The Best Tops for Under Suits

OK — I’ve got another “Corporette Shopping Guide” for everyone: the best tops for under suits. Which basic t-shirts are your favorites for under suits? How about button-front blouses? I’ve been working on this one forever and I don’t think I’ll ever feel like it’s totally ready, so I’m really looking forward to seeing reader responses.

As with our other shopping guides, please a) post any relevant comments on the page itself, and if you have any unrelated threadjacks, please post them here (on this post).

Resort Chic — for a Business Meeting in the Bahamas

what to wear to a business meeting in the BahamasReader L has a question about what to wear for a business meeting in the Bahamas…

Unlike many of your readers, I am not a lawyer but am an MBA grad working in Investor Relations. After a couple of years of trudging through the economy, the management team has decided to have our small strategic planning meeting in the Bahamas next month (yay!); however, I am at a loss when it comes to attire. The information provided says “resort chic”. I’m assuming that means clothing which does not consist of a printed hibiscus sprawling across ones chest. Can you give me some suggestions where I can go to find classy resort wear? Thanks a bunch. I’ll toast a fruity drink to you!

Well, I’ll do anything to have a fruity drink toasted to me. :) Honestly, though: why do companies keep doing these kinds of awkward retreats, without specific advice for women? The men who attend this meeting will show up in khaki pants and a button-front shirt and be A-OK; if they’re more formal some may have a linen blazer with them, whereas others may wear shorts with untucked button-front shirts (with the sleeves rolled up, of course). Either way you slice it, the margin of error will be fairly small for the men. Whereas for women — when one says “resort chic” my imagination runs from the casual hippie clothing like a maxi dress to the more high-fashion model look of someone 6′ tall wearing short-shorts, 4″ heels, and perhaps an expensive blouse, loaded up with jewelry and a sour expression. Or, of course, a great bikini… but none of those choices really seem ideal for your situation, because you don’t want to confuse vacation with a business meeting  (Pictured: Bahamas Gazebo, originally uploaded to Flickr by bryce_edwards.) [Read more...]

Dressing Professionally for Summer

white blazer for summerI was chatting with blogger RoadWarriorette the other day about dressing for summer — it can be a challenge when you’re trying to look professional! So I thought we should have an open thread with people’s best tips for dressing for summer. My personal tips:

- Layer, layer, layer. This helps with commutes in hot weather, and if you do it intelligently you can add and remove layers as needed throughout the day.  For example, I frequently will wear just a cotton t-shirt and my pants or a skirt to work, as well as sandals or flip flops.  Once at work, I’ll give myself time to “air out” if I need it, and then pop on my blazer and a good pair of pumps.  I keep a lot of blazers and pumps at the office so I don’t have to lug them around the city with me — for example, my current office has a basic black blazer, a white one, a beige one, a black/gray/silver leopard-print one and then about several pairs of pumps (basic black, really high black ones, purple pumps, brown pumps, a low pair of silverish/gray pumps, a nude-for-me pair of pumps, a red pair of really high heels) as well as a bunch of flats that I keep at the office (a black patent leather pair, a red patent leather pair, a brown lizard pair, a light pink pair, and a royal blue pair).  Similarly, a lightweight scarf (such as one made out of linen or silk) can be a great addition — it’ll provide warmth if you’re freezing, and not that much bulk if you need to take it off and tie it around your work bag.

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What NOT to Wear to the Office

what not to wear to workSo there’s this great piece on USA Today about how “business casual” can be confusing to some people — this one 24-year-old PR executive was shocked (shocked, we tell you!) when she wasn’t allowed to attend a meeting dressed in Bermuda shorts and flip flops.

So I thought it might be fun to have an open-thread today about what attire makes you really raise your eyebrows. Obviously, every office is different, but I think we can all do a public service by listing which garments and accessories someone might want to think twice before wearing.

For my own list:

  • Any shorts (or any pants that are less than full length — ankle-length pants and capris will be questionable at some offices!)
  • Flip-flops (whether they’re plastic or leather, rethink)
  • Sandals of any kind; peep toe shoes are also often questionable at the most conservative offices
  • Tall boots (even knee-high used to be questionable, but over-the-knee styles are definitely questionable)
  • Anything that is overly noisy in the hallways (flip-flops are the primary offender here, but other things qualify also — corduroy pants, for example)
  • Denim, or items cut like denim (e.g., 5 pockets) — cords, khakis, etc.
  • Lace or sheer clothing
  • Sleeveless tops or dresses (worn without a cardigan or blazer on top)
  • Any item that can be worn to the gym (sneakers, yoga pants, terrycloth wristbands, large shapeless t-shirts)
  • Anything too short, tight, or low-cut

Readers, what “think twice” list have you compiled from your time at the office? Any fun “I couldn’t believe she wore that” stories that you’d care to share?

Dressing Professionally with a Cast

dressing-professionally-with-a-castReader E has a question that should take us into an interesting discussion of how low the bar can go in terms of professional dressing if circumstances require it…

I broke my leg — in 11 places– over the weekend. I have been on bed rest for almost a week, and probably have another week of it. When I return to work, I will have a hard cast for 8-10 weeks. It goes from toe to knee, and is thicker than average because of all the metal inside from the severity of the fracture.

None of my pants will fit over the cast, and because it is so thick and heavy, it is really affecting my balance, so I have to be careful to not have anything that will hang in my crutches. I also have to sit at my desk with my leg elevated on a chair once I go to work. That eliminates many of my skirt suits, since the skirts are straight.

I am going to have to break some rules but want to know your thoughts on what is reasonable. I have a number of wrap style dresses, and figure I will wear them with a cardi. I have nude, gold and black patent ballet flats that are good quality and supportive, so those will be my shoe options.

I looked at Old Navy online and picked up some yoga pants and a knit a-line skirt. The pants are cropped and will stretch over the cast. As long as they don’t fade, can I wear them to work with a nice T and a drapey cardigan? What about the knit skirt? It is at the knee, and is soft enough to not worry about showing my business with my leg up, but not so soft that it is overly revealing. I am thinking it with the same– nice T and cardi.

Yeooouch. Feel better, Reader E! I just talked to a reporter about how yoga pants are not appropriate for the office, but there are some caveats to that — when I polled the Corporette Facebook page people thought they were fine if you’re in the final stages of pregnancy and can’t find anything else to fit. I think your question is kind of along those lines, but even more poignant because what, exactly, are you going to do? It isn’t a matter of cost — they simply don’t make many outfits intended for a half-leg cast.  (Pictured:  IMG_0866, originally uploaded to Flickr by soccerkrys.)

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Plus-Sized Workwear and Suiting

plus size workwearIt’s been such a long time in general since we talked about plus-sized workwear, that I thought an open thread would be great. (Pictured: Tahari Woman ‘Ruby’ Collarless Jacket (Plus), available at Nordstrom for $198.)

The places that I know of include:

But these are the obvious places! What brands are your favorites, particularly for suits?  Are there online boutiques that you guys like? Any Etsy sellers? Any bespoke places? (Have I missed any obvious places?) Plus-sized readers, please chime in…