How to Wear Flats in the Winter

How to Wear Flats in Winter | CorporetteIn cold weather, what are the best ways to wear flats to work? With socks? Tights? Reader E wonders…

Could you recommend some ways to style flats for the winter? In years past I have worn skirts and opaque tights with pumps or booties in cold weather (I don’t live in a particularly cold climate), but earlier this year I decided to give up on heels altogether because of some foot problems I’ve been having. I’m happy with my flats for summer looks, but ballet flats just look so odd with tights to me. I’m hoping for some better style ideas! What flat shoes work best for winter looks? Thanks!

Great question, Reader E — and even though it still feels kind of warm outside, the cold will be upon us in no time. (Winter is coming!) We’ve talked about wearing flats all the time, as well as interviewing in flats, but not in a while. Obviously you can just wear flats where you would have worn pumps, but if you can’t walk in flats with tights (I can’t!), or if you feel like something is off with the silhouette, then we need to dive a bit deeper.  I’m curious to hear what readers think, but here are some of my thoughts:

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Shopping Category Killers

shopping-category-killersHave you ever bought an item so perfect that you just don’t need to shop for anything similar any more?  As in, the whole shopping category is just no longer one of your concerns? Did you KNOW it would be a shopping category killer when you bought it (i.e., the clouds parted, trumpets rang out, etc.) — or was it just something you fell in love with more and more as you had it?

In my own wardrobe, for example, I’ve seen it happen mainly with accessories:

  •  My dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring:  every time I see something similar I think, nah, if I’m looking for something sparkly and fun, why would I wear anything but my dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring? (I discussed both in my post on the best splurges I’ve made on products.)
  • A heavy black wool wrap from Henri Bendel:  this one I didn’t even like that much when I bought it, because super lightweight pashminas were very in at the time.  I needed it for something specific, though, and it was on sale for around $150, so I bought it.  I’ve proceeded to bring it to pretty much every wedding, every fall/spring evening out, and on every vacation I’ve taken since. I’ve bought other scarves and wraps in other colors, but my Bendel’s one has stood the test of time.
  • My Cartier watch — I’ll admit, I have bought other watches since the Cartier, but they never get worn.

I suppose there are other items here also where I’ve been so happy with the purchase that, when the item inevitably wears out, I just buy a new version instead of researching the area again.  Spanx Higher Power tights… Fantasie bras (4510 for the win!), Weitzman Poco heels…

Readers, what purchases have been YOUR category killers?  Do you have any regrets on the initial purchase?  Were you surprised it became a category killer for you, or did you buy it hoping it would be the last X you’d ever buy?  (For example — I love my dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring, but they were both a whim purchase, spurred in part by a sale — if memory serves the earrings were around $1000.  I’ve worn them so much and will continue to do so that I kind of wish I’d splurged a bit more! But the need for “more” isn’t so great that I need to buy new earrings (if that makes sense). On the flip side — were you disappointed in any purchase that you had hoped would be a category killer? 

Psst: in the past we’ve talked about shopping habits like spreadsheets and “crop rotations,” as well as the best places to shop online.

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When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance

When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance | CorporetteWhen your work suffers because of personal problems you’ve been struggling with — and your supervisor has noticed — how can you turn things around? Reader J wonders…

I am a mid-level associate in Big Law. I switched firms in December of 2014. Today, I had my first review and it went very poorly — in Big Law words, “needs improvement across the board.” How do I get out from under my first review having been so terrible? Back story: When I joined this firm, my mom was approaching the one year mark after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was doing well. Within about 8 weeks, she got very sick, and over the course of the following 12 weeks, died a slow, painful death. My dad has become too depressed to take care of himself. My boyfriend of over a year left me. I have no real family support. My personal life has been atrocious, and while I tried my best in the office, I knew that I was falling short due to non-work demands/crises. Recently, I’ve felt back on my feet. I know that I can meet expectations and that my work product is, under normal conditions, solid and consistent and I love my job. How do I overcome this bad first impression?

Ouch, Reader J — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a rough year, and that it’s affected your work in such a negative way. I think you have a few options for recovering from a career setback like the one you’ve experienced:

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Jewelry Organization

Jewelry Organization: Organize Your Work Jewelry, Fun Jewelry and More2016 Update: In addition to the below discussion on jewelry organization, you may also want to check out our discussion of jewelry-related closet organization hacks.

How do you organize your jewelry (work jewelry and fun jewelry) at home? Reader L wondered:

You recently posted about traveling with jewelry, which is really helpful as I’m traveling more for business. However, storing my jewelry at home is another beast altogether. Jewelry boxes don’t do it for me (too many funky/chunky costume bracelets and cuffs to fit), and I hate the formal, old fashioned look of jewelry armoires. My jewelry collection is comprised mostly of cheaper costume pieces, though I have some legit antiques and also quite a few mid-price (for me) bracelets/earrings/watches from Kate Spade/Tory Burch and the like, so I don’t want to throw everything haphazardly into a drawer just to get tangled/scuffed/scratched/lost/forgotten. Please help? Thank you!

I’ve been rethinking my own jewelry organization, so this is a great time to discuss. As Reader L notes, the easiest solution here is the jewelry armoire, and you can find freestanding pieces of furniture as well as mirror armoires (both freestanding and over-the-door). These look like they would be great for someone who is starting totally from scratch… but I kind of like some of my older solutions better, and I don’t necessarily have the space/need for another piece of furniture or another mirror, so fortunately for Reader L, I have some other ideas… Some of my older solutions have been working for me, and some of them haven’t, so I can’t wait to hear what readers say. (Pictured at top: the Acme 16000 Teresa Jewelry Armoire, Java Finish, for $122 at Amazon.)

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Is a Vintage Movie Poster Acceptable Office Decor?

Is a Vintage Movie Poster Acceptable Office Decor? Is a vintage movie poster professional enough to hang on your office wall at a new job? Reader E wonders…

I just changed jobs and now have a ton of wall space. My mom graciously had a vintage Wizard of Oz poster professionally framed for me. I haven’t found a place for it in my house — is it too “cutesy” for work? (Pictured: Reader E’s poster.)

I work in state politics. As far as mirroring my boss — she has pictures of her family on the walls, some awards, etc. Alternatively, I have some D.C. pictures, etc., that would be more professional, but I wonder how I would match my accessories to those pictures — the pictures are more office-hallway professional-ish. Thoughts?

Interesting question, Reader E! We’ve talked about office decor before, but not in a really long time. As I’ve noted before, I think a lot of this comes down to a few factors:

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Where to Find Fair Trade and Ethically-Sourced Clothing

Ethical Shopping | CorporetteIn our first post in our ethical shopping series, we rounded up several clothing brands made in the United States, mostly startups and small and/or independent labels. In part two, we shared a list of mainstream, more widely available workwear brands that sell clothing made in North America or Europe. Today we’re looking at clothing that’s fair trade certified, as well as clothing not officially considered fair trade but produced more responsibly or ethically than the average brand.

Of course, when a brand makes admirable claims like those, we as shoppers must simply take their word for it — but I would rather give my business to a company that explicitly details their (supposed) commitment to ethical labor practices and fair trade than to one who doesn’t say a word about its products’ origins or production. (Pictured: Brooks Brothers Wool Stretch Small Windowpane Circle Skirt, $168.)

Fair trade certification is more complicated than you might think; there’s more than one certifying organization, and each has a slightly different definition of the term “fair trade.” It’s also possible that we may not be doing as much good as we think by buying these products. Ndongo Sylla, a former Fairtrade International employee (who has a PhD in developmental economics), wrote a book last year called The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich (excerpt here in The Guardian). In The Economist’s book review, the reviewer called it “an arduous read” but wrote, “It is hard to dispute [Sylla’s] conclusion that, so far, the fair-trade labelling movement has been more about easing consciences in rich countries than making serious inroads into poverty in the developing world.” (Sigh.)

That said, here are several brands that engage in fair trade:

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