Can You Mix Different Black Fabrics to Create a “Suit”?

womens-suitsCan you mix different black fabrics to form a suit? Reader E wonders…

Hi! I searched your archives but couldn’t find anything addressing my question, so here goes: I have two skirts and a pair of pants, all from different companies and of different materials (one’s a lightweight wool, another’s a cotton/viscose/spandex mix, and the last’s made of polyester/viscose/spandex). All are black, yet their shades don’t match. I need to purchase a basic black blazer to make a suit for interviews (and hopefully my first job). If I get a blazer that will match at least one of the bottoms, can I wear it with the other two, or is that a office faux pas? Will other people notice, especially if I won’t be working in a conservative field? I don’t have the money to get several pieces in the same fabric. Please help.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Maybe I just haven’t seen this done well.  But I think Reader E is wasting money to try to mix different fabrics to “create” a suit — and yes, I do think other people will notice.  Some thoughts, off the top of my head:

a) it is incredibly difficult to find the same fabric/weave/color, even if you’re talking about something like black seasonless wool.  Some blacks have more reds, some have more greens.. some wools are shinier, some are softer, some are blended…

b) even if you CAN find the same fabric, how you care for your items affects the cloth — if you’ve drycleaned or washed one piece 15 times and the other only once, they will look different. [Read more...]

Statement Pieces and the Intern

statement pieces for internsWhen can interns wear statement pieces like necklaces or shoes?  Reader C, a law student, wonders….

I am a current law student preparing for a summer internship. I’ve been reading through a lot of your old posts trying to get a gauge on appropriate office wear. My question is about shoes.

I’m wondering how far is too far with statement shoes. If I am wearing a more muted outfit, is it okay to have a more colorful pair of shoes? For instance, I was considering a pair of shoes like these from Loft.

Would those be considered too bold for an office?

Interesting question. We get into this time and time again, but I’m always curious to see what the readers have to say. For my own $.02: Those are not first day shoes. Those are not big meeting shoes, or networking shoes. But: they could be office shoes. As in, you’re having a low key day, you’re not seeing anyone important, and you just want to mix it up a little bit. To be honest, if you’re interning at a BigLaw firm, there probably are not going to be very many of those days. So this becomes an issue of budget: if you have the money to spend for shoes that you may way a few times during the summer, then knock yourself out.  (There are very limited sizes left at Loft, but they are crazy affordable with today’s 40% off sale — they were $79.50, then marked to $69.50, with the extra 40% off they come to $41.99.  Petra Multicolored Floral Print Pumps)

(Update: If you really like the floral look, these very similar Ivanka Trump pumps are on sale at Nordstrom for $99.)

Just to back up a little bit — why, you may be asking, should the intern not wear these shoes to meetings and networking events?  [Read more...]

What “Business Casual” Means for Students Who Are Networking

Shirred Side Cowlneck SweaterA lot of companies and networking groups have parties for students over the holidays — I can remember attending more than a few in my younger years.  The perennial question, as Reader N wonders:  what do you wear when it says “business casual attire”? Perhaps more importantly, what things shouldn’t you wear for winter networking events?

I’m a college student who is interested in finance, and go to a lot of information sessions for banks. The dress code is usually business casual or business attire. Other than just wearing a suit, what can be appropriate in these situations? A dress like this Metallic T-Shaped Tunic Sweater from Express (picture) or this Merona Sleeveless Empire Dress (picture) with tights and a jacket? Black slacks and a nice sweater?

This is a great question, and I want to start by saying, again, that when you’re networking — at least for a conservative job — the goal is is for your clothes to be muted enough that people remember your brains (or your words or your resume), NOT your outfit.  A few basic rules, just responding to your question: [Read more...]

Alumni Networking – When You Know No One

handshake II, originally uploaded to Flickr by oooh.oooh.If there’s a networking events for alumni, can you go even if you’ll know no one there? Reader S wonders…

I just received an invitation to what looks like a really interesting and fun networking event for a BigLaw firm I used to work at. The invite went out to all its “women alumni.” Normally I’d hop on this in a second… Problem is, I only worked there for one summer–as a 1L–and only in a foreign office (and this firm isn’t one that’s very close-knit across offices). Would it be weird for me to go? Especially because I’ve “defected” to a different BigLaw firm?

I feel like the obvious Empowered Woman response should be a resounding yes. But something feels off. I’d go knowing nobody, and without the excuse of wanting to keep up connections or friendships from the summer I did spend with the firm, since I was in a different city. Also, is it somehow disloyal to my current firm?

I just feel like this sort of event seems more targeted to alumnae who’ve left for “neutral” reasons–going in-house, clerking, career shifts, etc.–not for those who left for essentially the same job with a competitor.

Great question. We’ve talked about how to network at a conference when you know no one, but not whether it’s wrong to go to an alumni event where you know no one.  Here’s my perspective, as someone who’s been at numerous alumni events (for companies, schools, and extracurriculars): [Read more...]

How to Build a Professional Wardrobe for $150

Mossimo® Womens TRS Boyfriend Jacket - BlackI know a lot of readers love Target for workwear — but since I’m almost never in the physical store (and invariably rushing to look at baby stuff when I am), I jumped at the opportunity when today’s guest poster (who has no affiliation with Target) offered to round up her favorite workwear pieces.  Cassie Boorn blogs at Ask a PR Girl.  Welcome to Corporette, Cassie!

Right after college, I started working from home for a PR agency that is based in New York.  (Here is the story of how I landed that gig.) While I work at home most of the time, I spend a lot of time traveling to the city and various blogging conferences. I don’t get to see my colleagues often so I want to look good when I visit the city but I also don’t want to spend a fortune on a professional wardrobe.

The way that I keep my wardrobe fresh without spending a lot of money is by wearing classic pieces and dressing them up with bold accessories. I live in the Midwest and because I live on a budget I have a secret trick to buying classic pieces on the cheap.

What is my secret? Target. [Read more...]

What to Wear to a Company Picnic

What do you wear to attend a company picnic and watch a baseball game — particularly when this will be one of the first impressions you make? Reader E wonders…

I finally have a unique fashion dilemma that I need help on. After working as a government attorney for several years, I have landed a job at a biglaw firm starting in the fall. I have been invited this summer to the firm’s trip to watch a baseball game and the picnic beforehand. It’s a family event to which SO’s and children are invited, and it’s on a Friday right after work. My dilemma–what to wear?? This will be the first time I meet many of the attorneys and support staff, so of course I want to make a good impression. Are jeans appropriate? Khakis? Do I need to wear team colors/jersey? Ack! (Also, I wouldn’t mind any tips on socializing at this type of event–I’ve never been to one and my SO can’t attend, so I’m really nervous about showing up alone and meeting people for the first time!) Thanks for any advice you have on this!

Ugh. I know firms think these things are fun, but the sartorial conundrum never is. Honestly, I would suggest calling the Hiring Department and asking them what people have worn to the event in the past. (In general, ladies, this is ALWAYS the right answer — call the HR department.) If they give you a vague answer (“oh, you know, pants or a dress”), I would ask what the men wear — if they’re still in suits from a day at the office (perhaps sans tie, or with shirt sleeves rolled up), I’d go for something more formal, like a sheath dress.  If they’re in shorts, polos, and sneakers (or team jerseys), welcome to Situation Casual — and perhaps consider jeans. [Read more...]