray and misty/rainy a lot of the year. It makes for a gorgeous environment on sunny days though!

      I grew up out there and moved to NYC 3 years ago, so the opposite of what you are thinking of. The west coast in general has a very different vibe to it. Work/life balance is a real thing and a big deal for many people. Out here I was offered a document review project and was instructed to show up in jeans on the first day, as opposed to a suit as is the norm. I joked that it must be a west coast firm and it turned out I was right.

      On the con side of things, you’ll pretty much have to own a car, especially if you live in a suburb. If you want to take a weekend trip somewhere, you’ll likely be driving there instead of taking the train.

    • Sacramento

  10. Can anyone comment on RCN vs. Comcast? Is one less deplorable than the other? Or cheaper enough to justify the switch despite equal evilness?

    • hellskitchen :

      I had Comcast in DC and have RCN in New York. RCN here is not cheap but in terms of service I have had no issues. I have also been able to get them to waive fees, throw in extras etc. Not sure how they are in NYC

    • Comcast couldn’t be bothered to send anyone out to install, despite scheduling multiple appointments, so I ended up with RCN, which is a couple dollars a month cheaper (but I only have internet).

    • I was in Central VA when I had them, but I would do pretty much anything to avoid Comcast.

  11. Anon for this :

    Ugh, boo to employee surveys with stupid questions!

    On a scale from 0 to 10, how do you like working for [company]?
    Compared to what? Compared to working the same job title for a different area company? 7. Compared to being unemployed and homeless or a migrant field worker or just about any job involving garbage or fecal matter? 10 Compared to being paid to sit at home in my pjs surfing the internet and eating ice cream? 1.
    How does your manger do at [x]? Does upper management do a good job at [y]?
    Hmm, are you asking about my direct supervisor, or the person in my department with the title of “Manager” that is 4 levels up the food chain from me? When you say “Upper Management”, how many of the 37 layers of international management do you mean?
    What a waste. And then once the results of the survey come back, we will have to have tons of meetings about what the surveys mean and why are/aren’t people happier/less happier than people in other divisions. Or why we think our (vaguely described) management is/is not doing a good job. All because of unclear questions. So then we will have another survey come out for our department with slightly less vague but still unclear questions. Dumb dumb dumb. Don’t get me wrong, I usually like my company. But in order for results of a survey to be meaningful, they have to ask clear questions that everyone will interpret in the same way.

    • I am right there with you. Evals with badly written questions and badly written questions in polling: among my top pet peeves. It’s really a waste of everyone’s time if you’re not going to to do it well! Ugh. Sending commiseration hugs.

    • hoola hoopa :

      I hear you. About half of our annual survey is similarly vague.

    • My favorite stupid survey question was from the military in Iraq, asking whether I had been exposed to sand or dust in the desert.

  12. So does anyone else feel like the birds on this scarf look like bats? It’s a little halloweeny to me…

  13. Blonde Lawyer :

    With all this talk about whether one is productive when one works from home, I’m very curious how productive the average office worker is. So, how many hours per day do you work on average and how many of those do you spend non-productively? I average a 10 hour work day and probably two of those hours each day are a total waste. Some is taking care of personal things (making doctors appointments or something) others are wasted online and others are spent chatting w/ coworkers. This is in the aggregate though. I don’t sit down and waste two hours. It is a .2 here, .4 here that adds up throughout the day.

    • I’d love to hear answers

    • Jackie, the Anon Threadjacker :

      Trying again – I’d love to see this discussion. BL, try posting again later!

      My work is really, really slow right now, so I’d hesitate to even try to answer. I’ve been productive about an hour a day of late. :(

    • I waste zero time every day. Oh wait… I am posting this. I will start counting then…

  14. This is a long shot, but–I am taking the North Carolina bar in July and don’t want to pay to take BarBri again. Did anyone happen to take the February North Carolina bar that just finished and want to sell me their BarBri books? Or if anyone took another state’s bar (cbackson?), want to sell me your multistate books?

    (And if anyone did just take the bar, congratulations on finishing!)

    • I have the multi state books from 2011 – 2012! We met up a few months back, right? If so, are you still in the same neighborhood? That will make it easy to deliver.

  15. About to go get my first Brazillian wax in anticipation of a boudoir shoot this weekend for hubby’s surprise birthday present and am getting increasingly nervous. Eek!!! Is it still called a Brazillian if you leave some of the shrubbery in the garden?? I don’t want a totally bare garden.

    • Yes, what you’re describing is called a Brazilian. When you use weed killer on the entire garden, it’s called a Hollywood. The gardening industry (or its consumers) interchange the use of the terms.

    • I’ve been getting “Brazilians” at multiple places for years….and they always understand it as a full, everything-gone wax. I’ve never heard of a “Hollywood” before, but some saloons distinguish between a “full brazilian” and a “partial.”

    • Senior Attorney :

      “Brazilian” seems to have become the term for pretty much anything beyond a standard bikini wax. Don’t worry — they will do whatever you like to the garden. Just be clear about the shrubberies you would like to leave and it will be fine.

    • Anonymous :

      My child goes through periods of anxiety/depression, which manifest in children as behavior problems. Tonight when the pediatrician stayed late to help figure out where to find treatment, the “behavior” was on full display….really ugly. The doc mentioned that she’s moving this weekend (ie, gave up packing time to help my kid and got crap for thanks). I’d like to send her some kind of thank you that would help out while she’s moving, am thinking of a meal delivery service like

      Have you used this service/would you recomend it?

      Is this an appropriate way to thank her for caring about my (bratty, nasty) kid?

      • Anonymous :

        haha–comment landed in the wrong place. I do NOT intend to get my kid’s ped a Brazilian!

  16. Love all the comments-leading to random topics!
    Thought I’d add petite workwear from as a random post :)

    • Hey, it is not good blog manners to plug your own blog here. Usually I report these to Kat because their spam but you seem like a real poster so I am just going to give you the heads up.

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