Ladies, what are your best tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office, or otherwise to look for in a blazer you’re buying to wear as a separate? (Does anyone have success with wearing suiting blazers as separates?) I often suggest to readers that they keep a blazer in their office to grab and go if you get an invitation to a meeting at the last minute or otherwise need to look (or feel) Very Professional. As another plus, it can also be a way to stay warm (whether with chilly air conditioning or a cold day), and — depending on the needs of the situation and the blazer you have — I might even grab a blazer with pockets if I were going somewhere and just wanted the use of the pockets.* But how do you know which blazer to keep at your office? We haven’t talked about wearing a blazer as a separate in years, so I thought we’d discuss. (Pictured.) Some of my top tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office include:
Happy Sunday, ladies! Ann Taylor’s sale section just got even better: you can take an extra 60% off all sale styles, starting now and ending tomorrow night (9/26) at 10PM EST. This is one of my favorite sales of the year, and it can be a great time to stock up on basics, newer trends, and even get multiples of things that you already own and love so much you want them in a second (or third) color. A note up front: there are lots of lucky sizes in the sale, so start by filtering by your size first.
Some of my favorites from the sale include:
- (at very top of post) – There are a ton of wrap dresses in the sale, and they all look amazing. Some of them are only available in lucky sizes, but this leafy wrap dress still has a bunch of sizes left, 00-18, in regular and petite sizes. It was $98 at full price, then marked to $85; with the sale it comes down to $34.
- (in collage above) This lacy pleated shell looks lovely — it’s available in winter white and black, sizes XXS-XXL (regular and petite), and was $79.50, then marked to $64.99, but it comes down to $26 in the sale.
- Also in winter white: this collarless jacket, available in regular and petite sizes 2-16. It was $198, then marked to $170 — with the sale it comes down to $68!!
- Oooh: this swaying flare dress looks great for desk to dinner — I like the almost sporty cut of the shoulders and the breezy rayon/spandex blend. It’s available in navy, black, and “amethyst haze” for $28 in the sale (originally $98!).
- These birdseye ankle pants only come in limited sizes, but they’re a great classic piece to stock up. They were originally $129, then marked to $99; with the sale they come down to $39. Nice.
Thank you to Ann Taylor for sponsoring this post!
Are there any backpacks that are stylish and large enough to hold file folders, binders and more on your commute from work? Backpacks are super trendy right now, but all of the really stylish bags are far too small for file folders or work papers. I was just at an event where I saw a young lawyer carrying a large, stylish backpack and my first thought was, good for her — whether she’s biking to work, walking to work, or just watching out for back problems down the line, it’s a smart move. Coincidentally, I also recently got a question from Reader B, who wants to start walking to work and carrying large files — so I thought we’d go on a mini-Hunt. Here’s B’s question:
I’m looking to start walking to work more as I recently bought a home which sits about a mile away from my office. However, I’m an attorney and am often carrying case files and other paperwork back and forth. Tote bags, no matter what the straps are like, begin to hurt my shoulders on this. I know a backpack would solve the problem but as a relatively young professional, I’m afraid to look like I can’t let go of my college backpack days. Is it ever acceptable to wear a backpack to the office
Interesting question, B — I’ve written before of my love of walking to work, but I’ll admit that for any real file carrying I took cabs and client-paid cars to and from the office. A few notes on tote bags, just at the outset: first, note that a leather bag is going to be far, far heavier than a nylon tote for work — and that I always found a single shoulder strap to be more comfortable for a long schlep. (You may also want to check out our advice on how to lighten your load.) Still, if you’re already feeling pain, there are a ton of backpacks right now that distribute the weight better across your back — I’ve rounded up a few of my top picks below, ranging from $29-$550. Readers, would you consider wearing a backpack to work? Have you bought any backpacks for work lately that you love — and what qualities make one more or less professional and stylish in your mind?
This is an occasional feature where we take a deeper look at weekend wear for professional women.
Ladies, which are your favorite bags (or types of bags) to carry when you go out on the town? Do you make an effort to switch bags when you’re going out, or do you often just end up carrying the same bag you wore to work? Do you prefer one brand/style to wear with jeans on dates, and another brand/style to wear as, say, a wedding guest?
I’ve always had a few nice clutches that I liked for weddings and other fancyish events, but during my single days I often found myself going out on the weekend with the same bag that I’d worn during the work week. (This is what I used to carry in my regular bag for work.) After diaper bags entered our lives, though, I went through a phase where I bought a ton of nice clutches for date nights with my husband, and I even have a few small crossbodies. In my mind, the pros and cons to the different weekend bag options break down like this:
There were a few intriguing comments in Friday’s open thread about brooches and whether they were in style, with some readers even suggesting it might be a matter of age. To me, though, this kind of comes down to style versus trend — and I thought it might make an interesting discussion here. After all, don’t stylish women wear what they fancy — trends be damned? On the flip side, if something was once very trendy and is not any longer, at what point does it cross the line into frump and being “out of style”? How do you cultivate a style instead of merely following trends? (Pictured: The Glamourai.)
For brooches, for example, I 100% agree that they are not trendy right now. They did go through a brief moment of trendiness in the early aughts — for some reason 2003 sticks in my head, along with an episode of What Not to Wear where Stacy London was suggesting women add two or three brooches at a time to sweaters, coats, and more. Somehow, though, I had found my way to brooches before that — buying a ton of them at the Eastern Market flea market while I was in law school — and I still wear them now. (Here’s my advice on how to wear brooches.) As some readers pointed out, the excellent blogger Adina at Blue Collar Red Lipstick also wears them — and I also think often of a great post on The Glamourai (pictured) about how to wear particularly heavy ones without ruining your clothes.
Now — this brings us to another dynamic: frump. If something was trendy many years ago and you continue to wear it after the trend has passed, are you going down the slippery slope toward frump? I tend to think of frump as being more about ill-fitting, unflattering clothes and, perhaps, a general harried demeanor (wild hair, stains/wrinkles, unintentional half-tucks), but it’s an interesting question to ponder. For example, years after skinny jeans came in style, I insisted that my style was bootcut jeans, refusing to buy any skinny jeans until years into the trend. Now that bootcuts and flares are becoming trendy again, though, I see readers noting that their style is skinny jeans (or, specifically, skinny jeans with tall boots) — but that look is starting to look more and more dated to me as well. (It’s interesting, as I type this and reach for a word other than frump, to realize that the phrase “out of style” is what I hear most often, but obviously it’s maddening to talk about being stylish and not being “out of style” without feeling like it’s devolving into an “orange orange orange orange orange” kind of situation.)
What’s even more interesting is how quickly fashion trends move. When some retailers put out new clothes every few weeks, and others copy runway styles much, much faster than ever before, it feels even more like you should find your own style, rather than be a slave to trends and replace your entire wardrobe every season. So how do you cultivate style that transcends trends, without risking being thought of as “out of style”? I’m genuinely curious to hear what you guys think about it!
Here are a few specific fashion/makeup things for you to ponder — are they stylish enough to transcend trend? Does your thinking change if we contrast a “hallmark look” (think Iris Apfel and her eyeglasses, Anna Wintour’s bob, Carolina Herrera and her crisp blouses) with “I thought it would be fun with this outfit”? And — when does it cross the line into an affected look, where you think, “ah, she thinks she is Miss Fashion,” perhaps like with the bustiers/ties mentioned below)?
Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.
Oxblood, burgundy, port, wine, sangria, claret — I’ve always thought this purpley/red wine-blood color is perfect for work shoes. Wear purple pumps to work as a neutral with navy and black — add a tiny touch of color to light gray outfits — and have fun contrasting them with pops of yellow, bright blue, and bright red. Ladies, do you wear purple heels for work? What exact shade is your favorite? Of the trendier styles (pointy toes, block heels), do you have a favorite? Do you have any favorite purple pumps from years past?
- Hall of Famers: Manolo Blahnik, Corso Como, Rockport, Comfort Plus by Predictions, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Nine West
- Under $100: Corso Como, Comfort Plus by Predictions, Michael Michael Kors, Athena Alexander, Tahari, Charles by Charles David, Sole Society (block heel), Calvin Klein (1.75″ heel), Me Too,
- Splurges: Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Nicholas Kirkwood, Chloé,
- Waterproof: Aquatalia (block heel), Aquatalia (skinny heel)
- Extended widths: (come in sizes like AA, C, W, etc): Naturalizer (N M W), Trotters (N M W, under 2″), Trotters (blockier heel), Rockport (M W), Sam Edelman (M, W), Naturalizer (platform, N M W WW)
- Extended sizes: (come in sizes 4-13): Naturalizer (4-12), Sam Edelman (4-12), Franco Sarto (4-13), Nine West (5-13)
- Wedges: Clarks, Eileen Fisher, Tod’s, Easy Spirit
- Heels under 2″: Eileen Fisher, Athena Alexander, Calvin Klein, Trotters,
- Comfort: Naturalizer (strappy), Rockport, Eileen Fisher, Earthies, Trotters, Trotters (blockier heel), Naturalizer (.5″ platform), Easy Spirit (strappy) — don’t forget to check out our entire guide to comfortable heels
Some Hall of Famers are pictured here — these are best selling styles that come back year after year, priced $15-$595…