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...]

How to Step Up Your Working Wardrobe

How do you step up your wardrobe when you want to be considered for a promotion or raise? Reader U wonders for her business casual office…

I work at a company where there are no strict guidelines to what we should wear. Most days, we are fine wearing casual to business casual. Even with my position as a forecasting specialist, i am not requested to wear something more formal. Jeans with a formal top or a dress are my go-to when we are requested to wear something more presentable. However, I am applying for a supervisory position and have start wearing more formal clothes, specially because I need to be at my best. What is the most appropriate clothing that I could look presentable enough but won’t look like I’m trying hard to impress people? Slacks don’t really fit me well – tiny gal with longer torso. Thanks!

We’ve talked about how to look professional in a laid-back office, how to transition your wardrobe from a very conservative workplace to a more casual office,  as well as how to look professional without being overdressed, but we haven’t talked, directly, about how to step up your wardrobe when you want to be seen as more managerial.  I’m particularly interested to hear what the readers say here.  For my own $.02, this is how I would approach it: [Read more...]

How to Wear Ankle Length Pants to Work

how not to wear cropped pants for workCan you wear slim ankle length pants with a blazer to look professional? Reader M asks a pertinent question:

Can you comment on how to wear slim ankle length pants with a blazer to create a professional look? I tried this last week and missed the mark because my shoes were too casual I think. Would love your input on this.

Oi.  OK.  We know I’m not 100% on board with this trend, generally thinking that cropped pants are too casual for very conservative offices.  That said, logic dictates that they’re here to stay, so we may as well talk about how to look as professional as you can in them.  So I just looked at a zillion pictures of cropped pants — some by themselves, some with matching blazers, and a very few with mismatched blazers, and I have a few notes.  But first, let’s look at the picture above, which I think shows some of the worst styling mistakes I’ve seen, and demonstrates both rules really well: [Read more...]

What to Wear with a Black Dress

1What do you wear with a black dress? Reader L has what might seem like a silly question at first…

Hi, I have a silly question, but could you talk about what colors you wear with a black dress? I like saturated bright and jewel-tone colors, and combining them with black feels too stark, so I get a lot more wear out of navy blue, charcoal, and black prints than solid black. But I’m looking to incorporate a more polished, professional style into my work wardrobe, and excluding black limits my options for basic work dresses a lot. I’m always cold in the office so dressing in layers is a must, but the only thing I have that seems appropriate is one gray blazer. What else should I look for to layer over black dresses? I’m a designer in the tech industry, so I have a lot of leeway, style-wise. Thanks for your help!

We’ve talked about what to wear with a gray suit, but we haven’t talked about what to wear with a black dress. I know Sally at Already Pretty had a post a while back on “wearing black with intention,” and Angie at YouLookFab has also tackled the issue. I’m going to be less refined than either of those two fine ladies, though, and say: whatever you want. [Read more...]