The Hunt: The Best Sleeveless Tops, Shells, and Blouses for Work

our favorite sleeveless tops, blouses, and shellsSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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. Wondering how to use wardrobe basics like this? Check out our challenge with four weeks of work outfit ideas!

Sleeveless tops are a basic in every woman’s work wardrobe — but which ones are the best? These are some of the best-selling styles we’ve mentioned in the past, all rounded up in one place — I’d love to hear your favorites that aren’t included here. As I’ve noted in the past, these aren’t necessarily my favorite tops to wear under blazers or other dry-clean-only clothes — call me a weirdo, but I like to have sleeves (even short sleeves) to better separate my body from the clothes that need expensive cleaning. (You may want to check out our post on the best tees for layering if that sounds more like your speed.) That said… a sleeveless top is much better for layering and creating clean lines beneath cardigans and blazers. I like that all of these tops cover the bra strap entirely; they also have pretty high arm holes and relatively high necklines — they’re very different from camisoles we’ve featured in the past. (As we’ve cautioned in the past, know your office — sleeveless looks aren’t always considered professional or conservative enough by themselves; only layered beneath things.)

Readers,  which are your favorite sleeveless tops for work — and how do you wear them? What’s  your preferred price range (most of these are under $50!) — and where do you buy your sleeveless tops? 

See our roundup, after the jump…

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The Hunt: Warm Winter Pants

warm women's dress pants for the officeSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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 went on a hunt for warm women’s dress pants for the office, so I thought we’d take a look today. I’m breaking out this Hunt a bit differently than our usual roundup to talk about the pros and cons of the different fabrics in general, but I’d love to hear from you — what are your favorite pants to wear to work in the winter? (Or is it FLEECE TIGHTS all the way?) What fabrics do you like best, what do you wear beneath unlined pants, and where are your favorite places to find them? Can you wear velvet/corduroy at your office, or do you prefer to stick to wool? What are your thoughts on cropped pants in winter weights? (And what shoes do you wear with them — booties?) See our roundup below of the different kinds of warm winter pants to wear to work…

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The Best Winter Blazers to Wear To Work

the best winter blazers to wear to workSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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.

Around this time of year, we typically feature stylish velvet blazers among our blazer picks for the best winter blazers to wear to work (including a beautiful blue one from Self Portrait that Kat shared a couple of weeks ago). Many are festive enough for weekday holiday office parties but still professional for workday wear — and versatile enough to pair with jeans on the weekends. We’re bringing you some more recommendations today, including some of our favorite velvet blazers on the market right now — as well as (in our roundup) a few options for tweed jackets if you want a more sedate alternative to velvet. Readers, how do you change up your blazers for work in wintertime? Do you like to wear them as toppers to sexier looks on the weekend? Do you like to wear them to “business attire” events around this time of year such as networking events through alumni or professional organizations, or even holiday office parties held on workdays?the best winter blazers to wear to work 2017

Pictured at top: rosey orange / purple / gray.

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The Hunt: Sleek Strappy Pumps for the Office

Sleek Strappy Pumps for the OfficeSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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.

When the weather starts to get brisk, I’m always on the hunt for great strappy pumps to wear with tights to work, whether they’re ankle strap, T-strap, Mary Jane, crisscross, or other styles with straps. (Particularly as someone with narrow heels but a wide forefoot, I swear by these for comfort and stability!) Strappy pumps like these are great for days where boots may feel too soon — and they can also be great as shoes that “live in your office” to change into if you do your commute in rainboots. This year, there are more heeled oxfords on the market than in previous years (like these nice ones from Isolá and Calvin Klein) — and of course wearing booties to the office is so trendy right now that we’ll do a separate roundup for booties (stay tuned!). We’ve included some of our favorite strappy office pumps this year — which are your favorites, ladies? In general, what shoes are your favorites to wear with tights to work — pumps, strappy pumps, booties, or something else? 

Psst: here are our favorite tights for work (just updated the post!).

Pictured at top, clockwise from top: one / two / three

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The Best Merino Wool Sweaters for Work

The Best Merino Wool Sweaters for WorkSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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.

Now that the calendar says it’s officially fall, we’re supposed to be easing into sweater season — cozy merino wool sweaters, for example — but in most parts of the country, temperatures are in the 80s and 90s. Let’s put that aside for now (it helps if you’re sitting in air conditioning) and start picturing the more typical autumn weather that will have you reaching for your boots, jackets … and merino wool sweaters. We’ve mentioned the many advantages of merino before: It’s very warm but also lightweight (often light enough to wear beyond fall and winter), and it holds its shape much better than cotton. It’s not quite as luxuriously soft as cashmere, but it tends to be more durable and is often machine washable. (Here are some tips on washing merino wool.) If you’re on the hunt for merino wool sweaters for work, now is a good time — there are a lot of sales out there, some offering deep discounts. Which brands are your favorite for merino wool sweaters? Do you prefer merino to cashmere for warmth? Which brands have you found to be the best at holding up to washing and/or dry cleaning — and do you typically machine wash, hand wash, or dry clean your merino wool sweaters? Anything else you like merino for, like socks, tights, skirts, long underwear, shells for under jackets? 

(Psst: Here’s our last roundup on the best affordable cashmere for work. And, er, our post on the best summer work clothes might be helpful today as well.) 

Here are some of the best merino wool sweaters for work available now:

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Wine-Colored Pumps: A Versatile Shoe for Office Looks

What to wear with wine-colored pumpsSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work 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.

Every year, I argue that wine-colored pumps are some of the most surprisingly versatile pumps you’ll have, particularly for office looks. Wear them with black, gray, navy, beige, and white! Wear them in spring with kelly greens and pastel colors! Wear them in autumn next to emerald tones and other fall hues! If you’re looking for a fun, colorful shoe, a dark red/deep purple shoe is a great workhorse for your work wardrobe. It was interesting to note that this year there was a dearth in general of colorful pumps of any color — red is about as wild as most brands are going. (Embroidered/fabric/velvet shoes are popular — so many embroidered booties! — but I think that’s more of an impulse purchase and, frankly, much harder to incorporate into a work wardrobe.)  So: onward with the wine-colored pump roundup for today — but I’m curious to hear from you guys: do colorful pumps have a place in your working wardrobe? Do you prefer embroidered/fabric/velvet shoes to mix things up at the office — and how do you wear them? (For example, do you play it safe and wear a shoe with a bold print/detail with a neutral or monochromatic outfit? Or do you delight in mixing patterns, colors, and textures?)

Links for the pumps pictured above, going clockwise from top LH corner: one / two / three / four

Here are some of our favorite wine-colored pumps out there right now…

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