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The Best Tees For Layering Under Blazers, Cardigans, and More

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.

Which are the best tees for layering under blazers, cardigans, and more? What qualities do you look for in a work-appropriate t-shirt, how many do you own, and how long do you expect your tees to stay looking new?  We haven’t had a discussion on the best tees for layering for work in a while, so let’s revisit some of the basics, at least for my $.02. First, t-shirts make a great layering piece because they’re washable and generally no-fuss (such as tops requiring ironing).  Furthermore, a work t-shirt should be something designed to be seen — you should be able to take your blazer off during the day without worrying that it’s see-through, clinging to your bra, too low cut, tattered or torn, or otherwise too casual.  Personally I think any pockets will usually make a tee too casual for a conservative office, as does a wider rib trim at the neckline — I love my relaxed slub t-shirts for the weekend, but I think a slub knit or linen blend would make it too casual for work, as would a pattern like a space-dye. Finally, while a tank top can be great for certain situations, it isn’t always the best for layering for two reasons — first, it won’t necessarily be appropriate to wear by itself at your office (see our last discussion on whether going sleeveless is professional – know your office!), and second, it may necessitate more laundering and drycleaning than a t-shirt would because a t-shirt would cover your armpits and protect the top layer from sweat. (But: if you want a seamless look and just want to add opacity/raise a neckline, a camisole for work, demi-camisole, or tank top is definitely the look for you.)

How about you, readers — which t-shirts do you think are the best tees for layering? Do you prefer to layer tees, tanks, camisoles, or something else beneath suits and blazers? What do you look for in a work-appropriate t-shirt? 

Pictured at top, a few of our Hall of Famers: black / red / blue.

Some of our Hall of Famers, the best-selling, classic styles that have been around for years, include:

Above: black / pink / blue / red.

Today’s featured tees for layering include:

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The Best Knee-High Boots for Commuting, Work, and More

The Best Knee-High Boots for Commuting, Work, and Beyond | 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. Today’s hunt: the best knee-high boots for commuting, work, or more. 

As work-appropriate booties have surged in popularity, we recognize that knee-high boots aren’t as strong a trend as they once were — still, I see a ton of women still wearing them, and I repeatedly see readers noting that they prefer knee-high boots for their lifestyle (or just for general personal style reasons).  I mostly see women commuting in them and wearing them with skinny jeans on the weekend, so I thought I’d focus this Hunt on flat, low-heeled styles. An important caveat: I see a lot of women swearing by flat over-the-knee boots for commuting, but OTK boots are solidly in “know your office” territory — in our last poll most women didn’t think they were appropriate for their offices. If you are on the hunt for an OTK boot, I’d either go low (very inexpensive, like this $38 pair) or high (do the classic Weitzman OTK boot) and call it a day — or make an actual trip to the store to find a good OTK boot somewhere between those two.

As we’ve noted in our past roundups of flat knee-high boots for work, watch out for slouchy boots, heavy treads, or Western influences — and if you intend to wear them the entire day at the office, make sure your outfit is intentional (and not that “I never got around to changing my commuting boots” look).

First, some specialty styles to include in our roundup of the best knee-high boots for commuting, work, and beyond:

Pictured below: some of our Hall of Fame boots — the best-selling styles that have been around and loved for years!

the best knee high boots for commuting!

Pictured above: one / two / three

Curious about our older roundups? Here are links to 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 — and our last discussion on whether knee-high boots are appropriate for the office. (Do you still think this is a question at all, ladies?)

Today’s featured knee-high boots for commuting or work include:

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The Hunt: Winter Coats That Work As Hard as You Do

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.

We’ve talked before about how to buy a great winter coat — but we haven’t done a roundup in a while! Which winter coats have been your favorite this year, ladies? Do you vary your coat choices based on your outfit (e.g., wearing a longer coat with a skirt/dress)?  Do you buy a new coat each season, or once every few years?  How many coats do you keep in rotation at one time — and what do you do with the older ones?

For my own answers, I still love my dark green Cinzia Rocca coat that I got a few years ago — but I also wear my Primaloft coats from Lands’ End if I’m running around with the kids (I have a shorter one as well as a longer one), as well as a few wool coats I inherited from my grandmother. I definitely vary my coat based on my outfit — I would never wear a shorter, hip-length coat with a skirt or dress. Just due to closet space limitations, I’ve kept my coat collection pretty small!

Before we get to the roundup for today, here are a few general categories to consider for winter coats for work:

Pictured below: the Hall of Famers readers swear by: one / two / three / four

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The Hunt: Stylish Business Card Cases

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. Today, we hunt for stylish business card cases for women.

I don’t think we’ve done a Hunt on card cases since 2009 or so — so let’s start looking! (Whoa: I just updated that 2009 post and almost everything is still available — crazy.) Ladies, how do you use business card cases? There are a few ways that I do: 1) to hold business cards (those to give and those I receive), 2) to corral a few extra cards that are location specific — for example I used to keep one in my desk drawer at work that had deal cards for lunch spots in my building, such as “buy 10 salads get 1 free” — or if there are a bunch of stores near each other I would try to keep all the cards together and then throw them into my bag before I went to the mall or that area of town, and 3) to use as a wallet for my credit card, license/insurance card, and a few bucks if I’ve downsized to a clutch and my regular wallet won’t fit!  We’ve noted the very popular Jet Set card cases and I recently featured these gorgeous metallic Kate Spade cases (now on sale, btw) — here are a few other stylish business card cases I’m seeing around the web:

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The Hunt: Waterproof, Weatherproof Shoes for Work

weatherproof-shoes-for-the-officeSure, 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.

I don’t think we’ve had a good discussion on weatherproof shoes for work in far too long — so let’s discuss, ladies. Do you own both rain boots and snow boots where you are — or just rain boots, with the assumption that if it’s that snowy out you can probably work from home? What makes a shoe acceptable to wear all day at work, versus just for your commute? Do you have any rules about changing out of bad weather commuting shoes (e.g., no stopping at the coffee room before you change — or no big meetings until you’re in your “office shoes” — or do you actually do the thing where you change outside the office, like in the lobby of your building)? For those of you who are consultants, in court, or otherwise away from home base often — what do you do?

(Pictured at top, clockwise from top left: tall boot with laces / Chelsea / short with back bow / tall bow / bootie / heeled bootie)

For my $.02, I have an almost surreal memory from my lawyer days of having to review documents at the office one weekend when it was truly horrible outside — so bad that I took the subway instead of calling for a car. I may have had to take a different subway line than I normally took because weather was so bad — I remember getting out of an unfamiliar subway exit on one of those interior, tight streets around Wall Street and seeing snow piled everywhere, several feet thick, and I felt like the last few blocks to work were a true trek.  It could have been worse — a few months earlier, I had happened to buy super ugly Lands’ End snow boots on sale on a friend’s recommendation, and I was so grateful I had them!

Psst: we’ve also discussed how to do business casual in cold weather, as well as how to buy a great winter coat.

Before we get to the featured weatherproof shoes for work, I thought I’d round up some weatherproof, waterproof options in special categories:

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The Hunt: Stylish Velvet Blazers and Other Wintry Jackets

stylish-velvet-blazersSure, 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.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I love a good wintry blazer, usually to keep at the office or use as a lighter layer in fall weather. Velvet is indeed having its moment, so this hunt is heavy on stylish velvet blazers for work — but we’ve also included tweed, wool, and other heavyweight fabrics. (Interestingly, corduroy blazers are difficult to find at the moment!) Ladies, do you wear heavyweight blazer separates to the office — and which fabrics are your favorites? Gotten any great winter blazers lately?

Before we get to our favorites for today, check out some of these general categories:

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