The Hunt: Stylish, Professional Satchels

stylish satchelsSure, 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.

Satchel or shoulder bag, ladies?  Every year we do a hunt for a basic black professional purse that is not a tote, which gets a special roundup of its own. (Here’s our roundup for purses from 2014, 2013 and 2012).  I’ve always had a preference for shoulder bags myself — I like to keep my hands free, and I don’t like a strap crossing my bust — so I was really shocked to see how few shoulder bags are out there right now, particularly in the non-designer realms.  Satchels, crossbodies, and bucket bags really dominate the market right now.  We talked about the crossbody bag a few weeks ago — I’m curious about your thoughts on bucket bags for work, as they seem a bit boho-casual to me. (But: I do love this bag for the weekend.)  Anyway, lots of beautiful satchel bags that look ladylike and professional… ladies, what is your favorite kind of purse for work? Have you found any great stylish, professional satchels recently?   (Angie at YouLookFab had a fun debate on bag shapes this a while ago — to pick up where she left off, are YOU Team Satchel, Team Shoulder Bag…. or are you Team Tote for work?)

Here are a few subcategories of professional purses that seemed deserving of their own mini-roundup…

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The Next Step: Jewelry

Jewelry for Work | CorporetteIn our ongoing discussion on The Next Step — i.e., how to upgrade various areas of your life — a reader suggested we discuss how to upgrade your jewelry collection, and how to buy jewelry for work in general. Excellent idea, and I’m curious to hear what people say. (I swear, I intended this to primarily be an open thread — but it turns out I have a lot of favorite designers I just HAD to look up and link to.) Note that I’ve talked about my own jewelry for work, and we’ve had excellent guest posts on how to buy jewelry for other women, as well as a 411 on different jewelry terminology (different metals, pearls). In other posts in this series we’ve talked about upgrading your bag collection, upgrading your shoe collection, how to upgrade your work wardrobe, better personal services for busy women, and how to buy grown up furniture.

For my own $.02, here is how my own jewelry buying has looked through the years:

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How to Wear Belts with Skirts

belts with skirtsWhat are some good guidelines for choosing belts to wear with skirts to work? Reader S wonders…

I’d love it if you could do a round up or a how to wear belts with skirts. I love the look of belts with skirts and I’m not really sure how to pick which width to go with or to coordinate colors.

We’ve talked about wearing belts– as well as the closely-related question of when to tuck – before, but not specifically with skirts. I’ll be honest here: I’m not much of a tucker myself, so I don’t often wear belts with skirts.  Pencil skirt plus fitted pullover plus blazer equals outfit.  Fit and flare skirt plus fitted cardigan equals outfit.  I have a lot more fun, in general, with other accessories. If a skirt doesn’t fit at the waist, I am much more likely to get it tailored than I am to try to hold it up with a  belt.

So I’m curious to hear what other readers say regarding wearing belts with skirts.  I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules — just guidelines to play around with.  Some thoughts: [Read more…]

Are Crossbody Bags Professional?

Are Crossbody Bags Professional? Are crossbody bags professional?  Could you wear one to a business lunch, or a networking event?  Reader C wonders…

Is a crossbody bag considered professional? I’m tired of carrying a ton of bags to work (briefcase, pump, lunch bag, and purse) and am trying to downsize my handbag. I’m considering purchasing the Lo & Sons Pearl bag. But would it be odd wearing a crossbody to a business lunch or networking event? Thanks!

The crossbody bag is SO HUGE right now. I think they’re cute, even if I wouldn’t wear one myself (busty girls, are you with me?). I would say this is a case of “you do you” and go ahead and wear it if you want to. I particularly think the crossbody is the new wristlet — perfect for grabbing something quickly to run to pick up lunch. (Pictured: another popular option, the Marc Jacobs Natasha, available at Nordstrom for $108-$398.  The pictured leather bag is $365.)

BUT — there’s always a but, isn’t there? — I might caution you in two possible regards that might invoke negative judgement about your professionalism.

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A Weatherproof Tote for Work

bags-weather-2Is it possible to find a quality work tote that won’t be ruined by bad weather but still looks stylish? How can you protect your bag from the elements? Reader C wonders…

Kat, I’d like to upgrade my work tote bag to something special but I worry about caring for it when commuting in rain and snow. The best thing about my 20 year old vinyl tote is that it’s indestructible, but it’s also pretty shabby. I’d like something classy but worry about the weather ruining it. Thanks for your advice.

We’ve talked about upgrading to a Prada bag (and upgrading your bag in general), what your tote bag says about you, how to lighten your loadthe best bags for commuting (and the best bags for interviewing!) — but we haven’t really talked about this. I’m curious to hear what readers say.

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The Hunt: Strappy Pumps

SJP Phoebe Patent Leather Mary Jane PumpSure, 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.

It’s that classic winter conundrum — you commute in to the office in snowboots or Wellingtons, wearing tights for warmth, and then find that your regular pumps feel super slippery with tights on.  My answer to this has historically always been to keep strappy pumps at work to wear with tights (if not commute in strappy pumps)!  However, we haven’t talked done a round up of strappy pumps in almost a year, so let’s discuss… Note that if you have fleece-lined tights (or other really thick tights) these strappy pumps may not be the best option.  Readers, what shoes do you wear with tights in the winter?  Are you a fan of strappy pumps for this purpose — or do you prefer to wear booties and shooties?  Bought any great ones recently?
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