The Hunt: Waterproof, Weatherproof Shoes for Work

weatherproof-shoes-for-the-officeSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I don’t think we’ve had a good discussion on weatherproof shoes for work in far too long — so let’s discuss, ladies. Do you own both rain boots and snow boots where you are — or just rain boots, with the assumption that if it’s that snowy out you can probably work from home? What makes a shoe acceptable to wear all day at work, versus just for your commute? Do you have any rules about changing out of bad weather commuting shoes (e.g., no stopping at the coffee room before you change — or no big meetings until you’re in your “office shoes” — or do you actually do the thing where you change outside the office, like in the lobby of your building)? For those of you who are consultants, in court, or otherwise away from home base often — what do you do?

(Pictured at top, clockwise from top left: tall boot with laces / Chelsea / short with back bow / tall bow / bootie / heeled bootie)

For my $.02, I have an almost surreal memory from my lawyer days of having to review documents at the office one weekend when it was truly horrible outside — so bad that I took the subway instead of calling for a car. I may have had to take a different subway line than I normally took because weather was so bad — I remember getting out of an unfamiliar subway exit on one of those interior, tight streets around Wall Street and seeing snow piled everywhere, several feet thick, and I felt like the last few blocks to work were a true trek.  It could have been worse — a few months earlier, I had happened to buy super ugly Lands’ End snow boots on sale on a friend’s recommendation, and I was so grateful I had them!

Psst: we’ve also discussed how to do business casual in cold weather, as well as how to buy a great winter coat.

Before we get to the featured weatherproof shoes for work, I thought I’d round up some weatherproof, waterproof options in special categories:

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Lightweight Pants for Work

lightweight pants for office2017 Update: We still like a lot of these lightweight pants for work, but you may also want to check out our more recent roundup of stylish summer dress pants for women.

Which are the best lightweight pants for a work — specifically, a business casual office? For some of us, the warmer months mean biking, hiking, kickball, competing in triathlons, and many more activities that are likely to leave us with a few scratches, bumps, and bruises. If you aren’t crazy about putting those bruises on display at work, and prefer to wear pants to cover your legs, which are the best for business casual summer workwear? Reader M wonders…

With all the sports and activities I do, I need to reconfigure my work wardrobe to be trousers-only. I bruise way too easily to wear skirts often, especially in the warmer months. I need to start almost from scratch with a business casual summer wardrobe, any suggestions? Thanks!

I bruise easily, as well, M, so I’m sorry to hear that. I think you’re right to want to cover your bruises for work — they can be a distraction for your colleagues as they start wondering how you got them. (This mountain-biker was even cornered by her boss who worried she was being abused.) If you work in such a small office that everyone you come into contact with knows that you’re bruised from sports, that’s one thing — but that doesn’t sound like the case for M.

So, some thoughts on lightweight pants for work in a business casual environment:

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Beauty Wednesday: Summer Makeup

summer-makeupLadies, how do you change up your summer makeup? We haven’t talked about this for a few years, (not counting my epic review of tinted lip balm last year), so let’s discuss.  Any new products that are must-haves for you for summer?  Any old products that have “still got it”?  Which are your preferred products for summer? How do you factor sunscreen into the mix (if at all)?

For my $.02, I’ve retired bronzer (see you next November/December, old friend!) and have primarily been using Nars the Multiple for cheeks and eyes at the moment.  (I briefly tried Benetint again, which I’ve used for years, but it just isn’t doing it for me right now.) I think I’m going to try to get into daily use for my Bare Minerals foundation — it has a physical sunblock and evens my skin, so yay.  But I’m excited to hear from you guys — what is your favorite makeup for summer? 

Pictured:  bareMinerals 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Original Foundation Kit (awww, 20 years!), available at Sephora for $38. 

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Seasonless Sweaters for the Office

Summer Sweaters for the Office | CorporetteIs there a magical sweater you can buy that is seasonless — great for summer, great for winter, looks luxe, and retains its shape? In general, what do you look for in summer sweaters? Reader N asks:

It seems that many dresses are sleeveless or cap sleeved, and I am always searching for the right coverup for work. To that end, can you recommend a simple, well made light black cardigan? It seems that every single one I’ve purchased the last few years looks cheap and out of shape after more than a few wears.

We’ve haven’t done a hunt for black cardigans for a while — maybe soon! (Note that both the J.Crew one and DvF one, below, come in black, as does August Silk.) When it comes to shapeless sweaters, I haaaate cotton sweaters for that reason. If it’s a lightweight cotton sweater, it looks shapeless after just a few wears in the summer, and when I wash them I can never get them to look quite as nice as they first did on the rack. If it’s a chunkier cotton sweater in the winter, it’s the same thing — a misshapen mess. Wool is too heavy to be seasonless (although merino wool sweaters are often great purchases), and cashmere can be too expensive or delicate to throw into your bag and survive. So what’s a girl to do?

Psst: check out our updated Guide to Cardigans!

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When Is It Time to Stop Wearing Tights and Boots?

stop-wearing-tights

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on when is it time to stop wearing tights to work — links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our most recent roundup of Sleek Strappy Pumps for the Office if you are searching for the perfect shoes to wear with tights.

When is it time to stop wearing tights to work? What about ankle boots or knee-high boots? Is it determined by date (e.g., Memorial Day), weather, both, or something else? What do you do in the interim? Reader A wonders:

Will I begin to look ridiculous/weather inappropriate for wearing ankle boots to work? Same questions for tights/stockings with dresses and skirts?

I noted a similar conundrum on last weekend’s Open Thread: it’s almost May! It’s 60-70 degrees outside! So: it feels too warm for boots and tights — but it’s too cold for bare legs and peep toes. We’ve talked about summer tweed just recently, as well as bare legs in winter, but that was a while ago.

(Pictured: DKNY has these Light Opaque Control Top Tights in a number of different shades — I’ve pictured the chocolate, but I also like the flannel gray and the light beige “caramel.”) 

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A Weatherproof Tote for Work

Weatherproof Tote for Work2017 Update: We still stand by some of this advice on how to weatherproof your work tote, but I just saw a much better solution: a $20 handbag raincoat

Is it possible to find a weatherproof work tote — a stylish, quality bag for work that won’t be ruined by bad weather? How can you protect your bag from the elements? Reader C wonders…

Kat, I’d like to upgrade my work tote bag to something special but I worry about caring for it when commuting in rain and snow. The best thing about my 20 year old vinyl tote is that it’s indestructible, but it’s also pretty shabby. I’d like something classy but worry about the weather ruining it. Thanks for your advice.

We’ve talked about upgrading to a Prada bag (and upgrading your bag in general), what your tote bag says about you, how to lighten your loadthe best bags for commuting (and the best bags for interviewing!) — but we haven’t really talked about a weatherproof work tote. I’m curious to hear what readers say.

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