What are the different “levels” for handbags — and how do you upgrade your handbag collection? I’m curious to hear what readers say. We’ve already talked about how to upgrade your professional wardrobe, as well as where to buy grown-up furniture… up next in our Next Step series: handbags. I’m pretty solidly in Bucket 3 at the moment. I had a lot of fun wearing purses a few years ago, striving to wear a new one from my collection every week — but now I tend to reach for the same one whenever I head out, so I can see the sense in having a Bucket 5 bag if that’s the only one you wear. (Here’s what I usually carry in my bag.) To me, the must-have details in any bag are a good leather or durable canvas (unless it’s a really fun color that I’ve never owned before — and a good sale), interior pockets, feet, a zipper on top — and I always appreciate an attached key fob and fun lining. Ladies, what are your must-haves? Which buckets of bags do you currently own — and have you been upgrading them as you move up the career ladder? Which brands am I forgetting in the different buckets?
Reader M wonders:
With winter coming on, I would love to see a post about what sort of footwear is appropriate to wear with tights in a conservative office. My current work shoe wardrobe consists entirely of your run-of-the-mill low-heel no-frill pumps. These work fine with hose, of course, and seem mostly OK with thinner tights (particularly if they are the same color) but they don’t look quite right with thicker tights, like sweater tights or fleece-lined tights. I think I might need a bootie, or maybe an oxford pump, but I’m unclear on the professional/conservative boundaries of these trendier styles. Or maybe the answer is that thicker tights are just generally inappropriate for the conservative office altogether?
Interesting question. I know fleece tights were hugely popular among the commenters last year, and I’ve always been a fan of sweater tights and the like. But: are they professional? And what shoes look best with them?
(Pictured: Nordstrom ‘Love’ Sweater Tights, available at Nordstrom for $28.)
A lot of people know where to go for inexpensive professional clothes — and then they know the brands that celebrities wear. But the middle ground can get confusing for people — particularly, how to step up your game when it comes to fashionable workwear. We talked a few weeks about what the next step is for furniture (based on a commenting thread a while back), and this week I thought we’d talk about the spectrum for professional clothes. (Obviously, some of these brands could fit in multiple buckets — any big disagreements, though?) Readers, where did you shop when you started your careers — or when you need budget pieces? What was your next step, and the step after that, and the step after that? When did you notice a big change in quality? Am I forgetting any brands? What are your top 3 in each bucket?
Bucket 1: Budget Fashion
- Dorothy Perkins
- New York & Co.
- Old Navy
Bucket 2: Midlevel Fashion
I’ve been wondering lately about wearable gadgets and which ones are appropriate for the office, specifically in big law. I’ve recently fallen in love with my Nike Fuelband (in tangerine) for keeping track of my running or walking stats, but I don’t really wear it in the office for fear that it’s too sporty looking. Thoughts? Additionally my boyfriend (also a lawyer) has been considering the Samsung Smartwatch. Is there a category of wearable tech that is more work-appropriate?
Interesting question! I know many of the readers have talked about Fitbits, and we’ve mentioned some of the jewelry you can buy to “jazz up” your Fitbit. We’ve talked before about how watches are still a good thing to wear because they imply that you’re a responsible, time-sensitive person — I would even go so far as to say that a Fitbit is a good thing because it suggests you’re interested in health and, to a certain extent, data and analytics. (The WSJ even recently noted that CEOs were wearing them because it was part of their competitive nature.) So here’s my $.02:
I am a 48 yr. young corporate professional / entrepreneur /contractor looking for professional, age appropriate looks. Can you suggest a website that can guide my “lack of style” sense to better purchases within a reasonable budget, too? I really need a stylist but the internet is my next best option. I tend to like www.marieforleo.com and www.giulianarancic.com clothing but I am a size 16 (working on this part) and 5′ 3′ (wish it could change :) … two big issues… and oh yea, no heels for me. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. I would love to find the info I seek here.
Great question, M! We’ve talked about some of the best personal style blogs before, as well as personal shoppers, but we’ve never quite done a post on stylists, or where to start for style inspiration. (M, you may also want to check out our post on how to look professional in flats when that’s all you wear.) I’m curious to hear what readers say! A few notes:
The only black piece of clothing I have is one blazer and I don’t have a single white thing. You could find me in a floral skirts with striped tops, long bright dresses, and when I occasionally wear jeans, I always pair them with shirts and blazers. My favorite patterns are stripes and florals, favorite colors are purple, red, orange. Can this ever be professional? I feel very uncomfortable in black and would hate to give up my favorite pieces. The field where I hope to find a job is business causal.
Great question, S! We’ve talked about how to start wearing prints, as well as how to mix prints — but not in a long while (other than this brief mention in our post on how to shop your closet and Play Clothes). So let’s talk about it. First: I don’t think there is anything inherently unprofessional about prints, colors, and patterns — indeed, some of the most adventurous dressers, who mixed prints and patterns in the boldest ways, are some of the male partners I knew at my old law firm. The easy advice here is that it’s very, very easy to throw on a solid cardigan or blazer that picks up one of the colors in your print, throw it on with a neutral trouser or skirt, and go to work. But let’s have a bit more fun with it…
Layer multiple patterns and anchor them with a solid piece, either in a neutral (black or white) or a color from one of the prints. (Check out our new Professional Prints board on Pinterest to see the pictures bigger, and click through for the sources.)