Weekend Update

1. Do you ever come across items that just stop you in your tracks? That recently happened to me when I saw this leopard pouch with gold chain, by Sophie Hulme.


I’ve been looking for the perfect little leopard bag for what seems like the longest time. To me, this design is almost perfect. The print certainly is – I’m picky about the kind of “leopard” prints I like, and I love this one, it’s very reminiscent of the ones that Dolce & Gabbana or Valentino use. That being said I’m not 100% satisfied with the leather print on leather – I wonder how it’ll work in real life (and I’ll be ordering one to find out). I would have preferred calf hair for a leopard print (those looking for a solid color are lucky, as the black version in a natural grained leather is beautiful) . But for the price and the looks, it’s pretty close to perfection!

2. Recently I was doing research on label standards for an entirely non-fashion related project at work, and came across this interesting article from a few years back in the NY Times, about how “Made in Italy” can still mean, for a large part, “Made in China”. Four years later, still very relevant and a fascinating read for those interested in clothing/luxury.

3. I haven’t had a personal finance piece on here in awhile, so thought I would share a set of WSJ articles – Six Figure Incomes and Facing Financial Ruin, and a corresponding followup with reader advice. I think anyone residing in a high cost of living area can relate and perhaps sympathize. Would love to hear your thoughts.

4. I recently re-read an old favorite book and author, and was reminded about how good it was – Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer.

Thin Air

I have absolutely no interest in mountain climbing, and only found myself reading Into Thin Air the first time when I was on a Jon Krakauer binge. I didn’t think I would particularly love the book, but it ended up being my favorite from the author. Learning about the preparation (or lack of) that those on an Everest quest go through, and the various economic and practical details was fascinating. Not to mention the central story, written from first hand experience of one of the most devastating climbing disasters in recent history. Highly recommended for non-fiction and fiction lovers alike (this story is the former).

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  • lissy
    October 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I also loved Into Thin Air and like you, am not a mountain climber. I feel about Jonathan Krakauer’s books the same way I feel about those written by Michael Lewis. The first book of his I read was Moneyball and while I’m not a baseball (or sports) person, I was utterly fascinated.

  • Vivian
    October 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I would love to hear if it can fit your new phone lol

    • Katherine
      October 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      It should, I looked at the measurements carefully, lol!

  • wantitneedit
    October 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    hi Kat,

    I can’t access the WSJ article as you need to be a subscriber. Would have been fascinating reading otherwise….

    • Katherine
      October 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      I’m so sorry! I always try to avoid that but sometimes I forget. If you google the title of the article, you can click through to it (A little trick).

  • a
    October 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I can’t access the WSJ article either. I live in the Bay Area and was shocked at how some of the high-earning people were complaining about how they can’t afford rent in San Francisco. They wouldn’t even dream of buying a home. I lived in Hong Kong for many years, and rent as well as home prices in San Francisco are still nowhere as insane as Hong Kong. Take Taiwan for example – more or less 50% of the people there own their homes, and yet salaries are far lower there. In San Francisco, home ownership is around (I would say) somewhere around 20-30%. Yet, this is the home to Google, Twitter, etc. I look at the same people complaining about home prices and rent – they spend a significant amount of their paychecks on alcohol. They refuse to live further away from the city where housing is priced more reasonably. They have to go on vacation several times a year. They eat at the best restaurants frequently. They drive expensive cars. They expect the best and have high standards. Sacrifices have to be made if they want a home.

    Sure, it’s expensive to live here. But what about Hong Kong and Taipei (for example) where around half the people own their homes which are far more expensive than San Francisco and salaries abroad are lower. It’s about cutting back on luxuries and saving. Saying no to things. Occam’s Razor. Simplifying.

    I don’t want to be judgemental. When I was younger, I was always struggling between the forces of a consumerist society and what I want from my life. I was more malleable then. At times, I kept up with appearances. I understand where these people are coming from, but still, I adapted when things were adverse. If they want their homes, vacations, luxury items, fine dining, supercars, etc., they’ll have to make sacrifices to get there.

    I see a whole lot of complaining but not a whole lot of adapting.

    • TC
      October 4, 2014 at 9:44 am

      I assumed that in Asia the practice of multigenerations living in a house/apartment still exists and that people tend to live with their parents until they basically get married allowing them to save large amounts of their income when young and single thus giving them a huge financial advantage over someone who had to spend a large chunk of their income on rent/necessities from the get-go. Is this no longer true – was it ever?

      • a
        October 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

        It’s true still. It also works the other way around: kids can’t move out because it’s too expensive to do so. However, the tax system in Asia is much less demanding than the US, for example. They are able to save when living with parents, and savings have been historically higher in at least Hong Kong and other areas. Because of higher savings rates, parents are also able to help their kids with down payments. American kids move out around college time, and many don’t expect their families to bail them out with anything. There’s something redeeming about that quality of independence, but it doesn’t solve the conundrum of low savings and high expectations for living standards.

        However, housing in San Francisco is nowhere as bad as HK. Hong Kong prices are multiple times more expensive in some cases and you get far less space. But some places in the Bay Area are affordable. Some people are just too stubborn to live even an inch away from the city. What for? It’s getting polluted, crowded, and the traffic gets worse and worse. Above all, the prices are at an all-time high. You have to compete with bidders whether as a renter or a buyer. Loan requirements are extremely strict now after 2008.

        • Sarah
          October 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

          Very interesting! It’s extremely hard to buy a flat in London nowadays. Rents are very high too. Basically the best London places are bought by wealthy foreigners who don’t even live here. And most Londoners are paper millionaires, ie live in houses costing a million or more, but not necessarily having the income to match. I like quality things but don’t really understand people’s obsession with so called ‘luxury’ when they don’t have the basics.

          • Katherine
            October 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm

            This is a very interesting discussion, thank you all for your thoughtful comments! On London – Sarah, I completely agree with you on your comments,the last few times I was in Knightsbridge area at night visiting friends it was completely dead. We had a friend there that was on an expat package and living in a very nice apartment with great location, visited him at least three times and we never saw another neighbor. He said it was more lively in summer though.

            On Asia, its’ definitely true that many who buy have the help of their parents. I have a girlfriend whose grandmother-in law was SUPER clever, many decades ago she basically bought up entire floors of the building she lived in. Now those apartments are incredibly valuable and she has her children and grandchildren living in them (and why wouldn’t they want a free apartment??) thus ensuring that she is surrounded by all her family!

    • Katherine
      October 5, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      For those having trouble, try this link:

      And click on the first two links…! Good luck!

  • Hydra
    October 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Katherine,

    I wonder if you might be willing to do an update/ progress report on a couple of your recently purchased items. I am particularly curious about the Comme des Garcons’ leather clover/ trefoil wallet, as I am considering purchasing it soon and have read reviews about the leather flaking off. I would also be interested to learn how you are enjoying the Balenciaga Motorcycle jacket and how it is wearing/ being broken in. Oftentimes bloggers detail the purchasing of items but rarely do follow ups regarding how the item has weathered and\ or whether they felt the purchase was worth it, etc. I always find those updates interesting. Many Thanks for your consideration.

    • Katherine
      October 6, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Hydra, that’s a great idea, thank you! I hope I can do a follow up soon and if so I will make sure to include those two items (I can tell you now that I’ve had very good experiences with both) 🙂