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 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 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 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 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 for $98. Selene Leather Pump (Note — there’s a great taupe pair on sale at 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 (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 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 for $89.95. Seychelles Women’s Code Pump,Black
BCBGeneration - Edith (Black Synthetic Kid) - FootwearToday only specials — 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 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?


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).

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The Hunt: Appropriate Bags for Summer Associates

The Best Bags for Summer Associates | CorporetteWe got this request in from a reader, and thought we might resurrect an old feature — The Hunt — in which we look for a great basic, available now, in a variety of price points. Here’s the request:

As an incoming summer associate at a large NY firm, I’ve been wondering – what kind of bag would be appropriate? I’ve been told that Longchamp is too casual, and would be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I don’t want to break the bank before I’ve even made my first paycheck, but would like something nice and versatile that will last a long time. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

We would actually disagree with that — we think Longchamp is fine for a big tote bag. It’s functional (fits a ton of papers), is made well (is strong enough to carry a ton of papers) and — especially if you get the black on black versions available in Canada or at the physical stores in New York City, quite appropriate for work. [Read more…]

The Hunt: Basic Black Pumps

2016 Update: Check out our most recent discussion and roundup of comfortable black pumps!

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. Psst: check out our frequently updated Guide to Comfortable Heels!

In today’s hunt, we search for reasonably-heeled black leather pumps — nothing higher than 3″…

black pumps for work 1Corso Como makes extremely comfortable shoes — their insoles are lined with gel.  Available at Endless for $154.95. Corso Como Women’s Cate Pump
black pumps for work2These black leather shoes also have a 5-star comfort rating on Zappos — and are at a slightly lower price point of $89. Calvin Klein – Dolly (Black)
black pumps for work under $100These are exactly 3″, but we’ll make an exception because they come in so many colors and get great ratings for comfort.  (Hmmn, perhaps we need a pair of peacock blue pumps.)  Available at Zappos for $83. Kenneth Cole Reaction – Inner Space (Black Leather)
black pumps for the officeWe just couldn’t do a round-up of basic black pumps without including one of our favorite brands, Cole Haan.  These Air Pumps are made with Nike Air technology — we won’t be playing basketball in our pumps any time soon, but it’s good to know someone’s making the shoes as if we were.  Available at Zappos on sale for $243.  (2″ heel; also available in 3″ heel.) Cole Haan – Fiona Low Air Pump (Black Calf)
black pumps pradaIf you’re upgrading and want something in a slightly higher price range, these Prada leather pumps (2.5″ heel) are only $360 at Saks. Prada Linea Rossa
black pumps for office louboutinWe’ve always envied the women who can rock the 4″ heels on the red carpet — and we’ve somehow developed a taste for the lipstick red of the Louboutin pumps.  Unfortunately, their towering heels make them next to impossible for us to use to navigate at the office.  Fortunately, there are more sensible pumps if you’re like us — these are far sturdier and more walkable, with a 2.75″ heel.  Available at Saks for $595. Christian Louboutin – Miss Tack Pumpstktktktk LINK6

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

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