Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Paisley Stretch-Cotton Jacquard Pencil Skirt

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

Michael van der Ham Paisley Stretch-Cotton Jacquard Pencil SkirtOooh. Oooh! This may seem at first like just a really overpriced pencil skirt, but I think it’s more like a work of art. You have to zoom in to see — look at how the cool the textured fabric is, and how interesting the print is. At first I thought it was pieced together but now I think it’s all one fabric. Michael Van Der Ham is definitely going on my list of designers to watch.  This lovely pencil skirt is $605 at Net-a-Porter. Michael van der Ham Paisley Stretch-Cotton Jacquard Pencil Skirt

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Comments

  1. I really like that! But then if you put paisley on anything I’m going to like it :)

  2. hellskitchen :

    I love this skirt! I am finding myself drawn to printed skirts a lot these days.

    TJ – has anyone used the Iken Zing learning system products for kids? I don’t have kids but need to buy something for my niece and came across this. Their starter pack has interactive touch-read books. Is this good? Or is there another brand/product you’d recommend for 4-5 year olds? Thanks!

  3. PSA: Assets by Sara Blakely (Spanx) on Zulily today.

    • Does anyone know if the thigh highs have latex/sticky plastic stuff to help keep them up? My skin reacts horribly but I think thigh highs may be the way to go for this pregnancy.

      • If you have to wear pantyhose, I’ve been wearing the Assets maternity hose and have no complaints. As far as pantyhose go, they’re fairly durable (I haven’t put a run in them yet) and as comfortable as hose can be.

        In case you can’t tell, I have to wear them under protest.

      • I wore thigh highs a lot for awhile, but then my skin started reacting and I got welts. Definitely not worth it. Now I use those bags of thigh highs as filters for my washer.

        • Sugar Magnolia :

          LOL! I had never thought of this as a use for old pantyhose, but I am so going to try it now.

          • Yeah, they keep the drain from clogging up by catching whatever fuzz comes off of the clothes. I attach a thigh high with rubber bands to the drain pipe.

        • Another good use for thigh highs is to keep your bathtub free of glitter and confetti and other crud that gets included in bath bombs from places like Lush.

          Put the bath bomb in the thigh-high, tie the end, drop the entire thing in your tub. All the “bath bomb”-ness, none of the “scrubbing glitter off the side of the tub for the next 3 days”-ness!

  4. MerIreland Tips :

    Thanks so much for the Ireland recs last week! I have another question: can anyone recommend comfy yet fashionable shoes for this trip? Do they exist? Nothing too fancy, but I’ll be sound a ton of walking in both cities and more rural areas and I’d love to wear something cuter than running shoes that’s still practical. Thx!!

  5. My husband and I have been watching this reality-type show on the weekends called “Bar Rescue” – there are about a thousand shows like it right now, where a tough-talking expert goes into failing businesses (restaurants, hotels, whatever) and yells at the owner for a while, redesigns everything, and turns that ship around (or tries to).

    Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that the owners on these shows are mostly men, but include some women, but the “tough talking expert” is always, always male. I would really love to see one where the expert was a female. I would love to see the way that she would interact with the owners to whip them into shape, and how the dynamic would change, or if it would.

    No question there, I guess. I was just kind of thinking that this sort of goes along with a lot of the things that we’ve been discussing here.

    • Clearly you haven’t been watching MY show

    • There used to be a show on Bravo (got rid of cable a year ago so don’t know if it’s there anymore) with the same concept applied to salons, and the expert was a woman. I really enjoyed it–she was awesome. I’ll see if I can find it.

    • Re: Bar Rescue, I would say it’s just the host that is male. The bartending experts, chef experts, secret shoppers, and designers have females in the mix. The host can put it all together, but a lot of the success is in the individual experts contributions. Plus, this show is on Spike, which is generally marketed to a male audience.

      -signed, another household that watches too much of this type of show

      • That’s true, but it’s more the yelling at them and tough talking dynamic that I’m interested in, which the side experts don’t usually do. I would like to see a tough-talking female expert that really humbles the owner and shows him or her what’s what.

        This isn’t really a feminist complaint, BTW, just a curiousity, because I think that I could learn something from seeing a female who managed to pull that attitude off.

        I don’t watch much bravo, though, and didn’t get the Tabitha reference. Maybe I need to look into that.

    • Olivia Pope :

      Yes, you would like “Tabitha Takes Over” on Bravo. She initially just did salons, but she expanded to small businesses in general. Tough-talking business expert in some amazing pooly-run businesses.

    • Oh my god, I have literally run out of episodes of this show to watch because we have been sucked into marathons for the last 3 weekends. It’s beyond dumb and every episode is exactly the same and yet we have wasted at least 3 hours the past 3 sundays watching it. It’s strangely addictive. I think mostlty because it’s very cathartic to watch the host yell at almost cartoonishly incompetent people.

      All that aside, the whole point of the show is that it’s the host “who has successfully managed over 650 bars and restaurants” that comes in and does the “rescue.” It’s all tied to it being this one guy, so I don’t think that it’s a male/female thing at all. The whole thing is trying to be very Gordon Ramsey so it’s necessarily going to have the same guy every episode.

      • Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network is very similar. Chef Robert Irvine has 2 days and $10,000 to save failing restaurants.

      • Oh, yeah, I know. I’m more thinking of the whole genre, not just that show. Gordon Ramsey, Robert Irvine, the bar guy, the hotel guy – that all of them are guys, not just that the one show has a guy.

        I can’t believe how addictive the show is. We wind up putting it on while eating late Sunday morning breakfast, and leaving it on ALL DAY LONG.

    • In the UK, we have a woman called Alex Polizzi who does this type of thing – first on The Hotel Inspector, and now The Fixer where she aims to help small businesses turn around. She has a great wardrobe too!

    • Senor Attorney :

      ZOMG I thought I was the only one who was totally, utterly, and completely hooked on that show! It’s so horrifying yet so awesome.

  6. Love this skirt–it is beautiful!!!

  7. Victoria Stillwell :

    Or mine, though slightly different concept.

  8. Chinese Cookbook :

    Any recommendations for a good, authentic Chinese cookbook written in English (anywhere from beginner level to moderately difficult)? I am hoping to improve my Chinese cooking skills. While I can make a decent stir-fry, my secret fantasy is to be able to recreate the meal from the opening scene in Eat Drink Man Woman.

  9. Threadjack: I’m forever on the hunt for long inseam machine washable dress pants. I haven’t tried Loft yet but they don’t seem to offer their dress pants in black (go figure). They have a black pair, but the fabric is linen. I’m having a hard time grasping the concept of linen dress pants and I haven’t seen these in person.. has anyone tried linen dress pants? Thoughts on work appropriateness?

    • I get mine from the Gap. I used to have linen dress pants and while they were fine, they were a pain to iron in the morning.

      • I second Gap. If you wash them a lot (as I do with small kids), they’ll only last a year, but I normally only pay about $60 after coupons.

        I never do linen – they’re always too wrinkly for me. Linen blends are somewhat better, but I feel like I’m always a mess anyway – I don’t need my pants to help.

    • funkybroad :

      The Limited. I machine wash the hell out of my dress pants from them. (not linen.) If they still sell travel suiting, I think those jackets are machine washable also.

    • I got a pair of tall black linen pants from Old Navy last year. Way too wrinkly for work. I get my washable long inseam work pants from Express (online only, they don’t sell the longs in store anymore).

    • lucy stone :

      Talbots makes washable ones that hold up pretty well and they come in tall.

      • Okay linen is a no go. I’m convinced The Limited is lying when they say their longs have a 35″ inseam because they feel like a 34″ so I can’t wear them unless I take the hem out which is a big pain. I might have to go back to Gap even though I’m in between sizes. I’ll try Talbots. Basically I need 35-36″ inseams and wanted to give Loft a try but they don’t really offer enough variety. I also need to give Jcrew a try.

    • Mountain Girl :

      JCPenney – Sometimes they have 36″ inseams. I switched to skirts because I was tired of trying to find pants that fit.

  10. Jean Fit for the Office :

    I am usually a Gap curvy cut girl. I bought a pair of new Gap super-straight jeans (but about the same as Gap curvys — below the belly button, but not dramatically south) to get something non-boot-cut and they fit fine when I am standing. Sitting and leaning forward: the muffin-top is horrible! Is this just how things are now (so cami + shirt to smooth things out? but I’d feel weird wearing a button-front shirt tucked in and I can’t layer it up with sweathers forever)? I am thin (5-4, 125 pounds, and these are size 8), and while I don’t have a washboard stomach, it seems that the waistband wants to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    We’ve recently gone to Denim Fridays, so I need to figure this out. My beat-up old weekend jeans are fine, but I was looking for a good demin-at-work look with something new.

    • I don’t have any specific recs, but um, buy jeans that fit. You should not have muffin-top and/or need to wear multiple tucked-in layers to be able to feel okay walking out the door. This is not “just how things are now.” Is there any reason you can’t go back to the Gap curvy cut, if you know it works for you?

      • And yes, the jeans could fit everywhere correctly, but if the rise isn’t high enough, you will get a muffin top. So – that may mean you need to look at a different style… where the waistband doesn’t hit quite so low.

        • If you’re after a skinnier/straighter fit, consider altering a pair of bootcut jeans that you know fit you well. A friend of mine did this when she couldn’t find a pair of skinnies that fit as well as her bootcut jeans.

      • I swear the jeans fit, but I only wore them standing up when I was trying them on. Sitting or leaning forward, not so much. Any looser in the waist and I would swim in them and they rise up like Old Man Pants. Maybe it’s just a function of rise? But any higher and I think I’d be in Mom Jeans / Old Man Pants territory when standing.

        • It’s definitely a function of the length of the rise of you pants. If the rise is short, the waist often hits the widest part of the hip. So, yes, I’d look for something with a longer/higher rise. A short cut to figuring that out is the length of the zipper – the shorter the zipper, the shorter the rise.

          I think Mom Jean concerns come about when the waistband is sitting at your actual waist. The current styles often hit below the belly button. The key (I think) to avoiding muffin top is to find a waist that hips just above you hip bones, where you start curving in towards your waist, but not all the way up to your waist.

          The other problem (IMO) with Mom Jeans is that in addition to hitting at the actual waist, they also insisted on tapering to the ankle, which gave a weird silhouette. The bootcut was a life-saver in that regard, because it gave some visual balance to the hips.
          So – if the skinnier/straighter cuts aren’t doing it for you, go for a boot cut or trouser cut. Focus on what flatters.

    • I don’t have them, but people on this site with similar body types have said good things about the Halogen curvy trouser cut jean at Nordstrom’s.

    • First, does Gap even make the curvy fit anymore? I loved that cut but don’t seem to be able to find them.

      Second, I’m 5’3.5″ and around 122-125lbs and usually have to have the waist of size 4 Gap pants taken in (size 4/27 jeans usually don’t need the waist taken in, depending on the cut). I can’t figure out how you can wear a size 8 and not have it fall completely off of you. Did you maybe get a really weirdly cut pair of jeans?

      But yes, I’d take a bigger range of sizes into the fitting room next time, and remember that things can be tailored. I think for many of us, our waist is too small for our hips/thighs, so it may be easier to find pants that fit well in the hips/thighs and the rise, and have the waist taken in. Bonus is that taking in the waist usually makes the butt look better, too.

      • OP -- re curvy fit :

        Baby got back. I need the 8 for my super-big hips. I maybe could have done the 6, but it made me muffin-top standing up straight. It’s like it squeeze everything up and over.

        I currently have a pair of postpartum 10 curvys that I had taken in when I shrunk back, but they’ve been altered again and have somehow wound up a bit of a crazy quilt of seams that work on the weekend but not in the office. And I have a pair of circa 2006 curvy 8s that I will never part with.

        I think they changed the fabric, but they still seem to be available online.

  11. Summer wardrobe? :

    I live in the northeast where it is cool to freezing cold most of the year. How do I transition my wardrobe to summer without investing too much money? What would be the key pieces and colors while still staying professional enough for a conservative office?

    • I wear my suits year round (they’re all mid-weight wool). In winter, I wear a warmer top underneath (lightweight wool sweater) and in summer I wear sleeveless silk shells. If it’s really chilly, I can wear a heavier jacket (like a tweed) with the bottoms from my suits. I also wear my suiting fabric sheath dresses all year — with a wool tweed jacket in winter and with a light cardigan (like the J Crew Jackie) in the summer. I’d add a few high-quality cotton basics — khaki pants or a skirt, a light-colored neutral cotton jacket (white, light gray, tan), and a handful of lighter tops (sleeveless shells or similar in pastels or brights, depending what looks better with your coloring, but avoid jewel colors if you’re looking for light and summery).

    • Diana Barry :

      I have a couple “winter only” blazers + pants and a couple “summer only” suits – the former are tweed or heavy herringbone etc., the latter are white and seersucker. Otherwise I just wear my same mid-weight suits. In winter I wear blouse, sweater, jacket (my office is COLD) and in summer I wear short sleeve or sleeveless blouses, jacket. I would lighten up your current suits by getting summery tops, and get a white blazer or maybe a white suit that you can mix up in the summertime.

  12. TJ on leadership : I’m back to school at 35 and we have currently two team projects. In both of these projects, I work with a woman called A. (the other members are different). In project 1, A. is the project manager. In project 2, it’s me. A. and I have similar profiles, and we get along well.

    The problem is : A. is a born leader : talkative, friendly, engaging, constantly full-speed-ahead, always on the move … While I’m not (at all!) : I’m very organized and rational, but also calm, shy, rather insecure and usually not passionate about things. So I have two issues in “my” project :

    - The team members constantly refer to A. to know what they have to do. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that project 2 needs reflexion, distance and analysis, and A. is a 100% action person who never stops to take a step back and look at the big picture. She admits it herself and doesn’t try to be in charge – it’s just that she oozes leadership.

    - I do assign tasks, define plannings, organize things, but I feel like I speak in the void : I never get any answer from the team members (we live far apart so mainly work by email, and meet up once a week).

    I know that, right now, I’m a rather poor project manager for all the reasons I wrote. However, I’d love to know what are your thoughts on this situation, and whether there is room for improvement.
    It’s pretty important to me, because I did go back to school in order to take charge of projects at work, precisely, and if it turns out that I’m really, really not cut for that, I’d rather know now than after failing miserably.

    (And BTW, it’s not law).

    • Are you being pushy enough? If you email asking for status and no one follows up, email again or call them. School projects are so different from work projects – it’s not everyone’s #1 priority and everyone is busy with work, family, etc. Half the time people don’t reply right away because they haven’t done what they need to yet. For school, I found it helpful to lay down deadlines (get everyone agree to submit work for a draft by a certain date and time, for example) and then when people don’t meet it, email/call.

    • Olivia Pope :

      Looking at the descriptors that you used for yourself, the only ones that could create problems for you are shyness and insecurity.

      You have to make yourself delegate and share opinions directly, without hesitation. If you think something negative about yourself, just keep it to yourself. I am calm and not passionate, but ultimately that doesn’t really matter. Excellent leaders are not all the same. You don’t need to give yourself a new personality, you just need to learn how to be comfortable leading with the one you have. Wishing that you were someone else will get you no where.

      As for not getting responses, do you need responses? I am a big fan of “We will be doing X and we’ll be done by Y. If you need to make any changes to the plan, let me know by Z.”

      • This response thing is good. The reply alls and ‘thanks’ emails drive me bonkers so I tend to tack on a, ‘this is an fyi, no need to reply’ when relevant. I work well with deadlines so I always appreciate when people set them.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Play to your strengths! There is nothing wrong with not being the same kind of leader, so long as you are effective. Do some research on the difference between transactional and transformational leadership styles. Incorporate what works for you. If you spend all your times focused on your weaknesses, you will be ineffective. You can’t be the Project 1Manager – focus on being the best you….

    • Anonymous :

      Thank you all !

      Good call on the priorities during school (we all work).
      I also work on not disparaging myself all the time, but it’s hard (seriously, I have to bite my tongue).

      Working on being the best me – I think I’ve found my new mantra.

      • Definitely play to your strengths but the leadership skills are good ones to have. I’m pretty good at big ideas and I’m not at all detail oriented (I’m working on it, but so hard!) Every group needs that balance. It seems like A is pretty approachable / not driven by ego, maybe ask for advice? Are there specific things she does that are particularly effective? Could you use her as bit of a model?

      • hellskitchen :

        Also, school is your time to take risks and push yourself to be the kind of manager you want to be. Once you go back to work you may find it harder to experiment with different management practices and techniques but you can do so easily with school projects. Plus with the cost of going back to school so high these days, you don’t want to leave without getting what you came for and are paying for

  13. Pardon THE interruption.

    In honor of my blog’s first birthday I am running a new, experimental poll on what should happen in Ellen’s life within the next year. Please stop by and let your voice be heard; free-form comments/additions welcome as always. Thank’s!!!!

    http://ellenwatch.blogspot.com/2013/03/oneth-anniversary-post.html

    • I vote for either (1) Ellen to spontaneously combust and stop posting here (2) Ellen to move to Antarctica and stop posting here, or (3) the trolls behind Ellen to grow up and get a life and stop posting here. Seriously, it has gotten old. The original Ellen is long gone. This cr@p is being kept alive by some regular posters here. Let it die.

  14. Leggings question – I do not own any, but would like to buy a pair to wear for upcoming long flights (under tunic-type dresses). Ideal would be a black pair and a navy pair. I want them to look nice enough (landing in Paris with them on) and obviously not be toooo restrictive, but since I’m obviously not a leggings person, I don’t want to spend much. Bonus points if they come in shorter inseams, since I have short legs. Where should I go?

  15. I’m considering buying shoe stretchers. Does anyone have experience trying this at home? It is worth it or would I be better off going to a cobbler?

    • Honestly, if they’re leather they’ll stretch from wear so be really careful when you stretch them out initially or else they’ll get too big (I speak from experience). I usually roll up a few pairs of socks and stuff them in the toe area (or where ever is too tight). Check on them each day until they feel snug but comfortable.

    • lucy stone :

      How much do you need to stretch them? I used to sell shoes and now find that if I stick a pair of flip flops in the shoe backwards for a few days, that softens the leather enough.

    • This is probably my absolute biggest irritation with people who write for modern feminism, the judgment thing. So, someone judges you for having a messy house? Yes, and? How is this really a problem in your life?

      Girls, you are adults, not teenagers. You should not be living your life focused on what other people might think of you. Part of feminism, to me, is living the way you want, other people be damned. Period.

      • I think this is a great attitude to cultivate, but I also think that it takes most of us a long time to get there. We’re taught certain things from a young age; and we’re not only taught those things, we’re taught that they’re right and natural. The steps of (1) recognizing that a piece of conditioning exists; (2) recognizing that the conditioning isn’t right; and (3) overruling that conditioning in yourself can be extremely long and difficult ones. Part of – not just feminism but – wise social policy has to be recognizing that not everyone will get past (3) immediately and telling people “just make your own choices” isn’t an answer. And that’s not just true on “women’s issues,” it’s really true on pretty much everything.

      • hellskitchen :

        +1000.

        It feels like many feminist writers spend all their time looking for and whining about new things that they think women are being judged on

      • To an extent, I agree. There’s also the fact that over time, if enough women do something and deal with the judging, the judging subsides and it becomes more normative–e.g. keeping your last name, having a baby without being married, even getting a divorce.

        I think the author’s point is just that it’s not irrational or inexplicable for women to feel more uncomfortable with a messy home than men do. They correctly perceive that it is more their problem than their partner’s. It reminds me of the issue with women not negotiating their starting salaries: you can blame the women if you want for being too meek, but the fact is that they know there are penalties in terms of perception if they do as men do. They’ve made an informed decision, even if it has unfortunate effects for them personally and, in aggregate, for women in general.

        • Also, men certainly care about how they measure up and meet expectations (or don’t) too. Totally ignoring it is asking a lot of anyone, and the article just says it’s a burden women have that men don’t.

    • Oh gosh, the boyfriend and I have been joking about how when I move in, I’ll need a chore chart. I like to refer to my mess as creative chaos but not sure people are buying it.

      • Anonymous :

        we get it. you have a boyfriend.

        • Oi, that’s a bit harsh. I always feel a bit 16 saying ‘boyfriend’ but we do tend to define people in relation to us, ie. my boyfriend / girlfriend / partner / mom / child / roommate / best friend particularly in this context where saying Betsy / Barnabus / Bob wouldn’t make loads of sense.

          I was just putting it out there that we don’t always conform to gender stereotypes, I’m definitely the messy one in the relationship. I live with 23 people (yes, it is as insane as it sounds) and the ones who complain most about the inevitable mess are the 4 guys. I almost wish that they would feel an element of shame about the state in which we live.

          • Anonymous :

            Its just that you haven’t posted a single thing without mentioning him. You mention him in every.single.post. I didn’t mean it to be harsh- just pointing it out like I would to a friend.

          • Well, how about this: I am *glad* to hear about her boyfriend, even if it were in every single post. Happiness is good. Let us be happy.

        • Wow, that was mean and unnecessary. Cb, so happy to hear things are going well! I like hearing about your boy.

          • Thanks! I do feel like that’s been my focus lately so it is a good reminder to be conscious of it but relationships are definitely more fun to talk about / has more relevance to a fashion / lifestyle blog than my dissertation. No one wants to hear about that hot mess.

          • I also am glad things are going well, but do agree that you post about him very frequently. Which is what we do when we are in those early stages I suppose, but it does drive me nuts when this happens to my real life friends, and suddently I am friends with “bf and I” instead of just I. This post did not seem particularly egregious though.

        • Rude! Her comment was completely relevant and “boyfriend” was not gratuitously tacked on at all.

          • Wannabe #1 :

            High achieving women do not mention such things as boyfriends lest they ruin the high achieving image of themselves and the other anonymous readers of this blog, didn’t you know?! *super sarcastic tone, in case it wasn’t clear*

          • This is the kind of thing that makes me get sick of this site. Why jump on her for mentioning a boyfriend? That’s just cold.

        • Get over it. The relationship is new and she’s excited about it and still feeling her way. Try and be nice. It’s not like she’s gloating.

      • You’re moving in?! Congrats!

      • Calibrachoa :

        So glad to know I am not alone…. it’s one of the reasons I kinda dread cohabiting with the taller half! ::P

  16. TJ! Personal shopper/stylist advice?

    I’m 30. I have no sense of style. I’m short and plus-sized. I only just learned navy is a neutral. I don’t know how to dress myself, and I need someone who can teach me – starting from the beginning, as if I were 5 or 6 years old – all about dressing (like, for example, that navy is a neutral, or what colors look good on me).

    4-5 people have recommended Nordstroms personal stylist services to me. And I’m probably going to go, but I’m scared. I’m insecure about the way I look (I was a fat child and teenager, I worked hard to get down to a size 8 and stay there for 4-5 years after college, then gained 70lbs very fast due to an injury) and my closest Nordstrom’s is in Marin county, which is apparently hella snobbish.

    Can someone who has used personal stylist services kinda… tell me what to expect? What do they ask? Will I need to warn them that I’m a total idiot? What should I wear? What… what do I do?

    (I left a related comment on the weekend thread, but late on Sunday so it was on page 2. It has more details if you’re interested; link to follow.)

    • In Which Lexi Whinges About Her “What Does I Wear” Problem: http://corporette.com/2013/03/22/weekend-open-thread-171/comment-page-2/#comment-1579575

    • Well, you’ll make an appointment, and they’ll take your size info and what you’re looking for.
      In other words, Nordstrom has a plus sized department. You will be given a personal shopper who knows that department. She makes money by YOU feeling great and buying the clothes. You don’t have to hunt the racks and feel embarrassed because she will be doing that for you. No one will give you the side-eye. Good luck!

    • I’ve never used a personal shopper (so I’ll let the other ladies weigh in on that one) but I’ve seen this book a few times and it’s struck me as a terrific walk-through of what a well-dressed woman’s basic wardrobe should look like. http://www.amazon.com/Chic-Simple-Dress-Smart-Women/dp/B000FL893O/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364229036&sr=1-3&keywords=chic+simple Not sure if it will be helpful to you, but might give you a basic outline of what you might be looking for.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Talbot’s women’s line also carries petites. You should be able to find nice, work appropriate clothes there as well…

      • lucy stone :

        I agree. I get a lot of work basics from there (suits, pants, pencil skirts) and then can jazz them up with stuff from other places. It is really nice to know that I am always a 16WP in their jackets rather than messing around trying 10 different sizes at a department store.

    • goldribbons :

      I’ve started following a relatively simple style blog and it’s really helping me get some ideas of things to wear. Not sure if you’re interested in a(nother) blog to read, but if you are, it’s called PuttingMeTogether.com and she’s really helpful with basic look-like-an-adult style.

      • I like that blog, too. I also think Wardrobe Oxygen has a nice, kind of office-casual style, and she is a plus-sized (I think) petite and posts lots of good information on dressing a shorter, more curvy body type.

        I always feel kind of lame recommending blogs, but I have picked up a lot from them. Even Sally at Already Pretty – I know her style doesn’t exactly suit the needs of most people on this site, but I think she has some good posts on proportion, color combinations, accessorizing, and putting things together. Extra Petite, although teeny, has a very lovely, more office-formal-ish style.

      • Hollis Doyle :

        I just discovered that blog last week through Pinterest! I found it very helpful for inspiration, for example, as ways to style a white tee. Her looks are simple but fun, and she does a good job explaining multiple uses for different pieces and how to make them look completely different. As for the OP’s question, I would start with some basics – black/gray pants and/or pencil skirt, a nice pair of jeans, etc. and then look through blogs or on Pinterest or just through google for different ways to style them. I think a personal stylist will help determine what looks good on your shape, then you can take it from there. Good luck!

    • I haven’t used a personal shopper, but were I to make an appointment, here’s what I would want them to know:

      1. Goal of the appointment (for you, this might be “basic building blocks for office wear, workhorse items that I can build a wardrobe around”). If you have the budget for casual pieces too, I’d also ask for one or two weekend looks that could take you from day to night. Include shoes too, if you need them, and maybe a purse and/or tote for work, or some jewelry?

      2. General sense of budget (if you definitely have a budget, you should tell them. If it’s more of a “well, let’s see how much my money can buy me and evaluate from there” approach, you could ask them for a ballpark number for lower-priced brands and higher-priced brands, and then consider.)

      3. Any other context you can give them – like typical outfits that other women wear in your workplace (“sweaters with dressy pants” or “button-up shirts with skirts” or “mostly jackets, but not suits”)

      4. I’d admit that you’re new at looking critically at your wardrobe and will need advice accordingly – they can only help you with that if you tell them!

      5. Your rough measurements (bra size, waist, hip) because brands run so differently.

      The personal shopper will probably have a dressing room with some different options for you to try waiting for you. Then as he/she gets a better sense of your preferences, what colors/shapes work best, they will go get additional items from the racks.

      For the appointment, I’d wear an outfit that makes me feel my best, wear makeup/hair similar to what I’d wear to the office (light touch on the makeup, though, so you don’t get it all over the clothes when trying on) and would choose underwear carefully – maybe boy shorts because they’re great with pants, and a good supportive bra. (PS – Nordstrom is great at bras, too, if you’re suddenly thinking “what?!”)

      Once you’ve learned a little more about flattering colors and shapes, I’d recommend Talbots as a cost effective way to boost the number of pieces in your wardrobe. They have a plus-sized petite section on their website and have frequent sales.

    • Lexi,
      I’ve been running an ad-hoc “personal shopping” ring for friends, family, and co-workers for the last 4 years or so. My goal isn’t to dress them up and fill their closet, per se, but instead to teach them how to shop, what to look for, questions to ask, and how to interact with salespeople to minimize the overall angst of shopping. I never thought there was much interest in this kind of service other than in my little circle. I wish you were on the east coast, because I’d love to help you! Blogs and books aren’t going to be helpful for your particular question. Here are my best tips from afar for someone in your situation, particularly if you’re nervous about the full-on Nordstrom personal shopper experience. I recommend that you outsource this on a piecemeal basis. Find a store that you like, that has clothes that generally fit your size and shape. Go there during a slow part of the day, maybe late in the evening on a weekday or right when they open on a weekend. Set yourself a 90 minute limit for browsing. People start to make bad shopping decisions after that, because they get frustrated and buy the best thing they can find, even if it is doesn’t really work for them. Salespeople will be eager to help you. Let them! Pick their brains about different fits, colors, inseams, etc. Get their recommendations for a good tailor. Have the tailor figure out how the clothes should hang on you, and be willing to invest a little bit in making things fit properly. Finally, try to build what’s known as a capsule wardrobe, where everything you own goes with everything else. It might feel like what you buy is all alike, but it really makes life easier when you don’t have to put any effort into mixing and matching. This starts in the store, not in your closet. One way you can test this is to try new things on in a store with all your other clothes on. For example, try on a sweater with the skirt you walked in wearing. Does it all work together? If so, that’s a step in the right direction. Keep doing this when you buy new clothes, and after a year or two, your entire closet will start to “work” together. This kind of advice is much easier to give in person, but I hope it’s helpful and gives you some confidence. Good luck!
      Signed, A Shopping Coach (not a personal shopper)

    • Just lost my previous comment. Here’s the most important part.

      Don’t go to Nordstrom in Marin as they don’t have a plus-sized department (they might once they finish the multi-year expansion, but as of two weeks ago, they do not).

      I used a personal shopper at another department store in downtown SF and it was a very good experience.

      Remember, the shopper is there to find clothing you like and that will fit well. You do not pay a separate fee to the shopper, but I am certain their performance is measured by how much is sold.

      • Oh! Cheers for letting me know they don’t have plus-sizes in the Marin Nordstrom. I’ll go to the SF store instead. I’m surprised there isn’t a Nordstrom in Santa Rosa – I guess everyone goes to Vallejo?

    • You could also tell them, when you make the appointment, that this is your first time ever with a personal shopper and you’re a little nervous — maybe they’ll give you the shopper who’s extra special nice. :)

    • I am borderline plus size (varies between 12-16 depending on the brand), and I had a great experience with a PS at Nordstrom. I noted my measurements and usual sizes in my contact with them, and then when I got there, she had some items picked out to get an idea of what I liked, and what fit. She was very conscientious at first until she knew what would fit. If I said I didn’t like it, or it was a little snug, she didn’t make me parade out and show everyone. Some of it fit, some didn’t, and overall it was a good experience.

    • East Coaster :

      Great advice here already. I would add make sure that you are wearing undergarments that fit well. You could go get measured for new bras, etc. ahead of time. It will make a big difference on how the clothes fit.

    • Anonymous :

      Has anyone tried cakestyle? It is a personal shopper website that sends you suggested clothes and you keep what you like.

      • I seem to remember a post in the past on it but it might have been somewhere else (Capital Hill Style?) I can just imagine my profound disappointment when I opened the box and realised that they weren’t sending me stylish-cakes?

        • I would be so disappointed I would have to go eat my feelings.

          I wouldn’t use a service like that because I am soooo cheap and hate spending full price. Now if someone would like to go trawl the the local Goodwills for me and present me with a boxful of $2 JCrew tshirts every month… we could tawk.

          • Right? The mention of cake is enough. That would be amazing and might be a constructive re-direction for people with thrift store habits? I live on a street with 15 thrift shops (seriously, counted them one day, it’s a weird UK phenomenon) but never go in since I don’t have the patience to trawl through for something that I like + fits.

    • just do it :

      Here is what you need to do: call, and make the appointment with the Nordstrom in Saf Francisco. Do it today. Once you have done that, when the day comes to go to your appointment, force get in the car, drive yourself there, wear whatever you want, and just get thee to the appointment.

      That’s how I confront finalizing decisions that I know are in my best interest but that I am scared about/want to put off/want to overthink. I just close my eyes and force myself to make the phone call/schedule the appointment/have the conversation. And then I just . . . do it. Stop thinking about it, stop worrying and stressing about it. Just make the appointment and go. If you don’t like the person or you find them unhelpful, you never have to see them again in your life. But I bet you will have a blast, walk out with a ton of cute, flateering clothes, and say “I am so glad I did that!”

    • I recommend the book You Are What You Wear. In it, a stylist/psychologist helps people makeover their wardrobes and deal with the underlying emotional issues that are standing in their way from living the lives they truly desire. It’s a fascinating read and may help you understand yourself better!

  17. I know others have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I caught this article in the NYT and thought it was interesting:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/the-immortal-life-of-henrietta-lacks-the-sequel.html?pagewanted=all

    • That is interesting. I had read about the sequencing of her genome, but hadn’t thought about the ethical implications, especially in relation to her children, grandchildren, etc.

  18. Just a shout-out to the Toronto ladies to thank you for your Yorkdale recommendation. I went on Friday, spent two months’ worth of my clothing budget and had a great time. I ended up buying shoes and a sweater from Ann Taylor, a top I’ve been eyeing for ages from Anthro, and the most beautiful scarf ever from J. Crew. Sadly, All Saints was not open yet but it is clearly on its way.

    For anyone who hasn’t been to J. Crew recently and loves Liberty prints, I’ll link to the scarf I bought in a separate post. I fell hard for the print – it contains all my colours and is classic Liberty. J. Crew is also using this print in several items of clothing but I thought the scarf was the most versatile.

  19. Internal Promo Question :

    I have a question about putting together an internal resume. I have generally taken my external resume, which contains only general references to clients (i.e. a large national bank), and replaced those generic terms with specific project names (B*nk of Amer*ic*) (this is just an example). However, I want to show that I am sensitive to the fact that this information is for internal use only. Should I put some kind of disclaimer on my resume (i.e. For Internal Use Only)? I am essentially applying for a promotion within my group, so everyone involved in the hiring process will know not to disseminate the information.

  20. goldribbons :

    Can anyone recommend a good, not terribly expensive food scale? Thanks ladies.

  21. Saturday by Kate Spade :

    The Saturday collection from Kate Spade is live finally and I am lusting over everything with that zigzag print. I am debating pulling the trigger on the long sleeved dress but am seriously worried about how short everything looks since I am 5’10″. Has anyone seen it in person?

    • Ack! Wide legged cropped pants? Really? And why are all the skirts so short?

    • Anonymous :

      Haven’t seen the Saturday line, but I find Kate Spade dresses to run short (also 5’10). The exception is dresses with full skirts that are supposed to hit at/just below the knee.

    • I wish websites would consistently include the model’s measurements… specifically height. I’m so happy f21, asos, several others do.. but not Saturday apparently. As a fellow tall girl (5’11″) I’m guessing that dress will be too short :(

  22. I thought I’d ask the hive, are there items in your SOs wardrobe that you’d like to see go? Do they have things that they’d like to see added to the donate pile?

    I told my boyfriend that I’d like to burn his tan ‘around the house t-shirt’ t-shirt and he said that he’d use my green trousers (they’re fun, colorful, spring-y) to light the fire.

    • Diana Barry :

      Hahaha! I think we had a big thread about this in the past. My DH has a box called “Awesome T-shirts that Diana Hates” (this is what its label says) in the attic that he won’t allow me to throw away. I think there are a few more t-shirts headed up there in the near future!

      DH probably hates my orange fleece sweatpants (patagonia) but I don’t wear them outside the house. :)

      • Ahh, I must have missed it. Orange fleece sweatpants do sound intense but kind of amazing! My best friend has this awful vest outfit that I’d like to permanently disappear from her closet but she loves it and feels super confident in it so good on her.

    • I definitely have clothes that my BF doesn’t really like, and vice-versa. But as long as we aren’t wearing them in an inappropriate manner (ie, if he wanted to wear a raggedy old tshirt to a business casual dinner, or vice versa), then I put this on the “not a big deal” list. We aren’t the same person, we aren’t always going to like the same things.

    • OH yes. Fiance is very low maintenance, which is great in a lot of ways… except when it comes to the decades-old American Eagle polos that are nearly shredded and weird colors. Merp. In any case, I’ve been playing dress-up-fiance, and he tends to let the items go when I replace them with nicer things. The key is figuring out what it is he loves about whatever it is. Also, just letting it go re: around the house clothes :).

    • My husband is a decent dresser. The only time I was truly horrified was when he insisted on wearing knee-length cargo shorts over sweatpants. Yes we were camping, but there were other people around!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’d love to switch out my boyfriend’s jeans that are all too short. Not sure I can convince him to buy anything except the ones from his beloved LL Bean catalog, but hopefully I can convince him to order a longer inseam. Luckily, his sister works in fashion and they lived together for a few years post-college, so she got him into having a pretty good wardrobe other than that.

    • Mine wears manpris sometimes in the summer. Allegedly they’re acceptable where he’s from.

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      yes. He has several horrible button downs in awful patterns that I’m pretty sure he’s had since high school and they need to go. The thing is, he acknowledges they’re bad and never wears them. I ask him why he doesn’t just get rid of them. He’s keeping them “just in case” of an emergency situation where everything else is dirty and he needs something to wear. I think he has enough button downs for 3 weeks. This emergency scenario is never going to occur.

    • be glad it’s an “around the house” shirt. My boyfriend’s favorite “around the house” shirt has had several holes in it for a while and it finally literally ripped apart when he took it off yesterday. I’m just glad he actually does reserve it for “around the house” only and will change even if it’s to run to the grocery store. Aside from that I want to burn his ill fitting cargo shorts. The fact that they’re cargo shorts is an issue in itself, but they are also so big. Ugh.

    • darjeeling :

      yes, my SO is a fan of the short sleeve button down, which I’m not particularly although I can see that they’re practical for summer. I think he would like it if I got rid of all high heels and wore sneakers everywhere.

  23. The bad part of today: Found out this definitely is not *the month* for baby. This marks the 12th “not the month” month for us. I’m crampy, moody, and tired. I made my HSG appointment this morning, and almost started crying in the middle of the phone call because I suddenly felt very scared, both about the HSG and the whole process (the emotional process but also the process of spending months getting poked and prodded in hospital rooms like an alien’s specimen). The good part of today: I emailed Mr. TBK and told him I felt scared. He offered to take off work to go to the appointment with me. I realize this is a no-brainer for some people, but I grew up in a family where everyone kind of just did for themselves. At 18, I drove myself to the ER with one hand wrapped in a bloody dishtowel where I’d gashed myself on broken glass. It wasn’t that my family wasn’t available. They were all sitting at home the five hours I was in ER. It just never occurred to anyone to come with me (or drive me, even though my cut hand was pretty useless on the wheel). I’m still feeling grouchy and not productive today, but I’m really happy I have my guy. He’s a good one.

  24. MBA Honor Society? :

    Hi all,

    I just received an invitation to join the Beta Gamma Sigma national honor society because of my performance in business school. I gather that this honor society is open to those who graduate in the top 20% of their class. Would this have any meaning to future hiring managers or any other possible benefit? I graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa but don’t know that it really provided any value. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • DH was/is? a member. It didnt’ cost anything, and it gave him an honor cord at graduation. He doesn’t put it on his resume (he does put Phi Beta Kappa), and I think he got a linkedin invite to join…but that’s it.

      I would say Phi Beta Kappa is much more distinctive.

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