Navigating a New York Winter with Style and Grace

How to Dress Professionally For a New York Winter | CorporetteReader B has some good questions about navigating a New York winter:

I work for a global financial firm and will be heading to Manhattan for a week-long business trip in mid-January out of our NY offices. As a lifelong Southern California Girl, I am totally clueless how to navigate the weather and still look professional?

I’ve seen your posts on individual aspects (footwear, coats, bring a pashmina, etc) but was hoping you might have an overall take on how to travel for work in a cold climate for the uninitiated, such as:

  • Will my Hunter wellies + warm socks be enough to get me from the hotel to the office to dinner?
  • Can I strut down the sidewalks in my kitten heel boots or will they get ruined?
  • Is my thin wool coat over my suit jacket enough or should I splurge on a down coat? (I noticed Overstock had some good looking coats and since this trip is a regular part of my new position, I don’t mind spending money on a few investment items.)
  • How do most people in NY handle the office to dinner? Do I need to tote any sort of change of clothes with me?

I’m interested to hear what the readers say on this one.  (Pictured: Slush, originally uploaded to Flickr by holly_northrop.) First, I would say this really depends on your trip.  If you’re going to be either a) working closely with senior executives from your firm or b) meeting clients, then I would axe the Hunter wellies unless they’re a basic black.  They’re fine for a commute to and from the office, but I wouldn’t want to be sitting around at dinner with VIPs while wearing them.  (I have a sad, sad story about wearing Uggs to dinner with my senior partner and a client, but we shall have to save that for another day.  But really, talk about huge regrets.) [Read more…]

Brrr: The Freezing Office

The Freezing Office | CorporetteReader K has an interesting question about cold offices – how can you look professional in a freezing office?

Now that the weather is changing, my office has a tendency to get pretty cold. I am wondering if you have any ideas on something to keep in the office for when it gets a little chilly. If the answer is a shawl or a wrap, I’d also love some advice on how to pull it off. Also, should I keep two pieces – one for days I am wearing black and another for days I am wearing navy or brown? My dingy cardigan has to go…

Great question, as the cold office seems to be a real problem for so many women I know.  (Pictured: So I broke down and pulled out the heated, fingerless gloves that the CA folks gave me, originally uploaded to Flickr by cindiann.) First, let’s make an important distinction: there’s the cold office as a whole (cold hallways, cold meeting rooms, etc), and then there’s the cold “I’m sitting in my office working by myself and I’m freezing” office. If your office as a whole is just generally freezing, I think your “outfit” for the day should keep that in mind. In other words — don’t keep one cardigan at the office that you’re going to have to change into every day; actually dress warmly enough for the office. Cashmere and wool sweaters, tweed and corduroy blazers… you get the picture. [Read more…]

Curly and Wavy Hair in the Winter (Open Thread!)

Curly & Wavy Hair in the Winter -- for the Office & BeyondOk, guys — I know this is a common discussion in the comments, and, I thought I’d finally throw an open thread up here. My own hair has been getting wavier and wavier as I get older (yay, age!) and it seems like there are different routines for fall/winter versus spring/summer.  (Pictured: Wet Curls, originally uploaded to Flickr by YaelBeeri.)

How do you deal with your curly or wavy hair in the winter? What are your favorite diffusers? What hair products do you pull out when you do your seasonal swaps? I’m still trying to figure this out myself, so I’m curious to hear what the readers say.  (And a caveat — as anyone who’s spend any time on the excellent NaturallyCurly.com site and forum, everyone has their own technique, and it can be a process of discovery to figure out what works best for you.) [Read more…]

Looking Professional in C-c-c-old Weather

Ewww! I just got some slush down inside my boots. I really *hate* that!, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ed YourdonReader J has a question probably shared by a lot of other recent graduates…

I have a question about getting dressed in the colder weather. I just graduated from law school and am now beginning my career up north after living in the south for my entire life. After only working summer jobs my whole professional life, I have warm weather office wear down. The big problem is that I have absolutely no idea how to dress myself for work in the winter. Do I wear boots to work? Do I wear something different for the train ride to work? What do I do when it’s raining in all directions? Please help!

This is an excellent question, if only because nothing is sadder than a grown woman wearing a ski jacket with a skirt suit, or someone trouncing around the office in Ugg boots. (Pictured: Ewww! I just got some slush down inside my boots. I really *hate* that!,  originally uploaded to Flickr by Ed Yourdon.) In general, cold weather  dressing should entail: [Read more…]

The Corporette Guide to Cardigans

2015 Update: Check out our new and improved guide to cardigans for work

Someone recently wrote to us, flummoxed over how to wear a cardigan. We looove cardigans, particularly in the summer, and so we thought we’d do a quick and dirty guide to cardigans…

cardigans for work.indexed1. Banded. These cardigans have some banding at the bottom and (usually) on the sleeves, which makes their shape a bit blousy or boxy. They can come with a matching shell for a twinset look, or be worn by themselves with, for example, a button-front shirt or blouse, or a nice tank or tee (such as the cardi pictured, Neon cotton bling-button cardigan, available at JCrew.com for $49). Because these kinds of cardis have their own shape, they’re less than ideal for wearing with dresses, and, for our $.02, best with pants. If the twinset is very boxy (think a more Jackie O cut), then they can be worn over your shoulders, almost like a cape (we’re still searching for a good picture). Other examples: Patterson J. Kincaid ‘Luanna’ Cardigan (available at Nordstrom for $88), Banana Republic Long sleeve silk-back cardigan ($70), or Old Navy Womens Pointelle-Trim Cardigans ($26.59).
cardigans for work 2.indexed2. Normal — not banded. For our $.02, these are the “normal” cardigans we stock up on — they hit at mid-hip, and should be fitted to be somewhat tight to your body (we prefer silk sweaters because they keep their shape better than cotton, but polyester blends can also be good).  They  may come as a v-neck, a split-neck, a scoopneck, or a crewneck. They’re often sold as twinsets (such as the Talbots set pictured, Refined cardigan sweater ($69) — also look for brands like August Silk at spots like Filene’s and TJ Maxx), but the cardigan can be worn with dresses, skirts, and pants. If you button the cardigan it can be worn as a sweater by itself (tip: wear a cami beneath it in case the buttons gape), worn under a blazer, or even belted. Worn open, they can be layered on top of tees, tanks, or button-front shirts. Michelle Obama’s closed some of her cardigans with a brooch, which can be a great way to add personality. These cardigans are perfect in the summer because they’re so versatile and are super easy to transport — just button the top button and the bottom button, and wear it over your shoulders while commuting. (This is easier if the sleeves are full, not three-quarter length.) They’re great to add contrasting color, to mute a loud pattern in a dress or blouse, or add a color to a drab ensemble. While they don’t add a lot of authority the way a blazer does, they do add warmth, and are a perfectly acceptable look for the office.  Other examples: Miu Miu Cashmere and silk-blend cardigan (available at Net-A-Porter.com for $450), Cashmere Georgette Trim Cardigan (available at Anne Klein for $118), Pink Tartan Pima Cotton Cable Knit Cardigan (available at SmartBargains for $56), or Old Navy Womens Floral-Print Cardigans ($26.50).
cardigans for work 33. Structured, shrunken. This is one of our favorite kinds of cardigans: the structured cardigan that might look a little shrunken.  These are almost like a blazer, but made out of a sweater material instead — they still convey authority, but in a friendly way.  We love to wear ours with dresses or skirts (A-line or straight), or with wide trousers.  (On the weekends, we love to wear them with a longish, untucked top and jeans.)  These are best kept at the office or worn on a day when the temperature is going to be pretty constant — they can be a pain to transport because they’re too bulky to put in your bag, and they’re really not intended for wearing over your shoulders.  Pictured: Merino Wool Full Milano Jacket, available at Brooks Brothers for $144 (was $288).  Other examples: T by Alexander Wang Knit Blazer (available at Nordstrom for $165), Quotation: 525 America Silver Button Knit Jacket (available at Bloomingdale’s for $59).
cardigans for office4. Boyfriend cardi. This is also one of our favorites — these are long cardigans that might look or feel a bit like a doctor’s coat.  Depending on your outfit, they can be great paired with low-volume bottoms like straight pants, pencil skirts, and simple sheaths.  We like pairing them with a long necklace, as well.  A note on belts — these may come with a belt, which, if you don’t like belts, you can just tie behind the sweater (this also gives it a more “nipped in” look than the sweater may have otherwise). If you prefer belts, though, a skinny belt or a wide belt can work with these kinds of sweaters.  Pictured: MARC BY MARC JACOBS ‘Ainslie’ Cardigan (available at Nordstrom for $198). Other examples: Marc by Marc Jacobs Wushishi Sweater (available at ShopBop for $160 (was $228)), Tory Burch ‘Simone’ Merino Wool Cardigan (available at Nordstrom for $225).
cardigans for office 55. Draped  cardi. These are looser, and have more volume than a boyfriend cardi, but are just as long.  These might be a little too casual for some offices (at least, worn open), but they can have a great, bloused look when paired with a wide belt.  Because there’s so much volume with the cardigan, you want to keep your other pieces as sleek as possible. Pictured: Rebecca Taylor Waterfall Cardigan(available at ShopBop for $350).   Other examples: Flyaway Cardigan (available at Anne Klein for $66 (was $89), Open Front Cardigan (available at Ann Taylor for $68).
cardigans for work 66. The Shrug. This is the other major kind of sweater that, we think, every woman should have in her closet: the shrug.  These aren’t great for the office, if only because they’re so great for after hours.  These are short, cropped sweaters that, in theory, only cover your arms and your shoulders.  Because your back can be exposed (depending on the cut of your dress and the cardigan), they can be a little sexy — it’s also a nice way to take a simple sheath dress to an after-dinner party, by adding a slightly fancy shrug (check out Brianna Beaded Crochet Shrug, available at Saks for $396). Pictured: Open Front Cardigan (available at Anne Klein for $51). Another example: DKNY Linen Shrug (available at ShopBop for $125).

Okay, ladies — those are our 6 must-have cardigans and how we wear them. What are yours? Did we miss any major ones?
(L-#)

The Warmth of Silk

silk long johnsReader N writes in with a question about warm pants…

I am based in Northern California, and have recently started having to travel for business. I am finding that the wool pants I buy around me are no match for winter in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and New York. I’m told that I should find lined wool pants for warmth, but can’t seem to find any. Are there other fabrics that would be warm enough? To add an additional wrinkle I am a size 18 , so I need to find someplace that carries extended sizes as well.

Welcome to the land of seasons! Out here, if the low temperatures don’t get you, the windchill factor will. We’re weirdly excited to share with you one of the best secrets we picked up from our undergrad years, which we spent in a city known for sub-zero temperatures: silk long johns. Wear these babies under regular pants or jeans and you’ll be comfortable (with a proper jacket) below 35 degrees or so — if it’s very cold (and windchill takes it subzero), we’d suggest wearing them with wool pants. [Read more…]

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