The Hunt: Wool Coats

Reiss Leo Fit and Flare CoatSure, 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 have always done my winter coat shopping in January (if not later) because of all the deals that you can get. Coats in particular are generally classic pieces, and considering the amount of wear you may get from it (wearing it several days a week, for months, for several years — at least) I’ve always seen it as a justifiable “splurge” item. For today’s Hunt, I thought we’d look for wool coats that you could fit a blazer beneath. The trick here is to get something several sizes larger than what you normally get — if you’re a size 4, consider looking at 6s and 8s. Readers, have you bought any great wool coats lately? Do you wear blazers beneath your coats, or do you have another system (e.g., keeping your blazers at the office)? [Read more...]

What “Business Casual” Means for Students Who Are Networking

Shirred Side Cowlneck SweaterA lot of companies and networking groups have parties for students over the holidays — I can remember attending more than a few in my younger years.  The perennial question, as Reader N wonders:  what do you wear when it says “business casual attire”? Perhaps more importantly, what things shouldn’t you wear for winter networking events?

I’m a college student who is interested in finance, and go to a lot of information sessions for banks. The dress code is usually business casual or business attire. Other than just wearing a suit, what can be appropriate in these situations? A dress like this Metallic T-Shaped Tunic Sweater from Express (picture) or this Merona Sleeveless Empire Dress (picture) with tights and a jacket? Black slacks and a nice sweater?

This is a great question, and I want to start by saying, again, that when you’re networking — at least for a conservative job — the goal is is for your clothes to be muted enough that people remember your brains (or your words or your resume), NOT your outfit.  A few basic rules, just responding to your question: [Read more...]

Navy Skirts… and Tights?

1What color tights do you wear with a navy suit? Reader B wonders…

I’m a skirt suit kinda girl, in part because I prefer to commute in flats and then switch to heels at the office. (Since I’m short, most of my suit pants are hemmed for heels.) Winter isn’t a problem for my black and grey suits; I just trade the hose for black tights. (Side note: the Commando tights you recommended are now my absolute favorites.)

Here’s the issue: two of my favorite skirt suits are navy or navy pinstripe (similar to this J. Crew and this Banana Republic). Pairing navy tights with a navy suit seems crazy monochromatic, and most of the heather or grey tights I’ve seen feel a bit casual for the office. So I end up wearing plain old hose, and my legs freeze on the way to work.

Hmmn.  Great question — this is actually the combo that led me, many moons ago, to wear purple fishnets to work (pictured, in a random picture I happened to take that day – navy sweater, navy wool skirt, purple fishnets, purple shoes), although the last time we took a poll on fishnets at the office readers were really against ‘em.  (Although, if you want, you can get a pair of purple fishnets here, or a crochet set here.) Poking around a bit online, here are a few more ideas: [Read more...]

Staying Cool in a Hot Office

Fan, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ryk Neethling.How do you stay cool in an overheated office? Reader L — who notes that she is nowhere near “hot flash” territory — wants some advice on working with some overactive radiators:

You’ve written about staying warm in a cold office. What about staying cool in a hot office? The weather outside is frightful, but my office feeling as hot as fire is not so delightful.

Great question, and I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured.) Some tips off the top of my head:

  • Dress in layers. Obviously. You may want to particularly look into breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk (which can block cold winds outside but still be comfortable inside).

[Read more...]

The Hunt: Wool Flannel Pants

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 haven’t talked about wool trousers for years, so I thought we’d discuss winter weight wool pants. Have you bought any lately? Which brands do you love best (for warmth and fit)? Do you prefer pants with linings, or do you often wear silk long johns or a full leg shaper (e.g., Spanx) beneath, negating the importance of the lining? [Read more...]

Socks, Cold Feet, and Professional Shoes

Feet in the snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by BuzzFarmers.What shoes look professional and can be worn with socks? I keep getting questions about this, so let’s discuss. (Pictured.) First, reader J wondered:

I was wondering if you have ever covered where to find great workplace-appropriate shoes that you can wear with socks (that aren’t tall boots). The weather where I live is often cloudy and rainy so wearing shoes without socks leaves my feet cold, but I don’t want to wear boots all the time. Any suggestions? It seems like all I can find are very casual shoes or something that looks like it belongs in the men’s department.

Then, Reader L asked:

I’ve been searching your blog and others for advice about what shoes to wear to work when you have to wear socks. I mean real socks, not trouser socks. Did you already do a post about this? If not, would you consider it?

Great questions! I’m one of those people who constantly suffers from freezing feet, so here are the solutions that I’ve found in the past:

- Wear medium-height boots. Whether they’re flat-footed, wedge-heeled, or high-heeled, there are a ton of great options out there. We just did a roundup of knee-high boots, but in the past my go-to boot with pants has been the medium boot (above the ankle but below the calf) — I find the medium boot to be much more comfortable and less restrictive than the knee-high boot.  [Read more...]