The Bare-Armed Elephant in the Room

Geren Ford phantom striped silk fishtail hem camisoleCan you have bare arms at work? Are shells and tanks acceptable to wear under jackets? As everyone’s layering for fall, this seems appropriate to discuss now, and Reader K brings up this age-old question…

I graduated law school in May, and am currently a federal law clerk. My mother, who is an attorney, my sister, a law student, and I have been debating whether sleeveless tops are appropriate work attire for attorneys. I have an ivory silk blouse/shell/tank that I love, but my mother feels is only appropriate if I never take off my suit jacket.

I wore it to chambers with a black skirt suit last week. Normally I wear my suit jacket throughout the day, but that day it was over 80 degrees in chambers…so naturally, I shed the jacket while working. The judge came to give me something while I had the jacket off and while I would have liked to have the jacket on when interacting with him, I shrugged it off considering his office was uncomfortably warm as well. What do you think of the top? Is it appropriate for work? With or without a jacket or sweater over it?

For the record, I prefer wearing sleeved shirts under jackets — in addition to sidestepping the “bare arms” conundrum, it also makes laundering easier by protecting the underarms of your jackets or sweaters.. But I’m really curious to hear what the readers say, so I thought we’d do some more polls to try to close in on what it might be that has historically made sleeveless tops so offensive. Is it strappiness/amount of bra showing? Is it a “this is underwear” vibe to simple camisoles? (Not on the poll:  lacy camisoles and skin-colored camisoles, both of which I’m against for anything but underwear (as in, kept underneath).  Whether worn by themselves or just as a layer to raise the neckline, they look too much like underwear for the office.)  There are other dimensions here also — looseness?  fabric?  What factors are you considering when you say something is or isn’t acceptable, other than a gut feeling (and the all-important caveat, know your own office!) [Read more…]

Coffee Break – Cami Bra

Reader C wrote in to recommend this item, which seems like it fills a definite niche:

This cami bra is my new best friend. I have it in white and in black. It is perfect under wrap dresses and the like for work. Some people might prefer the “cami” to come up a little higher, but if I need to be that conservative I’m probably wearing a suit anyway. I had been looking for a product like this for years but the ones at Neiman’s were too lacy and crazy expensive. This one is perfect. No more cutting off perfectly good camis so they bottom line won’t show through. Packing for a trip just got easier too. (How many times have I packed the blouse or dress but forgotten the cami?) Incidentally, at least on me, a 34-D, the support and shaping of the bra is very good and the comfort is fine, though I probably could have done with a DD, which is not available.

Wow! The bra apparently features an underwire, so this is a full-on bra (and not, say, a “dickey” like I remember wearing as a teenager — Amazon has a few lace dickies for sale; they may also be called “modesty panels”) I do like this more modern cami bra, though, and can see how it would be welcomed by a lot of women in the summertime. This one is $32 at Target, and is available in white and black. Assets® by Sara Blakely ® Foundations Cami Bra

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Lace Skirts and the Office

Can You Wear Lace to the Office? | CorporetteReader J has a question about lace skirts:

Can you give some advice as to how to wear lace skirts? I bought a black lace skirt, which has a tan lining, a couple of years ago, and have never been able to find anything to pair it with. It hits just below the knee, and is pencil cut. Black blazers don’t look right, and black tops seem to make it all too dark, but the tan lining really makes it impossible to wear another color. I know that the colors lend themselves more to fall or winter, but I could use advice either way. I am guessing that others might have similar problems…

Maybe I’m misunderstanding Reader J’s question, but I think she isn’t asking an important question: are lace skirts appropriate for the office? (In fact, is *any* lace appropriate for the office?)

Let me start by saying that I have owned several lace pieces that I wore to death. I had a great black Ann Taylor lace top a few years ago that was one of my favorite going-out tops with jeans, and a black and white dress with a lace overlay on the bust that I fondly remember wearing to my friend S’s wedding. My wedding dress was chantilly lace.  (Pictured: Josie Natori Dragon Lace Pencil Skirt, available at Saks Fifth Avenue for $295.)

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Sponsored Post: A Curated Pantyhose Collection, from Hoseanna

Corporate-RookieIt’s easy to find a cheap pair of pantyhose on the fly, for those situations where it’s an hour before the big meeting and you realize you’ve got a run.  But quality hosiery usually requires a trip to a department store, which just may not be in the cards when you’re slammed with work — part of the reason I started this blog was because I was always working when stores were open!  Hoseanna, a new site, is launching today, and it aims to help working women everywhere get the pantyhose, nylons, and tights you need, on your schedule.  Because you can make a one-time purchase or sign up for a subscription (every month, every two months or every three months), you can even put pantyhose on “autopilot” — it’ll show up when you need it, and you can cross it off your already massive to-do list.  Their curated collection includes some brands that are new to me, including b.ella, Foot Traffic, Pretty Polly, and Boottights, as well as brands that everyone would be familiar with, such as Hue, DKNY, and Silk Reflections.  Also, note that the first 250 women to register on the site will receive 25% off all purchases throughout the year + 1 month free shipping. And, through a fun giveaway going on now, 4 people can win a full year-long subscription to Hoseanna and a style makeover (details below!)

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Hoseanna’s founders, Tracey and Katrina.  I loved both women (they’ve been friends for years and have walked in our shoes, ladies — both of them had successful corporate careers before they went into business together!) but I also loved the idea behind the site:  that while yes, sometimes women like to browse, a lot of times you just want CONVENIENCE when you’re shopping.  Especially for busy, working women, you don’t want to have to spend your one free hour of the week to run to the department store to pick up a few new pair of hose. [Read more…]

Sponsored Post from Freshpair: Avoiding the VPL

Blue Freshpair Static BannerThis post is sponsored by Freshpair, but written by your regular blogger, Kat Griffin.

Comfortable underwear that doesn’t show “visible panty lines” (or VPLs) can be difficult to find — and trial and error can be a problem.  Still, I think that any working woman does need both of those factors — first, comfort (there are few things more distracting than a pair of uncomfortable underwear) and second, invisibility beneath clothes (because yes, some of your colleagues will notice your panty line, and really, do YOU want that guy down the hall to know whether you’re wearing a bikini, thong or boyshorts?).

Readers, which are your favorite brands and types of underwear (both for comfort and lack of VPL)?  Some of my favorites are after the jump…

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Coffee Break: Cuddl Duds Climatesmart Temperature-Sensitive Long John Pants

Cuddl Dud long johnsLet this post serve as a general PSA: As spring approaches, winter things should be heading into sale territory (and there are still some crazy sales to be found on last year’s summer things, as well). In general, I’m a big fan of silk long johns — they block the wind like nobody’s business, and help extend your wardrobe into the depths of winter. Bare Necessities has a nice 25% off sale going on Cuddl Duds, made from a moisture-wicking microfiber. They were $28, now $20.99 at Bare Necessities (both white and black still available). Cuddl Duds Climatesmart Temperature-Sensitive Long John Pants Loungewear

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