Open Thread: Best Pumping Attire for Working Moms

The Best Pumping Clothes for Work | Corporette What ARE the best clothes for pumping breastmilk at the office? This is a question I get asked so often, I thought we’d have a discussion about it.  (We have talked about it once before, from guest poster Jenny Hamilton, who had some great general advice, as well as advice on how to travel for business while pumping.) Here’s the latest question, from reader K:

Here’s my dilemma, I’m headed out for maternity leave in a month or so and am looking for professional clothes that are nursing / pumping friendly. I don’t want to break the bank, but most of what I’ve found so far is either cheap looking or totally inappropriate. I don’t need to “show off my new assets” at work. I just need to be able to look professional and pulled together, and pump without having to strip all the way down. Any guidance would be appreciated.

Congratulations on your baby! The current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggest that mothers nurse their children for the first year of their life (recommending that babies exclusively eat breastmilk for the first 6 months). I’ll say up front that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with formula if that’s what you choose to do. (I’ll also note: it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You can nurse her for 3 months, then just nurse morning and night with your child and give her formula in the middle of the day, skipping the pump entirely.) But: working moms who pump — you guys are rockstars in my book. I’m always inspired by commenters who talk about having pumped for long periods of time (I think one commenter was recently celebrating an end to four years of pumping!) Even in a perfect world, it takes dedication and drive to pump regularly — but I’ve also heard war stories from friends, about trekking to windowless closets with pumping equipment, about enduring funny looks and having to explain their various funnels and contraptions when they rinsed them off in the ladies’ room. It ain’t easy.

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What to Wear to the Office Pool Party…

office pool partyCan you wear a bikini to an office function? Are women really “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” when it comes to office pool parties? Reader B wonders…

My office is planning a couple “beach days” or “boat days” this summer. This will be primarily coworkers, but families may be invited to 1-2. I am the youngest person in my office by about 10 years and also one of very few females in my male-dominated company. We are a casual to business casual office normally.

What does one wear to something like this? I don’t want to wear something my coworkers will be chatting about Monday, but my typical beach/swimwear (bikini + straw hat + little coverup dress) seems like it would perhaps be too risque for an office party?

After I sent her the post and discussion from the last time we talked about what kind of swimsuit to wear for an office function, B wrote back:

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What to Wear to a Company Picnic

What do you wear to attend a company picnic and watch a baseball game — particularly when this will be one of the first impressions you make? Reader E wonders…

I finally have a unique fashion dilemma that I need help on. After working as a government attorney for several years, I have landed a job at a biglaw firm starting in the fall. I have been invited this summer to the firm’s trip to watch a baseball game and the picnic beforehand. It’s a family event to which SO’s and children are invited, and it’s on a Friday right after work. My dilemma–what to wear?? This will be the first time I meet many of the attorneys and support staff, so of course I want to make a good impression. Are jeans appropriate? Khakis? Do I need to wear team colors/jersey? Ack! (Also, I wouldn’t mind any tips on socializing at this type of event–I’ve never been to one and my SO can’t attend, so I’m really nervous about showing up alone and meeting people for the first time!) Thanks for any advice you have on this!

Ugh. I know firms think these things are fun, but the sartorial conundrum never is. Honestly, I would suggest calling the Hiring Department and asking them what people have worn to the event in the past. (In general, ladies, this is ALWAYS the right answer — call the HR department.) If they give you a vague answer (“oh, you know, pants or a dress”), I would ask what the men wear — if they’re still in suits from a day at the office (perhaps sans tie, or with shirt sleeves rolled up), I’d go for something more formal, like a sheath dress.  If they’re in shorts, polos, and sneakers (or team jerseys), welcome to Situation Casual — and perhaps consider jeans. [Read more…]

What to Wear to Officiate A Wedding

Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique Ruched Faux Wrap DressWhat should one wear if you’re officiating a wedding? Reader W has a unique question, so I thought I’d tackle (even if it is a bit farther than our usual topics)…

I suppose because I’m an attorney and all-around upstanding citizen, I’ve been asked to officiate the wedding of a very good friend this summer! I’ve actually performed one wedding already and I wore a somber black suit that was appropriate for the occasion. However, this time around the wedding and reception will be held during the day at a Northeast yacht club in July (meaning WARM) and the dress code is more of a summery semi-formal. Probably not a black wool suit occasion! I was hoping for your advice on what would be appropriate dress. Naturally, I’ve asked the bride what she thinks and was no help at all (“Wear whatever you want!”), but I still want to be respectful of the bride with NO possibility of upstaging/distracting and taking into consideration I will be feature in the ceremony photos. My initial thoughts are no wacky colors, sleeves or a blazer which can be removed after the ceremony, and minimal accessories. Does this mean I should wear a shapeless beige sack? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

First, congratulations; I think that’s quite an honor. I might first ask what the wedding colors are, and if the bride wants you to work within those parameters. Here are my tips:

1) Wear black. Here in NYC, most women wear black for everything, including weddings, but I know in other parts of the country it’s poor form to wear a black dress to a wedding.  I’d talk to the bride about it if you feel uncomfortable — considering that the groom and his men will likely be in black tuxes, it will be a nice visual for all the pictures. [Read more…]

Looking Professional, In the Factory

Reader D has a unique question: what to wear in the field?  More specifically, to visit a factory (and ride in her client’s plane!)

I am going on a site visit to a factory near Seattle.  The visit includes riding in a small plane and then visiting a large factory so I will need to be casual, wear flat comfortable shoes, yet still look professional.  Any advice?  Although I am a senior associate I will be the sole representative for my client and want to make sure I come off as professional as possible.

Congratulations on the opportunity — it sounds fun (riding in a private plane is on my Bucket List) and like a good career opportunity. As far as fashion goes, I think my answer depends on one question: can you wear denim around your client? If so, I think a pair of dark (preferably black) jeggings skinny jeans, tucked into flat boots, topped with a button-front and blazer, and accessorized with your normal work jewelry, would probably be my best guess for an outfit. (Update:  There’s a lot of disagreement with me in the comments, which is fine, but just to be clear: when I say “jeggings” — I mean skinny  jeans that have a bit of extra Spandex in them to make them more comfortable, but are still primarily denim.  E.g., these, these, or these. Not these.)  Here’s my thinking:

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What to Wear to Workout – In Front of Coworkers

what to work out in in front of coworkersReader M has an interesting question that brings us back to that old classic: what do you wear to workout or exercise in front of coworkers?

I am an articling student at a mid sized law firm and I have a “law day fun run” coming up, hosted by the law society. It just occurred to me that my running outfit (mini skort and a skin tight tank top) might not send the right impression even though it’s what I actually wear when I go running. I have seen male lawyers biking and running in skintight and/or revealing outfits before but I am not sure if I can get away with that as a female lawyer.

What should I wear?

I offered my advice on what to wear to the corporate gym way way back in 2008, and I’m curious to hear what readers today have to say about it. More and more companies are offering on-premises gyms for their staffers’ use, and even if they don’t, many people go to the gyms located near the office, where odds are high that you’ll see coworkers. (Pictured: Printed Chase Skort, available at Athleta for $54.) [Read more…]