Reader Mail: How to Wear Silk Scarves?

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Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf
Today’s reader mail is all about scarves… (Pictured: Tonal Hydrangea Silk Scarf, on sale at Brooks Brothers for $95.20 (was $238).)

I’ve got two silk scarves I bought because I fell in love with them, and one black tie. I never wear them, because I’ve no idea how one is supposed to wear it! Besides, can a woman in her early 20s even pull off that look without looking like an in-flight attendant? If yes, are they supposed to go on the neck under the shirt (I’ve seen that look a few times), over the shirt and under its collar? Does one knot them or just let them hang down, if one knots them – does it matter how?

We used to work with a woman who always wore the most beautiful Hermes scarves — her wardrobe was primarily black, white, and gray, and the scarves were a rich addition of colors and patterns. She had one that had elements of a beautiful, almost hot pink, and it was incredibly flattering on her, particularly so close to her face — but because it was just a scarf, and amidst other colors, no one ever would have said that the scarf was too pink or girly or feminine. We asked her about her scarves once, and she confided to us that she wore them because she found tags at the nape of her neck to be itchy. Her scarves absolutely worked for her — and although she was at a senior level, we think the fact that they worked had more to do with her body type: tall and slender. (Specifically, she would wear them with a collared jacket and collar-less sweater or tee, worn between her jacket’s collar and her tee’s collar — they were unknotted and, while we think they were generally square scarves, she wore them folded into an oblong shape.) [Read more…]

Poll: When Wearing a Collared Shirt and Blazer, Does the Collar Go Out or In?

We’ve been curious about this for a while — ever since we advised that a collared shirt should always stay IN if you’re wearing a suit, and numerous readers wrote to say that they had always been advised (by various career counselors) to wear their collars out. So we thought we’d take a poll.

collars in or out madonna-in-business-suit

For our $.02 — which purely comes from observation, as we have never heard a “rule” on it — a tucked-in collar looks better with a suit. More fashionable women tend to do it (Angelina, Madonna) when wearing a suit; and it gives them a neat, sharp look. It also puts the emphasis in the desired place, as our eyes are drawn to their face, not their clavicle or shoulders. We suppose it’s possible that there are greater rules here that we’re not aware of, for example dealing with fabric (cotton goes in, silk goes out) or the type of collar or lapel. Perhaps it’s a regional rule — e.g., in DC, collars go out with suits; in Hollywood, collars go in with suits. Either way, we thought we’d start a dialog…

Readers, what say you? Please comment, particularly if you choose #3…

What to Wear When You’re Laid Off and Looking

We’ve been mulling this reader’s question for a while now… first, here’s the request:

My work wardrobe after 30 years is pretty set. However, I’m currently in recession mode, i.e. my job has been misplaced. I find that my non-work clothes are just not suitable for walking around in the supermarket, given that in my community (high tech in Silicon Valley) I might meet someone there who would hire me. So I want to upgrade what would be my weekend wardrobe (if I were working). Can you help? I have my dilemma posted here.  I hope this doesn’t take you beyond the scope of your blog, but once we get to the executive ranks, I have found that networking etc. can extend the requirements and definition of “professional style”.

We went to her website, and this is what she wore out to drinks with former coworkers: [Read more…]

The Hunt: Appropriate Bags for Summer Associates

The Best Bags for Summer Associates | CorporetteWe got this request in from a reader, and thought we might resurrect an old feature — The Hunt — in which we look for a great basic, available now, in a variety of price points. Here’s the request:

As an incoming summer associate at a large NY firm, I’ve been wondering – what kind of bag would be appropriate? I’ve been told that Longchamp is too casual, and would be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I don’t want to break the bank before I’ve even made my first paycheck, but would like something nice and versatile that will last a long time. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

We would actually disagree with that — we think Longchamp is fine for a big tote bag. It’s functional (fits a ton of papers), is made well (is strong enough to carry a ton of papers) and — especially if you get the black on black versions available in Canada or at the physical stores in New York City, quite appropriate for work. [Read more…]

Reader Mail: Semi-Formal Attire

semi-formal-attireWe recently got this request in from a reader…

Hi. I have a question about semi-formal attire I was hoping you and/or your readers could answer. I have been invited to attend a law firm event (cocktails and dinner) in early April and the invitation says attire is semi-formal. I was hoping for your thoughts on what is and is not semi-formal and maybe two or three suggestions for dresses that would fit the bill. I am still in law school, so I’m looking for something I could wear to more than one occasion. I’m hoping to keep the price to around $100. Thanks!

Semi-formal: the bane of everyone’s existence. It isn’t formal, it isn’t cocktail, and no one knows what to wear. So… where does that leave you?

Our advice here is to go on the conservative side of cocktail. Your goal is Jackie Kennedy, not Marilyn Monroe (or, ahem, Romy and Michele). [Read more…]

What to Wear To . . . Work on the Weekend

In this feature, “What to Wear To…” we tackle attire for office events that are outside the confines of the 9-5 office day.

what to wear to work on weekendIt’s the Aughts, and Blackberries and the Internet mean most work can be done from home. Still, there are times when there’s just no way around it and you’ve got to go in. This presents a special challenge: you want to look cute, cool, hip — but you’ve also got to look professional. If the hours are long you’re going to want to be extremely comfortable. Odds are good the air conditioning will be at full blast, so you also want to be warm.

We’ve found a bunch of great jackets that have a structured look to them, yet they’re made of fleece, jersey, and other fun fabrics — they’re almost as comfortable as your old reliable sweats. With a nice (non-ripped) pair of jeans, and a cute pair of closed-toe shoes (or even nice sneakers), these can maintain your dignity, broadcast your cool, and protect your comfort.

[Read more…]