Holidays Open Thread

Stuart Weitzman - Laceswoon (Black Satin) - FootwearSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

All right, ladies — we are taking the next week off from regular posting. (We’ll return Monday, January 3, 2011.) Stay tuned for deal alerts and other good deals — and of course, check out the holiday open thread.

Happy holidays to all — may your 2011 be bright and cheery.

Pictured: One of my favorites from the year-end round-up was this “Swoon” shoe from Stuart Weitzman, which now also comes in a lovely lace. It strikes me as a great thing to wear to holiday parties and more. (It’s also still available in a number of colors in patent leather.) It’s $365 at Zappos.com. Stuart Weitzman – Laceswoon (Black Satin) – Footwear

Comments

  1. Anon for this :

    Threadjack –

    I learned about “A Year of Slow Cooking” here and think that it is great. Anyone have any recommendations for rice cooker blogs/websites? I got one for Christmas and am looking forward to using it.

    TIA!

  2. Are those shoes really lace? I guess the 80s have made their comeback. Lace finger-less gloves can’t be far behind.

  3. Shopping Q :

    Two questions from my after-Christmas shopping experience yesterday (I will split them up into two posts). Regular poster but going anon since I will be wearing one of them to work soon :)

    (1) I tried on a pretty, Katharine Hepburn-esque silk blouse that was a v-neck in front, but had a keyhole opening, about 4″ long, at the back of the neck (the collar buttoned to close the top of it). Fabulous otherwise, but since I have chin-length hair (keyhole could never be hidden by hair) and I rarely need to wear a jacket, I felt the keyhole made the top too sexy for the office (semi-conservative BigLaw), even though if the top had just been cut lower in the back, revealing the same skin but without the ‘peekaboo’ feel, I probably would have felt fine. Am I being overly cautious here??

    • I think you made the right call – it does sound suggestive. Is the keyhole necessary for the top to fit over your head? If not, consider taking it to a tailor to have the keyhole closed up.

      • Shopping Q :

        The keyhole wasn’t necessary, and I did play with it to see what it might look like stitched up. Unfortunately, it was a very oval keyhole, so my pretend sewing job created weird ripples across the back of the blouse. If it hadn’t been final sale I would have tried buying it and seeing what a tailor thought, though!

        • It’s hard to say without knowing how low the keyhole goes. If you’d like to make it more work appropriate, you can always wear a cami underneath for the office and wear it as is for other occasions.

          • Shopping Q :

            It wasn’t super low – it started at the base of the neck and went about 4″. Most camis don’t really help for that area (at least none I’ve found – all of mine end mid back, just above bra strap).

    • Is it possible to find another type of base layer (other than a cami) that could go underneath? I’m thinking a scoop tank/cap sleeve tee that goes up to the neck in back, but wouldn’t interfere with the v-neck in front or show out the sleeves could work. The Victoria’s Secret catalog might have something like that–I usually find their tees too low-cut, but that might actually be what you want if you want it to come up in back and not show in front.

    • Yes. If it is only 4″ at the back of the neck, I don’t really think it is all that sexy. I don’t think there’s anything that would be high enough in back to close up the keyhole because most of them would be far lower in the back.

  4. Shopping Q #2 :

    (2) I bought a pair of dove gray suede heels from Brooks Brothers and now am wondering what they’ll pair best with. Wearing them with black pants or skirts made them look a little too light — thinking dark gray, navy, plum?

    Here they are: http://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=1&Section_Id=378&Product_Id=1469135&Parent_Id=1034&default_color=GREY&sort_by=&sectioncolor=&sectionsize=

    Fit note – this family of heels was very comfortable for the height. I took my usual size 7 but would have tried a 6.5 had there been a pair for me to try on. (The pairs that are regular leather, not suede, seemed to fit slightly smaller – the 7 fit slightly better on me in those pairs).

  5. small biz anxiety :

    I’m a regular poster here, but going anonymous for this. I’m sorry that this is long, but I think it will help me to write it out and get some feedback from smart, but uninvolved parties.

    Several years ago, I sold my sole proprietorship to an old college friend and his wife. Let’s call him John. They paid a substantial down payment and I carried the paper on the rest. They did well with the biz, growing and updating it, hiring a few part-time employees. They had a child, a little girl who is now six and calls me “Aunt.” Two years ago, they divorced and he now runs it alone. I have since moved across the country to the other coast.

    Two months ago, the payments to me stopped. We’ve had a few bank transfer glitches in the past, so I didn’t worry too much. But when I tried to contact him, he went completely incommunicado. I’ve left texts, emails, voicemails. At first I was just a bit annoyed, but it quickly grew to worry. A mutual friend told me John has started to see a therapist for depression, and that he helped nurse very close neighbor family through the cancer and then death of the young wife/mother. This mutual friend hasn’t seen or heard from John in several weeks.

    I contacted the ex-wife, who sees him several times a week as they share custody of the little girl. She confirmed that he is physically healthy, but depressed. She dropped the info that he hasn’t filed income taxes in four years. She is still angry about the divorce, and doesn’t want to get involved. I checked the business website, and it is clear that it hasn’t been updated in at least 6 months. Out of the blue, I got an email from an old customer, asking what was up with the business? It seems to be shut down, no product is shipping? No one is answering the business phone numbers, at any extension. No return phone calls since August. Where are the employees?

    I called his parents, who do some of the order fulfillment for the business. His mother burst into tears and said they were so worried. John had asked to borrow money, no product had been shipped to them for fulfillment in months, they were scared and didn’t know who to contact. His parents are very elderly, too frail to fly and also live on the opposite coast from John. He told his mother he’s living on his retirement savings.

    The money piece: John still owes me on about 20% of the term of the loan. That means he’s paid quite a bit of interest. Given the state of the economy, realistically the biz is probably worth only about 80% of what I sold it for. I’m fully prepared to never see the rest of the money, and I can afford that. However, the biz will have significantly less value at all if he’s stopped running it. The terms of the loan entitle me to biz assets if he defaults. However, this is his sole source of income. I don’t want the biz back, but there’s enough principal left on the loan that just forgiving it would be a major gift. Think “paying for a year or two of the child’s college” size gift.

    The emotional pieces: He won’t talk to me or return my calls. I know he suffers from depression. I suspect he’s looking at bankruptcy and house foreclosure. The IRS should come knocking soon. Because of all this, he could lose child custody. I know this biz can support him but he has to actually go into work every day and run it, which he clearly isn’t doing.

    I’m planning on flying out to see him in early January. I may have to surprise him in order to make contact. He may be angry with me. His ex-wife thinks perhaps this is a cry for help and that he wants me to just take back the whole biz. His mother sees me as the super hero who will swoop in and fix it all. Obviously, helping will take more than just a week’s visit. If the biz is dying of neglect, I have the skills to resurrect it, but that could take many months. I have the flexibility to provide those months, fortunately. Realistically, we could be looking at selling his house to generate cash for him to live on. Looking for another job for him in this economy after he’s been out of his old high-tech career for 7-8 years.

    I am worried, sick to my stomach, disappointed, and scared. This is going to involve finding a CPA, perhaps a lawyer, lots of paperwork whether I just help him get back to running the biz or end up taking it for the loan default compensation.

    I care very deeply about John and worry that he will hurt himself. I knew there were emotional risks to selling a large asset such as a business to a friend, but never dreamed it could descend so quickly to such a bad place for him. The money is truly not a big deal to me except in how it will affect him and as a representation of how badly screwed up it all is.

    I guess I just needed to lay it all out for someone. I’m not sure how to go about finding legal help with this, so any Corporette legal eagles have suggestions? What type of lawyer would I look for? I assume I would need someone in California, where John and the biz are? I have a fantastic California CPA, so I’ve asked her to recommend someone for John’s IRS issues. I don’t think she can represent both of us ethically.

    I have to decide what I’m willing to lose here. I’m prepared to lose all the rest of the money. If I could help him NOT lose his house and his kid, but at the cost of our 30-year friendship, I think I could do that, but with great sadness. What I fear losing most is his life; I do think he’s capable of suicide over this, especially if he loses child custody. Will he hug me or slam the door in my face when I arrive in January?

    Thanks for listening.

    • Wow, this is a really tough situation to be in. You sound like a very good friend to this person. Please remember that whatever choices he makes or actions he takes are not your fault or responsibility. I say this as someone who has in the past struggled with severe depression that included suicidal thoughts. That said, before going out there, I would advise that you familiarize yourself with the crisis resources available in his community in case you do end up with a very serious situation on your hands.

      Please let us know how it turns out and take care of yourself through this.

    • In terms of legal help, probably any decent general practitioner experienced in business and contract law should be able to help you with this, since this is at essence a contract dispute. BUT, since this is a person you care about and want to help, you may also want to talk to said lawyer about alternative dispute resolution and/or mediation. Because, honestly, the courts probably can’t do a whole lot to craft a solution that is helpful to your friend if that is what you want.

      • If you’re looking for help with the financial issues, then it sounds like you at least need a CPA and a lawyer. One solution may be to put the entire contract on hold – i.e., don’t forgive the loan, but put it on an interest-free hiatus for a while.

        It sounds more like what you really want is to know how best to help your friend.

        He probably doesn’t know what would help him most. If you can run the business for a while, that will likely help. But it won’t heal his marriage or get him his kids back.

        And he won’t be able to get back on his feet unless he gets real help from a mental health professional. And maybe take meds too.

        If you think he’s at very high risk for suicide, then know the crisis resources in his area. He needs some serious help. And you’ll need to figure out what to do if he’s resistant to help.

        Bad things do happen to good people, and it sounds like this guy has had an extraordinary share of them in the past few years. If tragedy caused a breakdown, it’s not because he’s broken, but because he’s human.

        He won’t be able to run the business, or hold any job, or be a good half-time father, until he can get his mental health back on track.

        • small biz anxiety :

          Thanks for the advice on the “interest-free hiatus.” I hadn’t thought of that, and its a very good idea.

          I am starting to gather mental health resources, just in case. That is definitely not my area of expertise and I need all the help I can get.

          I agree with Guest that I don’t want to go into an adversarial position right now. I’ll look for a mediator if that becomes necessary. I suspect legal help will be needed because I found out that his employees have filed a wage claim. Their paychecks stopped in October.

          We did have a breakthrough today: his parents spoke with him on the phone and he broke down and admitted everything and that he had no idea how to fix things. I’m hoping this means he will accept my help as he isn’t hiding the situation from everyone. He gave his mother permission to call his friends, including me. Stepping out from behind the facade is a vital step forward, I think.

          I have left another voicemail for him. Let’s hope he can muster up the strength to return my call.

      • It’s not necessarily true that the courts couldn’t help. You could talk to a lawyer about getting a receiver appointed to run the business during his absence. He may even agree to such a measure. You want a good business lawyer or business boutique type of firm. Ultimately, you would want a business litigation attorney for any litigation-type measures such as a receivership, but a good business lawyer will be able to direct you.

        • A receiver, that’s a great idea. Certainly someone else running the business couldn’t hurt. (Or a small biz consultant, as another Corporette suggested.)

          I kind of just made up the interest-free hiatus thing, so I’m not sure any lawyer or accountant would advise it… but it seems like it might work. And it seems like the right fit for John.

    • Anonymous :

      You need to retain local counsel (where the business is) specializing in small business/contract law. There is likely a section of the local bar association dedicated to small business practice. I’d start by contacting them, and ask for a membership directory (they’re unlikely to actually recommend a lawyer, though). The local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce may be able to recommend a lawyer.

      Once you have a good lawyer retained, s/he will be able to recommend if you need an accountant, to call local mental health professionals, etc.

    • It’s commendable that you are thinking through all of the issues and I hope that posting here will help you work through the issues. You’ve gotten some great advice already, especially the interest-free period. I’m not qualified to address the mental health issues but take care of yourself and put the onus back on John’s relatives and experts. Also, protect yourself from IRS liability and wage claims.

      What about hiring a troubleshooter to come in and help you and John during the re-vamping process? It might make it easier on you and more professional for John. There are many CFO-to-hire or small-business consulting firms around and lots of qualified people. They are usually entrepreneurs or finance folks with lots of turnaround experience. You can hire them for as much or as little as you need them and they could help nurse the business back to its feet without you handling the nitty-gritty on a daily, on-site basis. If it’s too technical of a business, this might not work but otherwise it could be an option. It would lower the risks to you if John can’t take over and you would be in a better position to sell it to someone else if John fails.

  6. In Need of Basics :

    Ladies, I’m in need of basic Ts (long and short-sleeved). I’d like them to be thick enough to hide my bra and look decent under blazers & cardigans. Also, fitted Ts tend to ride up on me, so anything that’s snug enough to stay down over my hips would be great. Which Ts do you love? Thank you!

    • Last summer I bought a bunch of the Banana Republic Luxe tees to wear under suits and have been very disappointed. They started piling after several washes, and the lighter colors tend to show through. I recently got several Jackie shells from J.Crew and love them so far, but they are unfortunately sleeveless.

      • Another Anon :

        Agree with you about BR’s quality going down. WTH is with retailers?

        All my go-to brands have gone-to heck. Except Lands End, but their small sizes sell out really quickly.

    • Anonymous :

      I love the twist-neck tees, in both long and short sleeve, from LOFT.

    • I am 2 washes in on the Gap Favorite long sleeved V-neck T. I ordered tall sizing as I am 5’10″ and am pleased with both the sleeve and body length. Body is smooth through the stomach and wide enough in the hips that it sits over pants without riding up.
      The fabric is thin but not sheer and is very comfortable. Due to the unstructured cut and fabric, I only wear under a blazer or layered – probably would be more biz casual on its own.
      So…maybe not what you want but a review in case you were considering the brand.

  7. Ladies, I just want to say, I’m back at work today, and would SO MUCH RATHER be reading Corporette comments all day instead of working.

    Thanks for this community. :)

  8. I’m waiting for my Christmas present to myself to arrive. After doing a lot of research, I found a strand of multi-colored freshwater pearls at a good price on eBay. This seller is supposed to be quite reputable, so I’m excited to see my necklace.

    I grabbed a couple of photos from the eBay listing and put them here:
    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_o38elnpSIho/TRlELWj5t-I/AAAAAAAAE68/GDqNcG1wQUE/s640/102_8284.jpg
    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_o38elnpSIho/TRlENXUYWQI/AAAAAAAAE7E/e7Wd_4D9CJY/s640/pearls.jpg

    This necklace is a classic 18″ length and I hope to get a lot of use out of it. I also ordered a set of simple earrings in a pink to match.

    Anybody else buy themselves a holiday gift?

    • Well, in my country we do not celebrate christmas but I wanted to reward myself.
      I bought 2 perfumes for everyday wear, an eyeliner, and some workout gear.
      This reflects my new year’s resolution to be more high maintenance (in a positive way) and look after my body through regular exercise.
      I decided to apply my resolution before new year just in case I get weak… So far it’s going great.
      I am thinking of another splurge but it will depend on whether my thesis defense goes well.

    • Ugh. So many holiday gifts at all the sales. A Brooks Brothers suit, two super cheap Jones New York suits (I know they aren’t the best quality fabrics, but at least they don’t fall apart–I’m looking at you Talbots), 5 (!) pairs of shoes (a great deal on a couple pairs of Cole Haans on Rue La La a couple weeks ago, a sale on the Olsen Haus peep toes that Kat featured a few months ago at Endless, and a great pair of Calvin Klein heels from DSW), 3 pairs of jeans, two sweaters, some non-precious jewelry, and other things I’ve probably forgotten. Still eyeing the ongoing sales! I’ve resolved next year to try to buy nothing until Black Friday.

    • No self-gift here.

      After much pondering, I’ve applied to my dream school for the MBA program. If I get in, it will cost a fortune.

      If I don’t get in, then it was not meant to be and I’ll rethink my career from there.

  9. Quick question

    For all the Corporette PhDs: Are there any career options for a PhD that doesn’t involve working in academia? I am currently a masters student that want to pursue her PhD in special education/education/neuropsychology (haven’t decided yet).

    I would really like to hear from PhDs who took the nontraditional (non-academic) route.

    • I have a science PhD and there are lots of careers that are non- academic for those types. I worked in the lab for a number of years and now am in patent law. You might be able to do patent law with neuropsych, but I don’t know much about that. Are you interested in school administration? I’ve known principals and superintendents with education PhDs.

    • I have a friend who was interested in education policy. I think there are about 2-5 jobs that open each year with various think tanks, so you have to be really selective about where you go to school. My impression from her was that they don’t really want anyone outside of the top 3 programs. Right now she is working for a state doing grant management, and she applied and was interviewed for a non-teaching dean position at a state university. I believe another recent PhD got hired who did not have teaching experience.

    • A top school administrator in my district had a PhD in something similar. So that’s an option (though it’s by no means necessary for that role).

      That said, I STRONGLY believe higher education should be done in pursuit of a specific career goal. People who want PhDs as ends in themselves and then try to create something to do with them tend to be less successful than people who are getting a graduate degree because they don’t have a job lined up and like school. Lots of lawyers on this board would probably agree with respect to law school as well (I am not a lawyer). Of course, the rule does not apply if you are independently wealthy and don’t need to have a career – then go ahead and spend several years as best you see fit.

      • Oops, I meant “People who want PhDs as ends in themselves and then try to create something to do with them tend to be less successful than people who are getting a graduate degree because it’s required or very helpful with whatever they’ve decided to do with their life.”

  10. If anyone is still reading this thread, I have a question about hair coloring. I had my brown hair subtly highlighted for the first time in summer 2009. I told my colorist I didn’t want my hair to totally change colors, and the first round, it didn’t. But the second time, it was like she highlighted all different strands than the first time, so the entire top layer of my hair changed colors, and in a bad way. She tried to correct it up with a temporary dark “gloss,” which was so terribly dark while it lasted that my husband initially didn’t recognize me.

    Since then, I left color alone and switched hair stylists. Now the highlights have halfway grown out, and my darker, limp hair is making me want to try highlights with my new stylist. The color gave my hair more body, and I like the bit of lightness that the now-faded bottom half of my hair brings to my face.

    Here’s my question: is it possible to highlight your hair long-term without it all blending to one color eventually? Or is that inevitable? Because I don’t want to go through that again.

    • When you dye your hair, you’re always going to have a color change when the new hair grown in. If you don’t want to deal with visible roots, you may want to try a semi-permanent gloss over all of your hair. It will wash out in about 8 weeks.

    • While I currently am sporting my natural hair color, I colored my hair for years. When I was just getting highlights, my hair did get lighter over time because, as you pointed out, the same strands don’t always get highlighted. I then discovered a hairstylist that was great with color and did a combination of highlights and lowlights. The lowlights brought back the darker color to my hair. Unfortunately, I moved away and had to change stylists and haven’t been able to find another one that is that good with color. Since then, I have ended up with platinum blonde hair (not what I requested – I’ve got dark brown hair), “colored” hair that is indistinguishable from my natural hair color, and other various not-so-desirable iterations. Hence, my return to my natural hair color. Instead of coloring, I now use Aveda clove shampoo/conditioner, which I love and really brings out a richness to my hair so that I no longer feel that I need highlights. I totally understand about the highlights giving you more body; it did the same for me. However, the Aveda shampoo really seems to be a lot better than other shampoos I’ve used for not weighing my hair down (and I limit conditioner to the ends only). And I don’t work for Aveda; I just love their hair products.

    • I’ve gotten highlights for years, and yes, if you get your hair highlighted, it will progressively get lighter, but I usually get lowlights every other or every third time or so to break up the blonde and solve the problem you are worried about. I’ve had several different stylists over the years, and this seems like a pretty common practice, and you shouldn’t be charged extra for it (seems like just routine maintenance for your highlights).

      • s in chicago :

        Just a word of caution. Your hair needs to be in pretty good shape for low lights or else the lighter streaks can “grab” some of the darker color over time. I have light blonde hair (tends to be pretty fragile) and once had it turn an awful mousey brownish/grayish kind of color. It looked great the first week or so when it was all streaky and then gradually…yuck. Other colorists have warned me this is common since then.

    • You may want to try both highlights and lowlights. I just got both for the first time and it makes a world of difference in keeping the bottom from blending into one color.

    • As everyone else said, the trick is highlights and lowlights. My stylist always did a 3 color foil with high, mid, and lowlights that added depth without drastically changing color. Even when I’ve gone back to my natural color and a bit darker, I continue with the highlights and lowlights in different colors to add depth. You just need a good colorist and lowlights.

  11. Anon in pool :

    TMI alert. Frequent poster but going anon for this one.
    I have decided to up my gym routine and start conditioning with aquagym classes.
    I have a small bust (34 A or AA depending on brands), but prominent nipples (sorry TMI).
    I have come to peace with my anatomy showing during regular gym classes, but am mortified from going to the pool.
    I need a performance swimsuit with padding. All the ones with built-in bras are for the higher up alphabet cups (paraphrasing a previous commenter).
    Can anyone please recommend, swimsuits that are performance friendly (aquagym – aqua fitness), with padding/built-in bra and for small cup sizes.

    Thank you ladies.

  12. on the person asking where to get comfy, durable t-shirts: Target! I LOVE their v neck t’s and tanks and they hold up really well.

  13. rapid butterfly :

    ladies – I finally broke down and bought a smartphone since data is finally (relatively) cheap. It’s a droid 2. My question: it’s a bit too big to fit in the zippered part of my purse where I kept my old phone. I’ve plenty of room for it in the main compartment of my purse but I am afraid my keys, etc. will batter it to death.

    Suggestions for a case that is (1) durable and (2) is at least somewhat feminine looking?

    thanks in advance, and thanks to the community here. I have learned so much here.

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