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How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather

How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather | CorporetteWhat are the best strategies for staying warm during a wintry commute while still looking professional when you get to work? How can you look stylish and professional in the winter? Reader M has a question about business casual in cold weather:

I’m graduating this year and moving somewhere cold, and I have no clue how to dress business/business casual in the winter. (I have tons of dresses and cardigans and skirt suits from my summers, but rarely any winter clothes.) Specially, I’m wondering — what kind of coat should I buy? What kind of shoes/boots should I wear under work pants? What do I wear to walk to work in the snow/rain? I know this is pretty basic question, but I’d love a post on this topic!

Great questions, M. Some thoughts for you:

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How to Buy a Great Winter Coat

How to Buy a Great Winter Coat | CorporetteHow can you find a great winter coat? Reader M asked us to “share some guidance and advice…”

I’m curious to hear what the readers say here, because despite a lot of poking around online, I haven’t found a lot of other articles talking about this.  Here’s what I know:

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The Hunt: Wool Coats

Reiss Leo Fit and Flare CoatSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I have always done my winter coat shopping in January (if not later) because of all the deals that you can get. Coats in particular are generally classic pieces, and considering the amount of wear you may get from it (wearing it several days a week, for months, for several years — at least) I’ve always seen it as a justifiable “splurge” item. For today’s Hunt, I thought we’d look for wool coats that you could fit a blazer beneath. The trick here is to get something several sizes larger than what you normally get — if you’re a size 4, consider looking at 6s and 8s. Readers, have you bought any great wool coats lately? Do you wear blazers beneath your coats, or do you have another system (e.g., keeping your blazers at the office)?

2016 Update: Read our latest roundup of coats for work [Read more…]

Navy Skirts… and Tights?

What 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…]

The Hunt: Raincoats & Lightweight Jackets

Jones New York Trench CoatSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

With the first day of spring almost here (I believe it’s tomorrow, March 20!) everybody needs a lightweight jacket. Here in NYC it rains so much that I’m always looking for a great rain coat to serve as my lightweight jacket, but I hate double-breasted jackets. Here’s my case against them: not only do they usually look stupid when worn open, they often have to be fitted so close to your body to look good that it’s hard to fit a blazer under there — which for me is always an essential. So I thought I’d round up some jackets out there that, in addition to being lightweight, possibly weatherproof (or at least weather-friendly), can also possibly fit a blazer beneath them. Readers, have you recently bought a rain coat? What do you look for in a great one?

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Navigating a New York Winter with Style and Grace

How to Dress Professionally For a New York Winter | CorporetteReader B has some good questions about navigating a New York winter:

I work for a global financial firm and will be heading to Manhattan for a week-long business trip in mid-January out of our NY offices. As a lifelong Southern California Girl, I am totally clueless how to navigate the weather and still look professional?

I’ve seen your posts on individual aspects (footwear, coats, bring a pashmina, etc) but was hoping you might have an overall take on how to travel for work in a cold climate for the uninitiated, such as:

  • Will my Hunter wellies + warm socks be enough to get me from the hotel to the office to dinner?
  • Can I strut down the sidewalks in my kitten heel boots or will they get ruined?
  • Is my thin wool coat over my suit jacket enough or should I splurge on a down coat? (I noticed Overstock had some good looking coats and since this trip is a regular part of my new position, I don’t mind spending money on a few investment items.)
  • How do most people in NY handle the office to dinner? Do I need to tote any sort of change of clothes with me?

I’m interested to hear what the readers say on this one.  (Pictured: Slush, originally uploaded to Flickr by holly_northrop.) First, I would say this really depends on your trip.  If you’re going to be either a) working closely with senior executives from your firm or b) meeting clients, then I would axe the Hunter wellies unless they’re a basic black.  They’re fine for a commute to and from the office, but I wouldn’t want to be sitting around at dinner with VIPs while wearing them.  (I have a sad, sad story about wearing Uggs to dinner with my senior partner and a client, but we shall have to save that for another day.  But really, talk about huge regrets.) [Read more…]