Maxi Dresses and the Office

maxi for work.indexedCan you wear maxi dresses at the office? I’m hoping Reader J is joking:

Are maxie dresses appropiate at the office in the Summer? I’ve seen two ladies, one younger in her 20′s perhaps, the other older, 40′s maybe, wearing maxie dresses in the summer. The younger girl wore one once that was bright orange and strapless like the one in the link with nothing over it. The other lady has worn halter top and spaghetti strap maxie dress and will ususally wear a sweater or wrap with it. Either way, is a maxie dress ever okay for the office in the summer? Thanks.

You’re pranking me, right? My only thought is: NONONONONONONONONONONONONONO. No. N. O. I mean, look at the model — do you think “oh, how competent,” or “I think I’d like her on my team”?  Not really, right?  And bear in mind this is a static image; in real life she’d probably be itchy from the smocking and obsessively yanking that neckline up.  (For the record, I’m also against halter tops or spaghetti straps of any kind in the office.)

Let me take a deep breath and step away from the strapless, smocked monstrosity above, and say that I actually have thought about talking about “how to wear maxi dresses” to the office on here a few times because, many moons ago, I saw a column in Lucky Magazine where Jean Godfrey-June styled a brown maxi skirt with a white shrunken blazer and I actually thought, oh, how cute, that might be appropriate for the office. Sort of similar to the below:

maxis to work

And every time I’ve thought about it I’ve asked myself, REALLY, Kat? Maxi dresses at the office? No no no no no. So… I have to trust my gut reaction here, and I cannot endorse a maxi dress or maxi skirt at the office unless you really, really have a very creative, free wheeling kind of office, in which case, hey, knock yourself out.  (And I say this as someone who loves me a maxi skirt for the weekend, or for summer nights, or for working from home — super comfortable!)  They’re just too vacation-y, too breezy, too “where’s my mai tai?” for the office.

The only possible caveat that I’ll make is: if you’re pregnant. Because a) pregnant ladies look the best in maxi dresses (at least, that’s what I thought when I was pregnant) and b) there are so few cute work-appropriate clothes that maxi dresses might be the lesser of numerous other evils.

Ladies, sound off — are maxi dresses or maxi skirts ever appropriate for the office, or am I overreacting? (And if so, which are the proper shoes to wear with them, assuming that sandals are not appropriate for your office?)

Comments

  1. medical tj / possibly tmi:

    My Gyn is putting me on Provera to jump start my cycle (and then start me on a pill to keep it regular) — does anyone have experience with Provera for this (or another) purpose? I tend toward bad migraines and am concerned they’ll be exascerbated (or that I’ll get super PMS grumpy and emotional).

    TIA!

    • Diana Barry :

      I took provera before taking clomid to get pg. Didn’t notice any mood changes at all. I don’t get migraines though.

      Just a caution – putting you on the pill will not keep your cycle regular, but will just mask whatever issue is causing you not to have a period in the first place. I was not ovulating and didn’t have a period for over a year; they never found out what caused it, but luckily after I had my first kid it resolved itself.

      • Yeah – this is a bandaid solution. Hormonal birth control give you an artificial period and blocks ovulation entirely. You’re regular because the pills make you regular, not because your cycle has actually regularized itself. I’d frankly find a new gyn or talk to an endocrinologist for a second opinion.

      • Thanks for your response — I’ve been pretty thoroughly checked out and do ovulate, so I’m not too worried about masking an underlying issue — just a little worried ;)

        • Anonymous :

          A friend did the same thing. She was on the pill for 3 months. Then – BAM! pregnant first month off – they were happy.

          I didn’t like Provera at all. After going off the pill, I was anything but regular. After hitting day 80ish, doctor put me on provera to jumpstart things. She wanted me to do it for 3 months (the 10 day cycle 3 times). I barely made it through two. I was exhausted, hungry, and bloated. I put on 5 pounds both times I took it – lost the weight during the “off weeks”.

    • PMS is bad!

      • I was on Provera once, a rather long time ago. It will give you your period, and I think the PMS/cramping was indeed worse, but my memory is fuzzy. There is no, as in zero, point to taking it – at the time, it was my mother freaking out that my cycle didn’t kick in every month – once I was off the Provera, the birth control regulated my hormones, but not my menstruation. Turns out, I have endometriosis (so I varied from once a year for maybe three days, to sixteen straight weeks of nonstop bleeding) and a few months ago begged my doctor for a hysterectomy to make the pain stop. If there’s a chance you have endometriosis, do NOT take the Provera (getting your period will make the endometriosis worse).

        Like E. and Diana Barry said, it’s a bandaid solution, and not a good one.

    • Probably too late to see this. But if my memory is right, provera is progesterone based? I think you should talk to your doctor to discuss your concerns, because while there is some truth in some of these responses, how hormones will affect you depends on your hormone levels. I have endometriosis (and I’m peri-menopausal), and progesterone does not make it worse (but estrogen based hormones do). I also have migraine with aura and because of that, I chose not to take estrogen-based pills to keep my cycle and bleeding “regular” because of the increased risk of stroke for people with aura who take estrogen. That said, because my hormone levels are going down, I tend to be in a better mood (and my skin = gorgeous) when I am on birth control pills.

      Trying to pinpoint your hormone levels requires blood tests at various and specific points during your cycle. It may also involve doing a uterine biopsy, which is painful and uncomfortable, and may not be conclusive.

      • Yep, Provera is progesterone-based, but if endometriosis is involved, getting your period is bad one way or the other (the endometrial cells basically spew everywhere and cause more damage, which then can cause more pain). Estrogen just makes everything worse – pre-surgery, my doctor tried medically inducing menopause (at age 30!) with drugs to check my estrogen levels, which failed miserably. The pill did keep my ovulation/happiness/skin clearer too, but I often didn’t get my period whether or not I took the sugar pill week. Then again, I had to stay on a continuous-level pill, so if you take a varied-level hormone pill, that might change things.

        I thought about it more last night, and I think my period after Provera also lasted much longer, too.

    • I think it’s very rude for the FIRST COMMENT on a post to be a threadjack.

    • I took progesterone a few months ago after my period didn’t show for 3 months. I do not normally get particularly moody, just a little more short-tempered, but holy crankiness! I was a wreck. I actually stopped taking it a couple days early because I was I was so rage-filled about the littlest things. Thankfully everything worked as planned and I have not needed to use it since (my gyn gave me a few rounds of pills in case I needed them again).

  2. I have seen hijabis wear maxi dresses or skirts and look very competent and professional, but in those cases the entire look does not say “beachy” in the slightest. Check out some of these looks and tell me they aren’t professional: http://www.hijabstyle.co.uk/search/label/workwear#.T-NZJ9xYtoI

    • Tired Squared :

      This.

    • Absolutely. I think if you wear long skirts for religious reasons, absolutely maxis are fine. And you can rock it.

    • Yes, but that’s different. If you always dress is modest Muslim style, then of course you can find a way to make a maxi dress or skirt look professional. But for secular folks, I think it’s virtually impossible to make it work — unless, like Kat said, you work in a very creative environment.

      • Amelia Bedelia :

        I agree. Perhaps it depends on how you define “maxi-dress”. I think of the dresses in the link as religiously conservative dresses. A maxi-dress is very light and airy and beachy and sleeveless/strapless/spaghetti . . . It is hard to define, but just different.

        Plus, if you normally wear pencil skirts and pant suits and then you show up in a long, patterned, flowy skirt, it just screams “I’m about to go on vacation” and/or “I didn’t have real work clothes clean” to me.

    • Seems like the major difference here isn’t so much in the length of the skirt, but rather in the suitability of a dress with a strapless / spaghetti strap top – vs the much more conservative options presented in the link above.

      Same comparison could be made for a knee length sundress vs other conservative types of dress (pencil skirt & nice blouse)

      • I think the pattern in that strapless maxi-dress pictured is way too beachy. I think if it were a more conservative pattern or a solid, it could be OK.

    • I’ve worn a neutral (gream, grey, peach) maxi dress outfit to work, with a navy cardigan (buttoned) and a brown belt, with flat shoes. I work in a more “free wheeling” environment though, but it’s one of my most complimented outfits.

    • That website is fascinating, and I love their work picks! So chic.

    • Some of the most elegant women I’ve seen in public have been women in hijab and similarly modest outfits, especially because they choose extremely high-quality apparel and were very well groomed. I remember once admiring the style of a woman at the airport wearing an LV scarf as a hijab, an impeccable trench, and a long skirt with great shoes.

      Non-religious women who don’t usually wear those types of outfits would probably look really odd.

      I did once (for about 2 seconds) think of wearing a maxi with a structured jacket (a fav weekend look of mine) on casual friday but couldn’t get myself to go through with it. Maybe in a really creative field.

      • The women who wear “hijabi outfits” without hijab don’t look weird at all! Check out how Turkish women dress (I wish I could shut up about Turkey but it’s such an awesome place) – many of the women who do not wear hijab dress exactly in the same manner as those who do. And it looks just fine.

    • Ah, thank you for the nod (errr, but that’s not my blog). Kanye and I have been duking this out on tumblr because even though I do wear ankle length dresses to work sometimes, I wouldn’t wear a maxi dress to work. ESPECIALLY the kinds Kat refers to. However, if knee-length jersey or knit dresses are appropriate for your office (with or without sleeves, definitely with substantial straps), then I don’t see why maxi dresses wouldn’t be appropriate. I’m seeing more variety in maxi dress fabric and construction so I’m slowly thinking it may be ok. If they ever come out with a pinstripe or houndstooth maxi dress, I am all over that.

      • I was going to post that this is one of the few things Ru and I disagree about. I’ve worn maxi dresses (lilac and white chevron stripes, cobalt blue unstructured cardigan, skinny black belt) and skirts (royal blue, black, & kelly green, long navy cotton open tunic, skinny belt) to the office on cazh Fridays, and will continue to do so.

        HOWEVER, I am a partner, and I have zero f—s left to give, so use your own judgment. I also practice in an outdoorsy, small city where the dress code is generally relaxed.

    • Another Muslim anon :

      As a non-hijabi Muslim, I have struggled with this question. I do not wear short skirts, but sometimes want to mix it up and wear dresses/skirts rather than pants to the office. I have asked myself time and again if I could get away with a structured maxi dress or skirt to the office. I have also considered Ru’s suggestions from previous discussions to try a sheath dress over slacks. I have decided, time and again, that without the “hijab excuse,” it looks really weird to dress this way. This type of styling is perhaps chic and professional in theory, but looks very odd in real life, I’ve found, because it’s just not on-trend in any way. (Unlike, say, in the Friends timeframe when Rachel wore long-skirt suits very stylishly to her job at Ralph Lauren.) Maybe for the Turkish women in the Turkish environment, it makes sense. But for a non-identifiably Muslim woman in the U.S., it looks odd. I think. And, again, I really really want to think otherwise for my own selfish reasons!

  3. My office is admittedly more casual but I wore maxi dresses to the office as I recovered from having my appendix out. I paired them up with a nice cardigan & ballet flats, but it was the only thing I could wear that was loose enough around my midsection. I gave my bosses the heads up before hand & it was fine.

  4. K... in transition :

    Maybe this is because I have too much free time while I search for new skype/phone therapy clients and/or an office job, but what’s the deal with male friends allowing their relationship partners to dictate their old pre-relationship friendships?! I have multiple long time (10 or 15+ year) friendships with males who are in relationships with women who start drama if I call or post something on fb that tags them or whatnot. I am such a tshirt/jeans gal who tries to get to know friends’ partners that I can’t imagine I’m any sort of threat, so what’s the deal?! And worse, what’s the deal with people allowing their mates to get crabby with their friends?!

    • Elle Urker :

      Honestly, I’m not a frequent poster but I lurk a lot and love your posts and your advice… BUT in real life, all of the women I know who (1) say that other women start drama or (2) have lots of male friends whose partners seems to be “irrationally jealous” are in the wrong. Honestly, These women are generally all “bishes be jelz”, “men are better friends” and what they normally mean is that they sustain slightly flirty relationships with their male friends which some other women find disrepectful.

      I mean, how do you know these women start drama? Your male friend tells you so? That is HIM starting drama! His job as a grown a** man is to set clear boundaries with his gf, not run to you whining about his relationship. And honestly, if every single gf has a problem with it… it may be inappropriate. You may mean nothing by it but without the context of history, knowledge of the in-jokes and even facial expressions (fb/text messages are notoriously ambiguous), it may come off completely differently.

      See: http://jezebel.com/5916743/the-tyranny-of-shes-just-jealous

      • K... in transition :

        I say this because I grew up in a small town with male cousins and their male friends. After leaving that town, most of my friends are females, so now I have a pretty equal mix of friends. I’ve yet to have a friend’s boyfriend get upset about something on facebook but find it surprisingly common to either hear my (male) friends tell me that their girlfriends have gotten upset with me or with someone else’s comments. I’ve also heard people at larger gatherings discuss this and it’s always women who bring it up with the men scratching their heads. In my own experience, I’ve had moments over the years where something silly has turned into a friend having to either hear it or try to apologize for things… but I was speaking more in the general sense than specific to me. It’s something so lost on me that I’m confused by it…

      • I agree with this completely. I have many guy friends, and not one has ever told me their gf or wife had a problem with me. Every woman I’ve heard complain about this is also doing stuff like “can’t wait to see you babe!! xo” Not saying this is the case with K, but really, how can these woman start drama? its the guy that likes the drama. Otherwise you wouldn’t know about it.

      • Yes, I’m speculating here, but if it happens very often, there might be something off with your behaviour towards your guy friends. I normally get along just fine with both male and female friends, but there is one woman who makes the hair on my back stand on end. It’s something about her flirtiness with all her male collegues – she seems to flirt openly with everybody. My boyfriend, who sometimes has to work with her, has also picked up on this. He finds it flattering, and says that it’s just her way of interacting. I know that she has a steady boyfriend (he was there when I first met her, and she really acted the same), but still, I am uneasy around her.

        Would you describe yourself as rather touchy, or overly friendly with you guy friends in a way that the significant others may misunderstand?

        No offense, and I’m not saying that there is a reason to be jealous. But it might be an explanation.

        • K... in transition :

          haha no no, this isn’t just a me thing, I posted it truly because I’ve been hearing it from male friends complaining about their girlfriends’ reactions to other female friends’ posts and such. I’ve had it happen to me (with a guy whom I introduce as my brother and who introduced me to her as his sister, nonetheless!) but it was because he was fb friends with her relatives and the relatives didn’t like him joking online “with a girl other than his girlfriend.” Was just beginning to wonder if it’s a new thing or if it’s just being talked about more.

          • Again, that’s your male friends setting up that dynamic. they like the competition. My bf would never complain to his female friends that I was jealous of them. (even if I did made a snarky comment) its not the new gf its your male friends.

        • This. This first sentence, to be specific. This, posted on your Wall…This, pinned to your pinboard, This tweeted and AIMed and MySpaced to you ten times over. Thisity this this this.

    • I think these guys may be very nice people, but they need to learn to set appropriate boundaries with their girlfriends or else stop dating people who have a problem with their being friends with you.

      Separately, I don’t see why being a tshirt/jeans gal makes you not a threat. It’s the intentions, not the attire. I’m not saying you are trying to do anything other than maintain a friendship with old friends, but if a girl was out to steal a boyfriend, it’s less about being tricked out in Agent Provocateur stuff and more about what buttons to push. And long-time friends know exactly what buttons to push. I believe you’re ethical and wouldn’t. But not everybody is like that. I think these women need some self-esteem work, but I do think that these guys are being wimps.

      • I was actually really interested in the tshirt/jeans type of gal comment. I have two women I know who say the same thing “girlfriends of my guy friends always start drama” blah blah, and they are also “totally one of the guys” “tshirt and jeans” girls. Its sets up this weird dynamic. like girlfriends are all high maintence and shopping and housewives, but im the cool girl who is chill. when the girlfriends are perfectly down to earth! and yes, these women are flirty and touchy. this makes me want to draw a venn diagram

        • I hate that dynamic! Kat, please let us “draw something” style some venn diagrams. Just for today…

          • K... in transition :

            lol I love this diagram idea! To clarify, I said this because I’ve seen some issues where a “friend” shows up decked out and such and -that- seems pretty clearly a reason why a girlfriend might see a red flag. I just find it funny for my own self since the thought never crosses my mind with my friends nor would I ever with anyone who’s in a relationship.

        • Yes, I really hate this dichotomy.

          Sometimes, it’s the guy who want to perpetuate it, so he doesn’t ever have to get down to the difficult but rewarding business of getting to know his gf completely. You know, fair-weather boyfriend type. As soon as the girlfriend shows any sign of a non-Stepford-approved frown or sad face, he spends lots more time chattering to the “chill female pal in t-shirt and jeans” who’s fun. Yes, she’s fun because she’s a cool person, but she’s also fun because you don’t live with her and have to negotiate laundry and chore and all the stuff grownups deal with in real relationships.

          Sometimes, it’s the “chill female pal in t-shirt and jeans” who wants to perpetuate this. Look, nobody is an angel all the time. Even in some very nice women, the desire for oneupsmanship can be there. And it can come out in weird ways. Perhaps the female pal enjoys a little ego boost in knowing that her pal will call her first to talk about real issues instead of talking to the “shopping, clingy girlfriend.”

          It is very, very easy to make the girlfriend look like a brainless, whiny, ball-and-chain if one wants to, and if the man in question is immature and selfish enough, he’ll start to buy it. It’s especially easy when you’re the outsider, because you don’t deal with what I loosely call the “dirty socks and dishes in the sink” mundane stuff. This is why the other woman/man has a huge advantage in relationships where someone’s very immature and thinks that “true love” is only the Romeo & Juliet high-intensity stuff.

          This is what I think some of the girlfriends are worried about. (Granted, I do think some of them are just insecure and need some therapy. And I stand by my comment that these guys are either being wimps by not setting boundaries, or kinda DOOSHy because they like the flattery and like stirring up drama.)

    • I have two guy friends with 10-15 year friendship spans. One s/o was jealous and the other I’ve never had an issue with. The difference has been how well I knew the gf, communication issues between the guys and their gfs, and my attitude toward it.

      I have resolved the jealous issue with the one gf, now wife, by confronting it head on. The first time I met the gf, I traveled in from multiple states away. My guy friend failed to mention to his gf that I was a ‘chick’. She had assumed ‘friend coming to visit’ would be a dude and when I wasn’t, she freaked out. I thought she was a royal beyotch and ignored her the entire trip. Several months later, I reached out to her and after several heartfelt emails, we cleared everything up.

      My advice to you is to build friendships with the gfs. If you’ve been friends with the guy for a long time, it’s possible you’ll end up being good friends with her too. Even if you’re not, meeting up for drinks will go a long way in building a knowledge base/casual friendship with the girl your guy friend has chosen to be a significant part of his life.

      • In keeping with the “it’s the guy who’s a problem” theme, why did this guy not tell his gf that his friend was a chick? Not that the gf necessarily should freak out (or treat you badly), but again, it seems like here, the guy is just as involved as the “jealous” gf. (I just prefer to know the gender of the person I’m going to meet, you know what I mean?)

        • Oh, I know. I told my guy friend he was an idiot for not mentioning this. He said it didn’t cross his mind that she would care one way or the other. Again, I reaffirmed that the lack of mentioning it was what made it a big deal. He then told me girls were difficult, to which I combatted that we were just detail oriented.

          • He said that “Girls were difficult”? WTF.

            This is exactly the Venn Diagram thing that cfm mentioned.

            It’s annoying that these guys (and some women) perpetuate the dichotomy that there’s the female pal who’s always chill and cool and the gf who is needy/clingy. It does everyone a disservice, except, perhaps, a DOOSH who want to play one woman off against another. Seriously. This is so junior high.

          • Totes McGotes :

            Well obviously it did cross his mind, because for her not to know the correct gender of someone traveling a great distance to come stay with them, there must have been some serious Pronoun-Game-playing going on. “I can’t wait for you to meet my friend.” “We should go out to Restaurant when my friend arrives.” “Did you set up the guest room for my friend yet?”

          • Ditto to Totes. It likely also included not telling gf your name unless it’s a really gender-neutral one like Chris.

          • The only way I can imagine this guy not deliberately leaving out your name (assuming it’s obviously female) and using gendered pronouns is if he literally never talks to his girlfriend about his friends. So either way, he is being really weird about it.

        • This. New BF was meeting a friend for beers and baseball and was sure to drop like three “this friend is a chic” hints.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Same issue and have posted at length on here about it under different monikers. Lost my long time best friend to jealous wife. He met her AFTER I married my husband and we live many states apart.

      That said, when I last saw them together, he clearly did and said things just to push her buttons around me. It became clear that HE was the problem, not her. Yes, it probably started when they were young and she was insecure but he was probably saying dumb things like “blonde lawyer is the best, she just knows what to say when I’m having a bad day.” Which was probably hurtful to gf now wife who probably felt like she was always being compared to me.

      Former bf and I would never work as a couple. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t find each other attractive, care about each other, be proud of each other’s achievements, etc. We did and said things that encroached into relationship territory. I can see why that would make a girl jealous.

      Now, all that said, when I met my husband, I made it clear – best friend is an important part of my life. To quote spice girls, and New Girl, if you want to get with me, you got to get with my friend. He, clearly, did not do the same. But he was older then, living far from me, and being with awesome new girl was probably way more important than maintaining friendship with married, far away, former best friend.

    • This is the story of my life. And our mutual guy friends who are barely even friends with them, end up in the wedding party and I do not even get invited. I am so sick of hearing from outsiders that it is because I am pretty or because the new girlfriend is in the wrong. These are friends, guys I have never ever even so much as kissed on the cheek. These are friends I have had for ten years. I would never, ever do this to a boyfriend who had girlfriends. If there is funny business of the past, of course I understand. But I have literally never been in a wedding party because I have mostly guy friends. So if he sticks up for me, then it is even worse? Totally blows getting old. Thank God this site is giving me some way to figure out how to make girl friends so I don’t end up at the bar swearing at the TV every night, making new guy friends who will leave me one day anyways.

      • Probably the hardest thing about having mostly guy friends in college was realizing that all of them would have probably slept with me if they could, even though I see it as completely platonic. (I guess your cousins do not have any excuses though, K in Tran…)

        I agree with making friends with the wife/gf early on. But this took me a while to figure out honestly. Once I was excluded from the wedding party or from the wedding completely, I used to be so offended that I cut off contact and just thought it was his fault. I haven’t fixed those but some long time friend pools were starting to dwindle. And I never recommend that the guy break up (mostly just listen to venting – “Well she doesn’t want you to fix it, she was just trying to vent…”) or interfered or flirted or over texted. Unless the girl is like a drunk driver or like steals from him or something, I am not going to stand in the way. I don’t want you so do what makes you happy.

        Point is, I used to think the gf/wives were against me and did not like me but I think it’s because I didn’t really seek out a friendship with them and that just makes people feel like why should they try with you? Recently, I found out that my good guy friend got engaged and threw an engagement party and I wasn’t invited but all local friends and family were (I live about an hour away and visit very often and definitely would have come). But, I took them to dinner and actually really got to know the fiance, and I really like her!

        I guess I will be more made when I make the effort to befriend and then I am cut out by the wimpy guy K. I agree with most everything else that was said.

      • dude. you are kinda hitting the venn diagram I was talking about. 1) plenty of girls also are into sports. (im assuming thats what you meant by swearing at the tv every night at the bar in order to make guy friends) You (almost hilariously) are the dynamic i was talking about in your post complaining about this! your totally doing the well i only have guy friends because I like sports and swearing. 2) your not going to be in a guys wedding party. thats just going to be the tradition and I wouldn’t fight it. its rare that that happens and its usually in the lifelong friend/like a sister category 3) the fact that you have been friends with a guy for 10 years, but arent getting invited to the wedding, says way more about you guys relationship than the bride. if thats going to be your friends wife, how come you dont know her? how come your not friends with her? honestly if my husband was like oh no, lets not invite (name of his good friend who is a girl) that would seem super shady to me. it would be like um of course we are inviting her why wouldn’t we. And the fact that these guys are your good friend but your not going out with their SO means your being kept a secret for some reason. thats about the guy, not the bride. if you had girlfriends, youd have dinners with their bf and meet their bf plenty in most circumstances. with that information, I just dont think this is the new girlfriends fault.

        • Elle Urker :

          You are spot on in all your comments here.

        • Boundaries and respect :

          My guy and have been together for a couple of years now but met in our forties—we both had full social circles before hand. I will admit that I am the one with more opposite sex friends than he. Some of my closer male friends he has adopted as his own. For others, I keep my radar up for things which make him uncomfortable. When it comes to married or otherwise attached male friends of mine, I always go out of my way to get to know the woman and to always treat the other relationship with respect. This may mean a little bit of self consciousness on my part but it makes it all work out without anyone having a reason to feel threatened.

        • +1000

          I like that my husband can be friends with women. It means that he doesn’t treat women like some separate weird/lesser species. It means he can relate to them and that’s important to me.

          Secondly, if my husband had a good female friend that he didn’t want to invite to anything I was also present at, I would also find that shady ON HIS PART.

        • SoCalAtty :

          As far as wedding parties go – that is sometimes more a political/family issue than anything else. My oldest “group” of female friends consists of 20+ women (we did community service together), and we’ve resulted to drawing names out of a hat for the wedding party for the last 5-6 weddings that have taken place. It’s impartial, we’re all going to be there anyway (and sharing the work), and it actually works out really well.

          Being excluded from the wedding…well, unless it is a really tiny wedding or they have a huge family, that would set off some alarms for me. I agree with cfm – if your friend is getting married, guy or girl, I would think you would make it a point to befriend them or at least try your hardest to do so. When my husband and I got married, it was really funny because no one could decide which side to sit on! We had been together for so long and our groups of friends were so integrated they had just merged.

          • Oedipa Maas :

            I recently went to a wedding where they asked “friends or family?” instead of “bride or groom?” I thought that was brilliant. (I wouldn’t have known how to choose a bride or groom side.)

    • boiling hot on the East Coast :

      As a married person, I don’t mind that my husband has women friends and I’ve actually become good friends with them over the years. The only friendship I do mind is his continued one with this couple, where the woman insisted I was bad news when I was dating my DH, and that as a good friend she was recommending that he dump me. Needless to say, I am not friends with this woman. She and her husband are moving into our city soon and unfortunately we will be spending more time together, because my husband likes to stay friends with everyone and I want to respect that.

      Sorry I guess I’m just venting – I’m not saying anyone here is like this, but sometimes this things are harder to navigate than I think they should be.

    • To echo what others have said … very likely, you’re hearing only the guy’s perspective. Who knows what’s going on behind closed doors. If you know these women well enough, why not ask them what’s going on?

      My husband has some pretty major issues. One of his issues, which has slowly come out over the years, is that he has all kinds of hang-ups about keeping his friends secret. So he would have female friends and not tell me about them, then I would find out and be angry. Then he would tell female friend that his wife is all angry and jealous, WITHOUT mentioning the part about him not being fully open to me about her. (Yeah, we’re working on it and yeah, he’s in some pretty major therapy for his multitude of issues). So female friend thinks I’m all controlling and awful. How could I possibly be upset by their innocent friendship? I, on the other hand, know nothing of female friend beyond maybe a first name, and am sick and tired of this BS.

      • ding ding ding.

        first, so sorry you guys are having these issues, and I hope that he gets help and that you also have support because it is extremely hard being the partner to someone who has issues like that.

        but this comment is a real life verion of exactly the scenerio I talked about above.

    • Elle Urker :

      So, sorry to be all over this but all over this thread is why many women get annoyed! The men here get NONE of the blame but the women get labeled as difficult, jealous, insecure and b*tchy. Look at the dynamic: “jeans and t shirt girls” who “like sports” and the poor down trodden guys i.e. people who like traditionally male things vs high maintenance horrible women i.e. stereotypically female traits. Shrews vs the poor laid back guys. It’s such cr*p. I mean, none of the guys who dumped you as a friend are even getting the blame! I mean, once a woman opens her legs to a guy and tells him what to do, he does it, right?

      Sorry to get angry but I’m proud to say that I’m a woman WHO DOESN’T LIKE WOMEN WHO DON’T LIKE WOMEN. Sorry for the Ellen style caps but there it is. And by like I mean, respect and understand. If you hate all “traditionally female things” and “never get along with women” then you don’t like women. Period. And then yes, all your male “friends” will dump you because they don’t value or respect you because you don’t value or respect yourself.

      /rant

      • Angelina Jolie, please call your office. LOL. (She’s famous for saying she doesn’t have any women friends.)

      • Boom, lawyered!

      • Anon with Guy Friends :

        I’m sorry, but I have very few female friends. I do not typically work well with women, either. My few very close “girlfriends” are just like me – t-shirt/jeans types that are very straightforward and don’t do all of the typical “girl drama” things….by which I mean everything everyone has complained about above.

        We’re basically a refugee group for women who don’t play well with other women. We are all in our 30s, all married or in long-term relationships…and…GASP…so are our male friends that we’ve known for 10+ years. Still friends. We’re also friends with all of our guy friends’ wives/SOs. We all go out together, go to games…Vegas…it’s never been a problem.

        • Not to be argumentative, but your post seems to contradict itself.

          You say you have very few women friends, and yet, you have both:
          (1) your “refugee group” of very close women friends and
          (2) you say you’re also friends with your guy friends’ wives & SOs.

          That sounds like a rather decent number of women who you’d consider friends!

          If you’re talking about very close friendships, maybe you’re just one of those folks who only have a small number (count’em on one hand) of “very close friends.” That may be less about gender and more about disposition.

          I think the part of your post that seems a bit odd to me, is your implication that somehow you can’t be friends with most women because of some inherent annoyingness or inferiority in most women. I think you’re painting women with too broad a brush if you think most are into “girl drama” things.

        • another anon with guy friends :

          Yeah, agreed. I think the idea that you are some kind of woman-hater if you get along better with men is ridiculous. I would not say I have no female friends. I have one very close female friend of 10+ years, who is my closest friend outside of my SO + parents. I have at various points in my life had other close female friends. And I do have women that I socialize with occasionally (mostly friends of my best friend, and the GFs/wives of my SO’s friends) but I wouldn’t really consider any of them close friends. I have always found it easier to get along with guys than girls, both in friendships and at work. I wouldn’t even consider myself especially tomboy-ish, I love dresses and other girly things. I just find that in general, guys are less drama and easier for me to be friends with. Perhaps it is partly the nature of the relationship, becuase I think friendships between guys and girls (especially where both parties are involved with someone else) are inherently less intitmate and maybe less intimate = less drama. I also find guys more straightforward. If I tick off one of my guy friends, he will tell me. I will apologize and we will move past it. Women, in my experience at least, tend to keep things buried under the surface, not telling you they’re angry until they explode which leads to a whole blowout fight. Not saying guys can’t fight, but it is different and I am more of a guy in that sense I guess.

          For what its worth, I’m also planning my wedding and while I think in general I have been a pretty low maintenance bride (picked out a reasonably affordable dress, letting them do whatever they want with hair/makeup/jewelry/shoes, not having a bridal shower or bachelorette or anything else that requires a expenditure of cash or time except the actual wedding), my bridesmaids (including my closest female friend) have been nothing but drama, gossip and complaining to each other and me. Complaining about the dress I picked out, complaining about the cost of attending the wedding, comlpaining they didn’t get a plus one when they are not even dating anyone, this, that, etc. The groomsmen (who are my fiance’s friends) have been chill, easy-going, and low maintenance. Getting the bridesmaids to order the dress was like pulling teeth. I sent the groomsmen an email asking them to order the tuxedo, and within a week they had all emailed me that they had done it. This is obviously anecdotal evidence about the personalities and behavior of 10 individual people, but I have found it to be true on a larger scale.

      • new york associate :

        Sing it, sister! I am standing and clapping.

      • “I’m proud to say that I’m a woman WHO DOESN’T LIKE WOMEN WHO DON’T LIKE WOMEN.”
        This. A million times this.

      • THIS THIS THIS.

        • Anne Bronte :

          Late to the party but genuinely curious — I have heard other women say they don’t have female friends because they can’t handle the drama. What drama? I have a lot of female friends, and we almost never roll around and pull each other’s hair. Are we doing it wrong?

          P.S. Thank you, ladies, for your excellent advice over the weekend about taking small steps with getting control of things. It’s really helped this week.

    • This thread is fascinating and interesting and I’m sad I missed it, but right at the end here, I feel like we’ve hit on it. In the end, its really about the men who are weak and “do what they’re told”, the women who are scared, and trust issues within that relationship.

      I’ve always remembered a lyric from Dar Williams “I will not be afraid of women.”

      And I’ve always firmly believed that if I’m in a relationship where the only reason that my husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever isn’t sleeping with or dating or whatever some other person is because I won’t let them see or talk to them, then that’s not a very good relationship. So I have no problem with female friends. Actually, I sort of wish my husband had more female friends, it might polish him up a bit more. :-)

      • I love that song. Naturally, I can’t recall the name of it at the moment, but it’s a brilliant song and I should pull it up on Grooveshark somehow. [reminds self to do that] Thank you for bringing me back to that song.

        I am also proud to say that I am no longer “afraid of women” and believe all of the women I know are doing womanhood fabulously. <3

    • Anonymous :

      ‘Males’ and especially ‘females’ are dead giveaways for folks who have hang-ups re gender relationship norms. Those are ads, not nouns, and it’s usually women-haters who use em wrong. As in, females be trippin. Women can be women-haters, too. As you may know.

  5. I think a maxi dress or skirt can look fine in the office. You just have to make sure the fabric is appropriate, it is not too voluminous and that the rest of the look is professional.

    • I agree. I think the key is that the top of it not be in a style that would be inappropriate for work in ANY dress short or long, which covers probably 75% of currently available/stylish maxi dresses. I have the Gap flared maxi dress with the wide alternating stripes of fabric in the skirt and T-shirt top, and I wear it to the office very regularly. I’m a civil servant in a creative department, so our dress code is “business casual” but I don’t feel I’m stretching the definitions of the term in any way in that dress (and I do, regularly, otherwise stretch the definitions, for fun).

  6. I think it depends a lot on the type of maxi dress, your workplace environment, and how you wear it. Most places I know of would not look kindly on strapless or sleeveless styles without a cover-up of some sort (and I don’t mean beach cover-up, but actual jacket or cardigan.)

    I’ve actually been on the look-out for a solid color maxi dress that does not make me look 15 months pregnant, but I have a more casual workplace and I live in Houston. I’m also on the look-out for a top to go over said maxi dress if it does not meet the “sleeve” criteria.

    And the dress needs to meet a few criteria -

    - it has to look right with work-appropriate shoes (i.e., no flip flops or beachy sandals.)
    - it has to look right with some sort of outer layer (jacket, cardigan, etc.)
    - it has to be made of substantial fabric (nothing remotely see-through.)
    - it needs to work with accessories to avoid any semblance of beach.

    Mainly, it cannot at all look like it would fit in nicely down on South Padre Island. It needs to look as though I’ve dressed for work, albeit more casual work.

    • Tiffany In Houston :

      THIS. I also live in Houston and work in a business casual environement for a large engineering and constrcution company as a senior accountant. This look can be pulled off successfully (as Kelly O describes below), particularly on a casual Friday. I have on jeans today in fact.

      I think if would be helpful for Kat to realize that not every Corporette is a lawyer.

      • I’m so glad to see others from Houston!

        Isn’t the weather great these days? It’s still summer, of course, but I think we’re having better weather than much of the northeast.

      • I don’t think this is a fair comment. I’m pretty sure Kat realizes she has other readers besides lawyers, and her advice about appropriateness seems spot-on to me (a non-lawyer) about 90% of the time. I am in a creative field and would never, ever, ever wear a maxi dress to work. Even if I covered up and wore office-type footwear, the flowy silhouette is far too casual.

      • I’m an accountant in a engineering/construction company. A maxi dress would not be appropriate in my office.

      • I don’t think Tiffany’s comment is fair (the last part about Kat). I’m also not a lawyer, and I would not be caught dead wearing a maxi dress at work. I would bet that if polled, the majority of readers of this site would agree that its not an appropriate choice for most work places (just read the comments on this thread). It’s great that you can wear jeans to work, but that doesn’t mean that attire would apply to the majority of readers here.

        • Anonymous Poser :

          :-) If I could wear a maxi dress to my workplace (when I do go into the office), I wouldn’t be so interested in reading this site. YMMV

      • Seattle Lawyer Mom :

        Um, I’m pretty sure the lawyer corporettes are all rolling and laughing, because in my view the post isn’t even aimed at lawyers at all, since there’s zero zero I repeat ZERO chance a female partner in a law firm is going to wear a maxi dress to work (and female associates should dress like female partners).

    • I bought such a dress last week. Short Sleeve Colorblocked Maxi by Soprano at Loehmanns – it’s available online.
      Just don’t wear it with black pumps as styled in the picture. Ugh.

    • I totally agree with this list of criteria, and have seen maxi dresses that work! In fact, I was just at a conference where I was admiring a woman in a maxi dress that had a floral pattern on a black background, paired with a smart black blazer. It works for business casual only, certainly, but I thought she looked competent, professional AND pretty.

  7. PharmaGirl :

    Timely post, Kat. I saw more than one woman in a maxi dress on the way to work this morning, and another woman wearing what looked like a beach cover-up with a deep V neck in the back (I could see her bra clasp). Perhaps these outfits would be appropriate in a less formal office but I always prefer to keep my beach/weekend attire separate from my work clothes.

    • When did it become ok to show the back strap of your bra? (And not even intentionally, i.e. a bright contrast, clasp front bra.) I have seen numerous women this week with low-backed, mesh-backed, lattice-backed, or open-backed dresses with a plain-jane, nude, back clasp bra. Do we not look at ourselves from behind before leaving the house anymore?

      Maybe it is just this NYC heat making women feel comfortable to leave the house in their underthings.

      • I keep seeing tops in the stores that have sheer, low, or cut-out backs, and thinking to myself that only those ladies lucky enough not to need a bra could wear them. But, I guess not everyone agrees.

      • This.

        I was at the airport last week and there was a woman wearing what I think was supposed to be a sort of beach-casual-trendy look–high waisted, flowy linen pants and a loose fitting tank that scooped very low in the back. It not only exposed all of her lacy nude bra band, but an inch or two of skin below it. It was 6am and a flight to the Northeast, not the beach. Too much skin!

        • Even if it wasn’t a lot of skin, it just seems tacky – bra clasps aren’t usually meant to be shown in anyway, so they’re pretty utilitarian and honestly usually ugly.

    • kerrycontrary :

      Ugh, I think this heat is making people do crazy things. It’s a “dress up” day at my work and there are a ridiculous amount of women in skimpy clothes. I know it’s hot out, but you can be covered up in light-weight fabrics and still be OK in the heat. Plus, our office is air conditioned so the only time they are outside is during the commute.

      • Anon Analyst :

        Exactly! It was in the 90s yesterday, but I wore a black blazer (with elbow length sleeves) b/c the A/C is running on high in the office. I took it off before I walked outside to my car.

    • Back in the day, a woman would be embarrassed to find her bra STRAP peeking out. Now bra straps seem to be part of the outfit. Is the bra clasp next to lose its shock effect? And then the front?

  8. Anon Analyst :

    In my office maxi dresses would be acceptable b/c everyone dresses extremely casual. (I mean, I see men wearing Hawaiian shirts on a regular basis) However, I would not wear one of these dresses. For one thing I’m only 5’0 and I think the length of the dress would just dwarf me. Also, to me, these just seem like resort/beach/vacation wear.

    • Couldn't Wait to Quit :

      I’m 5’1″ and have never had a maxi dress, because I’ve never found one that wasn’t longer than I am tall.

      • lucy stone :

        I’m 5’6″ and have the same problem. I’d really like one but all the ones I’ve seen puddle on the floor.

    • I’m shorter than both of you, and I have two maxi dresses that I find flattering and elongating. I think the key is to find one that is not particularly voluminous.

  9. I’m doing a silent chair dance and celebration in my cubicle at my law clerk job because my school just released our grade quartiles and I made the top quarter! Just had to tell someone and release some excitement :)

  10. Didn’t we all wear office appropriate longer skirts in the 90s and do just fine?

    • Yes, but I have no desire to return to the 90s fashion-wise!

    • I would counter that not ever long skirt, not even every long full skirt, qualifies as a maxi skirt. Fabric and color/pattern can vary a lot between different long skirts.

  11. I actually really like the maxi dress look, with a few caveats:

    - MUST be paired with appropriate shoes (no flip-flops, beach sandals, etc)
    - Ideally paired with a shaped cardigan or blazer
    - Un-patterned is easier to deal with and pull off a professional look – basically, anything that doesn’t look like it would be happier on vacation is good

    For example, I’m wearing a long v-neck brown dress (not a deep V, no patterning, no smocking, no fuss, with a shaped white cardigan. Our office tends to be business casual, but that’s slipped a bit this week – we’re hitting 40C outside, the humidity is a killer, and the AC is barely functioning… most of the women are in maxi dresses, simply because it’s the only way to stay at least reasonably cool.

    • I agree and where my maxi’s proudly. I work in a professional environment and often where maxi’s and long skirts. Someone said it above – you wear jersey skirts and dresses, right? I think pattern and fabric make all the difference. Something like Kat posted would be a no-go, but a sleek, jersey in a solid color paired with a fitted jacket is very chic. And as Ros said appropriate shoes! NO FLIP FLOPS

  12. Generally, I am in 100% agreement with you. I cannot imagine (nor have I ever seen in our “business casual” office) a woman wearing a maxi dress.

    To your point about pregnant women though, I think you may be right. I am almost 35 weeks pregnant, and my office wardrobe options grow slimmer by the day! While I have not resorted to the maxi dress (and have no plans to do so), I think you can get a way with a lot more when you are obviously (very) pregnant. For me, this has included a lot of cotton wrap dresses, wedges, and summer cardigans that, was I not so pregnant, I would have probably struggled with whether they were business-y enough for the work place.

    • I agree. And I am sporting a questionable pair of pants today. They are like a knit pair of dressy pants, but the fabric is slightly too “gym pants” for comfort. However, at this stage in my pregnancy, I am unable to fit into much. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the black suit pants I ordered online. Being a size 16 pre-pregnancy puts me at too big for regular maternity clothes at this stage. It is a struggle every morning looking pulled together.

      However, I will say I reserve the right to wear a maxi dress in late August when I will be VERY PREGNANT. I can’t imagine fitting into much else. LOL

  13. The financial thread got me thinking…some of you have crazy high law school loans! What is the graduation demographic for these high interest rates? I finished grad school (not law) in 2005. My interest rates are between 1.25 -3%. Why the discrepancy?

    • MissJackson :

      Federal Stafford Loans have changed a lot in recent years. Prior to the 2006-2007 school year, they were variable interest rate loans (mine from 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 are at roughly 2% right now). In 2006-2007 they changed to fixed rate (my 2006-2007 loans were at 6.8% fixed; I say “were” because I paid that nonsense off). I don’t know what they are now, but I think it’s still relatively “high” compared to the 1-3% that.

      Private Loans can be all over the map, I think, based on your and/or your cosigner’s creditworthiness.

      Also, GradPlus Loans had 8.5% fixed interest rates in 2006-2007. Again, not sure what they are today.

    • You graduated in 2005. that’s the discrepancy.

    • I started law school in 2005 and my loan from that year has a 3% interest rate. Then they changed everything up. My next two years have a 9.75 I think.

    • I started in 2005 / graduated in 2008. I had one year of Stafford at 6.8 (I think my third year – paid that sucker off first), and the other two years of Stafford at 4.75 (3.75 after I paid on time for some amount of months). The balance was from Citi at 3% for all three years.

    • Finished b-school in 2011 a 6.8% stafford loan. Fortunately, it wasn’t large and I’m 57 days and counting until it is paid off.

    • Maddie Ross :

      Yeah, I graduated law in ’05 like you did. My loan is less than 1.5%. Everything has just gone up since then… It’s not a school by school difference.

      • SoCalAtty :

        I graduated law school in ’06. Government loans are fixed at 4.5% – but the private loans – OW! Those range between 8%-10%. The reason for the rate increase every year was, to quote my loan officer, “you have a lot of student loans.” Thanks guys.

        If the whole thing was at 4.5% like my gov loans, I’d be in a lot better shape.

  14. I’m not in law, and my office is usually fairly conservative. And no, normally I would never wear a maxi to work.

    I did wear one on a casual Friday – everyone else was in jeans and I wore the maxi as I was going to a wedding rehearsal after work. I did get compliments but I also wore it on a casual day.

    However, now that I’m pregnant, I do have a few maxi dresses in my rotation. Always worn with a cardigan/cover-up. I still get the compliments and it’s very comfortable. but, if I weren’t pregnant, maxi dresses would only be okay in my book on Fridays.

    • PharmaGirl :

      When I was pregnant I wore leggings as pants. Bad idea? Maybe. But it was 100 degrees more days than I care to remember that summer and I was swollen beyond belief.

    • Every time I see the word “maxi” on it’s own, I think of feminine hygiene products, not clothing.

  15. S-xy or revealing dresses are never appropriate, but there’s nothing wrong with an ankle-length skirt per se so long as it is otherwise appropriate for the office. I have a nice pinstriped long skirt and a plain black one, and on summer Fridays sometimes I wear a tiered white one.

    Says the woman who’s wearing a sundress in the office today because it is 100 f-ing degrees out and let’s be real, the men are all jealous of our sundresses. (At least 2/3 of us are in sundresses today.)

  16. Kontraktor :

    Darn. My comment got stuck in moderation because of the word c**ktail. Sigh. I forget that’s a mean word here.

  17. TJ: anyone have a reliable jeweler in NYC for antique pieces? I need to get a platinum ring re-sized. Ideally close to Brooklyn Heights/ downtown Brooklyn/ Park Slope.

    Thank you!

  18. Anonymous Girl :

    It depends. I think it’s totally fine if your office has a “Casual Friday” policy, with the usual caveat that it not you wear a cardi if it has spaghetti straps, that it not be strapless or smocked, and that it not be low cut. From Monday through Thursday, I’d stick with a less voluminous skirt, more of a solid, and non-bright colors. I think the maxi skirt can definitely be acceptable ANY day of the week if the fabric and print is not too beachy and you pair it with an appropriate top.

  19. I’ll admit to having worn a maxi dress to the office… on Saturday.

  20. Danger zone... :

    Need career consensus advice. So, I’ll be attending law school in the fall. I’ve already done 1l year, dropped out to move back to city with boyfriend/now fiance, did a year of work at my current job, decided to apply to different, better law school in current city as a transfer, got in and am going. When i took this job, i basically was just looking for anything to pay the bills, and that’s what it is – it’s fine, i like my collegues alright, but i HATE the work and have no intention of doing it ever again in my life. So, school starts mid august. here’s my issue. I have my review any day now (like i’m waiting for the “come into my office” email from supervisor)…but I wasn’t planning on quitting until a week before school – need to save some money up. At my review, if all goes fine, which it probably will, i get my raise, which isn’t much but everything helps. Is it completely f’d up of me to act like nothing is happening at my review and then give my two weeks in a month? I did mention in my interview for this job that i was considering returning to school but i wasn’t as serious as i am about it now, and i dont think they took it seriously. This dept has a very high turnover rate, so i feel like they’ve seen this before…thoughts? I don’t to be remembered as a total jerk, as i may need this as a reference later down the road, but if i give notice at the end of july, I could just say that is when I heard back…white lie or bad bad bad? AHH!!!

    • I think it’s fine. Don’t lie or anything like that. Going back to school is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave a job.

    • Totally fine. You’re under no obligation to give them extra advance notice. Two weeks is fine, and definitely don’t say anything at your review.

    • emcsquared :

      Is there any chance you might want to continue working there during the school year? I was super envious of people who had jobs during law school and didn’t have to debt finance their rent payments…

      Just something to consider.

  21. One of the bloggers on academichic wore a royal purple maxi dress a lot of different ways, and I think it would work for a certain kind of casual office. I’m not sure I could make it work, though.

    Link in the reply.

  22. Research, Not Law :

    Well, this seems like the perfect time to ask for styling help with a maxi skirt. I just bought loft’s striped skirt (link to follow) and love it, but I’m struggling to figure out how to wear it.

    I will be wearing it to my casual office (very appropriate so long as I’m not showing shoulders and wearing flip flops) and for weekend playdates/bbqs.

    • Research, Not Law :

      blarg. darn link is getting stuck in moderation.

      From LOFT’s website go to > skirts > Honey Stripe Knit Maxi Skirt. It’s on the first row for me.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think a jersey knit maxi is ever appropriate for an office, even a casual one. It’s the skirt equivalent of pajamas.

      For playdates/bbqs, you could pair it with a tee in one of the colors of the stripes and either espadrilles or flipflops. I really like the mint tee they’ve styles it with, actually.

      • I work in an office where ill-fitting jeans and t-shirts are the norms. A jersey knit maxi would be considered dressed up.

        • Research, Not Law :

          Yep. I’d still look good next to the running tights and cut-offs in the room with me. I do know how to dress professionally, I promise. :)

          I actually really like the looks in the blog linked above. I also keep thinking that I could do a structured jacket with it, but I’m not sure…

  23. Anon re writing sample :

    I think a strapless maxi dress is definitely a “no” for work, but one that’s more covered up on top might fly on the occasional casual Friday in the summer, especially when the temperature outside is really hot.

    I applied for an attorney job that I really, really, REALLY want, and now I’ve spent the last week obsessing about it and hoping the phone will ring. I had decided to send a follow-up e-mail a week after my initial submission (which will be tomorrow), in which I will reiterate my interest in the job and discuss my qualifications a little further.

    I submitted my standard writing sample with my initial application – a section from an appellate brief that delves pretty deeply into a first-impression issue. Then I decided that, along with my follow-up e-mail, I will send a brand new writing sample analyzing some recent developments in the very specialized areas of law in which the firm practices – similar to the updates the firm sends out to its clients and posts on its website. I thought this would be a good way to get their attention, and spent the week researching and coming up with some good topics.

    But now I’m doubting myself. I feel like preparing and sending a customized writing sample is a “little girl” move, for some reason – not a grown-up lawyer move. I have also allowed myself to become intimidated by the fact that all of the attorneys in this (very small) firm went to Top 10 schools while I went to a Top 40-ish school. Maybe I’m just having an impostor syndrome moment – it wouldn’t be the first time. What do you think – should I prepare the new writing sample/legal development update memo and send it? I suppose I have nothing to lose. Maybe that’s my answer, and I should stop driving myself crazy and start writing.

    Thank you for any feedback/thoughts anyone might have – especially if you have heard of someone preparing a customized writing sample like this. Very much appreciated!

    • I’m not sure that sending a customized writing sample is really a good idea, especially if they didn’t ask for it. I’m afraid, in spite of your best intentions, this could end up becoming an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ignorance (not, of course, that you are ignorant, but you may find that you are not telling them anything that they didn’t already know, and worse, you could end up showing that your understanding of this area is simplistic at best). It is likely that they believe that they can teach you what you need to know about this subject area and they are more concerned about your skills at a general level right now.

      Take heart, and have confidence that the stellar writing skills you demonstrated in your writing sample will show that you have what it takes to do this job well. If it helps, I have not found my degree from a top 10 law school to be a particular asset in this job market (and on one or two occasions recently it seems to have become something of a liability; to wit, if you’re so smart, why don’t you have a better job already?).

      I don’t think it would hurt you to send a follow-up e-mail reiterating your interest, however. I wish you the very best of luck – I am in a similarly difficult situation.

      • Anon re writing sample :

        January – thank you so much – you make a really good point about how writing about their area of expertise could backfire on me. Maybe I’ll just mention in my follow-up letter that I have done some reading this week to learn more about their areas of specialty, and it has made me even more interested in the job, or something like that.

        I wish you the best of luck too! It’s hard out there right now, and it’s easy to get discouraged. You seem like a thoughtful, smart person who would be an asset in any workplace. Thanks so much.

    • I had a similar concern (as January)– it definitely puts you at risk of demonstrating a lack of knowledge in the area. Having said that, I don’t agree that telling them something they already know is a bad thing, just telling them something that’s wrong. If it’s a specialized area, I don’t think it hurts to demonstrate interest and basic understanding in that area. If the sample is well-written and well-thought-out, I would be really impressed that someone cared enough to write it up.

      I just re-read your post, and I will say that if they didn’t ask for another writing sample, don’t send one! If you are asked for another sample, send it along at that point. The last thing hiring folks want is more materials to have to comb through.

      Good luck with the application!!

  24. So…this makes me wonder…I see maxi dresses galore at my work (finance & operations). Admittedly we are more conservative (business casual to business formal) but do have summer dress code where things are more relaxed (jeans with nice shoes, collared shirts, etc but no sneakers,flip flops or tshirts). We’re also on the west coast, so things are more lax.

    I’ve been getting death glares (usually from the ladies) wearing this dress: http://www.overstock.com/Clothing-Shoes/Sandra-Darren-Womens-Red-Multi-Maxi-Dress/6455475/product.html

    I have a cami under it to cover up the bust area as it’s actually cut quite low and wear a black cardi with 3/4 sleeves.

    Do I need to pull this from my rotation of work wear? I struggle with my wardrobe and am unsure.

    • I think that, generally, if people in your office are looking at you as if you are dressed inappropriately, then you should stop wearing the offending garment. We often say “know your office” on this site, and even without knowing YOUR office, it seems to me that dress doesn’t fly there based purely on the reactions you’re describing.

      • It’s interesting to say the least (somehow the neon pink paisley and bright blue ones donned by my counterparts are deemed acceptable). I thought I knew my office but apparently red is off limits. Thanks, just re-confirmed what I thought (and feared,ugh).

        • Anonymous :

          Red? That’s what you got out of this, that red is off limits cause others in your office are too pearl-clutchingly conservative for your too cool for school color choice? Time for a re-read.

          • Anonymous, you are not as funny as you think you are. You’re kind of awful, actually.

  25. I agree with Kat that a maxi dress is probably never okay in most “professional” offices, though, of course, individual scenarios may differ. It certainly wouldn’t fly in mine. I actually changed into a maxi dress to leave work yesterday (since I was going out after and it was, like, a 100 degree outside), and I felt very weird walking out in full view of everyone.

    Anyway, Kat, this made me think of a great post idea on some actually appropriate summer work options for the office. Please do something along these lines! Kind of like a round up of great summer basics, similar to your recent t-shirt post. As a jumping off point, I was so hot and uncomfortable yesterday that first thing I did at lunch was order the grey attache seersucker dress from JCrew. I am sure I am not the only one who would love to see some other work apprpriate summer ideas for 95+ degree days!

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