6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work

6 Things to Have on Hand When You're Sick at WorkWe all know we shouldn’t go to work when we’re sick. But whether you’re a presidential candidate or have a more typical career, most of us do it anyway. (Note: Here I’m referring to the average Corporette reader with full-time benefits; the millions of Americans without paid sick leave don’t have much choice about whether to stay home and rest.) Maybe you have a conference or special event to attend, a big scheduled presentation to give, or a meeting to lead, and you just can’t avoid being sick at work. We haven’t talked about tips for going to work while ill in quite a while, so we thought it was time to revisit. (Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this post as medical advice.)

In the past we’ve also talked about shaking hands when you’re sick, what to do when you think you’re coming down with a cold and ways to get over a coldhow to deal with many medical appointments, and how to explain an embarrassing illness.

First of all, here’s some information from an actual doctor on determining whether you’re too sick for the office. But if you need to go in no matter what, here are six things that can help you handle being sick at work (besides the age-old advice our mothers have given us since we were kids):

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Backpacks for Work

backpacks-for-workAre there any backpacks that are stylish and large enough to hold file folders, binders and more on your commute from work? Backpacks are super trendy right now, but all of the really stylish bags are far too small for file folders or work papers. I was just at an event where I saw a young lawyer carrying a large, stylish backpack and my first thought was, good for her — whether she’s biking to work, walking to work, or just watching out for back problems down the line, it’s a smart move.  Coincidentally, I also recently got a question from Reader B, who wants to start walking to work and carrying large files — so I thought we’d go on a mini-Hunt. Here’s B’s question:

I’m looking to start walking to work more as I recently bought a home which sits about a mile away from my office. However, I’m an attorney and am often carrying case files and other paperwork back and forth. Tote bags, no matter what the straps are like, begin to hurt my shoulders on this. I know a backpack would solve the problem but as a relatively young professional, I’m afraid to look like I can’t let go of my college backpack days. Is it ever acceptable to wear a backpack to the office

Interesting question, B — I’ve written before of my love of walking to work, but I’ll admit that for any real file carrying I took cabs and client-paid cars to and from the office.  A few notes on tote bags, just at the outset: first, note that a leather bag is going to be far, far heavier than a nylon tote for work — and that I always found a single shoulder strap to be more comfortable for a long schlep. (You may also want to check out our advice on how to lighten your load.) Still, if you’re already feeling pain, there are a ton of backpacks right now that distribute the weight better across your back — I’ve rounded up a few of my top picks below, ranging from $29-$550.  Readers, would you consider wearing a backpack to work? Have you bought any backpacks for work lately that you love — and what qualities make one more or less professional and stylish in your mind?

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The Hunt: Nude Flats

nude flatsSure, 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.

Almost since this blog was born, we’ve done roundups of nude-for-you heels — beige heels, brown heels, pink heels and more. But I don’t think we’ve ever done a roundup of nude flats — so I thought we’d do one today. Ladies, do you wear nude-for-you flats as often as you wear nude-for-you heels? Which outfits are your favorite to pair with nude-for-you flats? Any favorite brands of flats, either for comfort or the perfect match to your skin?  

Update: Check out three work outfit ideas with nude flats

(Psst: check out our recent roundup of comfortable ballet flats, and of course our recently updated guide to comfortable heels.)

First up, some of our “Workwear Hall of Fame” styles — these are the best sellers and classics that have been around for years:

nude flats - classic styles

Pictured: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 


Before we get into today’s recommendations, some specialty categories:

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Summer Foot Care: 10 Products To Help with Blisters, Sweat, and More

summer foot careWhile we may be happy to welcome the warmer weather, our feet might not be. To help you tackle cracked, rough heels that remain after winter; painful blisters from shoes you haven’t worn in months; sore feet from high heels; and sweaty feet, we’ve rounded up several foot care products that can help with summer foot care.

FootGloss All-Natural Foot PrepThis balm stick made from all-natural ingredients (and also made in the U.S.) is designed to prevent blisters. Just apply it to your foot where your shoes rub them, and it’ll reduce the friction that leads to blisters forming under those tight spots. FootGloss is free of fragrances, petroleum, and parabens; instead it does the job with castor seed oil, olive fruit oil, beeswax, and more. It’s available for $21.95 (for two tubes) at The Grommet and for $12 (for one o.5-oz. stick) directly from FootGloss.com. Psst: If you’re plagued with blisters from stiff, unforgiving shoes, check out our Guide to Comfortable Heels.

Band-Aid Friction Block StickHere’s another foot care product that prevents parts of your shoes from chafing and irritating your feet and creating blisters. (This one has a slightly lower price.) The main ingredient is an oil, like FootGloss — hydrogenated vegetable oil in this case — but unlike FootGloss, it’s not fragrance-free. Still, reviewers seem to like how it smells. The stick is still listed on Band-Aid’s site but is now sold out at most online sources, so you may want to buy right away — I have a feeling it’s discontinued. You can buy what looks like an older version of the product at Amazon (free shipping; not Amazon Prime) for $9.99 (.34 oz. stick), Walmart has a couple 2-packs left for $16.20, and some Target and CVS locations still have it in stock. Foot Glide and its predecessor Body Glide are similar products that are also available at Amazon.

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How to Wear Pantyhose In the Summer

How to Wear Pantyhose in the SummerWith only a few weeks to go until summer officially begins, it’s a great time to discuss how to wear pantyhose in the summer — because even if your office is freezing, your commute won’t be. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: This is very much a “know your office” situation. If you’re new, assume that pantyhose are required and wear them at least the first day and all significant events to follow after that (big meetings, court appearances, etc.) — change that assumption if you see mid-levels going barelegged at big events.

Big work events aside, though, there are some women who love pantyhose — including many Corporette readers. (In fact, last time we talked about pantyhose in the summertime, readers seemed split on the topic, with only about half of them being on Team Bare Legs!) We also had a debate on underwear with pantyhose — to wear or skip? (One reader said she thought of them “panties with legs” — an interesting take.) If you do wear underwear with them, 100% cotton is best (although increasingly hard to find!), and even those who wear pantyhose sans underwear suggested making sure your stockings have a cotton gusset. By the way, make sure to check out our Guide to Pantyhose for Work, as well as some of our favorite brands of hose!

For those of you whose office dress codes mandate pantyhose year-round, and for those who just like wearing them to work, we’ve gathered a few tips from readers on staying comfortable if you have to wear pantyhose in the summer:

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Stylish Work Sneakers For Women and Other Casual Professional Shoes

work sneakers and other casual shoes for womenWe recently got this question from a reader who’s running for judge (woot, you go!), and it raises an interesting issue of what is casual but professional footwear for women — for weekends and other outings outside the office. Can you be professional in sneakers? What are some other options besides work sneakers? We tried to talk about the casual-but-professional-uniform a few years ago, but I still feel like it’s an issue. Reader K asks:

Kat, I am a 42-year-old lawyer, mother of two, and am running for judge [locale redacted, but suffice it to say somewhere hot]. I made it through the primary and am in a runoff on May 24. There are occasions (like when I’m working the polls) that I wear my campaign t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I have worn boots with my jeans (in February), but now that it’s getting warmer, I think I need a pair of sneakers. The problem is I have running shoes, boots, flip flops, or dress shoes. Do you have any suggestions for stylish, comfy sneakers?

Congratulations, and good luck!  As to the question: very interesting.  Comfortable, stylish, but vaguely professional sneakers: I’m curious to see what readers say here. I’m a diehard Chucks girl myself — they’re classics! But aside from off-white Converse, I would worry that they show a bit too much personality — I associate black ones as being an outsider/artist/comedian kind of shoe, for some reason, and colorful ones being too young/wacky. (I currently wear gray ones on weekends, which perhaps is my way of saying “I used to feel like an outsider but now I’m a mom and have no feelings of my own.”) Instead, I might steer you toward a few other options for work sneakers and other casual-but-stylish shoes:

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