Are Louboutins Appropriate For the Office?

louboutins for workAre Louboutins appropriate for the office with those sexy red soles? Reader J wonders…

What do think about wearing Louboutins in the office? Is the red sole too sexy?? I have a pair of Simple 85s, which are not high at all. They’re conservative, black kid leather, round toe, surprisingly comfy, but they have this in-your-face scarlet sole. I’ll be working at a bank that has a reputation of being somewhat laidback, but I don’t want to make the wrong impression… Help please?

When I was a first year associate I was completely jealous of another first-year associate who had done some serious shopping during her bar trip — LV bags, Hermes scarves, and Louboutin shoes. She had a classic kitten heel Louboutin, with the trademark red sole. This was before Louboutins were quite as “big” as they are today, so the red sole really stood out, and I thought, looked fabulous. So for my $.02, yes, simple Louboutins are appropriate for the office. [Read more…]

Tool of the Trade: Touche Eclat

Yves Saint Laurent TOUCHE ÉCLATRadiant Touch 1 Luminous RadianceWe’re normally not fans of pricey beauty products — the drugstore is more of our vibe.  However, we were talked into buying this YSL highlighter as part of our wedding makeup, and we are absolutely addicted now, because it’s the perfect way to “look alive” after a long day of staring at the computer screen.  (We use it so often we even keep it in our purse, so we always have it with us.)  Before we head out for a night on the town, we’ll add a bit under the eyelids, alongside our nose beneath our brows, and up over the brow bones to perk up without getting that startled look that plain concealer can bring.  Brilliant.  It’s available at Sephora for $40. Yves Saint Laurent TOUCHE ÉCLATRadiant Touch 1 Luminous Radiance

Reader mail: On holiday parties

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday parties, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Reader L writes in today with a question on holiday parties…

We’ve been invited to a Holiday Party, being hosted by the VP at my husband’s company. This is the first time that I’ll be meeting anyone that he works with (he just started at this location in July), and I’m very anxious to make a good impression (the VP is the highest-ranked person in the building). The party is at their home, and I have no idea what to wear – the invitation didn’t say! Do you have any advice for an outfit that would be appropriate for this occasion?

First:  Happy Holidays! Second, we really feel for you, because this situation could be extremely awkward.  The dress code could be anywhere from “festive sweater with jeans” to “festive jacket with work attire” to “LBD” to (if the company is very large, the VP is very swanky, and only executives are invited) something even more than LBD.  First, if your husband has any female friends in his company (either colleagues, or the significant other of a colleague), bug him until he asks one of them (unless you are also friends with them, in which case, ask yourself).  Another option might be to call the VP’s secretary directly (do not call the VP).  Express your excitement for the invitation, and ask about the dress code for women.  If you really feel awkward about asking the secretary, ask a question about directions or something innocuous like that and then slide the question in near the end.  A “safe” bet might be to wear a black shift dress, black hose and pumps, and a festive red or orange jacket or structured sweater — think velvet, silk shantung, etc. (We would suggest avoiding embroidered sequins — you can always tuck a sparkly brooch or necklace in your pocket, and “trade up” or down as necessary once you’ve arrived and assessed the situation.)  (Update: see our more recent roundup of festive blazers here.)  [Read more…]

Emergency reader e-mail: Black tie SOS

Black Tie: What To Do When You Get a Last Minute Invite | CorporetteToday’s reader e-mail comes with smoke signals…

I was just invited to a black-tie dinner at the Waldorf for a benefit my firm supports. Although I have lots of dresses, I’m not sure what is appropriate for a black tie business function. Is a knee length dress ever appropriate at a black tie function?

This is one of those reasons why we always snap up black cocktail dresses, both long and short, when we see them on sale. Our advice actually involves a bit of legwork on your part.

  1. Call the Waldorf. Ask what they recommend ladies wear to the event. (You can do this anonymously.)
  2. E-mail a female coworker who’s attending the event (or two) and ask them what they’re wearing. If you like what the Waldorf’s advice was, include this in your e-mail. (If not, keep it to yourself.)

If the Waldorf’s answer is “long” and your colleagues’ answers are “long,” guess what — you should really wear a long dress. If the answers are somewhat different, then you might want to choose a dress closer to what your colleagues are wearing.  For example: Let’s say the Waldorf answers, “Cocktail attire is fine.” But your colleagues answer, “Long dresses!” You might want to choose a very very simple black dress that’s long. (For what it’s worth, this author has been to galas at the Waldorf on at least one occasion — most of the women at the table were wearing short cocktail dresses, including me. To be honest, we saw women in sparkly evening suits and business suits. But that may have just been that particular event.)

As for where to get the dress… ask your friends if you can borrow anything if you don’t already have one.  Otherwise, you might want to hit a Filene’s or TJ Maxx to see what they have.  If you have time for Internet shopping, we recommend the Calvin Klein dress above, available at Zappos (free overnight shipping!) for a reasonable $134.

You might also want to check out our post (and the comments) on the DC gala scene, and Tim Gunn’s recent suggestions in Marie ClaireReaders, what are your thoughts? What are galas like in your region, and what are your rules of thumb?

Shop more evening dresses, below:

Reader mail: What to wear to a professional gala event in DC?

professional galaToday’s reader mail has to do with someone who is in need of advice for what to wear to a gala event…

Dear Corporette – You have never steered me wrong, and I definitely need advice on this one: I have been invited by a former boss & mentor (partner of a French law firm) to a gala dinner in DC, where he is to receive an award. What is appropriate dress? I have several gala-type dresses, things I wear to the opera or to very elegant weddings…but I am not sure how conservative to be at such a gathering of professionals.

77TH ACADEMY AWARDSThank you for the compliment!  We’re happy to give our $.02, but really, we hope  our DC-based readers can help her out. We’ve only been to gala events in New York, at which people have worn anything from black business suits (and looked boring but professional) to actual floor-length dresses. Our rule of thumb would be that if the men are supposed to wear a tuxedo, then you should be in a floor-length dress (or the pants version of a floor-length dress). Avoid tons of sparkles and surprising flashes of flesh — it’s one thing to bare your arms and unintentionally show a little cleavage, it’s another thing to pull a Hilary Swank (pictured at right) and wear a dress that’s too low cut in the back. We would advise you to wear either a wrap, a jacket, or a shrug, just so you have some way to modify your look as the night goes on.  For our money (or as inspiration), we’d suggest something like the dress pictured above — the high neckline and classic cut makes it a sure hit.  Above:   Lauren Ralph Lauren Colorblock Jersey Gown, was $170, now $102.

Reader Mail: What to Wear to the Wedding of a Colleague

What to Wear to a Colleague's Wedding | CorporetteWe are seriously behind in answering this poor reader’s e-mail — our sincere apologies!  Here’s the question:

I am a mid-level law associate and my husband is a teaching physician at a local hospital. His boss is getting married in DC in April. It is the bride’s first marriage and it will be a huge event. The wedding is at 5 and then dinner and dancing at 6 at a country club.  I have NO idea what to wear. Can I wear a black cocktail dress? I am so bad at these things and I want to make a good impression for my husband and look professional for my own benefit!  This may seem like an elementary question, but did I mention I am fashionably challenged?  (One more thing:  I am barely thirty, but my husband is a good ten years older. I don’t want to look like a airhead, but I don’t want to look old for my age either!)

Weddings, in general, are fraught with chances for fashion errors.  What is appropriate — or inappropriate — tends to be very region-specific, as well as wedding-specific.  Take your cues from the invitation — the wording of the invitation (are middle names used?  does she call her groom a “Mr.”? is “honor” spelled with a u?) and the style of the invitation (is it entirely in script?  was there an inner/outer envelope?  are there any quirky touches to it?) will give you an idea of what the bride is aiming at for the wedding.  In general, avoid wearing black or white to a wedding — we know a lot of places where black is still seen as a color of mourning.  D.C. walks a fine line between being a cosmopolitan city on the East Coast, and a Southern city — we’d avoid black if at all possible.  (If all you’ve got is a black cocktail dress, be sure to wear a very colorful, happy wrap, as well as bag and shoes.) [Read more…]

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