Wednesday, February 28, 2007

what to wear in vietnam?

ok, so i've been in a pretty bad mood this week. credit card debt, shrinking checking account, other financial mishaps, haggling with various companies over the phone, all sorts of unpleasant things. i miss posting my outfits, though. i feel i have been on very good behavior the past few days, haven't bought any new clothing. plus, i'm returning things left and right that i really really want to keep but don't really need. sigh.

so, here's a top that i bought that i should have returned with the other shirt but already removed the tags and wore immediately. at least it was cheap. the rain jacket is supposedly water resistant and wind proof (to some extent, i hope). it'll probably come with me to Vietnam. my new rain jacket from Dace might be a little too heavy and warm.

jcrew cotton/cashmere blend boatneck sweater, on sale for $29 from $68.
patagonia breezeaway hoodie, on sale for $55, from $110.

the excessive heat of southern coastal Vietnam is worrying me. what on earth will i wear? rain is bad, so a light shell is necessary. and vietnamese modesty means i need to be more covered than not. so, long pants and shirts. i need kurtas and caftans and long flowy loose pants. but i'm not buying any more clothing for this trip, so i'll have to make do with my cropped slim-fit navy chinos (the new a.p.c.'s cropped Mao trousers are $197. yikes!) and my grey Habituals. i might pack my Nieves Lavi lobster print wrap skirt, but only if i can find some safety pins to keep to secure. i remember it working pretty well last summer.

what i really wish i could buy is this:

jcrew blouse, $39 with 20% discount, originally $80. a friend just bought it in white. it has pockets and is such a cunning shade of saffron yellow. as you can tell, my favorite colors are yellow, navy, grey, and white. how very preppy of me, you say. well, i spent 8 years in a catholic school uniform, and our school colors were blue, gold, and white. go figure.

last minute preparations and the weather in vietnam

so when i ordered my plane ticket, i was forced to pay $55 for a paper ticket. my credit card was charged accordingly for two separate tickets, one of which corresponds in ticket number to the e-ticket i received. i still have not received the Fed-ex'ed ticket. i called the travel agency and they noted that the e-ticket email stated that i was only receiving an electronic ticket, at no extra charge. yet on the actual e-ticket, there is a comment in the remarks sections that notes that i will be charged $1062.20, which is exactly $55 more than the actual plane ticket, for a Fed-Ex delivered paper ticket. hmm. so the guy on the phone says he can't help me and doesn't know why i was charged for a paper ticket. now i'm waiting to talk to someone else that he referred me to, who for some reason is not answering the phone. i really want that $55 charge taken off my credit card.

FOLLOW-UP: after spending 30 minutes on the phone speaking to three separate people, all of whom i could barely understand (damn outsourcing and bad phone connection), they have explained over and over again that the $55 Service fee, which is for a pre-paid ticket authorization according to my AmEx statement, is actually for service charges and taxes on top of the $1007.20 that I paid for the airplane ticket. This is what they included in the "remarks" in my e-ticket. i'm still not convinced, but they are completely unwilling to back down. so, another $55 thrown away.

***WITH A TOTAL PRICE OF $1062.2***

i finally went and had a Hepatitis A vaccination. apparently it doesn't kick in for 3 weeks. i won't step foot in Vietnam for another 11 days, so i guess i'll have to be careful for the remaining 10 days. no street food, after all. i guess i'll have to live with paying $3 for pho rather than 50 cents. this is really going to mess up my budget.

i was supposed to have new shoes delivered for my trip, cheap TOMS shoes that would be comfortable enough for walking around yet i wouldn't cry over them being trashed. they still haven't arrived. it's been two weeks. we've been looking into it for one week. we still haven't been contacted.

the month long forecast for Hanoi is mid to high 70s. perfect.

the month long forecast for Saigon is mid 90s with thunderstorms. gee, that's just like boston in july, i'll feel right at home. i just hope the mosquitoes don't come out to play, since i don't have any malarial pills or whatever. must remember to buy lots of bug spray. the really toxic stuff.

Monday, February 26, 2007

ebay tooth decay

I just came back from the dentist. I have over $2000 of work that needs to be done including wisdom teeth extraction and fillings. My front tooth, which was knocked out when I was 10, root canal-ed when I was 13, and crowned at 17, is dying and will need to be replaced by a completely fake, screwed-in type of thing (I'm not even a hockey player, I lost the tooth while rollerskating backwards). My new dentist is very nice, and he seemed genuinely sorry when he told me the bad news about the tooth. I have a feeling it will cost about $1000 more. Thanks Harvard for the shitty dental insurance option!!! Once upon a time, Harvard offered dental that cost $130 and included up to $1300 of work, now they offer a crappy $175 for a cleaning, four bitewing x-rays, and consultation. When I started the program, I enrolled in a now defunct Harvard dental plan that was $220 for ONE cleaning, four x-rays, and $400 of coverage. No wonder people stopped enrolling. Delta Dental through Harvard is not much better, though I really like my dentist. He's sympathetic to the graduate student's abject poverty, at least.

Which brings me to a major concern. I buy too much shit. I have run my credit cards into the ground. I don't even have cash for my Vietnam trip or to cover rent past April. Now, I know the New York Times had an article about people debt-blogging. Initially, this blog was supposed to serve a similar purpose, but then I decided a different strategy. I hoped that by photographing my outfits, I would convince myself that I had endless options and didn't require anything new. Boy was I wrong. My spending habit hasn't changed, I still spend more than I earn or can afford to set aside for clothing.

So, I'm selling a bunch of things on ebay, including:

Built By Wendy Great Lakes dress--paid $155, sold for $45. (love love love, but never wear it)

Oilily skirt--paid $100, sold $35 (too long for my frame, cute print, though).

Mayle Goya jumper-- asking price $150 (it's too big, the straps keep falling down, goddammit! design flaw or my fault? i coveted this dress for so so long, and now i need to give it up because i'm massively in debt. but i look so cute in it!)

EDIT: ok, i lied, i'm not selling it. i simply can't do it. i went through too much to give it up.

EDIT: i'm selling it.

UPDATE: Sold $355!

Built By Wendy denim miniskirt--paid $65, asking price $15 (hardly wear it nowadays)

UPDATE: it didn't sell. oh well!

Miu Miu pencil skirt--paid $155, asking price $85 (i'm too fat for this skirt. damn this dissertation sitting on my ass snacking my way through winter crap).

UPDATE: not sold. now i have a good reason to lose some weight.

Anyway, I'm switching formats on this blog. From now on I'll use it to post photos of my Vietnam trip and dissertation research. You know, the important stuff.

EDIT: I'm also selling this awesome Built By Wendy jacket that I've only worn 3 times in the past two years. There's a bid right now for $49. I paid $155.

I also returned this great jcrew camp shirt that I bought on sale for $49.99. I bought my favorite perfume and some lotion on Sephora and it will be arriving today. I'll be going to the mall to return that, also. $79. I ordered shoes from Creatures of Comfort that are arriving tomorrow. Cute Maloles flats, $69. Unfortunately, they are non-returnable. And I used my debit card. Damnation.

UPDATE: sold, $50 (oh well).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

in preparation for my vietnam trip

In about a week and a half, I will be in Hanoi. My travel plans are pretty flexible. I need to be in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, or HCMC) by April 3 to return to Los Angeles. Needless to say, I'm a bit scared out of my wits, having never traveled alone, especially in a country where I can't speak the language or even fake it like in Ecuador. To make myself feel better, I bought a couple things in preparation for the trip.

Exhibit A:
Dace Molly Rain Jacket. The fabric seems like it might actually repel water. I wish the hood were detachable, but otherwise, I'm quite satisfied.

Exhibit B:
A wedding band by Gabriella Kiss, 14 kt rose-gold with the word "AMOR" engraved in a very spaced-out fashion. I'm not really into inscriptions on jewelry (although I do have a Tiffany silver heart charm bracelet with my name engraved on it. if you're going to be silly and own such a thing, you might as well go all the way). And I'm really not a heart person, either. But somehow it works for me. Plus, it fits perfectly and will be difficult to lose while traipsing about Saigon. Hopefully I won't be harassed or seen as a conspicuous pickpocket target. I don't think my wedding band and engagement ring are particularly eye-catching, but maybe in Vietnam they would be a liability.

how to feed your fashion monster

An excerpt from "Dressing Down" by Cathy Horyn. New York Times, 25 Feb 2007.


12 Ways to Stay in the Game

1. Give up eating at restaurants. In fact, give up eating altogether. You’ll look better in the clothes.

2. Start a foundation ... for yourself. Tell your friends you’re collecting money for “Clothes for Caring” — because who cares more about clothes than you?

3. Catherine Deneuve in “Belle de Jour” — need I say more?

4. Therapy racks up huge bills with nothing to show for it. Quit the couch and treat your depression/anxiety/sleep issues with box wine instead.

5. Look around your home for heirlooms that could yield big bucks on eBay. Also, look around your neighbor’s home.

6. Forgo your grande nonfat latte for four months: 120 days at $2.65 a day = $318 = a sleeve!

7. After all these years, can’t you inject your own Botox? Cut out the middleman and save $$$.

8. Scrutinize all expenditures. Does Grandma really need 24-hour care?

9. Anticipate the federal minimum wage hike from $5.15 to $7.25. Two thousand

more hours of cleaning toilets, post-tax, and you’ve got yourself half an outfit.

10. That’s what home equity’s for.

11. Become a Defense Department contractor and slip it into the budget. Forget socialites — those generals really know how to spend on “body armor.”

12. Marry Ronald Perelman. (Last resort.) [?][?][?]Nell Scovell

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

impulse website updates!

there are finally new pictures on impulse's website. there isn't any information about designers or prices right now, but i'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this sweater is by tsumori chisato, a new quirky favorite of mine. i don't think i could wear most of her things because they're a little too distinctive in terms of prints and colors, but her stuff also looks great toned down with more discreet interesting details. do you remember that eskimo/inuit print dress worn by Audrey Tautou? that was by tsumori chisato F/W 06.

anyway, i want this sweater/blouse thing.

Here's a sold-out wool top from Gurej, in Houston:

This top, also at Gurej, looks like a lot of fun for someone who likes to pair interesting prints with black or denim. That someone is not me.

places that sell Tsumori Chisato: (no e-commerce) (e-commerce. i think has a 25% off coupon code) (e-commerce) (ironic, but no e-commerce)

it only took me 30 minutes, but i found a decent photo of above mentioned audrey tautou dress:

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I first heard about Dace, a Canadian (Vancouver, BC) designer, from Impulse. I bought a tunic about three years back that I wasn't sure how to wear. It came with a belt, but I'm not really into those things. I realized that the best way to wear the top was to cinch the belt at the empire line. Unfortunately, the belt would never stay put. Then, recently, I decided that it looks great on its own. It's like a slightly more structured t-shirt with clever stitching details and tulip cap sleeves.

Anyway, although I have been less than enthusiastic about her more recent collections, I am singularly impressed by the SS 07 offerings. Beautiful cut and fit, durable fabrics (mostly cotton), ladylike yet not overly cute, and just the right mix of fashion and style. Having followed her work for the past three years, I would definitely say that there is a consistent aesthetic underpinning it all.

Here are my top picks from (online shopping at

Chase dress, navy dot on cream--$147

Molly Raincoat, lined in cotton with high waist and hood--$240

Sally dress, french terry--$128

Lady dress--$156

Maddison top--$104.

a.p.c. gone wild

I'm a little concerned about Jean Touitou. The Spring/Summer A.P.C. collection is confusing me.

Ruffled sleeves? no thank you.

Piano keyboard sweater with brown and black stripes? yikes!

This is good, this I can handle.

There are some other things on the A.P.C. website that are covetable, but I'm feeling nervous about these other random pieces. There's a dress (really nice cut) with a Lily Pullitzer-esque yellow and orange citrus print that makes me worry. Silly prints are really an American thing. Touitou is known for his clever, discreet prints. If he's trying to be ironic about our love of preppy prints, well. No matter the intellectualization of design, I really don't feel like paying over $200 for a dress that reminds me of my strapless pina colada Pullitzer dress. Now, my lobster print silk jersey wrap skirt by Nieves Lavi, on the other hand, is completely doable. Don't ask me why. Prints are a personal thing, so A.P.C. diehards, don't get snippy on me.

more dresses from bird in brooklyn

Mociun peacock blue linen tie-front dress from Bird, Brooklyn--$270
American Apparel black long sleeve shirt--$30

Mayle black flannel jumper--$100, on sale from $450
Ella Moss top--$60 from Barneys outlet

Monday, February 05, 2007

ecuador photos

Banos. see the buildings at the top of the hill? that's where we stayed. everyday we would walk/fall down the hill to town. the photo was taken next to the giant seated Virgin about halfway down the hill, on the east side of town.

Quito, on the cusp of Old Town, Quito Modern looms over the charming colonial buildings.

Quito. Hmm.

Quito, old arcade building, still in use

Quito, hostel. this is my dream house.

Riobamba is awesome. it's like the Miami of Ecuador in terms of use of color and fun mid-century modern.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

last minute sale find: Filippa K

Filippa K transparent wool gather dress with grosgrain ribbon (fully lined)--$113 from $452, available at (x-small, small, and large sizes)

it's like a Theory dress, but even nicer. and, who doesn't need a little black dress for the cold season?

Mayle Jumper

remember this little dress? Impulse was sold out, but i couldn't stop thinking about how sensible and chic it was. my brooklyn informant let me know that it was on sale at Bird in Brooklyn for $100. $100?!?! jeez, that's like God dropping an advance copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (July 21, 12.01am, you know where i'll be) in my lap. so i called them and it's shipping tomorrow. i love this whole internet/phone shopping thing. but it takes a lot of research and time to find the things i want at a really good price. research and time that should be spent on my dissertation, not shopping. especially since i never leave the house and therefore do not need to change out of my sweats.

Mayle jumper--$100, originally $500

new purchases

Lyell peacoat--$290, originally $550, from Lyell on Elizabeth St., NYC, phone order.

Les Prairies de Paris blouse--$80, originally $180, from Gurej in Houston (check out

Dries Van Noten blouse--$162, originally $325, from Louis Boston

detail of fabric

Yoshi Kondo cardigan--$125, originally $248, from Impulse in Seattle (thanks to Evie for all her help)


Saturday, February 03, 2007

spring comes early this year

and i wish i could buy this dress:


Tom Scott striped cotton jersey parachute dress with adjustable ties. $360.
Why can't all designs be so comfortable, stylish, and effortless?

How convenient, two of my favorite stores, Impulse in Seattle and Stel's in Boston, will be carrying it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

lyell velvet jacket

this post is for my brooklyn friend. i am completely, utterly broke right now. i've spent money left and right on things i didn't need but wanted, or didn't even really want but was swept up in the giddiness of shopping, and now must remain stoic until i've figured out whether i can afford to pay my bills for the next 5 months, which is when i expect to receive more money. that is, if i'm successful in my grant applications. if not, i'm sure i'll be able to find a job thanks to all my marketable skills. right.
so, dear friend, take a look at this jacket. it is the epitome of fashion. useless but beautiful, therefore, useful. toss it on over a camisole and jeans, perfect for afternoon tea. slip it over a cocktail dress with heels, play or opera, perhaps? look at the lining, which i think is chiffon. it is both extravagant and practical, delicate but a little tough, too. i love this jacket. the fuller sleeves, the loose silhouette, how could one not buy it? because one's broke and living beyond one's means, that's how. i've had a good run these past few years, but a velvet jacket is the last thing i need to break the bank right now.

more posts to follow, i have a few new pieces that need to be shared. we'll have a marathon fashion shoot, and it'll be so much fun. i promise.

Lyell short sleeve velvet jacket, originally $325, now $160.
Available at:

no pressure, really. i mean, i wouldn't want to encourage empty materialism, but, this jacket needs a good home.