The Hunt: Stylish Comfort Heels

comfortable heels for workSure, 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.

One of our top pages of all time is our regularly updated Guide to Comfortable Heels — and while that guide includes brands outside of those that bill themselves as “comfort” brands, sometimes you just really want a heel that is built like a sneaker, whether for commuting, for long days on your feet, or for general foot problems.  Finding stylish “comfort” heels can be a challenge, though, so I thought we’d round some up.

comfort heels under $100 Aerosoles are known for having affordable comfortable shoes, and these 3″ heels have 24 5-star reviews over at Zappos.  They incorporate Heel Rest, a “technology designed to distribute your body weight toward your heel, and away from the ball of your foot.”  They’re available in four colors in sizes 5-12 in regular and wide sizes. Another highly rated shoe from this brand: the Domino dress pump — sold out in all colors except navy at Zappos, but Amazon still has it in black and red for $46-$77. Pictured, for $79:  Aerosoles Dolled Up
stylish comfort heelsWe’ve featured this shoe a ton over the years (and it’s got a zillion great reviews on both Nordstrom and Zappos), but I’ve never noticed it in any colors but the neutral ones — I’m excited to say it now comes in NINE colors over at Nordstrom, all for $98. Corso Como Del
comfort heels for workEven though this platform is higher than what I usually recommend for work (they’re .75″ and I usually recommend no higher than .5″), I think these shoes look great for work.  They use a Cushion Plus™ technology to ensure “feet are comfy withe very step,” and though they only have 3 reviews, they’re all five stars. They’re available in black suede and patent, as well as this lovely plum suede, for $110 at Zappos. (These are from Clarks’ Narrative Collection; note that lots of ladies have also loved the Artisan collection over the years — if you have a strong preference for Artisan you may want to check out these pumps.) Pictured: Clarks Kendra Sienna
comfortable heels for workOK. I didn’t intend to feature quite so many purple pumps today, but I’m excited about these heels too: the Rockport Total Motion pump has been around for years and is highly rated over at Nordstrom — and now it comes in this lovely burgundy snake print leather (also in a black snake print as well as a ton of solid neutral colors). The shoe is $119-$128 at Nordstrom and Zappos.  Rockport Total Motion Pointy Toe Pump 
comfort heels cole haanWe’ve drooled over these Cole Haan pumps before, but it’s nice to see the ten solid reviews they have over at Nordstrom. Even better: they’re on sale! The shoes were $250, but are now marked to $159. (Amazon has more colors, some sizes and colors marked as low as $103.) Cole Haan ‘Highline’ Half d’Orsay Pump
minimalist comfort heelsI originally dismissed Eileen Fisher shoes as just another licensed brand name, but their shoes are worth noting if you’re looking for comfortable, minimalist styles. I like these architectural block pumps, which feel really modern.  They’re available in black and gray for $210. (Another modern heel in this price range: these well-reviewed pumps from Paul Green.) Pictured: Eileen Fisher ‘Hawk’ Block Heel Pump

Ladies, when you’re looking for a comfort heel, where do you start the search? Have you bought any amazing, comfortable, stylish heels lately? 

 

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

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Workhorses for Your Working Wardrobe

working wardrobe workhorsesLadies, 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 luncheshuggie 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).

(Pictured above: shoes / pants / earrings)

In our last discussion, some of the items the readers noted they loved included:

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The Hunt: Professional Tote Bags

professional tote bagsSure, 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.

We haven’t done a Hunt for professional tote bags in FOREVER, so I thought we’d do one now.  With OCI/EIW coming up we should discuss what makes a great interview tote, which I’ve always seen as a pretty major subset of professional tote bags. A great interview tote should:

  • be large enough to hold a folder that contains the absolute latest version of your resume
  • have structure to it — if you put it on the floor it will stand up or at least lean (so — while I love me my Planetes Longchamp bag, I wouldn’t interview with it — it’s also for this reason that most of these bags are east/west bags rather than north/south bags)
  • be mostly solid and lacking logos all over it (so in my book most Neverfulls, Goyard, and MCM bags are out — but a Neverfull in an Epi leather is a different issue)
  • have enough organization that you can ditch your purse and just carry the tote bag (or, put another way, it becomes your purse)
  • not be primarily as a laptop tote — unless you anticipate needing your laptop during the interview, you don’t need the weight and the added stress of keeping tabs on your bag (but see our laptop tote roundup if you’re looking for one)

I once joked that if you’re just looking for something to shuttle papers to and from the office, most of the rainmakers I knew carried boat bags, or at least the tote bags one gets for donating X dollars to charity or attending a conference, suggesting it was all part of “what your tote bag says about you.” Now I think it’s just because those suckers add up over the years and they’re perfect for sticking in your office closet! (Although I will note – an LL Bean rep recently told me that this bag can hold up to 500 pounds because it was designed for carrying ice blocks through the winter. Ice blocks, huge binders, whatever, right?)

So ladies, let’s discuss — do you carry a tote bag as your regular purse, or only if you’re interviewing or otherwise carrying a folder? What do you look for in a professional tote bag? Do you prefer hand-held briefcase/satchel styles, north/west styles, east/west styles? Leather, nylon, or coated canvas? Have you bought any great ones lately, or do you still carry any older ones?

First, a roundup of some general categories:

Best-Selling Work Totes

Some of the best selling work totes of all time are linked to in our Hall of Fame styles mentioned above — here are a few of those, pictured, ranging from $168-$298: 1 / 2 / 3 // 4 / 5 / 6

Featured Work Totes

Best-selling, classic styles are great, but sometimes you want to know what else is on the market today.  So: six bags we’re liking today:

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The Hunt: Black Pumps

comfortable black pumpsSure, we all know professional women are supposed to have a pair of comfortable black pumps 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.

Wow – I don’t think we’ve done a Hunt on basic black pumps in a LONG, long while.  Which are your favorite black pumps right now, ladies? Do you prefer a more modern style like the popular Vince heels or Steve Madden heels featured below — or are you classic all the way, like one of our more traditional Hall of Famers? Do you personally prefer pointier toes or more almond toes (there are a ton of both on the market right now!) If you were looking for a new pump for an interview outfit, what would you buy? It’s great to see so many options in low heels, high heels, and strappy pumps.

Update: Check out some work outfit ideas involving some of the pumps you see featured here!

(Curious for our previous roundups of black pumps? In addition to the several specific shoes mentioned in our Guide to Comfortable Heels, we also did a 2013 guide to interview pumps and to low heels, a 2012 guide to black pumps under $250, 2008 guide to basic black pumps.

Classic Black Pumps for Work

classic comfortable black pumps

From our Hall of Fame category above! Pictured: 1 / 2 / 3 // 4 / 5 / 6

Six Trendy Black Pumps

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Sleeved Dresses with Pockets

dresses with sleeves and pockets roundupI 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

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The Hunt: Lightweight Summer Blazers

summer blazers for womenSure, 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 temperatures start to climb, that blazer starts to look less and less attractive — constricting! hot! layers! oh my! And of course, if you CAN get away with it at your workplace or job, you ditch the blazer for a sleeved sheath dress, only keep it in your office as a topper for air conditioning, or find other professional things to wear. But for those of you who want to wear blazers in hotter temperatures (at conferences, cocktail parties, and other networking events that may be indoors or outdoors), I thought we’d round up some summer blazers in linen, cotton, and other lightweight fabrics — we looked at lightweight blazers last year, but it’s time for an update.  (Update: check out three work outfit ideas for summer blazers.)

*If you are interested in plus-size workwear, please sign up for CorporettePlus, our newsletter! We promise not to blast your email more than once a week. (Right now it’s more like once a month.) In keeping with our Privacy Policy, we’ll never sell your email address.

(Here’s our 2014 roundup of linen blazers, our 2013 roundup of white blazers, and our 2012 roundup of summertime blazers.)

First, some of the Hall of Famers we mention above — these are the best selling styles that have been around for years and years:

summer blazers

Pictured: Navy blazer / white blazer / pink blazer / black blazer / navy blazer
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