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...]

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...]

Beauty Wednesday: Nail Colors For Work

What Nail Colors are Appropriate At Your Office? | CorporetteWe haven’t had a poll on work appropriate nails since 2011 by my count, so here’s a fun question for today:  what nail colors do you consider appropriate (and inappropriate) for your conservative office?  For my $.02, flipping through Elle‘s recent slideshow on the top nail colors for Fall 2013, I see a lot of dark, muted colors that I probably would try in a conservative office — provided that a) the polish is in impeccable condition, and b) I didn’t have any big meetings that day.  That said, dark blues and grays are one thing — I can’t ever see some of the 3D nail art (pictured) or crazy patterns/colors being appropriate for a conservative office.  But I’m curious what you guys think — what colors (beyond pinks and beiges) are appropriate at YOUR office — and when? 

 

How to Help Young Men Dress Professionally

best workwear advice for menWhich blogs provide workwear advice to young male professionals? Reader S wonders, and now is a great time to talk about men’s style since I’m guessing there will be some killer Father’s Day sales coming up… (update: here’s our roundup for some big mens’ sales happening the weekend of 6/14) –

Do you know of any blogs that provide sound fashion advice to young male professionals? One of my firm’s summer clerks has become the subject of office ridicule because of the way he dresses, as well as his general awkwardness. This really bothers me, as he reminds me a lot of my younger brother. In an attempt to help him, I am planning on sending an email to him and to the two female clerks recommending helpful blogs regarding office etiquette, professional clothing, etc. I am going to recommend Corporette to the ladies (you have helped me immensely), but I do not know of a site for men. Are there any that you would recommend?

This is something that I’ve been asked so often that I’ve actually bought a few domain names and thought about launching a workwear blog for men myself. (Trust me when I say it’s at/near the bottom of my to-do list, though!) I’m curious to hear what readers say here — some of my best resources for men include: [Read more...]

What to Wear on the First Day at a Very Casual Office

Pictured: Clean slate, originally uploaded to Flickr by mikecogh. What should you wear on your first day at a very casual law office? Reader F wonders…

Thanks for the great blog – it’s been holding my hand, fashion-wise, since I started law school. I have a question: what should an articling student wear to work (especially on my first day) at an extremely casual law firm populated with some very prestigious lawyers? By “extremely casual” I mean that the last time I saw my principal at the office she was wearing ripped jeans and a vintage poncho/jacket sort of thing. She is a very senior & highly respected lawyer, and I am a lowly student, so my quandary is this: on the one hand, I don’t want to look like an overdressed nerd in a suit, but on the other hand, I clearly do not have the seniority to dress as she does. How to split the difference? What should I wear on my first day? Thanks!

Great question, F — you’re right to assume that you need to bank some credibility before you can start wearing very casual things. We’ve talked about how to have a great first day on the job, as well as what to wear for a business casual office, but we haven’t talked about what to wear at a very casual office. For my $.02, this is very field specific — and for most lawyers I’m going to fall on the “be safe and wear a suit” side of the continuum.  Your job involves representing other people, not yourself; your job requires you to get immediate respect on first impressions (e.g., from judges and juries) – and your boss wants to know that you understand that.  Since you describe this as a “very casual office,” I’m guessing the odds are approximately 90% that you’re going to immediately take off the blazer and leave it in your office — so make sure you like your outfit sans blazer — but you still want to show up and have that “I’m here and ready to work!” conversation in your suit. (You can then let your blazer live at the office to become your wear-with-everything black blazer.)   [Read more...]