Navy Skirts… and Tights?

1What color tights do you wear with a navy suit? Reader B wonders…

I’m a skirt suit kinda girl, in part because I prefer to commute in flats and then switch to heels at the office. (Since I’m short, most of my suit pants are hemmed for heels.) Winter isn’t a problem for my black and grey suits; I just trade the hose for black tights. (Side note: the Commando tights you recommended are now my absolute favorites.)

Here’s the issue: two of my favorite skirt suits are navy or navy pinstripe (similar to this J. Crew and this Banana Republic). Pairing navy tights with a navy suit seems crazy monochromatic, and most of the heather or grey tights I’ve seen feel a bit casual for the office. So I end up wearing plain old hose, and my legs freeze on the way to work.

Hmmn.  Great question — this is actually the combo that led me, many moons ago, to wear purple fishnets to work (pictured, in a random picture I happened to take that day – navy sweater, navy wool skirt, purple fishnets, purple shoes), although the last time we took a poll on fishnets at the office readers were really against ‘em.  (Although, if you want, you can get a pair of purple fishnets here, or a crochet set here.) Poking around a bit online, here are a few more ideas: [Read more...]

How to Wear a Brooch

How can brooches help your work wardrobe?  Reader A wonders:

I have a fashion challenge that has stumped me for years. I received two beautiful, expensive broaches that look like they could be integrated into my work wardrobe, but I do not know how to wear them. How does a fashionable workaholic go about wearing a broach without looking like it’s a substitute name tag?

We haven’t talked about how to wear a brooch in a looong time, and brooches were hot on the recent runways.  So let’s revisit!

- Wear it high on the lapel of your jacket — I usually like to wear mine just a bit lower than my clavicle, so it’s really accentuating my face.  I’ll admit that usually a necklace and a brooch is too much, but I thought it worked here. (You can see more of my personal jewelry collection here.) [Read more...]

How to Start a Tasteful and Professional Jewelry Collection

When you first start working, how do you build an appropriate jewelry collection — one that’s interesting, tasteful, and professional? Reader A wonders…

I come from a decidedly non-professional background, and most jewelry I’ve bought has either gone out of style in a month or been so cheap I feel it doesn’t fit with my upgraded wardrobe. I don’t want to look like I’m loaded down with bling, but I also don’t want to look like my grandmother. Do you have suggestions for classic pieces that I can wear to school and then to summer internships? My particular school is extremely competitive (aren’t they all?) and many women dress in business casual every day.

How to start building a jewelry and accessories wardrobe is a great question, and something I struggled with when I started in BigLaw.  My previous jewelry collection was a mix of thrifted/self-made/funky — and at first, I didn’t see any real problem mixing it with business suits.  Then one day I got called into a Big Meeting.  Great, I thought, I’m wearing a basic black suit and a simple blouse.  My confidence disappeared sitting in the VIP’s office, as I became acutely aware of the statement ring I’d chosen to wear that day: a large green agate ring (we’re talking 2″ long) on a chipped, undetermined piece of metal.  I’d paid $20 for it at a DC flea market.  What must he think?  I wondered.  I wound up turning it to face my palm as I took notes and asked questions about the assignment.

I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but I’ll offer a few suggestions: [Read more...]

Professional Watches for Women

Which are the best watches for professional women? Is it still worth investing in a quality watch, even though everyone uses their cell phone or computer to check time? Reader L wrote in to ask about watches:

I searched your site and found the post on digital watches, but I would love your (and your readers’) opinions on non-digital wrist watches. It would be useful to hear suggestions at various price points.

This is a great question. I’ve written before about how I think watches are still status symbols. Not only do men’s magazines all still advise men to go out and spend money on a watch, but I’ve often been at a lunch with high-achieving women, looked around, and noticed that 8 of the 10 women there were wearing Cartier watches.  In New York — at least among the legal and banking set — Cartier is kind of the first and last word, at least in my experience. My 30th birthday gift to myself was a Cartier Tank Francaise watch, though, so perhaps my perception is a bit biased! (It was a huuuuge splurge for this Midwestern girl.) [Read more...]

How to Edge Up a Conservative Look

how to be edgy.indexedHow can you “edge up” a conservative look (and still look professional)? Reader T wonders…

I’m in a creative field (aspiring commercial director) and recently came out of a personal branding seminar where I was given the suggestion to “edge up” my look, which I think is actually a good idea. I dress pretty polished (J. Crew, Theory) – any suggestions? I do tend towards bold shoes and bright handbags, but I think that’s not enough and need something visible from the waist up (i.e. during an interview or over coffee). I’m leaning towards always making sure I have one statement piece of jewelry – chunky ring or bib necklace – but would love to hear other suggestions, from the temporary (giving my hair a gray streak, painting one nail a different color) to the more permanent (a small tattoo on the wrist). Any suggestions for how to do this without spilling over into kooky art-teacher land?

My gut reaction here: gaaah, don’t get a tattoo! I actually think the statement piece of jewelry idea is a good one — this is one of the only times I would encourage someone to think “volume” in terms of accessories, but layered bracelets, rings, or necklaces can all have a big impact. There are lots of other ways to edge up your look in ways that are not permanent. Here are some ideas on ways to push your naturally-conservative style towards an edgier vibe: [Read more...]

Looking Professional, In the Factory

Reader D has a unique question: what to wear in the field?  More specifically, to visit a factory (and ride in her client’s plane!)

I am going on a site visit to a factory near Seattle.  The visit includes riding in a small plane and then visiting a large factory so I will need to be casual, wear flat comfortable shoes, yet still look professional.  Any advice?  Although I am a senior associate I will be the sole representative for my client and want to make sure I come off as professional as possible.

Congratulations on the opportunity — it sounds fun (riding in a private plane is on my Bucket List) and like a good career opportunity. As far as fashion goes, I think my answer depends on one question: can you wear denim around your client? If so, I think a pair of dark (preferably black) jeggings skinny jeans, tucked into flat boots, topped with a button-front and blazer, and accessorized with your normal work jewelry, would probably be my best guess for an outfit. (Update:  There’s a lot of disagreement with me in the comments, which is fine, but just to be clear: when I say “jeggings” — I mean skinny  jeans that have a bit of extra Spandex in them to make them more comfortable, but are still primarily denim.  E.g., these, these, or these. Not these.)  Here’s my thinking:

[Read more...]