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...]

Flared Pants, Hems, and Commutes

What is the proper hem length for heels — and how do you commute in shoes of different heights?  Reader Y wonders about flared pants, but I think she brings up a great point about hems and women who commute in shoes other than their office heels.

I’m a 25 year old working in Boston, usually in nice business casual offices. I don’t need to wear a suit, but I do need to look good. I have a number of flared (not too heavily) in my wardrobe and I don’t know if I can wear them to the office. Do you have any tips on length? What shoes can/should I wear (especially since I put on other shoes for the commute from and two work that are often flat)? Will they drown my height? If they can’t be worn…can I get them hemmed or something? It feels like such a waste to have them sitting there.

flared-pants-at-workWhen I first saw this I honestly thought, oh come on, of course you can wear flared pants! But then I started wondering if perhaps this is just a peculiarity to my age (35), since I grew up seeing lots of flared styles (and still think the bootcut is one of the most flattering pant shapes of all time). By contrast, skinny trousers and capris often look inappropriate to me — too 1950s, too Audrey Hepburn gamine to be taken seriously for the office. But then I thought of some of the extreme flared styles we’re seeing right now and thought, ok, fair question — I dislike those because they’re too 70s. My advice is that if anything is too reminiscent of any particular era other than “right now,” be careful about wearing it to the office. For example, the “Galaxy Groove Trousers,” pictured, seem a bit too, well, galactic and groovy for the office. (They are marked down if you’re interested, though — were $178, now $80 at French Connection.)

[Read more...]

Corporette 101: The Old Mirror Trick

chair and mirror 007Whenever you have a seriously important professional day — for example, an interview — you need to be wearing your most conservative, “notice my brains not my fashion sense” outfit. This means, unfortunately, that you need to be sure you know how the suit you wear looks from all angles. How does it look if you need to reach across a table or desk to point to something? How does it look from the back — is there a slit in the skirt that goes too high? And finally — deathly important for interviews — how does your skirt suit look when you’re sitting down? Can you cross your legs, or do you show too much thigh?

Most women are well acquainted with checking their outfit out in the mirror before they run out the door, but for interview outfits you need to go even further. Pull a chair over to a full-length mirror and sit down in it — note how high your skirt goes when you sit. If you think you might be stooping at all during the day (to pick up papers or materials on the floor), do that as well. Basically, any possible action you might take during the day should be vetted between you and the mirror, to make sure you won’t be embarrassed.

Corporette 101: Pant Hemlines

men's pants lengthsThis post is actually inspired by a reader’s question:

How long should pant hemlines be, when wearing a suit or dress pants with loafers (with a 1″ stacked heel) or heels?
We recall, many years ago, seeing an illustrated feature in the front of Esquire magazine, advising men how long their hemlines should be with different types of pants and shoes. (Yes, we were dorky enough to scan it and keep it.) Our advice won’t be quite as nuanced as that, alas, because in our minds the answer is always the same: the front of the hemline should brush the front of your foot (“the vamp”), and only a half-inch of heel (inch at most) ought to be showing in the back. Far too often we see women wearing heels with pants that are hemmed for flats — it makes their legs look shorter. It’s even worse with suits, because then the whole suit looks like it doesn’t fit. Readers, any thoughts?

Further viewing: Proper Fit of Pants [eHow]

Corporette 101: Always Clean Matching Items Together

Cryptic clothing label, originally
uploaded by Wm Jas

Frequently, women’s suits are sold as separates with interchangeable parts. One woman’s skirt suit might be another woman’s pantsuit — or maybe the same woman owns all 3 pieces and wears the jacket with the pants some days, or the skirt by itself other days, or . . . you get the picture. When you have matching separates (matching fabrics, buttons, etc) it pays to dryclean them together — that way the cloth wears consistently, and even if the color fades or the fabric gets nubbly, the pieces will still “match” in a year or two’s time.

The same reasoning goes for things that you throw in the washing machine, as well — for twinsets, for example, even if you wear the cardigan more than you wear the shell you should wash them both together.

Corporette 101: Rip Your Clothes

Trouser suicide,originally
uploaded by edmittanceIf your pants look like this you’ve
done something wrong.

Sometimes, women new to suits don’t realize that when you purchase it off the rack, there are a number of things that are sewn up for display purposes that should not be sewn up once you wear them. Namely, pockets on jackets and pants, slits in skirts, and vents on jackets.

  • Slits and vents will be sewn shut with a tiny “X” marking the spot — you should cut that off gently and remove all the thread.
  • Pockets are your choice* — you don’t have to rip them open, but it probably isn’t a bad idea if you have a building card pass to carry or want to take your debit card for a lunch run. Again, take some scissors and rip them open and remove all offending thread. (Although, in a pinch, just ripping it open with your bare hands will do.)

If you aren’t sure whether or not there’s actually a pocket in there, look on the inside of your jacket or pants — you’ll see the pocket pouch. [Read more...]