The Hunt: Wide Belts

CONTOUR STRETCH BELT 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.

The waist-cinching wide belt seems to be a new classic — it’s an easy way to add some shape to a dress, sweater, or more, and it can be a great way to express your personality and add a bit of an edge. It seems like there are a ton out there right now that are both professional as well as inexpensive. We thought we’d round up some that are under $100.

Fashion Focus black faux leather stretch buckle beltWe like that this belt is available in both black and purple — and the stretch portion of the belt ensures fit and comfort. Was $48, now $29 at Bluefly. Fashion Focus black faux leather stretch buckle belt
CONTOUR STRETCH BELTLove the look of this one — the round buckle, the stretch fit, the pebbled look of the faux leather — there’s something perfect about it.  It’s $39 at Express.  CONTOUR STRETCH BELT
Banana Republic Stretch and shine belt Although raters warn that this belt runs small, we love the wider-in-the-back, skinny-in-the-front take on the wide belt (although we imagine you’ve got to have a flat stomach to pull it off!).  It’s $49.50 at Banana Republic.  Banana Republic Stretch and shine belt
Black Toggle Belt by White House Black MarketThe toggle details on this White House/Black Market belt are interesting and add almost a horsey, Mulberry-inspired vibe to the belt. The belt is $58. Womens Black Toggle Belt by White House Black Market
Layfayette 148 New York Leather Obi BeltThis belt isn’t *quite* as wide as the others, but we like that it’s leather, and that it wraps with a tie closure.  (Gorgeous merino cowl neck sweater, also!)  It’s $98 at Neiman Marcus. Layfayette 148 New York Leather Obi Belt
Obi Leather BeltLove this Michael Stars belt, available in both black and cognac — the leather looks supple and soft, and the thin leather strap looks like it would be easy to knot.  It’s $98 at MichaelStars.com. Obi Leather Belt

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

Readers, what belts have you bought lately?  Any favorites?

The Hunt: Colorful Raincoats

 Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Cotton and cashmere-blend twill trenchSure, 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.

Here in NYC, last week’s tornado-like weather has made us focus on the issues that really matter: namely, colorful, happy raincoats to battle a dreary day.  We tried our best to round up some professional-looking ones in a variety of prices.

Mossimo® Black: Contemporary Long Trench Coat - Plum PurpleThis is a happy purple coat that would work well for both fall and spring, we think. It’s $49.99 at Target (and is actually available in about 9 colors).  MOSSIMO Mossimo® Black: Contemporary Long Trench Coat – Plum Purple
MICHAEL Michael Kors dark yellow cotton-poly 3-button walker jacket Love the fun yellow and the wide lapel with this MICHAEL Michael Kors coat — was $190, now $103 at Bluefly. (Also available in black and khaki.) MICHAEL Michael Kors dark yellow cotton-poly 3-button walker jacket
Jane Post Duffle Coat Look how happy she looks — perhaps it’s because her Jane Post coat is on sale from $445 to $285. We like the bright red, as well as the hood, and the fact that it’s water repellant. Available for $285 at Neiman Marcus. Jane Post Duffle Coat
Anna Molinari Cotton trench coat
iconLimited sizes left in this fabulous red trench coat, but ‘cmon — it’s 75% off, so that makes sense. Like the simple tone-on-tone buttons, the full lining, and the bracelet length sleeves on this fabulous red coat by Anna Molinari. Was $1170, now $292.50 at The Outnet. Cotton trench coat
Kate Spade Sketchpad Ivy Raincoat Love this swingy trench from Kate Spade — the mustard color is exactly the right shade to cheer you up on a gray day.  Also, the cotton/silk blend seems luxurious.  It’s $525 at Kate Spade.  Sketchpad Ivy Raincoat
 Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Cotton and cashmere-blend twill trenchWeirdly enough, there were a number of great coats in the $950+ realm of things. For this roundup, we like this bright fuschia cotton and cashmere blend trench coat by Sonia by Sonia Rykiel — it’s such a fun pop of color, and we like the shiny buttons. It’s $940 at Net-a-Porter.com. Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Cotton and cashmere-blend twill trench

The Hunt: Charcoal Trousers

Michael Kors Jaryn Wide-Leg PantsSure, 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.

So it turns out that if you’re looking for a pair of lightweight, charcoal gray pants (not heather gray, not tweed) — then you have extremely limited options.

Gap Modern boot pants Gap’s new line of pants (with lots of different fits) all come in a lovely charcoal gray.  We like the modern boot for $59.50 — available in regular, tall, and petite, with varying inseams as well.  They’re $59.50 at Gap.com. Gap Modern boot pants
Banana Republic Petite Logan fit wide-leg puppytooth pant The “Gap” family tree seems to be up on their grays, because we also like the tiny houndstooth check on these new “Logan” pants — it’s a stretch wool blend that comes in both short and regular. They’re $79.50 at Banana Republic.   Banana Republic Petite Logan fit wide-leg puppytooth pant
Falling Folds Pants This nice-looking pair from Anthropologie is machine washable, and we like that the pockets aren’t on a diagonal.  The waistband detailing is interesting, also — we could see it being great for women who have small waists.  The pants are $118 at Anthropologie. Falling Folds Pants
Max Studio FLARED TROUSERSThese flared trousers from Max Studio have a nice herringbone texture, and promise to offer “maximum tush-flattery.”  The fact that they’re on sale is a nice bonus, as well — they were $198, now $148 at MaxStudio.com. FLARED TROUSERS-6-BLACK
Theory 'Max C - Tailor' Pants We know, we know — these Theory “Max C – Tailor” pants are classics.  We think the “front slant pockets” are pretty flattering, and we like the slightly flared legs.  They’re $245 at Nordstrom. Theory ‘Max C – Tailor’ Pants
Michael Kors Jaryn Wide-Leg PantsWe can’t put our finger exactly on what it is about these Michael Kors pants, but they really do seem to be a bit more “money” than the rest. Is it the rise? The precise color of “charcoal sapphire” wool? Whatever it is, we like ’em. They’re $750 at Bergdorf Goodman. Jaryn Wide-Leg Pants

Readers, what are your go-to spots for nice-fitting trousers? Have you found any great charcoal trousers lately? (And: why are all pant pictures on the Internet so hideous?)

The Hunt: The Lightweight, Professional Tote

lightweight professional tote bag2017 Update: Looking for a lightweight, professional tote? You may want to check out our most recent roundup of the best tote bags for work.

I have a beloved nylon tote that was my go-to for interviews for a long time. It’s super lightweight, nondescript, and has a simple pocket inside that’s perfect for carrying a few pens and pencils. It is, alas, so “loved” that it’s no longer really a professional thing to take around — the “leather” handles are peeling, there are threads poking out everywhere, and there’s even some sort of big snag on the side.

In case other ladies are looking for a similar tote (either to replace a much-loved version or to buy one for interview season), I thought I’d share my hunt for a new, perfect nylon tote. My old tote dimensions, which I thought were perfect: 15″ wide, by 11.5″ high, by 3″ deep, with an 11″ shoulder drop.

Merona® Croco Work Tote - BlackThis one from Merona has a faux leather look to it, which isn’t usually my thing — but for $29.99 it’s hard to go wrong with it. I like that it includes a lot of interior organization — padded laptop pocket, cell phone pocket, and key ring holder — and I also like that it zips closed. The dimensions are pretty close to my old beloved favorite — 16″ wide, 12″ high, 4.75″ deep. It’s $29.99 at Target. Merona Croco Work Tote – Black
Banana Republic Nylon Buckle ToteThis bag looks a bit bigger than what I normally think of as an interview tote, but it still looks professional, and I like the fact that there’s nothing “faux” about it. The reasonable price — $49.50 — doesn’t hurt either. It’s available in black, khaki and teal at Banana Republic.com. Banana Republic Nylon Buckle Tote
Storksak Gigi Large Diaper BagIs it bad that I don’t care that this one says it’s a diaper bag? It still looks like a great bag to me (and, though I have no experience with them, seems somewhat small for a diaper bag at 11″x14″x6″). Again, not a huge fan of the white-on-black stitching, but so it goes. It’s $198 at Endless Amazon. Storksak Gigi Large Diaper Bag
Latico Candice Slim PorterNow the bags start to get expensive. I like the look of this one a lot, and particularly like the fun interior print. At 12.5″x17″x4″, it’s a bit bigger than my old one, but that can be okay. It’s available at Endless Amazon in black, forest, metallic brown, metallic copper, metallic olive, and “steel” for $219. Latico Candice Slim Porter
Rafe New York - Zue Large Nylon Tote (Black) - Bags and LuggageLOVE this bag. I like the patent trim, the zip pockets on the front, and the “multifunctional” slip pockets on the inside. It’s $219 at Zappos (available in black and red with black trim). (It’s also pictured at the top of the post). Rafe New York – Zue Large Nylon Tote (Black) – Bags and Luggage

Readers, what do you look for in a lightweight, professional tote? Any great finds of late?

Black Pumps Under $100

VOLATILE - Molly (Black) - Footwear2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on comfortable black pumps!

Last week, we had The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits.  We thought we’d do a round-up of black pumps today, another must-have for the interview wardrobe.  However, we thought we’d challenge ourselves by only rounding up good-looking shoes under $100…

LifeStride - Haze (Black Premier Kid/Sherillo) - FootwearLove the side detail on these pumps — it adds a bit of texture and interest without detracting from the classic shape; also love the cushioned footbed. They’re available in black (patent and kid), beige, and navy at Zappos.com for $54. LifeStride – Haze (Black Premier Kid/Sherillo) – Footwear
Selene Leather PumpFor some reason, we love the look to these shoes. They strike us as classic and beautiful. We particularly like the rounded toe, the stacked heel, and the non-slip panel on the sole. They’re available at CalvinKlein.com for $98. Selene Leather Pump (Note — there’s a great taupe pair on sale at Shoes.com for $75; take an additional 15% off with code 15OFF.)
Eddie Bauer Dress PumpsWe like the stacked 2.75″ heel on these, as well as the promise of a “plush, cushioned footbed.”  Nice!  They’re available in black, a purpley “burgandy” suede, and a gray “pewter” leather for $99 at EddieBauer.com (sizes 6-12).  Eddie Bauer Dress Pumps
Franco Sarto - Napoli (Black Kidskin Leather) - FootwearThis highly-rated shoe on Zappos has a bit of a platform to it, which can make the high heel (almost 4″) far easier to walk in — and in general we’ve had great luck with Franco Sarto shoes.  They’re available at Zappos.com in black (patent and kid), gray, taupe, gold, and magenta for $80.10 (they were $89). Franco Sarto – Napoli (Black Kidskin Leather) – Footwear
Seychelles Women's Code PumpThis is a great pump with a classic look that, for reasons we can’t put our fingers on, almost has a slight vintage vibe to it.  It’s available in red, teal, and “whiskey” brown at Endless.com for $89.95. Seychelles Women’s Code Pump,Black
BCBGeneration - Edith (Black Synthetic Kid) - FootwearToday only specials — 6pm.com has a ton of great black pumps on sale today, also, which we’d be remiss if we didn’t point you towards.  We like the BCBG Generation Edith, pictured (BCBGeneration – Edith (Black Synthetic Kid) – Footwear, was $49, now $19.60 at 6pm.com for today only), as well as the a patent leather pump from Volatile (VOLATILE – Molly (Black) – Footwear, was $49.99, now $15) (pictured at the very top of this post), and the Sofft Rivoli (Sofft – Rivoli (Black Madras Kid Skin) – Footwear, was $99.95, now $34.95).


Readers, what are your favorite inexpensive heels?

(L-16)

The Hunt: Professional Winter Coats

professional winter coat

2017 Update: Check out our latest roundup of 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.

Sure — everyone who lives in a cold climate knows that you’ve got to have a warm winter coat. But who makes the most professional winter coats? What qualities define it — and how crucial is it to your office style? For our $.02, it’s knee-length, which covers skirts but doesn’t overwhelm you if you’re petite, and is slightly bigger than the size you normally wear, so you can fit your suit jackets beneath it. Also, we’ve always heard that a wool/cashmere blend is much warmer than a pure cashmere blend. You should try to get it dry-cleaned once a season (too much more and it will look worn too soon), and hope to have it last at least 3 winters. Although funnel necks seem to be in this season, we’re in favor of the traditional “walking coat” for the your basic (but preferably one that does have the option to fasten all the way up to your neck, so you don’t need to rely on scarves to keep you warm). These are the best winter coats we can find online, but we really suggest going to the store to check them out — the wool should feel soft, not scratchy, and that’s something best compared in person; furthermore, the intangibles (such as inside pockets and a fun printed lining) aren’t often featured online).

[Read more…]

work fashion blog press mentions