What are the different “levels” for handbags — and how do you upgrade your handbag collection? I’m curious to hear what readers say. We’ve already talked about how to upgrade your professional wardrobe, as well as where to buy grown-up furniture… up next in our Next Step series: handbags. I’m pretty solidly in Bucket 3 at the moment. I had a lot of fun wearing purses a few years ago, striving to wear a new one from my collection every week — but now I tend to reach for the same one whenever I head out, so I can see the sense in having a Bucket 5 bag if that’s the only one you wear. (Here’s what I usually carry in my bag.) To me, the must-have details in any bag are a good leather or durable canvas (unless it’s a really fun color that I’ve never owned before — and a good sale), interior pockets, feet, a zipper on top — and I always appreciate an attached key fob and fun lining. Ladies, what are your must-haves? Which buckets of bags do you currently own — and have you been upgrading them as you move up the career ladder? Which brands am I forgetting in the different buckets?
What should you do if you look young for your age, and you do all the basic things you’re supposed to in order to seem older (dress professionally, wear heels, etc.), but you still get mistaken for a college student? What more can you try to get your colleagues to take you seriously?
Reader E wonders…
I’m a college professor (outside your normal demographic, but I really enjoy the conversations here). I often am told that I look like an undergrad. I have two questions. First, how do I respond to this in a workplace setting? With a frosty “Nope, I’m actually in my mid-thirties”? With “I’m told that I’ll be grateful for it one day”? Why do people think this is an acceptable thing to say to someone? Second, how can I actually look older so that I avoid these comments and am taken more seriously? I’m short (5′), which is part of the issue, but I already wear 1-3″ heels/wedges (more would look out of place here and are not my style). I use basic makeup (tinted moisturizer/blush/mascara), wear professional and structured clothing, have nice-looking but understated jewelry (including my engagement/wedding rings), keep my wavy hair shoulder-length and mostly under control, and make an effort to speak in a lower voice. This all feels like Looking Older 101–I need the upper-level class!
Hmmmmn. Hmmmn. We’ve talked about a lot of this before — how to avoid acting young, how to lower your voice, and whether long hair makes you look younger — but it sounds like Reader E has already taken a lot of these tips. What else can be done? I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but I did come up with a few tips. I don’t think everyone needs to take these steps, but for people like Reader E, who have tried everything else and are still frustrated by people telling them they “look young,” these may be the tweaks you need to consider:
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.
A stylish interview tote is something that every woman needs — yet it can often be a hassle to find the perfect thing (at a price you like). For my money, a good interview tote:
- is black (and can be worn with any color, including navy)
- has structure to it and will stand up by itself if you set it down
- is big enough to hold at least a folder with your resume, as well as a small bag of makeup and a bottle of water
- has interior organization (pockets and the like) so you can find what you need, quickly and easily, without digging
In an ideal world, a good interview top would also zipper on top (so it’s secure and won’t accidentally spill out), and would be able to be carried by a shoulder strap so your hands can be free. We’ve gone on the hunt for these before (see our 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here); also, guest poster Jean from Extra Petite recently shared her favorite tote bags with us. Some of the classics that we’ve included in previous roundups (and are still available) are Rebecca Minkoff MAB totes, the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totes. Readers, what qualities do you look for in an interview tote bag? Are there any classics that we’re forgetting? Have you made any recent purchases of a great tote bag?
Work bags: we’ve talked about bags for summer associates, interview totes, suitcases for overnight business trips, messenger bags, and how much we end up spending on them all. In today’s guest post, Jean from Extra Petite brings you a roundup of stylish work bags, straight from her own closet. In addition to petite-focused fashion, Jean’s blog features workwear and accessories reviews across various sizes. Jean was kind enough to contribute a great guest post on suiting alterations during my last maternity leave — welcome back, Jean! – Kat.
Hello Corporette readers! I’m stepping in for Kat today to chat about work-appropriate handbags that fit at least a laptop and some documents. I know we each have various needs and preferences on material, structure, and price range, so I’ve pulled a few from my own closet that cover a wide span of options:
How do you pack for a day trip in another city? Today I’m excited to welcome back guest poster and blogger extraordinaire Road Warriorette, who’s been nice enough to give us helpful tips on traveling with coworkers and professional but small suitcases. We actually just met IRL not too long ago for a lovely dinner. :) Today, she answers Reader A’s question about packing for one-day business trips. Welcome back, Road Warriorette!
Reader A wonders:
Do you or your readers have suggestions for how to pack for a day trip in another city? I am going to start a new job that will require frequent day trips where I will fly to another city in the morning and fly back at night. I prefer not to take too much stuff, but I do want to be prepared in the event that I get stuck overnight. I need my laptop for the trip and am on the hunt for an appropriate bag for day trips and for client visits in my own city.
People who never travel for work are always surprised at the number of day trips I take. On the one hand, it makes sense — if you are only doing one day’s worth of business, why pay for a hotel room? On the other hand, they are often exhausting, 18-20 hour marathons. It seems I am always on the last flight out, and a few times have gotten stuck spending the night somewhere unexpectedly.
Hello! I love Corporette, and had a question about messenger bags. I read through some of the blog’s archives re: work bags, and found plenty of negative comments about carrying messenger bags to work. I always wore them in school, and recently impulse-bought a men’s messenger bag on sale (this one to be specific), because it was so gorgeous in the store. Going through the comments made me wonder — would this be appropriate to bring to the office and wear to a meeting? The leather is just such great quality, and I love the simple, understated lines. For the record, very, very new at NYC BigLaw, and I only wear these sorts of bags on one shoulder, not across the body.
Interesting question, Reader H! (Pictured: Bleecker Commuter in Leather, $598 at Coach.) We’ve talked about backpacks for commuting (including walking to work), women’s briefcases, and interview totes, and for Coffee Breaks I’ve often suggested briefcases primarily marketed to men, but I’ve never thought about the messenger bag question — so I’m curious to hear what the readers say.