Suit of the Week: Donna Karan

For busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits for women, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

Toffee brown is not usually my color, but I really like the look of this suit. It’s reminiscent of the Donna Karan suit Sheryl Sandberg famously wore for her TED talk, but friendlier somehow. I would probably keep things neutral here and wear a white camisole beneath it (something about seeing quite so much of the model’s breastbone disturbs me). The jacket (Canvas Jacket with Belt) is $1,495, while the skirt (Stretch Canvas Pencil Skirt) is $795 at Bergdorf Goodman.  For those of you saying, “if ONLY I could buy this in two colors,” you’re in luck: both the jacket and the skirt are available in a paler beige.

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Comments

  1. momentsofabsurdity :

    Expensive but (I think!) fun. Feels a little safari esque to me but maybe that’s the shade of brown it is. The skirt looks like it would be a little long on me (at 5’5″). Not that I can afford it, anyway.

    TJ – Debating what to do with the apartment search. Due to a recent raise, I can afford to move to a more decent place, but a lot of my friends are still scrimping along at lower salaries and can’t afford to move. I’m looking for a roommate to search with me now but I’m being realistic that I may not find someone and trying to come up with a game plan. If I don’t find a roommate in the next couple of months to search with, I’ll need to rent *something* on my own. I’m debating between shelling out more money for a studio or 1 bed, or renting a 2 bedroom and giving myself ~3 months of lead time to find someone (probably random) to rent the other half.

    I do believe (and it’s been my experience thus far) that once I have a place, finding someone to fill it (assuming it’s a good place + price, which I wouldn’t compromise on) is much easier than finding someone that wants to go hunt. However, it puts me at greater risk for having to pay the full rent (possible, but would eat up likely 60-75% of my takehome pay) – almost a zero chance it will be for the full year, but it is maybe 10-15% possible that I could have a gap of a month or two. Additionally, I think my parents would have to cosign as I don’t know that I’d qualify for an apartment that was 70% of my takehome pay. I might also have to borrow some from them for first/last/security/fee, though hopefully, not much.

    However, if I did find a roommate (which I think is likely) I’d be putting ~30% of my income toward living expenses and be reasonably financially comfortable.

    On the other hand, renting a studio or a 1 bedroom would likely mean more like 50% of my income toward rent and obviously I would have to pay that — no chance of finding someone and splitting the cost. However, I could rent that probably without a cosigner and without borrowing any money from my parents.

    Anyone been in this sort of situation and have any advice?

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I have a friend in your situation who took an interesting approach. She had a roommate she loved and considered a good roommate priceless. She got a raise and could afford a better place. Roommate couldn’t. She decided they should move to the better place anyway and roommate would continue to pay the rent she was paying at old place (maybe 100 or more so dollars but not pure 50/50) and my friend paid the rest. She could afford to and she was much happier in a place she loved with a roommate she loved. This wouldn’t work for everyone but worked out fine for them.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        That’s an idea! My only worry is whether or not it would drive a wedge in our friendship since my less mature self could potentially get a little resentful. Definitely something to think about. Thanks!

        • In NYC it is really common to pay more or less for a better room. I have lived with roommates and paid up to $200 less than the roommate, who then gets the better room (you have to find an apt. that works out that way). Then there is no friction and everything seems fair.

      • I did this with a friend (I made more $$ and paid more rent). Since we decided up front who would pay how much, there wasn’t any friction about it. Also, I got the nicer room (she had the washer/dryer in her bathroom, her bathroom was the one accessible to the public rooms, etc.) since I paid more.

        • Having the washer/dryer in your bathroom is a TOTAL bonus. You can warm up your towels and clothes while you shower and then they’re all toasty when you get out. I miss it.

      • That is so nice!

        I live ALONE b/c I need alot of closet space for my clothes and NY apartements are NOT very spaceious. My dad helps subsedize the rent so it is kind of like a roomate financeally.

        But when I get MARRIED, I will have a big house in the suburbs with alot of closet space so I will look forward to liveing with my HUSBAND.

    • How about waiting a little while, saving up and then deciding? If option #1 involves borrowing, then instead you could set a savings target in place and work towards that with your raise. You could also test out how it feels to be putting x% of your salary towards your rent and set up a cushion for yourself.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Oh I will be waiting + saving – this move isn’t til September. I probably need to find a place by June or July at the latest – one of the reasons I ended up in my current place was that I waited til early August last year to try to find a pet friendly 9/1 rental in Boston. Sigh.

        But I will have to move in September – my lease is up and I will not be renewing (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a terrible, terrible, terrible place :-)) and I’ll need some place to move into. I can’t sign a year long lease that ends after September of 2013 since there’s a good chance I’ll go to grad school, so I can’t sublet and sign something in December, for example. I have enough saved to move myself (4 months of rent at once… ouch!) but essentially need to save enough to move a second person, to rent a 2 bedroom on my own which I don’t know will be feasible in the next 2-3 months.

        Since the raise, I’ve been living on my old salary and saving the rest (and, aside from the rent increase to a nicer place, plan to do the same once I move).

        As my friend told me this AM – mo’ money, mo’ problems ;)

        • Do you have a roommate now in your current terrible place? If not, maybe you can find another place in the same price range that’s less terrible than your current one. Personally, I’d rather have a mediocre apartment all to myself than a really nice one that I have to share. But I might be just grump right now.

          • momentsofabsurdity :

            2 roommates now. The place is awful (mice EVERYWHERE and a landlord that refuses to do the large scale fixes to eliminate them – we literally have to keep all our food in the fridge, including nonperishables, because they have chewed through all the cupboards, and sterilize all utensils and plates before we use them because there’s droppings all over, cricket infestation, broken oven and fire alarm, basement level so no light or ventilation… sigh).

            I really prefer living with roommates (lived alone for 1 year after college out in the suburbs but couldn’t afford to do it in the city) for the cost savings, but I definitely empathize with the “space that’s just mine that I don’t have to share!

          • Geez, it sounds like you live in my old place in Medford. It was dreadful. On the surface the place was nice enough, but it was full of holes for mice to get in and it cost soooo much to heat (because it was full of holes…and we never got it above 60). I don’t miss it at all.

          • Boston Apt Hunting :

            That sounds awful! I’m trying to find a place and am worried that I’ll end up with one of these horror stories. =/

        • Sav-A-Lot :

          I recommend saving more if you are going to grad school in a year and will be taking out loans. It is quite depressing for me that so much of the money I work for goes towards those dang student loans. I think I would be much more satisfied with work if I got so spend more of my paycheck on fun things.

          • Anonymous :

            Ditto. Or, if grad school is not in the future, save up and buy a place.

    • One thing I would also consider is location. Even if you have more money, if moving to an area with nicer apartments means moving somewhere further from your friends, you might not enjoy it as much as you think. Perhaps instead look for a middle ground, like a bigger or nicer apartment in the same area that your friends live in. Something like that.

      I just know that I’ve had friends move to further out neighborhoods or different towns and then just feel kind of isolated or like they were always hopping the T to come back in and see their friends. Don’t know if this is your situation, but its something to consider.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Opposite situation – moving closer in (hence, $$$$) — most of my friends are further out though I do have a few downtown and all of them typically go downtown for weekend nights when we hang out. One of my best friends is moving to the same neighborhood, same time – but she has a cat and I’m allergic. Sad story.

        • Hard-wood floors and Allegra? :-P

          • momentsofabsurdity :

            I wish! I can’t even go into her current apartment after taking meds because I burst out in hives. Most cats I don’t have as bad of a reaction to but hers is really long haired which I don’t think helps. She just rented a great place though which is making me antsy to find *something*.

          • Is my reading comprehension correct that you live in the Boston area? Is a studio or small one bedroom not doable?

          • momentsofabsurdity :

            Studio or small 1 bed is doable yes, but will eat up more of my income. I’m open to doing it though, if I decide I’m too risk averse to go for the 2 bed.

          • Hardwood floors just make for cat-hair tumbleweeds. It’s awesome watching them blow by in the air conditioning.

    • I’ve found great roommates on Craigslist, particularly in the Boston area. There seems to be a glut of responsible grad students around. Screen carefully, of course, and check references. But there’s a big pool.

      • Also, tons of medical residents, who tend to be fairly responsible, work a ton and not too crazy. If you can figure out how to get on the boards for a big hospital (BID, MGH, BWH, Boston Childrens, etc) you could get someone great. Also, they will want to find places so they can start work July 1 or earlier.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Thanks! I’ve been a little nervous about Craigslist but I am checking it and hopefully it will yield something.

        • CL roommates CAN sometimes be cray-cray. But sometimes they can also be the best, because there’s no built up baggage that you have with your friends and no need to be “nice” all the time — so you can just be honest about what you need. Sometimes the best roommates are good acquaintances with the same taste in food and tv rather than besties, INHO anyway.

        • I second what TCFKAG said (as usual). I have found many roommates over the years through Craigslist that were awesome. I definitely had people show up for interviews that were, uh, interesting. But always found a great person in the end.

          It’s all about the process. You just have to sit down and make a clear list of your priorities in a roommate. And write a detailed, clear post about what you are looking for in a roommate. The more info the better, it scares off the weird/lazy people, and attracts the people who also want a good fit.

          And then develop a list of questions for your meeting/interview. I also found the thing that resulted in the best roommate relationships for me, was developing open-ended questions for the interview, rather than yes/no questions. Like: “say your roommate is doing something that really bugs you, what would you do about it?” This is how you really get a feel for someone. One word answers to open-ended questions = next, please! Whatever you do: Do Not Rush the email screening process/roommate interview. Everytime I did that… the roommate relationship blew up quickly. A 40-minute conversation with open-ended questions and real discussion of the tough topics (cleaning, dealing with disagreements, lifestyle, etc) is the minimum needed to find a good roommate.

        • Oh, and if you’re open to it, do not rule out (relatively) neat boys. They are such low drama roommates. All my favorite roommates were boys.

      • Boston Apt Hunting :

        If you have access to any school boards, I’ve noticed that both students leaving and landlords seem to post cheaper than typical yet nicer than typical apartments on there. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found good roommate postings (only if you want grad students/young professionals) and full apartments on there that I can’t seem to find elsewhere. I am looking intending to attend the school, but it seems to me that it could work well for others, too – especially the fully open apartments.

    • The main thing that jumped out at me from your post is the percentage of your take-home pay you would spend on rent if you did not have a roommate. I’m sure others who are more financially savvy than I can say for sure, but isn’t it recommended to keep housing costs to 1/3 of your take-home pay or less?

      I haven’t had a roommate since I was living in the dorms, over 10 years ago, so I can’t offer any advice about finding someone.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        I have heard 25% and yes, I think the lower the better. However, 25% isn’t really feasible with my current salary in my current city (I have a guaranteed raise starting next January which should bump me up and will make living with a roommate more like 25%, living on my own more like 40%, but not counting chickens and all that).

        I’m personally uncomfortable with the idea of having to use a whole paycheck JUST to cover rent. But, I do know plenty of people who do it.

  2. Lion Hunting Lawyer :

    In this color, this suit looks like we’re going out on a lion hunting adventure as a lawyer (at least to me.) Maybe if you changed the color of the best or if the skirt or jacket were contrasting it would be a little less….costumey.

    But if I ever want to dress up as a s*xy lady-lawyer lion hunter with a great deal of disposable income, I know where to go.

  3. hellskitchen :

    TJ – need recommendations for reminder apps that will work on an iPhone

    I need to remember to take my antibiotics every 6 hours. Outlook and iPhone calendars will not let me set the repetition frequency to anything less than 24 hours. Does anyone know of any apps that can give you an alert every few hours? Thanks!

    • Equity's Darling :

      The iPhone has a reminders, though I think only with the most recent iPhone. Siri reminds me of stuff all the time, it’s great.

      My suggested alternative is to just set the four six hour apart reminders on your iCal for one day, and have them repeat daily.

    • You could set up 4 alerts at 6 hours apart. Like 6am, noon, 6pm, midnight, and then have those repeat daily.

      • I do this to remember to take my birth control every day. I just put on alarm on my phone that goes off everyday in addition to the one that wakes me up.

    • The Clock iphone app has a timer. Set it for 6 hours, and then it will ring. When you take your pill, set it for another 6 hours.

    • I have an app called Dosecast that’s specifically for medications, I love it. I think there’s a free version and one that costs money, I just have the free one and it’s fine. I believe the one that costs money lets you see history or something, probably some other things, but for basic use the free one seems good to me.

    • hellskitchen :

      You ladies are brilliant and awesome. Thanks for all the tips

  4. Equity's Darling :

    I actually love the cut of that jacket, though I’m well- aware that any similar (yet much cheaper) alternatives would look terrible on my short-waisted and chesty self.

  5. I feel such a psychic connection to Kat right now — was “window shopping” online last night and saw this suit, and thought, “this is totally going to be a suit of the week pick!”
    FWIW, it’s already hanging in my dream closet ;)

  6. PSA about J. Crew: I ordered a pair of shoes on sale this morning after debating between two pairs. After ordering one, I decided I really wanted both and called to see if they could waive my shipping on the second pair. Not only did they answer the phone on the first ring and agree to waive the shipping on the second pair, she noticed on her own that both pairs combined took the total to over $175, so free shipping would have applied if I had ordered them both together, so she credited me back the shipping on the first pair too. Without me even noticing or asking. Amazing.

    • I don’t order from them often but I think they have excellent customer service. I once got them to waive shipping on the Bromptons Hobo because I called and asked if they could check if it was available in any stores near me. It wasn’t and she was like “were you trying to get it in person to avoid shipping?” and when I said yes, told me she would waive the shipping if I just wanted to order it from her then since it wasn’t available near me.

    • How do you like J.Crew shoes? They hurt my feet so bad. I have boots and sandals from them, and I just can’t wear them for more than 10 min even when I’m standing. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so different from the rest of the world? The worst part is I’ve ordered these online and not at the same time – that’s how lovely they are. They don’t fit me well but are irresistable to look at and I just can’t stop myself from ordering more. They seem too small for my feet – narrow as well as too small for my toes to pass through the straps of the sandals.

  7. Re-doing my closet and need new hangers. Any recs? I am eyeing the skinny velvet ones, but I’m not sure which brand to go with. It seems so luxurious to have a closet full of matching hangers :-)

    • Merabella :

      I got a starter pack of hugable hangers from Target, they are awesome! It came with the skirt clippy things which was nice. They have them at Home Goods too the last time I went, and Container Store. I agree, I feel like a real grown up when my hangers match – instead of the hodge podge of mismatched college style ones I had before.

    • I love the skinny velvet ones! I don’t think it matters what brand. Honestly, I got mine at homegoods and I think over the course of several years, one broke. If you have a Homegoods or TJ Maxx, etc., I’d just get whatever they sell for $6 there.

    • Anonsensical :

      I love the Olka hangers from The Container Store. I don’t use them for sleeveless stuff, but they’re great for eliminating hanger dents in the shoulders of my tops with sleeves.

    • BigLaw Optimist :

      I have skinny velvet ones from BB&B, I think they were the Martha Stewart (or maybe it was the Real Simple?) brand and they’re GREAT.

    • I got a big pack of the skinny hangers from BB&B and love them. Clothes don’t slip off them and I can fit more in my teeny closet.

    • Kontraktor :

      Get the skinny velvet hangers from Costco, if you can. BB&B has the same brand for about 2x-3x as much. Costco has boxes of 30 skinny velvet hangers for 9.99 (might have even been 7.99). I redid my whole closet with them.

    • What are the advantages of the skinny velvet ones? Don’t take up much room and slip-proof? Anything else?

      • ugh, i have those hangers, and about 10 of them have broken in six months! what am i doing wrong?

        • Backgrounder :

          A few of mine have too. I think it’s about not putting clothes on them that are too heavy and handling them gently. I’ve had a few snap after pulling them out of the closet and a few break after putting a heavy pea coat on them. Other than that I love them. Make my closet a lot more streamlined.

        • I have the ones that are not just a bar across, but are kind of a sideways “D” shape. So they have an extra support. (Maybe they call them pants hangers?)

          But yes. They are not for coats or really heavy things. Neither are plastic hangers or those flimsy wire ones from the dry cleaner.

      • Isn’t that enough? I’m guessing you have a large and spacious closet! I used to have the nice wooden hangers, and since I replaced them with the skinny flocked ones, I can hang at least four times as much stuff, without crowding. (All my clothes used to be double- and triple-hung in my tiny old-house closet.) And I never find my more open-necked items lounging on the floor below any more, either.

        I also got cheapish ones, from Winners in Canada. They seem fine.

    • wait, people have matching hangers?

  8. Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

    Any tips for explaining to a 16 1/2 year old girl who says she wants to study for the ACT in early June to improve her score, but then doesn’t study and instead spends the weekend socializing and asking her mother to send her father and me email requests to insure her new car so she can “practice for the test” with mom during her half time there (in addition to the daily practice she does with much more patient dad during her half time here), that her actions don’t match her words? Or should we simply refuse to insure the car until the ACT is over and explain why?

    • Merabella :

      I would go with the latter. I don’t have kids, but trying to explain that actions don’t match words to a teenager seems like it would be pointless. Just use cold hard cash (ie insurance) to get her to do the right thing.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      Maybe I’m missing something but I’m not totally understanding what insuring the car has to do with her studying — does she need a car to get to mom’s house to study? I think pointing out the logic – “Jane, you don’t study for the ACT now. Why would the car being insured help you to get studying done? We will put X amount of dollars toward a class, if you’d like, but we won’t be insuring the car until after the ACT unless we see that you are taking some ownership over studying.”

      As far as motivating my 17 year old sister to study for the SAT/ACTs, besides constant nagging and reminders that “this is your future, not mine, you need to study for YOU,” my parents just put her in a class. I say this as a test prep tutor/instructor – a LOT of 16/17 year olds just don’t have the foresight or internal motivation yet to self-study for standardized tests, and really do benefit from the school like atmosphere of a test prep class where there are regular homework assignments, practice tests, etc.

      • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

        She does not need the car. Her mom drives her to/from school et al during her time and her dad does it during his time.

        The only connection between the car and the ACT is that your *words* are you want to spend your time studying for the ACT, but your *actions* are that you are spending your time driving with your mom in your new car, which your mom just realized is not insured.

        • As the mother of two teenagers who just went through the college application year: Just stay out of it. She isn’t listening, and logic does not apply.

          • I agree. I have a 15 year old who refuses to study, and until recently never had to. The great thing about standardized tests is you can retake them when you screw up and realize you actually need to study.

          • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

            I get this. I really do. And I wish I had the zen to do it.

            But I wonder: if I do this, when her average grades and poor test scores (she wants to retake the ACT this June because she wasn’t happy with her low score the first time) get her into only bad colleges, what happens?

          • Geezerette :

            I agree with Editrix. Let the chips fall where they may, and if she has to go to a third-rate school — or work for a while and retake the SAT — that’s a great life lesson. Who gave her the car, by the way?

          • Then she goes to a “bad” college. It’s not the end of the world.

            I ran away from home in high school; didn’t take the SAT; failed a bunch of classes; worked full time; went to community college; transferred to a state school; worked; went to law school; and now I’m a lawyer – just the same as all my lawyer friends who went to fancy private prep schools and Ivy League colleges. There are many paths in life.

          • What happens? She works hard and gets good grades so she can transfer to a better school.

            Or she makes do, and becomes successful (like many of us) even though she didn’t go to an Ivy League school. It happens.

          • Speaking from experience, my son with poor grades and decent/but not exceptional SAT/ACT scores will be going to a bad college. Not horrible, but not great. I’ve now come to terms with the fact that this was his choice, not mine. Life gives kids tons of opportunities for “do-overs”. If he really wants to go to his first, second, third, fourth or fifth choice college (all of which rejected him), he should study really hard, do well his first year, and transfer. This is what is called natural consequences. Might as well learn that life lesson early on, kids!

          • SF Bay Associate :

            What happens? She goes to a bad school. Or, considering that many bad colleges are very expensive, you tell her you aren’t paying for bad college, but you will pay for community college and she can live at home. Maybe she decides she doesn’t like being at bad college while all her friends are at good colleges far away, and hates the loss of face she suffers from going to community college, so she works hard to earn a transfer. Maybe she isn’t cut out for the rigor of a tough college right now, and that’s ok too. Many kids aren’t at 17. Maybe she’ll drop out and do Teach for America/Peace Corps/AmeriCorps for a year or two while she gets her $h!t together and realize how fortunate she is. Maybe she’ll realize she’s destined to be a fabulous electrician and doesn’t need a college degree at all. She is not Ruined For Life as long as the stupid choices she makes now aren’t irreversible. If she drives that car irresponsibly though, she could be Ruined For Life by killing someone or herself. And if she does, heaven forbid, could the victims come after your husband’s assets?

          • Possibly worse than sending an undisciplined, indifferent student off to a bad college is sending an indifferent, undisciplined student off to an excellent, very expensive college, at which she is unlikely to qualify for aid, and where she will take the place of another, more deserving applicant. Not everybody belongs at a “good” school, and what’s good for some can be disastrous for others.

            But more to the point, the discipline and direction must come from her, not from an adult, not even a parent.

          • Meh. My sis studied hard for the tests, did great, got into her dream school (a “good” college) and dropped out after a semester. Four years later, she’s still working retail with no plans to change that. Meanwhile, her friends who went to “bad” colleges are graduating and getting real jobs and moving on with life.

            Nothing is guaranteed.

    • Anastasia :

      Maybe I’m crazy, but I didn’t “study” for SAT or ACT (and did very well on both)… those tests are of cumulative knowledge you were supposed to have gained over your 11-12 years in school. If you didn’t learn it in the last 11 years, how much difference is a couple of weekends going to really make?

      I also don’t see the relation to the car. If you wouldn’t insure the car in the absence of looming ACT, no reason to start now.

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Studying for the SAT is a relatively recent phenomenon (within the last 15 years I’d guess) but is becoming more and more common. Fun fact – SAT doesn’t stand for anything. It once stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, but it doesn’t actually measure aptitude. So now all SAT stands for is SAT.

        I would say probably 80% of students at my suburban upper middle class high school studied for or prepared for the SAT in some way. The SAT is drastically different from most tests high school students take, and most students do substantially better with preparation for its specific format.

      • Studying for the ACT/SAT is mainly learning test-taking strategy, not substantive knowledge.

        For the OP, the most effective bargaining chip my parents used in high school was my car. They set a GPA they felt was achievable, but would certainly require me to pay careful attention to my studies and basically if I didn’t meet that GPA, they took my keys and I had to get permission to use one of their cars. (They did make occasional exceptions when my course load was particularly challenging and they felt that I got an “A for effort” and put in the amount/quality of work they wanted to see but fell short in my actual grades. Physics and I were not friends…)

        I would tell her that the ACT/SAT are her ticket to college. She needs to study and until you see that effort on her part, you will not be insuring her car. Unfortunately you have to hope Mom is on board with this…

        • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

          Mom is not on board with this (where do you think daughter learned/inherited her lax ways?). But, Mom does not have car insurance (hers belongs to her employer) and is unlikely to take out a whole new policy to insure daughter’s new car. And daughter, being under 18, cannot take out her own policy.

          But I appreciate that I am on the right track that the car is something she cares about. It is all foreign to me because I was at a boarding school that did not allow cars (so not a bargaining chip) and I was highly self-motivated on academic tasks (so no one needed bargaining chips with me). So I really look at her and wonder whether aliens have landed and invaded my home.

          It is not about punishing her. It more about not becoming accomplices to her bad choices. We have said many times that we agree with her own self-assessment that she wants to and needs to improve her scores. If she chooses not to study and to spend her time doing other things, that is her choice. But it is my choice not to pay money to insure her car so that the “other things” she is doing include driving around town with mom “practicing” for her drivers test.

          • Aliens have not invaded your home, although I can see why you think that. It’s also very different parenting a child who grew up with two different styles of parenting. Especially when you are the “strict” set. I feel you… My stepdaughter is younger but I basically feel like our hard work trying to instill responsibility goes out the window every other week when she is at mom’s…

            Hang in there though; I do think your instincts are spot on. You have to speak to teens in their language and the consequences that seem to work best involve curtailing their socializing which means no car, no phone, no computer, no going to friends, etc. Admittedly hard to do when you only control those things half the time.

            A thought on dealing with mom though… Who is paying for college? Is there a court order about it? If you have any flexibility I might suggest to mom that you are unwilling to pay for college unless you see daughter being responsible and therefore you want to take the car away so she learns to be responsible now. (Basically threaten mom to do things your way or you won’t pay). I’m sure the success with this tactic depends very much on your specific situation but just a thought. (It’s been one I am toying with for us because mom is not in a position to contribute at all to college tuition whereas we are. There is no court order regarding any support past high school graduation).

          • Is that car insured? Mom should not be letting her practice in an uninsured car!

            (Which I recognize is the point, but bad news if mom has been doing that up till now.)

          • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

            @ KLG – THANK YOU for your post. And actually thank you to everyone who did not write, “If you wanted to control the parenting, you should have had your own children.” I hear that a lot IRL.

            There is nothing in the divorce order about who pays for college. There was also nothing in the order about who pays for private school, which both children were attending when the mediator wrote the agreement. Don’t get me started on all the reasons I think the mediator committed malpractice.

            In any case, we have been begging mom to talk to us about paying for college (aid? if so, who does FAFSA? how much will each house contribute? etc) since her freshman year. So far, no discussion has taken place. But our situation is “special” because mom has mental health challenges that the family has been denying for decades. So in your situation, I think this may well work and is worth trying. When we attempt these kinds of things, we also tell daughter what we are doing with/saying to mom so that we are transparent 360 degrees and no one can tell tales.

            @ Hel-lo – Welcome to the world of dealing with my step-wife. I do not know whether the car is insured because I have not seen an insurance policy for it. Yes, I have asked for it. No, it has not been produced. We were told months ago (when maternal grandma who did not need the car first gave it to daughter) that it was insured. We were told this morning that the insurance does not cover drivers under 21. Who knows what the truth is.

            This is a chronic issue with her. Paperwork is not important and never gets done. Which is all well and good until daughter has an accident and dad and I lose the house because mom couldn’t be bothered to do paperwork and there isn’t any/sufficient insurance. Ditto every other paperwork-related thing in life: school records, medical records, camp receipts, you name it. But I digress.

            We long ago learned, for our own safety and the health of our marriage, to deal with it ourselves assuming that mom won’t. At this point, my efforts are also turning toward giving daughter opportunities to learn how this stuff works so she doesn’t turn out like mom.

          • Anon for this :

            You’re the stepmom. Mom’s not on board. Take my advice, having been there – you’re opinion and your angst – driven by love and caring – are harming the relationship, not helping her.

            No is a complete sentence. Assuming you and your husband agree, do not insure the car. At all. If you find she is driving an uninsured car (how is that even possible?) stop it to the extent you can. If it is your car, take away the keys. If it is her car or her mother’s car, you’re more out of luck – but you can refuse to let her drive it during your parenting time and can ban it from your property. Theoretically you could also narc on her, but that’s easier said than done.

            The three adults need to be on the same page. You clearly aren’t on the same page. Don’t compare yourself to her – you’re not her mom. Your actions and words are driven by love, but you’re not going to get through to a 16 year old with them.

            If you and your husband are in agreement, you need to set up rules for your house. I called my house a benevolent dictatorship. One child decided to comply, one child left for his mother, and their life paths illustrate the wisdom in each choice. You and your husband make the decisions in your home, not the kid. The kid, however, might decide to reject them and be with mom full time. That’s okay if your husband can deal with it.

            We did 5:30 am study sessions. I threw a wet washcloth on her ONCE. After that she was there before me. Also hired a private tutor. There was not much fun during the ramp up to the test and the last year of improving grades, but it taught her discipline, and she could then handle college. Way better than insuring a car.

          • a) I know people whose parents would take things away, etc. to try to get them to do things like study. From seeing the way they acted, I think this just made everyone more stubborn. Most of those people are still (years later) having issues with their parents and not doing well in terms of colleges/careers. You could have her father (depending on the situation, but it seems that you and mom don’t see eye to eye here and this might stir less muck) talk to her about paying for insurance if she shows her ability to stay with her word. That way it isn’t “they aren’t being fair by requiring I get a certain grade” or such and you are saying you will pay, just not now.

            b) If there isn’t anyting about who pays for school, you may want to have your husband go to the attorney to have a revised agreement. I know a lot of people came into my old office to do this once they realized that their ex wouldn’t pay without a court order.

            c) to the other posters: when I went through, there were suggestions to take SAT (and PSAT) prep, but I didn’t (and neither did most friends) and we mostly did very well. Most of the people that I know who did prep didn’t do well, so I think it is a self-selective group. I remember my high school required SAT prep courses, but they were entirely useless.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      I’m for treating her like the adult she claims she wants to be. She should make a business case to you and her dad about why/how insuring her car will result in her studying more and her getting into a good college with scholarships. A well thought out presentation with logic and reasoning that she is fully prepared for. If she can’t handle that, she isn’t mature enough to drive. Perhaps also have her take a practice ACT under testing conditions (timed, no cheating) and if her score is above pre-agreed score X, then you will provisionally insure the car for a month, at which point she will need to demonstrate improvement with another practice ACT. If the score doesn’t go up by a predetermined amount, no insurance next month. Clear expectations, clear consequences. If she doesn’t like the terms, she can get insurance money somewhere else.

      • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

        This is a fabulous idea, but it would never fly in our house for so many reasons that I can’t even discuss. I love it, though.

        • Anne Shirley :

          I’m confused. She owns a car that is uninsured? Did she buy it herself? Don’t you need proof of insurance to register a car? I don’t think this is tied to the ACT at all, but also think you need to get her insured or off the road.

      • Wow, SF Bay Associate, if I ever have children, I’m totally coming to you for ideas. This is fantastic.

    • My parents would have made the car (and the socializing with the friends, frankly) contingent upon my receiving a certain score on the ACT. I don’t think explaining works on teenagers, but good old-fashioned bribery tends to.

    • Having read the entire thread, I cannot say much about making someone study for the ACT (you really can’t give someone an internal motivation they don’t already have) other than perhaps scheduling a time for them to study that they can’t wiggle out of and then hoping for the best.

      But as for the car and the uninsuredness. If its not insured, she doesn’t drive it. Period. The legal ramifications for her (and heaven forbid you) if she gets into an accident, which 16 year olds do ALL THE TIME, are very serious if she’s uninsured. Take the keys away tonight. Seriously.

      • This x 1,000,000. Do not back down here – she should not be on the road in this vehicle in any way, shape or form without proper insurance. TCFKAG is correct – the crash rates for this age group (and especially for the first year after being licensed) are higher than any other age group of drivers. And if she’s irresponsible about other parts of her life, it’s more likely that this will carry into her driving habits as well. Driving is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT (I can bet you $$ it says that – repeatedly – in her driver’s ed materials and the state licensing handbook), so do not feel bad in the least for denying her this privilege until you believe she is ready for it. Parents must be the enforcers when it comes to driving and teens – there aren’t enough cops on the road to do this for you – and research in this area shows that the rules parents lay down around the teen driving experience actually make a big difference in how teens respond. There is no shame in being the “tough” parent on this subject. Lives – including her own-may be at stake here.

    • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

      I think I wasn’t clear in my original post that she wants to drive the car to practice for the drivers test. My post should have read:

      Any tips for explaining to a 16 1/2 year old girl who says she wants to study for the ACT in early June to improve her score, but then doesn’t study and instead spends the weekend socializing and asking her mother to send her father and me email requests to insure her new car so she can “practice for the DRIVERS LICENSE test” with mom during her half time there (in addition to the daily DRIVING practice she does with much more patient dad during her half time here), that her actions don’t match her words? Or should we simply refuse to insure the car until the ACT is over and explain why?

      • As the parent of a 17 year old and a 16 year old (one of whom is attending the “bad” college, above), I wouldn’t insure a car unless there is a full time licensed driver to drive it. I would never insure a car for a child with a learner’s permit. It’s unnecessary (just practice with dad’s car or mom’s car), and expensive. After my husband bought a new car, we took his old car completely off our policy until our son passed his road test. We didn’t need to insure it simply so that he could practice-and he didn’t need to think he had his “own” car until he was able to pass the road test and contribute to insurance.

        • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

          This is the position my husband and I are taking. Mom wants to insure it now, but (since we have all agreed, Mom grudgingly and after several months of complaining about it, that the car will be added to our policy because Mom doesn’t have a policy and daughter can’t buy one until she is 18) wants us to do it. We are refusing until after the ACT and after daughter gets her license.

          The car is owned by maternal grandma and is still registered to her and on her policy. But it lives at mom’s house. We had agreed that when daughter passes, we will change the registration and add it to our policy. We had been told that in the meantime it was on grandma’s policy, but we haven’t seen a copy of the policy. We are now told that grandma’s policy excludes drivers under 21.

          So we can refuse to add the car to our policy. And we can tell daughter that she can’t drive it. But we can’t literally, physically, enforce that.

          • Can you make the future availability of car contingent on complying with the “no driving grandma’s car” rule? If you find out that she’s driving it at any point prior to you adding it to your policy it will add X amount of time before she gets to use it after getting her license?

            Alternatively, can you pull a Sound of Music and remove some vital part of the car (may the battery) until she earns the privilege of using the car? Presumably this works if nobody else is using it presently.

          • Another anon for this :

            Can you promise that if she doesn’t stop driving the car from Grandma w/out insurance you *will* report her to the authorities? Yes, this will infuriate your stepdaughter, her mom and maybe her dad, but driving w/out insurance is asking for trouble. Also your stepdaughter doesn’t sound like she’d be a responsible driver (not yet anyway) which puts all of you at even more risk (legal? financial? emotional?) if she injures or kills somebody.
            I love the idea of pulling a Sound of Music, but is this legal? Where would you hide the battery? And would stepdaughter, mom, or grandma just run out to Sears and get a new one?

      • no longer "job hunting" :

        When my sister was that age she was terrible at organizing her life. My mom took her to a bookstore and let her pick out an ACT prep book that worked for her. She helped her make a schedule about how to get through the book between the date the book was purchased and the date of the test. It ended up being a few hours of studying per day. My mom then helped my sister schedule the time into her daily life. It was time consuming and challenging, but my sister would not have been able to tackle the studying without that structure. She is now in graduate school in the top school nationwide in her area of study.

        I also think the driver’s test is important. Being able to drive yourself places is an adult skill (unless you live in Manhattan). However, the studying is not as intensive. She could probably drive for a few hours every weekend, and do the studying for the test for x hours per day M-F. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive. She should definitely not be driving an uninsured car. This may also be a learning opportunity for her–show her how to pay it, deposit money into her checking account, and make her pay it?

        Finally, there’s no point in taking the test again if you are not going to score better. What a waste of time! She could spend the test day driving or being with friends. If she hasn’t studied, she shouldn’t take it again. You can tell her that if she’s not going to take the time to study, you won’t pay for the test and she’ll be stuck with the score she has.

        • Parenting Advice (skip if not interested) :

          I agree with you that there is enough time to do both. But daughter does not and will not engage in any discussions about structuring her time the way your sister and mom did together.

          • My sister would never have gotten through her college applications if she hadn’t REALLY wanted to go on a trip with her friends and that trip was contingent upon her finishing the applications. She went to a great school and was at the top of her class, but she has always been a procrastinator. I think using the car as the bargaining chip is fine. But even though it sounds like your stepdaughter is difficult, her father should try to sit down with her and talk about her goals (where does she want to go to college? what does she want to study? how can you help her get there?). Maybe he could take her out for dinner by himself and try to get at these decisions. Empowering your stepdaughter to make these decisions for herself will be important for her future career.

    • After another spat tonight with my (biological) daughter, who is bound for a “bad” college that absolutely corresponds to her choices and level of effort wrt schoolwork, I want to thank all Corporettes who contributed to this discussion. It is a difficult time for both me and daughter, and you have helped.

    • AnonIguess. :

      Can you sign her up for an ACT test prep class and let her drive to the classes? If you know where she wants to go college, you can show her the typical ACT score needed to be admitted. If she tests at around that score on a practice test- why should she waste time studying?

      I have a 16.5 year old. He took a prep class, did minimal outside studying and did fine on the SAT. Its not a big deal. I think parents give their children unnecessary stress. When we make children achieve artificial goals, they end up in the wrong place and might not even notice until they are much older. If you allow her to set her own goals, she won’t be blaming your step-parenting for her troubles when she is in her 40’s.

  9. I don’t know if anyone else remembers AIM’s brilliant French Connection dress from awhile back. Well, Talbots has a new dress in their Spring/Summer collection that is quite reminiscent of it that I like a lot (don’t own it of course) but I thought I’d share. Posted in subsequent comment to avoid moderation.

  10. I agree with Kat — you need something under this suit, especially if you are at all generous of chest. However, I always think finding the right neckline is difficult. I guess the right camisole would work, but I am very afraid of the broad expanse of sternum and more that I would expose.

  11. Profitability :

    I just found out from a senior associate that the partners have been doing some serious grumbling about my profitability, and now I’m worried about my job. My largest client hasn’t paid their bill for most of last year and I do a lot of pro bono work. According to the associate, more than a few partners are making snarky comments about how I just want to work for free and there’s no room for people like that in this (100+ attorney) firm. I exceeded my billable hour requirement last year and had more billable hours that many associates in my department.

    I’m a junior associate and I really have no control over what clients I work for or whether they pay their bill. I don’t get any information about who’s paying their bill and who isn’t. I’ve always been told that as long as I make my hours – which I did – paid service credits aren’t all that relevant until you’re a mid- or senior-level associate. Additionally, I just received stellar comments at my review a few weeks ago and was tied for the highest raise in my class. This issue was not brought up in my review.

    I feel totally blindsided by all this and I’m not sure what to do. Now that the firm is busier, I’m working with a lot of other (hopefully paying, but I have no way of knowing) clients and things have tapered off with my biggest client for the moment. I can’t get out of my pro bono commitments; I originated the client, I’m the only associate on the case, and we’re headed to trial this year. My mentor has been trying to give me paying work, but he didn’t tell me that this had become as much of a problem as it apparently has. Advice/comments? TIA!

    • Associate. :

      Hopefully they were just blowing off steam and joking around. But if not, maybe find a mid to senior level associate you trust and find out what they would do (sometimes partners think only “what can I do to help this person” rather than “what can this person do to help themselves”.) Perhaps you can find out which partners have the better paying clients and try to get work from them.

      But I do think its unfair if you get scr*wed for non-paying clients, as you really can’t control that — but it is sometimes the nature of the beast.

    • Ugh, I’m sorry – that sucks. First, consider the source. Was this senior associate telling you this information in an effort to help you out? I have a friend who works closely with a senior associate and the SA frequently tells her things like “you don’t work enough hours” when my friend billed 2200+ hours last year (well more than our minimum, but as a point of comparison, the SA billed 2600+).

      Second, who is your mentor? Would he have any information about whether this is a problem, or should you ask someone else? Do you have a work coordinator? Can you talk to him or her about getting more billable work?

    • Was it mentor-type advice? If not, I’d be careful around this associate and his/ her circle of friends at the office and just keep on keepin’ on. Even if it WAS mentor advice, I’d take it with a grain of salt and be careful around the associate and his/ her office buddies.

      • Profitability :

        Yeah, you definitely have to consider the source with this kind of thing, but this SA is reliable. She’s been a really great mentor to me and is a super sweet person. We belong to a non-work related charitable organization together, so we socialize outside of work fairly often. If it were coming from anyone else I probably wouldn’t take it as seriously.

    • I would start putting feelers out for a new job. Beyond that, I think Associate. at 4:22’s advice is sound.

      • Associate from 4:22 :

        I also agree that, unfortunately, it might be time to contact a recruiter. Better to be walking out the door of your own volition then pushed.

        • Profitability :

          Thanks. I started working with a recruiter several months ago because of an unrelated trend that I’m not pleased with at the firm, but the recruiter seemed to think I wouldn’t get much activity until I’m a third year. Should I contact her again and ask her to step up her efforts? Can I work with more than one recruiter?

          • Associate from 4:22 :

            Yes, you can work with more than one recruiter (I wouldn’t go much above 2-3). Just let them know that they need to tell you before they submit you for any job, so that you aren’t submitted twice, because that causes a whole legal kerfuffle.

            Also, there are literally tons of listings in my area for “2-4″ year associates — its one of the hottest areas of lateral movement right now. Don’t just depend on your recruiter, start looking at listings and applying on your own and/or at least reaching out to your contact network and hearing what they know.

          • I’d contact her again, let her know you’re even more interested in moving and that she should step up her efforts. I think most recruiters will dump you if they find out you’re working with another one, but I may be wrong.

          • Associate at 4:22 :

            All of the recruiters I’m working with know I’m working with others. The first one I talked to suggested it. Maybe it’s a market specific thing?

  12. Best White Tee Shirt :

    Does anyone have reccomendations for the best white tee shirts. Good quality (non-see through, won’t stretch out while wearing), good shape (fitted without being too tight) and good material (basic cotton; no slub cotton or woven (?) cotton).

    Thanks!

  13. Help me not go insane threadjack: Interviewed for a great job. Potential employer loved me, but is worried about conflicts. Conflicts can be worked around. They will make a decision in the next two weeks. Any advice for not going crazy while I wait to hear back? Thank you!

  14. question for bay area corporettes :

    Bay Area ladies – are there any patent/IP organizations you are involved in? I’d be interesting in joining one (preferably closer to SV than SF) and would love some recommendations. TIA!

  15. question for bay area ladies :

    Bay Area ladies – are there any patent/IP organizations you are involved in? I’d be interesting in joining one (preferably closer to SV than SF) and would love some recommendations. TIA!

  16. River Song :

    If you were in my field (academia), I would suggest writing and submitting an incredible paper. Get to work on something productive and utterly absorbing, whatever it may be for you. Begin a big new project: Start writing a novel, organize your photos into a book, clean your house. I find going for runs (with very fast music) also helps me try not to worry.

  17. I’m a junior associate at a mid size firm with a few different types of practice, that vary widely. A few weeks ago I was moved from one practice area (that I loved) to another practice area (that I have no interest in, and there is a lot less work available). At the time I made it clear that I didn’t want to leave where I was, but wasn’t given a choice. I was told it had nothing to do with my performance and I believe that. I’m hating things now and wondering what to do. My hours are down and I probably won’t hit my target this year. There aren’t a lot of jobs in my location so leaving would be tough but not impossible, but it certainly wouldn’t look good at interviews that my hours are down and I look like I’m leaving a place after I haven’t worked there for long. I feel betrayed and am feeling really negative about the workplace now. Help?

    • Associate at 4:22 :

      Start looking for another job. This may be (probably is) their way of transitioning you out.

      I could be wrong though. Ask a senior associate you trust if this has happened to anyone else.

    • Anon for this :

      I hate to say it, but I agree that you should start looking for a job. If the of practice group partners really valued you, they would not let you be moved. And I don’t see any practical reason why they would put you in a group without enough work to go around.

    • Interviewers won’t know your hours are down unless you tell them and that is certainly something you can spin positively. You can say “I was very much enjoying my work in practice group A; I found it to be very busy and challenging. I was recently moved to Practice Group B and there just isn’t as much work. I miss the challenge of Practice Group A and am therefore looking for new opportunities.”

  18. I like the cut but the color just bothers me… Maybe I’m just not used to.

  19. I’m sitting in a lobby waiting for a job interview, and I just realized I left my suit jacket in my car!! I don’t think I want this job anyway, but I feel so dumb and I already checked in with the receptionist, so I don’t feel like I can go down and get it. Ahh!

    • Also, I am wearing a shirt I love, but rarely wear because there’s a stain on the back.

      At least I took the rubber band off my wrist?

    • Okay, this is too late, but I’d start the interview with a light hearted “oh my lord, I just realized I left my suit jacket in the car” so they know you knew you were supposed to have one.

  20. Anon in the Midwest :

    I think this is really beautiful, albeit a little safari as pointed out above. But the belt puzzles me. Does it fasten in the back somehow? I’d love a few more views, Bergdorf.

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