Weekend Reads

Oscar the dog model

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions.  It has taken many years for me to come to respect this body and brain, to enjoy the life I have, and to feel good about who I am.  Resolutions can be helpful to break bad habits or employ new good ones, but so often they are focused on what we think… or more often than not, what society may make us think is wrong with us.  We're disorganized, we're fat, we have no willpower, we don't exercise enough, we don't work hard enough, we're not enough or we're too much.  I think we're all pretty spectacular.  Life is hard, and I think it keeps getting more complicated thanks to technology and our 24/7 existence.  Getting through the day is an accomplishment, getting to 2020 is an achievement and it should be celebrated.

However, a fresh start is appealing and often what we need to get a jump start on something we've wanted to do for a while.  This week I was busy with work and creating content, but I felt as though I never got out of the holiday grind.  So one day I cleaned out the office closet.  So many of us have a part in our homes that is like my office closet.  It's where you shove things that don't have a proper place, things you need to get to but not right now, and where you hide all that shouldn't be exposed when you have guests visit.  Our office closet was taken over by my father-in-law's possessions after he passed unexpectedly in 2008.  Each January I take a crack at the contents with Karl.  Last year, we donated all of his coats and fleeces that were hanging in there, kept “just in case.”  This year we got rid of “useful” things like his gun cleaning supplies (we have no guns), his clothing iron (we have one and it's nicer than his), and some of his photography equipment that is broken, not compatible with Karl's cameras, or we have more modern equivalents.  In there I also found and got rid of an old humidifier, a wall sconce from Pier 1 that holds a candle pillar a size I have never been able to find in stores, the old crappy camping mattress that always leaks, and a few of our coats that weren't worn the past two winters.  Doing that opened the space to fit a suitcase that has been in the way and my sister's camping cot which has been residing under my desk since June (she loaned it when our daughter had a sleepover and I figure I'll hold onto it until she needs it again). I didn't gut the entire closet, I didn't tear my whole office apart for an entire day, but this process of clearing out and finding new homes for a few things we no longer needed was freeing, was a fresh start without a major commitment or making myself feel bad for being myself.

You don't need to lose weight or start going to the gym or quit caffeine to make a positive difference.  Change doesn't have to be about altering you, but can be about altering your environment and therefore the energy around you.  Sometimes a little spring cleaning in January is just what is needed for a fresh start.

Weekend Reads

In the WO2 Community, we've been discussing online returns, how some brands, especially designer ones, destroy the items they get back even if they are in like-new condition.  This article delves into the other side of returns – how they are hurting retailers' bottom lines and what they are doing to try to improve the situation. (Vogue Business)

Another article related to this topic that was submitted by reader Lee – “The physical infrastructure of the country doesn’t yet match its delivery ambitions. There’s just too much stuff getting delivered.” (NBC News)

This week on Instagram Stories I shared a leather jacket that is sold either by standard clothing sizes or for no additional cost, your personal measurements.  It's from the company The Jacket Maker and the price is incredible. I will have a review on the blog either this coming week or next but because so many asked about the jacket, it's this one in green.

The more TV we watch the more we prefer thinner female bodies, according to a new comprehensive study on body image. (Science Daily)

This holiday season I rarely put on makeup, and I never wore a proper pair of pants.  What I did was live in these fleece-lined leggings when it was cold and these “essential” leggings when it was warmer.  Both have been washed and dried a dozen times and still look and fit great. For reference, I have both in Large and they're comfy and not tight but not baggy.  If you have a smaller booty and slimmer legs than I do you may want to size down. 

This piece was making its rounds on Twitter yesterday and it's worth a read if you are in a creative field or felt your creative self was washed up. (Medium)

For the local yokels, if you were wondering what would take the place of Dean & Deluca in Georgetown, now you know. (Washingtonian)

Beauty fans, the trends that will define 2020. (Business of Fashion)

Speaking of beauty, my sister is my beauty guru and this Christmas she bought me this lip balm, claiming it to be aaaahhhh-mayyyyy-zinnng.  I think she wanted to help me kick my Carmex habit.  Gotta say she succeeded, I love this stuff (I have the Shea Butter version)! 

If you don't have a Girl Scout selling cookies near you and are interested, Emerson is selling them to fundraise for a trip to visit Savannah, the birthplace of Girl Scouts and they can be shipped anywhere in the US.

“It’s well known that a persistent wage gap exists for women workers in the United States, a gap that becomes even wider when race, industry, age, and geography are taken into account. But less frequently discussed is the often silent expectation around appearance imposed on women workers, which has its own financial costs—known as the ‘grooming gap.'” (In These Times)

Sale Alert

Didn't get what you wanted for the holidays?  Realizing you're not prepared for the late-arrival of winter?  Land's End has 40% off through Monday with promo code PARTY and this includes all the good stuff that is already on sale at this link!

Cacique's Semi-Annual Sale continues with all bras $35 and under.  They carry bands 30-50 and cups A-K and you all rated them your favorite plus size bra brand.  I reviewed a few styles of their bras at this linkYou can find the bras currently available in the sale at this link where you can narrow down by your size.

The Nordstrom sale may technically be over.  It's no longer on their homepage, however many of the items in the sale are still on sale and there is still a great selection of items for now at this link. I'm partial to this leopard-print blouse that works under a cardigan for the weekend, a blazer for the workweek, with jeans or black ankle pants and flats for a night out, with white jeans or ivory trousers come spring.  This is the perfect slip on and get about through wet and cold and gross weather boot while also being cute and classic. Kut from the Kloth makes some of the best-fitting jeans and pants out there and these stretchy cords in a bevy of colors are perfect for this season.

For Your Entertainment

I'm a sucker for an artsy music video.  MTV is just reality TV, videos are no longer are seen as the primary way to sell a song or introduce a new artist.  So I'm always impressed when an artist goes the extra mile and really delivers with a creative mini-movie that often explains the music and the musicians better than any interview in Rolling Stone. I never heard of ONUKA, a Ukrainian electro-folk band but YouTube suggested this video and I was mesmerized. About the video, the band shared, “I hope this video will help to open eyes to the beauty of the world around us. Regardless of the troubles we face, the demands made of us by modern living, or the fast paced run we are all thrown into. Sometimes you need to stop for a second to see the happiness of the moment. We see that what we want to see.”

15 Comments

  1. RoseAG
    January 5, 2020 / 7:53 am

    The returns article is interesting. I’ve read that when you order online and return to a store that the return amount is subtracted from the stores’ daily revenue. I don’t like to think that some hard-working retail employee is losing their bonus or comission b/c I ordered and didn’t like what I got and wouldn’t bother to mail it back. So I don’t return in-store.

    I prefer to order from places where I trust the fit. So I don’t order online from Old Navy whose sizing I find inconsistent. I do order from The Gap, which, for me, has pretty consistent sizing, and if I have questions to reviews and supporting information is complete. The best retailers will give descriptions of the item down to the inch – how wide is the thigh, what’s the length of the top, etc…. Anthropologie seems to buy from many vendors and they’re all a little different so I hesitate before ordering online unless I have tried the thing on in a store.

    I will say that I’ve picked up a great pair of pants at H&M where a higher-end item has been ordered and returned. They seem to put things back on the rack. Overall I think the cost of returns will push retailers to be more precise. Changing return policies to not be so generous may also push customers to get their measuring tapes out.

    • Monica Holmes
      January 5, 2020 / 6:21 pm

      Curious if anyone else has insight into store returns being deducted from daily revenue. That doesn’t seem fair at all. It’s easier to ship the order back, but I usually refuse to do it if they charge $7-$9 for return shipping – which is common. Yes, I have fallen prey to expecting free shipping and being irritated if it’s not…

      I also think it’s nearly impossible to not order two sizes sometimes, especially for bottoms. Women don’t have the “luxury” men do of ordering a waist x length and it usually works out just fine. Measuring tapes can help, but it’s not that easy. Two women who are the same number size might still be a totally different shape from each other.

      One thing I look for online to reduce returns is lots of reviews. What’s really helpful to me is to see “I’m x weight and y height, and the medium was just the right size. If more people can take the time to do that it could make a big difference.

  2. Claire
    January 4, 2020 / 5:21 pm

    I would not buy online if I could not return what didn’t fit.

  3. Laurel
    January 4, 2020 / 3:02 pm

    Ouch! The article about returns is awful. I have definitely ordered things in multiple sizes and from companies with free shipping both ways. But I’ve usually returned them to a brick & mortar store (Talbots, Nordstrom Rack near me takes Nordstrom returns, etc.). That said, I am guilty of ordering a LOT from Zappos in the search for a perfect shoe or boot for my feet, especially before a vacation or travel. Will have to be more conscious.

    You introduced me to fleece lined leggings and I pretty much lived in them over the holidays, too! 🙂

    Amazon is building a huge warehouse about 2 miles from my house and it’s slated to open this year. I’m really ambivalent about their delivery model as they’ve grown. They hire many free lance people now and packages are regularly left at the wrong house, left near a row of mailboxes rather than delivered to a home (courting theft), or (last summer in my yard) thrown into a garden near the front walk.

    I worked at Interlochen one summer before I was married, and I loved the musical atmosphere, but I was SO grateful I wasn’t there competing with the young prodigies. I felt the pressure again reading that article! It’s a beautiful campus though, and I had a great summer!

  4. A
    January 4, 2020 / 1:51 pm

    What’s the name of the lip balm? When I clicked on the link, it said ” 0 Product results: “productnotcarried”

    • Cynthia
      January 4, 2020 / 5:46 pm

      Ally, I get this same response whenever I click on one of your links to Sephora.

        • Cynthia
          January 4, 2020 / 7:49 pm

          Same result. I’ve assumed it’s because I’m in Canada. It annoys me because I’d like it if you get credit when I buy something from your post!

          • January 5, 2020 / 7:22 am

            That’s so surprising and I think it must be a new detail for affiliate links. So sorry about that!

  5. Alicia
    January 4, 2020 / 1:05 pm

    The returns article: I have a lot of thoughts. I hate having returns but I often have a lot of them because a lot of merchandise and or sizing (I need petites at 5’2”) is online only. So I don’t know until I get it in the mail whether it works. And if I don’t love something, I’m not going to keep it and way the cost— I’m a discriminating buyer these days as I’ve gotten older. Thanks to sizing inconsistency I also usually have to order two sizes… that said, I have never returned something that wasn’t unworn with the tags attached, and many stores have 30 day return windows so I think it’s a reasonable cost of doing business. More generous retailers face a double edged sword— I’m more likely to buy from them because I know I don’t have to rush to take something back for a refund, but by the time some merchandise gets returned it may not be on the selling floor anymore. As much as I love Nordstrom’s generous policy I think they could Have a narrower time limit like a year and still keep customers who are used to their old policy pretty happy.

  6. Krista
    January 4, 2020 / 9:54 am

    Happy first weekend of 2020! Here’s to moving onward and upward.

    I appreciated the articles on returns. I struggle every time I order clothing online. I hate to send things back. But it happens. I’m currently enjoying a free RTR Unlimited subscription and that got me to thinking…what kind of impact does the service have? It’s fun and nice to have different things to wear and things I wouldn’t buy otherwise. But the FedEx truck pulls up often. What’s the impact of the logistics? Does having the clothing being “reused” keep more things out of landfills?

    And props for slipping the Girl Scout cookie order in. As an Eagle Scout mom and former GS, I know how important those cookies are! I’ll be supporting a local troop with several boxes of Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties.

  7. Ann Marie
    January 4, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Regarding the grooming gap article, I don’t like when articles blame a “patriarchal society.” It is human nature to want to be around or to prefer something beautiful – whether it is a beautiful art, a beautiful hotel room, or a beautiful garden. It makes us feel good and inspires us – both men and women. Yes, women spend more time grooming but that is life. And at least we have options to make ourselves look better. If we have acne we can cover it up with concealer and foundation. If we look washed out, we can swipe on some lipstick. A man can’t do that. If he is not naturally attractive, there is not much he can do and that will affect his career too. If you get a job in a service industry that is tipped based, I think it is pretty obvious that both men and women will need to look more attractive if they want to get more tips. No one wants to get a beauty treatment, like a facial, by someone who is not well groomed and looks like a mess. If you don’t like it, then don’t go into that field.

    With that said, whether we should get away from a tipping structure is a whole other conversation.There are plenty of fields that rely on tips that are not necessarily dependent on your looks, like being a taxi driver. Although I am sure if you are a good looking taxi driver, you will likely get higher tips!

    • Leu2500
      January 4, 2020 / 9:52 am

      Re tips. What often isn’t discussed is that the US economy from almost day 1 relied on underpaid labor: 1st, slavery & indentured servitude. After the civil war, sharecroppers & convicts. After unionization, move factories to the non-union south. Then move non-union factories to 3rd world/developing countries. Tipping is just another way to avoid paying for labor. Yes, some people do tip well. But others don’t, or their idea of “well” is what they tipped 30, 40 years ago & hadn’t kept up with inflation.

    • E
      January 4, 2020 / 12:35 pm

      But what is considered “beautiful” in our culture IS largely influenced by patriarchal society. The standards for women’s attractiveness are more stringent than for men because of expectations upheld by patriarchy, enforeced by the male gaze which dictates how women are portrayed in so much media that we consume consciously and subconsciously every single day. Also, there are quite a few guys out there these days taking advantage of makeup, so the idea that there are less things men can do to up their attractiveness is not completely true either.

      Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      The comment about people who “if you don’t like it, don’t go into that field” also strikes me as extremely insensitive. There are people working minimum wage and service jobs who are doing it because it is their only option for a myriad of reasons. Just doing something else isn’t possible for everyone.

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