The Next Step: Furniture

Where to Buy Grown Up Furniture | CorporetteThere was a fun discussion a while ago in the comments section — where do you go for furniture when you’re upgrading from Ikea (or otherwise buying “grown up furniture“)?  I thought it might be fun to round up the answers, and perhaps to start a series on “the next step.”  (We’ll obviously do fashion as the next one in the series — are there any other categories you would be interested in, ladies?)

Furniture is a really funny thing — it tends to stay with you for years, so hopefully you like the purchases you make. Post-school budgets don’t always allow you to buy the good stuff, though, so for me (and most of my friends) we “leveled” up after our first few years in the work place — but only if we could find something we loved.   For example: When I was setting up my first post-grad school apartment, I compromised on a blue leather sleeper couch from Ikea, thinking, hey, I need a place to sit, and I can always buy a new one in a few years.  After my husband and I got married we visited a TON of shops for new couches, prepared to spend money (he haaates the couch), but we didn’t quite find anything we loved, so we tabled the discussion… and then got pregnant.  The Ikea couch is still a big “meh” in our house, but we are thrilled that we didn’t buy a new, non-leather couch whenever my son decides to do something silly, like eat yogurt with his hands.  (Why, Jack… why?)  We did “level up” with our bedroom furniture and dining room furniture, though, after trying to read a bit about furniture shopping….  In the bedroom, my parents generously gave us a housewarming gift of a bedroom set from Homestead Furniture in Amish Country (in Ohio, my home state), and my parents-in-law graciously got us a rug when they went on vacation to Turkey.  That’s my husband pictured, clowning around with our massive mule chest).  We also eventually bought a dining room table from Jensen Lewis, as well as a rocking recliner from Best Chairs‘ Storytime Series.  Some purchases have been lucky — we’ve bought a number of rugs from online flash sale sites like Hautelook, Rue La La, and One Kings’ Lane, which have all turned out fine for the quality we need right now (see above re: Mr. Yogurt Hands).  We have unfortunately made a few purchases I regret, including a china hutch and credenza from a mass market store — they were floor models so were already dinged when we got them, and the little details bug me, like drawers that don’t extend all the way (and break easily).   Otherwise… my son is still using my old Ikea bedroom furniture (that stuff holds up, I will say that!), most of our lamps are still from JC Penney (I forget how I found their lighting department, but I generally like the stuff we’ve gotten, including the huge hanging lamp we have over the dining table), and, well, the couch is still the couch.  Readers, when did you buy nice furniture?  What stores did you go to when you decided to “level up”?  Has anyone made special trips, such as to North Carolina, for furniture?

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Guest Post: From Growing Up Poor to Working in Big Law

Growing Up Poor | CorporetteHow does your background — like growing up poor — affect your life in Big Law or other conservative jobs? After all, Big Law (and other Big jobs) can be interesting places, full of strange traditions, big personalities, and a lot of assumptions — that everyone knows what to wear yachting or for a golf scramble, for example. Today, I’m happy to welcome back Ruth Moore*, a lawyer turned actress (who’s currently a recurring character in a TV series) with some deep thoughts on how growing up poor affected her legal career. Ruth has guest posted before, with a Tales From the Wallet post about how to break free from golden handcuffs (and get used to paying tuition again). Welcome back, Ruth! – Kat.

This post came about because I was telling Kat about how I’d always been curious which of my Big Law colleagues had also grown up below the poverty line. I have this theory that there were certain habits and ways of thinking from growing up poor that stuck with me as a young adult, when I suddenly went up a couple of rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Some of those habits were sartorial. For example, even though I was earning a lot of money, I was still very cheap with myself, especially in the beginning. I distinctly remember buying a pair of jeans from H&M for $39.99 and thinking, “Wow, I’m buying forty-dollar jeans at full price, I really made it!” For work clothes, I splurged on two skirts and three shirts (deeply discounted) from a chain that represented, to me, the height of luxury: The United Colors of Benetton. Dry cleaning seemed too frivolous so I’d just wash them by hand. I wore my Aldo heels with the same pride with which my officemate wore her Louboutins. I didn’t get a professional haircut until my fourth year as a lawyer, opting to trim it myself instead. It’s kind of a miracle that no one reported me to “What Not to Wear.” (Pictured: Money, originally uploaded to Flickr by loopoboy 2.0.)

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Beauty Wednesday: Hair Masks

The Best Hair Masks | CorporetteAs the weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer, I thought now might be a great time to talk about hair masks. I really got into them while pregnant with Harry — my skin was super dry, and my hair seemed to be too — so these are all ones that I’ve bought and tried myself.  (In case it matters, I tend to have fairly fine hair, but a ton of it — and it’s getting curlier each year.  It also gets more dry each year, also — handy for making a blowout last for days.)

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Where To Start When You Need Style Inspiration

Online Stylists and Inspiration | CorporetteWhere should you start when you need style inspiration? Are online stylists all out of your budget?  Reader M has a great question:

I am a 48 yr. young corporate professional / entrepreneur /contractor looking for professional, age appropriate looks. Can you suggest a website that can guide my “lack of style” sense to better purchases within a reasonable budget, too? I really need a stylist but the internet is my next best option. I tend to like www.marieforleo.com and www.giulianarancic.com clothing but I am a size 16 (working on this part) and 5′ 3′ (wish it could change :) … two big issues… and oh yea, no heels for me. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. I would love to find the info I seek here.

Great question, M! We’ve talked about some of the best personal style blogs before, as well as personal shoppers, but we’ve never quite done a post on stylists, or where to start for style inspiration.  (M, you may also want to check out our post on how to look professional in flats when that’s all you wear.)  I’m curious to hear what readers say!  A few notes:

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Guest Post: Online Dating for Professional Women

Online Dating for Professional Women | CorporetteOnline dating is something we’ve discussed from time to time on Corporette, such as when we asked you for your favorite online dating sites for smart chicks, as well as discussing how to find time to date when you’re busy, when to break it off, how to date a busy guy, and how to date a guy with more time (or less money) than you. I’ve been off the market for a while, so I asked reader Kryss Shane to guest post — she is a dual licensed psychotherapist who also does life coaching, and offers private Skype sessions for self-pay clients.  Welcome to the blog, Kryss!

As Kat tells me, when she was last single, there were a few main online dating sites for smart women, each known for their own crowd (one full of Christians, one just for those wanting to hook up, etc.).

A lot has changed since then. Now the web gives us some generalized dating sites (OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Match.com, etc.) as well as options for those who are seeking a partner with shared religious beliefs (JDate, ChristianMingle) or for those in a specific demographic (OurTime, for people over 50; BlackPeopleMeet; InterracialMatch). There are sites for cougars, for those looking to date a prison inmate, for wine drinkers, and animal lovers. There are sites for fetishes, for preferences, for moods, for just one night, and for those looking for forever. Add in the apps for your cell (Tinder, Grindr, etc.) and it can certainly feel overwhelming!

For professional women, dating can already be tricky enough; some are turned on by our power, others feel competitive or resentful of it. We question whether to add our job titles to our profiles, we debate whether our photos should indicate what we do, we wonder if someone who looks but doesn’t message was turned off by our professional status. In short, we’re women who live in a society that teaches us in so many ways that we are doing what we shouldn’t: being self-sufficient, educated women.

Rather than attempting to break down the pros/cons for each of the major dating sites, let’s focus on the shared goal of trying to find the right match(es). With hundreds of thousands of people on these sites, how can a person with limited time properly narrow down the options? (Pictured: Schattenpaar, originally uploaded to Flickr by Benni.)

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Tales from the Wallet: Wedding Finances

Money Milestones: How Your Wedding Affects Your Finances | CorporetteWhat are the financial implications of getting married — and how does your wedding budget affect your overall financial health? What other major milestones affect your financial health?  I’ve often read that how you handle a few major milestones in your life — wedding!  grad school!  baby!  buying a house!  divorce!  retirement! — can have a significant impact on your overall financial health.  So I thought we’d start a series on Money Milestones.  (We’ve already talked about how where you live affects your finances, as well as what a general money roadmap, through life, should look like.)

First up:  the financial implications of getting married.  The question to everyone who’s been through this: what choices did you make that affected finances? What would your advice be to someone just going through it (either for the first time or again)? To those of you who decided NOT to get married because of the financial implications — please share some of your thoughts with us!

For my $.02, these are my best tips:

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