How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more...]

The Hunt: Interview Tote Bags

The Best Tote Bags for InterviewingSure, 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 been a while since we did a roundup on interview tote bags, so I thought we’d do one now (see our 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here). I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: in my mind the perfect interview tote has structure (that it keeps if you set it down), is a muted color like black, and doesn’t have a ton of logos or other bling on it. In terms of size, I think it should be big enough to fit a file folder as well as whatever else you would normally carry in your purse, but not so big that you could fit a beach blanket or groceries in there.  In the past I’ve always preferred nylon to leather (much lighter weight) but I think readers have finally convinced me that the weight doesn’t matter that much.  (What do you think, guys?)  We’ve included some of the classics in previous roundups (such as the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totes) so I’ll only include the newer ones in today’s roundup. Readers, what are the top qualities you look for in an interview tote? Have you made any great purchases recently? [Read more...]

Pantyhose and Dresscodes

pantyhose dresscode.indexedDo any workplaces exist that still require pantyhose to be worn year-round in the summertime? Reader K wonders.

I love your site, but I need to call b.s. on something. Whenever the annual “should I wear pantyhose to the office” question comes up, invariably there are a few comments that go something like “my friend’s friend’s firm requires them even in the summer.”

I mean this is 2013, right? I have never actually met someone in real life who this is true about. I think it’s just anonymous urban legend.

Now, I am not talking about going to court in front of a judge. That’s totally possible. And I’m not talking about something that’s written into a dress code where the culture is that no one actually follows it. What I’m talking about is a bona fide, enforced pantyhose requirement in the office, year-round including in the summer.

Here’s the challenge: can you seriously name even one law or accounting or financial firm that enforces pantyhose in the office, even in the summer?

We’ve talked about when to wear pantyhose, how to wear pantyhose, and what color of pantyhose is best, but Reader K’s question is interesting:  does any dresscode actually require it?  (Pictured:  Spanx’s ’All the Way’ Sheer Support Pantyhose has 32 mostly positive reviews on Nordstrom (where the Anniversary Sale is coming soon, FYI)…) [Read more...]

When Should You Wear Pearls?

1.indexedWhen is the right time to wear pearls?  We’ve talked about how to buy pearls, but Reader C sent in a super short email wondering when to wear them…

One of my favorite jewelry pieces is my strand of Mikimoto pearls that I got for my 30th birthday.  They were an investment piece, and they get so much wear that I’m glad I did invest in a quality piece.  That said, there are a ton of price ranges (and there’s nothing wrong with faux pearls) so there’s something for everyone.  For my $.02, when to wear pearls depends on the kind of pearls we’re talking about: [Read more...]

Beauty Wednesday: Can You Network With a Band-Aid On Your Face?

how to treat facial scarsSo here’s an interesting question: how do you deal with wounds on your face that require a band-aid — is it better to be a dork for a week with a band-aid on your face (thus helping it heal) or is it better to “tough it out” and then be left with a permanent scar?  I’m enough of a klutz to have injured myself twice in recent years, and I dealt with it differently when I was in a high-intensity work situation, so I thought we’d discuss. [Read more...]

The Hunt: Simple Sheath Dresses

sheath-dresses-2 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.

I’m the kind of person who wears sheath dresses year round — with tights and sweaters in colder seasons, and usually with bare legs and pumps in warmer seasons.  To me, the perfect sheath dress: a) is sleeveless (so I can throw a blazer or cardigan on top without feeling like the sleeves are bunch), b) requires zero consideration of which bra I’m wearing with it because it has wide enough straps and a high (if not entirely covered) back, c) is a bit fitted, but not skin-tight like a “body con” dress (body conscious) or boxyish like a shift, and d) has a high enough neckline that I can wear it by itself.  No beading/sparkles/bows/artistic folds, please, and the plainer the color, the more versatile the dress.  Of course, I should note: although you see “professional” women everywhere on television with bare legs and bare arms, you really must know your office — if you’re still learning the culture, prepare to wear pantyhose, as well as a blazer or cardigan if you’re walking around the office/attending meetings.  Readers, what does your perfect sheath dress look like?  Have you gotten any amazing sheath dresses recently?

[Read more...]