The Hunt: Strappy Pumps

The Best Strappy Pumps | CorporetteSure, 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 the weather turns/stays nasty, I’m often reminded of a trick I’ve employed for years: wearing a skirt and tights to work with commuting boots (either snow boots or rain boots — I’ve always preferred a skirt in truly nasty weather since my pants seemed to always get yucky from the knee down) — and then switching into regular heels at the office.  Personally, I vastly prefer strappy pumps for wear with tights — styles such as the Mary Jane, a T-strap, and ankle strap have always been much more comfortable.  We haven’t rounded up strappy pumps in a while, so I thought I’d hunt down a few.  (Check out our roundup of strappy flats as well as regular pumps if you’re on the hunt for those.) Readers, do you share my preference for strappy pumps with tights?  Have you bought any great strappy heels lately?

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How to Buy a Great Winter Coat

How to Buy a Great Winter Coat | CorporetteHow can you find a great winter coat? Reader M asked us to “share some guidance and advice…”

I’m curious to hear what the readers say here, because despite a lot of poking around online, I haven’t found a lot of other articles talking about this.  Here’s what I know:

  • I read somewhere once that a wool/cashmere blend is better than a 100% cashmere coat — after looking at this Ask Men article it looks like it may be because cashmere is such a delicate fabric, which makes sense.
  • I’m still largely against down for the office, but at this point I think that’s my own issue, perhaps caused by memories of Kathleen Turner’s puffer coat in Romancing the Stone — the look is hugely popular.  Land’s End notes that down is technically the warmest insulator.
  • As noted at Style Bakery, J.Crew and Delia’s offer coats lined with insulation like Thinsulate.
  • As someone who went to college on Lake Michigan (where they sent around a shuttle for us to get to class when it hit 20 below with the windchill), the wind is often what gets you more than the “cold” — and underlayers (such as silk long johns) can be almost more important than the coat itself
  • I don’t care if it’s a medical myth that 80% of your body heat escapes through your head — I still recommend wearing a hat when it gets cold outside.
  • I’m a total wimp, but I wear gloves the second it’s vaguely acceptable — when I go for a run or a walk I’ll often be in a t-shirt and gloves.  Yes it looks dumb, but I hate hangnails, raggedy cuticles, and other dry-winter-hand problems.
  • In terms of style, as the WSJ advises, bear in mind where most of your skirts and pants hit you; I have also made the argument that a winter coat should be big enough to fit a suit blazer (or very thick sweater) beneath, comfortably. (So watch out in July when you find that amazing coat that fits you like a glove… with bare arms.)

Finally, for my $.02, consider your coat an investment, and spend accordingly — I’d rather have one $800 coat that lasts me five years, rather than eight $100 coats that last me a year each.  (PARTICULARLY considering that it’s not uncommon, at all, to find $1000 Cinzia Rocca coats or $800+ Brooks Brothers coats on great sales, bringing prices down to $250 or less (at BB, there was one around this time last year, and I’m stalking the website again.)  This view is also formed by NYC practicalities, where closet space is limited so it doesn’t make SENSE to have eight winter coats.

I’m curious, though, readers — what rules of thumb do you follow when you’re hunting for a new winter coat? How long do you expect a winter coat to last?  What is your ideal style of coat, if you could only buy one?

(Pictured above: Cinzia Rocca Due Stand Collar Wool Blend Coat, on a baby sale at Nordstrom for 25% off.)

Rainboots — for Summer?

Rainboots for Summer? | CorporetteWhat do you wear to keep your feet dry during summer showers? Do summer rainboots exist? Reader P wonders.

A shoe question for you – what are the best shoes to wear when commuting in hot summer rain? I usually wear my tall Hunter rainboots fall through spring, but they’re way too hot for muggy +80 degree summers. Are plastic flip flops okay? They seem most functional, but I feel so weird wearing them with a suit or work dress. Is there something in between?

I’m curious to hear what the readers say here. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I hate having wet feet — here in New York you can easily and unexpectedly wade into a puddle (including in a covered place, like the subway) that’s half a foot deep, if not more. I’m a huge fan of my Hunter rainboots for cooler months (pictured), and honestly I still pull out my rainboots if the weather is at all cool (up to 75 degrees or so, probably), but with kneesocks instead of tights.  I don’t have them, but these “topless” knee socks from Spanx look perfect for wearing boots with bare legs — they’re thin, and leave no elastic mark beneath your knee.

Summer rainshowers are different, though — no one wants to wear a pair of knee-high plastic boots when it’s 95 degrees. My usual commuting shoe, the flip flop (I hate to admit that!) is also unsuitable for wet weather, in my experience — the footbed of the shoe always seems to get too slippery for me in the rain, and the last thing I want when it’s pouring is to go go slowly and carefully. So my usual go-to outfit is: [Read more...]

Open Thread: The Best Products for Summer

silver-liningsIt’s May 1, and here in NYC the sun is shining, things are in bloom, and it seems as if Bare Leg/Flip Flop Commuting Weather has finally arrived.  (Of course, we all know that you’re not supposed to walk for miles in flip flops, but everyone here does anyway.)  I was thinking it might be fun to have a conversation of some of the best products you’ve bought that can help working women through the summer and changing seasons.  Some ideas:

  • Silver Linings, which are shoe inserts with antimicrobial silver ions to help de-funk your shoes (or keep them from smelling in the first place)
  • Zakkerz, which help you temporarily hem your pants with magnets
  • Sunscreen in a brush — I haven’t tried this yet, but I just ordered some for my son (Tickle Time) and noticed while researching it that bareMinerals makes some as well.  Given that I hate the greasy feel of sunscreen on my face, I’m looking forward to seeing how this works.
  • A wrap.  I’ve sung the praises of your basic wrap before, but I think they’re particularly great for the office at this time of year.  A) If you’ve layered a blazer on top of a dress or lightweight top and are still freezing, you can add a wrap on top of the blazer.  B) You can use it to cover your legs if you’re freezing in a skirt.  C) Add length/coverage to your skirts while you’re sitting (I explain this more fully here).

Readers, which are some of the products you count among your best summer finds? 

Makeup For Biking to Work

makeup for biking to workWhich makeup is best for a biking commute, or another commute where you expect sweat and possibly wind? Reader K wonders…

Being lucky enough to live only four miles from my office, I’m wanting to start taking a bike to and from work every day for personal fitness, sustainability, and savings on gas and vehicle wear-and-tear. The difficulty is with wardrobe and makeup. Specifically, making sure I don’t look like a war zone every day. I have a feeling this is an issue for women in very urban environments as well, where walking and subway commutes can be the transportation method of choice. Since I’m in Texas heat is the biggest issue, but I’d also be interested in any ideas for dealing with the cold, wind, and other factors. What are some ideas for making sure I don’t look like a hot mess at work after biking in?

Great question. Biking to work (or walking!) are solid ways to sneak more exercise into a busy life — I actually really miss the time I used to spend walking to and from work. We’ve talked about the best bags for commuting, how to cool down quickly after a hot commute, and how to keep your regular bra sweat-free.  We’ve had guest posters share their love of wedges for walk-to-work heels, and I’ve shared my own trick — getting a pair of comfortable/stable “commuting shoes” that were the same height as my regular pumps (so I didn’t have to hem my pants differently), but maybe a bit uglier than what I’d otherwise wear around the office; I’ve also talked about how I’ve logged way too many miles in Reef/Teva flipflops with arch support (not recommended).  But we haven’t talked about which makeup is best for a possibly sweaty/windswept commute. [Read more...]

Short-Sleeved Suits: Yea or Nay?

short-sleeved suitAre short-sleeved suits appropriate for young women in professional jobs — or are they horribly frumpy and tacky? Reader C wonders.

What are your thoughts on short-sleeved suits? Appropriate or tacky? To provide some context, I am an attorney in my late 20s in Kansas City, and I work for a non-profit which is generally business casual, erring on the side of casual. I also never have to appear in court. I’m looking for a summer suit for any big meetings and/or conferences that may pop up, and last summer it was blazing hot for months. Is a short-sleeved suit (probably khaki, white, or navy) ever appropriate in these settings? Or would I just look like an idiot? If I get one, I’d make sure it was fairly plain styling. If not short-sleeved, does 3/4 length work as a compromise? I am lacking in work attire role models in my office so advice would be much appreciated!

Difficult question.  My gut reaction here is: when you say “short sleeved suit,” I think of something like the picture above — horribly frumpy.  But that said, I have recommended short-sleeved suits at least four times here on Corporette (pictured below): [Read more...]