The Hunt: Flat Boots

flat knee high boots for work Sure, 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.

Flat dressy boots are one of those know-your-office situations — just a few years ago they were fairly scandalous, but now they’re everywhere.  We haven’t done a roundup in a year (here’s our 2013 and 2012 roundups), so I thought I’d poke around… these are my favorites.  First, a few specialty categories that may be of interest — note that if you’re really on the hunt for a custom style, check out  Duo boots — you have the ability to tailor your fit, but they already have a large sale section that is up to 30% off today.

Ladies — have you bought any great flat boots for work lately? What are the top qualities you look for in an office-appropriate boot?

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The Hunt: Knee-High, Heeled Boots

knee-high boots smSure, 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.

We haven’t done a roundup of knee-high, heeled boots for a while (2013, 2012), so I thought we’d go on the hunt. (Note that in our last poll, almost 70% of readers said knee high boots were office-appropriate with regular skirts (not minis) — still, knee-high boots are definitely still a know your office situation.) Note also that I’m going to do an entirely separate roundup for flat dressy boots (hopefully in two weeks) — so please stay tuned!

Some great general sales to note if nothing here strikes your fancy:

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The Next Step: Shoes

How to Upgrade Your Shoe Collection | CorporetteWe’ve talked about upgrading your work clothes, buying better bags and grown-up furniture — but we haven’t yet talked about different tiers for shoes.  (Of course, we’ve talked in the past about comfortable heels, classic flats, which brands of shoes we love, which brands just don’t work for us, and even about how to find shoes for fussy feet.) I’m mostly grouping these by price, and only including brands that either I or the readers have noted as comfortable shoes — there are obviously a ton of brands that look pretty.  As with the other posts in this Next Step series, this is more of a continuum than a definitive ranking — do you agree with the shoe continuum? Are we missing any major brands?  Without further ado…

Bucket 1: Budget Shoes

(generally under $75, either with their MSRP or a frequently-on-sale price)

Bucket 2: Midlevel Shoes (Trendy)

(mostly known for style, but also reportedly comfortable) [Read more…]

The Next Step: Bags

How to Upgrade Your Handbag Collection | CorporetteHow to Upgrade Your Handbag Collection | CorporetteWhat 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? 

Bucket 1: Budget Bags

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Grad School

financially preparing for grad schoolWe had a great discussion a few weeks ago about wedding finances, and now it’s time for the next post in our Money Milestone series:  grad school. We’ve talked about how to adjust your new student budget once you get to grad school, how to pay off student loans, how to juggle grad school and a full time job, and even whether you should get an MBA — but not this. Some of the best tips came from folks on the Corporette FB page and some of my personal FB friends, so a huge thank you to everyone! (Check out U.S. News & World Report’s Paying for Graduate School Guide for some additional advice.) (Pictured: J.Crew Factory Magic Wallet, $14.50.)

Before Grad School

  • Live like a student before you go. Keep your expenses down while you’re saving up — and create a new budget. This helps you save more, and also prevents culture shock once you have to dial back your lifestyle when you get to grad school.
  • Manage what you’ve already borrowed. Form a strategy to pay down your existing debt. In some cases you may even want to postpone applying to grad school until you have more of a handle on your finances and achieve a higher credit score (which can earn you lower interest rates). Consider deferring your undergraduate loans if it makes sense for your financial situation.
  • Make sure you know the numbers. In a recent post, Above the Law mentioned a new, “brutally honest” student loan calculator that shows you your future monthly payments in comparison to your expected salary after earning the degree.
  • See if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. It may be slow going but you can pay for a grad school degree through this method alone!
  • Set up a 529 plan for yourself. While you’re saving, you get a deduction on your state taxes, and you can then use that account to pay for your grad school expenses. If you have money left over in the plan, you can roll it over into your kids’ plans. (Rules vary widely by state.) Resist the urge to raid your 401(k) for tuition costs.

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The Hunt: Tweed Blazers

The Great Tweed Blazer Roundup of 2014 | 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.

It’s been a while since we last rounded up tweed blazers, so I thought I’d go on a hunt for some on the market right now.  Some of my favorites are below — ladies, which are your favorite from the options below? Have you bought any tweed blazers recently, or do you have some in your closet from years past?

Other options in the budget price range, not pictured below: Ann Taylor (three great options in regular, petite, and tall sizes, all $72-90 with code FASHION50), Talbots ($75-$130, regular, petites, woman, woman petites), White House | Black Market ($99), Calvin Klein ($104),  Anne Klein ($139), Limited (three great ones in regular, petite, and tall sizes, all for $168 full price), and J.Crew ($186 with code STYLETREAT).

Here are some plus-size options, not pictured below: here, here, here, here, and here.  Also, I’ve tried to note in text where there are petite or tall sizes available throughout the piece.

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