The Best Lightweight Jackets for the Office (Other than Trenchcoats)

The Best Women's Lightweight Jackets for the OfficeReader E has a timely question: Which are the best lightweight jackets that look professional (other than a trench coat)? What’s best to layer on top of blazers, sweaters, and more as the weather turns colder (finally!)?

Do you have any suggestions for lightweight jackets that look professional? My office is casual/business casual (lots of people dress casually but I try to step it up a notch). I have a quilted jacket from J.Crew and a lightweight trench, but I’d love to find something shorter than a trench that isn’t a blazer. Something I could put over my outfit for chilly mornings. I know the military jacket style is in, but that’s too casual and trendy for my style. Any help is appreciated!

Great question, E! I’m assuming by “military jacket” you mean the very popular olive anorak style like this or this, which can definitely be a bit casual if your style is more conservative. I love fall weather and coats, so I rounded up a few general options. Reader E already has one, but I will note that I think every woman should have a lightweight trench in her closet — it’s a classic piece, and many of the styles are sold with removable liners and hoods so you can adjust them as needed for the weather — and when we’ve talked in the past about what jackets to wear with skirts and dresses, a longer trench is usually what’s in my mind. (I’m a fan of the mid-thigh-length ones, but they also certainly make calf-length ones, if you prefer a longer, more dramatic look.)

I’d add that a nice big scarf is a great option to add on top of these, both as an additional, removable layer of warmth and possibly protection for your hair from wind/rain. Personally, I’m a fan of bigger wraps like the office pashminas we rounded up in our post on why to keep a wrap at the office — but that’s me!

Pictured at top: green / animal print / camel.

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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 how to do 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 — business casual in cold weather can be tricky! Some thoughts for you:

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How to Buy a Great Winter Coat

great-winter-coats-how-to-buy-and-choose-one2017 Update: We still stand by the advice below, but you may also want to check out our latest roundup of winter coats that work as hard as you do!

How can you find a great winter coat, or know when it’s time to invest in great winter coats in general?  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 Coat

2017 Update: Check out our latest roundup of winter coats that work as hard as you do!

Sure, 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)?
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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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