An Economic Anxiety Diary

Two weeks of national chaos, as charted by my retail therapy.

January 22, 2017

Retail Therapy: Everlane Sweater Dress

My beautiful friend Katri stops by the shop for tea. I show her my pictures from the Women’s March on Washington the day before. “You look just like your mom,” Katri says. My mother’s smile in the picture is as wide as her “Feminist” sticker.

January 26, 2017

Retail Therapy: Crazy Sexy Wool in Stonewash Blue, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #15, Snotgirl #2

My current nervous habit, brutalizing my cuticles with tweezers, has one fatal flaw: eventually you run out of cuticles. Knitting seems like a healthier way to keep my hands busy, even if the only thing I currently know how to knit are increasingly long rectangles (“scarves” seems overly generous). As rumored, Looped Yarn Works (a very cute yarn shop in Dupont Circle) is 100% sold out of pink yarn.

My favorite D.C. comic book shop, Fantom Comics, is just a few blocks away, and today they’re donating 15% of the days’ sales to Planned Parenthood in honor of the March for Life downtown. I pick up the new Squirrel Girl and a back-issue of Snotgirl. (Don’t let the gross name scare you away from a delicious murder mystery!)

January 27, 2017

Retail Therapy: The Ordinary Retinol 1% and 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil

Woke up to an executive order banning Syrian refugees. Donated to the ACLU between bites of cereal. Both sets of grandparents are WWII refugees; my father’s father from Ukraine, my mother’s mother from Sicily. Are we still the country that welcomed them? I decide that I will face the coming days with clear goddamn skin. Will report back on the retinol.

January 28, 2017

Retail Therapy: Jane Mai Motivational Notebook

The first day of the Lunar New Year. The shop is pleasantly busy all day, and my boyfriend and parents meet me for shabu-shabu after work. Life feels more full than I could ever deserve. Apparently pomelos symbolize abundance and prosperity during the Lunar New Year, so I make sure to hose myself down with Atelier Cologne Pomelo Paradis. It’s a charmingly familiar tradition as a Jew; pomegranates (with their many seeds) are a Rosh Hashana symbol of abundance.

January 31, 2017

Retail Therapy: Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

A lot of my first fragrance loves have drifted back onto my radar recently. Lipstick Rose, the first Frederic Malle I ever tried, sweet-talked me into bringing it home at Aedes de Venustas last month. And when New Haarlem, which I wore to freaking prom, dropped below $100 on FragranceNet, I had to click “buy”. Is it nostalgia? An escape to years that felt less troubled and uncertain?

The night of the inauguration, the unsinkable Alyssa Harad visited Arielle Shoshana for a reading of her memoir, Coming To My Senses. The last passage she chose was a list of inalienable rights to which every perfume wearer is entitled, which ends, “The right, when she wants it, to take up some space.” New Haarlem, for better or for worse, sure does take up space. This brazen frappachino of a perfume is a talisman around my wrist, a reminder that I have space to fill and ground to hold, too.

Alyssa Harad + enraptured audience.

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored (could you tell?) and does not contain affiliate links.

Making Laundry Into Lemonade

The scene of the crime. Utterly unrepentant.

Two days before Sniffapalooza, Zelda threw up into my one and only pair of high heels. That’s pretty standard procedure; as a Baltimore stray, she can smell abandonment coming a mile away. Multiple pieces of cat poop on the duvet, however, was a new development.

As I loaded up the washing machine, I found myself thinking about laundry detergent. More than a few perfume brands, including Le Labo, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Kai, offer laundry detergents these days. Even on the drugstore shelves, functional fragrances (like detergent and dish soap) are usually created by the same perfumers who do fine fragrance. Maybe a perfume-quality detergent would help make the task at hand a little more pleasant?

After sniffing expeditions to Saks and bluemercury, I’ve assembled the best-smelling of these upscale detergents. Unfortunately, I can’t report on performance; for better or for worse, Zelda doesn’t savage my duvet often enough to justify buying a $45 detergent.

Please don’t take that as a challenge.

The Laundress & Le Labo Rose 31 Signature Detergent

Very true to Rose 31’s wonderfully spiced rose. Of the five detergents I smelled, this is easily my top choice.

Tocca Laundry Delicate


Laundry Delicate comes in five different scents; I was able to track down Stella, Florence, and Cleopatra. I actually liked the detergents even better than the fragrances! Stella’s orange note, for example, was much juicier in detergent form. Florence is a straightforward-but-lovely tuberose, and Cleopatra was a Coco Mademoiselle-eque fruitchouli. Stella leads the pack for me.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Laundry Detergent


Definitely focuses on the lemon side of the Aqua Universalis equation. I wish there was a little more of that gorgeous sparkling lily of the valley you get in the fragrance itself.

Does your love of scents extend as far as laundry detergent? Any favorites that should be on this list?

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links.

The Finish Line


I’ve never finished a bottle of perfume. Wait, it gets worse: I’ve never even finished a decant. The closest I’ve ever gotten is a 30 ml Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe; I’ve managed to use up about 10 ml in the FOUR YEARS since I bought it. I know it sounds outrageous, but there’s actually a perfectly reasonable explanation. About half of the fragrances in my collection are discontinued. If I use them up, they’ll be gone forever! I also blame my overly cautious spraying habits (one to the neck, one to each wrist) and distressingly short attention span (my ADHD documentation places me in “the 99th percentile for attentional issues for [my] age and gender”!)

Of course, the sad truth is that no matter how carefully I ration my discontinued treasures, perfume eventually goes bad. So I have a belated fragrant New Year’s resolution: I’m going to finish one bottle of perfume this year. The previously mentioned Black Vetyver Cafe is the most promising candidate, but I’ve also been making good progress on Safran Troublant. Any words of wisdom? Should I be spraying more? Alternating between fragrances less often? How often do you empty a bottle of perfume?

The Current Shopping List

In the absence of actual shopping (with the exception of one Lush binge, my last shopping trip was in December), my shopping list has been piling up! These are the perfume and non-perfume items that I’m currently lusting after. What’s on your shopping list? Please feel free to share your own list with us in the comments!

 Buxom Stay-There Eye Shadows

These cream eye shadows are named after dog breeds, and if you think for one minute that I am above this sort of gimmick, you’ve been huffing too much Fracas. I already own Pug (my very favorite kind of dog, and the most unique color, in my opinion), and am saving up for Mutt.

Gorilla Perfumes Voice of Reason


I’ve been looking for the perfect coffee fragrance for years and years now. Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Mokha was too sweet; Bond No. 9 New Haarlem wasn’t sweet enough. Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe is very close, but it sadly disappears from my skin within 20 minutes. Voice of Reason, which claims to smell like “espresso, French cigarettes, and whiskey”, sounds like a worthy contender.

Ted Baker London Print Fit & Flare Dress


I’m not usually a big fan of Peter Pan collars, but I can’t even explain to you how cute this dress looks in person. As an aside, this model’s legs are taller than my entire body.

Lubin Idole EDT


Last week I had dinner with the very funny and hugely knowledgeable Judith of The Unseen Censer, who spontaneously decided to buy a bottle of Idole after smelling it on me. It’s that good, y’all. This is the warm, spicy, saffron-y scent of my dreams. The EDP is richer and woodier, but it somehow feels less “me”.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy


I am deeply invested in the idea that women can be funny, because otherwise I’m just plain obnoxious.

What Are Your Workhorses?


My workhorses aren’t necessarily my favorite or most valuable perfumes; they’re the ones that I actually wear. These are my most-worn perfumes, the bottles I reach for again and again.


Hilary Duff With Love. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME. Everyone compliments this perfume. It’s sweet and juicy without being obnoxious.

Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe. This is the most severe perfume in my collection, so I like to wear it with black outfits. And I wear a lot of black.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Poivre Piquant. This is my go-to perfume when I need something that’s sweet but still sophisticated, thanks to the unusual pepper note. This is the only decant I’ve ever actually finished!

A Lab on Fire What We Do In Paris Is Secret. My bedtime perfume! Nothing says “turn off your brain” like a cloud of honey and heliotrope.

What are your workhorse perfumes?