Guest Post: How to Wear Color to Work

Dressing with Color at the Office | CorporetteColor at the office:  We’ve talked about it in specific contexts – pants, suitsnails, tightsshoes, and even how to start buying colorful prints – and in today’s guest post, my old friend Theresa Lesh gives you some helpful guidelines on how to wear color to work. Theresa is one of the best dressed ladies I’ve known since high school — she actually has a background in fashion design and currently works at a creative products company in product development. A huge thanks for the tips, Theresa! – Kat.

I love color and am very picky about it – always have been. I LOVED my mega box of crayons and the range of hues it offered up: red-violet, magenta, violet-red, violet… and I used each one differently. I scoffed at red, blue, and green as basics and instead used brick red, midnight blue, and forest (or pine) green for cars, sky, or trees. Today I am still quite particular about specific tones or hues I prefer; however, I am much more open-minded, and even look at “odd” colors as challenges. With what other color could I pair that bizarre chartreuse to make it sing? What would be a great pop against a (drab) grey?

I admit going through a period of time where I wore all black – didn’t we all? But when I did, I always liked to choose one thing to accent/pop or stand out in a small way. Favorites were items such as a black Nicole Miller scarf peppered with all sorts of Barbie icons (shoes, lipstick, her iconic signature) which I still have (and wear) today, or floral patterned tights (typically worn under a long black skirt). I saw these things as private jokes with myself, as you could only see the Barbie icons when you were close to me, or the flowers on my tights when I sat down and crossed my legs. (Pictured: Nicole Miller scarf, available on eBay for $149.)

Over the years, I grew away from the all-black ensembles – I do still wear black, and sometimes head to toe, but not all day, every day – and I started to play with color in a bigger and bolder way. After college, I fell in love with lime green, which I think became my gateway to COLOR, as it opened my eyes to all sorts of fun, vibrant shades, and each year I get more and more adventurous and more and more colorful in my wardrobe. During the gray winters of Ohio, I feel as if bright color can be a fantastic pick-me-up, both for me wearing it and those that may pass me in the hall.

Granted, I work for a creative company, where one may see a mix of suits and ties to jeans and Chuck Taylors in a single meeting (though not TERRIBLY often), so while I am not IN the creative division, per se, there is probably more flexibility in my office than a “big law” firm. How far is too far with color? That is up to you, but it’s not to say you cannot make forays into color in a more conservative working environment.

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The Hunt: Strappy Pumps

The Best Strappy Pumps | CorporetteSure, 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 the weather turns/stays nasty, I’m often reminded of a trick I’ve employed for years: wearing a skirt and tights to work with commuting boots (either snow boots or rain boots — I’ve always preferred a skirt in truly nasty weather since my pants seemed to always get yucky from the knee down) — and then switching into regular heels at the office.  Personally, I vastly prefer strappy pumps for wear with tights — styles such as the Mary Jane, a T-strap, and ankle strap have always been much more comfortable.  We haven’t rounded up strappy pumps in a while, so I thought I’d hunt down a few.  (Check out our roundup of strappy flats as well as regular pumps if you’re on the hunt for those.) Readers, do you share my preference for strappy pumps with tights?  Have you bought any great strappy heels lately?

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Slips, Camisoles, and More: What Are Your Go-To Pieces?

what-to-wear-beneath-wrap-dressesWhat do you wear under wrap dresses? Are there camisole-slips? Reader V has an interesting question about what to wear beneath clothes that I think leads us to a great larger question: what are your favorite brands and pieces in slips, camisoles, support garments, pantyhose, and more?

I have a question re slips. I understand that people wear them (even the non-control ones) to even out the lumpy-squishies, make things less sheer, improve drape, etc. But for an unlined v-neck or wrap dress, where one might want help with smoothing out lumps and VPL and sheerness, what if you also want to raise the neckline. Are there camisole-type slips that are designed to be seen (so maybe in white or black, depending on the color of dress; not nude-for-you)? I’m not sure what to do for something like a DVF wrap dress — I want to wear a slip, but don’t want to slip up. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thank you!

This is a great question. We’ve talked about how to keep wrap dresses closed, but not what to wear beneath them. While reading her answer I found myself going through the things that I would wear beneath a wrap dress:

  • Spanx Higher Power (either shaper or tights, because I wear them with every dress)
  •  camisole (here’s our last roundup of great camisoles — based on reader suggestions I might upgrade my collection to a half-camisole, such as this one)
  • half-slip on the bottom (similar to this)

Now that’s a lot of undergarments. [Read more...]

Navy Skirts… and Tights?

1What color tights do you wear with a navy suit? Reader B wonders…

I’m a skirt suit kinda girl, in part because I prefer to commute in flats and then switch to heels at the office. (Since I’m short, most of my suit pants are hemmed for heels.) Winter isn’t a problem for my black and grey suits; I just trade the hose for black tights. (Side note: the Commando tights you recommended are now my absolute favorites.)

Here’s the issue: two of my favorite skirt suits are navy or navy pinstripe (similar to this J. Crew and this Banana Republic). Pairing navy tights with a navy suit seems crazy monochromatic, and most of the heather or grey tights I’ve seen feel a bit casual for the office. So I end up wearing plain old hose, and my legs freeze on the way to work.

Hmmn.  Great question — this is actually the combo that led me, many moons ago, to wear purple fishnets to work (pictured, in a random picture I happened to take that day – navy sweater, navy wool skirt, purple fishnets, purple shoes), although the last time we took a poll on fishnets at the office readers were really against ‘em.  (Although, if you want, you can get a pair of purple fishnets here, or a crochet set here.) Poking around a bit online, here are a few more ideas: [Read more...]

Socks, Cold Feet, and Professional Shoes

Feet in the snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by BuzzFarmers.What shoes look professional and can be worn with socks? I keep getting questions about this, so let’s discuss. (Pictured.) First, reader J wondered:

I was wondering if you have ever covered where to find great workplace-appropriate shoes that you can wear with socks (that aren’t tall boots). The weather where I live is often cloudy and rainy so wearing shoes without socks leaves my feet cold, but I don’t want to wear boots all the time. Any suggestions? It seems like all I can find are very casual shoes or something that looks like it belongs in the men’s department.

Then, Reader L asked:

I’ve been searching your blog and others for advice about what shoes to wear to work when you have to wear socks. I mean real socks, not trouser socks. Did you already do a post about this? If not, would you consider it?

Great questions! I’m one of those people who constantly suffers from freezing feet, so here are the solutions that I’ve found in the past:

- Wear medium-height boots. Whether they’re flat-footed, wedge-heeled, or high-heeled, there are a ton of great options out there. We just did a roundup of knee-high boots, but in the past my go-to boot with pants has been the medium boot (above the ankle but below the calf) — I find the medium boot to be much more comfortable and less restrictive than the knee-high boot.  [Read more...]

What’s Off Limits in the Winter?

Up to my ankles in snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by Lollyman.Reader A wonders if and when it’s appropriate to have bare legs in the winter…

With the crazy weather in DC and other east coast cities this winter – windy and 35 degrees one day, 65 degrees and sunny another, and raining yet another, how do you suggest approaching the issue of tights or pantyhose? I work in a fairly conservative office, with a dress or skirt and blouse dresscode for women with no casual days and no jeans, ever. In February, is it ok to go to work sans tights or pantyhose if its particularly warm or very muggy? Is there a temperature guideline that you or others follow?

I’m curious to see what others say here. For my $.02: even though I don’t have a problem with bare legs from spring to fall (know your office, though!), something about bare legs in winter — even if it is 60 degrees — bugs me. Are tights or pantyhose really that “heavy” that you can’t wear them with a lighter-weight jacket? The problem with looking “out of season” is that it is a judgment call — as in, if someone thinks your outfit looks weird, they may think your judgment is out of whack, which may affect how you’re perceived at work.  It kind of reminds me of stories I’ve heard about little kids who refuse to dress seasonally, refusing to wear anything but shorts in the wintertime or corduroy pants in the summertime.  (Pictured: Up to my ankles in snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by Lollyman.)

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