Are Midi Rings Appropriate for the Office?

Midi rings Midi rings at the office: yea or nay? In terms of the bigger picture, how do you know whether to try out a fashion trend at the office? What makes certain jewelry or accessories too trendy or unprofessional for work? Reader J wonders:

I normally don’t wear any rings other than my wedding bands but I recently bought some midi rings on a whim and I am wondering if they are appropriate to wear to the office. I am a solo attorney, so I can wear what I want but I don’t want to look unprofessional. I’m thinking like 3 max on my right hand and I would not wear them to court, just on days that I am at the office. What do you think?

We’ve talked about how to start a professional jewelry collection, when to splurge on jewelry, wearing religious jewelry to the office, when to wear pearls and how to buy pearls, but not this.  I just yesterday saw a Facebook post where people wondered whether midi rings were “connected somehow or separate,” so there’s obviously some confusion there — let’s discuss. (For the record, they can be both! But most of the ones we’re discussing below are separate.)

For my $.02:

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Sponsored: MM.LaFleur Delivers Polished, Professional Looks to Your Door

MMLafleur ReviewThis is a sponsored post, but I really am delighted to tell you about my experience with MM.LaFleur. I’m impressed with their well-made, beautiful clothes, and I thought the Bento Box experience — where a stylist chooses and sends you a box of clothes to try on at home, for free — was smooth as well as fun.

But first, let’s back up: here’s what I knew about MM.LaFleur coming into this. There is some serious fashion and workwear cred behind the brand, which was founded by two ex-management consultants, Sarah LaFleur and Narie Foster, along with their head designer, Miyako Nakamura, formerly of Zac Posen and Jason Wu. Their mission: to take the work out of dressing for work.  They make luxurious clothes with fabrics imported from Italy and Japan, ethically made (mostly) in NYC. Plus, a lot of it is machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant, and that’s made clear right on the shopping pages (not just the product pages!), which I really like.

washable-workwear

mmfleur-bentoThe Bento Box: While you can shop their online store yourself, they’ve recently started offering a “bento box” — you fill out a quick style survey, and then (based on your preferences and needs), you’re sent a box of hand-picked, office-ready looks. You keep what you love and send back the rest.

My Experience: I filled out a quick survey online, and got a box of hand-picked items the next day in the mail. It was reminiscent of a bento box, with fun compartments (including one with a lovely red notebook — mine to keep — emblazoned with “Luck Favors the Brave”). My box contained several dresses (most below: Etsuko, Felisa, Toi, and Lydia), the Tribeca Skirt, the Angelique sweater, a silk scarf, and a luxe-feeling belt (Greenwich Avenue). I loved almost everything — the only miss for me was the skirt, which fit too long for my taste. I was really impressed with everything they sent — the fabrics felt lovely and had the right amount of stretch, the fit was great, and the construction was solid. There were no obvious workwear gaffes like a super deep V, high slits, or things like that, and instead there were intelligent details like pockets and washable fabrics.

A closer look at some of my favorites: [Read more…]

Brrr: Staying Warm in a Freezing Office

freezing-office-2How should you dress this winter when your office is freezing cold and your trusty back-of-the-chair cardigan just won’t cut it? What are the best ways to keep warm while still looking professional?

Reader J wonders:

My office is freezing cold in the winter — some of the assistants and paralegals keep huge blankets in their office spaces and wrap up in them, or alternatively wear Northface jackets around. As an associate, I can’t get away with cuddling up in a warm blanket or wearing my Northface — it doesn’t exactly scream competent and professional. Do you have any recommendations for sweaters or wraps that look professional but are also very warm?

We talked about how to stay warm in a freezing office a looong time ago (and, more recently, staying warm with office A/C), but now is a great time to readdress it. While gloves, space heaters, and wraps-as-lap-blankets can help when you’re in your office, here are some thoughts for people who are moving around a lot (e.g., during meetings) during the day, or those who just don’t have the option to wear gloves or sneak in a space heater:

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How to Wear Black and Navy Together

wear-black-navyCan you wear black and navy together?  What about a dark blue pinstriped blazer — how can you mix that with black suiting pieces?  Reader D wonders:

I scored a dark blue (navy ish) pinstripe pant suit, but then realised that pant suits don’t really suit me. Which shades of blue go well with a solid black skirt? I’m afraid it might be difficult to mix and match because this is both blue AND pinstriped. Can I also wear it with a solid black dress? I’ve just tried that combo on in the mirror and am afraid that it might look funny. I’m hoping to use it for interviews and eventually work, in the finance industry.

Great question, reader D! We’ve talked about how to wear black and navy together before, but not in a long while. (We’ve also talked about what color tights to wear with a navy skirt, and rounded up some great navy suits for interviewing.)  I’m curious to hear what the readers think, but this has always been my rules of thumb:

All shades of blue go well with black — so long as you don’t look like you got dressed in the dark.  This is really the trick — the closer the blue is to black, the more you have to wear it with intention. So how do you wear a dark blue and black — with intention? [Read more…]

Long Flights: How to Look Professional But Be Comfortable

dressing for long flightYou want to look professional during a long flight with colleagues, but you’re understandably not too eager to wear a suit for several hours of waking, sleeping, and eating. So, with your trusty flight outfit of a fleece + yoga pants staying in the closet at home, what can you choose that will be comfortable but still appropriate if you end up sitting next to your boss? We’ve talked about traveling internationally in comfort and style, what to pack for an extended business trip, and traveling with coworkers, but not this exactly. Reader N wonders:

Could you do a post on comfortable, but professional attire for international or long flights? I have an upcoming business trip where my boss and two colleagues will be on a long flight with me. I want to look presentable but still be comfortable for the long flight. Thanks!

I can see this being a concern not only in this situation (traveling directly with coworkers) but in a situation I’ve been in, where there’s a conference that almost everyone in your industry attends, so even if you’re not traveling with direct coworkers, you end up seeing a million colleagues all over the airport, on flights, and via other travel hubs. A lot of sites have comfy-looking, wrinkle-free travel clothes (we just featured a washable top from Chadwicks’s line on CorporetteMoms’ Washable Wednesday) — but what is the chic alternative to the flowy pants-with-matching-loose-jacket look?  A few thoughts:

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How to Blend Conservative Style with Business Casual

business-casualHow should you follow a business casual dress code (and avoid looking overdressed) when your personal style tends toward classic, understated, and conservative — without buying an entirely new wardrobe? Oh, and also: you’re in a technical field, you’re the youngest employee in your office, and the only woman there besides the secretary. Reader K wonders:

I have recently started at my dream job which is a technical one and I work with men only (besides the receptionist). I am on a very tight budget but have invested in basic pieces such as good quality black suits, classic dresses, blouses, black pencil skirt. The dress code is business casual. Yet the other day I wore a classic grey dress, black blazer, heels, and pearls and the CEO made a comment before a meeting insinuating I was overdressed. He wears cords and a polo everyday. What can I wear to work? I prefer to wear more conservative clothes and feel more professional in blacks, and greys and dark color palettes with a small pop of color (like a maroon or emerald blouse). I am in my early 20s and look especially young and am the youngest in my office and prefer the clean cut conservative professional look so am at a loss of what to wear. Any help would be much appreciated.

We’ve talked about how best to dress in business casual in a male-dominated, technical workplace as a younger woman, dealing with other women’s backhanded compliments about dressing well, and being told by a male boss that you dress too well and need to dress “frumpier,” but not exactly this.  Personal style is often important, but sometimes showing that you can “read” company culture requires dressing in a different way than you might otherwise.  Furthermore, when you look young, it can come off even worse — like you’re playing dress up.  So here are a few ideas…

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