The Hunt: Tights for Work

the-best-tights-for-workSure, 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.

As cold weather sets in, I thought we’d do a roundup of some of the best tights for work out there.  Ladies, which are your favorites — which are your favorite everyday tights, your favorite superwarm tights, favorite opaque tights, and favorite shaping tights? For me, my favorites for everyday are my Spanx shaping tights, for warmth, my fleece tights from Plush, and for opacity — which is lower on the list for me than comfort and durability, but I know is key for a lot of other women — are my Commando tights.  I can’t wait to hear what your favorites are!

First, some general categories — and do note that we’ve talked in the past about how to care for tights, as well as hunted for the best thigh-high stockings for work.


Above: a few Hall of Famers, pictured: one / two / three / four

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How to Buy Suit Separates

How to Buy Suit SeparatesI’ve always said that suiting separates are far, far more flattering and versatile than discount bin suits (you know the ones, sold on the same hanger with a single size, some for very inexpensive prices) and we’ve seen an explosion in recent years with a TON of options for suiting separates.  Jacket, skirt, and pants, sure — but there may also be multiple jackets with cuts, buttons, and collars, ankle pants as well as trousers, a matching sheath dress or vest — I’ve even seen short shorts. So let’s discuss, ladies: how do YOU buy suit separates? Which pieces are your favorites to buy first (pencil skirt and collared jacket? ankle pants or trouser pants)?  Do you buy as many pieces as you can afford and dry clean all your suit pieces together so they wear the same, or are you open to “sale stalking” pieces from a matched suiting set, ready to swoop in if they go on sale? If you fluctuate between sizes, do you often buy two different sizes to keep in your closet and pull out the day of?

UPDATE: Ah, I’m seeing from the comments I’ve been unclear, so let’s set up a hypothetical. You need a new suit and go to a store like Talbots and find a beautiful suit on the mannequin — you love the color, the fabric, and hey, you need a new suit. You ask the clerk and she tells you there’s a pair of trousers, a pair of ankle pants, a sheath dress, a pencil skirt, a flared skirt, a collared jacket, a collarless jacket, a duster vest, a fitted vest, a pair of Bermuda shorts — all in that beautiful fabric and, wow, they all fit you perfectly. (Hey, it’s a hypothetical.) Do you buy ALL of those pieces at once? If you decide to only buy three pieces (say, pencil skirt, trousers, collared blazer), do you stalk the others to wait until they go on sale? (If you later saw one of the pieces on deep, deep discount — like the Bermuda shorts — would you buy them if only because you already had other matching pieces? Or at a certain point do you say NAH, I’m good, I have enough matching pieces for that suit.) If you buy three or four pieces and it becomes your favorite suit, would you ever go back to buy other matching pieces?

(Pictured: just a few of the suiting options that Theory has offered over the years — I’ll try to update the post later when I’m not having tech troubles to show some of the other great examples for suits with a thousand matching pieces.)


Weekend Open Thread

basics-in-the-nordstrom-saleSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

Ladies, as I mentioned earlier, the Nordstrom sale is good. I did a fuller roundup for workwear earlier in the week, but I thought I’d mention some great weekend basics I just spied in the sale: tons of Splendid tops, 15-25% percent off. Not a huge sale, admittedly, but these shirts are some of my favorites for the weekend, and they’ve been on every “best of” list for the past thousand years — they’re soft, they wash well, and they last.  Pictured here: the deep V neck, the turtleneck (the thin jersey turtleneck is a growing trend — if you don’t have one I’d suggest picking one up!) and a simple white tee.  They’re $34 to $43, at Nordstrom.

Happy weekend! As you may know it’s Columbus Day weekend, which means a lot of sales — some noteworthy ones we’ve seen include:


Deal Alert: The Nordstrom Sale is Gooooooodd

nordstrom-saleI saw that this blue DvF dress was marked down a few days ago, and have meant to mention it on the blog — we all drooled over it when it was $398; it’s now $160 and has all sizes 0-14 left. But then I dug deeper — and there are a ton of great things in the sale section! I’ve rounded up some other favorites below, but some quick hits for you:

Kat’s Favorite Classiques Entier Sale Items

There are a ton of things in the sale from Classiques Entier — these are my favorites, all priced between $92 and $179.


black dress /gray suit pants (matching jacket) / plaid merino pullover / olive/black dress

Hugo Boss Picks in the Nordstrom Sale

There are tons of great Hugo Boss picks (some of these are down to Classiques prices, honestly! — these range in price from $77 to $375 for the suiting blazer) — some of my favorites include:

twist blouse / gray dress (matching jacket & pants) / blue dress (similar) / suit (in blue and gray!)


Nordstrom Sale Picks Under $50

There are a TON of affordable options — all of these items (below) are under $50 and have lots of sizes left (and readers LOVE that cardigan).

taupey blouse / red sweater / wrap blouse / tweed jacket

Ladies, have you gotten any crazy deals at Nordstrom lately? (I know one reader was just extolling the virtues of their return/price adjustment policy!) Anything you have your eye on, hoping it goes on sale? 

How to Buy a Blazer to Keep at the Office

how-to-wear-a-blazer-as-a-separateLadies, 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:

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Backpacks for Work

backpacks-for-workAre 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?

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