Sponsored: MM.LaFleur Delivers Polished, Professional Looks to Your Door

MMLafleur ReviewThis is a sponsored post, but I really am delighted to tell you about my experience with MM.LaFleur. I’m impressed with their well-made, beautiful clothes, and I thought the Bento Box experience — where a stylist chooses and sends you a box of clothes to try on at home, for free — was smooth as well as fun.

But first, let’s back up: here’s what I knew about MM.LaFleur coming into this. There is some serious fashion and workwear cred behind the brand, which was founded by two ex-management consultants, Sarah LaFleur and Narie Foster, along with their head designer, Miyako Nakamura, formerly of Zac Posen and Jason Wu. Their mission: to take the work out of dressing for work.  They make luxurious clothes with fabrics imported from Italy and Japan, ethically made (mostly) in NYC. Plus, a lot of it is machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant, and that’s made clear right on the shopping pages (not just the product pages!), which I really like.

washable-workwear

mmfleur-bentoThe Bento Box: While you can shop their online store yourself, they’ve recently started offering a “bento box” — you fill out a quick style survey, and then (based on your preferences and needs), you’re sent a box of hand-picked, office-ready looks. You keep what you love and send back the rest.

My Experience: I filled out a quick survey online, and got a box of hand-picked items the next day in the mail. It was reminiscent of a bento box, with fun compartments (including one with a lovely red notebook — mine to keep — emblazoned with “Luck Favors the Brave”). My box contained several dresses (most below: Etsuko, Felisa, Toi, and Lydia), the Tribeca Skirt, the Angelique sweater, a silk scarf, and a luxe-feeling belt (Greenwich Avenue). I loved almost everything — the only miss for me was the skirt, which fit too long for my taste. I was really impressed with everything they sent — the fabrics felt lovely and had the right amount of stretch, the fit was great, and the construction was solid. There were no obvious workwear gaffes like a super deep V, high slits, or things like that, and instead there were intelligent details like pockets and washable fabrics.

A closer look at some of my favorites: [Read more…]

Brrr: Staying Warm in a Freezing Office

freezing-office-2How should you dress this winter when your office is freezing cold and your trusty back-of-the-chair cardigan just won’t cut it? What are the best ways to keep warm while still looking professional?

Reader J wonders:

My office is freezing cold in the winter — some of the assistants and paralegals keep huge blankets in their office spaces and wrap up in them, or alternatively wear Northface jackets around. As an associate, I can’t get away with cuddling up in a warm blanket or wearing my Northface — it doesn’t exactly scream competent and professional. Do you have any recommendations for sweaters or wraps that look professional but are also very warm?

We talked about how to stay warm in a freezing office a looong time ago (and, more recently, staying warm with office A/C), but now is a great time to readdress it. While gloves, space heaters, and wraps-as-lap-blankets can help when you’re in your office, here are some thoughts for people who are moving around a lot (e.g., during meetings) during the day, or those who just don’t have the option to wear gloves or sneak in a space heater:

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The Next Step: Services

upgrading-personal-servicesWhat are the best ways to upgrade personal services such as massages, food delivery, personal training, and more? More importantly, where is the middle ground between DIYing it and, for example, hiring a personal chef? How can you outsource and save time in some areas of your life so that you can focus on spending your time (and money) on the things you enjoy the most?

We’ve already talked about a bunch of stuff in our Next Step series: how to step up your workwear, upgrade your handbags, graduate from IKEA furniture, and buy better shoes — but something else that I thought might be interesting to talk about is services. I came up with a few ideas for areas such as massage, food, exercise, hair/beauty, and home decor/organization — what other services do you think are upgradeable? What other “middle ground” approaches do you know of?

Note: These generally go in order of money required for each level (i.e., Level 1 can be done with little to no money), but obviously other factors come into play here such as time, energy, and desire. Of course, if you’re really into a certain category, you may want to do ALL the levels, all the time (money permitting); you may also want to pursue it further as a hobby or even a future career. Where possible I’ve tried to include thoughts for that as well.

These were my ideas for each category:

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What to Wear to a “Resort Casual” Business Event in Florida?

resort-business-casualWhat do you wear to an event that calls for “resort casual” business clothing? (Or: what do you wear for business at the beach?)  Key factors: You already look young for your age, you’re at least 20 years younger than any of your colleagues, and you’ll be meeting some of them for the first time. Oh, also: The meeting is in Florida, so to complicate matters further, you’ll probably encounter heat and high humidity outside and frigid air conditioning inside. Reader C wonders:

Can you help me with suggestions on “resort casual attire” for a marketing meeting in Florida? I’ve been on my traveling/remote team for 1.5 years but have yet to meet some of the team. I am not only a young looking 28-year-old but my entire team’s junior by 20-25 years. My first thought when we say “resort casual” is maxi skirts and tropical dresses which doesn’t exactly scream take-me-seriously. I have a few thoughts on do’s and dont’s and was wondering if you had any guidance or additional thoughts. Thank you for any help!

Do’s: Ankle length slacks, flow-y top, colorful scarfs, knit pencil skirts, flats, cardigans
Dont’s: Sandals, maxi skirts/dresses, tank tops, pumps, blazers, tights
On the fence: Jeans, white pants, wedges

Reader M has as similar question, although this one involves a party that’s part of a trade show:

Hi! I live in Roanoke, VA, and am attending a Vendor Show in Orlando, FL, next week. The second day of the show, there will be a “Dinner & Beach Bash.” What should I wear?

We talked about a slightly different dress code, “resort chic” (who makes these things up, anyway?) a few years ago, and also what to wear to an office pool party (cringe), but not this exactly. [Read more…]

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

giftguide-stocking-stufferCall me crazy, but I always like to do stocking stuffers as thoughtful little presents that may be everyday, almost boring things — but done better. For today, I’ve rounded up some small gifts that definitely fit that description.

Our previous gift guides are linked below — note that each one has a Pinterest board that is still being updated as we find more good stuff:

 

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Long Flights: How to Look Professional But Be Comfortable

dressing for long flightYou want to look professional during a long flight with colleagues, but you’re understandably not too eager to wear a suit for several hours of waking, sleeping, and eating. So, with your trusty flight outfit of a fleece + yoga pants staying in the closet at home, what can you choose that will be comfortable but still appropriate if you end up sitting next to your boss? We’ve talked about traveling internationally in comfort and style, what to pack for an extended business trip, and traveling with coworkers, but not this exactly. Reader N wonders:

Could you do a post on comfortable, but professional attire for international or long flights? I have an upcoming business trip where my boss and two colleagues will be on a long flight with me. I want to look presentable but still be comfortable for the long flight. Thanks!

I can see this being a concern not only in this situation (traveling directly with coworkers) but in a situation I’ve been in, where there’s a conference that almost everyone in your industry attends, so even if you’re not traveling with direct coworkers, you end up seeing a million colleagues all over the airport, on flights, and via other travel hubs. A lot of sites have comfy-looking, wrinkle-free travel clothes (we just featured a washable top from Chadwicks’s line on CorporetteMoms’ Washable Wednesday) — but what is the chic alternative to the flowy pants-with-matching-loose-jacket look?  A few thoughts:

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