Long Flights: How to Look Professional But Be Comfortable

dressing for long flightYou want to look professional during a long flight with colleagues, but you’re understandably not too eager to wear a suit for several hours of waking, sleeping, and eating. So, with your trusty flight outfit of a fleece + yoga pants staying in the closet at home, what can you choose that will be comfortable but still appropriate if you end up sitting next to your boss? We’ve talked about traveling internationally in comfort and style, what to pack for an extended business trip, and traveling with coworkers, but not this exactly. 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 can see this being a concern not only in this situation (traveling directly with coworkers) but in a situation I’ve been in, where there’s a conference that almost everyone in your industry attends, so even if you’re not traveling with direct coworkers, you end up seeing a million colleagues all over the airport, on flights, and via other travel hubs. A lot of sites have comfy-looking, wrinkle-free travel clothes (we just featured a washable top from Chadwicks’s line on CorporetteMoms’ Washable Wednesday) — but what is the chic alternative to the flowy pants-with-matching-loose-jacket look?  A few thoughts:

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How to Blend Conservative Style with Business Casual

business-casualHow should you follow a business casual dress code (and avoid looking overdressed) when your personal style tends toward classic, understated, and conservative — without buying an entirely new wardrobe? Oh, and also: you’re in a technical field, you’re the youngest employee in your office, and the only woman there besides the secretary. Reader K wonders:

I have recently started at my dream job which is a technical one and I work with men only (besides the receptionist). I am on a very tight budget but have invested in basic pieces such as good quality black suits, classic dresses, blouses, black pencil skirt. The dress code is business casual. Yet the other day I wore a classic grey dress, black blazer, heels, and pearls and the CEO made a comment before a meeting insinuating I was overdressed. He wears cords and a polo everyday. What can I wear to work? I prefer to wear more conservative clothes and feel more professional in blacks, and greys and dark color palettes with a small pop of color (like a maroon or emerald blouse). I am in my early 20s and look especially young and am the youngest in my office and prefer the clean cut conservative professional look so am at a loss of what to wear. Any help would be much appreciated.

We’ve talked about how best to dress in business casual in a male-dominated, technical workplace as a younger woman, dealing with other women’s backhanded compliments about dressing well, and being told by a male boss that you dress too well and need to dress “frumpier,” but not exactly this.  Personal style is often important, but sometimes showing that you can “read” company culture requires dressing in a different way than you might otherwise.  Furthermore, when you look young, it can come off even worse — like you’re playing dress up.  So here are a few ideas…

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Over-the-Knee Boots at the Office?

otk boots for workWhile doing our round-up of knee-high boots, I was struck by how things have changed in such a short time — when I first started this blog, knee-high boots were still pretty scandalous, and over-the-knee boots (or OTK boots) were completely, totally risqué.  Cut to today, and they’re EVERYWHERE — flat versions, high-heeled versions, on most best seller lists, with rave reviews from everyone from 20-somethings to 60-somethings.  I know Jean at ExtraPetite has talked about wearing her 5050s for the commute, but I thought it might be interesting to have a poll: are over the knee boots so omnipresent that you can wear them to work? (Pictured: Screenshot of the Stuart Weitzman 5050 from Zappos, where they’re $635; they’re also at Nordstrom for the same. Here are a few under-$200 alternatives.)

As always, you have to know the specifics of YOUR office.  But because a poll can be fun, I thought we’d have this in two flavors: one poll for folks working in conservative offices, and one folks for the women in business casual offices.  Just for ease of discussion, let’s define a “conservative office” as one where, on any given day, 30% or more of your coworkers are in suits.

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Wearing Thigh-High Stockings at Work

thigh high stockingsWhat if you like your legs covered when you wear skirts — or your office dress code doesn’t allow bare legs — but you don’t like wearing full pantyhose or tights? Are thigh-high stockings acceptable to wear to work? Are some more appropriate than others? Reader N wonders…

I was wondering if you might consider doing a post on thigh high pantyhose that are functional and work appropriate. I hate the feeling of full pantyhose, but can’t go without, so I want to try thigh highs but have no idea where to start. Thanks!

Great question! We’ve talked about how to care for pantyhose, whether you should wear them in the summer, how many workplaces still require them, the appropriateness of fishnets at the office, rounded up everyone’s favorite lingerie brands, but not this. (Blast from the past: this 20-year-old Chicago Tribune fashion Q-and-A actually recommends layering opaque tights under thigh-highs.)  I’m going to apologize in advance for the sure-to-be-interesting AdSense ads that will follow us all around the interwebs, but I do think this is an important and legitimate question for working women — I’ve had a number of friends who preferred thigh-highs for hygiene, comfort, or other reasons, and there’s no reason they should be stigmatized.

The good news: it seems like there’s a HUGE variety to choose from out right now, in part (perhaps) because over-the-knee boots are so popular. Thus, we’re seeing a ton of “over the knee” socks and tights. Some of the bestsellers that I’m seeing: [Read more…]

How to Handle Stains — At Work

How to Remove Stains -- at Work | CorporetteWhat’s the best way to deal with stains you get while at work — should you remove the stain, hide it, or leave it be entirely? Reader L wonders about a stain she got on a sheath dress:

Yesterday I was wearing my absolute favorite dress, a black and white colorblock Theory sheath, and at lunch I got a tiny spot of balsamic vinegar on it. Out came the Tide pen, but then that left a large light brown blotch. So I headed to the bathroom and tried to rinse that out…what turned out as a little spot ended in a huge off-white wet spot over my boob, right before I had to give a presentation. Help! What’s the best way to get rid of stains during the day?

Interesting! We’ve talked about how to remove deodorant marks from suiting (as well as our general suit cleaning guide), but not this. I have a few thoughts here: [Read more…]

The Best Shoes to Wear with Tights

best shoes wear with tightsAre tights appropriate to wear to the office? What sort of shoes or boots look best paired with thicker tights?

Reader M wonders:

With winter coming on, I would love to see a post about what sort of footwear is appropriate to wear with tights in a conservative office. My current work shoe wardrobe consists entirely of your run-of-the-mill low-heel no-frill pumps. These work fine with hose, of course, and seem mostly OK with thinner tights (particularly if they are the same color) but they don’t look quite right with thicker tights, like sweater tights or fleece-lined tights. I think I might need a bootie, or maybe an oxford pump, but I’m unclear on the professional/conservative boundaries of these trendier styles. Or maybe the answer is that thicker tights are just generally inappropriate for the conservative office altogether?

Interesting question. I know fleece tights were hugely popular among the commenters last year, and I’ve always been a fan of sweater tights and the like. But: are they professional? And what shoes look best with them?

(Pictured: Nordstrom ‘Love’ Sweater Tights, available at Nordstrom for $28.)

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