Going-Out Clothes and Young Professionals

Going Out Clothes for Young Professionals2018 Update: We still stand by this advice for going-out clothes and young professionals, but you may also want to check out the great reader discussion on general going-out clothes after age 25

Once you get to grad school, can you stick with your “going out” style from college, or is it time to make some changes? Reader C wonders how to dress for a night out on the town when she’s out with new friends from grad school…

I have a strange request/question. I’ve begun learning all about clothing for work, interviews, etc., and now know the difference between business casual and chic casual. My problem is that during my undergrad, “going out” almost certainly meant tight shirts, tight pants or leggings, and high heels, as well as blow-out hair and smokey eye makeup. Jackets were a never, and cleavage was a must.

I was recently invited to go out with from friends from my new school, and pretty much realized that I don’t know how to dress like a grown woman when I’m doing something super casual with friends, like going out for a few beers or even out dancing. I still want to look the part in some ways (these are, after all, my future colleagues — I don’t want to be remembered as “cleavage girl”), but still dress to have fun.

Please teach me to be a respectable adult, even while I’m supposed to be out having fun.

Great question, and I’m torn between a few thoughts. First: you’re in school; if you’re going out with friends it shouldn’t matter too much. On the flip side, I think it can make an impact on how people remember you, and the bigger the dichotomy between your work or student persona and your “weekend persona,” the more people will remember it.

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When to Set Up House (Or: Why It’s OK To Buy Nice Dishes Before You’re Partnered)

When Did You Set Up House for Yourself? | Corporette2018 Update: We still stand by this discussion on when to set up house (especially the idea that young professional women should feel OK about buying nice dishes or sheets or even houses before they’re partnered!) — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion about how to stop putting your life on hold

When did you first really set up house for yourself — buy dishes and nice furniture? Did you wait until you were married, or when you bought a house or apartment for yourself? When you turned 30? Are you still waiting? I don’t know why this has been on my mind lately, but I just thought it might be an interesting topic.

For my $.02, I had some basic (cheap) stuff — kitchen basics and furniture — from college onward, but it wasn’t until I was 29 or so that I started buying nice dishes and furniture for myself.  This was due to a lot of factors, I suppose:  when I was in my early 20s I was on a tight budget; I spent my middle 20s in law school; and I spent my late 20s working extremely long hours so I was never really home that much.  (I am also about as far as you can get from a domestic goddess like Martha Stewart.)  I do think another big reason is that I spent my 20s, for the most part, single, and didn’t want to “jinx” future happiness/”give up hope” by setting up house by myself. A few random memories around this topic: [Read more…]

Back-Handed Compliments at the Office

Back-Handed Compliments at the Office | CorporetteHow do you deal with back-handed “compliments” at the office? Reader B wonders…

I am a 30 year old lawyer working in Washington, DC. My late 20’s/early 30’s professional female friends and I have experienced a strange and disconcerting dynamic amongst women in the workplace: getting negative comments from other women for being smartly/well- dressed. These outfits, I believe, would objectively be considered professional, age-appropriate, and well-fitting: tailored suits in feminine cuts, pencil skirts to the knee, or pumps with a modest heel. They would certainly be similar to those depicted on the Corporette website. The comments often take the form of backhanded compliments, such as, “That shirt makes you look soooooo thin.” They may also be cautionary, like “Wow, you had better be careful not to hurt yourself in those heels”. This feedback comes from women at a similar professional level and more senior employees. It most often comes from women whom are a generation older and seem to be, at times, more about our size and age than what we are wearing. It also seems to be more of an issue in government and non-profit environments, as we haven’t noticed it to be a problem in the private sector. How should we respond to this type of feedback? At what point should we give in to workplace pressure to dress in a more bland way versus continuing to wear clothing that makes us feel sophisticated and professional?

This issue comes up a lot, and as your friendly blogger I see both sides of it: the younger women wondering why these older women are giving them these back-handed compliments, and the older women asking me how in the world they tell someone they’re dressed wildly inappropriate for the office in a casual way. I’m curious to hear what readers think about this. [Read more…]

The Flighty Worker: How Many Jobs Can One Have in a Short Period of Time?

should you job hop to get ahead?2016 update: Check out our latest discussion on job hopping.

How does job hopping affect your career prospects? If you take a job with the intention of quitting soon, how bad is that? Reader T writes in with an interesting question about job loyalty…

I am leaving my current company as a result of my discovery of some unethical practices. I had originally hoped to move to a job abroad after my stint here, but I had banked on a having a longer timeline to work with.

I am now looking for a new job in my current (States-side) area. However, I’m also still clinging to hope of that job abroad. My question is, assuming I can quickly find a new job in my current location, how many bridges would I inevitably burn if I were to jump ship after a couple of months? For that matter, would international companies be unwilling to hire me if I’ve only been at Interim Job for less than a year? Not to mention, I would have to leave International Job after 2 years anyway in order to pursue my MBA. Finally, would I be reducing my chances of getting into a good business school by possibly sending the (false) impression that I’m flighty? In sum, how do I make this transition as non-destructive as possible?

Wow… my first impression is that I’m tired just reading your plans! Ultimately, I think you should avoid taking a permanent job for as short a period of time as “a couple of months,” but taking a job with the expectation of going to business school down the line is fine (with the understanding that the adage, “God laughs when you make a plan,” is often true.)  Let’s discuss more — I’m curious to hear what readers say, particularly about whether multiple jobs in a short period of time will hurt your b-school prospects.  (Photo credit: -RejiK.)  A few more quick thoughts:

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Beauty Wednesday: Skincare and Aging

Skincare Routine and Aging | CorporetteSo here’s a fun question:  how has your skincare routine changed through the years?  For the older readers, when did you notice that you needed to add a little “somethin somethin” to your routine?  Do you think particular brands matter, or is it just important to do something?  (For example: does a particular brand of eye cream work better than the others, or does your eye area just need extra moisture and any eye cream will work as long as you’re consistent?)  (Pictured:  wrinkles – part I, originally uploaded to Flickr by [email protected].)

For my $.02:  For the most part, my skincare routine is roughly the same as it was when I first settled onto it at as a pre-teen.  Most mornings, I wash my face with Basis, and (once I’m out of the shower), I follow up with a light moisturizer with SPF in it (usually Neutrogena’s basic one sans retinols, but I’m still finishing a container of Kimberly Sayer that I bought during my pregnancy because it had proper zinc oxide instead of chemical SPF).  Things I’ve added over the years:

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Music at the Office

can you listen to music at the officeReader B has a question about music at the office — specifically, whether headphones are ok.

I have a question about my upcoming legal internship this summer. I’m working at the Chief Counsel’s office for a branch of the government starting in May. I am also the only summer intern at this particular location, and I will have my own office. I was wondering whether or not it is appropriate to listen to music on headphones while I am working. I usually listen to music when I need to power through some serious work in law school, but I’m just not sure if it is appropriate in an office setting. For what it’s worth, I will be working in a very casual city, and my (very much older) boss has a visible tattoo.

I’m curious to hear what the readers say. My gut tells me this is one of those “know your office” type situations — and when you try it first, be aware if and how your colleagues react. For example, some bosses have a habit of sticking their head in their office and begin firing off ideas/barking orders immediately, and the extra 5-10 seconds that it may take you to realize “Hey, boss is talking, so I should turn off my music now” may be something that annoys that particular boss. I’ve seen that kind of personality in creative fields as well as conservative fields, so I really think it comes down to personalities rather than professions, but that’s just me.  (Pictured:  UrbanEars Plattan Headphones, available in 18 colors at Amazon.com for $59.99.)  The one thing I would advise, though, is to keep your door open if you’re going to otherwise tune out (particularly if that’s the office culture). [Read more…]