What to Wear to Work When It’s Unseasonably Warm

What to Wear to Work When It's Unseasonably Warm | CorporetteI don’t know about you guys, but I can barely believe it’s November — it feels super warm to me. We’ve talked before about when there are arbitrary date cutoffs on clothing (such as when to stop wearing tights, and whether you can wear bare legs in winter), but not in a while — so let’s discuss.  Ladies, how many of you have done the seasonal closet shift and put away all your warm-weather clothes — and how are you adjusting? Are there any clothes you haven’t seen for a few weeks that you’re excited to wear again? On the flip side — are you rolling your eyes at anyone wearing things that you think look ridiculous considering some stores are already blaring holiday music?

For my $.02, I’m excited to pull out some of the longer cardigans that I’ve put away already because they look silly with my shorter winter coats — and I may just have to pull out my favorite sandals when I go out on Friday night.  (Must. paint. toenails.)

Pictured: Misplaced snowman, originally uploaded to Flickr by Richie Diesterheft.


Clothes for the Curvy Professional

Workwear Brands for the Curvy Professional | CorporetteAre there any workwear brands that cater to the professional curvy woman? Reader V wonders…

I’m not plus size – but I am curvy. As in, I hate most clothing stores as I actually can’t fit one size across my boobs but look matronly the next size up. I live in the UK and have recently discovered Pepperberry as a revelation (extra size options for boobs!), but the stuff does veer on the casual side (and the fabrics aren’t always the best). Any other brands catering for the professional curvy girl or is it just getting tailoring?

Interesting question, V! As someone who’s always been large of chest, we’ve talked a lot about workwear for the curvy woman — from curve-friendly blazers to bespoke dresses to blouses for the busty.  We haven’t done a roundup recently, though, so let’s take a look.  (And Reader V, consider yourself lucky to be in the UK — I’ve always found there to be a ton of great options there!) Pictured: an eShakti dress with tons of customizable options; it starts at $69.95. 

Some great brands and online shops to note:

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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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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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Where to Find Fair Trade and Ethically-Sourced Clothing

Ethical Shopping | CorporetteIn our first post in our ethical shopping series, we rounded up several clothing brands made in the United States, mostly startups and small and/or independent labels. In part two, we shared a list of mainstream, more widely available workwear brands that sell clothing made in North America or Europe. Today we’re looking at clothing that’s fair trade certified, as well as clothing not officially considered fair trade but produced more responsibly or ethically than the average brand.

Of course, when a brand makes admirable claims like those, we as shoppers must simply take their word for it — but I would rather give my business to a company that explicitly details their (supposed) commitment to ethical labor practices and fair trade than to one who doesn’t say a word about its products’ origins or production. (Pictured: Brooks Brothers Wool Stretch Small Windowpane Circle Skirt, $168.)

Fair trade certification is more complicated than you might think; there’s more than one certifying organization, and each has a slightly different definition of the term “fair trade.” It’s also possible that we may not be doing as much good as we think by buying these products. Ndongo Sylla, a former Fairtrade International employee (who has a PhD in developmental economics), wrote a book last year called The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich (excerpt here in The Guardian). In The Economist’s book review, the reviewer called it “an arduous read” but wrote, “It is hard to dispute [Sylla’s] conclusion that, so far, the fair-trade labelling movement has been more about easing consciences in rich countries than making serious inroads into poverty in the developing world.” (Sigh.)

That said, here are several brands that engage in fair trade:

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Open Thread: Best Work Pants

best work pantsOk, ladies, let’s hear it: which are the best work pants? I’ve seen many readers bemoaning the decline in old favorites like the Banana Republic Sloan and the Gap Perfect Trouser — and other popular pants, like the J.Crew Minnie ankle pant, just aren’t formal enough for more conservative offices. So let’s discuss. First, here’s Reader A’s question:

I have loved the Gap Perfect Trouser pants for work — they are far and away the best fit for my body type (the thighs were roomy enough, I liked the leg opening width, and the short inseam option). However, the quality of these pants has deteriorated in the last couple of years. When I looked online recently, the reviews have dropped a ton as well, with a lot of comments that the fit has changed.
Do you have any suggestions for similar fit of pants? On top of this, I recently had my first baby, so in addition to some body changes, I don’t have as much time to shop for pants now, and online shopping seems like taking a shot in the dark.
Any tips would be appreciated.

Oi. We’ve rounded up washable pants for work recently-ish (March); as I noted in our lightweight pants for summer roundup a few months ago, full-length trousers have been getting harder and harder to find. (The bootcut and flared look is back for denim, though, so hopefully work pants will follow suit shortly!) Some affordable possibilities for you:

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