Fun But Professional Patterns and Colors

Fun but Professional Patterns and Colors | CorporetteCan fun colors and patterns ever be professional? Reader S wonders:

The only black piece of clothing I have is one blazer and I don’t have a single white thing. You could find me in a floral skirts with striped tops, long bright dresses, and when I occasionally wear jeans, I always pair them with shirts and blazers. My favorite patterns are stripes and florals, favorite colors are purple, red, orange. Can this ever be professional? I feel very uncomfortable in black and would hate to give up my favorite pieces. The field where I hope to find a job is business causal.

Great question, S! We’ve talked about how to start wearing prints, as well as how to mix prints — but not in a long while (other than this brief mention in our post on how to shop your closet and Play Clothes). So let’s talk about it. First: I don’t think there is anything inherently unprofessional about prints, colors, and patterns — indeed, some of the most adventurous dressers, who mixed prints and patterns in the boldest ways, are some of the male partners I knew at my old law firm.  The easy advice here is that it’s very, very easy to throw on a solid cardigan or blazer that picks up one of the colors in your print, throw it on with a neutral trouser or skirt, and go to work.  But let’s have a bit more fun with it…

Fun but Professional Patterns and Colors | Corporette

Layer multiple patterns and anchor them with a solid piece, either in a neutral (black or white) or a color from one of the prints. (Check out our new Professional Prints board on Pinterest to see the pictures bigger, and click through for the sources.)

[Read more...]

Are You an Office Mom?

Office Mom: Valid Management Style, or Career Suicide? | CorporetteOffice Mom: Valid Management Style, or Career Suicide? | CorporetteHere’s a fun question for you: are you the office mom*?  I’ve read that being the office mom tends to hurt your career because people see you as, well, the MOM instead of the professional you are. So here’s the Q: do you agree that being the “office mom” is a bad thing — or is it just another management style? Are you the office mom, or do you work with one?  Is it more appropriate (or effective) in some office cultures, and less in others? 

For my $.02, I have always been totally guilty of this — long before I became a mom. I never baked cookies or cupcakes for people, BUT: I like to be prepared, and I generally remember the birthdays and other fun stuff (with a little help to remember personal details).  So I used to carry with me (and keep in my desk) all sorts of stuff — Shout Wipes! Bandaids! Tissues! Spare chargers! Fans! Sweaters! Coworkers always came to me when they needed something.  In some ways this was a plus — I’m definitely an introvert, and I’m sure I sometimes come off as cold if I’m focused on other stuff (thank you, resting bitchface!) — so this was my own little way of being friendly and approachable. I suppose I subscribe to the idea in the WSJ article — office mom as management style.

I’m curious, ladies — what do you think?

Pictured: Pink cupcake – meeting leftovers, originally uploaded to Flickr by Alpha.

[Read more...]

Guest Post: Pumping at Work 101

Pumping at Work 101 | CorporettePumping at work: it’s one of the toughest parts of going back to work after maternity leave. In past posts we’ve covered what to wear to pump at work, how to manage pumping in different offices, pumping during work travel, and how to dress professionally when you go back to work (when your pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit). Today Reader K gives you some basic tips for pumping at work and recommends a few helpful products. Thank you, K! 

My best friend gave me great advice before I went back to work: The dread is worse than the reality. I was nervous about leaving my little guy with someone I barely knew; I was nervous I would not be as good at my job as I had been before I left for leave; I was nervous that I would sit at my desk missing him all day. Basically, I was nervous about everything.

But now, seven months in, it hasn’t been that bad. For the most part, I have managed to focus completely on whatever I’m doing, whether work or home life. That means I am really efficient at work and then don’t really check my email once I get home until after my son goes to bed. (Fortunately, we hit the baby jackpot and got a great sleeper.) The hardest part, though, was pumping at work. After reading comments here and talking to my sister and some friends, I got into my routine. (Pictured: breast pump overload, originally uploaded to Flickr by madichan.

Read the rest of the post on CorporetteMoms… (but feel free to comment, on topic, on either page)… 

—————

N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!

Managing Severe Allergies at Work

Allergies at Work | CorporetteHow — and when — should you tell employers about your requirements for an allergy-friendly office? Reader J wonders:

After reading your latest article, Frequent Doctors’ Appointments, I found the courage to write you. I do suffer from severe allergies (foods and aerosols). I have graduated from university (physics), some work experience (energy business) and added up some economics studies, because I was unsure about being able to handle a “normal” office job. By now, I believe more in myself and am searching for a job (consulting/energy), but I will have to tell my future employer about my limits: 1) The rooms in which I work must be free of plants (important!). 2) I might have problems working “on schedule” in August and September. (In our climate here I have been struggling with asthma attacks, circulation problems, and developing new allergies for the last 5 years.) 3) The office should be mostly fragrance-free. These are the “basic conditions” about which I plan to inform any prospective employer in the second interview. How do I best do it without kicking myself out of the game immediately?

Hmmmn. First, J, I’m sorry to hear that you have such severe allergies! I’m not sure that arriving with a list of demands is the best way to go about this, but I’m curious to hear what readers say. The whole letter reminds me a bit of the recent news story about the female academic who had an offer rejected because she was too “demanding” in her requests while negotiating. That’s one way to do it — give your employer a list of things you’d like granted after you have the offer in hand and are negotiating. But a few notes about your situation:

[Read more...]

Expanding a Suiting Collection

How to Expand a Suiting Collection | CorporetteHow to Expand a Suiting Collection | CorporetteHow can you expand a suit collection beyond the most basic colors? What is the best non-basic suiting color? Reader J wonders:

For my new job, I need to wear a suit every day, so I’m ready to expand my very basic (black, navy, grey) collection. I am thinking about a camel or khaki color, but I’m not sure if that is too summery/appropriate for fall. Would brown be a better choice to fit more seasons?

Great question, J! I went back through a bunch of Suit of the Week picks and have a few thoughts:

  • Buy suiting separates.  First, if you haven’t already been buying suiting separates, please do start doing so.  You’re going to have SO many more outfits to put together for a suit if you have the pants, the blazer (or two), a sheath dress, and a skirt.  On the more affordable end look to places like Talbots, J.Crew, Boden, and even some Macy’s EDV lines (such as AK Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, etc) for these kinds of suiting separates.
  • Go for a more traditional non-traditional color such as light beige or light gray.  Most people would not consider a camel/khaki or even a light gray suit to be an interview suit, but these are all traditional colors for suits.  I’d also consider a light reddish brown suit (clay? putty? darker than a khaki, lighter than a coffee?) or a light blue suit (also this or this) to be in the range of “normal” suit colors, and I think you’ll find that they’re surprisingly versatile.  I’d also put white suits in this category. Personally I never wore my dark brown suits much, but my “base” for almost everything is black leather (versus brown leather), and I’m a silver instead of a gold — if either of those were different then I might have gotten more wear out of them.
  • Have fun with texture.  Seasonless wool suits are great for versatility, and they’re the classic suit fabric for a conservative office… but you can have a lot of fun with textured suiting too.  Tweed suits (also here), twill suits, crepe suits, ponte knit suits, cotton pique suits (also here), linen suits, and more, all bring in different textures, even if they’re in conservative colors.  Look for conservative suits that have details such as leather suit details, ruffled suit details (also here), or even animal print accents… none of these things are typical on interview suits, but they’re a great way to broaden your wardrobe while staying in conservative colors.
  • Printed suiting separates can also add a lot of versatility but still read as conservative.  Consider a pinstriped suit (also here), a polka-dotted suit (also here), a checked suit, a plaid suit, houndstooth suits, or even a suit with stripes (also here). I’d also put colorblocked suits (also here) in this category.
  • Go for a colorful suit.  Colors are in right now, so if you’re looking for a trendy piece, consider a suit with a fun color.  Purple suits may be a good place to start if you’re comfortable in navy, but dark green suits or dark red suits are also more popular than they have been in previous years. (Cobalt blue suits were everywhere not too long ago, as well!)  You could always go for a fuchsia suit, of course, and really make a statement.  Colorful suits can sometimes age you, so I’d look for inspiration from high-end lines (Hugo Boss, Theory) or, honestly, more youthful stores like Limited, Dorothy Perkins, Boden, and H&M.

Readers, which were the first suits you bought beyond black, navy, and grey basics?  What colors (or patterns) have been the most versatile, and been worth the purchase price? 

—————

N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!

Homing from Work – What Personal Tasks Are OK/Good to Do At Work?

Homing From Work | CorporetteThere was an interesting article in Greedy Associates a few months ago about “homing from work” — trying to achieve work/life balance by getting personal errands done during the day.  I hadn’t heard the phrase before, but it’s obviously something I did while working long hours at the law firm, and something I’ve advised people to do (to certain degrees) when, for example, advising people to try to fit social visits with friends into breakfast or lunch dates, getting a midday workout in, or even keeping a recurring appointment (therapy, personal trainer) or a frequent doctor’s appointment.  Still, other times I’ve advised people to avoid doing things at work (for example, not having long wedding planning calls at the office), either because it’s unprofessional or it’s bad for work/life separation.  So I thought we’d discuss:  what do you think are things that are appropriate to do at the office?  What are the things that are almost BEST to do at the office and make you more productive and happy, and which are things that are acceptable — but just barely?  What are the things that are “hard NOs” in terms of homing from work?  My own list might look like this, I suppose:

[Read more...]