The Hunt: Purple Pumps

Corporette Guide to Purple Pumps (2014 edition) | CorporetteSure, 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.

This is one of my favorites, ladies: the purple pump roundup. (A reader just requested it, and I was surprised to see we hadn’t done it since 2012 and 2010!) I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — I think the purple pump is such a versatile shoe that every woman should have at least one purple pair in her closet. You can wear the color with conservative basics (gray, black, navy), or add it as a contrasting color when wearing red, green, or yellow pieces. It can also be a great complimentary color if you’re wearing blue or purple. (IMHO I wouldn’t wear a purple pump with pink, but never say never…) They can be tough to wear with tights, however, so they often look best with bare legs or nude-for-you hose, which makes them perfect for fall, spring, and summer.

While looking, I noticed that bright purple is super popular right now (as you can see below!), as is a darker wine-colored purple — almost more of a red. There were a few Hall of Famers that are available in purple (pictured at bottom): the low-heeled Weitzman Poco, the Edelman Okala, the Cole Haan Air Tali wedge., and the Ferragamo Vara. Ladies, what is your favorite non-neutral shoe color (i.e., not black, gray, navy, brown, or beige)? Have you found any great purple pumps lately? Do you have any favorites bought in previous years?

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What to Wear to the Company Retreat

What to Wear to the Off-Site Company Retreat | CorporetteWhat do you wear to an off-site company retreat at a center with both a conference center and hiking trails — and a dress code of “casual”? Poor Reader M is stuck with this problem on her first day of work, adding yet another layer of complexity…

I’m starting a new lawyer job next month that I’m very excited about. I would normally wear a suit to my first day of work, but my department has scheduled a retreat for the same day I start work. I have been asked to attend the retreat, but I have no clue what to wear. The retreat will be at a facility that has both a conference center and hiking trails. The email said “casual.” What on earth does that mean!?!? Are we talking work casual, like a respectable dress with flats? Weekend casual, like nice jeans with a blouse? A sundress? How do I make the right first impression without being overdressed?

Wow.  To Reader M, my apologies — this situation stinks!  I don’t think there’s any way you’re going to get out of this without just picking up the phone and talking to someone in HR.  My $.02: pick out what you think you should wear and run it by the person during your brief phone call.  In general I think you want to look friendly, detail-oriented, and responsible, so if this were me I’d probably go with washable trousers, a “nice” t-shirt, flats or comfortable heels (maybe a wedge in case you have to walk on grass), and an accessory that looks good both with a non-suiting blazer (to be kept in your car? folded on the back of your chair?).  A good question to ask during your conversation: whether there are any pictures of last year’s event in the company newsletter or whatnot.  Another option here: call the manager of the facility and ask what he or she sees most often.  You never know — she may be able to give you extra insight into the day’s plans (such as, well, you wouldn’t want to wear X because it might get dirty during the fire walking portion of the day!).

In general, though, readers, let’s discuss — have you been to any off-site company retreats that have both a conference center and hiking trails — and if so what did you wear?  Would you dress differently if your FIRST DAY were the day of the company retreat (such a new-kid-new-school vibe, right?!)? What does a “casual” dress code say to you anyway?

What to Wear to the Off-Site Company Retreat | Corporette

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Busty Blazers

Which are the best blazers if you’re small and busty?  busty blazersReader K wonders:

One of my biggest obstacles when it comes to finding business appropriate clothes are my breasts. I feel like it’s impossible to find a jacket or blouse that won’t either pull or else drown me. Either my jacket is so big that I can’t find my arms (and definitely not my waist) or I can’t close it over the girls. I’m a 32G (by nature, not by choice) and a size two everywhere except my chest. I would like to look both professional and not like a child wearing her mom’s jacket. I work in banking, so jackets are a must. (And yet, I’m young enough that I don’t have the kind of funds to have tailor made clothes.) Am I all alone in the world? Is there anyone out there who makes professional clothes for small women with large breasts?

Interesting.  We’ve talked about whether jackets must button to “fit”, how to dress professionally with curves, where to get blouses for the busty, and even how to find such clothes on a budget — but not how to find blazers that fit an hourglass frame. In our last thread on the best suits for small women, Theory seemed to be the winner, which you may want to try — but I’ve never found the brand to be particularly curve-friendly. (If you’re petite as well as small-statured, here was our more recent thread on the best workwear for petites.) I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but here are some thoughts:

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Guest Post: How to Wear Color to Work

Dressing with Color at the Office | CorporetteColor at the office:  We’ve talked about it in specific contexts – pants, suitsnails, tightsshoes, and even how to start buying colorful prints – and in today’s guest post, my old friend Theresa Lesh gives you some helpful guidelines on how to wear color to work. Theresa is one of the best dressed ladies I’ve known since high school — she actually has a background in fashion design and currently works at a creative products company in product development. A huge thanks for the tips, Theresa! – Kat.

I love color and am very picky about it – always have been. I LOVED my mega box of crayons and the range of hues it offered up: red-violet, magenta, violet-red, violet… and I used each one differently. I scoffed at red, blue, and green as basics and instead used brick red, midnight blue, and forest (or pine) green for cars, sky, or trees. Today I am still quite particular about specific tones or hues I prefer; however, I am much more open-minded, and even look at “odd” colors as challenges. With what other color could I pair that bizarre chartreuse to make it sing? What would be a great pop against a (drab) grey?

I admit going through a period of time where I wore all black – didn’t we all? But when I did, I always liked to choose one thing to accent/pop or stand out in a small way. Favorites were items such as a black Nicole Miller scarf peppered with all sorts of Barbie icons (shoes, lipstick, her iconic signature) which I still have (and wear) today, or floral patterned tights (typically worn under a long black skirt). I saw these things as private jokes with myself, as you could only see the Barbie icons when you were close to me, or the flowers on my tights when I sat down and crossed my legs. (Pictured: Nicole Miller scarf, available on eBay for $149.)

Over the years, I grew away from the all-black ensembles – I do still wear black, and sometimes head to toe, but not all day, every day – and I started to play with color in a bigger and bolder way. After college, I fell in love with lime green, which I think became my gateway to COLOR, as it opened my eyes to all sorts of fun, vibrant shades, and each year I get more and more adventurous and more and more colorful in my wardrobe. During the gray winters of Ohio, I feel as if bright color can be a fantastic pick-me-up, both for me wearing it and those that may pass me in the hall.

Granted, I work for a creative company, where one may see a mix of suits and ties to jeans and Chuck Taylors in a single meeting (though not TERRIBLY often), so while I am not IN the creative division, per se, there is probably more flexibility in my office than a “big law” firm. How far is too far with color? That is up to you, but it’s not to say you cannot make forays into color in a more conservative working environment.

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When to Tuck

when to tuck blousesWe haven’t talked about whether a professional must tuck her shirt in YEARS, and not one but two readers wonder… so let’s discuss. First, reader A wonders about tucking:

I recently read a fashion post suggesting that a woman in a professional environment should never wear her shirt untucked. I am fairly short (5’3″) and busty, and the tucked-in look usually isn’t very flattering on me. Though I can sometimes pull it off with a blazer on top, tucking my shirts tends to make my torso look very short and my bust look huge. Is it really necessary to wear only tucked shirts in a professional setting? I’ve always thought reasonably tailored, hip-length shirts were fine untucked, even in a conservative environment. What do you think?

Meanwhile, reader S wonders:

I was wondering if you could weigh in on a debate I’m having with a couple friends — we’ve been discussing whether it is more professional to wear a button-down shirt tucked or untucked with dress slacks/trousers. One person says untucked and tucked are equally professional, one person says tucked in is ok only if the trousers are worn with a belt, and one person says tucked in is always more professional! Thoughts? (And thanks!)

I’m curious to hear what the readers say here. We’ve talked about how to keep your shirts tucked, rounded up blouses especially for busty women, as well as done Hunts for crisp button-front blouses and silk blouses… but I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about whether you MUST tuck your shirt in for big events like interviews or presentations.  For my $.02, as someone who (like reader A) is short and busty, the tucked-in look is rarely a good one on me, and I would consider an untucked, fitted blouse — worn with trousers or a pencil skirt — to be a classic workwear outfit.  I would make a few caveats, though, for when you can wear a blouse untucked: [Read more...]

The Hunt: Flared Skirts

Flared Skirts: The Corporette Round-UpSure, 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.

The pencil skirt is always considered “the classic” workwear piece — but flared skirts (whether they be A-lines, flounces, trumpets, or circle skirts) are a classic — and they’re everywhere right now (much like fit-and-flare dresses). We haven’t rounded up flared skirts in about a year, so I thought I’d round up a few — interestingly, the “flirty” skirt from last year’s roundup is still available at White House | Black Market Readers, have you bought any flared or A-line skirts lately? Any classic pieces that you bought a few years ago but still wear (and, even better, still see it for sale)?

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