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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The Best Tights and Half-Slips for Work

Nordstrom 'Everyday' Opaque Tights | CorporetteWhich are the best tights for work, and where can you find them? What about half-slips for underneath workwear? Reader K wonders…

I work in a very casual office, but with winter upon us, I would like to change up my typical pants/sweater wardrobe to add more tights. Can you do a post on the best tights out there? The best opaque, the best durability, the best for patterns/textures, and best quality for price. I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the offerings, and without knowing which brand seems to have the greatest appeal, it’s hard to invest $20 (or more) for what amounts to a pair of tall socks. Along with that, where on earth do we find half-slips anymore?

Great question, Reader K. We haven’t talked about tights in a while (and it’s been eons since we talked slips!), so let’s discuss.

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Dressing Professionally But Comfortably: What to Wear for a Long Flight

Vince Camuto Ponte Knit Ankle PantsWhat should you wear on a long flight with colleagues if you want to be comfortable but still look professional? Reader N wonders…

Could you do a post on comfortable, but professional attire for international or long flights? I have an upcoming business trip where my boss and two colleagues will be on a long flight with me. I want to look presentable but still be comfortable for the long flight. Thanks!

I’m curious to hear what people say here; this reminds me a bit about our discussion about what to wear when you’re out of town and working late all the time. (Here’s a fun question, readers — do the answers change if you’re sitting with your boss/colleagues on the long flight? Every time I’ve traveled with colleagues we were sitting apart, and I was so thankful to freely relax/sleep/read brain candy on the flight.) Some thoughts, in no particular order:

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Tips on Fine Jewelry Care

Tips on Fine Jewelry Care | CorporetteWhat are the best ways to care for fine jewelry like sterling silver, gold, and platinum, as well as diamonds, pearls, and other gemstones? In the past we’ve talked a lot about jewelry, including jewelry storage, how to start a jewelry collection for work, and how to buy pearls — but we haven’t looked at jewelry care in detail. Kate talked to some experts and did some research — enjoy! Also possibly of interest: Nordstrom has a ton of fine jewelry marked 30-60% off today. 

In general, it’s smart to follow these tips for all of your fine jewelry:

  • After wearing your jewelry, gently wipe it off with a 100%-cotton cloth.
  • Remove jewelry before gardening, cleaning, doing home repairs or other physical work, playing sports, getting into a hot tub or pool, showering/bathing, or swimming in salt water.
  • Put on makeup, lotion, perfume, and hair products before putting on your jewelry. Avoid letting jewelry come into contact with soap or sweat.
  • Protect your jewelry by storing it in individual boxes or soft bags, and don’t keep it in your car, near windows or heat vents, or in direct sunlight. In general, keep jewelry out of extreme temperatures.
  • Don’t use a polishing cloth on a piece of jewelry with a matte or oxidized finish.
  • If you clean your jewelry near a sink, close the drain!
  • Ask your insurance agency what’s covered in your homeowner’s or renter’s policy — you may want to buy additional insurance coverage. (Here’s a great NYT article on point as well.)

Here are some tips that are specific to certain kinds of jewelry:

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A Feminine Approach to Business Casual

Dressing Femininely at Work | CorporetteBusiness casual can be tricky — particularly when you’re transitioning from a conservative office.  But what if the culture at your company isn’t just business casual, but ultra-feminine business casual — and you’re still most comfortable in a gray suit?  When you’re in a new job and feeling pressure to dress a certain way to fit in — even getting critical comments from coworkers — what should you do? Reader E wonders…

I recently relocated and am in the middle of a career change, and I’m really stumped about how to dress for work. I work in a business casual environment in a small, Southern city. Women tend to dress hyper femininely here: today my boss is wearing a pink ruffled tunic over flowy trousers with embellished flats. The job is entry level, but it’s an important step career-wise. I’m all for dressing to fit with office culture. But, really, yikes.

Right now my pencil skirts, sheath dresses, flats, and cardigans are getting a lot of “why are you so dressed up?” and (from the office mean girl) “do you always wear such depressing colors?” I guess these are my questions: how far do I really need to go to fit in with office wardrobe culture? and how can I femme-up my wardrobe without looking like 5’10” wedding cake?

Hmmn.  Well.  It seems like a few things are going on here, some of which we’ve talked about before, such as transitioning a corporate wardrobe to a casual office, looking stylish and professional in a business casual office, as well as surrendering a bit to office culture (but as the song goes, don’t give yourself away). I may also detect a smidgen of . . .  judgment? superiority? in your email, which we’ve also talked about before when you take a job that’s beneath you.  I know all about finding your groove with one set of work clothes, having a rough time transitioning to a new office with a very different culture, and then feeling a bit like you’ve lost yourself in the process.  So I definitely have some thoughts, but I can’t wait to hear what the readers say.

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What to Wear to a Networking Dinner As a Student

What to Wear to a Networking Dinner | CorporetteNetworking dinner attire can be tricky.  But if you’re a business student on a budget — and soon to be job hunting — the question is that much harder.  Reader K wonders…

I’m a student in my last semester of business school and I have some networking dinners to attend in November. Could you recommend something to wear- preferably on the cheaper side (i.e., under 100)?

It is always so frustrating trying to figure out what to wear to these things! I’m curious to hear what readers say. We’ve talked about the tricky subject of wearing business casual for networking events, as well as what to wear to an interview dinner, but not in a while. So let’s discuss.

Some thoughts on what to wear:

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