A Feminine Approach to Business Casual

Dressing Femininely at Work | CorporetteBusiness casual can be tricky — particularly when you’re transitioning from a conservative office.  But what if the culture at your company isn’t just business casual, but ultra-feminine business casual — and you’re still most comfortable in a gray suit?  When you’re in a new job and feeling pressure to dress a certain way to fit in — even getting critical comments from coworkers — what should you do? Reader E wonders…

I recently relocated and am in the middle of a career change, and I’m really stumped about how to dress for work. I work in a business casual environment in a small, Southern city. Women tend to dress hyper femininely here: today my boss is wearing a pink ruffled tunic over flowy trousers with embellished flats. The job is entry level, but it’s an important step career-wise. I’m all for dressing to fit with office culture. But, really, yikes.

Right now my pencil skirts, sheath dresses, flats, and cardigans are getting a lot of “why are you so dressed up?” and (from the office mean girl) “do you always wear such depressing colors?” I guess these are my questions: how far do I really need to go to fit in with office wardrobe culture? and how can I femme-up my wardrobe without looking like 5’10” wedding cake?

Hmmn.  Well.  It seems like a few things are going on here, some of which we’ve talked about before, such as transitioning a corporate wardrobe to a casual office, looking stylish and professional in a business casual office, as well as surrendering a bit to office culture (but as the song goes, don’t give yourself away). I may also detect a smidgen of . . .  judgment? superiority? in your email, which we’ve also talked about before when you take a job that’s beneath you.  I know all about finding your groove with one set of work clothes, having a rough time transitioning to a new office with a very different culture, and then feeling a bit like you’ve lost yourself in the process.  So I definitely have some thoughts, but I can’t wait to hear what the readers say.

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45 Columbus Day Sales — and Kat’s 12 Top Picks

sales175 puny

Happy Columbus Day, ladies! We’ve done a bit of hunting to find the best deals that have already started — we’ll do our best to update the list throughout the weekend as needed. (Kat’s top 12 sales are in bold!) Please check out the list of family-friendly sales over at CorporetteMoms today, and sign up for the CorporettePlus newsletter if you’d like info later today on plus-size sales (you can also see individual product suggestions at our Plus Size Workwear page). Sunday, Oct. 11, updates are in redMonday, Oct. 12 updates are in green.  

  • 6pm.com – Up to 50% off Cole Haan, up to 85% off Frye, up to 70% off “sophisticated coats,” up to 60% off BCBG Max Azria, boots up to 70% off. 50% or more off Adrianna Papell, Jessica Simpson, Jones New York, Karen Kane, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Nic + Zoe, Pendleton, Tahari by ASL, and more. Up to 65% off selected sweaters. Big Columbus Day sales on boots, outerwear, sneakers, sweaters and jeans — prices as much as 84% off.
  • Alexis Bittar – Up to 40% off all pre-fall styles.
  • Amazon – Up to 60% off select styles: BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Sam Edelman, Stuart Weitzman, Fossil, Kate Spade, and more. Take an extra 30% off already-reduced Invicta watches.
  • Anthropologie – 20% off dresses with code DRESSCODE.
  • Ann Taylor – 40% off full-price styles with code SHOPFALL (through 10/12). Extra 60% off sale.
  • ASOS – Up to 50% off.
  • Bare Necessities – Buy 1 bra get 1 50% off: Warner’s, Bali, and more. Select panties 2 for $30, 2 for $32, 3 for $35, 2 for $35, 3 for $39, etc. 
  • Barney’s Warehouse – Extra 40% off all clearance; up to an extra 40% off women’s clothing and shoes, select styles (through 10/14). Additional 30% off women’s accessories, clothing, handbags, lingerie, jewelry, swimwear, and shoes. Additional 20% off beauty items.
  • BCBG – 30% off select regularly-priced styles.
  • Bergdorf Goodman – BG Gift Card Event: $100 gift card with $500 purchase, $200 gift card with $750 purchase, $300 gift card with $1,000 purchase with code OCTGC (online only through 10/10). (extended through 10/11)
  • Bloomingdale’s – Take extra 20-50% off almost all permanently-reduced items for a savings of 25-70%.
  • Bluefly Up to 75% off: boots, cashmere, Stuart Weitzman, Chloe bags, Prada boots, Rebecca Minkoff. Vintage: extra 20% off with code VINTAGE20. Up to an extra 40% off handbags, up to 75% off dresses.
  • Boden – Extra 15% off with code XTRA.
  • Brooks Brothers – 40% off on select styles. Women’s shirts 2 for $129. 
  • Club Monaco – Extra 40% off sale and clearance with code 4040SALE.
  • Cole Haan – New sale prices up to 60% off.
  • CUSP – The Denim Event! 1 pair, $25 off. 2 pairs, $75 off. 3 pairs, $125 off. Save up to 60% when you take an extra 20% off select sale items — online through Tuesday only! 
  • DVF.com – Additional 25% off sale items with code ENJOY25 (through 10/12).
  • eBags – Fall travel sale: save up to 70%. Extra 15% off your entire purchase with code FAMILY.
  • Eloquii – $29-$79 dresses, 50% off coats, jackets, and skirts, and $39 pants and jeans. 40% off all original ticket tops and sweaters with code STOCKUP. 60% off 200 styles.
  • eShakti30% off sitewide (through 10/11). Buy 2, get 1 free (ends 10/14).
  • Express – Clearance! Take an additional 40% off already reduced clearance for up to 70% off. PLUS: take $25 off every $100 you spend with promo code 1323. All outerwear, sweaters, and jeans 40% off. 
  • Figure 8 Maternity – Fantastic fall sale – extra 25% off fall sale collection, and extra 30% off clearance. (See the full list of baby and kids sales at CorporetteMoms!)
  • French Connection – Columbus Day Sale! Take 30% off everything with code FC30CD.
  • J.Crew – 30% off full price styles, plus an extra 40% off final sale styles with code WEEKEND. 10/12 only: free shipping on all orders.
  • J.Crew Factory – 50% off women’s and men’s styles, 40% off girls’ and boys’ styles. Plus free shipping with code YAYFALL. 
  • Kate Spade New York – Enjoy an extra 25% off sale items with code SWEET.
  • Karen Millen – Midseason sale — prices up to 50% off.
  • Lands’ End – $15 off $75, $25 off $100, $50 off $150 with code GETMORE and pin 9104. $15 off $75 / $25 off $100 / $50 off $150 / $100 off $250 with code HARVEST and pin 1610 (through 10/12).
  • Last Call by Neiman Marcus – 30% off everything plus extra 10% off everything with code GIMME10. Save up to 55% off diamonds and pearls. 
  • The Limited – ONLINE ONLY: extra 40% off sale items! Plus 50% off select full-price items. 60% off select styles, 50% off full-price items.
  • Loft – Extra 50% off all sale styles and “fall’s finest.”
  • Lord & Taylor – Free shipping on every order — up to 60% off fall sportswear, $39.99 jeans & sweaters, 50% off men’s suit separates, and 60% off L&T sterling silver. 20% off regular and sale items with code COLUMBUS, 50% off all women’s coats (through 10/12). 
  • Macy’s – Free shipping at $75 plus an extra 20% off with code FALL or $10 off $25 or more with code FALL25. Extra 25% off clearance. 2 for $30, select bras, 50% off denim. Great suit sale – 30% off when you buy 3 suits plus extra savings with code FALL. 
  • Madewell – 30% off the season’s essentials with code HIGHFALL. Free shipping on all orders.
  • ModCloth – 100s of new items added to sale.
  • Neiman Marcus – Dresses up to 65% off. Denim event: 1 pair $25 off, 2 pairs $75 off, 3+ $125 off with code DENIM. Extra 20% off sale prices. 
  • Nine West – Buy one get one 50% off!
  • Nordstrom – Even more items to clearance — check out my roundup from a week or two ago of workwear and accessories in the sale. 
  • The Outnet – New products from Balmain, Helmut Lang, Iris & Ink, Stella McCartney, Isabel Marant, and Issa, all up to 65% off. Extra 25% off after-dark essentials: cocktail dresses, heels, and more.
  • Ralph Lauren – Columbus Day Sale — new styles added, additional 30% taken, for up to 50% off.
  • Saks Off 5th – Weekend of Deals. $50-$99 styles, take $15 off. $100-$250 styles, take $25 off. $250+ styles, take $50 off — all with code COLUMBUS. Women’s designer event: up to 80% off Donna Karan, D&G, and more.
  • Talbots – Extra 30% off markdowns, plus free shipping on $175+. 30-40% off select fall styles. 
  • Target – Buy 2 items, save 20%. Buy 3 items, save 30%.
  • White House | Black Market – Fall sale, 30% off select styles. PLUS new reductions, up to 70% off.

What to Wear to a Networking Dinner As a Student

What to Wear to a Networking Dinner | CorporetteNetworking dinner attire can be tricky.  But if you’re a business student on a budget — and soon to be job hunting — the question is that much harder.  Reader K wonders…

I’m a student in my last semester of business school and I have some networking dinners to attend in November. Could you recommend something to wear- preferably on the cheaper side (i.e., under 100)?

It is always so frustrating trying to figure out what to wear to these things! I’m curious to hear what readers say. We’ve talked about the tricky subject of wearing business casual for networking events, as well as what to wear to an interview dinner, but not in a while. So let’s discuss.

Some thoughts on what to wear:

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The Hunt: Strappy Pumps for Work

strappy heels for workSure, 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’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I find classic pumps challenging in tights (damn my narrow heels!). As the weather gets colder, though — particularly if you’re commuting in rain boots or snow boots — tights become more practical. My way of dealing with this has always been to keep strappy pumps at the office. They’ve become some of my favorite shoes over the years because I find them much easier to walk in. We haven’t talked about strappy pumps in almost a while, though, so let’s discuss… Readers, what shoes do you wear with tights in the winter? Are you a fan of strappy pumps for this purpose — or do you prefer to wear booties and shooties? Bought any great ones recently?

First, a round up of some broad categories (most links, unless otherwise obvious, go to Nordstrom or Zappos):

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Deal Alert Part 2: Shoes, Bags, and More at the Secret Nordstrom Sale

secret-nordstrom-sale-shoesI rounded up my workwear picks that have been newly added to the Nordstrom sale earlier today, and then hit the shoes.  The sales aren’t as steep (sigh), but the selection is pretty great — almost all of the shoes pictured below have a TON of sizes left.  I didn’t see much I loved by way of bags, but a few cute accessories are also in the mix.  (For beauty, if you like the brand Napoleon Perdis, there’s a ton on sale — I’ve never tried it but a lot of it looks nice.)

My top picks, after the jump…

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Deal Alert: The Nordstrom Secret Sale is Pretty Great

nordstrom-secret-saleNordstrom usually trumpets their sales, so it’s a bit surprising that they don’t have any messaging on their homepage or anywhere about this — but there are a ton of great workwear pieces on deep discount. Below, see some of my top picks — most are either 50% off or have 5-star ratings.


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