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How to Use a Personal Assistant

Have you ever wished you could offload some of your life to someone else, whether it’s household chores, online research, or other drudgery, but have been unsure how to start? We recently got a reader question wondering how to use a personal assistant (and how to find a good personal assistant!), so let’s discuss. Here’s the question from Reader S:

Life and work are busy and I find it difficult to “get it all done.” I hear it’s possible to hire a personal assistant whom you can ask to research/compare homeowners insurance options, be there when the cable guy comes to install, so on. I found a blog that makes a compelling argument that this is not only a time AND money saver, but it doesn’t tell me HOW to find an experienced PA. Plus, how do you learn to delegate in a way that doesn’t take more time than just doing it yourself? Thanks!

GREAT question, S — so let’s discuss. (Pictured: Daddy Warbucks’ assistant extraordinaire, Grace Farrell, getting it all done in one of my favorite childhood movies, Annie.) We’ve talked about what to delegate to an assistant before, as well as talked about the kinds of things you can outsource to a virtual assistant through Fiverr or a U.S.-based virtual assistant service like Fancy Hands or Task Bullet — over at CorporetteMoms we also talked a bit about working with a personal assistant (in a “how to throw money at the work/life balance problem” kind of discussion). If you’re leaning towards trying a virtual assistant, you may also want to read this classic Esquire piece (reprinted in The Four Hour Workweek and now on Tim Ferriss’ site); this post on how to hire a virtual assistant also looks great.

But sometimes, virtual help just isn’t enough — so let’s discuss how to use an in-person personal assistant. A friend of mine, C, actually used to be a personal assistant to a wealthy businessman, so I reached out to her to ask her thoughts on both HOW to find a personal assistant, and how to USE a personal assistant.

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Tuesday’s Workwear Report: Half-Sleeve Fit-and-Flare Dress

Our daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices. 

This really cute dress from Lafayette 148 New York comes in a number of colors, although the “delft,” a sort of navy gray, has the most sizes left. It’s a flattering, easy-to-wear, fit-and-flare dress that’s also very elegant and sophisticated, and I like the bias seams and hidden back zip. The price range for various options at Neiman Marcus is $174-$328: lucky sizes for $174 here, and a sleeveless lucky size version for $191 in the lighter blue. Also, check this out at NM Last Call for $134. Half-Sleeve Fit-and-Flare Dress

Here’s a plus-size option, also from Lafayette 148 New York (on sale at Bloomingdale’s).

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Coffee Break: Pyramid Spike Y-Necklace

If you’re looking for a long but delicate necklace to wear with tops, do consider this pretty “spike” necklace — not only is it only $38, but it’s got a number of positive reviews about how easy it is to wear at Nordstrom, and at BaubleBar they’ve declared it a “BB Essental.” Sadly, it only comes in goldtone (sad trombone from the chick who’s still a little obsessed with rose gold). Pyramid Spike’ Y-Necklace

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Opaque White T-Shirts for Work

Opaque White T-Shirts for Work | CorporetteOne of the questions I often see readers asking and discussing is the hunt for the best opaque white t-shirts — and really, why is it so hard to find a t-shirt that isn’t see-through? I thought I’d round up some of the best suggestions I’ve seen over the years…

First, what to wear with opaque white t-shirts for work: I definitely recommend wearing a nude-for-you t-shirt bra (Naja is the brand with the most skin-colored shades I’ve seen; Nubian Skin also has three shades for darker skin tones); if you need to layer a camisole I’d probably go for a shade that best matches your skintone in a slightly silky fabric so it doesn’t cling to your t-shirt. (I can only find beige camisoles to recommend — if anyone has any favorite camisoles in a range of skin tones, please let us know.)

Pictured, clockwise from V-neck in top left corner: one / two / three / four

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Opaque White Tees in Regular, Petite, and Plus Sizes:

There are so many options in this range, I’ll split the post by putting shirts that only come in “misses” sizes at the bottom of the post; everything listed in this top section comes in a wide range of sizes.

  • Talbots’ Platinum Jersey line — because they’re double-lined in the front (but not the back), this may be a great option if you plan to wear it with a cardigan or blazer — but not so great if you want to wear it by itself. Right now it looks like they only have longer-sleeved versions. Readers also swear by their Pima cotton line (a common thread throughout a lot of these suggestions!).
  • LL Bean has always been mentioned by the readers, noting that they’re not fancy but last and last and are very opaque. This elbow-sleeve one or this envelope-neck version looks like they might be nice enough to wear by themselves at work, but they also may be on the “frumpy” side of the spectrum. This is their more casual plain Pima Cotton shaped version; in general I’d stick with the Pima Cotton versions (reviewers of the more stylish West End shirts note that the white tee was see-through).
  • On the super-affordable end of things, readers have sung the praises of Kohls’ Croft & Barrow Essential tee line — but do note that reviewers seem split on whether it’s see through or not.  They’re on sale for $7.99 today, though, so the price is definitely right.

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Splurge Monday’s Workwear Report: Bianca Blouse

This is my first time noticing this blouse, but it must be one of L’Agence’s stalwarts because, upon search, it turns up in a ZILLION different colors, some on sale for as low as $149 (but in mostly lucky sizes only). For sale versions, check Barney’s Warehouse, The Outnet, Saks OFF5TH — and for full-price options in more sizes and colors, check Nordstrom, Barneys, Net-a-Porter, and a TON of other stores. The pictured black blouse is full price at $325. Bianca Blouse

Two plus-size options are here and here, both at Nordstrom.

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Weekend Open Thread

Something on your mind? Chat about it here. 

It feels like it should be spring, and it should be warm, and so if you’re a bit bummed that you can’t wear slinkier tops for going out this weekend, and if you don’t even want to think about cold shoulder tops, this kind of cutout seems like a fun, edgy way too do a casual look. I wouldn’t wear the cutout to the office, but I would possibly wear the blouse underneath a blazer or cardigan and then when I’m heading out Friday or Saturday — desk-to-dinner kind of dressing — take off the top layer. It’s only $69 and comes in sizes XXS-XL. Cutout Surplice Top

Here are two similar options in plus sizes.

Psst: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Be safe out there tonight if you’re planning on drinking a lot (and of course, go for extra moisturizer afterwards, like readers recommended on Tuesday’s discussion of the best makeup products to fake a good night’s sleep.)

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