I've been to Vegas twice (once when I was 14 so that hardly counts). Much as it will make me sound like the Las Vegas Tourism Board, I think the appeal really is the escapism. The whole city is about pretending to be something or someone or somewhere else. That's exciting for a lot of people. It's also exhausting and explains why most folks (myself included) can't handle more than a long weekend there. An anecdote - on my last trip, my group of friends hatched a plan that I've since seen replicated in multiple Vegas hotel commercials. We pretended one friend was a celebrity and let others react. Our tougher-looking friends wore suits and pretended to keep a watchful eye on the crowd. The ladies wore cocktail dresses and fawned over our "actor" friend. The staff at a fancy lounge started asking who he was. Other patrons tried to take photos (which our "security" guys firmly asked them to delete from their phones). We were given a prime table and free drinks. In line for the bathroom, I overheard a girl whisper to her friend, "She's at that table with that famous guy!" The next day, the VIP coordinator texted and thanked us for coming. Whether or not all those people actually believed my friend was a celebrity sort of doesn't matter. They got to pretend just like we did.
While in college, I was recruited to work at New York's Fifth Avenue flagship A&F shortly before it opened. This was 2005, when the brand was probably past its peak here in the U.S., but was just starting to tap into international markets. European tourists made up the majority of the customers during my two years at the store. My experience was somewhat different than the author's. No one gave a damn if the employees flirted or hooked up or started dating. The store was too big and the managers too worried about covering shifts to care about those sorts of things. And the "wholesomeness" that the brand purported to sell always seemed to me to be offered with a knowing wink. Yes, these were the good kids, but they had a naughty side. They still fooled around, they just didn't get caught. The one thing I never understood about the entire A&F saga is how it has been singled out as the most nefarious of brands in an industry that is built on exclusivity and appearances. Walk into a Chanel boutique and it will make the A&F employees look diverse. Karl Lagerfeld has uttered things just as distasteful as the gaffes that Mike Jeffries has made. I'm not defending A&F, I've just always been confused as to why so many people seem to think its approach is unique in the fashion world.
It won't give you mountains or a coastline, but I'm going to make a pitch for Columbus, Ohio. You'll want the Short North, Victorian Village, or German Village neighborhoods. Here is your ice cream shop: http://jenis.com/scoop-shops/short-north/ Your coffee shop with free wifi: http://www.imperocoffee.com/category-s/1846.htm Your vegetarian spot that is always buzzing (free veggie burgers on Earth Day!): http://www.thenorthstarcafe.com/index.html Your independent bookstore: http://www.bookloft.com/ Your monthly cultural event: http://www.shortnorth.org/popular-links/gallery-hop It snows less than NYC, I promise.
It won't give you mountains or a coastline, but I'm going to make an honest pitch for Columbus, Ohio. You'll want the Short North, Victorian Village, or German Village neighborhoods. Here is your ice cream shop: http://jenis.com/scoop-shops/short-north/ Your coffee shop with free wifi: http://www.imperocoffee.com/category-s/1846.htm Your vegetarian spot that is always buzzing (free veggie burgers on Earth Day!): http://www.thenorthstarcafe.com/index.html Your independent bookstore: http://www.bookloft.com/ Your monthly cultural event: http://www.shortnorth.org/popular-links/gallery-hop It snows less than NYC, I promise.
A few months before I left the biglaw firm I used to work at, they adopted an "unlimited" vacation policy. Previously, we had been able to carry over up to X amount and cash out up to Y amount of unused days at the end of the year. Since biglaw attorneys take even fewer vacation days than the average U.S. employee, under the old policy, most people would end up cashing out the max amount of days and the firm had to cut a lot of extra checks at year-end. When the new policy went into effect, people continued to take roughly the same amount of vacation days (based on my observations and those of the former co-workers I keep in touch with). Like the policy quoted in this post, you had to be sure that your work would be covered and that you were up to speed with everything. In commercial litigation, that is almost never the case. Sure, there were a few people that exploited the system and took multiple multi-week vacations per year (the same people that would expense everything down to a $0.50 toll to drive to court or a $2 tip left to housekeeping on a business trip). But most people were so bogged down that they were lucky to fit in a few long weekends and holiday travel. It's pretty clear to me that the firm anticipated this, did a cost/benefit analysis, and figured out that the the amount they would save on paying out for unused days would far outweigh the amount "lost" on outliers who took full advantage of the policy.
That piece was well-written and engaging, but there are quite a few things about it that irked me. For someone who hadn't bothered looking into what happened to the family company until he saw the name pop up in Soho, the author had a bit too much simmering indignation for my taste ("Wasn’t that misleading and just a little bit gross?"). And as someone that has spent a great deal of time inside Madewell stores and on the website, I can honestly say I've never once noticed any association with "New Bedford" or overt references to the brand's purported history. To the extent that Madewell has touted its workwear roots, it generally seems to be in connection with collaborations they enter into with actual artisanal/local brands. Abercrombie immediately sprung to mind when I read the lede here (we're all familiar with how A&F allegedly outfitted Teddy Roosevelt for his safaris). Both Madewell and Abercrombie have been fairly upfront, in my experience, with acknowledging their corporate parents. I imagine that most consumers know that the Madewell in their shopping mall is not a mom and pop operation. They also know they haven't been shopping there since 1937. It's interesting that the author got in touch with the owner of Save Khaki. They have a store across the street from my apartment (and just a few blocks away from the Soho location of Madewell). That brand definitely has a "hand-made" sort of aesthetic to it, though I admittedly know nothing of where it obtains or manufactures its goods. I wonder if Dan (or that vintage store owner in New Bedford) would have been offended if David Mullen had simply tacked the Madewell name onto his company instead of passing it along to J. Crew. This comment was a lot of words about a store that sells jeans but I have so many feelings clothes. Just so many.
Nice clothing is my biggest indulgence. I try to buy less and buy better, partially because I have admittedly expensive taste but partially because supporting fast fashion giants like Forever21 and H&M has seemed increasingly unethical over the last few years due to concerns over everything from poor labor conditions to rampant design piracy. But, because I am not lucky enough to have an unlimited budget, I do nearly all of my shopping at sample sales, or at least at designer discount stores like Nordstrom Rack or Century 21. If you live in New York, I cannot recommend sample sale shopping enough. It can be stressful and plenty of times you'll walk away empty handed, but sometimes you come upon some downright steals. I once got a $750 Tibi skirt for $65. Another time I got a Proenza Schouler tunic/dress for TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. If you're diligent, you can find a sale in NY for most major designers at least once a year. I've found that Racked NY and Mizhattan are the most reliable sources for upcoming sales.
Since graduating law school, my summers have been a steady stream of wedding after wedding after wedding. In 2012, my boyfriend and I were invited to 7 weddings, 6 of which we attended. We live in NY and the weddings were spread out everywhere from DC to Nashville to Indianapolis. All required an Amtrak ride or a flight and at least one night in a hotel. We had to rent a car for 2 or 3 of them, plus gifts, of course. I would estimate we easily spent $5000 attending weddings that year. I was able to repeat a few dresses, as some of the guest lists were mutually exclusive of one another. However, might I recommend Rent the Runway for everyone's wedding needs? It was great for the dates when I was sick of everything in my closet and couldn't be bothered to go shopping for a new dress. I have admittedly expensive taste, so I probably wouldn't be spending less than $100 on a new dress unless it was on sale. I've used RTR several times and never paid more than $50 for a rental (usually less with a coupon or code). The whole rental process is super painless and the customer service people were always great. I swear they aren't paying me to say this.
@HelloTheFuture Don't want to delve too deep into the ethics of caring for elderly/disabled family members, but maybe it was just too much for Gran? She already had Neville to raise and being a full-time caretaker to two low-functioning/high-needs adults is a lot to ask of anyone.
@apples and oranges Well, presumably there are still costs for potion-making supplies and other healing "substances" (bezoars, Skele-gro, etc.). I like to think of the spells as more like surgery - procedures to be carried out by highly trained, competent medical professionals and supplemented with medication.