Tuesday’s TPS Report: Alix Jacket

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

Kate Spade New York Alix JacketPersonally, I’m more of a black blazer kind of gal — but that isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten a lot of use out of various navy blazers I’ve had over the years. This one from Kate Spade looks kind of adorable — the three-quarter length sleeves, the super slight pouf to the shoulders, the slightly cropped look… all of it is really nice. I could see this as being a great blazer to keep at the office and throw on over grays, whites, purples, greens, blues — pretty much anything. It’s $378 at Bloomingdale’s. Kate Spade New York Alix Jacket

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]


  1. Rant Ahead :

    Warning: rant ahead.

    While playing wingwoman to a friend this weekend, aka standing and talking to whatever friend of the guy she was flirting with was nearby until she was ready to move on, I ended up talking to a guy with a shared hobby of mine. Not to send mixed signals, I made sure to drop references to the guy I’m currently seeing. We chatted all of 10 minutes before my friend wanted to switch locations, so we exchanged numbers (I’m new to the area and he offered to put me in touch with some people that also share this hobby).

    He texted a few days later asking if I wanted to hang out and I agreed. When I told my roommate her response was “Are you sure he knows you’re taken?” which I thought was a silly question. But, to be safe, I threw in a reference to my boyfriend. Minutes later I got a “Nevermind, this week is busy, I’ll let you know about next week but I’m not sure right now.”

    I admit I could be drawing conclusions prematurely, but really?… My college guy friends were more mature, and that says a lot!

    • Sounds like you were actually sending very mixed signals. If you’re just “seeing” a guy, most guys wouldn’t take that as meaning you’re in a committed relationship. Exchanging phone numbers and agreeing to hang out made it sound like you weren’t that serious about the guy you’re seeing. Also, you were at a bar. The guy may not have been totally sober when you met, so even if you said “boyfriend” at some point, if your body language was suggesting you were into him (not anything inappropriate, but if you were chatting for a long time and seeming interested) he might not have really processed the term “boyfriend.” Being a wingwoman is fine and most guys will get this, but I wouldn’t exchange numbers with someone in a bar in the future if you had zero intent of actually going on a date with him.

      • Yes, I agree you have to be CLEAR if you are or are NOT interested in a guy, or if you are AVEAILABLE or NOT. My probelem is that if I even START to talk to a guy, he all of a SUDDEN think’s that I am interested in him. There are to many guy’s that think that most girl’s are stuck up and won’t talk. But I like to talk and THAT is my probelem. Because so FEW women talk to guy’s, peeople like me who DO talk they think are REAEALLY interested in them and they HOME in for the KILL.

        I can count so many time’s that guy’s come buzzeing in just b/c I talked to them. Within 15 minute’s they wanted to go back to my room or thier room for SEX! I was so SHOCKED when that hapened that I figured out NOT to be to nice to men (which mean’s just talkeing?)–it took a while to figure this all out.

        Now I just get freindly with older guy’s who can help me, like the JUDGE, the manageing partner and mabye Jim (tho he’s dumb) with his baseball hat. My NEW phielosophy is to be very carful with men b/c most of them JUST want sex, and I want to get MARRIED and HAVE A BABY! (Rosa is due Friday, so we will see!) YAY!!!!!!

      • This seems like a fundemental male/female difference – females hear “seeing someone” and think it means taken, males think “so, not married, great.”

        • Divaliscious11 :

          Its also a source of great disappointment. Females say seeing someone and think “exclusive” and men think “dating.” Its not exclusive until you say it is. You may “fall into it” but its best not to assume….

    • ummm this is your not fault not his I think. I dont think its immature of him to not want to waste his time, or he might think you are actually looking to cheat and not want a part of it. He is obviously looking for a relationship. You gave your number to a dude you just met at a bar. That is pretty standard dating material. Sure the most mature answer is to probably text and say oh sorry this won’t work out- I am looking to date someone. But really, his answer is not that immature.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I kind of agree with the responses. While I totally support making new friends, especially one with shared hobbies, I think a bar while your friend is hooking up with his friend is probably not a place where “friendly” signals are ever read as just “friendly.” I agree with TBK above that he may have been not-so-sober and didn’t remember the boyfriend part (or — bars are noisy — he maybe didn’t even hear it).

      That said, of course, no matter what signals you sent or didn’t send, he isn’t entitled to a date with you. But I don’t really blame the guy for moving on from a chick he met at a bar when he figures out she has a boyfriend (whether he figured that out at the bar or later). You may be interested in making new friends – but he may not be. It’s not a character flaw on his part if he isn’t.

      • “You may be interested in making new friends – but he may not be. It’s not a character flaw on his part if he isn’t.”
        Also, while that may have been a curt text, even more awkward would be actually getting togther with him only to realize he was thinking it was a date.

        • Rant Ahead :

          Thanks ladies for the straight talk. Part of the reason I love this community!

          I don’t mean to imply it’s a character flaw. I think I’m just generally frustrated at how easy it is to mix signals and how difficult it is to say “I’m not interested in a date” without being overly presumptive. I don’t want to be that annoying girl that assumes every person talking to her is hitting on her, but I agree that I should be more aware of the circumstances. I’m definitely equally at fault for getting excited about a hobby in a situation where most people are not looking to make new friends.

          Thanks for helping me keep perspective!

          • Blonde Lawyer :

            I totally feel your pain. I hate trying to decide how quickly I have to work “husband” into a conversation without sounding like I’m presuming every dude is hitting on me. I’m open to meeting new friends but don’t want to lead anyone on either. Then there is the other issue of the number of men who don’t catch “husband” as a deterrent and think just because I’m talking to them, I must want to sleep with them, married or not.

            A guy friend from my old state put me in touch with a guy friend in my new state. I gave him a bunch of advice before he took the bar. He passed and wanted to take me to dinner to thank me. (This was all over facebook chat at the time). I told him that sounded fun but I wanted to make sure his friend told him I was married. He responded with “well I guess our friend didn’t tell you I’m gay.” I was kind of mortified for assuming it could have been more than a thank you dinner but at the same time I thought it was safer to lay out the expectations up front. Turns out we totally didn’t click in person and don’t hang out now anyway.

            Unfortunately this comes up in sooooo many areas of life. Making friends, networking…. Met a guy at a networking event who just gave off the sleeze vibe. I declined to have lunch with him. Well, basically just kept putting it off until he stopped asking. Could he have been a potential great client or referral source? Maybe. Was he just a player using a networking group to meet young women. More likely. I will never know.

          • Dear OP,

            Part of what makes it so hard for everybody involved, is that for many people, the early stages of friendship — shared activities where one learns stuff about the other person — are virtually indistinguishable from the early stages of romance.

            One of my platonic friends said to me after we began hanging out a lot over a period of weeks: “Owl, I really mean this in the nicest way possible and hope you won’t get offended, but you are totally not my physical type and that I’m hanging out with you all the time not because I’m trying to flirt and pick you up, but because I really like you as a friend and can see our being friends for life– across decades and continents.”

            I laughed and was relieved, because I felt the same about him. But later, we both recognized that it took a lot of potential future awkwardness off the table! 14 years later and we’re still best friends!

    • Olivia Pope :

      I don’t think he’s being immature and I don’t think either of you did anything wrong. You were playing wing woman and talking about hobbies, he was looking for a date. It’s fine that you mixed up signals and will both move on.

  2. Swimming to Music :

    Anyone have a waterproof audio player they use while swimming laps that they can recommend? I’m swimming increasingly long distances and getting bored with the black line at the bottom of the pool; music would help. I’d prefer not to go with an Apple product if possible.

    • Pre- .mp3 days, I had a Speedo radio for swimming. It worked pretty well and was small enough to attach to a suit or goggle straps.

  3. Splitting up suits :

    Nice jacket! I like!

    I think I have it as half of a skirt suit. The jacket I loved — textured wool fabric, seaming that seemed to slim my waist — but I don’t wear it as a suit any more due to the skirt part being a bit snug. I’ve never really broken up suits before, but this might be a signal to try. Any advice for just wearing a jacket (and if most of my pants are black, but a flat weave, is that OK?)?

    • If its definitely a navy I say go for it, but if its not so saturated it may look like you’re wearing mismatched blacks.

    • What kind of dress would you wear this with? :

      Another solid seems to severe. DVF? Something non-wrap but maybe patterned?

      No other threads seem to be about the jacket (which I wish came in black).

      • I would wear it with a lighter colored sheath. Maybe gray, yellow, pink, green, or orange. I think a patterned dress would also be cute! Maybe something striped or geometric?

        • What about weight / fabric? The jacket’s linen / lyocell, so maybe lighter knits / ponte for a dress to wear under.

          I’ve always thought you could do same fabric feel with adding a non-matching jacket (so no flannel jacket with something that’s 3-season wool) or they have to be very different (tweed jacket with wool flannel pants; this jacket but not linen with maybe DVF print but not wrap jersey dress) so that the pairing looks deliberate.

          There are nuances involved and I can’t quite put my finger on when it works.

  4. momentsofabsurdity :

    TJ – does anyone have a Polar heart rate monitor?

    I just bought one (pink FT4 watch which makes me smile when I look at it, and H1 chest strap) and am wondering about the instructions to store the transmitter separately from the chest strap when not in use. I detached it and put it in a separate pocket of my gym bag – but should I actually be taking it out and storing it across the room so it’s not near enough to read the signal?

    I am one of those people that would forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on so I’m worried if I always have to store one of the pieces outside of my gym bag, I’ll end up never using the HRM since I’ll forget one or both of the pieces. But if I have to do it to make the thing work, I guess I have to.

    • I have one and I love it. I’m actually on my second one in 10 years. For some reason, I can’t remember what happened to the first one – I think I lost it. I remember it being really durable, and I feel the same way about the one I currently have. And no, I’ve never bothered trying to keep the two parts apart from one another.

      • Backgrounder :

        Ditto. I have the same (pink!) Polar watch and I throw both the watch and the transmitter/chest strap into my gym bag together. Otherwise I would never remember both parts.

  5. Can I cancel my own wedding shower? My future MIL is THE lady that throws all of the bridal/baby showers for the daughters of her group of friends. So, pretty much from the day we got engaged, f-MIL has asked if her group of friend could throw me a shower. While not traditional, it’s a very kind offer, and though I don’t know these ladies, I agreed because I know it means a lot to her.

    Fast forward six months. While f-MIL continues to discuss said shower, no movement has actually been made to planning one. As we close in to the big day, my mom’s friends offered to throw me a shower. Now, I know I could have multiple ones, but honestly, all of my b-maids and most of my family and friends live out of town, so I don’t have a guest list to merit two. After discussion with mom and f-MIL, it was decided that f-MIL’s friends would throw the one, and my mom’s friends would help. A date was picked for mid-April. Perfect. Everyone’s happy

    Well, now we are three weeks from the date, and still nothing is happening. Apparently the problem is f-MIL’s friends can’t decide on a location (because of scheduling reasons, it must be on a Sunday evening…) My mom has offered her house, but that idea was rejected because the bride’s mother cannot host. (Mom was going to suggest almost a cookie/dessert swap and wine shower. Sounded good to me.)

    Having a shower thrown for me is a very sweet offer, but truly, we don’t need to be “showered” with gifts, and this is turning into more of a headache than it’s worth. But I fear this is a really big deal to my f-MIL. How to I help move this along, or find a resolution? Help?

    • Olivia Pope :

      Your MIL will be a part of your family and it’s best to start on good terms. Don’t cancel, just let them plan a shoddy, last minute shower. Show up and be gracious about it. Thankfully, you don’t care very deeply about the tradition, so really there is no harm to you.

      If you are worried about traveling friends, you can discreetly let them know that you will not be offended if they don’t come. I only had one friend travel from out of town for mine.

      As for the plans, don’t bother yourself with them. This is a party thrown for you, so let them work it out and you can just show up.

    • If you don’t care about it being thrown, I don’t think you need to move it along. I, personally, would probably not mention and just see if it kind of dies on its own. I think the other ladies on the site might have better answers but I would treat it in your mind not really as your shower, but as your mother in laws. So keep your schedule clear for that date, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. And if it does you go but don’t worry about all your friends/family being able to make it.

    • Tell your friends, or anyone you’re worried will be stressed about the last-minute nature of this, not to worry about coming. Take a deep breath and let fMIL plan what fMIL will plan.

      If it turns into a crazy circus and it ends up that your mom or your bridesmaids want to throw another shower later on, you can easily come up with some rationale that won’t hurt fMIL’s feelings (“so many people were so sorry to miss it they’re throwing me another!”).

      Show up, smile, say thank you, and move on. I say this with love, as someone whose controlling mother put her sticky hands all over my shower planning and then followed through on none of it.

    • Thanks ladies. I needed the reality check. If it’s a last-minute get-together, then so be it–There will be wine, and I’ll get presents.

      • ^^ was the OP.

      • New Bride :

        It is important to be gracious, no matter what happens.

        But if you’re inching toward your wedding date, you should not worry about your shower. If it happens, great, if not, you don’t care. I wouldn’t bother anyone about it or even think about it. It’s someone else’s party. Your big party is coming up on a separate date.

        And any questions from your friends about it should go to the host of the party. “When/where is your shower, HM?” “I don’t know, why don’t you ask f-MIL? She’s organizing it.”

        The only thing you should do for it is provide a guest list and a registry.

        If you don’t want a shower, then let it lie. If you want something else, you can be clear, but I found it wasn’t really worth fighting about. In the grand scheme of things, getting a shower is not a terrible thing.

  6. Gentle Souls question :

    Paging AIMS or anyone else familiar with the brand— do Gentle Souls shoes run true to size or do they tend toward larger or smaller? I’m usually an 8.5 but sometimes need a 9 and would like to know what my best bet is for an online order. Thanks in advance!

    • I think they run large. I normally wear a 7.5 but nearly always take a 7 in Gentle Souls.

    • darjeeling :

      I ordered some too after yesterday’s discussion (the “opportunity” platform). I am irrationally excited to get them and will report back on sizing once I receive.

      • Can anyone comment on how they hold up? I’m ridiculously hard on shoes and would hate to drop the cash if my three-months per pair rate is standard.

        • I have 3 pair and all have held up very well…made it through various domestic and international travel with heavy walking. They are very well-made shoes and I would definitely recommend. They are made of a very good quality leather and will stretch as you break them in.

        • They’re one of the only brands that I wasn’t disappointed with on some level. I have shoes from similarly priced brands (CH, SW, etc.) and while I like them, I would never pay full price because they don’t seem worth it to me. Likewise, I have more expensive shoes that I love but I am never sure if I am just paying for the aesthetics and the shoe lust. BUT I truly love my GSs and think they are worth every penny if you can find cute ones (alas, not all styles are cute).

    • I wear my regular size in them (7). I’d say they run slightly wide so if you sometimes size up because of that (e.g., the way some people do with CH), this won’t be necessary with GS.

      As for how they hold up, awesome. I have a pair of boots and the suede ballet flats and both look great even after substantial wear. The leather and suede is amazingly nice, too. My mom also has their slides and she wore them every day for five months, I think, and they still look good as new.

  7. For those who are married or in successful long term relationships, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.


    • Timely! I just got into a fight with my fiance last night because he failed to engage in what the article calls “protective buffering.” He told me that he thought that a long-time medical school friend of his was more beautiful than me because I’m currently not at my physical best. Thanks, fiance! I really wanted to hear that!

      • That’s bad. That’s beyond the scope of the straightforwardness I recommended below. Now…if it were a model/actress, fine. But a friend of his? That’s rough. Maybe even something like “she may still have her body from her early 20s, but you’ve managed to bag me, so you’re doing something right.”

      • Um, you sure you want to marry a guy who says such hurtful stuff while you guys are engaged? Anybody who says stuff like that sounds like a total a-hole.

        People tend to get worse about this stuff once they’re married, you know, until you guys do something about it. I was too late to get on that thread, but I was applauding Divalicious for calling out what seems to be a disturbing trend of women on this site who are smart about everything in their lives except the men they date and marry.

      • Oh that is not buffering. That is being an as$hole

      • That is not even remotely okay. He’s a complete jerk. And that’s a nice way of putting it. Do you want to be worried for your entire marriage that husband is giving you the side eye and thinking you aren’t at your “physical best?” Either get him to counseling immediately or get out, IMHO.

        Why do some people think this is okay?

      • This is *not* okay. Maybe your fiance has foot in mouth syndrome, but what was the point of him saying this to you? He is missing compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, perspective, and a clue. SO, why do you want to marry this guy? This is a serious question. Because even when I was bloated and walking around in sweats with no makeup and acne post-partum, my husband still made me feel like I was awesome and you really deserve that.

      • Snarkster :

        Damn girl, that is harsh. And I’m the snarkster.

      • Ouch, that is hurtful coming from a fiance.
        My ex-bf towards end of our relationship kept pointing out I was gaining weight and getting flabby all over, no longer looking as good in skirts/shorts. This was while I was working 70-80 hours a week and visiting him long distance 4 hours flight each way twice a month – that was so painful and ungrateful of him. The relationship ended few months later. I joined unlimited workout classes and regularly go 4-5 times a week since I was no longer travelling all weekend. I lost pounds, gained muscle weight and fit so much better in two size smaller dresses, oh well that jerk doesn’t get to see my body anymore… And all that money wasted on flight tickets can now go towards new wardrobe.

    • I wouldn’t go so far as to go places and do things and actively lie to my husband about it– I think that’s crossing a line– but in my opinion it’s okay to be evasive or tell white lies if it is only going to hurt the person. Sometimes being totally honest is just mean.

      For example, you don’t need to be so “honest” that you tell your husband he can’t wear that sweater because he looks fat. You can pick out another and say the color looks better on him or something.

      • See, in my relationship, I WOULD say he can’t wear it because it makes him look fat. Because he would be mortified if he put that sweater on and went about his business and DIDN’T know it made him look fat. I may phrase it like, “i don’t know if the sweater changed or what, but it makes you look really fat. we know you’re not fat. let’s toss that thing.”

        This happens all the time in our house, and, while I don’t like hearing this conversation, I appreciate it. “uh, Brant, are you *really* wearing those pants?” “yes, you don’t like them?” “you look like you stepped out of a bad 80s movie.” “but! they are trendy and were on sale and don’t they look AWESOME on me?!” “No, but you have lots of things that do. Wear them!”

        • But what if it’s something that someone can’t change as easily as pants? And that’s more hurtful? For example, “I find your dad really annoying.” Or, “I’ve imagined having lady garden parties with Jim”?

          • I’ve said I find his father annoying. His father is really annoying. His response is, “get used to it, you married into the family. Now you get to deal with what we all deal with!”

            I wouldn’t outright say “i’ve imagined LGPs with Jim,” unless DH says, “do you find jim attractive?” or “would you ever LGP with jim if i weren’t in your life?” Then I’d answer. I’d want the same from him. But we have always had this kind of relationship; not saying it’s for everyone.

          • Actually, his other response is “your mom is out of her mind and drives me up the wall.” This is true as well. We at least get to vent to eachother…I’d much rather hear from DH that he (rightfully) is annoyed by my mom, than have him b*tch to a friend about how annoying my mom is, but never tell me.

        • Yes! I never got why “do these pants make me look fat” was a bad question. The only bad answer is “no, it’s not the pants that make you look fat.” If it’s the pants that make the fatness, not-those-pants should mean not-fat. (I’ve finally convinced Mr. of this. If I say “do I look fat in this dress?” he knows he really, honest to goodness, can say “eh, yeah, it’s not great for your hips.” Done. Out goes the dress.) But, Anon 10:45, I hear you! Mr. TBK recently told me, while we were discussing eating better and exercising more, and how marriage has derailed some of our better single person habits “when we met, you were really hot. I mean, you’re still beautiful, of course, but you were really hot then.” Ugh. Yeah. You just wait there while I crawl deeper into these sweatpants, thanks.

          • It’s fine to say it if your husband is NOT fat, but if he IS overweight or has recently put on a few lbs, that’s different. I am referring to the second situation. My husband would not want to leave the house if I told him he looked fat and he knows he just put on 20 lbs.

          • I don’t know. I’ve put on 10 lbs in the last couple of years and that’s exactly why I want to know if something makes me look fat.

          • what about, “that sweater doesn’t look good on you. but this one does!”

            I’ve gained weight since getting married, for sure. So has DH. You could always say “makes you look heavier than you are” which implies no pretense of not being fat. Would have to know the person before saying something like that.

        • Divaliscious11 :

          This is what I mean by HOW you say things is sometimes more important that what you are saying.
          You can say, that sweater makes you look like you gained a few pounds – or you can say Mooooo you look like a cow in the sweater….

          • lucy stone :

            I want to Moo at my husband just for the fun of it now. We’re pretty blunt about the small stuff and say things like “that dress looks weird” or “you know that sweater doesn’t flatter your tummy” but I don’t think I’d ever say anything like “I’d really like to sleep with your best friend” or “I’ve always hated your family.” I think there’s a line but that line is probably different for every couple.

          • hoola hoopa :

            well put

      • A lot of twelve-step programs use the acronym “THINK” for whether or not to say something to someone –

        Is it

        Most of the things that I don’t tell my significant other (if I think a hollywood star or waiter is attractive, for example) fall into the “not neceessary” category for me. Because really, why is that information relevant? Or they fall into the “not kind” category (he knows he put on a few pounds, i know he put on a few pounds, but his health isn’t in danger, so why comment?)

        I would, however, tell him immediately if I wanted to have lunch with an ex (for example) or how much I spent on something if he asked. Key here being if he asked :) I’m happy that he doesn’t ask or care how much I spend on shoes…

    • I wouldn’t say it’s terrible advice, but it’s not for me and DH. We’ve been together 8 or 9 years, married for 5…there have been a few things he didn’t tell me to spare my feelings/spare the argument, I found out, and it blew up. It would have been a total non-issue if it came up at the time.

      We are both, by nature, straight-shooters. Admittedly sometimes to a fault. But even at work, I lay it all out on the table (internally) and leave it to someone else to package up the messaging to someone who needs a softer message.

    • I don’t think a relationship full of deceit is a good thing. My husband and I don’t hide spending from one another and check-in with one another before making big purchases. We don’t inventory every purchase, but if directly asked, we expect the truth from one another. I can’t imagine asking our child to not tell one of us about a special treat. IMO, that divides the parental team and puts the child in an odd position.

    • This definitely comes up for us. In general, I use protective buffering and likewise want things withheld from me if they would needlessly hurt my feelings or cause friction with third parties. In general, he wants us to be able to tell each other everything, and thinks it should be understood that nothing is intended as hurtful or should get in the way of the partnership. I think both perspectives are valid, but the mismatch creates problems sometimes. He’s told me dozens of little things I’d rather not have heard, and I have dozens of little things I will never tell him because I don’t see any point in doing so.

      At this point the working model is that he can tell me what he chooses, but then he has to truly hear my response to it. I.e. he tells me something that upsets me, and then doesn’t just expect me not to care or to forget it within 5 minutes. I have not stopped protective buffering him, meanwhile, because I feel I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons– just to get even or something. I have told him this and he doesn’t protest. In other words, we just try to each operate within what feels right, and not obsess over the fact that it isn’t totally symmetrical.

      I think the “cost-benefit analysis” on telling about cheating can be too easily manipulated. “Oh, it would just hurt her, so I won’t tell”? Very convenient…it may be right, but the personal incentives are so stacked in favor of not telling that I don’t think cheaters are in much of a position to make a fair call about that.

      • ” He’s told me dozens of little things I’d rather not have heard, and I have dozens of little things I will never tell him because I don’t see any point in doing so.” This is us. We haven’t completely worked out the kinks on that one.

    • Diana Barry :

      My DH is one of those people who doesn’t want to hear about what happened before I met him. I used to do a lot of that “protective buffering” in the early stages of our relationship, because he would get upset at a hint of my having known/dated other people before I met him. I am totally the opposite, always want to know exactly what he is thinking etc. even if it results in an argument. I am always better with talking it out – otherwise I will get sulky and then he will get sulky and then we will fight, whereas if we talk it out/head it off beforehand it works much better.

    • this article seems like a no-brainer to me. of _course_ people shouldn’t, and don’t, tell their spouses–or their friends, or parents, or siblings–every little thought that’s in their head. Brant–I mean this in all seriousness–do you think your husband tells you about every single woman he finds attractive? I just don’t think this sort of commentary is necessary or productive. I believe that human beings all have thoughts that are best left unsaid–that are sometimes ugly, or unfair, or untrue–and we do our loved ones a serviceby protecting them from those dark corners of our mind.

      I don’t mean to sound so cynical–I just believe that we are all human, and being human means that our thoughts are not always thoughts that are perfectly aligned with everyone else’s interests.

      • although I will add that I can’t imagine outright lying to my spouse about things like purchases or what I’ve done with the kids. It’s more like protecting him from thoughts that would be hurtful (ie, that is not a good color for you).

        • I would absolutely say “That’s not a good color for you.” I”d want the same feedback. I don’t want to wear something that’s not a good color for me! Again, I think this is very much linked to our mutual personalities that take and give constructive criticism well.

      • There’s a difference between sitting down to dinner and have DH, unprompted, rattle off a list of people in the room he finds attractive and answering honestly if asked something like, “do you think that lady over there wearing red is attractive?” It’s not a loaded question when I ask it (which I don’t), so if I’m asking, I want the actual answer.

        • This is also me. (Sorry I’m so all over this thread. Slow day at work.) I know which of my friends my husband finds attractive, why, and whether he’d want to date them if I weren’t in the picture. Because he always assures me that I’m more beautiful than any of them (which he says even when we’re talking about a movie star or model, and which I know in that case is pretty much BS but I still appreciate him saying it) it doesn’t bother me. He’s married, not dead. He’s going to find other women attractive and that’s fine with me.

          • Diana Barry :

            So funny. My DH would swear up and down (and has!!!) that he finds no other woman in the world attractive. I really don’t know why. So I reciprocate and don’t tell him which of his friends/celebrities/etc. I find attractive.

          • While his saying you that you’re more beautiful than [some incredibly beautiful actress] is a “tell”, I think it’s actually very sweet in a clumsy sort of way. I’ve never met you or Mr. TBK, but you two seem like a charming couple to me.

          • Aw, thanks, Tired Owl. He is quite the charmer. My MIL says he learned it from his dad. :)

        • big dipper :

          I think this is a fascinating discussion. I’m definitely in Brant’s camp – my long term BF and I frequently talk about both men AND women, famous and not (friends included), that we find attractive. Until this thread, I assumed most people did. I like finding out who other people find attractive – people have such varied tastes, and I like to see how who they find attractive correlates with their own style/life priorities. So this is

          For a “funny coincidence” example, my BF had a male TA that everyone in his grad school class, male and female, thought was the most beautiful person who’d ever walked the planet. He had mentioned “the hot TA” a few times. Last time we were visiting, I saw this guy in the grocery store who could straight up have been a model and nudged BF. Guess who it was? The hot TA!

          But yeah, we discuss attractiveness all the time. I guess my mindset is that if he didn’t find me attractive…he’d be single and hitting on the hot girl across the bar instead of hanging out with me instead.

          • But that is still using protective buffering. EVERY relationship uses protective buffering, but each couple needs to decide how much they want it. I agree that self motivated obscuring of the truth is just lying usually. For some, buffering means they don’t want to hear that your coworker or coffee person is attractive. For those that discuss attractiveness, your SO might say “so and so is attractive” but won’t say “I would love to f her if I was single” or might say “so and so is beautiful” but wont say “so and so is more beautiful than you because you are not at your physical best”(If they are smart they dont say that!) and you might say oh that’s not flattering, or even oh that makes you look fat, but won’t say “jesus christ lay off the cadbury eggs you are getting disgusting and those pants are not helping.”

    • There’s a huge difference between actively lying about things you are doing (e.g., going to dinner with someone the spouse hates) and simply refraining from being brutally honest (“those jeans make you look fat,” “I hate your mother”). I think the former, and the story given in the article, is really bad; it shows that there are jealousy issues in the relationship or reflects a lack of trust or joint decision-making. The latter is not a big deal; brutal honesty with no sensitivity can come off as just meanness. Why be blunt and mean about how those jeans look when you can just suggest that something else might look better? And why blurt out your hate for a family member when it won’t change anything? Brutal honesty in these situations is either just unnecessarily mean or counter-productive.

      • It does seem unnecessary, doesn’t it? I feel like if there is a nice way of saying something that will still get your point across, you should do that.

        • Exactly, Cb. Why be mean when you can be nice, and being nice costs nothing?

          My DH has a few pairs of pants that do not do him any favors. I got him some that look much better, and I compliment him whenever he wears the better ones. Those bad ones have drifted to the way back of the closet, and are probably on the way to donation. Done.

      • I agree with this reasoning. It’s the how, and not the underlying message, that seems unproductive. More or less cost-benefit analysis of the delivery method.

      • TO Lawyer :

        I agree with this – I’d want to know if I look fat or something is unflattering but if my SO outright said I looked fat, I’d be offended. Honesty softened a bit is much more helpful in these situations.

        I think another part of this issue is what Diana Barry picked up earlier – how much does each person want to know? I like full disclosure – my SO and I (maybe because we’re long distance) have agreed to tell each other everything that may seem slightly inappropriate, even if it’s not really i.e. getting hit on when we’re out. I don’t love it that girls are sometimes all over him when he’s at a bar with his friends but I know that if he’s telling me, he’s not hiding anything. And I’m assuming it’s the same for him.

        I do think it’s dangerous though to do things like spending time with an ex without telling your partner. Unless that’s part of your arrangement, it could so easily blow up.

    • I am in a 2+ year relationship and I think that it’s really important for each person to have a bit of privacy and autonomy. So in the article’s terms, I am in favor of secret-keeping. So I wouldn’t say I am in favor of exactly lying about having a drink with a friend you know your partner dislikes (as in the example in the article) but it shouldn’t be necessary to account for your whereabouts/who you spoke with every minute of the day. Ideally you have enough trust/respect for each other that it isn’t necessary OR, you don’t argue about the other person’s taste in friends/ability to use good judgment in talking to an ex.

      And, of course, certain thoughts need not be shared at all if they aren’t helpful/have no consequences. EG, No need to tell my BF that I thought the coffee guy was super handsome.

    • I don’t know that I agree with the article. Dh & I have been married for almost 19 years and we are pretty honest with each other. We believe it’s one of our strengths as a couple we can and do talk about anything & everything, although I’m sure there are a few things we hold back from each other. However, I’m a big believer in HOW you say something is at least, if not more important, as WHAT you say. So, instead of saying ‘Yes those jeans make you look fat’ you say something like ‘Those jeans aren’t the most flattering on you – why don’t you wear x pair instead?’ We also make sure those gentle criticisms are not the bulk of our conversations. And if either of us asked the other a point blank question, we’d answer. Also, I’m not the type of woman who wants to be told what I want to hear. If I ask dh if my skirt is too tight, I want him to tell me so I don’t look like a fool wearing a too tight skirt!

      Although, I did get a new floral button front shirt yesterday from Old Navy that is pretty bright, and dh told me right out that he hates it, before I even asked his opinion. But I like it, so I’m keeping it. Although I will almost always layer a cardi over top, but that was my original plan anyway, because it is pretty bright.

      • We’re both somewhat flamboyant dressers, and have developed a warm, almost ritual conversation, which goes both ways, with new loud clothing.

        Person A: “I’m not sure whether I like that…”
        Person B: “It’s ok, you don’t have to like it…”

      • I can’t tell you how many times my husband has said “I hate that sweater” and I reply with “That’s nice; I’m still wearing it.” He is simply the most plain-dressed man on the planet and if a sweater (or a top, or shoes, etc) have anything more than one horizontal stripe, that’s bordering on too crazy. Different strokes, folks.

        • Agreed! My husband hates some of my most loved clothing items, but he wears basically a uniform of black and I love color. If I’m on the fence I might let his opinion tip me one way or the other, but if I love it, it stays no matter what he thinks.

    • Anon for this :

      I think I have only majorly “buffered” once. My now husband and I married young and were in a serious committed relationship in college. I had a very serious long term boyfriend in high school. (I lived in a place where it was common to marry your high school boyfriend and not everyone went to college.) One summer now husband had to live in another state a plane ride away from me. He had no friends in that state. I was living in my hometown and still having a social life with high school friends. He was lonely but tried to encourage me to have fun.

      Someone from my high school suddenly passed away. Now husband was extremely sad that he couldn’t fly out to be with me for the wake and funeral. I assured him I was with friends and family and would be okay. High school ex- boyfriend exploited the event to give me lots of hugs and comfort. While briefly catching up with him at the after funeral gathering, he leaned in and kissed me. I gave him a quick “what the he!!, I’m in a relationship and you know that and this is not the time or the place” and stormed off.

      As upset as I was with high school ex boyfriend I decided my long distance current boyfriend was better off just not knowing what happened. He would be more miserable that he wasn’t there and maybe even start to wonder whether I had done anything to welcome the kiss or how long I waited to push high school boyfriend away. I just didn’t want those thoughts in his head.

      We are now many years into our marriage and he knows that story now. He agrees that it was extremely for the best that I didn’t tell him at the time, particularly since I had done no wrong in the situation.

      I think “buffering” is okay only when used extremely cautiously and judiciously, to protect the other person more than yourself and when you don’t have to frequently employ it. If you are frequently employing it, something is wrong.

    • I definitely would not lie about spending time with an ex, especially if I knew it bothered my DH. But I think little white lies can be good. For example, I’ve told him that a gift was cheaper than it was because I did not want him to feel bad that I spent more on a gift than he did. The same is true of clothing that fits too tight. I would never say that he looked fat but that another item would look nicer. Of course, he understands that the item is too small but I see no reason to say that. He does the same thing. He would never say that an item of clothing made me look fat but instead says that he likes X item better.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      I think what is described happens in almost all types of healthy relationships – I call it rounding out the sharp edges. But it only works, if it comes from a place of love or respect. If the motive is sneaky or underhanded, then its just lying and that isn’t good. I thinks this also covers the way you say things, not just the underlying truth of the statements.

    • Eh, the fact that they’re ostensibly holding up an example from Utah (don’t get me started!) as a paragon of good behavior is problematic.

      • New Bride :

        This is kind of un-called for. There are some very nice, smart people in Utah. Just like in every state.

        • As a state, it’s not exactly bursting with equality or enlightenment. Being a self-proclaimed expert on this subject, I think it was completely called for.

          (Also, if you haven’t noticed, approximately 1.7% of the comments I’ve been posting for the last few years on this site have been earnest.)

          • Anonymous :

            You can’t expect people to know that though. My experience of people from Utah is very positive. That doesn’t negate your experience, but yours doesn’t negate everyone else’s either, even if you are an “expert.” Just because you are using broad strokes to describe a state, as opposed to a different way to classify people, doesn’t make it ok.

          • Sounds like you’ve never lived in Utah. Come sit by me when you have, and we can compare receipts.

          • Anonymous :

            Grew up there. Great people. Be careful of who you think you are sooo much better than, because you live there too. So those judgements about Utah include you because you chose to live there, regardless of how much better than them you think you are.

          • I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I’ve developed the kind of low self-esteem that only comes from decades of careful cultivation. But bless your heart for giving me the credit.

    • I agree with Monday that saying maybe sometimes you shouldn’t tell a spouse about cheating just gives cheaters justification for keeping these secrets, maybe repeatedly, and that’s not a good thing.

      I mostly disagree with this article. At least for my relationship. We generally have casual catch-up conversations at the end of the day. I tell my husband what I’ve been up to that day and I think if I *purposely* withheld information about where I was or who I was with that would not be okay. And I expect the same from him. But sometimes we don’t get time to catch up or it just doesn’t come up that I had lunch with a particular friend and that’s okay too – it’s not like we’re keeping strict tabs on each other.

      Also buying things and hiding them – not okay for us. We have a general agreement that if we want to spend over about $150 on a particular purchase we should discuss it first, but we don’t really keep close track of amounts below that, and we stay within our budget. But this is how we have set up our budget. I think it could also work for each person to have a set discretionary amount and then spend it how you want without the need to hide or discuss.

      We do engage in protective buffering in one area and I it works for us. I don’t want to know who he finds attractive and he doesn’t want the same info from me. Also, if some article of clothing isn’t flattering we tell each other, but we don’t say things like, “you’re looking fat,” or “you were prettier when you were younger,” or similar things. I think that’s just mean and unnecessary criticism.

    • I absolutely agree with the article. Married happily for 20 years, so I am qualified.
      Just to clarify, “protective buffering” is not about lying to the partner, but rather shielding him from the information that (1) is sure to upset him and (2) not relevant in the grand scheme of things. And yes, the one doing the buffering gets to decide on the relevancy and “need to know”.

    • I don’t think you should tell your spouse everything that comes into your head but you shouldn’t lie. For instance, lazy Sunday and we’re both in our pjs well into the afternoon. He comes to give me a kiss and his breath is a little…ripe. I take the kiss and move on. If he had asked me about his breath, I would’ve encouraged him to brush his teeth. I also know that if I ask him if that woman is pretty/attractive, he might answer yes. But I don’t have to ask the question.

      We’ve been together 15 years, married for a couple so we don’t tend to pull punches. We both know where the buttons are and we both only ask questions we’re prepared to hear the answers for. So if I could give any advice, it’s don’t ask the question if you think the answer might upset you. And definitely think of your partner when answering any question with potential to upset them.

      • +1

      • Agreed, with the caveat that you can also choose what to share and what to hold back. DH’s crazy mother sometimes says judgy things about me (about everyone she knows, honestly). For years, DH would tell me under his internal boy scout full disclosure policy. I recently told him that if he leaves those bits out, I’ll have nicer feelings towards his mother.

        • This example of non-disclosure makes sense to me — you can’t control the other person’s hurtful behavior, and there’s no necessity to knowing about it (and harm in knowing). For many of the other examples, though, it seems as though the problems relate more to the fact that one person has done something that the other finds hurtful/harmful, either for reasons that seem pretty clear cut (bending the family budget) or that have to do with the other person’s sensitivities (jealously, comments about looks). The first case seems like straight up dishonesty to me. The second case also seems worrisome because if you’re continually having to suppress information about things that you’re thinking or doing, it seems to signal a problem somewhere that’s not to do with disclosure, but with self esteem, trust issues, or incompatible ideas about how to spend time or who to spend it with, etc.

  8. I’d like recommendations for multi-tasking hair products. My ideal hair product = leave-in conditioner + styling cream + frizz fighter. Even two out of the 3 would be good. Any ideas? I feel like I have to layer at least 2 different products for my hair to look good, but would like to avoid all the build-up. it would be so great to just use one product and done! I would love to hear what you ladies use. I have shoulder length wavy to curly hair. Thanks!

    • I have curly hair also. I swear by the garnier fructis creme gel. It has a significant amount of hold, but definitely provides anti-frizz and contains leave-in conditioner.

      • this?


        • Yes, that’s it. The new bottle has purple on it and says it contains shea, I think. It’s a great product. I’ve also been using the new line of L’Oreal sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. I have dry hair, so I am using that line, but the anti-frizz and curly hair versions are good too.

      • big dipper :

        Yes, I love this gel and that’s the product she’s referring to (I believe). It’s fantastic. In the summer sometimes, when I’m blowing out my hair for work rather than leaving it curly, I switch to the frizz serum from Garnier and I find that to be really effective.

    • Depending on your hair type, there are a couple of good John Frieda products for that. I like the Full Repair Style Revival spray (styling & anti-frizz). And as long as you don’t need a deep conditions, (and you aren’t a curly girl), the Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Cream can do all 3 (although it won’t give you any hold).

      • Argh… I obviously started responding before I read to the end of your post— you are curly. Sorry!

    • I have wavy to straight long hair that tends to frizz, and I’ve been trying organic coconut oil for about a month. For me, it’s definitely working as a leave in conditioner (and deep conditioner when I really lather it on and leave it over night) and frizz fighter. I don’t know about styling cream, since I don’t really use it normally.

      I also really like Kenra Silkening Gloss, although at least 20% of my love for that is the awesome smell.

    • Be Curly from Aveda. The Curl Enhancer hits on all three of your needs; the Style-Prep is also very good.

      Also, have you considered using a 2-in-1 shampoo? Then your conditioning is taken care of and you just need one product for styling / frizz (like the style prep).

    • Greener Apple :

      I have wavy/curly hair, too, and I recently switched to Oribe shampoo and conditioner. Unexpectedly, I haven’t needed to use another product for frizz. I just blow it out and touch it up with the flat iron.

    • Moroccan Oil Intense Curl Cream. LOVE. Though I do still condition before using it, it’s amazing. Not sticky, not crunchy, and makes my hair all nice and soft and curly.

    • Mountain Girl :

      Paul Mitchell Super Skinny – everybody should use it. Seriously!

    • I really like Dove’s Nourishing Oil. I am also using their Nourishing Oil Conditioner, but the Oil can be used separately.

  9. My mother, bless her, is getting a second master’s degree and asked me to edit her final paper. (I’m a book editor.)

    I love and admire my mother so, so much, and she’s brilliant at so many things, but writing is not one of them.

    Eurgh. That’s all.

    • Oh no! That’s no fun. Maybe time for the protective buffering mentioned above?

    • Oh, yikes. On one hand, if it’s just cosmetic editing, it wouldn’t be bad. But if you look at it and determine that it needs a major overhaul that can’t be addressed with tracking changes, I’d decline. I had a faculty member from another department ask me to edit a memo for her. It was so poorly constructed that I finally gave up on commenting on each section and wrote her some suggestions for restructuring. That could be difficult with your mom. Good luck!

      • Cb, good idea on protective buffering! I’m definitely going for a very, very light touch.

        NOLA, I do sort of wish I could decline, but the strange thing is that she’s been getting A’s on all her other papers in this program–and those were just as poorly written! I’m glad that she’s doing well, of course, but I do kind of wonder at the grading process. At least it lets me relax a bit–I don’t have to bring it up to my normal standards for academic writing, and she’ll feel good if I’m able to find some concrete issues for her to address.

        Sigh. Editing someone else’s writing is such a tricky, emotional thing. Sometimes I wish that everyone would just magically wake up and be able to write coherently and well–and then I remember that my salary depends on the fact that my skills *are* expert and beyond what most people can do.

  10. Resort c*cktail attire? :

    I’m going on a trip with my husband in June to a resort in the Carribean. It is a work event (he won an award and this is the prize). There is an evening dinner /award ceremony scheduled and the dress is c*cktail attire (men are supposed to wear jackets but not necessariy ties). Any ideas for what I should wear that is appropriate for a beachy resort but dressy enough? Thanks!

    • At my husband’s company, this event during an award trip is commonly referred to as “Prom Night.” While you will see all levels of dressiness, the women at these functions tend to dress up quite a bit – either they are the successful business person who won the award or are married to someone successful – and many there will view this occasion as an opportunity to demonstrate that success a bit through their attire. Even though ties are not required for men, wear a short c*cktail dress (I suggest in a color – you’re in the Caribbean- but light on the glitter/sequins) with strappy heels; make sure you have a dressy wrap because the evenings can get cool. Also, there may be dancing, so plan accordingly.

      • Resort c*cktail attire? :

        Thanks! Do you think I could wear something like this?

        I hate the way I look in short c*cktail dresses.

        • Gorgeous – wish I had a reason to buy that dress for myself! That would be perfect for the similar events that I’ve attended. Have a great time!

  11. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/suit-offers-a-peek-at-the-practice-of-padding-a-legal-bill/?hp

    Ugh. It’s firms like DLA Piper that make other lawyers and law firms look bad. Also amazed at the Henry-Blodget-like stupidity of emailing incriminating remarks back and forth.

    • Not an attorney, but use them frequently. How prevalent is this kind of thing?

      • More than you’d like to think. But to be fair, aside from pure greed or associates knowingly padding hours to hit annual targets, I think there’s enormous pressure on the big firms not to miss anything at all ever ever. The result is that no legal research rabbit hole is too deep or too far off the trail, and no piece of writing can be reviewed and revised too many times. Because when the client is paying $500 or $1,000/hr, they expect the work to be perfect. If there’s some obscure case out there somewhere that could have even the remotest chance of making the difference in the client’s case, they feel the need to find it. If even one word could be changed to make a brief better, they feel they need to change it. That results in thousands of hours of junior associates on Westlaw tracking down cases that probably don’t exist, and thousdands of hours putting memoranda and briefs through 20 or 30 revisions (I wish I was kidding about the number of revisions) only to have half of it scrapped by the client. Also, there was definitely the sense that, if we might just need an issue researched five or six months down the road, why not do the research and memo now even if, six months down the road, it’s likely to turn out that that research wasn’t relevant at all.

        • To be clear, I’m talking about the giant, 1,000+ attorney firms. And plenty of them have very honest partners. But the pressure at those big firms does exist, and it’s brutal.

        • Flying Squirrel :

          Not a lawyer, but if the expectation is based in high hourly rates, wouldn’t the expectation be higher productivity (ie more research findings and better quality work per hour) as opposed to more/better work through more hours billed? Again, not a lawyer, but I suspect this is the kind of thing that is driving fixed pricing in law. From a basic econ standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to pay higher $/hr if you’re not getting more per hour.

          • The thing is, there are some things that have to do with Quality that can’t be measured while practicing law. You can pay an associate to dig through and find 15 cases that are kind of on point for an hour, or you can pay an associate to dig through and find the two or three pieces of caselaw that will win your case, but it’ll take 3 hours. So you can get more volume in an hour (higher productivity), but that volume doesn’t necessary mean dollar efficiency (probably less dollar efficiency), value, or Quality in the end.

            I’m in the process of building legal department processes, and I think this is why I can’t find anything regarding SixSigma on anything aside from large-scale e-document review.

          • SH, I think you’re right as to the measurement of quality and that makes things really difficult. But I also think that Flying Squirrel is correct on a meta level – lawyers should be conscious of both their billing rate and the relative benefit to the client of any individual activity. So while “throw every body into every possible task” is one way to deal with the inherent uncertainty as to how much any given task will be worth to the client, it’s not the best way to do it. The best way is going to evolve a shifting evaluation of what a given task is likely to accomplish; who can do it most efficiently; and how much time it makes for them to spend on it. It’s an inherently subjective evaluation, but that doesn’t make it less important.

            On a slightly tangential note, I will say that, as a lawyer at a mid-size public-interest-side firm, I was pretty surprised at a discussion here recently about how Biglaw associates are expected to have every citation finalized and perfectly formatted before giving a draft to a partner. That is exactly the kind of thing that – for our clients – we can’t justify using the evaluation I discussed above. (Formatting cites that might not make it into the final brief has a pretty low benefit-to-cost ratio.)

          • Flying Squirrel :

            But SH, that’s exaactly my point. First, productivity, as an econ term, doesn’t just measure volume, it also measures quality. Second, much higher hourly rates are unwarranted unless the higher paid people actual provide more benefit per hour. I’m not saying that it doesn’t legitimately take 3 hours to get more relevant case law, just that inmost sectors the higher cost of that work would be reflected in more hours billed…not more hours and a higher hourly rate. Unless the quality of the associate at the higher cost firm (I’m assuming it can be 3-4x more than decent midsized/regional firm) is similarly higher per hour. I’m doubtful of that. In my field, I’ve worked with the truly best of the best (e.g. nobel prizewinning scientists). I’ve maybe once ever encountered someone that much (3-4x) better at their jobs than the very good.

          • Oh, Em, this was one of my biggest pet peeves in biglaw. Why, why, why must every cite be perfect in the first of 800 drafts? Why spend a whole week researching an issue if you don’t know if you’ll need it? Why write and painstakingly wordsmith a 40pg brief if you don’t even know that this is the tack you’ll be taking? Why not start with an outline, then rough it in, then finalize it so you’re not spending hours and hours perfecting something that will get trashed? The answer, of course, is that efficiency = lower billables. The perfectly cited and wordsmithed first draft, none of which will actually wind up in the final brief, cost the client about $30,000 just of the junior associate’s time. A roughed in outline would cost closer to $5,000, if that. This is where the bulk of “padding” the bills happens. Not billing for work not done, or “rounding up” hours, but having internal standards that require hours and hours and hours of useless work.

          • Divaliscious11 :

            Actually – the difference in quality is open to question, as between biglaw/midlaw associates. I worked in BigLaw and have hired both Biglaw and midlaw as in-house counsel. There is certainly not a 3x-4x difference in quality. Where you do tend to find differential is in highly specialized practices, where BigLaw has more resources to train etc… but the flip side can also be true, where the firm can’t afford for the associate not to be fully engaged on matters other than doc review/due diligence. Recently attended a conference where work/home balance was discussed in the context of billing requirements and there was a thought that the increase in flat fee arrangements with large outside counsel firms could work to the benefit of part time lawyers, who sometimes don’t get the juicy work as a result of their status, but if the work was being billed at a flat fee, it could be win win, because the incentive would be to put good quality work as efficiently as possible.

            I shared the article with our GC, though…

    • My first thought was “What are they doing putting this in email! OMG! Shut up your stupid typing fingers! Did you never do doc review before? DO NOT put this sh!t in email!” And, yes, the biglaw approach to billing can be unsettling. I know people have been hailing the death of the billable hour for forever, but post-2008, I think we might actually see its deathknell. At least, for certain types of work. We certainly can’t keep up the pace of increasing targets (I think I heard that in the 1940s or whenever the billable hour first became widespread, a reasonable target was considered to be about 1400, to give lawyers time to do administrative tasks, keep up with the industry, mentor younger lawyers, go to professional events, etc. Now 2400 is increasingly seen as a reasonable target at the biggest firms.)

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        yea, I’m pretty sure the billable hour target is just a self-reinforcing cycle of higher billing. Clients refuse to pay for all the work you actually did and cut the bills, which means you raise your billable target for your attorneys to make up for the cuts, which in turn means inevitably some time”s probably getting padded by someone to hit the new hours, which means clients refuse to pay more, and the process repeats. A 2400 hour requirement is just begging for associates to pad their time.

      • I am constantly shocked by what people put in emails. Sometimes, in my mind, I pretend I work in house and I forbid everyone from putting anything of any substance into any email ever.

  12. My DH and I am being so indecisive, so I’d thought I’d throw this out there to get ideas. We want to take a weeklong vacation in the fall – with work commitments it’ll probably be November. Budget is around $5000. We live in the midwest, enjoy road trips, but haven’t been outside of the country much at all. We like nice restaurants with great food. Our goals: relax, get away, see new places (in that order).

    We’ve been talking about this for three months and have been serious (planned budgets and itineraries) about the following:
    *Amsterdam/Paris (maybe our budget is too low? and my DH is 6’6″, so that long of flight is a turn off)
    *Thailand (again, budget and long flight)
    *Somewhere in the Caribbean (although DH doesn’t love this idea)
    *Costa Rica (I really want to do this, but DH doesn’t)
    *Road trip through California (DH loves this, but I don’t think we have enough time because he wants to see the redwoods, I want to do the beaches in the south, and we both want to do San Francisco)
    *A weeklong condo/house rental somewhere warm and fun.

    I think we’re edging to the last one right now, but it changes week to week. So what would you do? Seriously, I’m taking all suggestions.

    • If you don’t have children yet, I’d do something that is harder than other options with children, like Europe or Thailand. Road trips and house rentals can be done easily with kids. Last year my DH and I went to London for a week with about your budget and had a marvelous time.

      • agree. do the hard travel beore there are kids in the picture. If you wanted to cut flight time, what about something like ireland or london? We flew to switzerland from Boston and it was a 5.5 hour flight– less than BOS to SFO!

        If your DH hates the idea of the plane, maybe spring for better seats, or intentionally get a flight with layovers so he can stretch. Or, get an aisle seat. Amsterdam is a much easier flight than Thailand, but if you’re up for the adventure…!

        • should add that we’ve done 7-10 day trips to ireland, london, spain, germany/austria for <$6k each.

        • I did not enjoy London in November at all – cold and rainy. Spain, Portugal, Italy?

          • ….I, on the other hand, love London in November – the weather isn’t any worse that what I have at home, it is not tourist season so easy to go wherever you want, the Geffrye Museum and potentially Regent Street will be all decorated for Christmas, and with any luck you can get in some awesome Christmas shopping. Just another perspective. :-)

    • LeChouette :

      Thailand is wonderful. But a lonnnnnng flight. If you only have a week not worth it (works out to about 24 hours door to door each way). Plus the tix are $3000 so not a lot leftover. That said, a marvelous trip for some other time!

    • Just as a caution…. Not sure what you are expecting, but the beaches in southern California probably will not be very warm in November (warm enough to walk around with a sweater on, but not warm enough to sit on the beach – and the water will be freezing). That being said, we had a very warm early November in 2012, so I suppose there is a chance that the weather will be like that again.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      How about South America? Still a long flight but you’re not dealing with major time difference issues over a week.

      • What about Panama?

        • I’ve been to Panama and loved it, but it is similar to Costa Rica in many ways, so if DH doesn’t want to go to Costa Rica, he may have the same objections to Panama. Belize is another great option (and if language is an issue for Costa Rica, it isn’t a problem in Belize).

      • Second this — we did our honeymoon in Argentina in November and it was springtime. Good wine, good beef, lots of fun activities. A little tight in a week, but you could limit to just Mendoza or do BA with a trip to an Estancia.

    • Hawaii is pretty amazing. You could probably see multiple islands with that budget or just spend a week on one island. The beaches are amazing and there’s hiking and other activities also. If you go later in November, you might even get in some whale watching.

    • Costa Rica!!! Take a few days to zipline through the cloud rainforest, see animals everywhere (a monkey was literally 15 feet away from us when we were crossing a treebridge), see a live volcano, etc. and then relax on the beach for a few days. Beautiful country, great food and coffee, nice people, AND hard to do with little kids. Plus, no jet lag!!

    • Iceland! My mom is going this May and I am super jealous.

      • Anonymous :

        Seconded! Lived in Iceland for a year. November is prime Northern Lights time.

    • Amsterdam can be really rainy and miserable in November. So can Paris, though to a lesser degree. If you’re set on Europe, what about renting a car and going through Italy? Food is great, sights are beautiful and November is still pretty decent weather more often than not.

    • springtime :

      One week is too short for Thailand most likely- I vote AMS/Paris or Costa Rica. Depends if you want warm weather or not- both Amsterdam and Paris will be cold (around 40-45 degrees) and rainy at that time of year.

      As for the long flight, my dad is tall- I would request or pay for bulk head seats . Way more comfortable.

  13. Sorry for the TJ, but I am having the worst work day ever. My boss and my boss’ boss just ambushed me for something I did two months ago that bothered them. I was so suprised that I cried in front of both of them and throughout the meeting. I hate myself right now. Not really looking for advice, but some sympathy would be appreciated.

    • Oh gosh, sending sympathy in droves! That’s terrible. Can you call a friend for lunch or even just take a walk?

    • Oh dear. Sympathy sent in your direction. Chin up, get through the rest of the day, and then get thee to a bottle of wine and some cookies.

    • lucy stone :

      Crummy. Can you grab coffee or lunch with a friend to get out of the office?

    • Thank you, ladies. I took a walk and hung in Starbucks for a little while. I think I can hold it together for the rest if the day now.

    • Oh no! Poor you. FWIW, don’t beat yourself up for continuing to cry – sometimes once you get started it’s really hard to stop! Is there something you can work on this afternoon that’s a) easy and b) will make you feel like you accomplished something? Even if it’s just office tidying that you’ve been putting off, it might help you feel like you’re getting on with your work productively and help you stop dwelling on the meeting and/or whatever was bothering the bosses. Then, home for favorite foods and a hot bath and early bedtime.

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself! Sending you all good thoughts.

  14. Future summer associate here. I’m hoping to save as much money as possible this summer but intend/expect to have to spend quite a bit on an appropriate wardrobe. Question though: what are some obvious signs of a cheap suit? I have a couple from H&M and The Limited and they look okay to me, but I’m not a trained eye. They’re dark colors, have no frills/ruffles/trendy collars, etc. As long as the cut is appropriate and plain, how can you tell, if at all? Thanks for any help – this community has been immensely useful as I prepare for the summer!

    • The limited has some pretty good suits. I have some wool ones from there, and some decent for polyester ones. I have never seen an H and M suit that does not like cheap though, they tend to be too shiny, short, tight, or all 3.

    • Shiny fabric, badly matched seams (especially the shoulders, which are so visible), oddly sized or oddly placed pockets, protruding lining, loose-weave fabric, and unfinished button holes can all read as cheap. You might not be able to afford 100% wool, but try to find fabrics with at least some natural fiber content besides poly & nylon— even a bit of silk or cotton thread can give the fabric a richer feel.

    • check out this article – i think it’s from last week’s link roundup.


    • Greener Apple :

      The fit–sleeves, shoulders, hips–matters the most to me. Of these, I’d pay the most attention to how the shoulders/collar fit–it’s the most obvious when you’re sitting at your desk or in meetings.

    • big dipper :

      I think as long as their plain, and fit you properly, that’s fine. I’m not sure what firm you’re working at, but the dress codes vary dramatically. My roommate works for an NYC firm that’s all suits, every day. But I summered at another NYC firm that was markedly more casual – I only wore a suit three times (first day, and twice to meet with my pro bono client).

      Basically, since dress code is very much a know your office thing, I’d wait until a week or two into the summer before purchasing any additional clothing. Because I was at a business casual firm, my uniform was basically sheath dress + cardigan or blazer, or pencil skirt + top + cardigan or blazer every day.

      I have two blazers from H&M that I wore over and over again this summer, and I don’t think they look cheap (but hey, they are my blazers so I could be biased). I know what anonymous means about the H&M suits – there are some that are inappropriate, but they have a lot of great basics there if you hunt through the racks. I’m betting yours are fine based on your description.

      If you do need more suits, I purchased mine at Ann Taylor & JCrew after stalking their websites for sales.

    • anonypotamus :

      I’d second the recommendation to wait a week or two before investing in more for your wardrobe until you can tell what your office vibe is like. The other place to check out, however, for some good basics is Nordstrom during the women’s half yearly event (in May) or the Anniversay Sale (July). The timing might not work out perfectly for either of those, but I know that I have snagged some great suits, blouses, separates during both of those times.

    • anon future SA :

      Thank you all! I do have a couple of J.Crew suits as well, but the fit isn’t perfect (need to get those altered), and was hoping that my additional cheap suits would help. I’ll be at a big firm in NYC, though it is business casual. I expect the two nice-for-me suits will work for now.

      The advice to wait a couple of weeks to go shopping is great – and so helpful since it’ll be a couple of weeks before the first paycheck!

      To follow up on a point – if the fabric isn’t shiny or otherwise unusual-looking, can you typically tell if it’s wool versus a cheaper material? Again, not sure if it’s just my untrained eye, but I can’t really see the difference between my J.Crew black suit and my H&M black suit just by looking in the mirror. (It’s different when comparing side-by-side, up-close, but still not a huge difference). I’m just wondering if it’s somehow obvious to others?

      Maybe this doesn’t matter so much. It just seems like such an easy thing to control and to get right (at least compared to all of the other things that a summer associate can possibly screw up) that I want to make sure I have this taken care of.

  15. Can anyone recommend a good purse organizer? I’m tired of my main work bag being the Pit of Despair… thanks!

  16. Gail the Goldfish :

    I’m biting the bullet and getting an IUD (paragard) sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’m a total wimp about pain and, based on everyone’s stories,I am expecting this to hurt like h*ll and cause killer cramps. BF has offered to come with me. Am I going to be writhing in so much pain that I should have BF accompany me home in case I pass out on the subway or something? Or is it really not that bad as I’ve imagined to myself that it will be?

    • Honestly, the IUD insertion process for me was uncomfortable, but not majorly painful. I didn’t need pain killers at all. However, I had my first IUD after giving birth, which may make a difference.

    • I am a banana. :

      I went back to work afterward. It pinched/hurt for the few minutes during insertion and then I had cramps for the rest of the day. It wasn’t terrible for me, but I either have a high pain tolerance compared to some here or just had a very easy experience. Take the cervix softener. You will be fine.

    • I’ve had 3 in my lifetime. it’s not that bad.

    • anon re: IUD :

      Just for another perspective – it was absurdly painful for me and I was perhaps falslely lulled into a sense of security because many women have no/little pain or something that feels like a mild cramp.

      For me it felt like… well, like indescribable pain. I’ve never had kids but I imagine its not dissimilar to childbirth since its something passing through your cervix. It was extraordinary pain that lasted for 10 seconds (for them to measure my uterus) then another 15-20 for them to insert the IUD, then seemed to radiate for about 30min afterward so that I was shaky and dizzy and couldn’t sit up. I ended up stuck there for like an hour? Then I was okay to drive back to work and experienced moderate cramping through the day.

      I took two advil before the procedure and if/when I get the IUD replaced, I’m asking them to prescription-drug-me-up like whoa.

      • this was almost exactly my experience, as well.

      • anon for this :

        Insertion pain 7 out of 10. Monthly cramping pain during first year was 10 out of 10. I felt like I was getting stabbed every month. It’s finally better (only slightly more painful than cramps without IUD) after 1.5 years.

    • When I got a Mirena four years ago, I was NOT prepared for the serious discomfort it caused. I think everyone reacts differently, but if you are a self-described wimp about pain, I would certainly have your boyfriend accompany you home. I almost passed out on my way home and had to pull over to let it pass before continuing. The cramping does subside, but you might ask for some pain killers for the first day or so. I will be getting mine replaced next year (well, it’s been a while since any LGPs, so who knows), and am going to ask a friend to take me this time around. Good luck!

    • Also paragard here. It hurt like h*ll momentarily, then I went back to work. I even went to happy hour after. But the cramps were pretty violent (although ibuprofen helped a bit). If I did it again I would not plan to go back to work, I would go home and sit on my couch for the rest of the evening, and not plan anything big for the following few days.

    • I’ve had two, and after both I needed the rest of the day off – the cramping was extremely uncomfortable (far beyond menstrual cramps).

    • phillygirlruns :

      insertion for me (mirena, no kids) was intensely painful for about 10-30 seconds (almost blacked out, got very nauseated), followed by pretty significant discomfort/cramping that lasted most of the afternoon. i took the afternoon off of work and had then-H drive me to and from the appointment. could i have handled getting a cab out of there and probably even going back to work for the afternoon? sure, i wouldn’t have died. but i was very happy to have a ride home, to not have to deal with even minor social niceties like telling a cab driver where to take me, and to be able to spend the next several hours with a heating pad, chocolate and broth.

      even with the pain & discomfort, it was completely worth it and i’ve been very happy with no complications in the ~1.5yrs i’ve had it.

    • Need to Improve :

      I have Paraguard. It was mildly painful for 5-10 seconds, like a really bad pap smear, but I had given birth before. Take 4 advil beforehand.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Insertion was really not difficult, and I stopped having anything close to a cramp. My period DID get heavier, but also shorter. I’ve heard, but can’t confirm, that it is an easier, less painful insertion after childbirth – mine was inserted nearly 6 weeks after delivering #2, so that may be why it was a fairly non-issue for me.

    • just Karen :

      I have a Mirena IUD, have never had kids, and insertion was awful for me – I’m still glad I did it, and three years with minimal periods = awesome, but I did have to call my now-husband to come get me because I couldn’t drive myself home. I MAYBE could have made it on a subway if there wasn’t a lot of walking involved, but any more than a block or two and I just wouldn’t have been able to do it. I have heard that Paraguard’s not as bad, and many people don’t have problems with insertion at all, so I’ll coss my fingers that you have an easy time of it!

  17. springtime :

    One of my friends is moving far away (Asia). I want to get her a cute little gift, but I worry that may be more of a pain than it’s worth for her to transport it to Asia. Should I just get a card? Or is there something else that would work?

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      How about a cute framed picture of the two of you? Won’t take up much room in a suitcase, might be a nice thing to have in her new digs.

    • Anyone else getting warm fuzzies from all the red equal signs in their facebook feed?

      • Whoops, that was supposed to be a separate post!

      • I am, and I am particularly getting the warm fuzzies from seeing them from friends all across the political spectrum (some even quite surprising).

      • Anonymous :

        I will say it was pretty cool to go down to the supreme court this morning. And I will say for the most part, I was surprised at how respectful both sides were being towards one another. I’d say the biggest kurfufle was in front of the Westboro Baptist Church and honestly those people are horrible so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

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