Coffee Break: Pochette Tote Bag

This faux leather tote bag is from Ann Taylor. I like the outside pockets and the fact that it has some structure as well as a lot of internal compartments, including a big zippered area. It also has a removable zip pouch. It’s particularly good if you like to carry something on your shoulder — and a smaller size is available if you prefer that, but I like the size of this one (14.5″ x 11″ x 6″). It’s available in black and paver gray, which is an online exclusive. The tote is $148. Pochette Tote Bag

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  1. PSA for busty ladies :

    PSA for large busted ladies – Campbell and Kate is hosting pop up shops near Philly and in SF Bay Area (Oakland and Silicon Valley) – not posted on for some reason :( but it is on on the right side of the page. Campbell and Kate has button down shirts for busty ladies with NO dreaded gap. I have seen pop up shops listed from them in NYC occasionally but never one on the west coast before.

  2. I’m looking to buy my first pair of designer jeans. I tried on a pair of Paige jeans (Hoxton, I think?) and loved the feel of the fabric, but they gaped in the waist. Can anyone recommend another style with similar quality that might be better for an hourglass with much smaller waist than butt/thighs? I’m looking for dark mid-rise skinny jeans and will be checking out discount sites and consignment after I know what to look for. TIA!

    • Legally Brunette :

      I love my J Brand jeans, and I’m an hourglass. I like the Maria version which is high waisted since it covers up the pooch and secures everything.

    • Small Firm IP Litigator :

      AG and Hudson work well for me. Paige doesn’t work for me, for the same reasons.

    • I always just get the gap tailored if the jeans otherwise fit well. When you have a lot of thigh and butt compared to waist almost nothing will fit you off the rack. Cost of doing business for having an hourglass figure.

    • AnotherAnon :

      AG, Hudson, J Brand, James, Madewell, and True Religion (Linda fit), and Seven for all mankind all fit me in various sizes. I’m 5’3″ 125lbs, hourglass shape. Good luck! I used to be a huge consignment shopper (now I have a kid lol) and I absolutely love designer jeans.

    • Not OP but same boat :

      How does sizing in designer brands compare with non-designer sizing? For instance, I wear a 31 in Gap jeans and between and 12-14 in Ann Taylor Curvy. Does a 31 in designer jeans translate the same or does one need to size up?

    • Thanks all! This is helpful.

  3. Anonymous :

    Ugh. Just got a pedicure, and specifically asked the attendant if she thought I was dry enough to put shoes on. She was shuffling me out the door. She said yes. Get back to office and toes totally ruined and all over the inside of my shoes.

    • been there done that :

      That sucks, happened to me as well. So now I will only wear open toed shoes on days that I have a pedicure.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Me, too. Flipflops only.

        OP, you should go back and ask them to re-do it. I have done this even when I get a smudge that’s my own fault.

        • Anonymous :

          Yes, I will. It’s just a pain that I thought I was saving time, and now I have to eat up more time sitting there.

    • Do they put saran wrap on before you put socks on? I have always found that that helps when it seems dry but just in case.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Shellac pedicure for the win!

  4. Express quality :

    Despite not having experience with Express clothes and being skeptical of quality, I ordered a pant suit for $125. I received it yesterday, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well it fits. Its poly/spandex, and the stretch feels comfortable. Before I take the tags off, anyone want to convince me that I’m better off spending more for a better quality suit? I want to buy fewer, better quality clothes items and was contemplating Theory but …$125!! Can anyone speak to how an Express suit will wear over time? Wrinkles? Stretching out? Shiny fabric?

    • Anonymous :

      If you want to buy fewer better clothes do it. A quality suit made ethically with good materials doesn’t cost $125. If you just need a suit for rare occasions I’m sure it’s fine.

    • MagicUnicorn :

      I have Limited suits from 6 and 7 years ago. From what I recall when picking them out, the fabric was very similar and overall quality was comparable to Express but the fit was better for my shape. They were worn 1 to 2 times per week for the first 3 to 4 years and maybe once every two weeks now, but they are holding up okay. Wrinkles tend to fall out if I hang them up overnight but I do steam them once a month or so. Ironing is tricky because it doesn’t take much heat to accidentally make the fabric permanently shiny. Pants go in the washer and dryer once steaming doesn’t cut it any more and jackets get bathtub-washed and air dried once a season. All the colors still match even given the disparate washing. One color has pilling (seems to have a slightly different texture to the fabric than the other colors).

      Considering all that, if I could have afforded to do so at the time I would have opted for higher quality items made with more natural fiber for both wearing comfort and environmental impact reasons.

    • Anonymous :

      If you like the suit, I’d just get it for now but still consider Theory or similar down the road in a different color. IME, Express has held up well and is often more flattering and more modernly cut than other mall chain stores.

    • If you are confident your size won’t change, then a better suit is likely worth it. But a better suit is only worth it if it fits you when you need it (says someone who bought 3 Brooks Brothers suits that are now just too tight to be comfortable). For me, I prefer wool-based suits for interviews or court, because they are the same material that an appropriate men’s suit for the occasion would be. Banana Republic and Ann Taylor offer more traditional materials at good prices when you shop their sales.

    • Anonymous :

      I was just looking at suits at Nordstrom and was so unimpressed by Theory. The fabrics looked cheap and wrinkled easily and the patterned fabrics didn’t line up at the seams. It seemed very poor quality for the price. I’ve never tried Theory so maybe others can speak for whether that’s typical. For my money the Hugo Boss suits looked much better.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t know how Express quality is now, but I have a couple pairs of Editor pants that are like 10-12 years old that are still holding up. The hem on the bottom fell out of one, but that was an easy enough fix. I suspect quality has gone downhill though.

    • I don’t buy Express anymore because I don’t buy poly anymore but for poly, I found it to be really good quality. I had suits that lasted me close to ten years. When you think of investment pieces, remember that styles change and at least my weight fluctuations affect suit pants more than anything else, so I usually only keep even “nice” suits a few years. So I say yes, if you like it, buy the suit!

  5. Anonymous :

    Wow. I love this bag. If the top completely zipped closed properly, I would be buying it right now.

    • I feel like if a tote is going to be $148 it should be real leather. I’ve bought on sale midrange bags (Coach, Michael Kors, etc) lower than that and full leather. The faux leather will crack and peel soon with regular use. I will also note that I already have a faux leather tote from Ann Taylor that, while it has held up pretty well, I bought $75 full price only a few years ago and yes the faux leather is peeling and cracking.

      • Anonymous :

        Thank you for talking me off the ledge of buying this bag :)

      • AnotherAnon :

        +1 I also have a “faux leather” tote…from Target. It cost me $20. Because that’s how much I’m wiling to spend on “faux leather” – signed YMMV

      • I so agree, though I found a faux leather backpack that was so soft that I thought it was REAL! The onley way I found out it was fake was b/c it was so in expensive. But $148 for faux leather? FOOEY!

        The other OP up top was thinkeing about designer jeans. Make sure you do NOT buy them over the Internet unless you already have a pair b/c the tuchuses are very tight and you MUST make sure you don’t look silly with a pair that does NOT fit. I did this in law school and everyone was stareing at my tuchus b/c the jeans were to small in the seat! DOUBEL FOOEY!

  6. Anonymous :

    What’s the breaking point in fields that are hard to get a foot in the door and the pay/benefits/treatment of employees reflects a “you should just be grateful you were able to get a job in this field at all” attitude?
    It seems like something has to give- people have to stop accepting the terrible jobs, employers have to realize good employees leave/burn out quickly… something else?
    Would love to hear the hive’s thoughts on this.

    • Could you be a bit more specific?

      But my general thoughts: many such fids rely on idealistic young people. As people age, they figure out what a con the whole thing is, and move into other fields. This ends when young people are no longer told (by adults who should f-ing know better) to “follow your dreams and the money will follow.”

      • HA. Boy this resonated. I turned 25, decided I cared about health insurance, retirement and the prospect of making [a not a greedy amount of] money beyond what my then employer and industry/field would have offered.

        • God, this. Turns out that if you do things that people need to have done but that people don’t want to do,* you will be compensated … with money.

          *Or that people want to do but that only very, very few highly skilled people can do.

          Someone please go tell 22-15 year old me that. I guess I also had to learn that I was very good but not necessarily very, very, very good, and too poor to wait for pay until I became very, very, very good.

      • Blueberries :

        I agree that the “follow your passion” advice that kids get is terrible. No need to just pursue money (then everyone would be aiming for i banking or similar), but there’s a balance.

    • I just left the field of international affairs (both ngo and government contractor) because it was no longer “worth it”. I was doing work several pay grades above my actual job and was refused a raise/promotion because I should have been grateful to have a “high salary” for my qualifications. I was in an entry level position in DC making 50k (which sadly was actually a high salary). The entry level positions at my old job now require a Masters, 3 years experience (in DC and overseas), pay 50k (which doesn’t go far in DC), and terrible benefits ($300/mo health care for one person, 12 PTO days for sick/vacation/personal, etc). I’m now doing very similar work for city government in a lower cost of living city.

      • Also adding- management was borderline abusuve and we were constantly sent the message that we were lucky to be there so stop complaining, etc.

      • I have a friend in DC working in the field, and she’s found the same thing. Once you hit your late ’30s, the reality is no longer very appealing. I know she has deep regrets about getting her master’s degree in this area.

        • Anonymous :

          Yea, I got my undergrad in the field and could never get a job in it. They all required masters degrees, loads of experience, etc. and paid very little. All of my close college friends got this degree and exactly none of us are working in it at this point (9 years out).

    • In many of these fields, the only people who stay long-term are those who are being supported by family or spouses. The work is like a luxury lifestyle that only a lucky few can afford. Of course, that reality is never part of the shaming “you should just be glad you’re working here at all” line.

    • Anonymous :

      I work in the nonprofit arts, and the pay certainly puts these jobs in this category. We do not have to work insane hours or put up with a lot of abusive bosses though. People stay for the nature of the work, which is uniquely fulfilling for some of us. Entry level in NYC can easily be below 40K; the executive director of one very small organization I looked at yesterday is making 50K. A lot of people in the field come from upper middle class or affluent backgrounds and live at home until they work their way up a little, and many are comfortable with “starving artist”-adjacent lifestyles. Those that live better often have partners making more money, and/or have kept at it long enough to make decent salaries.

  7. Denver-bound :

    Tips for a solo weekend trip to Denver? Especially excited for outdoorsy activities, good food and drinks, and exercise classes!

    • If you have a car, Red Rocks is great for enjoying the outdoors, and not far from Denver. There are also several of Denver’s mountain parks near to Red Rocks (Three Sisters/Alderfelder/Evergreen) for hiking. In the city, the Botanic Gardens are pretty nice. For food, I love Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Ultreia (all three are run by a woman chef, so it’s pretty cool to support a woman chief in a pretty male-dominated industry). Root Down and Lola are delicious. Linger has great rooftop views (former mortuary) and good food and drink.

      Bring layers and boots! We got snow yesterday.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Oh man. I’m jealous. Would love a solo trip to Denver right about now! I was in Denver a couple of months ago for work – I purposely booked a later return flight so that I had time to eat dinner at Root Down. Highly recommend it! There’s an airport location too. For exercise, if you are into barre, Pure Barre is based there and I am sure there are tons of studios. Might be more “fun” to run up and down the red rocks steps though!!

  8. Anonymous :

    How often do you speak at conferences? I’m a senior associate and I’ve started to do a lot more business development over the past year or two. I’m curious how many times a year most people speak on a panel, etc.? What is normal (if there is a normal) and what should I be shooting for?

    • Anonymous :

      There is no magic number, prob as much as you can balance. :) but you should be angling to get in on any panel that will have in house folks on there with you/in house folks in the audience.

    • There’s conferences and then there’s conferences. Some speaking opportunities just end up fulfilling CLE requirements or wasting billable hours for a line on your resume (sometimes worthwhile, sometimes not). OTOH, some speaking opportunities put you in front of people who can send you business, they put you in an influencer’s good graces, or put you in line for “better conferences” where one of the two prior things happens or you get to take a good trip on someone else’s tab.

      I work in a field where the vast majority of my opportunities come from other attorneys in my general practice area who do not work in my subspecialty or from other attorneys at firms that do not have practices in my area at all. I limit my speaking to four times a year, ideally in one national conference, one regional or local conference in my specialty, one regional or local conference where I get in front of a room of general practitioners who can send me work and the local conference in my specialty because one of the local judges will ask me to do it.

      Most of it gets jammed into the first half of the year because my states have mid-year reporting deadlines for CLE and getting it all done is hard sometimes, especially if I have to do materials. It takes me at least four to six hours of research and writing to have a one hour presentation. It helps to have certain topics that you are interested in that make for good presentations that you periodically can return to without starting from scratch. I also am lucky to be able to use our law clerks do research and sometimes draft materials to get credit (I always applaud them in my presentation) and the chance to come to a conference to meet people.

      There definitely is a “food chain” to speaking opportunities, but it definitely gets easier to get good ones over time, especially if you get good ratings when you speak. Giving CLEs definitely is an area where being a smart aleck can pay off!

    • Anonymous :

      Wow! Thanks for the tip, this jeweler is going on my holiday hint list.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m an associate at a boutique with a very aggressive marketing strategy and I’ve been put into a number of speaking positions because I have an aptitude for it.

      I do about 5-6 a year, plus a couple additional conferences that I just attend. Key here is the vast majority are industry conferences. (So sort of the opposite of Ms B’s approach.) So I’m not sitting in a room full of other lawyers (i.e., competition). I’m in the room with my clients or potential clients telling them what is going on the legal side of their industry that they should care about. I’ll occasionally accept a speaking slot at regulatory or government-focused conferences as my work relies heavily on knowing the regulators in my field.

      It’s a very ambitious number frankly. It’s a lot of time and at the beginning when you have to pitch yourself it’s even more time. But if you put in the time up front to get put on panels, I found that the invitations started showing up without any work on my part about a 18-24 months after you get known for speaking.

  9. Anonymous :

    any ideas for a champagne cocktail that would be fun to serve in a punch bowl at a party? or anything else festive! I want people tipsy and happy.

    • There’s a French 75 punch on Epicurious that I’ve always loved and had good success with (but I love French 75s in all forms so)

    • super easy: sparkling wine + italian soda (any flavor) + frozen fruit If you want people tipsier, add vodka

      Another one (good for fall!): 1 bottle white wine, 2 bottles of hard cider, sliced apples and a couple cinnamon sticks

    • I really like this one

    • Anonymous :

      I served a Rosemary Gin Fizz at my birthday party, and it was a huge hit. Rosemary simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, dry gin, and prosecco. And I made an ice chunk with rosemary and lemon slices in it to keep the punch cool. I had to refill the punch bowl so many times I went through more than two bottles of prosecco! But you could make it even fancier with champagne.

  10. Anonymous :

    Suburban ladies, talk to me about outside furniture…. is an outside couch or armchair a PITA? Right now we have a metal dining set where we mostly keep cushions inside when not in use. No shed.

    • Anonymous :

      I cover mine and leave it out year round.

    • I have a patio and I absolutely refuse to buy furniture that has to be covered when not in use. It looks tacky and I’m too lazy to put it on and off religiously. We bought a durable plastic resin weave set that is outdoor friendly (cold sun wind and rain and it’s going strong) with comfortable but relatively thin cushions that we throw on from the deck box that is an arm’s reach away from the furniture – it takes 5 seconds to get comfortable and it’s great.

      • Even your durable plastic resin weave will last a lot longer if your take care of it. In particular, if you live in a climate that gets snow, it will last longer if you bring it inside through the winter months.

        • I’m in the south with no snow and typically only between 0 and 5 days a year reach below 30 degrees, and my patio is in shade for most of the day due to the angle of the house, so environmental factors don’t really impact my furniture decision. Also, I knew I wanted to be lazy with the furniture which is why I got a cheap but super well reviewed set that can easily be replaced (5 piece set total under $300). Even the instructions on the box only talked about sheltering the cushions from mold.

          • What set is this? I live in a similar climate although we get more sun.

          • Anonymous :

            Any chance you have a link to said furniture? I’m in the market myself (not the OP).

          • On Amazon this item: Goplus 4 PC Rattan Patio Furniture Set Garden Lawn Pool Backyard Outdoor Sofa Wicker Conversation Set with Weather Resistant Cushions and Tempered

      • anonshmanon :

        I like the idea of this. How do you maintain them long term, can you just hose off the tree-dust?

        • Yes just hose or dust off, but it stays fairly clean especially since our tree is not over the patio.

    • Costco sells the fake wood Adirondack chairs, but the heavy kind, not the $15 kind – we love ours. We leave them out year-round (mid-Atlantic) and at 3 years out, they still look good as new. I assembled them myself on our kitchen floor in the AC and carried them outside and it was perfect. I would be too freaked out by the prospect of mold for outdoor cushions that live outside (vs. are put away when not in use). I have heard that if you’re going to leave them out, it is worth it to splurge on the sunbrella fabric, but have no practical experience with that myself.

  11. This may seem like a weird thing to ask, but have any of you suffered with not feeling like you’re not introspective enough? The last couple of months, I just feel like I’ve been breezing through feelings/emotions, thoughts, and life choices in general and just thinking of things on the surface level or letting life happen to me. I’d like to begin to think more introspectively about things, but am kind of lost on where or how to start. I started therapy last week for some other issues that have been swirling in my head for a while, so I may ask my therapist, but I’m not sure I’m going to stick with this particular one very long, but I’d also be interested if anyone has done some reading on this or places to go.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      I wouldn’t say I suffer or struggle with it, but I’m not a very reflective person. I also don’t second guess my decisions very often, and I think the two are related. I’ve chosen to think of it as a strength :) So no resources for you, but you’e not the only one!

    • Anonymous :

      IDK, I just had a conversation with my therapist about the goal of becoming less attached to my work and not letting those highs/lows define me. Specifically, don’t dwell on the bad things that happened because they make my anxiety worse and erode my self confidence. I think some introspection is healthy to define your goals and standards, but once you feel like you are meeting those, you can let it get to auto-pilot a little more.

    • Have you tried keeping a journal? It doesn’t have to be too involved or time consuming–you could start by just keeping a notebook handy and jotting down the thought/feeling/event you feel might deserve some introspection, and then a few words about it.

    • If I introspected for a moment, I would probably realize that I am not introspective enough! As a working mom of two little kids I am constantly planning to-do lists and getting through the day and the next day and to the next weekend is a good enough goal for me!

  12. Anonymous :

    For those of you who watch TV during workouts, what do you watch? Anything on Netflix or Prime? I’ve reached my limit on Maddow but can never think of any good movies or shows.

    • I really like Kim’s Convenience, The Good Place, Drop Dead Diva, Better off Ted, The B* in Apartment 23, Eureka, the new Queer Eye, and Warehouse 23 for my light-hearted don’t have to pay attention to hard cardio shows.

    • Worry about yourself :

      I found Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to be a delightful workout show!

    • Anonymous :

      Friends! Random prison shows haha (the documentary type ones like Locked Up. Maybe I’m just weird.) Also, my kids got me watching Fuller House and it is soo bad, but I find myself paying attention to it for the nostalgia factor. Also like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos.

    • pugsnbourbon :

      I like to watch documentary shows – there’s more narration and voiceover, so it’s less likely that I’ll miss a plot point. I’m a true crime fan, and I managed to work my way through all the episodes of Forensic Files on Amazon Prime (and there are a lot).

  13. Fun question – I’m about to celebrate a significant work milestone, and I’d like to mark it in some way with something physical. I’ve LONG lusted after McTeigue and Mclelland jewels and I’m thinking about one of the two necklaces below. I mostly wear greys/blues/jewel tones. Which would you go with? Or throw in something else pretty I should look at! Budget is $3500 or under.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh my lord those are divine! I love the blue one the best I think.

    • Anonymous :

      Wow! Thanks for the tip, this jeweler is going on my holiday hint list.

    • Anonymous :

      I completely and totally hate you for posting this. I am not historically a jewelry person and OMG why did the simple things I like vary b/w 18K and “upon request”?

      Absolutely, 100% not ever ever ever going to bookmark that site.

      • Anonymous :

        Wowza, those are beautiful. Like the poster above, I need to immediately erase those from my memory.

  14. If you have a work laptop, do you take it home with you every night? It makes my life way easier to be able to do some work in the evenings but I’m realizing it also makes it too easy to work in the evenings, so I’m not really decompressing and taking a break.

    I’ve never had a work laptop like this before – my old jobs, I could remote in but it wasn’t as easy so I only did it when I had to.

    Just looking for some experiences with this!

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