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Weekend Open Thread

Something on your mind? Chat about it here.
Pictured:  Galaxy Mug, available at Target for $29.99 (set of 6)

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Suit of the Week

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

Great wool suit from Ann Taylor, which — for some reason — is available online only.  Particularly, we love the color, called “clover melange” — it’s a great basic to wear with white, black, or navy, but also purple or teal (as pictured, actually); we’d also try it with yellow. We also love a good wool with a bit of stretch.  The jacket (Wool Classic Jacket) is $230, the skirt (Wool Stretch Faux Sarong Skirt) is $110, and the pants (Signature Wool Cuffed Trousers) are $130; the jacket and pants are available in regular, petites, and tall sizes 00-18; the skirt is available in regular and petite sizes 0-16.

jacket skirt

What Your Tote Bag Says About You

ll bean boat bag

2016 Update: Links have been updated as of 2016.  See our most recent discussion on professional tote bags here!

Last week, we suggested Hayden-Harnett’s Ibiza “convertible flight tote” to readers — intending to recommend it as a tote bag for when you need to take home approximately fifteen pounds of paperwork — so we were a bit surprised when commenters railed against it as looking cheap as a purse (to us:  duh, of course, your purse is separate from that!) and bad as a carry-on (again, to us:  duh, of course, because the best soft carry-on is LeSportsac — how can that even be debated?).  After we got over our internal monologue, we’ve been thinking about all the different tote bags we’ve seen through the years.

To be clear:  These are not the kind of tote bags you carry with you to interviews — nor are they the kind of bags you use to carry a magazine and some papers.  These are the bags that you keep somewhere in your office and pull out on Friday afternoon when you suddenly realize you have to read or review thousands of pages over the weekend, and don’t feel like trying to box it up (or come into the weekend).  There are a few different varieties of them, and we’ve always thought they convey bits of your personality to people.

Readers, what’s your favorite for this kind of tote bag?  Do you think we’re accurate in our “personality” types?


longchamp tote for workThe “fancy” but practical bag.  Think Longchamp, the Ibiza bag, or any bag consisting of nylon and leather in a combination.  The nylon keeps the bag lightweight (aside from those fifteen pounds of papers, of course) yet very, very durable, and the leather adds a bit of glam as well as sturdiness.  We have packed our Longchamp to the brim and it always retains its shape.  (Alas, the largest sizes of the Longchamp bags are not available online — but for reference, pictured at left is Longchamp ‘Le Pliage’ Two Tone Shoulder Tote, available at Nordstrom’s for $125.)  This is our preferred look — it shows you care how it looks while you’re breaking your back doing work.
neverfull tote bag professionalThe “luxury” bag — such as Vuitton or Goyard.  For our money, the luxury bag is frequently a bit impractical — they never seem big enough, we’d worry about ripping the leather, and — considering the purpose — it seems a bit like a waste of money.  But, if you’re trying to convey that you’re a woman who cares about luxury at any cost, this is your bag.  For practical purposes (weight and durability), we would advise you to go with a treated canvas bag instead of a leather one, such as the Louis Vuitton’s “NeverFull GM,” available at LouisVuitton.com for $750.
rolling laptop bags for womenThe wheeled bag.  This one tells people that you’re a) smart and concerned about your health, b) serious about getting paperwork to and from the office, and c) possibly aren’t driving/being driven to and from work.  All said, these aren’t bad things to convey in today’s economy.  The downsides:  it’s not very fashionable, and if you end up with less papers (leaving some at home, recycling them, whatever) you’re still encumbered by the rolling bag. Pictured: Travelpro Tote TPro Xtreme Lite 15 Rolling Tote Granite, available at Amazon for as low as $84.
work backpack for womenThe backpack.  This is our least favorite option, if only because it tells people you haven’t really upgraded your bag (and possibly your style) since you were in school.  Pictured:  Deluxe Book Pack, available at L.L. Bean for $39.95.
ll bean boat bagThe boat bag.  The funny thing here is that, by and large, the female partners we know use these to shuttle their papers to and from work.  It conveys that you’re definitely driving/being driven (that open top is just a disaster waiting to happen on public transportation), and it can be a subtle way of telling people things about you:  I gave enough money to Charity X to get a tote bag!  I went to Conference Y and received this tote bag!  All in all, not a bad option to keep at the office.  Pictured:  Boat and Tote Bag, Open-Top, available at L.L. Bean for $30.95.

Shop more totes, below…

Suit of the Week

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

Reader E brought this dress and matching jacket to our attention, noting with excitement that “J Crew came out with some cute twists on normal suit pieces.” We agree — we love that the dress is only slightly embellished with some subtle black on black “petals” at the placket. We also love the fact that the pieces are made of four-season merino wool, and that there are multiple pieces (jackets, dresses, pants) in matching fabric. The dress (Super 120s papillion dress) is $195; the jacket (Super 120s Lizza jacket) is $230.

Open Thread: Great Hair Cuts

New in Town (movie poster)A while back we got this e-mail from a reader, curious about great hair styles…

Can you do a story on work appropriate hair cuts / styles? I’m getting a hair cut soon for interview season, and I’m looking for suggestions on savvy, sophisticated, work-appropriate haircuts.

This is an excellent question, and we’re curious to hear what you readers have to say. For our $.02, it seems that the greatest cut is the one that is flattering to you and requires the least upkeep as possible. For a lot of tv and film producers, however, “professional hair” has been interpreted as having stick-straight hair that hits between “shoulder-length” and “just past shoulder-length” (see, e.g., Renee Zellweger’s latest movie, New In Town (poster pictured above)*. Similarly, a lot of anchors have that same length hair, but with a lot of poof (such as Maria Bartiromo). Of course, these styles look less professional when you don’t have the benefits of a hair stylist on staff.

What do YOU think the best hair cuts are? Which actresses or personalities do you admire as having amazing, professional-looking hair? Personally, with our wavy, newly short-ish hair, we strive for Christina Applegate’s hair in “Samantha Who?” (but alas, ours is more wavy/frizzy than curly/bouncy — sigh). (Also, for our $.02, any hairstyle hitting below approaching your bra strap  is too long to be professional, unless you are Portia de Rossi in Better Off Ted, in which case it works.)

* Update 8/2010: Please do not take this mention as an endorsement of the movie — I finally saw it a few months ago and, yes, let’s just say I’m not endorsing it. – Kat

Wednesday’s TPS Report: Boden’s Brondesbury Blazer

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.
We’re loving this boiled wool blazer from Boden (available in the cheerful honey yellow, pictured, as well as gray and navy).  We love the structure and fit of the blazer, as well as the stretch and give of boiled wool — this jacket will look like a blazer but feel a bit like a sweater.  You’d probably get the most wear out of the gray color, but oh, that yellow — we’d wear it with gray slacks and a white blouse (or perhaps a blouse that had some purple accents, as pictured).  If we wore it with a black tee beneath it we’d be sure to work other colors into the outfit, to avoid looking like a bumble bee.  It’s $148 at BodenUSA.com, available in UK sizes from 4 through 20.   Boden’s Brondesbury Blazer

If you’ve recently seen a great work piece you’d like to recommend to the readers, please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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