What to Wear When You’re Out of Town & Working Late

What to Wear When You're Working Late | CorporetteWhat should you wear when you’re planning to work late — and you’re traveling?  Reader H is gearing up for trial and wonders what to wear in the war room after hours:

I am going to be attending a two week out of town trial with two partners at my firm. During the day we will all be in suits, but in the evenings we will likely be working late. I will want to be in comfortable clothes, which for me would constitute yoga pants, but do not think that would be appropriate with my boss. Any suggestions?

Interesting question! We’ve talked about what to wear on the weekends, what to wear for a month in court, and traveling for work, but not this question.  I was in exactly this situation a few years ago — and I’m not sure I made the right decisions.   [Read more…]

I Can’t Wear a Suit — But Want to Show Authority

I Can't Wear a Suit But Want to Show Authority -- How? | CorporetteWhat do you wear when you want to show authority without wearing a suit?  We’ve talked about what to wear when a suit doesn’t feel right, but Reader R is looking for authoritative clothes that aren’t intimidating and travel well…

I recently started a new job as in-house counsel. As part of my responsibilities, I will be traveling internationally to conduct audits and give training sessions. The job is great, but I’m not sure what to wear! My de facto would be to wear a suit, but my boss suggested that I should avoid wearing suits, since the appearance of a “suit” tends to make people nervous. Some relevant factors: (1) I’m often the only woman in the room; and (2) I’m also often the youngest person in the room.

Basically, I need pieces that say, “Position of authority, but non-scary” and travel well. Help!

Congrats on the new job, R!  One of my older friends was a lawyer for a TV network in the 80s, and I remember her telling me that she would leave her suit jacket in her office when she had to go talk to the comedy writers or producers — it was less intimidating, less “this is coming from The Man.” So you’re not alone in wanting to thinking about what your clothes say to people.  For my $.02: Put some thought into exactly what response you want from people.  For example: Do you want them to respect that your word is the final word, and they should do what you tell them? (Play up the authority.)  Do you want them to come to you with problems that might not be communicated to the home office otherwise?  (Play up the approachability, but keep some authority.) Do you seek to really understand their problems and make friends in the office? (Turn the authority way down.)  (As for the “looking younger” part of your question, you may want to look at our older post on the difference between acting young and looking young at the office.)

For my $.02, I would go with what you feel most comfortable in, and modify that (taking into account, obviously, the office culture for where you’re going). If you’re comfortable in: [Read more…]

Three-Quarter Sleeved Blazers in Winter

How to Wear Three-Quarter-Sleeved Blazers in Winter | CorporetteHow do you wear three-quarter sleeved blazers once winter arrives?  Reader R wonders…

Now that the cooler months are approaching, I have a question about 3/4 length sleeve blazers. I have a belted one that is very warm and work-appropriate, but I never know what sort of shirt to wear under it. (Ditto for many cute blazers I see out there, especially tweed ones.) Is it OK to wear a long-sleeved shirt under a blazer with 3/4 length sleeves? If so, what color/fit guidelines would you recommend? It seems like a waste to have a blazer in a heavier fabric if your wrists and lower arms are going to be exposed to the elements.

Interesting question.  (Pictured above: Rebecca Taylor Raw-Edge Tweed Blazer, on sale at Last Call: was $395, now marked to $126.40 (sizes 4-8 only).) We’ve talked in general about what to wear beneath suit jackets, and how to wear a black blazer as a separate, but we haven’t talked about this.  For my $.02, this is how I’ve always worn them, but I’m curious to see what other ladies are doing: [Read more…]

The Hunt: Knee-High Boots Under 3″

Tsubo Faline BootSure, 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.

I always hesitate to do a Hunt for knee-high boots for the office because, while they’ve come a long way in the working world, they are still a heavily “know your office” kind of issue.  Still, I feel like every woman has at least one pair of knee high boots — for today’s Hunt I decided to focus on the “under 3 inch” category of heeled boots.  Readers, have you bought a pair of low-heeled boots recently?  Do you wear them to the office? [Read more…]

The Rules about Dresses for a “Business Casual” Interviewing Event

The Rules about Dresses for a "Business Casual" Interviewing Event || CorporetteWhat are the rules for dresses in a business casual environment — and how do those vary if you’re interviewing, networking, or just working? Reader H wonders what to wear to a dinner reception/interview situation that has a business casual dress code.

I have a dinner reception to attend the night before a second/final round interview at a consulting firm, at one of their Midwest firms. Other attendants at the dinner will be employees from the firm including staff to partners, and also other candidates. The stipulated dress code is business casual. I have read your other posts on business lunches, and I understand you recommend trousers/pants. However, I almost always wear skirts or dresses. Could you give me some guidance in terms of what I can wear? Specifically, what kind of dresses or skirts would be appropriate? (e.g. sheath dress? pencil skirts?). Should I stick to solids, or are prints acceptable? What about colors? Should I keep it strictly neutral? As for tops, does it need to have collar? Are sleeves required? What about the sleeve length (is showing elbows ok?). Finally, should I wear a jacket, and if so, what type? Suit jacket? Slightly less formal? Is cardigan acceptable? Thanks for your help.

Wow — Reader H has a ton of questions here, so I’m going to bang out some answers, but (as always) I’m curious to hear what the readers say. A few things to note at the outset: obviously look at this dinner reception as an interview (or part of the interviewing process) since you’ll be evaluated in part based on the impression you make at this reception, and obviously the answer is going to differ a bit from region to region. That said, here are some quick and dirty answers from me… (Pictured: Theory – Betty Tailor Dress – was $295 now marked to $176.98 at Nordstrom (tons of sizes left in both indigo and charcoal).) [Read more…]

Building a Wardrobe for Law School

How to Build a Wardrobe for Law School | CorporetteWhat clothes should you add to your wardrobe before you attend law school?  Reader N has a great question:

I am in my mid-twenties and will be starting law school this fall. I’ve spent my time since undergrad traveling (living out of a backpack) and working with kids (only wearing clothes that could get messy).

I’ve set aside some money to buy a new wardrobe for law school, but am looking for advice on what I should invest in that will be part of my wardrobe over the next three years. The school I’m going to is in a city that has a long, cold winter, and the sense I get is that the school generally has a preppy vibe. Any advice?

Good luck to Reader N!  I’m one of those people who enjoyed law school more than the practice of law so I think fondly of my years there — they were intense but fun.* We’ve talked about which bags are great for law school (way back in 2008!) but we haven’t actually talked about what to wear to law school.  I think this is a great question, and mid-July is a perfect time to think about it. Where I went (Georgetown ’03) people wore everything from business suits to sweatpants — one professor actually gave us a list of tips during our 1L finals week that included tips like “don’t forget to bathe.” So “laid back” can be an understatement, and I suspect a lot of your wardrobe will already work just fine for the classes themselves.

So instead, let’s look at what clothes you will definitely need for job hunting and networking, and focus on that instead. [Read more…]