Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Wool and Cashmere Shawl-Collar Cable-Knit Cardigan

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Ralph Lauren Blue Label Wool and Cashmere Shawl-Collar Cable-Knit CardiganGorgeous, gorgeous cardigan from Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label. This is the kind of piece I love to buy because you can get so much use out of it — it works at the office as well as on the weekend, and it works if you gain a few pounds (or if you lose them). This is the kind of piece that doesn’t require a lot to make it look good, either — that said, if you wanted to try to add a different color I’d go for a light blue tee peeking out, or perhaps a large chalcedony necklace, to really make the red pop. It’s $398 at Saks. Ralph Lauren Blue Label Wool and Cashmere Shawl-Collar Cable-Knit Cardigan

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.
(L-2)

Comments

  1. The cables don’t look right on this style of sweater to me.

    That said, I’ve always wanted to be able to pull off wide leg pants like those the model is wearing. What body type do wide leg pants look good on?

    • Not mine! I think they’d best left to the tall and willowy.

      • Always a NYer :

        I love wide leg pants. I am tall, 5’11″, but not willowy. I think the trick to pulling off this look is to elongate the leg and have a very defined upper and lower body. Wide leg pants should not be used in a monochromatic outfit, IMHO.

        • This is actuaelly reasonable. I have a nice pair kinda like these, and the manageing partner concur’s that I look good in them.

          I do NOT mind him sayeing that b/c he cannot see anything revealeing when I wear these. I prefer that he NOT coment at all, but this is something all of us have to put up with.

          Best wishes tomorow to the corporetes in DC. I hope you have a good time. I went to school in DC!

      • Not mine either, the only couple people at my workplace who can pull it off are model-thin and tallish. This is a trend I am willing to skip.

    • They look good on narrow hipped people of all body types. They fall straight from the widest point of the hip, which is not a good look if you don’t want to emphasize the width of your hips. I’m a size 14 and 5’3, but I love wide leg pants.

      • Tall, but not quite willowy here too. I definitely don’t have what I would call “narrow” hips, but I think wide-leg pants look good on me. I do think they look best on tall women, but the real body shape deal-breaker is having pronounced “saddlebags” or very muscular thighs that affect the way the pants hang. As long as they can go in a straight line from your hips to the floor, they’re very flattering.

        I’m not 100% sold on the cables on this sweater, but I love everything else about it. Gorgeous color and cut!

    • I’m a pear shape with a fairly small waist. Wide legged pants look good on me if I wear a belt or some top/jacket with a waist accent.

      Speaking of pants, what is the proper length for men’s suit pants? Lately I’ve been seeing a lot that look really short to me. They stop at the top of the shoes as opposed to slightly above the heel.

      • You’re right, they should be slightly above the heel.

      • Thom Browne, Steffano Pilati, Duckie Brown, et al started a revolution a few years ago, so the *fashiony* menswear ideal is barely-cropped, sock-or-ankle-showing length, but of course intention is everything in these matters, as in our womenswear. Some dudes might just be wearing highwaters or too-tight, riding-up pants. But the youthful, beautiful, or wealthful :) rocking shorter pants might well be working in on purpose.

        • The European skinny suit look seems to favor the highwater pants length; traditional American boxier cut suits look silly that way but the slimmer leg (and overall slim) European cut gets away with those top of the shoe/ankle-ish lengths. I do think the guy has to be slim to pull it off though.

        • We have two fashionable, skinny guys who rock the shorter pants, but I know in their case it is fully intentional. The other times I’ve seen it, the suit really isn’t one of those European skinny suits where you can really pull it off.

        • PittsburghAnon :

          The ankle-length men’s suit pants is the exact kind of trend that I would normally consider ridiculous… but I love it. I really like the way this kind of suit looks for some reason (on the right person of course!)

      • I’m pear-shaped too, and love some wide-legged pants. They tend to be a little more forgiving in the thigh area than some other styles, at least for me.

    • I’m 5’8″ and pear shaped and like them a lot. I usually wear them with a fitted top and a heel. I don’t really have a problem with how they hang,( per the prior poster), since the fabric usually has enough weight/drape to come in a little below the hips.

    • I love this sweater but do think that the cables make it look casual. The color is beautiful though. At a cheaper price point, I like the look of this sweater for work: http://www.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=600185&PartnerID=LINKSHARE&cm_mmc=LINKSHARE-_-4-_-31-_-MP431&LinkshareID=neQRQBqOKtQ-_poNMi3ILOdW4M_V4e7sGw

      • Great bargain version there! Any idea about the sizing? I’m usually somewhere between medium and large – it really depends how much vanity sizing is going on in a given brand.

    • I love the look! I have yet to pull it off though. I’ve tried the wide leg pant a few times, but I wear size 5 shoes. It always just looks like I have no feet. Sigh.

    • karenpadi :

      I love wide leg pants! I am pretty pear-shaped plus I’m a weightlifter so I have huge (muscled) thighs. The wide-leg pant is usually the only pant that fits at my thigh, hip, and waist.

    • I think you need long legs relative to your torso to pull off the wide-leg look well. Willowy always a plus :-)

  2. Anonymous :

    Reposting from last night for more opinions.

    I’ll probably post this again in the morning, but random question: how often do you ladies clean your trousers? I seriously hate dry cleaning and normally I handwash everything delicate, but I recently purchased 3 beautiful pairs of lined wool-blend trousers and a lined wool-blend suit. Because they’re lined in a different fabric, I’m hesitant to hand wash them. I also am not sure how I would press them, and especially how to press the suit jacket. I’ve worn each of the trousers probably 5-6 times. Is it gross to just keep wearing them until they actually “look” dirty? They pass the smell test, are not wrinkly, and there are no spots or stains.

    • I handwash with Woolite and line dry and “press” with a steamer. If I had a good washer that had a super delicate cycle I’d probably do that. It does mean I don’t have the pressed line in the pants, but you could easily do that with an iron, I just don’t care that much (and don’t own an iron). My steamer absolutely rocks.

    • Always a NYer :

      I’d recommend Dryel. They have a freshening spray that I use in addition to the cloths. It’s very easy and you can put up to four garments in the dryer bag. I’ll probably wear my trousers 2-3 times before I put them in with Dryel. Also, I steam them after each wear and then hang them up right away to get rid of any wrinkles.

    • I do the same thing – wearing my dry clean only pants several times between cleanings. IMO if they look and smell fine, why not?

      • Same here. I take them off as soon as I get home and then usually do a sniff test before I put them away. Probably about 3 – 5 wears in the summer, more in the winter (less sweating and I often wear hose underneath when it gets really cold). Otherwise, I pretty much always dry clean, unless they’re older and I don’t care about them as much.

        • Don’t put your work outfit back in the closet right away after you get home and get changed. Buy a clothes valet and hang them on that, or simply lay them out on the bed for a while, with the window open if it’s not too cold. The point is to let the clothes air out before you put them back in the closet. This will reduce the build-up of body smell. Same thing with shoes – leave them out on the floor for a while before you put them in the closet. However, if I have been wearing a suit or other drycleanable garment and I know I’ve been sweating in it, or sitting on dirty mass transit seats, I take it to the cleaners immediately. I can get away with that because I don’t wear suits every day.

    • I wait until they smell, have a stain, or the fabric starts looking “tired” — which can be a lot of wears, especially for charcoal or black pants. I use Dryel about 1/2 the time to clean them and get them dry-cleaned the rest of the time.

    • anonymous the 17th :

      My father used to ruin his suits my getting them dry cleaned too often.

      I don’t know about a wool-blend, but a good wool garment should not have to be dry cleaned more than a couple of times a season, assuming you don’t get it dirty. (I’m assuming you’re wearing it only three, four times a month.) It should be enough to take it off, hang it up, brush off lint, etc. Maybe you should steam it (with a steamer, not in the shower) or take it to the dry cleaners for steaming.

      Needless to say, your underclothes and blouse should be fresh because they touch your pants and skirts and jackets. If you’re working really late, try to change into something more comfortable if possible. It will spare your good clothes. Nice clothes weren’t made to be worn 16 hours a day. I don’t care how clean you are, the human body sweats, secretes oils, sheds skin.

      I would never hand wash lined wool pants and would not try to press them. The dry cleaner has professional equipment for that and you will never get the same results. I tried Dryel earlier this year and it didn’t seem to do anything but make my clothing stink of chemicals.

      • The Laundress website actually has tips for handwashing wool suits, and I think there have been other comments on previous threads about people doing just that – and avoiding the whole dry cleaning process. Its a little more work at home, but not really that much more than driving to and from the dry cleaners. And probably cheaper.

    • I generally dry-clean my wool trousers after 5-6 wears. I’m also a bit of a messy eater so YMMV.
      To press in between then I just use an iron set to “wool” and spritz generously with water/steam to release the more stubborn wrinkles. It helps if you’re diligent about hanging your pants up right away and keeping them hung along the crease line.
      I rarely need to press jackets put if you have wrinkles on the sleeves/back it should be easy enough to take them out with an iron at home.

    • MeliaraofTlanth :

      I only dry clean mine once they start looking a little sad. I let them hang out a day before putting them back in the closet and steam out wrinkles. And occasionally febreeze… It’s not good for clothes to dry clean them too much, anyway.

  3. I love wide leg pants in a monochromatic outfit, and I am just 5’5″. Maybe I am missing something?

    Today’s sweater would be a no-no for me – I don’t like a bulky shawl collar, and I don’t like cables that run slant-wise.

    Quite aside from that, I don’t wear brick red.

    Which gives that sweater a perfect zero for me. But – I don’t spend that much on clothes anyway.

  4. Love this and actually contemplating a splurge (and appreciative that this is within my personal splurge range)!

    Also thought I should report back on the early morning workout issues I was having a few weeks ago. Things have vastly improved over the past week. I’ve started scrambling eggs and toast in lieu of cereal on hard workout mornings, and it has made a huge difference. A sincere thanks for all the advice — much appreciated.

  5. I’m only 5’4″ and very hourglass and I swear by wide leg pants. I love this look. Flowing wide leg pants and a fitted top like this are my absolute UNIFORM at work. They are the ONLY plants that don’t exaggerate my thunder thighs. The trick it to make sure :
    1. it’s fitted at the waist and hips (or just below the waist – that’s how I prefer) – this means I usually have the waist taken in when I buy them
    2. the top isn’t also baggy (or it all just looks like a wide mess – this is very important)
    3. as mentioned above – they are long enough. I have mine hemmed so they nearly touch the floor when I’m wearing my highest heels.
    4. only dark colors. I love some me interesting texture/color but – alas – it must live on top. Pants are always dark grey or black.

    If they are the right fit – they are smooth and fitted over the stomach and hips, skim down the thighs – fitted but not binding or looking like sausage legs, then don’t cut back in below the thunder thighs (thereby accenting) so it looks like the pants are supposed to be swoopy and graceful.

    • Diana Barry :

      I think Stacy and Clinton talk about this a lot – people wear pants where the waist fits, but the rest of the pants are too small if you have larger hips, and so they don’t fall straight down from the hip line.

    • AA, I agree 100%! I am 5’4″ and not at all willowy, and love wide-leg trousers!! I actually feel thinner when I wear them!

      • Littlest Attorney :

        Third! I couldn’t agree more. As a fairly extreme pear shape ( who is also only 5’3″) I think wide legged trousers are the most flattering on me. I do tend to wear them with my highest heels though and hem them to just 1/4″ off the floor.

        • Has anyone else noticed that some magazines–at least Lucky–have started using the term “dewdrop” instead of “pear-shaped”? Does anyone know why they would do this, or have thoughts? I’m just interested and curious. I was not aware of any negative connotations to “pear-shaped” and thus didn’t see a need to change the term. (I am petite and a subtle pear/dewdrop myself.)

          • I can think of two theories — 1) there has been a quasi-movement towards identifying ever more shapes (e.g., the whole letter body type phenomenon) and perhaps this is just Lucky striving to be more precise? Or 2) there are so many sensitivities out there, that even something as simple as “pear shaped” has gotten a bum rap.

            As to the first theory, I am not sure that dewdrop is all that much more accurate than pear so as to warrant the change. Although, I suppose it does sounds less lumpy.

            As to the second, I think there probably is some perceived notion out there that hourglass is best (notice how no article in a glossy mag ever glowingly describes some actress as having a “perfect pear figure”), and pear is seen as a less desirable shape to be, and possibly that is what is motivating the change. The whole thing is odd though.

            Out of curiousity, is there a new term for apple, too, now? Inverted dewdrop, perhaps?

          • Hey AIMS! The ever-more-shapes theory doesn’t hold at least for the spread I am remembering… Lucky only presented 4 types in total. I recall a shape called “Flute” but it was hard to tell whether it referred to sort of a boyish look, with minimal curves, or to what we used to call an apple.

            I think “apple” had gone the way of the pear as well–lending support to your theory #2. The term “hourglass” was still in this spread. (And nobody is ever called a “perfect apple” either. Good point.)

          • I’ve heard something about some people preferring not to compare women’s shapes to food (and therefore not using “apple” and “pear”) but I can’t remember why. I like pears!

    • AA, where have you gotten them? Us 5’4″ curvy girls need to shop together.

      • Right? Buying pants is about my least favorite task! I’ve gone from making $25K a year to $150K a year in the last 12 years so I’ve shopped the whole gamut of price ranges – and honestly – for years – well into the $150k years – I got all my pants at H&M. They don’t always of the bells and whistles but they FIT and they are cheap enough that I don’t feel bad spending another $20 getting them tailored and saying goodbye in 2-3 years when they die. Not all the pants fit there of course (so many cigarette pants…) but I’ve gotten some great ones. Places like Banana, Ann Taylor, K. Cole and various brands at Macys, etc. I’d try every year or whenever a new style came out – and they’d never work. Gap never used to work either but in the last 2 years I’ve had a revelation with Gap perfect fit trouser. (I never get the “curvy” fits b/c they make me look even curvier) They seem to have finally realized curvy girls want to look neat and provisional – not sexy all the time. Anyone else have favorites? I know H&M isn’t national…

    • I am tall but not small and I wear wide leg pants. I agree that it is all about the fit. In fact, the last several pairs I bought, I bought one size too large and had the waist taken in to ensure they were flowy all the way down.

  6. I’ve had my eye on a similar sweater from Lands End for awhile…though if they had it in brick red I would have already gone for it.

    http://www.landsend.com/pp/casualluxe1~230679.html?action=order_more

    In case you were interested but not for the price.

    • Corporate Tool :

      This month’s Lands End catalog arrived, and I just started laughing. It’s like they have a direct line to my brain.

    • Ditto soft surroundings, though, per the name, more softly shaped and draped, but still with the flattering, smartening nipped-in buckle.

      http://www.softsurroundings.com/P/Cachet_Cardigan/

      • Wow, that belted sweater style has sure caught on! Last year I bought a black one from the Limited that looked exactly like the Soft Surrounding one, and I really love it. This year I found that Lord and Taylor had that same style in different colors, so I also bought a gray one. I find the style flattering and, at least in my office, a bit “dressier” than a regular cardigan.

    • I actually bought the cotton knit version of this Ralph Lauren sweater at last year’s Neiman Marcus last call, and ended up returning it. I thought the sweater would be flattering because it has waist shaping, but it is just too bulky for the waist shaping to have much effect.

      Yes, I know cotton knit is heavier than cashmere knit, but looking at the model, I can see it’s having the same effect on her

  7. and so anon :

    I don’t like the length and shape of it, especially the bottom curves of the front. It’s too much. The sweater pulls at the closing, which would not be flattering.

  8. So, my husband and I are planning a big trip this December to Hawaii/San Fran/Napa. I posted a while back, and you ladies convinced me that a rainy day at a winery sounded just delightful. Anyway, December is the off season, so I’m hoping we can get some deals in Napa. We’re planning to stay at a B&B. Any tips for figuring out how to get a good deal?

    • Are you signed up for living social and groupon? Try signing up for the napa area for each …i’ve been seeing a lot of deals on napa bus tours, bike tours and hotels/spas. And there’s always priceline- i’ve had great luck with them, altho haven’t tried for napa. have fun!

    • We stayed at La Residence in Napa a few years ago and LOVED it. It’s owned by Hall Winery and with the price of the room (it’s a B&B but with private bathrooms, the best of both worlds), you get a made-to-order breakfast and a happy hour with snacks and Hall wine tastings. December is an “off” season there and I remember the rates being very reasonable. It’s located on Hwy 29 just north of Napa proper (maybe Yountville?) but very convenient to every winery that we visited.

    • The Mount View hotel in Calistoga is great. It’s an old hotel, but they do have a kind of breakfast thing going. The nice thing is that it’s on the “main drag” in Calistoga (if you can call someting two blocks long a main drag) so when you’re done with the wine tasting, you can get a massage (they have a top-notch spa) and then wander out on foot for dinner & nightlife.

      I live in Berkeley so rarely have to stay overnight in Napa, but when I must, I try to get someting at the Mount View.

    • SV in House :
  9. Need advice on rain coats. I need something truly rain/water proof. It should have a hood and be long enough to cover skirts/dresses (so at least to the knees or beyond). Ideally it would have a removable lining so that it’s useful at different temperatures.

    The LL Bean coats seem truly waterproof, but the H2Off DX full length coat I’m thinking of buying gets bad reviews for style. I normally wear XS and it sounds like I’ll be swimming in this style, even in the smallest size.

    Does anyone have a rain coat they recommend? I walk a lot of places so I really need something that can keep me dry. I’d love to hear what works for others.

    • I have the LL Bean West End Trench, and it’s fantastic for all the reasons you stated above. I didn’t see it online, but did see a few when I was in the store last week. I’m usually an XS as well, and like that there’s a belt with the trench, so you can cinch the waist. It’s also roomy enough that I can add an extra layer underneath for warmth, but it still doesn’t look huge. Good luck! I had the hardest time finding a coat with a hood that wast still somewhat stylish.

    • I have the LL Bean Trail Model coat. It is truly, amazingly waterproof. It comes to my knees and has a hood which adjusts to completely block rain and wind. It does not have any lining, but I bought it one size up and wear it with a fleece or sweatshirt underneath in cold weather. I really love it – it is great.

      • Oh, I just looked at the website and realized the Trail Model coat is also available with a fleece lining, so you could get that and not have to worry about wearing a sweatshirt underneath on cold days.

    • in my experience LL Bean sizing runs larger than other brands, so if you’re an XS in a diff brand i’m not sure the LL Bean xs would fit.

      i have a dunderdon jacket (the LJ38 60/40 Jacket) and while it isn’t 100% waterproof, i’ve found it to be more than good enough for all kinds of weather conditions (i live in chicago). it also has a removable pile lining, which makes it good for 3/4 of the year.

    • I wear an XS normally as well, but I love my LL Bean raincoat. I don’t remember which style it is, but it’s truly rainproof with a nice hood and removable lining. It’s not the most stylish, but it’s not unstylish either. It’s plain, red, with snaps down the front, and it’s A-line. LL Bean is good with returns, too, so you can always try it out.

  10. I love this. It is gorgeous, and exactly what I’m looking for right now. Will have to consider……

    • Road Warriorette, I have been to a 1-week business trip where two female colleagues did every imaginable travelling faux-pas.
      I kept thinking about how much I learnt from you. I loved how I had a capsule wardrobe, tiny containers, comfy shoes etc. while my colleagues lugged huge suitcases with full size make up and many pairs of uncomfortable shoes etc.
      I guess the best part was when a colleague decided he would only travel with me because I wouldn’t “delay” him at the airport. True thing, we were hitting the road back home while the others were still at baggage claim..

  11. I’ve got to share with the hive that I’m debuting my first pair of Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps today – which so far are fantastic. Super comfy, high quality, and just the right mix of conservative but attractive in their shape. And thanks to the heads ups on here – I got them on AT’s recent 40% off sale with a 30% coupon code on top!

    Although I’m a little upset that when dropping my daughter off this morning, I got the heel stuck in a crack and scuffed it up a little already  I’ve only worn more stacked heels to work before this so I may need to adopt the commuting shoe vs. office shoe strategy.

  12. Diana Barry :

    Agggggggggggghhhhhh. Just got a call from the court that I *do* have to go in before the judge who previously practiced with our firm. I thought that was against the rules? Grrr. There goes my afternoon!

  13. anonymous the 17th :

    THREADJACK: How to deal with acquaintances and co-workers who share TMI about divorces and custody battles.

    Hello,

    Readers of this site often have good advice for sticky situations so I thought I’d post a question. How do I limit discussion about very emotionally difficult and highly personal subjects with people I hardly know?

    I’m a middle-aged single woman, which may or may not be the reason I have found myself in this situation so often. Or maybe I’m too good a listener. But I don’t think I look like a Mother Confessor.

    In any event, from time to time people going through ugly times with their intimates will feel the need to discuss it with me, often in a work environment when I have work to do. We’re not talking a few minutes here and there, but sometimes hours over the course of a week. These discussions are completely one-sided and emotionally charged. When I need someone to listen to me or a small favor, I can’t always count on their attention and courtesy, sometimes, just the opposite. Going through these events makes some people extraordinarily self-centered.

    Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize and try to help: Once I spent a couple of hours after work scanning and emailing papers to a co-worker’s divorce lawyer to save him the money and inconvenience of going to a copy center. Another time, I and another co-worker got involved in helping someone whose wife had tried to trump up phony child molestation charges. Fortunately, the police did a thorough investigation. You can imagine how emotionally involving that was.

    There was another period in my life, which involved a friend, not an acquaintance, although he consumed much more of my time than vice-versa, who decided to oversee his sister’s divorce case, which went on for four years. For four years, I had to hear about her lying husband, collusive or dishonest expert witnesses and corrupt judges (some of which may have been true, but a lot was paranoia.).

    After hearing about this hideous mess of nastiness several hours a week for four years I mentioned in passing that it had been difficult to listen to. My friend had the gall to play armchair shrink and suggest that my being disturbed by these relentless accounts was the result of some deep-seated childhood trauma.

    But yes, I do have problems of my own. Plenty. Life is short. I’m done with this role.

    So when someone seems to be tending in this direction, I’m thinking of saying something like the following:

    [Deep breath.]

    I understand that this is an extremely painful situation for you, but I am not really the right person to have extended conversations with about it. I have listened to similar problems in the past, and they tend to be all-consuming for the person they affect. Without knowing the individuals, there is rarely anything beneficial I can suggest.

    [I know that often they just want to vent, not receive suggestions. But I'm not going to listen to someone venting every single day.]

    I hope you aren’t offended, but I think you should share these feelings with someone in your innermost circle of friends, or maybe a therapist.

    It irritates me that I have to take time to compose a script. And that some people will hate me no matter what I say. Suggestions?

    • Call them on their own crap. They won’t want your advice anymore! :)

      • anonymous the 17th :

        I’d like to, but these people are going through something difficult and they’ve completely lost perspective. They are UNHINGED. Plus, I have a terrible temper.

        But you’re right, not everyone is as selfish and self-centered as some of the worst offenders.

        Thank you. :-)

    • I don’t have any great tips, but I can offer my commiseration. My secretary does the same thing to me. And if I try to tell her that I can’t be a part of her venting sessions every day, she becomes extremely passive aggressive. It’s miserable.

      That being said, I think your approach sounds like the good way to deal with your situation, even if it doesn’t make everybody happy. (Although some people might take offense to the suggestion of a therapist, even if it is probably necessary!) Do what is best for you, you have your own life to live!

      • anonymous the 17th :

        Thank you. I appreciate it.

        It’s not like I don’t understand misery or the need to express it, but it’s a question of to whom you communicate it.

    • People tend to confide in me as well. It sounds like you are a bit too emotionally available and are having trouble setting boundaries.

      Maybe saying something like, “Wow, it sounds like you’re going through a difficult time. I’m swamped right now, maybe we can talk later?” If you keep saying this, most people will get the hint. I wouldn’t mention a therapist or that they talk to a friend. They probably already know that; they’re just going to you because you’re available.

      • anonymous the 17th :

        I will add that one to my repertoire. Sometimes words won’t help. You have to physically leave or interrupt the flow. Maybe I’ll use your suggestion and excuse myself to pick up a photocopy or something or make a phone call.

        Thanks.

    • This all looks reasonable enough to me. I think the one phrase you could skip is “and they tend to be all-consuming for the person they affect.” It’s the only place here where you could be construed as judging the person–i.e. “you’re so wrapped up in your own drama, just like everyone else who comes to me!” Obviously this is exactly how you feel, and understandably so. I just don’t think you need it to get your message across, and the pill will probably go down easier without it. Good luck…

      • anonymous the 17th :

        Good point about “all-consuming.” These things do not come naturally to me. :-)

        In middle age I’m learning that I sometimes have to take a less direct route than I’d initially choose to get the result I want.

        And to speak to the spectral presence of my mother* for a minute (I said I have problems of my own):

        Not being completely blunt and rude and unsparing of someone else’s feelings is not being phony!

        *She’s not dead; she’s just in the background a lot.

    • My mother goes through this with a coworker and tells me about it all the time – a super nasty divorce with the most ridiculous and obscene allegations and even a child suicide attempt. It would make one heck of a Law & Order SVU case. I think you should say something and I think your script works well but I might leave out the part about listening to other people with similar problems in the past. I think that’s your only weak link because it makes it seem like you would do this for others but not this individual, and it’s the only part where I think you come off whiny instead of strong. It shouldn’t be about others – it should be between you and this person. Good luck.

      • anonymous the 17th :

        Thank you. The reason I had considered the language about the past was that I didn’t want it to seem like this was a personal issue: I’m unwilling to listen to YOUR problems. But I do take your point.

        I have some mental script revising to do. :-)

        Thank God, none of “my divorces” have involved a child suicide attempt, but the kids were definitely being manipulated by both sides. One was coached or encouraged to say negative things about the other parent. A few times I said, “Gosh, if I were a parent, I think I would have to try to resolve my differences with my ex for the sake of my kids.”

        No meaningful response to that.

      • Research, Not Law :

        I was thinking the same thing. I would go with the first sentence (love it, btw). Then I’d go to the last, if you need back up. I’d only go to the point of having previously listened to others if they go there first and you need to address it. I understand why you included it, but I feel like it actually makes it seem more personal – or at the very least, detracts from what you are really saying and may even leave an opening for them.

        As a side, I find “I have an upcoming meeting that I urgent need to prep” and disconnecting eye contact works. But I’m no where near as available as you, honestly. As someone who is known for being on the cold side, I’m a bit jealous.…not of all the emotional burden and time lost, but that people feel that comfortable with you. It’s a gift. (Although I’m sure it doesn’t always feel like it!) You must be a very good person.

    • anonymous the 17th :

      Thank you, everyone has taken the time to read my long post and to write a response. Your reactions and suggestions have been very helpful. I will check back later today to see if there are any additional ones.

      Say what you like about the web, I love this aspect.

    • Empathy here, too. I would not peg myself as a “sympathetic listener” type (quite the opposite, actually), but for some reason, one of my coworkers started confiding that his wife had very recently asked for a divorce. It was literally my second week of work; I barely knew him! After this went on for a few months, my solution was to say something along the lines of “I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I really need to focus on this project right now. How about we plan to get lunch/coffee later this week?” The lunch/coffee rarely materializes, and even then, at least I can budget my time for it. I do like the “offending” person, but resent having my work plan for the day disrupted.

      I like the idea of suggesting close friends or a therapist as an alternative sounding board, but I’m not sure I could bring myself to say that…

    • Anonymous :

      It sounds like you are kindly giving an inch and they are then, in their need, walking all over you. Next time/next convo, don’t give another inch.

      “That sounds awful! I’m so sorry.

      [Pause]

      I really need to get back to [honest thing to which you need to get back], but I hope it gets better for you soon.”

      [Turn away to computer, walk away to wherever, etc.]

      The stuff with the paperwork, etc.? That starts to make you as nutty as them. We’ve all been in their shoes and in yours. But no more. Your not their personal assistant or paralegal.

      Kind, sad smile, kind, sad remark, and then back to your own business.

    • I had the situation you describe with a friend who was also a colleague. I listened to her, and was genuinely sympathetic, for two years. She did have real problems and I felt terrible for her. But on the other hand, I also sort of thought she was reveling in her problems – like, this is an exciting thing that has happened to me, no matter how terrible, and it gets me attention. Any time I tried to change the topic, she brough it back to her problems.

      The kicker for me was that when I got some terrible news about my son (he was diagnosed with a chronic illness) I went to her to talk about it. We talked about my son for about 2 minutes, then she spent the rest of the lunch complaining and asking for sympathy about her same old problems – even minimizing my son’s problem (basically, “well at least you don’t have to deal with my a-hole of an ex.”) She didn’t even notice that I was just staring at her not saying a word.

      And now I know all I need to know about our supposed friendship. I feel absolutely no guilt about no longer returning her calls and invitations to lunch. I don’t even respond most of the time. Other times I just say, “Sorry, I can’t.”

      I hope you can recognize which people are and aren’t your friends, and remember, even if these people aren’t quite as self-centered as my friend, it still doesn’t mean you have to be their friend if you really don’t want to.

  14. I have another threadjack, this one a “nice girl” question. As I’ve been at my job longer, I’ve realized that the guy who trained me (who is now gone) told me *nothing* about how to make our boss happy. No tips at all. In fact, he may have left out some actual responsibilities that we have, not just facts about our boss’s personal preferences. I’m not sure if he did it on purpose or not. So, long story short, I have been sharing a lot more facts with the guys I am now training. All sorts of things, not just responsibilities, but also things about the boss’s likes and dislikes, etc. Now they are able to shine with our boss as well. I feel like I’m just doing a good deed, but then I was wondering if I’m being too nice by sharing all of these tips. There seems to be a fine line between not being the “nice girl” and not trying to subvert someone else’s opportunities. Any thoughts? I know it may be difficult because I haven’t given any details about the things I’m discussing.

    • Success breeds success. If you help your subordinates and colleagues be successful, then you’re helping yourself – don’t shy away or hide the help you’re giving, and don’t do their work for them, but the more everyone around you shines, the more you shine as well.

      • Agree, this is almost like Karma. You do not know who these people know or where they will end up in their careers.
        I am still junior but realized that being “nice” to people around has proved very useful, though it wasn’t my intention at first. To quote NGDGTCO you’ll get yourself some “Chips” that you can cash in later.

    • This to me sounds like good mentoring. Not clear if these new folks actually report to you, but it’s just smart to get them off on the right foot so to speak in that they have their eyes on the prize of making the big boss happy with their (and to the degree that it reflects on you) work. IMO, (and I realize this is something of a broad generalization) this “emotional intelligence” – the understanding what and how to make superiors look good and be happy with your work rather than just whether or not the work gets done – is often the difference between male and female supervisors. Good for you in getting these newbies to understand the difference.

    • anonymous the 17th :

      It’s hard to say without details (which understandably, you can’t provide), but if they’re decent people, they’ll appreciate that you’ve made an effort to show them the ropes. One hopes your boss is sufficiently perceptive to realize that if the new people have acclimated a bit more quickly to his needs than you might have done when you started, that it’s due to your efforts.

      I don’t know how to finesse it — as you saw, I posted my own question — but you want to be thought of as a trainer, a more experienced, helpful colleague, who’s part of a team in which everyone is pulling her or his weight, not an Office Mom or Big Sister who “rears” the new kids and cleans up their messes.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I don’t see that as negative at all. I appreciate those tips and try to pass them on as well. Honestly, I’ve never even considered it being remotely abnormal. Working with others means a lot more than just meeting deadlines and responsibilities. You need to know their little quirks and details on how they like things done. I’m sure it could go too far, but it doesn’t sound like you are.

  15. I have a question about maternity clothes, so please skip if you like to ignore this stuff! I’d like to buy a pair of “designer” maternity jeans as my one maternity clothing splurge. 6 pm has previously been my go-to for discounted jeans, but they don’t have much in the way of maternity. And everything else that I’ve found is full-price. Any brilliant ideas?

    • Ebay. Otherwise, check out zappos – they do sometimes have sales on jeans.
      Unfortunately the maternity clothing companies seem to realize pregnant ladies don’t have many clothing choices and rarely put things on sale.

      • No personal experience, but I have noticed Gilt sometimes has maternity clothes. Usually listed under “children.” There may be more specific similar sites, too.

    • found a peanut :

      you could try shopping the F&F sales at the department stores. Right now Saks is pre-selling for F&F, which is a 20% discount. You can shop online using code FRIEND8. I just did a search for “maternity jeans” on the saks website and they have several designer pairs available online. If you wait a few more weeks Bloomingdales might have another 20% off sale.

    • Try Amazon. They tend to have a fair number of designer maternity jeans. Also, you could check out Ebay. Since they tend to be fairly short lifespan items, people auction them off fairly regularly from what I can tell.

    • Bursting out :

      Piperlime has a few on sale. Sometimes A Pea in the Pod has some on sale online (I’ve never been in their stores).

      I found some useful links and reviews at the blog Ain’t No Mom Jeans.

      Though normally a die-hard designer denim wearer, I’ve decided to forego the designer jeans for the next few months – I can’t bear coughing up the $100+ for only a few months of wear.

      I have been pleasantly surprised by the 1969 sexy boot cut jeans (wearing ‘em now!) at the Gap (I ordered pre-preg size and they fit great). They’re only $60ish and Husband concurs that they make my butt look good.

      • Research, Not Law :

        This. Honestly, I’d splurge on a really great top or dress, not jeans. (Gap does have a strong reviews from designer jean wearers). For example, Isabella Oliver makes great stuff – so flattering – and does put her stuff on sale time to time.

        You could watch zulily. I’m not sure if they ever have designer denim, but it’s worth checking.

        • Bursting out :

          Yeah, LOVE Isabella Oliver stuff! One of those amazing dresses will be my splurge for the holiday season.

          I’ve also had good luck with Belly Dance Maternity for cute dresses.

          hmmmm…. looks like I’ve done enough research to start my own professional fashion pregnancy blog….

    • Tika 55 – this may be too late for you to see: I used to work at a retailer that sold a *ton* of denim to all shapes and sizes of ladies and we found that the best trick was to adapt a pair of low rising jeans by unzipping the fly and pulling a hair tie around the button, through the buttonhole and then back around the button. If the jeans were low enough (and the belly high enough) it almost always worked and no new jeans were necessary. YMMV, because it limits the types of tops you can wear to those that cover the fly of the jeans, but it’s certainly a trick I plan to try at some point.

      If you want the designer maternity jeans (and I’m a blue-jean-baby, so I understand the urge to splurge) I recommend Piperlime and Zappos, as others have suggested. Citizens of Humanity seem to make some cute ones, and it’s a brand I love.

  16. Last week on “How I Met Your Mother” Robin was wearing a gorgeous pair of rust colored knee-high suede boots that I’m in love with. I’ve searched everywhere, and can’t seem to find anything similar this season. Has anyone seen any red/rust colored knee high boots in suede out right now?

    • Well, I can’t help – but they always have great boots on HIMYM!

    • On the second episode of glee this season (where Rachel’s mother comes back to town) Rachel’s mom was wearing a fab three quarter sleeve dress that went to her knees. I think it was maroon. Can anyone identify it?

    • Maybe try checking IMDB for the wardrobe stylist on the shows that you are asking about. It may take some sluething to get contact info, but it might be worth a shot looking for it and then emailing/contacting the stylists with your question.

  17. Sorry for the early threadjack, but my doctor wants to put me on OptiFast to lose weight. Have any of you ladies tried it, and if so, how hard is it? Were you hungry or headachey all of the time? Was it worth it? TIA!

  18. Message for you all from Little Lurker, via Tumblr. I’m posting it here rather than the weekend Open Thread because I figured it was more likely to be seen:

    OMG I MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH.

    My self-imposed ban is November 1st. (Coincidentally, 6 months to the day Ex-Little-Lurker and I broke up.)

    I hope you are saving up lots of links to Teh Bestest Discussionz for when I return.

    I am giving you express permission to copy this response wholesale to the Thread. Also pls tell Ru to hurry up with getting a tumblr already.

    +1000 LL points! I MISS YOU ALL

  19. just Karen :

    I need a little fashion help: I am getting THE skirt in dark purple and magenta (to be delivered later today) and was excitedly planning my outfit for tomorrow, when I heard a cold front is coming through…my question is, what color tights can I wear with those colors? If I wear a black top with the magenta skirt I am sure I can wear black tights with it, but what about the purple? As long as I am asking, what color tops other than black/white/grey? I am trying to be more colorful, and I thought teal would work with the purple, but then I am back to footwear… TIA

    • What about a dark blue or navy with the purple?

      On a similar note, we are finally going to see our first fall day tomorrow! I work in a very casual law firm and am completely stumped on outerwear for fall. I don’t need to go with my big wool coat, but a cardigan will not be enough. I feel like I should know this by now… Ideas?

    • I suck at figuring out how to wear colored tights at work. I would wear black with black shoes/boots and then some sort of black/very dark/black in the pattern thing on top.

      With dark/med dark tights I would wear cognac boots and then a blouse and some sort of fun blazer/cardigan.

    • Are you a lawyer? Bc then I’ll have to suggest the typical conservative colors: navy, black, charcoal, brown/chocolate, nude.

      But…..if you wanted to amp up Le Skirte, try green. Or teal, like you said. Mustard. Need a baby step? Textured tights.

      Also, Le Skirte was MADE for blouses. Do blouses, printed ones, with dots, paisley, bows, weird buttons, animals (did I see penguins on here the other day?) and other Fantastical Whimsical Things. Work Le Skirte, dear Corporette.

  20. Interview suit threadjack:

    Sorry, I know these questions get asked frequently, but I couldn’t find a thread that matched my issue.

    I work in the govt/non-profit world and am applying to really fancy business schools to gain some skills to bring back to my career in the public sector. I am very comfortable with the dress code issues in my field but am not sure how insanely conservative I need to go for b-school interviews. I have a black wool garbadine pants suit from jcrew that I am going to wear. What about my shirt though? Just a solid button down? Could I wear something slightly “fun” as a shirt like that pintuck top of talbots that was on the site a couple weeks ago? (will post link in following post to avoid moderation.) Do I need to stick with just basic black flats (i prefer flats to heels for a myriad of reasons.)

    I am guessing that while I am a very competitive candidate with strong credentials and test scores, what makes me interesting to these schools is that i am a very unusual applicant. Should I play to this slight with a bit more “character” in my outfit? (Like maybe some really genuinely classy leopard flats and a white bow blouse under my suit jacket)?

    I think I am over thinking this too much. Thanks!

    • Either a solid button down or a top like the Talbots pin-tuck would be fine for b-school interviews for any applicant, so you should feel comfortable going with whatever you like best. Good luck! The very top schools seem to be welcoming competitive non-traditional applicants (as opposed to competitive I-banker or consulting types, who are considered to be traditional applicants) with particularly fervor in the last couple of years, so here’s to hoping you’ll have some good news about acceptances in a few months!

      • Addendum: There is a limit to how unconventional you should go in your interview outfit, since you are, in effect, applying for a job. I would suggest sticking with black flats, as adcoms or whomever is doing the interviewing would probably raise an eyebrow at leopard print anywhere in an interview outfit. A bow blouse would probably be ok, provided the bow isn’t too large, but a lovely and colorful top like the one from Talbots would be safer without being boring.

    • Best of luck with your interviews! I just found out today that I will be interviewing with Cornell!

      And, your suit idea sounds great- it’s pretty similar to what I have in mind for my interviews.

    • I made the transition from working in museums to big-law corporate law about 5 years ago when I was already in my 30s. My approach in the interview stage (school and job) was to dress very conservatively as I was already an unusual applicant – both temperament and age wise. Then I definitely played up my differences in the interviews as exactly why I would bring something new to the school/job. I found that more effective than trying to make the statement with the outfit. They were already ready to pounce on my “artsyness” before they met me (always the first question) so didn’t want it to be too easy for them by flaunting their pre-conceived sterotypes. That said – love leopard prints – and now that I’ve got the job I wear my leopard print glasses all the time!

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