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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How to Wear Booties to the Office

how-to-wear-booties-to-the-office2017 Update: We still stand by our advice on how to wear booties to the office, but you may want to check out our recent roundup of Sleek Strappy Pumps for the Office if you are in search of other options to wear with tights.

After years of tall knee boots, I’m personally thrilled that ankle boots and booties are 100% back. I started out writing our usual Hunt feature but then realized: There are so many styles now, it’s worth discussing: How many booties/ankle boots do you have for work, ladies, and how do you wear them?

Pictured at top, clockwise: tall bootie / boot-pump / Western boot / low ankle bootie.

To my eye there are a few major styles, with distinct ways to wear them — and not all of them are for work:

how-to-wear-low-ankle-booties-to-the-office1) The low ankle bootie, such as the Petty, pictured — this looks best when worn with ankle pants or possibly wider trousers, but it can be difficult to wear with skirts and dresses unless you are very young and/or attending Coachella. Still, these have been around for years and are the most established and probably the easiest to wear to work. Examples: Sam Edelman (note these come in wide widths sizes 4-13), Vionic, BP., Dolce Vita.
how-to-wear-western-booties-to-work2) The almost Western bootie with a chunky heel, possibly with a dip in the front of the boot (such as the Margot, pictured) — wear them with ankle pants, skirts, trousers, and dresses, but note that these have a more casual connotation because of the Western vibe. Examples: Rag & Bone (buckles), Rag & Bone (sleeker, pictured), Dolce Vita ($142), and UGG.
The Best Kind of Booties to Wear to Work (and they're $99!) | Corporette3) The sleek bootie/pump, probably with a skinny (and high) heel. These come and go in terms of popularity — they were out for a while but seem to be coming back now. These are in many ways the easiest to wear because they’re just like a pump. Anything goes — wear them with pants, trousers, skirts, tights, hose, bare legs, whatever — you can even dress them up to wear with a suit. Examples: this highly-rated $99 pair from Bella Vita (pictured – note that it comes in four widths), this pair from Aquatalia, or this pair from Ecco.
perforated-booties-for-the-office4) The sandal/open bootie, often seen with perforations, a peep toe, a sling back — these are best for transitional weather, and often read to me like bulky sandals. If you can’t wear sandals to work, don’t wear these. Examples: Adam Tucker by Me Too (pictured), Frye, Isola, Free People, Vince Camuto, Paul Green.
how-to-wear-tall-booties-to-work5) The tall ankle bootie, often seen with a block heel — this is the most modern version, in my mind, and I’m still getting used to seeing it around.  I first spied it on BrainDead (this GIF is the best screenshot I can find right now), and thought to myself, well, hey, she’s supposed to be a bit of a rebel/outsider, so it’s fine — but now I’m seeing more and more of them, particularly with skirts (knee length or lower), culottes, and more, including in fun fabrics like velvet. (Nordstrom has a dazzling number of velvet booties right now, including these $89 boots.) Know your office and yourself here — if you have any doubts, I’d say it’s best to save it for the weekend right now. Examples: Vince Camuto (pictured, only $140),  Prada, TopShop ($150!), Paul Green (water resistant), Steve Madden (platform!),
clog-booties6) Weekend booties: definitely save these for the weekend, unless you work in a very creative office: moto booties, clog booties, lug soles, and anything with shearling or a harness. Pictured: the best selling clogs at Zappos from Dansko.

Ladies, what are the major types of booties in your work wardrobe — and how do you wear them to the office? 

(L-all)

The Very Best Tights for Work

the-best-tights-for-work

2017 Update: We still stand by this roundup of the best tights for work, and links have been updated below. You may also want to check out our more recent discussion of sleek, strappy heels to wear with tights to the office.

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.

As cold weather sets in, I thought we’d do a roundup of some of the best tights for work out there. Ladies, which are your favorites — which are your favorite everyday tights, your favorite superwarm tights, favorite opaque tights, and favorite shaping tights? For me, my favorites for everyday are my Spanx shaping tights, for warmth, my fleece tights from Plush, and for opacity — which is lower on the list for me than comfort and durability, but I know is key for a lot of other women — are my Commando tights. I can’t wait to hear what your favorites are!

First, some general categories — and do note that we’ve talked in the past about how to care for tights, as well as hunted for the best thigh-high stockings for work.

bestselling-tights

Above: a few Hall of Famers, pictured: one / two / three / four

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