Ladies, 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:
Ladies, what are the workhorses in your working wardrobe? Are there any surprises in there — things that you reach for a ton more than you thought you would when you bought them? On the flip side, which were the wardrobe disappointments — the things you thought you’d wear a ton but found aren’t that versatile? (Are there any suiting pieces in the mix on either side, either bought as separates or as a suit set?)
When we last discussed surprise basics for workwear, I called out my love of colorful purses, olive-colored pants, a good watch, and nice pearls as things that I was surprised to find myself wearing a ton. (I’ve had good luck with dark olive pants, like the ones pictured, as well as lighter olives with more brown in them. I’d wear the pictured pants with neutrals like black, white, navy, gray (as well as with cobalt); pastels like peach/pink, lavender, or French blue; dark eggplant, or even limited pops of red or orange.) I’ve also written of other things that are outside the usual “must have” lists, including very light gray pants instead of summer whites, velvet blazers for festive in-office holiday lunches, huggie earrings, light blue blazers, and purple pumps. It also came up a bit with our discussion of light blue suits, with lots of readers noting that they often wear a pair of colorful blue trousers or a colorful blue blazer (but not together).
In our last discussion, some of the items the readers noted they loved included:
I was just writing something about the best default thing to wear to a networking event (like a conference) where you don’t know what to wear — and my answer was, if all else failed, wear “a sleeved dress with pockets.” Sleeves because it looks like a complete look — no need for a cardigan or blazer to forget somewhere — and pockets so you have a place to stash business cards, key cards, and more. Then, I thought to myself: good luck finding that workwear unicorn! Despite lots of readers (year after year!) saying how much they love sleeved dresses — and dresses with pockets! — very few companies are granting that mystical request. So I thought I’d do a mini hunt: FIVE sleeved dresses with pockets. (Psst: here’s an old WSJ article about why so many dresses are sleeveless.)
Let’s start our hunt with some of the top-rated dresses at Nordstrom…
While Kat recently rounded up white work tops for spring, we haven’t discussed keeping those tops white in quite a while. Before researching this post, my knowledge of how to keep whites white was limited to “wash them in the washing machine” (or more realistically, just don’t buy white shirts!), but to my surprise, there are many simple strategies to keep white blouses white. (If you haven’t seen it, check out our advice on washing “dry clean only” clothes, too.) Here are several easy tips:
While we may be happy to welcome the warmer weather, our feet might not be. To help you tackle cracked, rough heels that remain after winter; painful blisters from shoes you haven’t worn in months; sore feet from high heels; and sweaty feet, we’ve rounded up several foot care products that can help with summer foot care.
FootGloss All-Natural Foot Prep: This balm stick made from all-natural ingredients (and also made in the U.S.) is designed to prevent blisters. Just apply it to your foot where your shoes rub them, and it’ll reduce the friction that leads to blisters forming under those tight spots. FootGloss is free of fragrances, petroleum, and parabens; instead it does the job with castor seed oil, olive fruit oil, beeswax, and more. It’s available for $21.95 (for two tubes) at The Grommet and for $12 (for one o.5-oz. stick) directly from FootGloss.com. Psst: If you’re plagued with blisters from stiff, unforgiving shoes, check out our Guide to Comfortable Heels.
Band-Aid Friction Block Stick: Here’s another foot care product that prevents parts of your shoes from chafing and irritating your feet and creating blisters. (This one has a slightly lower price.) The main ingredient is an oil, like FootGloss — hydrogenated vegetable oil in this case — but unlike FootGloss, it’s not fragrance-free. Still, reviewers seem to like how it smells. The stick is still listed on Band-Aid’s site but is now sold out at most online sources, so you may want to buy right away — I have a feeling it’s discontinued. You can buy what looks like an older version of the product at Amazon (free shipping; not Amazon Prime) for $9.99 (.34 oz. stick), Walmart has a couple 2-packs left for $16.20, and some Target and CVS locations still have it in stock. Foot Glide and its predecessor Body Glide are similar products that are also available at Amazon.
One of our top posts of all time is one a friend suggested I write, back in the early days of the blog: how to dress professionally if you’re busty. We haven’t offered busty women style tips in a while, so I thought we’d discuss. But let me be clear at the outset: there’s nothing inherently unprofessional about being busty — women come in all shapes and sizes. I’m not about to suggest you go buy a minimizer and try to pretend that you’re a 34B. But: dressing well while busty can be a challenge because so many clothes are made with other body shapes in mind — and for work it can be particularly trying since so many conservative styles are rooted in menswear. Furthermore, if you wear something that obviously does not fit or has fit issues (gaping, pulling) it reflects a judgement call. So — here are some new tips and guidelines on how to dress for work if you’re busty, from someone who’s been everything from a 30F to a 38G over the years…
(Pictured: If you’re petite and busty this is yet another reason to watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend — her work outfits are mostly hits for me. The video this screenshot is from is hilarious (“Heavy Boobs”), but it is probably NSFW.)
Finding the Right Bra is Half the Battle
- Invest in a great bra that fits you. The right bra will lift you up and support you. It will not give you quadboob. It may have an odd size that you’ve never even heard of before (28FF, for example). The right bra will not make you worry about falling out of it when you bend over. It will not cut into your shoulders (that’s a sign your band size is too big) or fall off your shoulders. (Note that your straps can be shortened at the tailor — and that you can check out lingerie brands just for petites, like The Little Bra Company, Lula Lu, or even the Bare Necessities special section for petites). A good bra will take work to find and may cost you some money, but it will be worth it in spades. I highly recommend going to a bra shop and getting fitted — think Nordstrom, not Victoria’s Secret (link goes to to one woman’s fitting experience at VS with lots of pictures; probably NSFW). In NYC I’ve used Bratenders over the years and La Petite Coquette — I’ve also heard great things about Linda’s Bra Shop — and in London I’ve been fitted at Rigby & Peller. Ladies who have a favorite shop in your city, please shout it out in the comments. Once you know your size you can watch for sales; I tend to get new bras at Nordstrom’s sales, Bare Necessities sales, or even sometimes Amazon.