Wednesday’s TPS Report: Darlene Stretch Dress

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Kate Spade New York Darlene Stretch DressNordstrom has this dress 60% off — was $398, now $159.20; limited sizes only. The pros: love the sleeves, the ladylike skirt length, and the stretch wool. The possible cons to consider: the exposed zipper, and, ah, that neckline. Numerous reviewers talk about the neckline being too low (the reviews are otherwise glowing), so tread carefully if you’ve got ample assets (or consider a camisole, demi-camisole (lots of reader recs here), or even a silky collared blouse to wear beneath it). The dress is $159. Kate Spade New York Darlene Stretch Dress

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


  1. Shoes for Triangular Feet :

    I broke some little toes in each foot so that they healed up a bit wider than B width. My heels are still narrow. I am having a time of finding work shoes that fit (something like a JCrew Karolina would be nice, but I’d settle for anything nonorthopedic). Does anyone with similar feet have any recommendations for brands to start with?

    Also, I have a LE dress almost exactly like this from a few years ago (except: washable, pockets, <$50). I heart it a little bit more right now.

    • I have a very wide toe-box and a narrow heel. In most of my evening shoes I add a heel grip and a anti-slide toe insole, because it’s hard to find comfortable “fun” shoes. I have had some good luck finding professional shoes though. Here are some styles that work for me (looked through my zappos history).
      1. Payless Karmen pump
      2. Vigotti Henia
      3. LifeStride Parigi
      4. Rockport Comfort Craving Pilot Path Mt
      5. Ivanka Trump Indico
      6. Naturalizer Lennox
      7. Fitzwell (my favorite style was the Lana II but they don’t make that anymore)

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I don’t necessarily consider my heels to be narrow but I do have bunions and I’d say my heels are regular width and definitely second the Payless Karmen recommendation.

        I’ve also had luck with Blowfish brand flats in regular B width but the sizing is somewhat inconsistent. I recommend reading the reviews carefully and generally sizing up at least 1/2 size though I’ve had to go up an entire 1 to 1-1/2 sizes up.

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          Thirding the Payless Karmen recommendation – love those shoes.

      • Shoes for Triangular Feet :

        Thanks – this is an impressive list!

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        Also, I have a friend with this problem, and she opts for sling-back pumps with an adjustable strap most of the time, then just wears the strap on the tightest setting (or sometimes punches a new hole in the strap if needed).

      • While the Karem fits well, I find them hard to wear because my feet sweat, so I really need leather or fabric.

        -Aerosoles Tapestry in wide sizes (I have 4 pairs!)
        -Aerosoles Chaperon in wide sizes
        -aerosols plum tree in wide sizes (so comfortable!)
        -Trotters (I just bought the Lauren as a dressy flat), I need WW but you may be fine with wide
        -softspots in wide sizes
        -ros hommerson in wide sizes (many styles are orthopedic but there are some cute ones. 6PM has a bunch really cheap)
        -shoes with straps (t-straps and mary janes) are good because you can buy a slightly larger size to accommodate the width but it still stays on
        -also, round toe styles generally fit better, but I don’t like the way they look with pants

        • hoola hoopa :

          Ditto Trotters. I’ve found aerosoles to be hit or miss but very comfortable with they work. Clarks work well for me, too, although I haven’t had many so it could be luck.

          Agree with round toe. I don’t even bother trying on almond or pointed toes any more.

    • This happened to me when I got pregnant! Toes swelled up but heels stayed the same – I looked at the Barking Dogs blog site, which I think had a page specifically for wide toes/narrow heels. I found Softspots shoes through that page and love them. Also, Dr. Scholls has a style that I keep finding at DSW that works well, though sometimes the leather is pretty stiff on the vamp and chews up my toes.

    • My feet are quite similar, and all I can say is: there is no proper brand I could recommend as a whole brand. Some pairs of a brand might have a roomy box paired with a narrow heel, and some just don’t work and you slip out of the heel because the heel is so wide and it can’t be fixed with a heel pad. Some Naturalizer work, the Clava being my favourite here, though I guess the style is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some Aerosoles work as well, though they tend to have a very generous heel, so it could be that the heel is too wide when the toes fit. At least, for me.

    • I also have a wide foot and narrow heel. I do a combination of things:

      -occasionally buy shoes that are a tad tight because I know they’ll loosen up and will come off my heel very quickly
      -buy wide width shoes – most often available at DSW
      -buy shoes that have a strap or more of a shoe around your foot, even if they’re a little long for my foot

      I have never gotten the heel grips to work for me.

    • I have similar feet – naturalizer in size wide has worked best for me (available on zappos).

  2. Ha, I was looking at this exact dress yesterday (had a price alert on it that dropped). Wish there were more sizes left!

    • anon-oh-no :

      i love it. but alas, it seems to be all sold out.

    • It was sold out when I got the alert yesterday. Gorgeous dress though.

    • It is available in a size 4, even cheaper, at Bloomingdales and in all sizes, for more, through katespade.

  3. That neckline would be spoilt by a cami. Pity because the dress is lovely.

    • I know. Frank would be salivateing if I wore such a dress, but I will tell ROSA b/c she is less curvey and Ed does NOT stare at her boobie’s.

      I just learned that I do NOT have an even vote in partnership matter’s. I have a total of 3.76 vote’s, based on my economic share, but the manageing partner told me that we do NOT have per capita voteing. Dad says he did NOT consider this in negotieating matters for me. I just found out the manageing partner has a total of 73.40 vote’s, and there is a total of 100 vote’s, which dad says mean’s that the manageing partner can vote down everything, even those vote’s that require what he calls a supra-majority, which is 66.67 votes! FOOEY!

      Because the manageing partner has more then 66.67 vote’s, dad say’s all vote’s are like a communist election, where everything that the manageing partner vote’s for win’s, and everything he does NOT like, looses! DOUBEL FOOEY!

      So it seem’s that all I have to do is make sure the manageing partner vote’s my way to get whatever I want. At least that is a good thing. That is why I am abel to get the clotheing allowance even tho NONE of the other partner’s wanted me to get it. YAY!!!!!

    • I’m wearing this dress today:
      Similar in style, but lightweight fabric. It’s warm and comfortable. I just bought it in a smaller size after losing weight. So glad I did!

      • wildkitten :

        That link was totally NSFW when I clicked on it. It did NOT go to the dress.

        • Sorry wildkitten! I copied the URL and pasted it – as you can see the URL says Pintucked V Neck dress in it. I had no idea it wouldn’t work and I can’t figure out another way to get the URL. But it is the Pintucked V Neck dress and I had no intention of linking to a picture of lingerie.

          • I tried this URL a couple different ways, so it might work?

          • Crap – it doesn’t. I have no idea why. When I pasted it into a new browser window, it worked. Just doesn’t work here.

          • wildkitten :

            I saw the URL and know it was an accident – just wanted to warn everyone else!

    • One could argue a cami spoils every neckline.

  4. I’ve had a somewhat unpleasant experience and if someone can offer some advice, I’d really appreciate it because I run out of ideas how to handle the situation professionally. I have a coworker who seems … “too friendly” to me. He has always been the sort of chatty coworker who stops by my office more often than usual, and many of his chatter attempts end up in personal topics I don’t wish to discuss and he leaves when I cut him off.

    Now during a Christmas event of our firm shortly before the Christmas/New year break, he tried to hug me. I can’t say there is a custom in our office to hug your coworker during social events, nor have I witnessed this happening in our office before. Now generally it is common to hug your good friend, but I can’t say we are friends at all to each other. Today, the first time I met him after that, he asked for my private phone number. He did say it was because of some project he needed my advice and I usually leave the office earlier in the evening than him, and he backed off when I said he should write an eMail instead to my office address, but it seemed weird to me nonetheless, since it’s, again, the first time in my office I experienced some coworker asking for my private number. We never work on the same projects despite working in the same practice area, and because our projects involves much in-depth knowledge of the actual situation (which is impossible to understand in a short time), it’s mostly, if ever, useless to ask your coworker for advice because he lacks the crucial information.

    All I did prior Christmas was just staying away from him and not talking to him. This went on for almost one year, and it went OK with me mostly ignoring him. To be fair, more than wanting to chat about personal matters I don’t wish to discuss in the office, he hasn’t been any more intrusive, except that hug thing. Next time he comes by and try to get private I’m inclined to tell him explicitly to stop with it, but then, I’m not sure if it’s a good way to handle it if it’s not “way over the top” and “overreacting”. Any advice?

    • While the hug was a little iffy, it sounds like he hasn’t done anything really inappropriate. Even if he is interested in you – there’s nothing wrong with him trying to get closer to you (unless he actively knows you are in a relationship). It just sounds like you are not interested and/or have stricter boundaries than he does. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he can’t read your mind, so you need to make it clearer. If he asks for your private number again, just say “I’d really prefer if we kept it to email.” If he stops by to chat with you, say up front you’re in the middle of something. Shouldn’t be a big deal for either of you.

      • Thank you. Yes, I’d just continue with what I did before, and I think my anger was due to the fact I really can’t stand him but since the hug my attitude shifted from “I don’t care” to “he’s annoying”. Before that hug, all he seemed to me was just another “chatty coworker” and I took Kat’s advice on that (there was a whole topic dedicated to this a while ago) and it worked pretty well, since I really don’t want to make a big deal out of it.

        I do think that some of his chatters are a bit over the edge though – he asked me once if I wanted kids in the future, whether I lived alone or with someone else, once he even asked when I split up with my last boyfriend – I’m not fine with being asked those kind of things in the office. During lunch, outside, maybe, though I still think those kind of questions are reserved for people you know better, but outside the working environment I’d be OK with them, while I still think it’s inappropriate.

        • His questions are way inappropriate. And you probably should have told him, in an email so you have a record and timestamp, early on that you have no interest in discussing personal matters with him [and outline exactly what he asked you so you have more evidence] and that going forward,
          (1) you believe conversations can be cordial and civil without pushing into personal questions that are none of his business
          (2) you will only discusss business matters with him.

          And I completely disagree that he’s not crossing the line. He’s a creep exploiting the grey area. In general, if you like someone in the work place, you get one swing at the ball. You ask them out for something that is date-like and if they turn you down, you cease and desist and only interact with them professionally. Not this hovering around the periphery, asking all these questions that are clearly inappropriate. If I was this guy’s manager and I saw this behavior, he and I would have a chat. If he was not getting the picture, we would have another chat with an HR person present.

    • If you want to keep your relationship with him strictly professional, I see nothing wrong with letting him know the specific things you said here that make you uncomfortable. You can do this without sounding overly anything.

      I encourage your plan to let him know should he get too close again. He can’t read you mind. You have to spell out what are comfortable boundaries for him. Before this becomes an HR issue.

    • This is where I think your gut instinct is correct. If it feels weird, it’s weird. Don’t make a huge deal out of it, but a polite but firm, “I prefer email for after-hours communication” is fine. I would flat-out say to him, “I don’t think this is appropriate talk for working hours” (when he asks about boyfriends or whatever). Don’t worry about being likeable!

      Do you have an HR department in your organization? I would consider going to them about this. As a manager, I would definitely want to know if one of my employees was uncomfortable b/c of another employee’s behavior. Even if his behavior wasn’t over the top, it helps to be in the know about these things. I would encourage you to talk to HR.

      • Whenever he said something I thought was over the line, I have called him out and he has apologized, and I moved on and forgot about it the next time. In hindsight, yes, I should have handled it more strict.

        We don’t have a HR, and in those situations in our firm we ought to call the partners. Which is easy in this case because we report to the same partner, and I am more senior to him. After that phone number thing yesterday I was tempted to go ahead and tell him of the Christmas incident (he wasn’t present) but I hesitated because if there was a way to resolve this without involving a third person, I’d go that route first, especially because in our firm it’s expected of the employees at least to talk to each other first before calling the partners. And … yeah, regarding the current situation only – the inappropriate questions are months away – I wasn’t really sure if it’s not me only overreacting because I can’t stand this guy.

        But thank you everyone for your advice – I will think about what I can do and what I should do, at least it helps me to see clearer in the situation.

        • See, this makes me think you’ve done all you can do and now you need the big guns (partner.)

          You said that when he asked inappropriate things, you called him out. So that means he’s been called out multiple times by you and yet he still did this repeatedly. Either this person is as stupid as a rock (not likely) or he’s a jerk trying to take advantage of women being socialized to be nice and not confrontational. He’s already crossed the line.

          No normal, non perv/non creep who’s been called out multiple times would keep on doing these things. And don’t worry about “making it into a big deal.” He’s already done that. His continued pattern of inappropriate actions IS the big deal. Let the partner know. Document like crazy.

          • yes yes yes a million times yes.

            He has had the opportunities to stop and he hasn’t. And ANP is right: If your gut is telling you there’s something weird, then there is. And HE has ‘made it into a big deal’ by not stopping!!!

            I agree it’s time to go to a partner and tell them this is a pattern and you HAVE called him out several times and told him to stop and he has not listened.

        • IT Chick in MN :

          You may want to go read through some of Ask a Manager’s archives as she gets a number of questions like this. In your place, I would go to your partner and use an asking for advice approach. “S. has habit of asking me personal questions and invading my space. I have done X, Y, and Z, and he continues. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this?” Thus, you are carefully not accusatory, yet you make it very clear what you have done to be clear that this interaction is not welcome.

          • Thank you, of that I have never even thought of, but that sounds fine. I think I’m going to talk to him first and be clear about this the next time he shows up, and if that line continues, I’ll do that exactly.

      • I would say something to him first — like one of the above posters suggested — before going to HR. Although I dont think his behavior sounds that bad, I totally get that it makes you uncomfortable and you should not be put in that position. However, he simply may not know he is behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable and should really be given the opportunity to address it before a complaint is made to HR, which could cause him (potentially unwarranted) issues down the road.

        • This guy has behaved inappropriately. Why would his having issues (possibly with HR) be unwarranted? When people behave inappropriately, there should be consequences. Stop being an apologist for a creep.

          • There’s a difference between behaving “inappropriately” in an “unprofessional” sense and behaving “inappropriately” in a harrassing sense. What this guy said to her is unprofessional and probably unsuitable for the workplace, but it’s not harrassment (yet). While it’s never a bad idea to document emails and such when you are beginning to get uncomfortable with someone, it’s silly to go to HR when the situation could potentially be dealt with yourself first. The OP seemed unsure of how clear her signals were prior to this. She should try again to send as clear of a message as she possibly can for this guy to leave her alone, and then escalate if he doesn’t knock it off.

  5. Skype/pumping? :

    Okay, I know there are always questions about pumping at work here…but…I think this might be a new one!

    I have a 5 hour meeting to attend, which my boss is letting me do via Skype instead of live since it’s my first week back to work (travel would have gotten cancelled anyway due to all this weather..but still!). Anyway, I’m going to be Skyping in. Not only am I a Skype newbie, but I will also have to figure out how to pump during this call. Can I pause Skype? Turn off the camera for a while? I don’t really want to attempt to do it on the sly….I’m having visions of flashing my entire team.

    If it were a live meeting, I’d duck at as in any other bio break. But how do you “bio break” while video chatting in?

    • You can definitely pause video on Skype. You can also just say that you’re going to the bathroom and pump in another room. You said you’d need to duck out to pump anyway, right?

      • Skype/pumping? :

        Yes- I’m playing around with it now and can pause the video sharing etc. but wasn’t really sure what the “ettiquite” is- do I hang up and dial back in, pause videosharing and put myself on mute but stay on the line, etc.

        It’s a large group so I don’t want to say “GOING TO THE BATHROOM” to a room full of people…I might just IM someone in the room and let them know I’ll be back?

        • Why not just stay on the call but mute yourself and turn the computer around/position yourself in another part of the room so you can hear but not be heard or seen? I don’t think there’s any reason to notify people of your break.

          • Skype/pumping? :

            is that appropriate etiquette? you can just “step out”?

          • Is there someone in charge of the meeting? I’d let them know in advance that I’d be taking a 15-minute (or whatever) break at some point – no need to give a specific reason – and then IM them through the Skype application when you go on break, just so someone knows what’s up if someone tries to ask you a question during that time. Basically the same strategy that I’d try to use for an in-person meeting.

            Also, might there be a scheduled break during the call? 5 hours is a looong time for a call or meeting, other folks are also going to need to use the restroom at minimum.

    • Notify the meeting organizer that you’ll need to step out for a 20min break around X time, but you’ll leave the line open (and muted) to avoid disrupting the meeting. Ask them if you should notify anyone via IM when you return, in case there were questions you missed. Then when the time comes, just pause/mute video, and go to another room to pump. (Just in case you didn’t pause/mute correctly.)

      • The meeting organizer might also consider using this time for a group break. In my experience with meetings this long, there is always at least one quick break built into the agenda.

      • Skype/pumping? :

        I *am* the meeting organizer,which is why this is awk! :) And I did schedule a break but this group is notoriously bad at taking breaks so I may need to step out before we break.

        • Then it’s even easier. Schedule a break for when you need to pump, and tell the person leading the meeting. Depending on culture, either “step out” quietly or quickly say “Hey just a reminder that we’re scheduled for a break now – I’ll be right back!”

          (Said as I take a conference call from the pump room at work.)

  6. Ugh ladies, I’m having really itchy skin this winter. I’ve always had dry/sensitive skin so I’m no stranger to liberally applying body lotion every day (not just in the winter), but it just isn’t cutting it right now. I switched to using amlactin because I was getting these tiny bumps on the backs of my arms and the insides of my knees; it seemed to be doing a good job until the weather got really cold. I’m not sure if my fleece-lined tights/regular tights are just irritating my skin or if it’s the extreme weather. Any suggestions? Does anyone have any experience with the neutrogena body oil (I assume this is to use right after the shower)? I was thinking of picking some up today.

    • Dry skin in the winter is caused by the dry air. Try using a humidifier in your bedroom.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I’ve been testing out coconut oil as a moisturizer (instead of body lotion) for the past few months. So far my skin has stayed moisturized without being greasy. Bonus is that it’s really inexpensive! Also, are you drinking enough water?

      • now that you mention it, I really don’t drink enough water…. thanks for pointing that out!

      • Traditionalist :

        +1 to both of these points. Lots more water and coconut oil have been working for me.

      • Olivia Pope :

        I was going to recommend coconut oil. After I let it absorb, my skin looks and feels amazing.

        I also like Aveeno “creamy moisturizing oil” or some name like that. It has the same texture as lotion.

        Also, get a humidifier and drink more water.

    • Miss Behaved :

      FWIW, I have a humidifier and I still have itchy skin this winter, especially on my shoulders. Gold Bond medicated extra strength lotion works for me. Basically, any lotion with menthol seems to help.

      • Maddie Ross :

        Second the Gold Bond. For some reason though I cannot buy at Target – only true drugstores.

    • I use a rich lotion and add a drop or two of oil to it after a shower. Currently, I like the Nivea shea one in the dark blue bottle and vitamin E oil from the health food store. I think it’s also important to not take showers that are too hot, tempting as they are, and to exfoliate. I try to exfoliate with a moisturizing scrub at least once a week, twice ideally. If you’re getting bumps, a scrub will help you with that. Agree with Bonnie on the humidifier. Even putting a bowl of water on the radiator will be helpful.

    • I used the Neutrogena oil years ago and really liked it. The smell and feel is great.

      Normally Curel lotion, esp the advanced healing kind, works for my dry skin. It sounds like you might be beyond that, though.

    • Equity's Darling :

      I live somewhere dry, and even when I didn’t live somewhere dry, I had dry skin. It’s pretty good now, but only through constant vigilance.

      So here are all my tips:
      – stay hydrated
      – get a humidifier
      – eat good fats (nuts, omegas, etc.)
      – find a good lotion that works for you, I personally love Eucerin and Aveeno, but when things are really going badly, I use coconut oil or calendula oil (I buy the Weleda baby one…I know it’s for babies, but whatever, it’s soothing)
      – apply lotion directly after showers, while your skin is still damp
      – if you’re getting bumps, try a lactic acid lotion- I use LacHydrin, which I find very helpful for very dry patches , but I only find it good if I apply it twice a day.

    • Raw shea butter.

    • Any recommendations for facial moisturizer? I use CeraVe, but I find it only kind of leaves my face feeling hydrated during the winter, and my nose remains dry and flaky.

      • I used coconut oil a few times when I ran out of facial moisturizer and it worked well. I use the organic unrefined kind from Whole Foods.

      • hellskitchen :

        What about facial oils? I use plain grapeseed oil as a moisturizer and it keeps my combination acne-prone skin hydrated but trouble free.

        • IT Chick in MN :

          Oooh! I’m going to try grapeseed oil as soon as I get to the grocery store. I’m struggling with skin which has excema patches right next to blemishes, and it is making me crazy.

      • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is the only thing that works for me in Chicago (haven’t tried coconut oil though, I think I’ll pick some up – but prob not for the face). It’s light enough for sensitive skin, but it stays on and protects your skin all day long.

      • hoola hoopa :

        Do you use the facial cream or regular CeraVe? I use the regular with excellent results.

      • I just have to give a shout out to Nude brand cleansing oil. It is the first thing – and I have tried them all, including a long stint with Pond’s Cold Cream – that gets rid of all the flakiness on my face. It’s sold at Sephora and isn’t particularly cheap ($36 for 3.4 oz) but totally worth it for anyone with dry skin.

        • Link:

    • This is going to sound gross, but try skipping a shower once in a while. It’s fairly common in Europe. It’s really not necessary in the winter if you’re not working out or working up a sweat. I am taking 5-6 showers a week and using wipes and shampoo on the days I don’t shower.

    • I’ve found such a good solution for winter dry skin and have been meaning to share! When I squirt my body wash onto my loofah in the shower, I also squirt some baby oil along with it. It rinses clean, but still locks a crazy amount of moisture into your skin. Then I moisturize out of the shower, and my skin stays hydrated all day.

      Sometimes I fill up the sink with hot water pre-shower, and let the bottle of moisturizer float in it. When I get out of the shower, the lotion is nice and warm and absorbs right in! Plus, it makes my mornings feel a little luxurious :)

    • I swear by the Neutragena oil. I put it on right after I shower, then layer lotion on top of it. And do like the others…more water!

    • applesandcheddar :

      Instead of using regular baby oil, I buy the baby oil gel (not as messy). When I get out of the shower, I use it as a moisturizer and it has done wonders for my flaky legs. For my face, I use the CereVe lotion that comes in a big pot. I don’t think the regualar face lotion that comes with a pump is strong enough in the winter.

  7. I just started using myfitnesspal today – not a New Years Resolution, but my roommate’s using it and I am curious about my daily intake. I have two findings that seem weird and I’m hoping someone around here knows an explanation!

    1. Green tea – my green tea k-cups (celestial seasonings) apparently have 20% of my daily vitamin C in each 8 oz serving. They have no other nutrition information (0 calories, etc.). I read online that tea has small amounts of vitamin C, but 20% seems crazy.

    2. Oatmeal – my old fashioned oats have 1 g each of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. This makes MFP give me a bright red number in my daily nutrition. Why does oatmeal have these “bad” fats? Should I be avoiding oatmeal now?!

    • I’d take the info with a grain of salt as it’s all based on other users input. Not necessarily reliable.

    • pretty sure unsaturated fats are good for you! of course, everything in moderation, but I doubt your oatmeal is a cause for concern.

    • I think you can customize your fats ratio/goal so that it stops showing up in red. I think that MFP defaults to zero for unsaturated fats so upping that number should fix it. Figure out what your saturated fat goal is and then set the unsaturated as the balance number.

    • viclawstudent :

      I wouldn’t worry a ton about the details with MFP – the calorie stuff is accurate enough, and looking at the protein/carb/fat ratio can be nice, but the rest of it can, in my experience, be kind of weird. Example: I’ve been using MFP for a year and a half now and there is no day that I don’t go completely over my sugar allowance, not because I eat a lot of candy or other sweets (in fact generally I don’t eat foods with processed sugars in them), but because I eat a lot of fruit. So I ignore the red number in that column.

    • just a heads up, their “recommended amounts” of things seems questionable. I found the sodium to be crazy high (I only come withing 25% of the daily amount almost every day) but overall calories crazy low if you select a low activity level (like 1200 calories/day low) regardless of height/age. There are some posts on their forums supporting this too. I’ve been using it more of a diary and generally ignoring the red numbers because of this.

    • I started using it yesterday too! You can take a picture of the barcode of whatever you’re eating/drinking. That way you don’t have to rely on user input. The bar code is in the bottom right corner when you’re in the diary section.

      • If your “food” has a bar code you shouldn’t be eating it.

        • Quinoa has a bar code as do my spinach, and almond milk. Should I give them up?

        • anon anon anon :

          So you never eat pasta? Even whole grain? Or cereal, even whole grain and organic? Or almond milk? Or coconut milk? Or yogurt?

        • OMG RELAX. Lots of healthy food comes in packaging with bar codes.

        • Thanks for that helpful tip “Real Food”. Unlike you apparently, I don’t live on a farm and have to get my milk, meat and vegetables from a supermarket (although you probably don’t know what that is), and they use these incredibly handy things called barcodes to track what they sell.

          I think your comment is supposed to be some sort of fat-shaming reference…not that it matters, but I use the app to track calories, as I have to eat MORE than I do now; see I’m struggling with anorexia issues and usually don’t eat enough…but thanks for your help. I appreciate your feedback, it’s so constructive.

        • Sigh, this is why I steer clear of the super strict Paleo/Real Food movement. The basis of the lifestyle are great – the people implementing the plans are smug.

          I live in a tech davy town and everything has a bar code….including our produce at the farmer’s market.

          • tech *savy….I need another cup of organic green tea (which has it’s own bar code by the way.)

            Humidly, Celestial Seasonings adds ascorbic acid to their green tea which increases its vitamin C…20% is probably about right because MFP’s Vitamin C RDA is low in my opinion.

    • Thanks for all the help, everyone! I’m not concerned about the MFP goal numbers that much, more just curious and skeptical about the nutrition facts on these two foods. Both of these nutrition facts were from the bar code, so they’re the officially approved numbers.

  8. Better Clothes for 2014 :

    I love this site. I went pregnant for a few years after we went to business casual and am feeling a bit lost. I feel that it is way to easy to do a 100% Talbots / LE / JCrew wardrobe, but no one at my firm seems to dress well. I’m running a business area and feel that maybe I should be doing more on the clothes front than our entry-level hires.

    In my city, the next step up seems to be occupied by fancy-clothes vendors (which don’t work for work), high-end casual (which also seem iffy for work — luxe puffy vests with skinny jeans with boots, the sort of thing I’d like if I were a writer or just rich), or St. John (a boutique and 3 other stores at the same mall stock this — I am a scrawny pear and just can’t pull this off). I have a few DVF dresses that I like (and have figured out how to make into outfits), but can’t turn DVF into my new garanimals for grownups. Even if it’s e-shopping, can anyone recommend things to take the work dressing up a peg or two?

    If it matters, I am in the SE and in finance (so mostly guy co-workers).

    • Fun blazers can take you up a notch, dress-up wise, without feeling too stuffy. Something along these lines maybe:

      If you like DvF dresses, what about some other dresses? A sheath dress can be very versatile and since you don’t need to be too formal, you can really have some fun with it. The other day I saw a woman wearing a bright orangey red sheath dress with long sleeves with a silk blouse in a fun print underneath. It was unexpected and very chic! You can try something similar (in more muted tones if brights aren’t your thing).

      • Oh, also, check out Boden (and especially their catalog) – I feel like they have a lot of really cute clothes that are maybe a bit too cute/quirky for a regular office but could work in a more casual environment. I’m especially thinking of their pencil skirts in fun prints, jackets, blouses and dresses.

        • Better Clothes for 2014 :

          Thanks. I have a lot of LE and Talbots sheaths already. Maybe I could upgrade some when they start to show some wear.

          And I like Boden (but my taste there runs to their tunics). I do have a lovely silk blouse from Boden (and one from Anthro).

    • How about Mango or Zara?

      • Better Clothes for 2014 :

        Aren’t they mainly fast-fashion places? Those are great, but I’m thinking of more investment pieces (and not to the level of Akris or St. John, but what is a step or two above the mall stores)?

    • Late to this, but if I had the money to bump up a step from J Crew/Talbots, I’d be looking at (depending on your style) Brooks Brothers, Theory, Reiss, DKNY, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, etc. Also seems like this level is better represented in department stores than in stand-alone shops–might be the perfect time to try to find a department-store personal shopper whose style you trust.

      • IT Chick in MN :

        I’d try Nordstroms, even if you don’t have one in your city. You can talk to a personal shopper on the phone or online and they will even get in touch with you about sales, etc.

  9. Question: Kate Spade wedges (specifically the Mania) – are they likely to need any real break-in time and are they comfortable? I bought them for a conference I’m about to attend. Thanks!

    • Anon in NYC :

      I have the Kate Spade Kiki wedges and I love them. I’m a huge fan of the Karolinas, and I found them to have a similar fit/feel. Since I was wearing the Karolinas every day I did not need any break-in time (and find the Kikis a bit more comfortable/easy since they’re wedges).

  10. Going solo :

    Is anyone here a solo practioner or has tried going that route? DH is currently in government and thinking of going that route. We’re both 6 years out of school. He wants to primarily do criminal law so the start up and overhead costs are fairly low compared to other areas, and he has experience in the field and a good reputation, but I am very nervous about his plan. I would love to hear from anyone who’s considered or done something similar and if you know of any resources for him to consult, I’d appreciate that. too.

    Right now he’s just met with a couple of people who have done this and they’re all very happy about their chosen path, but I still worry this is a terrible risk and that maybe they’re putting too happy a spin on it. FWIW, we have some savings and I have a relatively steady position so insurance isn’t an issue and I think we could probably survive a lean 6 mos. to a year for him to get the ball rolling, but my salary isn’t enough for us to both live on, especially if we want to buy a place and have a kid in the next year or two.

    • Going solo has a lot of benefits (the flexibility is a huge one), but in my experience, 6 months to a year isn’t long enough to give it a trial run unless your DH has an established client base or referral source. My DH is a solo criminal defense practitioner – similar story to yours and he’s been solo for about 3 years now. While his practice is doing a lot better than the first year, things aren’t great yet and we heavily on my salary. That being said, it’s a lot of fun, and DH is much happier than before. It just depends on your risk tolerance and his realistic business prospects.

      • Going solo :

        Thanks for this! Can I ask where you’re located? We’re in a large metropolitan area so the feedback DH has been getting from those he’s spoken to is that if you build a good website that comes up in searches, it will be a good source of potential clients as there are a whole lot of low level arrests in our area – think shoplifting, college kids busted for dr*gs, DUIs and that sort of thing. The only referral source he would have though are these other solos who have volunteered to steer stuff his way when someone reaches out to them and they don’t want to take the case/client can’t afford their rates. He’s a good networker but I am not sure that would be close to enough even if he does start out of a virtual office. DH does seem like he would be happier though and this has always been his long term plan. I am just scared out of my wits.

        • I live in a medium-sized city and worked for a solo criminal defense attorney in law school and for a short time after graduation. As far as referrals, he did 100% word-of-mouth, and was able to maintain a strong practice for 20+ years on client referrals by just delivering good results. I did a lot with our marketing when I was there and my observation was that he did get dinged for not having a website (much less a good one) because people liked to refer to a website, plus you lose out on internet searches. Also, we did 80% DUIs. One thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly easy for both him and I to bring in DUI client’s from our own networks. Unlike other crimes (drugs, robbery, assault, murder, etc.) people from all walks of life get DUIs and they love to have someone to call when they get them. I live a pretty boring, low-key life and I was constantly having friends/family members/random people I didn’t know contacting me asking for representation for their DUIs (these were doctors, teachers, politicians).

          • Your last sentence is incredibly disheartening.

          • Disheartening? Maybe. People drink and drive, and many of these are “normal” people with “normal” jobs. I don’t drink and drive, but I also understand that not everyone who does so is one step away from complete dissolution.

          • If anyone is surprised by the fact that doctors, teacher, politicians, and yes, lawyers, drink and drive, I’m sorry to say you’re living in a fantasy. I don’t do it, and it’s a horrible thing to do and a huge risk of life and liberty. But people of ALL walks of life do it every day because they think “eh, it was one or two drinks and I’m fine.” Intent, critical to many statutory crimes, is irrelevant in DUIs. That’s why the penalties are harsher for subsequent offenders (as they should be).

        • I recently left my firm and am a solo criminal defense practitioner. While I was very nervous about $$ and still am, it’s going pretty well so far. It’s only been a few months, and right now I am relying heavily on assigned cases from my state’s public defender system (basically hourly contract work for private attorneys). If your state has panel work like this, it can be a really great starting point. Eventually I would like to get retained clients as well, and I hope to do so once I get a few good wins under my belt as a solo practitioner. (The wins I accumulated while working for others somehow don’t count as much…) I also mainly do appeals, so the flexibility/time management aspect has been life-changing. I do feel a bit isolated to be completely honest, but I’ll take the isolation over feeling like a slave to the partners I used to work for. I’d say it’s definitely a risk, but for those of us who really want to d it, there is nothing better and the risk is worth the rewards.

        • Going solo – we’re in a suburb of a major metro area in the Midwest. My DH has tried the website, SEO-thing, and the problem whe’s had is that the referrals are low quality. People who find his website make appointments and never show or they shop around until some attorney quotes an unreasonably low fee. But another solo friend of ours has had a lot of success with his website, but he doesn’t practice in criminal defense.

          I think it comes down to how much effort your DH is willing to put into it. I agree with Anonymous above that building a reputation through word of mouth will get the best, paying clients, and building a DUI practice is good too. Good luck!

    • Buy the house before he steps away from his steady job. Once you’ve bought it isn’t the mortgage company’s business how you make the payments, as long as you make them, but getting approved will be easier with two steady work histories.

      • This is good advice for getting approved, but is it good advice if they’re not sure themselves that they can make the payments?

        (I get it – we bought our first house using my salary even though I knew at the time I was going to be a SAHM for a while – this was a long time ago – and it worked out because we calculated that we can make the payments anyway. However, this OP says they can’t really make it on her salary.)

        • Best idea is to figure out what you can afford on the one income, but qualify with both, you’ll get better rates and have an easier time qualifying. But, then you won’t be in trouble if you just have the one income. That’s what hubs and I are doing.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Another resource he can look to is the Solosez listserv run by the ABA. You can sign up for the listserv without being an ABA member. Tell him to set up a new email address to use for the list though because it is an extremely active list. I considered going solo and gained a lot of insights from it.

      • Olivia Pope :

        I am not solo, but I follow lots of resources for solo/smalls because they are very practical.

        Your state bar association may have a solo/smalls listserv in addition to the ABA listserv. I follow the solo listserv for my state. There’s always tons of practical Q+A emails and the attorneys regularly give each other referrals. (“My client’s aunt needs X in Y county. Any takers?”)

        Lawyerist and MyShingle are good online resources for solos. Check Meetup for solo/small firm networking groups in your city as well.

    • I was a solo accountant for a while (part time while my kids were young), so feel free to ignore this bit of advice as I have no idea if it even applies to law, but the #1 thing I learned while I was solo was not undervalue myservices. So what if I was working out of my house and had low overhead? I was still a professional accountant with a designation and many years experience. That meant I should charge more than H&R Block for a personal tax return. I was worth it! If people couldn’t afford me, they were welcome to go elsewhere. A quality client base that can afford to pay you is more important than a large client base full of clients looking for the best deal, imo.

      And as I said, if this doesn’t apply, feel free to ignore. I won’t be offended ;)

      • The lesson to not undervalue your services has an application in law as well. It’s hard sometimes to see those big numbers on bills and not feel compelled to adjust them downwards. But you have to tell yourself that you legitimately put in the work and that your expertise justifies that cost.

    • In keeping with Sydney Bristow’s suggestion, see if your state bar has a lawyer referral service. Mine state does and you have to agree to do a super low cost consultation with clients who come to you through it but if they retain you, you’re welcome to charge your regular rates. Also, find out if/how court appointed work pays in your area. That’s the way most new solos break into things around here but I feel like our local pay rate for court appointed work is higher than the metro area near us. Most of my solo friends took a year to really get things going and see any positive returns from it. Be sure to check rates of malpractice insurance.

    • Coach Laura :

      Not a lawyer but as a banker who has seen thousands of business plans and start-up companies, I suggest spending 6-9 months and really plan this:

      *Develop a business cash-flow budget (this will probably involve more research on your hubby’s part than he’s done so far).
      *Develop a personal family budget based on your salary alone.
      *Save, save, save – for those 6-9 months, live only on your income. This does two things – shows how it will be to live with only one steady paycheck and also builds your savings.
      *Have at least 9-12 months of his current take home income in the bank. Financial planners say to have a six-month emergency fund – you need more like 12 months.
      *Find a good accountant, preferably one who can help with both business plans and tax issues. Just a bookkeeper won’t be enough. He can ask his other solo friends for referrals to CPAs who know how to advise small businesses.

      After you’ve done all that, I do agree that if you want to buy a house then you should get the loan and house before he quits. That’s why the planning and cushion are so important because you need to be able to cover the mortgage and the living expenses after you purchase. Or you may have to decide that you can have a house and a kid but not afford to have him be self-employed. Or that the “having a baby” timeframe will have to wait until the business is self-supporting.

      • Going solo :

        Thanks all for this very helpful feedback. I will print out and pass along to DH. Lots of food for thought!

        • Sydney Bristow :

          Oh one other addition is that my city and state bar associations seem to regularly have CLEs about setting up a solo practice. I found the one I attended to be very helpful. It went through many of the steps Coach Laura mentioned.

        • Not a solo, but I have heard (maybe here?) that the bible for starting up one’s own practice is (or perhaps was) the book by Jay Foonberg: “How to Start and Build a Law Practice.” It apparently hasn’t been updated since 2004, so you should supplement with more current materials. One that I’ve heard recommended locally is by Carolyn Elefant: “Solo by Choice 2011-2012: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be.”

  11. anon for this :

    Ladies, does anyone have a recommendation for a really competent ob-gyn in Manhattan? I’ve been having recurrent monthly issues for about 6 months that are affecting all the lady garden parties due to pain (my boyfriend has been lovely and patient but I can tell he’s starting to get frustrated/confused that I’ve been battling this for nearly half a year and haven’t found a solution yet – not to mention our previously thriving garden party frequency has dwindled to barely anything). I’ve been on three rounds of antibiotics and the problem won’t go away. My current ob-gyn won’t give me any advice other than “come back in and I’ll prescribe another round of medicine.” Ideally someone who won’t take months to get an appointment with…and who won’t take weeks to take a test and call me with results. I’m at my wit’s end! I have good private health insurance.

    • Spring OB/GYN — haven’t dealt with that problem, but they’ve always gotten back to me quickly about test results, and I’ve always been able to get in within a week.

    • I liked Dr. Helaine Worrell, 106 East 35 Street, (212) 844-1212. I’ve only seen her once but she was great and I plan to keep her as my regular doctor. It was relatively easy to get an appointment (I think I booked it maybe 1-2 weeks in advance?).

    • Dr Ken Levey at NY Pelvic Pain in the financial district. Relatively easy to get an appt and great doc.

    • Look up Andrew Goldstein (Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders). I have not seen him personally, but he is the gold standard for docs dealing with v pain. Also, check out his book, When Sex Hurts. It has details on all types of conditions that may cause pain with garden parties. I have issues in this area, and going to doctors who have no clue is very frustrating. I have been dealing with my issue for 10 years and still am trying to figure out what will help. If you want support, let me know, and I will post an email address so we can chat. :)

    • NYC Pelvic Pain on Maiden Lane

    • I’m not crazy about mine, but you may want to see if it’s a cyst.

      • anon for this :

        Hmm — if it were a cyst, wouldn’t it have been picked up during my (many) prior pelvic exams? I guess I could ask for an ultrasound to be sure. It mostly feels like internal irritation and soreness though.

        • What have they been diagnosing you with when they give you antibiotics? I had bacterial vaginosis for a while and it was annoying a painful. It completely cleared up with a prescription gel.

          • anon for this :

            That’s what my diagnosis was, yes. I went on two rounds of the gel and one of the oral antibiotic so far, and it keeps coming back. :-(

          • Are you sure you don’t have a yeast infection now? The antibiotics wipe away all the germs (good and bad). Look at the symptoms of a yeast infection online and see if your symptoms match. If so, just call the Dr.’s office and ask for a Rx for Diflucan (they should have given you one anyway because this happens to a lot of woman after taking antibiotics). I found some comfort with the OTC itch gel that you can buy near the lu*be, etc.

          • Are you generally taking good care of yourself? Sleeping enough, eating well, exercising? I came down with the BV infection because I was exhausted and I think my body was just worn down.

          • FWIW, I had a lot of trouble shaking a BV infection. The only thing that worked for me, ultimately, was boric acid washes (avoiding the d-word because I have no idea if it gets moderated). At the time, this was considered a wacky home remedy, but the CDC has since stated that it is not just for the wacky, so it might be worth considering. If you check out the website v*ginapagina dot com, they have very, very good information on how to do this (as well as on many other topics – it’s a great site).

          • hoola hoopa :

            Has your partner been treated, too? It’s possible that he’s an asymptomatic carrier and re-infecting you. Worth finding out if that’s possible or getting him tested.

        • Well, I’m not a doctor, but I did just have a very large cyst removed and it was never picked up by my OBGYN–only during a [email protected] ultrasound. They sometimes cause discomfort during sex. But if you’re feeling irritation, you’re probably right that it’s something else. They’re usually harmless, though!

    • Love the group at NYU. You can find them on the NYU Langone Med Ctr website. Particularly recommend Dr. Durante.

    • I’d recommend Dr. Adam Flisser. He’s a gyn only which is actually really great if you don’t need an OB right now (much easier to get an appointment, even with short notice; much more attention to non-OB patients than I have experience with ob/gyns).

  12. Opinions on debt :

    Hi Ladies, I’m looking for some opinions on what I should do about my debt. I have about $185 k in student loans at 6.7% and am currently on the Income Based Repayment plan. The amount I pay each month is not enough to even cover the interest, so the balance goes up each month by about $750. However, I am also currently in a public service job and hope to stay in public service for the next 10 years. As long as there are no changes in the law, and I am able to stay in public service, theoretically all my student loans will be forgiven after 10 years.

    I also have about $9k in credit card debt (about half of which is currently at 0% until April 2015; the rest is at 15%).

    I am about to come into a small windfall (about $5k) and am debating whether to throw it at my student loans (basically, hedging my bets on the forgiveness thing) or use part of it to pay down the high interest credit card and put the rest in savings.

    The funding for my current job is going to run out by September or December of this year so I am trying to be aggressive about savings. Another thing I am considering is that, down the road, if I end up having to file for bankruptcy, the credit card debt is dischargeable and the student loan debt is not. At the same time, the $5k thrown at the student loans will bring the balance down slightly but the interest will make it creep back up to the same level as it is now within less than a year).

    Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.

    • CC to completely pay off the 15% debt.

      IMHO it doesn’t hedge anything on the loan forgiveness, especially since the interest creep on the 185k would come back within a year.

    • I would definitely not put it toward your loans since you plan on staying on government/public interest. I’d do a combination of paying down your credit card/putting some toward savings.

    • CC to completely pay off the 15% debt. The rest in savings.

    • Although I understand your situation (I have a little more school debt, similar interest rates), let’s not talk about going into bankruptcy, yet. Personally, I would pay down the high interest credit card and save. I don’t think you should plan on going into bankruptcy, so the fact that the credit card debt is more easily dischargeable wouldn’t factor heavily into my equation. Whatever’s leftover after paying off the high interest CC debt should go towards having a healthy emergency fund, in case you have some down-time when the funding from your current job runs out.

      • This – put it toward the 15% CC and start an emergency fund.

        And look at why you have CC debt in the first place. Is it a continuing issue, or was it a one time deal in the past? Esp if your job is unstable, focus on cutting expenses or finding a way to stop adding to the CC debt.

        One option: See if there’s a way to reduce your student loan payment even more and then put that difference in your emergency savings each month. And definitely, if your job loses funding, get your student loan payments stopped. Pay as little as possible on that loan since it will (hopefully) be forgiven.

        • Good advice. I’d also encourage you to just cut up those credit cards or at least not carry them with you so that you are not tempted to use them.

    • I would definitely not pay a dollar to your student loans. I’d either save the entire amount (since your job may end this year), or pay part to the credit card and part to savings. With a balance of $185K, $5K won’t make a dent, and an additional payment would likely go to principal, so it wouldn’t even stop the increasing monthly balance. On the other hand, $5K would likely be a huge contribution to your savings, or would pay off a full half of your credit cards.

      • Opinions on debt :

        Thanks everyone – glad to know you all concur with my instincts.

    • Don’t put the cash toward your student debt. Pay off your most expensive debt first, ie, your credit card. Student loan lenders tend to be pretty easy going so long as you make your minimum payments and keep your address updated. I know it’s really difficult to watch the interest pile up (I’m there too!) but keep your eye on the 10-year-forgiveness-prize. If you haven’t already, get serious about saving what ever income you can before your funding runs out (you don’t need cable, eat more beans and eggs, etc).

    • You should not plan for bankruptcy but try to avoid it at all costs. First, put the money towards your emergency fund so you pay for the necessities if you are laid off. Then put the rest toward the credit cards.

    • Agree with others – pay the CC debt. Also remember you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven in the year it was forgiven so a few years beforehand you may want to start saving for that tax bill.

      • wildkitten :

        I don’t believe public service loan forgiveness requires paying the tax bill. I think the 25-year plan involves a tax bill, but not the 10-year public service plan.

      • They amended the law so in the 10 year public service forgiveness program (which I’m in) does not require you to pay taxes on the forgiven debt. I’m not sure if the 25 year was included in that or not.

  13. Hi Ladies! I need gift advice. My SO just got a fantastic new job- very high level, and I’m extremely proud of him. I want to give him a nice gift, something along the lines of a business card holder. Does anyone have any experience/advice on this? Thanks in advance!!

    • oil in houston :

      depending on your budget – a Mont Blanc pen? (this is what I wanted when I got to a ‘very high level’ job)….

    • In the Pink :

      Check out Levenger, Paradise Pens etc…for a nice pen and then maybe accompanying pen stand/holder or even leather desk items? May last longer than a business card holder? Great idea, @Oil in Houston. If he would carry the pen around in a briefcase, I would recommend a soft leather pen case too.

      • Tiffany has plenty of nice and very luxurious objects and some of them are (surprise, suprise) in reasonable price., such as collar stays at something around 100$ or adorable glassware at below 50$. Or silver/steel cufflinks?

  14. Kat, FYI the link says its •Viscose rayon/nylon/spandex, not stretch wool.

  15. Ask for a raise? :

    After doing some research on different salary websites, I confirmed that I am underpaid for my role and experience level relative to the market. By about 20% I have a meeting with my boss this afternoon to disucss my career planning for the next year and I’d like to bring this up. I’m frustrated as I’ve suspected this for a while but what is the right way to handle this?

    • Ask your manager what the process is for requesting salary adjustments, and/or how salaries are determined.

      “In doing research for potential career paths, I also looked at salary implications of various scenrios and found data that suggests market rate for my role and experience is X. If possible, I’d love to get closer to that number. Do you know the process I should follow?”

  16. Tall dress pants :

    Can anyone recommend a place where I can buy tall or long dress pants with a narrower leg opening (looking for a straight leg, not skinny jean narrow) under $100 – preferably a place that regularly has sales so I can get them for less. I found some that look exactly like what I want at The Limited but they were made from a weird stretchy fabric and they stretched out and bunched up in a very unflattering way once I’d worn them a few times. I’m looking for a suiting fabric or something similar that will hold up over time and not get stretched out. I’ve checked Ann Taylor, LOFT, BR, GAP several times over the last few months and have not seen what I’m looking for.

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