Tuesday’s Workwear Report: Ponte Knit Sheath Dress

brooks-brothers-ponte-dressOur daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

There’s a lot to like about this dress. It has pockets, great tailoring, an unusual square neck, a work-appropriate length, and no crazy zipper in the back. (Unfortunately, it’s dry clean only.) The dress is available in regular (2-10) and petites (2-12) and is pretty well reviewed. Ponte Knit Sheath Dress

Talbots has a similar dress in plus sizes (along with petite, petite plus, and regular), in four colors — and today there’s a 30%-off-everything sale.

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]



  1. I think this dress is cut so awkwardly, it may be great for a very short-waisted lady though.

    • Mabye that is why I like it so much! According to dad, I am kind of squat, but still cute enough to pull wearing this dress off.

      • Sloan Sabbith :

        I don’t believe this is the real deal. No misspellings. No weird caps. Nothing that makes me want to strangle her.

    • The BB dress in black is less awkward-I like it. Also like the lands end dress in anything but grey.

  2. Anonymous :

    I love sleeves but the sleeves, -“awkward cut and flat gray make me think she should be wearing a habit on her head

    • My bigger issue is that the fabric looks like it belongs on sweatpants or something else casual, not on a structured work dress.

      • BTW – the styling on this really made me laugh. There’s something fabulous about it in a sort of trust fund hippie college student way, but I cannot imagine that this is going to appeal to your typical BB customer. But I do want the coat anyway so maybe it worked. http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Jacquard-Faux-Persian-Lamb-Coat/WW00205,default,pd.html?dwvar_WW00205_Color=BLCK&contentpos=28&cgid=women-oct-new-arrivals

      • Anonymous :

        Nah, I have a work dress in this fabric that is gorgeous. The cut here is just terribly frumpy.

    • The look on the model’s face reads “yeah… this is definitely a no…”

    • Even the model looks uncomfortable. If she can’t pull it off with photoshop, no way I can.

    • When we enter the abbey, our worldly clothes are given to the poor.
      What about this one?
      The poor didn’t want this one.

    • I have to say you ladies lack imagination. This dress would be awesome with the right long necklace and killer shoes.

    • I have this dress and it is really nice actually. I have curves and it fits well if not a little long for my 5’3 height. I think the model is too skinny and it does not hang well on her.

  3. LaCannadienne Passion boots :

    I have these and they are about 5 years old. They still look great!

    I bought them when I was in my Pippa Middleton fashion phase. They’ve got about a 1″ chunky heel, which is great and practical but my Pippa phase has passed and I just cannot style them (I have a Boden casual dress I wear them with but they don’t look right to me anymore with black tights all the time with work clothes (sheath dresses and pencil skirts). And my jeans don’t work with them (I look like a Sad Mommy — ugh).


    I wish the boots were of a lower quality so I’d be replacing them by now. They are warm and never make me slip in bad weather, so they deserve another chance.

    Help help!

    • I do mine with tights and heavy wool pencil skirts for winter. The problem I have with mine is that they don’t really fit my calves…barely fit when I bought them and now I have to unzip the top inch or so. Kind of wish I’d returned them when they barely fit.

      • BB, you can have a cobbler ad some give to the top to make them fit.

        • I also have a larger calf, and I’ve tried this. It’s never worked for me. I think they can only stretch it an insignificant amount. It’s worth a shot, though.

        • I actually did try this myself by increasing the elastic area and it didn’t really work – not enough room. I honestly need almost another inch of circumference. :(

    • Anonymous :

      Just wait.

      Classics like these come back all the time.

      And they are still everywhere I live in winter.

      I just give mine a break, and then when I Bring them out, they feel fresh again.

      Sometimes a different skirt length helps, to mix things up.

  4. Lodge v Staub for cast iron :

    So . . . no one should used Easy-Off (and then running through the dishwasher) for cleaning my Lodge cast iron cookware. But it has been done and I’ve tried to re-season, but I believe it really is ruined (and the company’s website backs me up on this).

    It was 15 years old and served me well.

    Replace with same? Or go for the Staub? [I really think Lodge better has what I’ve used: chicken fryer with a lid (Staub doesn’t seem to do lids on similar pieces) and Dutch oven with pronged lid for braising.] I don’t think you can go wrong with Lodge and they price is so reasonable, but the Staub is so pretty (but expensive, even on sale).

    I am not a gourmet, but have a family now so I can’t just feed the kids fast food or cereal, so I am much more of a cook now than when I had time to cook.

    • Alls I know is that Lodge wins at America’s Test Kitchen whenever they do cast iron tests. You may also want to look up seasoning with Linseed oil. That’s a trick.

      • Lodge v Staub for cast iron :

        Is linseed oil even food safe? I think my dad used it in his workshop.

        I tried layering on shortening, whispering to it, promising I’d make steak nightly.

        The lye in the Easy-Off seems to have pitted out the bottom and I think it’s time to just call it a day. This is about 6 months of trying to fix it. Now that it is roasting season, I am really missing something I can just use and go.

        • America’s Test Kitchen (I think) recommended re-seasoning with flax seed oil. You can buy that at Costco.

        • I would just re-strart with a new lodge. You’ve broken all the cast iron commandments. Start anew.

          As far as what to buy – I like Staub/LeCreuset for dutch ovens/sauce pans and Lodge for skillets.

        • anonshmanon :

          Linseed oil totally is food. It goes well with poatoes.

    • We just donated some old, seasoned cast iron skillets of my grandmothers to the local Goodwill. We hated doing it, but we all had multiple pieces and didn’t need any more. Maybe poke around local thrift stores and see if there are some out there that are cheap and ready to go.

    • I have a lodge cast iron pan that was about $25. It’s awesome and functional.

      I also have 2 staub dishes- the Dutch oven (fits a small turkey or large chicken) and the ratatouille pot.

      I love the staub but half of why I like it is that it’s pretty. I think I would replace my pan with another lodge- it’s never on display or anything.

      • TorontoNewbie :

        I love our staub pots, but functionally I’m not convinced they’re that different than the Lodge. Aesthetically they’re so much better and make up a large part of the kitchen décor.

    • Anonymous :

      Ugh… Thanks for the warning.

      My pan has been sitting for 2 years. I never got the seasoning process down right, and now it is a sticky, uneven mess. I want to somehow start over but am not sure how. So tempted to just go to Marshalls and buy a new one.

      • couldn’t you Dawn + baking soda to get the stickyness off? good luck!

      • One of my coworkers swears by kosher salt and oil to clean cast iron. I’ve not tried it myself though.

        • Senior Attorney :

          That’s what I do. Works like a charm.

        • Meg March :

          I use Kosher salt, but no oil.

          Also, if you are starting over, I live by the rules in this link. Cast Iron is super super easy once you get it seasoned– and seasoning it shouldn’t be hard! I use soap and water on mine, immediately dry it off with a paper towel, then pour a quarter sized amount of canola oil in the pan, rub it around with another paper towel, and then just leave it for next time.


          • Thank you! This is what I do, minus the canola oil part. I’ll be sure to start doing that.

    • anon-oh-no :

      I’m a le crusette gal myself, but from what I’ve seen, staub and LC are pretty comparable. I think LC is distributed more widely though, so you can find it on sale more often. I’ve had my set for 10 years and it works as good today as it did when I got it.

    • Marshmallow :

      Aw man, I didn’t know what Staub was and now I’ve looked it up and now I want it. Dang.

      • Select colors are $129 at Williams Sonoma and there is an additional 25% and free shipping available . . .


        • Lodge v Staub for cast iron :

          I know — a good deal on Staub.

          But even on sale, that would replace both of my injured Lodge items and let me buy a couple of loaf pans.

          • Cheaper, yes, but in general, you won’t get my enameled cast iron out of my cold, dead hands. Maintenance and clean up is SO easy.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Right? Me, too!

    • Get a finished cast iron pan like the staub or le creuset. You will never look back.

      I know everyone is all agog about seasoned cast iron. I went down that road and my food always tasted like iron or rancid oil. Yuck.

      We’ve made progress in cookware. Go with the progress.

      • lolz. If by progress you mean the 7-ply from demeyer? YES. I love all of my cast iron (Lodge, LC, Staub) for cooking and eyecandy.

        • And now I just googled Demeyere 7-ply and that is what I want. But I’m keeping my Lodge skillet and my Staub dutch oven.

        • Following up, I do think that the enameled cast iron is great for certain things (beef bourginion, curry, etc), and I use my staub and my le creuset interchangeably for this.

          I had the 3Qt LC dutch oven which was perfect for solo person (fried rice, penne vodka, everything).

          Then we also also added a large Lodge cast iron skillet and also some Staubs. I love the Lodge skillet when I make cornbread for stuffing, then I assemble the stuffing and serve it in the skillet.

          Staubs I use not as much for penne vodka or fried rice, but for miso soup, red sauce with meat, rice.

          Most recently I added 7 ply demeyere saucepan and a large pot, which I just used for paella and all the thanksgiving cooking. I’m loving how all of these cook. The benefit is that it’s lighterweight than cast iron and easy to clean, but has similar heat spreading/retaining qualities because of the 7-ply.

          Also, just wanted to add that while the staub doesn’t have enamel like LC, it also doesn’t appear to need the same seasoning as my Lodge items.

    • Not That Mary :

      Stick with the Lodge brand but get the enamel coated pans. They hold heat like the cast iron (because they are) but they don’t have the greasy seasoning factor. You can’t put them in the dishwasher but you can use soap and hot water to get them clean. I love my dutch oven.

      • anon a mouse :

        Yes! Enamel coated cast iron is all of the benefits of cast iron without the high maintenance.

    • I don’t know what your price range is, but I went to an enameled skillet from Le Creuset a few years ago and never looked back. The raw cast iron just got too annoying for me and it’s so easy to just be able to clean the thing with soap and a sponge.

      But if you’re doing the traditional cast iron, I’d probably stick with Lodge.

    • I have the Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven. I had a Le Creuset for years before that and the Lodge is indistinguishable.

  5. Anonymous :

    This dress makes the model – who is presumably very, very thin – look extremely hip-py. I can’t even imagine how unflattering it would be on me.

    • Anonymous :

      I think it would look better on someone who has hips, since it’s been cut to accommodate those. The model doesn’t have the hips to make the dress hang properly, which is why it looks frumpy.

    • lawsuited :

      Gurl, you say hip-py like it’s a bad thing.

      • Right? I think a curvy woman would look much better in this dress than that model. Granted, I don’t think hips are a bad thing.

      • Right? Enough with the body shaming. If one has hips, they will look hip-py.

        • That wasn’t body shaming. Now for someone to complain about not having a trigger warning…

          • Maybe not bodyshaming per se, but it would be nice to get away from the assumption that being or looking very, very thin is the ideal and being or looking hip-py is something to be avoided.

          • anonshmanon :

            That was body shaming. Implying that hippy=unflattering. It’s really not that hard to understand.

          • She literally said that hip-py is unflattering. That is classic body-shaming. The end.

          • Actually she “literally” said that it would be unflattering ON HER. Sensitive much?

          • Oh god, get over yourself.

      • I read the comment as worrying that the dress would make the wearer look disproportionate.

        I have hips and a butt. Clothing that makes them look bigger make my bottom half look like it doesn’t match up with my top half. If it’s “body shaming” to avoid those clothes, then, whatever.

        • Right, and CPA Lady just body-shamed slender people, by the above posters’ logic. I just can’t even…..

        • Yes to this. Fashion is about balance and proportion… so a comment about looking out of proportion is entirely relevant and fairly objective.

          • But some bodies are literally “out of proportion”. Like I’m a pear. And it’s not a bad thing!

          • Anonymous :

            I would assume you look for clothes that bring balance to your shape, though. It’s taking your natural proportions and finding the right balance for you.

            Saying that the dress makes the model look hip-y might be a plus to some, and a minus to others, depending on that balance.

          • So?

            By your “logic,” there is no reason to not buy clothes that do not flatter your figure. Makes your neck look too long? Some people have long necks! Makes you look pale and washed-out? There’s nothing wrong with being pale! Makes your legs look short and chubby? Hey, that’s not a bad thing!

            This crap is why people mock generally sane ideas (like “don’t body shame people”).

  6. Snow boots? :

    Recs for great utilitarian snow boots? No price. I’m looking for something between ankle/knee height that I can basically pull on and run through snow/sludge without a second thought. Waterproof and warm are musts. Bonus if they look kind of cute. I’ve been eyeing the Pajar Canada boots.

    • Sorel. The fashion-y boots are typically still waterproof. I have the Toronto lace up wedges, and can testify they are both warm and waterproof. I have my eye on the Joan of Arctic wedges next. But if you are looking for more of the flat, duck boot type snow boot, the Joan of Arctic winter boot also gets a lot of good press.

      Columbia, North Face, Merrells should all be good brands too.

      • anon-oh-no :

        I have the lace up wedges in the knee high version and the mid-calf version. I love them. they are seriously comfortable, stylish in a wintery fashion kinda way, and warm and waterproof.

        • Oh – i’m totally going to get them. It’s just a matter of which color, and if I can hold out waiting for them as a Christmas present. Or if they will be an early Christmas present for myself…

    • Nancy Raygun :

      I like Merrell and I think some are cute. http://tinyurl.com/gu95upk

      • Minnie Beebe :

        I’ve got a pair of Merrells, and they are utilitarian. They’ve kept my feet warm and dry through many a Chicago winter, which is what I need. Also, they’re light weight so I don’t feel like I’m clomping around. However, they are not cute. I think they say, “Wisconsin housewife.” I mean that in the best way (but for the record, I’m neither from Wisconsin nor a housewife.) :)

        I’d like a pair of Sorels instead, but cannot justify buying a new pair of boots when the boots I have function perfectly well. So I stick with my trusty Merrells.

    • I have a pair of Baffin boots that served me well last season. They have a zipper side which I much prefer. Tying frozen laces sucks.

      • TorontoNewbie :

        Yes, seconding no laces (that are necessary as opposed to aesthetic). I’d actually suggest slip on because I’ve had zippers freeze solid on me. If you’re running through snow/slush then I’d ignore any ankle boots. I know they’re trendy, but cold snow dropping down your ankles is horrible.
        Sorel is my favourite brand. Don’t get anything in a suede and if you’re in a lot of slush and looking for practicality over fashion, I’d avoid leather as well. I had the equivalent of the Sorel Alpha Pac for probably over 10 years and they have been passed on to my sister when I moved to the city and they’re still great.

    • Anonymous :

      I have a pair of Columbia snow boots that are warm and waterproof. They aren’t all that cute, but they work well.

    • I have Pajar Canada boots and they have surved their purpose well. I don’t do anything too crazy, but play in the snow with my kids, but they have always kept me warm and dry. They were so muddy at the end of last season and with one snowy day this winter they are clean and nice again.

    • Too embarrassed to use my real handle :

      I’m on year 13 with a pair of Prada Sport winter boots. Leather with faux fur inside. I take my child sledding in them, I shovel in them and I wear during my commute. Worth every stinking penny.

      • Girl, don’t be embarrassed. You can afford them and apparently they were worth the investment for you. Rock your Pradas.

      • I thought this said “Pravda” boots and thought it an interesting brand name, but wondered why one would be embarrassed to have them.

      • Edna Mazur :

        I still regularly wear a pair of sorels that I’ve had for at least 20 years (got in middle school). No shame for well wearing winter boots.

    • I have coiled the laces on my LL bean boots so all I do is slip them on and can easily kick them off when I get home, which is so convenient when they are wet or slushy or I am carrying things. My current pair is going on 9 years, still waterproof, still great. Mine are sherpa lined but I also have unlined ones with a sherpa insert as I have found it isn’t the sides of my feet that get cold (if I’m wearing socks) but the bottoms. And you can’t beat that lifetime warranty!

    • Baconpancakes :

      Admittedly, I live in Virginia, but the Sorel Tofino’s keep me super warm and dry all winter.

  7. Suggestions for basic shirts :

    I am looking for medium quality shirts (like a nicer tshirt style) that I can buy in multiple colors and use as a sort of uniform under cardigans and blazers. They must be long and machine washable (although I am willing to wash on gentle and hang dry).

    • TorontoNewbie :

      Banana Republic?

    • I’ve had good luck with Lands End scoop neck cotton-modal tees (plus they frequently have coupons — today its 40% off your order, and they usually also have a buy 3 and save option). They are long (still wearing at 27 weeks pregnant, and I am not small!), wash & dry well, have great stretch recovery (they weren’t baggy before pregnancy, and aren’t stretched out even after wearing all day over my belly), and have nice finishing on the neck that (IMHO) lays well under a suit or blazer. I also love that the long sleeves are actually long enough and didn’t shrink in length (this is my issue with lots of basic tees that start out fine). They usually have a selection of neutrals and colors. I haven’t bought the short sleeves yet but I plan to in the spring/summer after baby arrives to refresh my wardrobe.


    • Anonymous :

      They might be too casual but I’m tall and I really love the length and fit of 14th and Union shirts. I get them at Nordstrom Rack. Some have pockets and other detailing but most are plain, and they usually have a bunch of colors.

      • Suggestions for basic shirts :

        “Too casual” isn’t a concern. I almost added this detail, but my office is casual and most people veer as close to sweatpants and hoodies as they can. I usually prefer to dress more on the business casual end of the spectrum, but it definitely isn’t required.

        • In this case, I buy all of my casual t-shirts at Target. They hold up pretty well for me.

        • I love the Merona boat neck tees from Target. They have elbow length sleeves and some have stripes!

    • My favorite nice tshirts are from Vince and Club Monaco.

    • Halogen? (too casual?)

    • I have an Everlane tee that I love. It has a modest v neck and is long, and weighty enough to not be see through.

    • Ibex! I have the OD Heather Tee and similar versions from past years in maybe 10 colors. Wear one every day. Being wool makes it feel more professional to me, plus it’s cut nicely and is insanely comfortable. They are fine in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. Expensive when not on sale, but they go on sale a few times a year – a few colors are on sale right now, in fact.

    • Edie Bauer. It’s the only place I found an opaque white tshirt. They have a number of different fits and I found one that was fitted enough to be flattering.

    • You should hang dry anyway! I’ve had $5 Target t-shirts last for years because I never put them in the dryer (or any of my clothes).

    • Try the Uniqlo ribbed cotton half sleeved top?

  8. Funeral flowers- f/up :

    Thanks for all the advice last night. One more question- and I know this is regional/know your family, but we really don’t know the family well. How much is appropriate/expected to spend on sending flowers for an elderly relative you didn’t know well? Our budget can accommodate whatever is appropriate- my concern is sending something that somehow causes a scene (i.e. Sending something too big/nice compared to closer relatives, or sending something too small). The entire extended family is in TX and DH is the “rich one” that “hasn’t seen the light yet but will be back in God’s
    Country eventually” (direct quote from the deceased A few thanksgivings ago ;) ). Relatives are for the most part all educated professionals but more middle class/lower upper class due to career choice (lots of teachers and social workers, for example, who get paid peanuts). I would hate to send $100 (or $300 or whatever) of flowers and have it dwarf someone else’s. I know I’m overthinking this but DH is exactly 0 help and his dad (brother in law of deceased) is not able to help.

    • Veronica Mars :

      Do you have the funeral home’s information? Call there and ask what florist they recommend and what package to get. If you don’t have family to ask, go with the regional norm.

      • We got a mass email from one of the deceased’s kids that had the funeral home & florist info…so you’re saying the florist won’t just sell me their most expensive arrangement? :-). Clearly living in NYC has hardened me!

        • Veronica Mars :

          They could, but they likely know their market and will sell you what’s normal for their area. If they’re in smalltown Texas, I doubt they’d go right out of the gate trying to push a $300 arrangement if the vast majority that they sell are like $50. Plus, as a New Yorker, you should be able to sniff out if they’re being slimy or genuine. Short of talking with someone in the family, it’s likely a good source of information.

          • This is exactly what I do and it works. Last time they even knew the deceased’s favorite flowers and included them.

    • I’d just send a plant. The florist will be able to work with a budget that you give and you can likely spend less than on an arrangement- I’d say you can get this done for under $75. There’s only so much that can be done to fancy up a peace lily. What matters here is that your name is on a card and everyone will see it when they are at the visitation or funeral. The plant can then find a home with one of the local family members or get donated to the local hospital or whatever.
      IME, the really nice arrangements/casket sprays are given by the close family- you don’t want get into that realm.

    • PinkKeyboard :

      If you remember Sex and the City when Miranda’s Mom dies… “they were supposed to say we’re so sorry, not you’re dead let’s disco”

    • I recently sent flowers for a friend’s elderly stepmother’s funeral. We are very close to the friend and had met all of his parents, so we wanted to acknowledge. I looked at the florist’s website and picked something, then called. The person on the phone was great and said that someone else had already purchased the exact same arrangement (basket with all white flowers) for the same funeral. I just had them do something similar, but with a different color flowers. My friend sent me a photo and they did a nice job. We spent no more than about $75?

  9. Urgent interview help! :

    I have an interview today. It is pouring in DC and I need to walk/take the metro. Can I wear tall Aquatalia leather boots with a skirt suit? they’re black and don’t have a high heel.

  10. Boston area childcare :

    We’ve recently relocated to the Boston area (Somerville) and will be TTC in the near future. For budgeting purposes, what can we expect to pay monthly for full-time childcare? I was estimating 2500/month – realistic?

    • For a “full time” nanny, we paid $17/hr to care for one child, plus taxes and agency fees. This was back in 2012, and we were downtown. I found that care in a center was about the same price, minus the convenience.

      • Edit: “Full time” because we paid for 40 hours, which is not sufficient to cover one who works a 40+ hour job. I was “part-time” in biglaw.

    • That’s realistic. Some places (Bright Horizons) will cost more, but we’ve had a lot of luck with smaller, private centers that have high quality teachers and low turnover, and cost less too. We were paying about $1800/month for infant care at Little Panda (near the W Hotel) a couple of years ago, and now we pay about $1500/month for preschool in the burbs. Good luck!

    • Boston Legal Eagle :

      I pay about $2300 per month for our full time daycare. Not Somerville but similar close-in suburb. Not sure how much nannys/nanny shares are.

    • Not in Somerville, but in downtown Boston we paid $2900 for infant care and $2300 for a toddler (Bright Horizons).

    • I think that’s realistic. BH is more but it’s one of the higher priced options in the area. Welcome to the area – it’s a fabulous place to be a new parent.

  11. Shopaholic :

    I’m in love with a beautiful pair of suede boots but I live in a city that uses salt on its roads. I love the look of suede boots but they are impractical right? Is there any way I can keep them free of salt stains?

    • Nope!

    • BabyAssociate :

      I’m not sure how it would work on suede, but I lived in a place that heavily salted sidewalks and used a 2:1 mixture of water and white vinegar to remove salt stains. Worked so well.

    • I live in a cold, slushy area, and I swear my apartment complex thinks salt should be used like gravel, it’s ridiculous.

      But I SWEAR by Scotchguard Suede and Nubuck Protector. I wear tall suede boots all winter long, and it keeps them from getting wrecked by snow, rain, salt, and oil.


    • I have used a suede protector spray on boots. Works well.

    • Impractical, but I do it. And I start with suede boots that are water tight, water proof already, of good quality. And then re-protect them with spray, multiple times at the beginning of each season.

      It very much depends on where you live though, what sort of slush/salt you are walking through.

      For salt, you really have to remove it constantly or it both looks bad and causes more permanent injury. First brush with a suede brush. Using A cloth dipped in diluted vinegar in water, carefully wipe the salt off. Let dry.

      But I would never risk it for my pricey Stuart Weitzman suede boots. Those go in the closet once snow starts. Then only my La Canadiennes hit the streets.

      I’m in Chicago

  12. jumpingjack :

    This dress looks like what people would wear in some post-apocalyptic dystopian movie where everything is always grey. Like Hunger Games meets Never Let Me Go.

  13. Thanks to whomever recommended Shoes of Prey. I am officially obsessed. My first pair was 1/2 size too big and they were absolutely great about redoing the shoes, and even speeding up production.

    I just ordered my second pair last night and I can’t wait to receive them.

    • It was me (though I can’t imagine I’m the only fan on here). So glad you love them! I’m eyeing a pair of their mid-calf boots now…

      • anon-oh-no :

        I recommended them too. I love it! and whenever I need a break, I go and design a fun pair. I have lots waiting for me should I decide I need more pairs.

    • Anonymous :

      I was so stoked on them from this site, and then I tried to order a pair of sandals in a wide width. They don’t have that as an option :(

  14. I bought myself a microwavable stuffed animal because no many how many blankets I put on my bed, it’s freakin freezing and my feet are always cold and hot water bottles get so cold and I hate it.

    This lil guy smells like lavender, is still warm in the morning, and toasts up the whole bed (husband hates him).

    AND HE LOOKS LIKE A LIL FAT FOX! Best under $20 purchase I’ve made in a while, even if it is ridiculous.

    Being an adult is the best. http://amzn.to/2hrpvIE

    • OMG I must have this for my kids. There’s a hedgehog too!

    • Brunette Elle Woods :

      Wow! Definitely a must buy for me! Thanks.

    • OMG. I think I need one.

    • I am in love with this and just added it to the wishlist for my in-laws gift exchange…

    • Wow adorable. And so cozy. What a great idea.

    • I got these for my sisters for Christmas a couple of years ago and they were a huge hit!

    • Omg this looks awesome!! Thanks for posting.

    • Love this idea! If I lived in a cold climate I would totally get one.

    • I have a penguin one and I love it! Honestly I rarely bother microwaving it, but the lavender scent does its thing nonetheless

    • lucy stone :

      My husband is totally getting the badger for Christmas.

    • oooh, wonder if this would work to periodically warm my fingers up when the office is cold.

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        My office has been so cold this week I think I’m just going to get some of those USB heated fingerless gloves.

        • Tech Comm Geek :

          I accidentally found a great help for cold offices! Our beagle is getting older, so my partner bought him a couple of “self-warming bed liners.” They are in brown and grey, suede-like texture on top, black with tiny grippy bumps on the bottom. He loves them, and the small one is on one of the recliners in the basement. Last night I didn’t bother to remove it before I sat down. 30 minutes later I realized I hadn’t put my blanket over my lap and I was warm. I promptly ordered another one to go to the office with me. It very minimal and doesn’t look pet-related at all. Magic!

    • Mrs. Jones :

      I could not like this more.

    • I’m totally getting one for my cat. His sister is mean and will never snuggle with him. :(

      • In case your cat does not like the smell of lavender, they have all sorts of fun heated items for cats. I bought mine a heated pad (plug in, although you can get microwavable versions too) and she won’t leave it.

  15. Distraction Needed: Sitting in the waiting room waiting for DH to emerge from a procedure. This is the fourth procedure in our little family since mid-October (5 year old has had 3 and now we are looking for the same thing in DH). I’ve blown through all the work that I brought with me (who knew I could draft so quickly when focused?!). Any suggestions for light, distracting things to read (no sound)?

    • Go Fug Yourself? Carolyn Hax or Dear Prudence? Hang in there. I know it’s horrible.

    • TorontoNewbie :

      Sorry, responded below.

      Our public library has a really good selection of ebooks that you can open and read on your phone’s browser. Is something like that available for you? Or just buy a light novel off of ibooks?

      Also: hugs.

    • Hugs! Lots of good thoughts and wishing you luck.

  16. Baconpancakes :

    How does everyone feel about furry ear muffs for casual wear? I have a hard time with hats sometimes, and I was thinking of coordinating the fur color with my fur-trimmed boots.

    • lucy stone :

      Do it. I have a few from J.Crew and Eddie Bauer and love them.

    • Wildkitten :


    • BabyAssociate :

      I actually just ordered a pair! I am about to begin a year-round walking commute and I too have a hard time with hats.

    • Depends on your age and the general level of cutesiness with which you dress.
      Young? Sure.
      Any age and prone to outlandish/twee details? On brand.
      Other? Eh. You do you.

    • Love them. Wear them all the time in Boston. I am also a fan of a cheaper, very casual brand called Lobers, which you can get on A m a z o n. They have little speakers in them and come in tons of fun colors. No, the sound quality is not Beats-esque, but it’s just right for listening to podcasts and the like.

    • Anonymous :

      My MIL bought me the Ugg earmuffs a few years ago. They are ridiculous but once I started wearing them I loved them.

  17. TorontoNewbie :

    Our public library has a really good selection of ebooks that you can open and read on your phone’s browser. Is something like that available for you? Or just buy a light novel off of ibooks?

  18. Considering moving to Houston. Anyone from there want to tell me about the pros and cons? Other than the low cost of living, which I find very attractive!

    • anon anon armani :

      Lots of room and space. No shoveling snow. Good retail. Tons of restaurants.

      Driving can be an issue as we are spread out. But there’s always more than one way to get somewhere. Freeways are many and very wide. I rx choosing a circumference and commute time and having home/office within the circle.

      Flooding and mosquitoes, mowing the lawn all the time. I’d not trade that for snow and ice. I did once and came back as soon as I could to H-Town.

      Lots of diversity in culture, festivals, etc. Amazing opera, symphony, and our museums are good as well.

      We encourage indpeendence and entrepreneurship. Our city is diversified so we weather economy shifts well, even in oil and gas industry although that tends to be tighter and harder hit than others.

      World class medical center and #1 rated cancer institute/hospital. Don’t forget the cardiac care. Drs. Cooley and DeBakey founded it all here.

      But it is not a walking city. Each area/neighborhood has duplicates of most of what you want/need.

      Best private university rates and rated highly – Rice University.

      The beaches at the Gulf are bad though.
      Come on over!

      If you have other questions, I’m here to ask. Been here generally since 1966.

    • I’ve lived in Houston for 20+ years (since elementary school). I love it here. And highly encourage people to think about Houston when considering relocation.

      Where are you living now? That may help with the pros/cons since they’ll be different whether you’re moving here from Fargo versus San Francisco.

      • I’ve lived my entire life in Boston and DC. I like DC more. I think the thing I’ll miss most is walkability and public transport. Also, I’m wondering if Houston feels really socially conservative.

        • Most of the time it doesn’t politically – for example, the city went straight blue this November. In general, it is really culturally diverse and people seem pretty open-minded and independent. However, you will find that people marry young, have babies young, attend church, and love their guns. This feeling definitely increases the deeper you go into the suburbs. If you stay within the loop (or just outside of it), you probably will be ok. You may be exposed to people with different values than you and that’s a good thing! You definitely won’t feel alone in your views though.

        • I’m from Houston. It is painfully socially conservative. As in, the River Oaks country club doesn’t really like accepting minorities (even rich ones). True story.

          • Tell me more?

          • This is what I’ve heard from some recent oil industry transplants to our area. They asked for a transfer because it was so conservative and so many guns. Not sure if their experience was colored by working in oil industry? Maybe that’s more conservative?

            Have heard good things about Austin.

          • Really? Wow.

            Will say though that despite living here most of my life I have never had occasion to go to the Rive Oaks country club and don’t know anyone who does. That attitude don’t represent most of us.

          • anon anon armani :

            I am so sorry for you. Ashamed it happened. Wowza.

          • This doesn’t surprise me about River Oaks country club.

            That being said, Houston is a big enough city with enough different neighborhoods and communities that you can largely avoid this flavor of social conservatism. Fort Bend County, where Sugar Land is, is a great example of suburban diversity (at least racial diversity, it’s fairly upper middle class).

            Also, Austin gets a lot of good press, but it is *white* and the gentrification of Austin east of 35 is making it that much whiter.

          • Anonymous :

            Agree, Austin is really, really white. It’s jarring.

        • Not a walking city but the bike infrastructure is _really_ improving. If you live in areas with good access within about 4 or 5 miles from work a bike commute is fully doable about October-March (provided it’s not raining), or all year round if you have access to a shower at/near work. Definitely get a bike!

          I have lived in Houston and the surrounding burbs most of my life, and I agree with Lana: the deeper you go into the burbs, the redder it gets. I find though that viewpoints are more diverse here than they were in, say, NYC when I lived there (which is significantly more consistently blue), and as a consequence people just keep their mouths shut more about politics than they do on the coasts. That may be a bit of a cultural change for you, coming from DC, where I think it’s a frequent topic of conversation.

          Also, the food here is incredible. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. He knows what’s u p.

          • anon anon armani :

            I would have to agree that we don’t make politics a topic as much as I head when living in the DC burbs.

            As for Austin, the Hill Country is also known for lots of deer leases and hunting, so it may have just as many folks with guns etc.

            I work with many ex pats and international families who prefer Houston to any other posting they’ve had, so I think that the culture is welcoming and expanding all of the time.

    • Addressing your COL comment since everyone else addressed the other points – Are you planning on renting or buying? Do you want to live in the city (in or near the loop) or in the burbs? If you want to live in the city, do you want a single family home or a townhome? Housing costs for a single family home in the city are not low if you buy. Property taxes add a chunk to your monthly payment ($500+ in certain areas) and homeowners insurance can be more expensive than other parts of the country (you will also need flood insurance – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Car insurance can be more expensive than in other states and you will be driving more so your gas costs go up. I realize that Boston and DC are high cost of living cities, but Houston is getting up there compared to what it used to be.

      All that being said, due to the recent oil and gas downturn rents are likely lower right now due to oversupply of apartments and there are probably good deals on the townhomes in the loop. If you are interested in moving here, come spend time here during the week and the weekend to get some familiarity with the layout of the city to determine where you want to work and live.

  19. anon anon armani :

    I consider our Humidity “air you can wear” and it really does reduce wrinkling. However, it can do a number on the hair.

    My other comment may be in moderation.

  20. cake batter :

    I just found out my SIL miscarried. We live in different cities, but is there anything I can send her (and/or BIL) to show love/support? Or is that not what people do in this situation? To my knowledge, none of my close friends has ever miscarried, so I have no idea what to do or what not to do – I just want them to know I care. Thanks in advance for any ideas.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Just say that. Call her and say “I just want you to know I care.” Maybe send a card with a note, too.

      • Yes! When I went through a not-so-great event I really, truly appreciated the friends and acquaintances who took the time to say they were thinking about me. It was very touching.

    • Yep, when I miscarried I really appreciated the people who treated it like the loss that it was rather than sort of tiptoeing around it because they didn’t know what to say. “I just want you to know I care” is perfect. Flowers wouldn’t hurt.

      • cake batter :

        Thank you for the replies, this is very helpful. The baby was very much wanted, so I can’t imagine how hard this must be.

      • This happened to my sister-in-law, too. I made a note to myself to remind her that I was thinking about her at the baby’s due date and still bring it up on the anniversary of the loss (after the initial shock and conversations, it’s a simple “just wanted you to know I was thinking of you today!”)

    • When my SIL who lives across the country went through that, I sent an Amazon gift card and said something like “Thinking of you. Please use this to take care of yourself.” I promise it sounded less awkward at the time.

      FYI Christmas was really hard for her that year.

    • We did a meal delivery for my brother and SIL. Even though they didn’t want to eat, they had other kids who needed normal dinners.

    • When my SIL miscarried I sent a package with some nice lotion and her favorite chocolates, and a note expressing my sympathy. She really appreciated it.

  21. It’s the Christmas party crazy person here again. I am planning on wearing a darkish cobalt blue lace sheath dress with silver sandal type shoes to my husbands christmas party. I found some rose gold earrings from Kendra Scott that I really love. Will they look weird with silver shoes???? Do I have to be matchy, matchy?

    • I should add the earrings are a pearl like color with rose gold. One of her larger dangly styles. Yay or nay?

    • It is supposed to be super cold here…maybe some snow. I could wear black nylons (not tights) and black pumps or simple dressy ankle boots. Thoughts?

      • Anonymous :

        Earrings sound ok since they’re mostly the pearly part right? Silver sandals sound amazing but with snow sounds like pumps/nylons are a better choice. Sounds like a great outfit; wish we could see pics!

      • lawsuited :

        If it’s super cold, I think black hose or tights with black pumps would be a safe option. Ankle boots are slightly more casual, but that may be fine for your event. Either way, you don’t have to match your jewellery to your shoes. I am caucasian with a lot of pink undertone and find that rose gold is the most “neutral” on me because it blends into the colour of my skin.

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