The Hunt: Charcoal Suits

The Best Charcoal Suits for Interviewing | 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.

Charcoal suits are one of the great basics for working women — particularly for interviewing. A nice dark charcoal in a seasonless wool can be worn with almost any color, but they look particularly great with white and pastel button-front blouses. Even though interview season is coming up, a lot of stores don’t have any gray suits available online as of this writing (e.g., Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Reiss, Talbots), so perhaps check again in a few weeks if you’re on a personal hunt and none of the below fit the bill. Readers, how do you like to wear gray suits the best — with pastels? With jewel tones? Worn as separates? [Read more...]

How to Step Up Your Working Wardrobe

How do you step up your wardrobe when you want to be considered for a promotion or raise? Reader U wonders for her business casual office…

I work at a company where there are no strict guidelines to what we should wear. Most days, we are fine wearing casual to business casual. Even with my position as a forecasting specialist, i am not requested to wear something more formal. Jeans with a formal top or a dress are my go-to when we are requested to wear something more presentable. However, I am applying for a supervisory position and have start wearing more formal clothes, specially because I need to be at my best. What is the most appropriate clothing that I could look presentable enough but won’t look like I’m trying hard to impress people? Slacks don’t really fit me well – tiny gal with longer torso. Thanks!

We’ve talked about how to look professional in a laid-back office, how to transition your wardrobe from a very conservative workplace to a more casual office,  as well as how to look professional without being overdressed, but we haven’t talked, directly, about how to step up your wardrobe when you want to be seen as more managerial.  I’m particularly interested to hear what the readers say here.  For my own $.02, this is how I would approach it: [Read more...]

Everything You Need To Know About Dry Cleaning Your Suits

everything you need to know about drycleaning women's suitsHow often should you dry clean your suits? Is dry cleaning bad for suits, and something to be avoided?

If you had asked me before last Thursday’s post on whether you can create a black suit from different black pieces, I would have said that we had absolutely, totally talked about this before on the blog, at least once or twice.  (At least in our Guide to Interview Suits, right?) But going through the archives, I couldn’t find any post really on point.  Since I do think these are important basics — particularly since it’s the end of the season and many readers are likely considering what to do with their winter suits — let’s talk about it today.

Here are a few simple propositions:

- Dry cleaning is something you should generally avoid as long as possible because you’re exposing your clothes to a lot of chemicals.  [Read more...]

Can You Mix Different Black Fabrics to Create a “Suit”?

womens-suitsCan you mix different black fabrics to form a suit? Reader E wonders…

Hi! I searched your archives but couldn’t find anything addressing my question, so here goes: I have two skirts and a pair of pants, all from different companies and of different materials (one’s a lightweight wool, another’s a cotton/viscose/spandex mix, and the last’s made of polyester/viscose/spandex). All are black, yet their shades don’t match. I need to purchase a basic black blazer to make a suit for interviews (and hopefully my first job). If I get a blazer that will match at least one of the bottoms, can I wear it with the other two, or is that a office faux pas? Will other people notice, especially if I won’t be working in a conservative field? I don’t have the money to get several pieces in the same fabric. Please help.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Maybe I just haven’t seen this done well.  But I think Reader E is wasting money to try to mix different fabrics to “create” a suit — and yes, I do think other people will notice.  Some thoughts, off the top of my head:

a) it is incredibly difficult to find the same fabric/weave/color, even if you’re talking about something like black seasonless wool.  Some blacks have more reds, some have more greens.. some wools are shinier, some are softer, some are blended…

b) even if you CAN find the same fabric, how you care for your items affects the cloth — if you’ve drycleaned or washed one piece 15 times and the other only once, they will look different. [Read more...]

Short-Sleeved Suits: Yea or Nay?

short-sleeved suitAre short-sleeved suits appropriate for young women in professional jobs — or are they horribly frumpy and tacky? Reader C wonders.

What are your thoughts on short-sleeved suits? Appropriate or tacky? To provide some context, I am an attorney in my late 20s in Kansas City, and I work for a non-profit which is generally business casual, erring on the side of casual. I also never have to appear in court. I’m looking for a summer suit for any big meetings and/or conferences that may pop up, and last summer it was blazing hot for months. Is a short-sleeved suit (probably khaki, white, or navy) ever appropriate in these settings? Or would I just look like an idiot? If I get one, I’d make sure it was fairly plain styling. If not short-sleeved, does 3/4 length work as a compromise? I am lacking in work attire role models in my office so advice would be much appreciated!

Difficult question.  My gut reaction here is: when you say “short sleeved suit,” I think of something like the picture above — horribly frumpy.  But that said, I have recommended short-sleeved suits at least four times here on Corporette (pictured below): [Read more...]

Suit Jacket Ripped? Some Thoughts on Repair…

What do you do if the elbow of your suit jacket ripped? Reader K has a great question…

I just had the elbow of a blazer (mid-price point Club Monaco suit) tear. What do you suggest I do? Can I put elbow patches on it and turn it into a casual piece for Fridays? It is about a year and a half old, so it is unlikely I will be able to return it.

Hmmmn. Hmmn. This one has me stumped.  I have never had an elbow rip in all my years of wearing blazers — so this may be a problem with that specific garment you bought.  A few ideas:

First, contact the company. They may offer to put on the elbow sleeves for you, offer you a new blazer, or (one hopes) at least offer you a sizeable discount on a new blazer. (Here‘s an interesting blog post from the blogger at The Post-Grad Blog, who — when her J.Crew blazer ripped — had them offer to first put on elbow patches, but who then wrote to the president and got the entire jacket replaced.)  According to the Club Monaco website you can call a customer service representative at 1-888-733-6410.  Some tips before calling: [Read more...]