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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The Hunt: Interview Tote Bags

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.

This week, we were inspired by a question from a reader:

Hi gals – thanks for the great blog, I’ve come to rely on it as I prepare for fall law firm interviews! Thanks for all the timely posts. I have a slight emergency – would it be possible for you to do a post on appropriate interview handbags? I’m looking for a structured bag in a lower price range (i.e., ideally less than $200) but still professional and nice enough to make a good impression. Also – I stupidly bought a dark gray pinstripe suit and a dark brown suit – no chance there’s some kind of bag that would look good with both, right? If not, I’m looking for both a black and a brown bag, so suggestions for either would be GREATLY APPRECIATED! I don’t know how you find all the great sales and styles that you do, but I’m always impressed! Thanks in advance -Amy

For interviews, we’ve always taken tote bags. You can get these in a range of prices — from affordable to break-the-bank — but they’re all kind of the same. Keep in mind that nylon ones will wear less well (but in the beginning it’s fine) whereas the leather ones will be heavier once fully loaded (less pliable, also). [Read more…]

The Hunt: Laptop Sleeves

2017 Update: We still think a lot of these laptop sleeves are awfully cute, but you may also want to check out our 2017 roundup of the best laptop bags for work.

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.

Inspired by Amelia’s law school bag question, we thought we’d do a Hunt for laptop sleeves — they’re lightweight, simple, and mean you don’t have to carry techie bags that scream “I have a laptop in here” (or that fugly faux leather thing your laptop comes with). Sleeves can save you significant space/money when traveling (especially with all the crazy new restrictions these days), and can also make it easier to get through security elsewhere (such as, say, courthouses).

Waterfield makes custom sleeves for computers of all kinds, including Amazon’s Kindle and those teeny lightweight laptops that are all the rage. Prices start at $99, and the neoprene cushioning and ballistic nylon coating will keep your computer well protected. Alas, they only come in basic black.
LeSportsac’s colorful laptop sleeves come in three sizes and range between $25 and $39; the nylon exterior and padded interior will keep your laptop clean and protected. Also available in black. Also available at Nordstromicon.
Built has awesome sleeves for just about everything you can imagine — laptops, wine bottles, camera cases, etc. The laptop sleeves come in 3 sizes and a variety of colors, including black (although we like the wood grain one, pictured at left). It’s made of wetsuit grade neoprene, has easy grips on the side, and costs between $30 and $43. Other cute things to check out if you’re visiting the site: the tidy bib, the Hoodie camera case, and their iPod and iPhone cases.
If you have a larger laptop — especially a 12″ or 14″ Mac, these GYMS Pacific bags are perfect for you. (The one pictured at right is specifically for the iBook, in fact: Sukie iBook Notebook Sleeve.) Made of neoprene and lined in felt, these cases, most costing around $40. (They also have very cute iPod cases for $12.) The brand is also available at eBags.com, which has free shipping over $50. gyms pacific laptop sleeves
fabrix laptop sleeve If neoprene isn’t your thing, Fabrix has some truly great cases to fit your Macs. The internal quilted padding will keep your laptop safe and sound, while the external fabric looks gorgeous. Pictured at left: Black Suit, available for between $36-$45.

The Hunt: The Perfect Black Blazer

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.

This week’s “The Hunt” features that perennial office basic — the black jacket you can throw on over anything and it looks great. This one was a surprisingly challenging hunt because we wanted to feature jackets that were intended as separates, not ones that were part of a suit (although that is always a valid choice as well). The black jacket is particularly great for the summertime — come in wearing a sheath dress or a casual t-shirt and, when you get to the office, put your black jacket on. You’re instantly more professional (and warmer).

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The Hunt: Sweater Sets

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.

Well, we were surprised when we started hunting for twinsets for this feature. To us, twinsets are a great summer basic — they’re the perfect solution for a deathly hot commute (you just wear the tank or tee and throw the sweater in your bag or over your shoulders) and then when you get to the office and the uber-airconditioning, you can be nice and warm in your cardigan.  Sure, we get a lot of use out of them as separate pieces — we wear the sweater top on top of white shirts, or we wear the cardigan by itself over dresses. Still, we like to buy the set as a whole — it’s a better addition to the closet that way; it ties your wardrobe together and extends it and gives you another option for a work-appropriate outfit.  Also: great for travel.

So we were surprised at how hard it was to find a collection of twinsets for this week’s The Hunt. Furthermore, there was a huge price gap — anything that had the least bit detailing was going for $1000 plus, with everything else just being a basic. Very interesting! Please tell us in comments — do you still wear sweater sets? Would you buy them if they were easier to find in stores?

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The Hunt: Black Linen Trousers

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.

It’s disgustingly hot outside, and linen trousers can be an absolute lifesaver in this sort of heat. Khaki and white linen is festive and seasonal but, let’s face it, fraught with problems — do you really trust that you’ve found exactly the right pair of underwear to wear beneath them? Black linen pants are much less dicey, and hide wrinkles. They’re a great way to survive the summer in style.

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