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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The Pros and Cons of Thrifting for Workwear

thrifting-for-workwearWhat are best practices for getting workwear at the thrift store?  What are the pros and cons?  Reader JP wonders:

I’d love to see some people’s thoughts on THRIFTING. Macklemore seems to have popularized it. I’ve become an avid thrifter in the past year. This week I bought a Tory Burch shirt for $2. Curious to see the opinion of others.

Great question, JP! We’ve talked about workwear on eBay before, but not this (and now may be a great time to revisit that discussion — please tell us your favorite eBay finds in the comments!).   I know there’s been a fair amount of discussion of thrifting in the comments, and I believe one reader even set up her own blog to catalog her thrift store finds.  Personally I’ve never gotten into thrifting as much as I perhaps should have — in New York I’ve always felt that a) bedbugs are a concern in anything cloth and b) the hardcore fashion people are getting the good stuff anyway, so why even bother?  (I’ve read far too many profiles of random stylists and PR women to hear about how their ritual is waking up at 6 AM to go thrifting, or how the women at the consignment store just know them, etc., etc.).  My reluctance aside, though, thrifting is great for the environment as well as the wallet (and other reasons), so it’s a great hobby to get into.  I’ve always heard that the best way to go thrifting is to:

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Wearing Thigh-High Stockings at Work

thigh high stockingsWhat if you like your legs covered when you wear skirts — or your office dress code doesn’t allow bare legs — but you don’t like wearing full pantyhose or tights? Are thigh-high stockings acceptable to wear to work? Are some more appropriate than others? Reader N wonders…

I was wondering if you might consider doing a post on thigh high pantyhose that are functional and work appropriate. I hate the feeling of full pantyhose, but can’t go without, so I want to try thigh highs but have no idea where to start. Thanks!

Great question! We’ve talked about how to care for pantyhose, whether you should wear them in the summer, how many workplaces still require them, the appropriateness of fishnets at the office, rounded up everyone’s favorite lingerie brands, but not this. (Blast from the past: this 20-year-old Chicago Tribune fashion Q-and-A actually recommends layering opaque tights under thigh-highs.)  I’m going to apologize in advance for the sure-to-be-interesting AdSense ads that will follow us all around the interwebs, but I do think this is an important and legitimate question for working women — I’ve had a number of friends who preferred thigh-highs for hygiene, comfort, or other reasons, and there’s no reason they should be stigmatized.

The good news: it seems like there’s a HUGE variety to choose from out right now, in part (perhaps) because over-the-knee boots are so popular. Thus, we’re seeing a ton of “over the knee” socks and tights. Some of the bestsellers that I’m seeing: [Read more…]