The Hunt: Fit and Flare Dresses

tailored fit and flare dressesSure, 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 rounded up fit and flare dresses in almost a year, so I thought we’d take another look.  It’s such a popular silhouette that I’m going to focus this Hunt on not only work-appropriate ones but on solid, conservative ones that will be workhorses in a wardrobe.  Ladies, which are your favorite fit and flare dresses — and do you have any favorite accessories to wear with them (blazers, cardigans, shrugs, etc)?  

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Creating a Capsule Wardrobe for Work

business-capsule-wardrobeThe business capsule wardrobe — a limited number of essential pieces that can be combined to create many outfits — has been growing in popularity, which makes sense when you look at the parallel trends of “slow fashion” and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. A focus on quality pieces + an emphasis on decluttering/organization = a capsule wardrobe. But how do you create one for the office, and how do you pare down what’s currently in your closet? Reader C wonders…

I am a huge fan of Corporette, and wanted to submit a suggestion for a future post. Since a huge feature of the site is work appropriate clothing, I would be interested in discussing what women professionals’ wardrobes actually contain. After spending several years in New York, I have learned to really cull my wardrobe (which is also better for my budget)! I was inspired by a writer named Jennifer Scott (I have no affiliation with her) who has published a book called Lessons from Madame Chic. In the book, as well as on her blog, she discusses the concept of having a capsule wardrobe of items that are high quality and that you repeat throughout the season. The concept is flexible — for instance, an attorney will have more clothing than she will, as a homemaker — but the idea is to invest in better, fewer clothes that last. I am putting this into action myself, but am curious to see if others do the same, and how (and whether this is of interest to my fellow Corporette readers).

We’ve talked about how to shop your closet, “fashion math,” how often you can repeat your work outfits, and where to start when you need style inspiration, but we haven’t specifically talked about capsule wardrobes.  I’m still learning about them myself, so I’m curious to hear what people think.  I think the idea of a capsule wardrobe has been around for years — certainly for travel.  But Madame Chic (which apparently is the #1 book in fashion and style right now on Amazon!), the trend towards decluttering, Instagram challenges… more and more people are viewing capsule wardrobes as a great way to dress every day.  Buy less stuff, buy good stuff, and wear it all the time.  A number of bloggers post capsule wardrobes (see our “further reading” links below); even the author of Madame Chic has YouTube videos showcasing her own capsule wardrobes.  (Some people take this even further, like Obama, and wear only one outfit, period, to cut down on decision fatigue.)

So how do you do it for work?  Here’s my $.02:

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The Hunt: Low Heels

stylish-comfortable-heelsSure, 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 round-up of stylish low heels (2.25″ or below!) for a long while now (2014, 2013, 2012), so I thought we’d collect a few today. My absolute favorite in this space is the Stuart Weitzman Poco heel — I really find the 1.75″ heel to be more comfortable than most ballet flats, and with new colors coming out every season it seems like there are always good sales somewhere (I always check Amazon or 6pm first; currently Amazon has prices as low as $185 and 6pm as low as $106.). Still, I thought I’d round up a bunch… Ladies, what is your favorite pair of low heels? Have you bought any recently, or worn an older pair into the ground? 

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Seasonless Sweaters for the Office

Summer Sweaters for the Office | CorporetteIs there a magical sweater you can buy that is seasonless — great for summer, great for winter, looks luxe, and retains its shape? In general, what do you look for in summer sweaters? Reader N asks:

It seems that many dresses are sleeveless or cap sleeved, and I am always searching for the right coverup for work. To that end, can you recommend a simple, well made light black cardigan? It seems that every single one I’ve purchased the last few years looks cheap and out of shape after more than a few wears.

We’ve haven’t done a hunt for black cardigans for a while — maybe soon! (Note that both the J.Crew one and DvF one, below, come in black, as does August Silk.) When it comes to shapeless sweaters, I haaaate cotton sweaters for that reason. If it’s a lightweight cotton sweater, it looks shapeless after just a few wears in the summer, and when I wash them I can never get them to look quite as nice as they first did on the rack. If it’s a chunkier cotton sweater in the winter, it’s the same thing — a misshapen mess. Wool is too heavy to be seasonless (although merino wool sweaters are often great purchases), and cashmere can be too expensive or delicate to throw into your bag and survive. So what’s a girl to do?

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The Hunt: Lightweight Blazers

Nina Ricci Printed Stretch-Linen BlazerSure, 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.

Linen! Seersucker! Cotton pique! Eyelet! There are a million varieties on the lightweight summer blazers — we thought we’d round up some of the best. (Here’s our 2014 roundup of linen blazers, our 2013 roundup of white blazers, and our 2012 roundup of summer blazers.) Ladies, what do you look for when buying a blazer for a hot summer? (For my $.02, these kinds of blazers are perfect for casual days at the office, as well as summer associate outdoor events where you know not to wear a suit but aren’t too sure what else to wear — use a lightweight blazer to top a basic sheath dress and look professional at an outdoor cocktail party; bring it along to an event where you’re only 90% sure jeans and a t-shirt are ok.)

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The Guide to Pantyhose for Work

Guide to Wearing Pantyhose For Work | CorporetteIf you were to write someone a guide to pantyhose for work, what would you say? Reader H wonders, and since this is one of the biggest topics we’ve talked about through the years, I thought I’d give it a go.  Here’s H’s question:

Hi! I know you write a lot about pantyhose/tights/stockings–sorry to bring it up again–but I am so confused about them. I grew up in Southern California where no one wears pantyhose, ever, and tights only as a fashion statement or on very rare cold days. I know you’re supposed to wear nude pantyhose to an interview and in very formal situations like court, but on a regular day in the office, is it okay to wear sheer or opaque black tights in the office? How about with a suit in the office? Or with a pencil skirt? Are there color rules e.g. no black tights with a black suit? I suppose what I really need is a Dummy’s Guide to Wearing Stockings. Thanks so much for any sort of information that could help sort me out

We have talked about this a lot, but I still see a lot of confusion about it.  So let’s get into it — I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured: readers have always sung the praises of Donna Karan’s The Nudes pantyhose in the past; they’re $20-$25 at Nordstrom.) 

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