The Hunt: Stylish Cashmere Sweaters for Work

cashmere sweaters 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.

Ladies, we haven’t talked about the most stylish cashmere sweaters for work in far too long — and now is a great time to buy because there are so many sales on.  Which brands are you loving this year in terms of style, softness, durability, and more?  (Do check out our guide to cardigans for work, if you haven’t already!) Have you gotten any great deals on any cashmere lately? Which cashmere brand do you like to splurge on? 

If you’re curious, here are links to our prior roundups of the best cashmere sweaters for the office: 2015, 2014, 2012. Before we start, a few special interest categories:

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The Hunt: Wool Coats for Work

coats 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.

After the weekend we’ve had (thank you Jonas), it may seem a bit silly to talk about professional-looking coats — after all, when it’s freezing, nasty and disgusting outside, being warm and dry are the primary considerations. Particularly when working from home is easier than ever, if you make it into the office at all, no one should be judging you for blizzard attire like an expedition coat and Sorels. But it isn’t blizzarding every day in the winter, and I still think a wool coat (or, fine, even a slim-fit puffer coat like some of the ones we featured on our roundup of washable coats for CorporetteMoms) does look more professional.  Shop for a winter coat that covers your thighs (for warmth, as well as the most versatility — nothing looks quite so silly as a peacoat and skirt), and be sure to size up if you need to to accommodate a sweater or blazer beneath your coat. (Other great layers: silk turtlenecks and long johns can add serious warmth without bulk, and there are so many puffer/fleece vests that I’m kind of tempted to try them under my winter coat on really cold days.) I’ve always looked for a wool/cashmere blend as the best (the cashmere makes it warm; the wool makes it durable), but I’ve also heard great things about alpaca’s warmth; these days you can find technical enhancements to wool like Lands’ End (pictured after the jump; it’s good to 10 below!!) or lined with thinsulate, like some J.Crew and LL Bean coats.  Ladies, what coats are you wearing this winter? How many do you have; which ones do you think are the most professional-looking, which are the warmest, and so forth? Have you recently bought any coats you love? 

First, a roundup of some special interest coats:

(If you’re interested in previous discussions, here’s our roundups from 2013 and 2009.)

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The Hunt: Red Cardigan Sweaters

workwear basic red cardigan sweaterSure, 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.

If you’re going to buy a single sweater to start expanding a work wardrobe that mostly consists of black/gray/navy suits and white/blue blouses, what should you pick first? In my mind I think it’s got to be a burgundy or red cardigan sweater — preferably in a silk blend so you can wear the sweater year-round(ish), wash it easily, and get a great drape if you button it and throw it around your shoulders — either on your summertime commute (after July 15 I’d say) or over a blazer as another layering piece in winter or spring (before March 15 I’d say). (So in other words, consider retiring it from March 15-July 15, but otherwise wear it all the other seasons.) It’s also festive for the holiday season and Valentine’s Day. You can pair it with oranges and pinks in the fall, and pale blues and even lavender in the winter. Ladies, what color cardigan do you wear the most?  What is your favorite cardigan brand and style? 

Note that the Lord & Taylor cashmere sale seems to be quietly happening today — lots of L&T-brand cashmere is marked down to $59-$69, including a nice red cardigan, pictured above, for $69 (was $174). 

First, some general round-ups for special interests:

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The Hunt: Flat Knee-High Boots

flat knee-high boots 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.

Even though it may feel like a bootie world right now, flat knee-high boots are still a great look, particularly for commuting and casual days at work. It’s been a while since we last rounded them up (2014, 2013, 2012), so I thought we’d go on the hunt today. Ladies, have you bought any great knee-high flat boots to wear to work lately? Do you still like the look, or have you mostly switched over to booties for work outfits?

Psst: check out our recent round-up of knee-high heeled boots for work.

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How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather

How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather | CorporetteWhat are the best strategies for staying warm during a wintry commute while still looking professional when you get to work? How can you look stylish and professional in the winter? Reader M has a question about business casual in cold weather:

I’m graduating this year and moving somewhere cold, and I have no clue how to dress business/business casual in the winter. (I have tons of dresses and cardigans and skirt suits from my summers, but rarely any winter clothes.) Specially, I’m wondering — what kind of coat should I buy? What kind of shoes/boots should I wear under work pants? What do I wear to walk to work in the snow/rain? I know this is pretty basic question, but I’d love a post on this topic!

Great questions, M. Some thoughts for you:

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Putting Together Work Outfits Using Suit Separates

Work Outfits Using Suit SeparatesHow can you make professional, stylish work outfits using suit separates? What are the do’s and don’ts of combining parts of the suits in your closet? Reader A asks…

I’m a 2nd year law student in New York and will be starting work at a firm this this summer — I used your tips and articles throughout the interview process. I would love to hear your thoughts on this: Can I wear suit pieces as separates? For example, can I wear my gray suit pants with a white shirt and then a black blazer?

Great question, and one we haven’t talked about in a while. (For other work outfit ideas, check out this post on building a capsule wardrobe for work, or this old post on building your professional wardrobe.) You absolutely can wear your suit pieces as business casual separates — that’s part of why a suit with separates is such a great investment to make. Here are some suggestions for creating your work outfits:

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