Wednesday’s TPS Report: Fifth Avenue Dress

Of Mercer Fifth Avenue Dress | CorporetteOur daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

I was excited to see that our friends over at Of Mercer are getting some killer press lately and expanding into their first flagship store — the two former Wharton grads behind the brand have a great eye for workwear for real women. This little black dress (also available in gray) is a perfect example of a wardrobe workhorse; it has everything you want (flattering fit, work-appropriate length and neckline, sleevelessness for maximum layering potential) and nothing you don’t (e.g., exposed zipper, wrinkly fabric, too-low neckline in the back). It’s $165 at Of Mercer. Of Mercer Fifth Avenue Dress

Here’s a plus-size option.

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



  1. Anonymous :

    Anyone else have issues with Ann Taylor standard shipping? Ordered three dresses from Saturday’s sale and arrived home yesterday to find an Info Notice that a signature was required for delivery. No option to leave the signed Info Notice so that they would leave the package. Only options for delivery are to have it left at a UPS facility across town or pay to have it left at another one. I can’t remember any other retailers requiring a signature for clothing.

    • They leave packages big and small at my door all the time (suburban house). Now how long it takes to get there unless I pay an arm and a leg….

      • heatherskib :

        I get about a 50/50 with companies. Even the same company will have things left sometimes or not.

    • Wanderlust :

      I ordered some stuff from the sale on Friday and it showed up yesterday, just left at my door. I’m in PA.

      • You should just get the doorman to sighn for stuff. My doorman signs and then just tells me when I come in that there is a package from Ann Taylor for me. He then either gives it to me or has the porter bring it up for me b/c I am usueally holding thing’s in my hand when I come in from work. YAY!!!

    • I get deliveries from them all the time, left at my door, no problems at all. This is true now at my suburban home where they’re left on a doorstep and at my old apartment in a city, where there was no security for packages that were left. Sounds odd.

    • That does seem odd. I understand AT and Loft ship directly from store inventory, so delivery time depends on where it is coming from. I bought some awesome Lou & Grey stuff in the last Loft sale and the piece I really wanted showed up days after my “maybes”. Isn’t that how it goes? Sorry it’s been such a pain for you. I’ve never heard of having to sign for it.

    • I think it’s a UPS issue not a store issue – where I live they won’t leave packages, and the rules around signatures are theirs.

      • Anonymous OP :

        This turned out to be the issue. The UPS driver apparently decided at his discretion to require an in person signature for the package.

    • I would have that problem too but never consistently. You could try calling your UPS facility and seeing if they’ll leave the package without a signature, that’s worked for me before.

  2. Of Mercer :

    I wore a stretch wool sleeved dress of theirs yesterday for the first time. It was lovely and made me wish that other companies had more offerings. I wore this dress with heavy tights and the lining didn’t “argue” with the tights, which is often where winter offering fall short and stay in the closet half of the year.

    I have a Pendleton wool dress that I really like, but I prefer the Of Mercer cut since it is a bit trimmer.

    Hey OM: if you can make a bunch of slightly-pear friendly cuts (identified as such), you can sell me lots of dresses esp if they have sleeves :)

    • Diana Barry :

      I like the *idea* of Of Mercer, but all of their dresses are too short! PLEASE MAKE TALL DRESSES. Same goes for MM LaFleur, those were too short too.

      • + a million. I will pay good, good money for tall, sleeved, work dresses, but they are so few and far between :(

      • Of Mercer :

        FWIW, I am 5-4, so agree that others may have different results. But IF you are 5-4ish, these may work for you.

        [And I am dying sometimes, b/c Talbots regular sizes are too big b/c the shoulders and waist and their petites are too short in the length. They have done some nice dresses lately, but didn’t work for me. Also didn’t work: JCrew.] It’s all about getting the scale right.

      • Definitely. TOO SHORT.

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one with that thought. I have a 36″ inseam and have seen quite a few “work appropriate” dresses that would barely hit mid-thigh on me. I don’t even bother with dresses really, specifically because finding good stuff in lengths fit for giantesses is nearly impossible.

        And let’s not even get into the impossibility of finding non-tunic tops that are long enough, or regularly acknowledge that some of us have shoulders and arm muscles.

    • So agree. I would love to buy this, but it’d be a minidress on me. Please hear us: make some talls…43″ dresses please!

    • Anonymous :

      Can you comment on the fit? It’s it closer to j crew, theory? I’m specifically curious how it might work for athletic shoulders and bigger bust (where j crew and theory don’t work).

      • Anonymous :

        I’ve never gotten JCrew dresses to fit (and have hips, so have never even tried Theory).

        I have tiny shoulders and am pretty flat-chested (so I am built like a 4th grader, but with hips and a tummy). I think that DVF wraps may work well on you (I can’t fill them up) and also her sheath dresses.

        I have like a 32C bust, 28-29″ waist, and 38″ hips (and I am usually needing to take in the waist of bottoms). The 6 fit me (5-4) perfectly with no alterations in the long-sleeve dress (it has a v at the back and is wool; I forget the name). It could probably handle someone with bigger boobs / shoulders, but not if you were say a varsity swimmer where that is your biggest part.

        For me, perfect. It is so hard to get a fitted dress to fit, especially if your halves are unequal.

    • Of Mercer :

      Hi Ladies!

      We hear you! More tall dresses are on their way – promise :-)

      In the mean time, The Sullivan Dress (that we released today!) is great for pear shaped bodies AND has sleeves:

      xo OM

      • lucy stone :

        How about some wide dresses for those of us who don’t fit standard sizes? Pretty please?

  3. At the end of the day yesterday, someone asked about M Gemi shoes. I think it was too late for replies, but I’m curious about them too. Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, with the brand? I’m personally interested in the Strato (the driving moccasin with fringe), but I’m curious about their other shoes as well. Any insight?

    • DisenchantedinDC :

      I saw some AWESOME mixed-media flats there the other day, so I’m wondering aabout this, too!

    • IMO, they are great office shoes, but not as practical for running around, every day shoes. I should’ve realized this before I bought their Pirouetta, which was a ballet flat that looks like it’s not available right now. Anyways, the shoe arrived and it was gorgeous, perfect fit, perfect patent leather blush/nude to me. However, the sole had no traction and they scuffed easily. I tried to wear them as an everyday shoe, but they cannot take that wear. They died maybe 3 months after I got them after I stepped in a puddle during a big downpour, and they never dried out but did warp some. So all in all, the shoes look as great in person as they are online. Their customer service is great, I had a specific question and they had their staff test my foot issue (high arches) with the model to give me an honest answer. But please baby these shoes, or you will regret it like I did.

  4. NYC Meetup? :

    Meg March here. Olya’s going to be in town from Nov 12-15, and has posted at off-hours a couple times suggesting we do a meetup. It’s been a while since we’ve had one. If you’re interested, email me at megmarchcorpor*tte at the gmail (replace the star with an e, obviously) and we’ll try to arrange something. I’m thinking (without input) that Thursday the 12th might work well, so let me know if a) you’d like to come but that night doesn’t work and b) what time would work for you.

  5. Anonymous :

    DH and I are looking to buy our first house in the next year and a half. What books do you recommend to 1) understand the basics of the process and 2) learn the finer points of the negotiation process? Anything else we should know?

    • Diana Barry :

      Figure out how much you can afford on your own – don’t rely on the mortgage company’s assessment. I find that mortgage companies will approve you for MUCH MORE than you should be spending. Once we got a big loan based only on my income when DH was making 2x as much as I was – there was no way I would have been able to afford that loan by myself. Also have your pre-approval in hand as you look more seriously – especially in a hot market, they won’t take an offer seriously without one. (In some markets now cash is king – so a cash buyer will always win over a buyer who needs a mortgage.)

      Look on the internet to see what places are selling for – you can find how long they are on, whether they sell for ask or close to it or over it, etc. This will give you a sense of what the market is like and how quickly you will have to move on offers, and how much you will have to offer.

      I wouldn’t use an agent of your own unless you are moving to a new area. If you come in without an agent, the seller’s agent doesn’t have to split the commission and thus you are a more attractive buyer.

      Look at a LOT of places – like starting now – so that you can figure out what the market is like. When we started looking at houses, the first few we looked at had “bad bathrooms” IMO – so they were last redone in the 60s – and it took me a while to realize that all houses in our price range in this town were going to have “bad bathrooms” because in order to have “good bathrooms” the houses would be $250K more.

      • Disagree on the advice above about not using your own agent. Your agent is there to give you advice, and particularly as a new buyer, to walk you through the process. I would recommend a buyer’s agent, who owes their full duty and loyalty to you. In addition to helping you through the purchase process, the agent can recommend a home inspector, often has a connection with a mortgage broker, etc. I would not buy a house without an agent.

        • +1 I cannot imagine buying without an agent. Skip the books and find a good one to educate you.

          • lost academic :

            Agreed. We’re very DIY with respect to stuff like this, but having a realtor in New City has made a vast difference in what we’ve been able to see, especially with respect to when it’s coming on the market. I have a career, and it’s not finding houses.

        • Eh, I think it depends on your personality, and the extent to which you’re willing to get down in the weeds and deal with the details (researching, negotiating, etc). We bought our 1st place without a realtor, and it worked out very well for us. But it’s not the right choice for every situation.

        • +1 Do not skip an agent whatsoever if you’re in a competitive market. I’m in Greater Boston and each house had minimum 5 offers. Our agent worked miracles, exercised relationships, asked really specific questions that we would never have thought of, etc. to get our offers looked at and negotiated (rather than straight up ignored). The house we ultimately got was because the agent talked her way into the house before the open house, and it was put under agreement on the spot.

          • Us too. We would not have our current house, which is perfect for us, without our agent pushing for an answer on our offer before the sellers had planned on looking at offers. If we had just used the sellers agent we would not have got the house. I will never buy a house, especially in a competitive market without my own agent.

        • An agent is crucial in a competitive real estate market. We got our house even though we were the lowest of three bids because of our agent’s presentation.

      • Anonymous (OP) :

        Both you and anon below posted about cash offers. Why are cash offers more attractive? Is it because pre-approval for a loan doesn’t always ultimately result in final approval of the loan and therefore by taking a financed buyer’s offer the seller risks the deal falling through? Or something else?

        • Yep. No mortgage contingency in the agreement of sale, no associated bank delays caused by the buyer, less administrative hassle, and faster closing.

        • Anon at 10:10 :

          Yes. But it’s only the norm in some super-hot markets (SF for sure, and I assume NY). I live in a small Midwestern city and cash is pretty much unheard of here. I do know people who have bought in SF without all cash, it just takes time and patience and you will lose out on a lot of houses you love because so many people can pay cash.

          • Anon for this :

            This. The house we’re in now we had to agree to a contingency where the sellers could accept an all cash offer and break ours up until 24 hours before closing. No one ever materialized (we countered with a contingency that they could no longer actively marked), but it was stressful.

        • Cash offers = bank contingencies = third party risk. Our appraiser almost blew up our closing by valuing too low and using super stale comps. I needed a mortgage to buy a house, but when I sell

        • Ask your lenders what they can do to help you compete with all cash offers. For example, Sofi advertises that they underwrite you ahead of time so there’s far less of an issue between signing and closing and they do this to help you compete with all cash offers, esp in places like San Fran.

      • I agree with this advice except for the bit about not using your own agent. If you’re concerned about the negotiation process, an agent can really help if he/she knows the market and the sellers’ agent. Also, in tighter markets like my neighborhood in Boston, if you’re hearing about a new listing when it hits MLS, you’re too late. If the market is hot and inventory is low, you need an agent to tell you something is coming up/about to be listed and who can get you in to the earliest possible showing. If that’s not the case in your location, you might be fine on your own.

      • I cannot imagine going through the buying process without my agent! We just bought in Boston a few months ago and were first time buyers. The misconception is that the agent is there to help you find the right place. This is not always true – with all the online tools these days, you’re more likely to find your own place. Where the agent is indispensable is in helping you through the process. He/she will know how long certain things are going to take, which mortgage brokers to work with…everything!

        Also, the seller’s agent should be trying to get the best price/buyer for their client, so I would be hesitant to work with one who was just out for themselves and more likely to take a bad offer because they don’t need to split the commission.

        • 100% agree. Just bought in Boston, am a BigLaw attorney, and would’ve been completely out of my depth without a good agent. We found our place on our own through a Redfin listing, but there were 9 offers on our place and our agent guided us through the process perfectly.

    • I bought Home Buying for Dummies and it gave a good overview of the process. I was surprised how little negotiation we did. Zero, actually. The real estate agent handled all the discussions with the seller’s agent. Of course we had to make decisions about what she was authorized to offer, but that doesn’t require negotiation skills.
      I respectfully disagree with Diana Barry. I think it’s pretty crazy to try to buy for the first time without an agent. You won’t pay the agent yourself (seller’s agent will split the commission) and unless you’re buying in a hyper-competitive market I don’t think having no agent really makes you that much more attractive as a buyer. And in a really competitive market like SF, you’ll need other crazy stuff like a cash offer to be competitive, so the existence or non-existence of an agent doesn’t really matter. But a good agent does SO so much more than just find houses for you and advise you about reasonable prices. S/he handles all the negotiations with the seller, refers you to (and manages) good appraisers and inspectors, handles everything with the bank and the title company, helps you get all the utilities set up in your name, can refer you to good contractors for remodeling, etc etc. I had heard so much about how stressful the home buying is and I honestly thought the process was a breeze (even though we got in a bidding war), and I think that’s all due to our fantastic agent.

      • Anon at 10:10 :

        I also thought it was incredibly useful that when I walked through potential homes with our agent, she could answer so many questions, especially about what could and could not be changed. Obviously I know that paint can be changed pretty cheaply and a full kitchen remodel is expensive but in between that I was kind of hopeless, having never owned a home and not being “handy” at all. It was SUPER useful to have her say “yeah, you’re pretty much stuck with that unless you tear down a wall” or “oh, that’s just a couple hundred dollars to switch out.”

        • Diana Barry :

          Maybe this is the difference. I am a lawyer and know real estate lawyers, inspectors, mortgage brokers etc., and DH is very handy and knew all this stuff going in about what could/could not be changed, so we have a lot of built-in knowledge.

          Mostly I found our agents to be useless. HOWEVER, the poster above re: the super-hot market is also correct – if they are doing broker open houses and know about the places coming on the market ahead of time, that is good knowledge and something you won’t get without an agent.

          • also an attorney :

            It’s interesting to see how similar backgrounds can approach things so differently. I’m also an attorney with a husband who can build just about anything. We have done major DIY renovations before, but I found our agent to be worth his weight in gold. We were in a competitive bidding situation and won our house by a very small margin. We were originally going to go in with a higher number but he convinced us we could get it for less based on his knowledge of the other brokers who were representing the competing bidders and how aggressively they generally advised people to bid. If you are looking at a hot market, I would definitely see who the #1 and #2 agents in the area are. Their market knowledge and connections can really work to your advantage.

            Real estate agents are like lawyers or any other professional service provider. There are some great ones and some that are terrible. But a good one will teach you more than any book can. Also, you should ask a lot of questions so make sure it is someone you are comfortable with.

    • We started casually going to open houses approximately one year before we were ready to buy. It helped us decide exactly what we were looking for, narrowed down our ideal neighborhoods, and provided insight on reasonable pricing/offers. When we were finally ready, we were confident enough about what we wanted that we were able to jump very quickly on our home. Since you say you’re about a year and a half out, I highly recommend doing this!

      If you have Redfin in your area, they host free seminars on home buying basics. We actually used a Redfin agent who was great about personally educating us as well.

  6. Puppy Love/Guilt :

    Hello ladies. Looking for some advice/commiseration. I just got my first puppy! I always had dogs growing up, but this was the first time I’ve had to do it myself. I’m seriously head over heels in love with the little guy and want to do what is best for him. Unfortunately, I’m feeling like a bad owner. I work during the day, so I can’t be there with him all the time. I live close to work and have a flexible schedule, so I can go home once during the morning, for an hour over lunch, and again once during the afternoon. So he’s never alone for more than 2 hours at a time in his puppy play pen. (He’s not comfortable with the crate yet, and I don’t want to force him. We’re working on it.) But it breaks my heart every time I leave and I hear him whining and yelping because he misses me. We take a long walk in the morning before I go to try and over lunch to try and tire him out, and I leave him with lots of toys. And he always quiets down within a few minutes of me leaving. Also, I’ve arranged for family friends to watch him twice a week until daycamp is an option, and once he has his next round of shots he will be going to puppy day camp 2 days a week. But I feel so selfish for getting a dog when I can’t devote my time during the day to him.

    So, Number 1: Should I just suck it up and pay for him to go to daycamp every day when that is an option? I’d prefer to not do this because I don’t want this to become a dependency for his entire lifetime. But I will if people think it’s best.

    Number 2: Tips for helping with the separation and the guilt?

    • Sounds like he is getting plenty of affection and exercise. Dogs sleep a large portion of their days so it’s not as if he is spending his hours pining away for you. Dog daycare is really exhausting for them (no naps!) so you’ll likely find that he will be tired the next day. If he’s a really active breed, he may need to go more often, but a couple of days a week usually does the trick.

      • +1 five days of doggie daycare could exhaust and overwhelm my dog. Don’t assume it will be right for your dog. I bet it’s right for only a majority of very social dogs.

    • Anonymous :

      1. You are visiting your pet a lot. Like I think it would be hard to manage a job with that visitation schedule during the day. Once seems to be generous.
      2. If your dog is lonely, maybe get a cat? I don’t think that two dogs would necessarily work for you (maybe?). I know some horses that have goats as their pets (to increase interaction without doubling up on the horse expenses).

      • we got a goat for my horse. they loved each other!

        • DisenchantedinDC :

          My horse had a cat growing up! He also had other horses, but she was definitely “his” cat. She would hang out in his feeder.

        • lost academic :

          That’s what I want to do when we can finally move to a place I can keep my horse on our property (which will probably be about the time she really retires at the rate we are going). Did you consider a donkey, though?

        • We got miniature goats for us. They’re the best therapy ever:)

    • IMO 2 hours at a time is fine for a puppy to be left alone (I’m assuming he’s at least 3-4 months old) if he isn’t having accidents, especially if it’s not every day. It sounds like you’re doing a good job, and going home 3 times a day to walk him doesn’t make you a bad owner!!! If barking or accidents become an issue, I would worry about it then.

    • Wildkitten :

      I acknowledge that this is a totally crazy thing to do but – I got my dog a cat so she wouldn’t be lonely at home all day, and it really works for us. They’re best friends and they’re both really happy together.

    • You’re doing fine! I felt the same way with a new puppy. The whining and crying is just so sad. He’ll get used to the routine. Don’t do long drawn-out goodbyes when you leave or get him overly excited when you come home (even though you may be excited) as this worsens any separation anxiety. 2 days a week of puppy daycare is more than enough. Once he adjusts to his routine and everything he’ll be totally used to you coming home/leaving.

      • +1. All of this (his being sad/whining for a few minutes and then quieting down, and your feeling guilty) is totally normal. I experienced the same thing. My “puppy” and I have now spent 10 years together :)

      • Totally agree with KC! It was heart wrenching hearing our puppy’s whimpers and cries when I left for work, although it only lasted the first week (and he only cried for ~20 minutes). Even worse, I had a security system that could let me hear him crying as I walked to work – I definitely do not recommend that route! Rule of thumb about a puppy’s bladder is he can hold his pee x months old + 1 hour (e.g., 2 month old puppy should be able to hold it for 3 hours).

        We have a walker that comes during the day to take our dog out – you could try two days of daycare (which is probably more than enough depending on how active your breed is) and the other three days have a walker come.

      • Our puppy used to whine and whimper when we left him at home (we have a dog walker come around lunch to let him out and play with him) and he got used to the routine. We gradually moved him from crate to free rein of the house and now he goes to the living room rug and sits patiently while we get his Kong ready. We recently got a second dog and it’s been a heart wrenching to go through the whining and crying again but I know she’ll settle into the routine soon.

        The best thing you can do is set the rules and enforce them. If you expect him to be home alone, then make it part of the routine and it’ll be a distant memory soon.

    • It is true that puppies should not be left home alone for 8 hours, but it sounds like what you are doing is more than sufficient to meet the needs of your puppy. I’ve done rescue work and we had stringent standards of who could foster puppies, and being home 3 times a day (during the work day) as you are would have been enough – typically it is recommended that a puppy have the option to use the bathroom at least every 3-4 hours. Unless the dog is an active breed, there is no reason it couldn’t be alone for 8 hours a day as an adult (and even if it is an active breed, as long as you made sure it got plenty of exercise when you were home, the 8 hours a day wouldn’t be an issue). If you want the dog to go to doggy day care, by all means take it, but it isn’t mean to leave him at home if it is only 8-9 hours. Just make sure it is getting plenty of attention when you are home (walks, playing, just spending time with you) and the dog will be fine.

    • You’re doing fine as is. We got our dog at 9 months and felt guilty initially about leaving her at home but realized that 1) she sleeps most of the day and 2) she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s 2 now and we have a dog walker come over on days when we’re going to be at work late and take her to doggie daycare once a week. Once a week seems enough to tire her out and give her the chance to socialize with other pups. Also, don’t feel like you have to crate train your dog. Our dog hated the crate and we never could get her in without trauma. We initially closed off the kitchen with baby gates then gave her the run of the downstairs as she proved herself.

  7. Just wanted to send along a thank you for the yoga studio advice a few weeks back. It turns out that the rude teacher has moved so no need to say anything after all. It’s also made me a bit more conscious of helping people if they look lost / confused when they come into the studio.

  8. Anon - student loans :

    Does married filing-separately vs. married filing-jointly make a difference when it comes to IBR? Or is it once you’re married, your income is your combined income for IBR purposes?

    Yes, we can and will talk to a professional about this but I’m just looking for a quick response.

    • Wildkitten :

      My understanding is that you do MFS for IBR, but I know I have to do MFS for my LRAP so I might be getting them confused.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Yes. If you file separately, your IBR will be based solely on your income. You’ll likely be paying a higher tax rate though. This is what I’ll have to do for this year because the monthly difference in my payments will likely be greater than the increased tax.

      If you file jointly, both incomes are used to calculate your payments.

    • I was told by a loan counselor that MFS is best when the spouse who is on IBR makes significantly less than the other spouse (and the other spouse has a fairly large income).

      • Anon - student loans :

        Thanks. Yes, that is our situation – fiancé is a post-doc (so this year ~50K but will be significantly higher once post-doc ends) and I earn ~200K.

        • If only your fiancé has loans, you should definitely look into MFS. Your income tax rate might take a hit, so just do the calculations each way (tax savings vs. loan amounts). Especially if your fiancé plans to rely on any public-interest forgiveness, it might make sense to keep his payments really low.

          • Anon - student loans :

            No, he doesn’t plan to rely on loan forgiveness. Once the post-doc is over, his income will increase significantly.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        It also makes sense for us because even though we have similar salaries, I also have a significant chunk of private loans with payments that don’t change.

  9. As I’ve posted about, I’m in desperate need of a wardrobe do over. I’m finding I’m not in the position to do it at once so I want to try to add an item every pay day or two pay days.

    How do you keep track of what items you need to buy and any specifics about the style or other requirements?

    Is a todo list the best way?

    • Wildkitten :

      I keep a list in Evernote. It also stops me from buying things I don’t need – to stop and ask myself, should I really buy these printed leggings when I still need to buy a black cardigan?

    • I made sure to keep a running list of what I needed, would often ‘sale stalk’ items (I just cannot accept paying full retail for clothing), and try to buy things at the end of season when they were most deeply discounted. Brooks Brothers in particular has been an awesome resource for super marked down good quality blazers/suits at the end of a season.
      Also, your call, but I’ve more or less established a capsule wardrobe with regard to colors. I wear navy and grey pants/suits/dresses almost exclusively with coordinating colors for tops/skirts – yellow, lighter blue, purple, steel grey, and burgundy. I do have a (very) few black/print/red dresses and tops, but I find this limited color palette makes it easy on me when I travel (everything matches! fewer shoes!) and helps limit my impulse buys since I like for new pieces to fit easily into my existing items.

  10. Anonymous :

    What are the best drugstore nude pantyhose? I just need some for warmth on Halloween so don’t necessarily want to invest a ton of money. I’m sort of pale but don’t want to be washed out too much, so I struggle to find the right shade. Any suggestions?

    • My favorite pantyhose are the “West Loop” brand from Walgreens. They are my go to and I stock up when they are on sale.

    • Or you could try the Walgreens fleece tights! I hear they’re really nice.

  11. I don’t really think this is a work appropriate length. It’s ok when she’s standing but when sitting it would probably ride up into mid-thigh territory.

    • Eh, this is *slightly* short on the model IMO – it would probably be perfect on me at 5’4. The proportions look a little off for the model’s height anyway, like the waist is too high on her, making this dress – which I think looks like an awesome staple – appear more childish/short than it would be IRL.

      I checked out the Of Mercer website, though, and this length issue (or possible benefit, for shorties like me) seems to apply to all their dresses – all of them, on the model, are 2-3″ shorter than my preferred work length. Do any department stores carry them for easier scoping in-person?

      • Ok, fine, this is not work appropriate on women who are taller than ~5’6″. That still excludes a LOT of people, and they don’t have tall sizes.

        • The model is 5’9″ so the length would be more work appropriate on most women.

          • Wildkitten :

            I think it’s too short on the model.

          • Anonymous :

            Average height in the US is 5’6″, so you are probably correct that it would work for the majority.

          • anonymama :

            CDC says average height for an adult woman in the US is just a bit over 5’3

  12. Any tips for a dog that won’t go to the bathroom (#2) in the rain? She’s otherwise housebroken, but we just discovered this does not extend to rain. It doesn’t matter if we walk her for 10 minutes or an hour, she won’t go in the rain (and then of course goes inside the house as soon as we leave for work). I’m thinking the best thing might be training her to use a puppy pad, since I’m guessing this issue will also extend to snow (she used to be a California dog and hasn’t lived through her first winter yet), but I have no idea how to go about doing that.

    • Wildkitten :

      Oh no. My dog once held it for like three days during a hurricane, but she doesn’t go inside either. That’s tough. Have you tried walking her with a golf umbrella? Or maybe you just need the world’s longest walks during the rain… those are my only ideas.

      • I have one dog who loves and uses the puppy pad whenever, and another who will hold it–whatever it is–forever if she had to. Of course, she never has to (we’re not evil), but man that dog hates #2 in the rain! Long long walks, or being prepared to scoop a #2 just inside our building’s lobby, after said long walk, when she’s decided she’s ready. Urgh. I love that dog, but it’s a pain.

    • When we needed our dog to go on a leash, we walked her around in small circles until she eventually got the point and did her business. I’d keep working on this with an umbrella, some treats, and some extra time on rainy mornings. Try to schedule the walks for prime poop time, like right after she has eaten. I know, I know, mornings are busy and this is a pain. But, I think that getting this issue fixed now is preferable to messing up housebreaking by introducing puppy pads. You could also look at crating her/confining her to one room and see if that helps.

    • My dog uses puppy pads, but that’s because she’s really small and can’t hold it all day while we’re at work.

    • We have a rescued lab who does this (and sometimes goes on pee strikes during fair weather, just because). Then, she will fall into a deep sleep and “wet her bed”. The only thing that worked for us is crating her if she doesn’t pee, and making absolute fools of ourselves when she goes “Potty” or “Pee Pee” when we walk her out. It only takes a few times for a house-broken dog to wet her crate before she realizes a pee strike is a really bad idea, and positive reinforcement of treats + lots of pets to understand that “Go Potty” is a command, and not a suggestions.

    • Puppy litter. It’s a thing. My puppy loves it. Works great for inclement weather. At least you can train _where_ she goes inside. Also, this helps when I need to leave for longer…she’s not uncomfortable and has a place to go.

    • Our dog initially hated going in the rain and snow but eventually got used to it. It took some time on our part to walk with her until she went. Puppy pads are good for emergencies but probably not the best idea to make that the norm as your dog may not want to do its business outside ever.

    • S in Chicago :

      Do you have a dog park nearby? During the polar vortex that was the only way my little guy would go #2. I think the smells there help trigger that it really is OK to go.

    • Seattle Freeze :

      Maybe a raincoat for your pup? My younger dog came to us in the PNW from a warmer climate in November – beginning of peak rain – and after 5 years still hates to go out in the rain. She loves to wear her raincoat, though, and is much less likely to do a fake potty when she’s got her coat on.

  13. So I get along fairly well with my boss – I work in a small law firm and my office is right around the corner from his so we chat a lot. One thing that I’m finding very difficult is that I’m going through some personal stuff and think I may have some mild depression. Every day he comes into my office and asks me how I am, and when I say I’m fine or good, he asks why I’m not amazing or great and basically expects me to be a 10/10 every day. I can manage my issues and do my job but I cannot fake being extremely happy every day. I can’t do this when I’m at my best because it’s just not in my personality. I’m just not sure what to do – I’m getting super frustrated with this expectation that on top of doing my job, I’m expected to be super peppy all the time.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?


    • Veronica Mars :

      I think this is just misplaced concern for your general happiness on your boss’s part. I’d start saying that you’re great, every day, regardless of whether or not you’re actually great. And if he asks about your energy level or your ability to be “peppy, rah-rah happy” just tell him something like, “This is me at a 10/10. I’m just not a peppy person” and keep it at that. Just keep reminding him, (you could do this in a joking way) “Not everyone can be as cheery as you!” or something to that effect. Keep reminding, and he should get the message.

    • Possible answers :

      Boss: “How are you doing?”

      Anon: “Great”

      “Amazing as always”

      “Livin’ the dream”


      “Sad until I saw your smiling face this lovely morning”

      “Ready and rarin’ to work”

      “Sunshine and lollipops”

      “Everything’s comin’ up Millhouse”

      Add appropriate level of irony as needed, but if the difference between answering “good” and “great” gets your boss off your back, I’d say go with great.

    • Coach Laura :

      Anon – Has he always done this or just lately since you’ve had stress? Since it’s a small office and you say you may be depressed, I think he may have concern for you, personally, and perhaps for how your state of mind may – now or in the future – impact your relationship with your entire team. Perhaps you could say something like this: “Well, I’m not 100% peppy today but I’ve got X, Y and Z matters under control (or I accomplished A, B and C for Client M yesterday) and that makes me happy.” Direct the conversation away from how you’re not ecstatically happy but you’re getting through your work as expected. Keep the lines of communication open so that he sees that you’re responsive. Based on my experience working with depressed individuals, the individual isn’t seeing the change in their work habits and that could be concerning to a boss. Just my two cents worth.

  14. Prep for leave :

    I’m writing up a proposal for coverage while I am on maternity leave. I am in a wide-ranging business role, so there are many pieces that can and should be taken over temporarily by a bunch of different people.

    I’m outlining each work area with tasks and responsibilities, suggesting a colleague who can cover and proposing a transition plan. Anything I’m not thinking of?


    • Maddie Ross :

      If the person handling the project while you’re out is not also in charge of that area or client normally, I suggest listing a person beyond you who your colleague can approach in an emergency.

  15. Any former horse riders out there? Fairly unusually, I just got an email from my 8 y.o. niece (forwarded by my sister to all close family) saying that what she’d like more than anything for her birthday in a few weeks is for contributions to her first horse show (I believe this is pretty young, but she’s quite talented).

    I’m trying to have a good attitude about this, but I feel it’s a little strange that my sister is essentially letting her ask us all for cash. My sister and BIL are pretty well off (e.g. kids in private schools, nice house, sister only carries very high-end, like Chanel, handbags and never hesitates to buy anything when we shop together including about two weeks ago when I was visiting), but they do run their own business which I know can ebb and flow.

    It’s also possible that I’m grossly underestimating the cost of a horse show. Maybe it’s five figures or something. Or maybe I just have a bad attitude. I really like picking out bday gifts for my nieces, and I actually already have something I picked out for her…but I also really do want her to compete in the show.

    • It could be less about the money for your sister, and more about the fact that your niece doesn’t get to do everything that she wants. That if she wants to participate in the horse show it has to be a group gift from her family (in lieu of other presents). And I do get that. Although, I think it’s a little odd, that your niece is asking directly rather than you sister sending an email explaining this is what you niece wants for her birthday rather than gifts.

      At least I know I asked for money as a kid when I saving up for a trip or something special, although generally I only asked for money when someone approached me about what I wanted for a birthday or Xmas.

    • This is refreshing to me, actually. My guess is that her parents can easily afford this but that they’re trying to trach her about discernment. Does she want a bunch of tangible items for gifts, or does she want contributions towards an experience she’ll find valuable? Seems solid to me.

    • Thanks for the perspective. This is a reasonable explanation, though for other reasons (not mentioned in my OP), it’s still a little odd. Not sure if I will contribute or give the gift I already have (I guess I could save that for Xmas instead, though).

    • 8 years old isn’t young for the horse show world and depending on what she does, showing can be super expensive. I actually think it’s smart because at that age I was showing and would have loved to enter into another class or two instead of another horse t-shirt. Plus, my parents made me pay for my shows myself, so I’d really understand how the importance.

      If you’re going to be upset about it, give her the gift you already picked out. But as a horse-crazed girl and now a horse-crazed woman, I’d say give her a gift she really wants.

    • I get the practicality. But the manners point seems to have been missed. You don’t get to ask for presents. You don’t ask for presents for your child.

      IF asked, you can say what you prefer.

      Bad parents here — it looks like they instigated this.

    • My Parents were wealthy and they didn’t give me anything as a kid. I always hated the relatives who assumed my parents gave me everything and just ignored my very specific requests or gave me frivolous gifts. So while your sister might think nothing of buying herself nice things she might not get them for the kiddos.

      • I understand this point in general, but I know it’s not true in this case. I’m not making assumptions about what she does and does not get; I know. In general, I feel like this is something that my sister might ask for from my parents (who are pretty well off), but unless it’s really expensive it’s pretty unusual for her to ask from the rest of us (aunts and uncles etc). It could simply be, though, that this is all that my niece wanted this year. Just trying to sort out my feelings (which are complicated since my family has a complicated relationship to money in general and especially between my sister and me) and understand the sums of money involved with the show. I don’t want to deprive my niece of something she wants, but I also don’t want to feel not good about the gift I give her.

        • lost academic :

          I think a lot of people may be overthinking this. A gifting situation in which you’d be giving her something anyway is coming up – or so it seems to be, that’s my assumption. She has something specific she wants to do, and if I had to hazard a guess this came up when her parents were asking her what she wanted for her birthday. I think this is an excellent way to direct resources to their greatest effect without creating waste and guilt. I would personally be delighted if I got this kind of information/request from my sister/8 year old niece (who is a gymnast and archer, though I taught her to ride a horse!) because then I’d know I gave her what she really wanted and it was used to its full effect.

          For a perspective on the costs – let’s assume your niece is very good and also that this is a show that is out of town/out of state and not just a weekend show. She’s got to cover the fees to trailer the horse (often at $1 mile), her own accommodations and expenses for travel and food, fees for every class she enters, stabling, feed, hay, possibly a fee to use the horse if its owned by her stable, her trainer’s fees per day, braiding if she can’t do it herself, emergency (human + vet) fees, office fee, facility fee…. and that’s assuming she doesn’t need any new equipment for the show itself, that she can borrow everything or has what she needs. So – for a kid of this age, this is a big ticket thing, even assuming it’s local and maybe just 1-2 days. Most horse parents I know put a hard limit on the number of shows per season out of cost and time constraints, including those that are well off. Last schooling show I did cost me probably around $300, and it didn’t involve hotel and only a few classes, it was a local, one day event, with my own horse and my own gear.

    • That is totally not cool. My 8-year old participates in a sport that is expensive, but not as expensive as horseback riding. Before we agreed to let her pursue the sport at a competitive level, we made sure we could afford all the expenses associated with competition, both now and as she advances in the sport. Competition expenses should be the parents’ responsibility, or an older child might be expected to earn the funds at a part-time job. You don’t get to ask relatives to subsidize your child’s routine extracurricular activities.

      That said, last year my daughter spent several months saving her allowance for a second American Girl doll (we told her Santa doesn’t bring American Girl dolls to kids who already have one, so she was on her own when she wanted another doll). When relatives asked for holiday and birthday gift suggestions, we gave them a range of ideas including Legos, book series she liked, and American Girl gift cards. Several relatives did give her gift cards, which allowed her to pick out some accessories for the new doll when she finished saving up for the doll itself and we made our pilgrimage to the American Girl store. I didn’t feel so weird about that request because we only mentioned it when we were directly asked what she’d like, we offered some alternative suggestions, and didn’t demand something from her list.

    • Anonymous :

      Shows can be really expensive depending on the rating (how important the show is), distance (impacts cost of trailering as well as needed for hotels), and how many services are needed (training fees, braider for the horse, groom, stable manager). This is in addition to the equipment needed for the horse and rider, and the monthly cost of training and boarding.

      Per show I think cost would range from $150 for a schooling show at her home stable to $2000 for an A rated show. If you are active on the circuit, 2 A shows a month really adds up.

      As someone who rode competitively as a junior, I was laser focused on my riding. I really didn’t care about most gifts that did not actively contribute to my riding. Books, didn’t care. Clothes, didn’t care. Trinkets, didn’t care.

      If you don’t want to contribute cash for a show I think that’s very understandable. However, if you really want to get her a gift that she will love, asked her mother what equipment they might need for the horse or her, and buy that. If one of my relatives had bought me a new hunt coat I would have been delighted. If one of my relatives had bought me new polo wraps, I would have been delighted. So, feel free to get her whatever you want, but know that she will likely politely say thank you, and then toss it aside the minute you leave.

      • Thanks for this perspective, though at this point I know my niece has several interests (just saw her a couple weeks ago). I like the idea of buying a specific piece of equipment so I will ask about that…though I also do think she will appreciate the other gift I’ve already gotten her.

        I’m also struggling with the amount of money to spend/give. I normally buy gifts in the $30-40 range (and look for good deals)…it doesn’t seem like this would make much of a dent in $2K. And I would be shocked if my sister were comfortable asking for contributions to a $150 fee. I dunno.

        I think my reaction is just very colored by the broader context of my sister’s attitudes toward money and family which is making it difficult to tease out this particular thing. In general, my sister typically sends a list of gift ideas to everyone, and instead she forwarded this email from my niece this year. I do know for sure that my parents will not receive this request well.

        • That is what I hate about cash gifts – I enjoy getting people a nice gift, but I usually try to find a good deal/sale. I also don’t want it to be so easily comparable to what is received from others, especially for a child.

        • I get where you are coming from here. I have a sister-in-law who feels that all of her siblings earn more than she does and consequently she is entitled to ask us to pay for her child’s summer camp, plane tickets for family visits, etc. She also openly complains about the size and/or nature of gifts from her parents. I find all of this deeply offensive, partly because she has absolutely no idea how much money we really make or how different our family’s expenses are than her family’s (e.g., we are still paying off my law school tuition, we pay for child care and she does not, etc.), and partly because it is her responsibility to provide for her own child, not mine. My husband feels that we owe it to her to chip in on these requests, but I really hate it and would rather give the money to charities we feel strongly about for children who are truly in need. In your shoes, I’d stick with the amount you are comfortable with and purchase an item that would be useful at the show rather than giving cash towards the show expenses.

        • lost academic :

          Then get her a gift card to Dover Saddlery. That never fails to be a winner for a rider.

    • Is she asking for contributions for entry fees? Or to cover transport/grooming for horse or attire for her? I might ask some follow-up to try to get a better sense of what she actually needs for the show, that way if it is specific stuff you can offer to purchase rather than just handing over cash. I think that would feel better for both of you — eg you get to feel like you’ve given something special/specific rather than cash, and she may find it more meaningful to have something about her show experience that she associates with her beloved aunt (gee, I love this stock pin from Aunt Anon! or wow, I’m so glad Aunt Anon bought this super blanket for Patches since its cold and rainy this morning! etc.)
      Horse shows are really expensive, especially if they involve travel: trailering the horse, boarding at the show if its more than a day trip (and hotel for people), entry fees. I think even if my mom had chanel bags (she did not), she would have made me babysit and mow lawns to have $ to take riding lessons. I showed only very rarely because of the expense. The requirements for attire are often quite strict, and depending on the competition appearance of both horse and rider can make a big difference. I hope you are able to work it out so that you both feel fulfilled by this gifting experience.

  16. Men's cashmere? :

    I want to get my husband a cashmere scarf – nothing crazy but a nice classic piece. Is Portolano still decent quality? Would that be good for a men’s scarf, or are there other purveyors I should look at? Also, I’d like to go for a lighter color but don’t want it to shed on a dark coat. Is that possible, or will all lighter colors shed?

  17. need commiseration :

    any encouraging stories about resigning from a toxic job without another job lined up?

    • I ended up sort of fired/laid off (it’s complicated) from a job that was toxic for me recently, and the perspective of being away from it makes me regret not resigning sooner. In my case, my boss was awful, and she had created an atmosphere on our team where you basically couldn’t disagree with her on anything. Some people seemed to be willing to follow her blindly, and those of us who didn’t basically had to commiserate in secret. I honestly felt for the first couple weeks like I had escaped from a cult.

      It’s been a couple months for me now, and being out of there is the best thing ever. I had no idea how unhappy it was making me until I was truly free of the place. If you are going to be okay financially, I would say that you are better off resigning and flushing that work place out of your system before committing to another position. For myself, I feel like I need a few months to recover from the situation, though YMMV.

    • Brunette Elle Woods :

      If you can handle not having an income (or health insurance) for a few months, then it might be worth it. It is so difficult to look for a job while you’re miserable from your current job. It’s really about the numbers, whether you can afford it and have a backup plan to take some sort of temp work if things get really bad. Save up, cut expenses, network, and take the risk! Good Luck!!!

    • No, but I know three different people who decided, in the middle of their legal careers, that they really wanted to live in California. They all quit their jobs on the East Coast without jobs lined up, moved out to California, and found jobs within months — two at boutique litigation firms and one in Biglaw. All of them had solid, but not amazing, credentials and experience.

      Anecdotal, but it can be done. All three of them made sure they had sufficient savings, however, before taking the leap.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve never been in a position to do this. Advice from people around me is basically, “suck it up, buttercup”.

    • Moonstone :

      Someone posts this questions every couple of months, and I always say: “Yeah, I did, and it made getting a new job a lot harder.” After working many years in crazy-making places, now I advise people to check out from the current job as much as possible and ramp up the job search. Every day, you have to work toward the goal of getting out there. Without a job (or some big life change that excuses a lack of job in our society), many hiring managers will find you a less attractive candidate. Personally, I had to take a 25% pay cut to get on with a new organization, and it took years to get back to my old rate of pay.

    • I do! I have done it more than once. I keep a special fund of money on hand just so I know I can quit if I want to. BUT, I am in a role where it is not hard to find another job, I maintain a good network and references, and I live WAY below my means, so I can take a pay cut without too much worry. Don’t quit if the lack of a paycheck will make you lose your house, but otherwise head for the door!

  18. Need some advice. I currently work in a toxic workplace with a super long commute (3 hours round trip). I have a job offer from another employer (lateralish move, possible slight downgrade in title, similar government position), but it would cut an hour total off my round trip commute. I have a young kid at home, so I’d appreciate the additional time with him.
    I’m currently negotiating the salary, but it looks like I will need to take a 10k or so cut.
    As I’d need to take a paycut, what other benefits could I ask for to make up for it?
    Also, has anyone been in this sort of situation? Was it worth it in the long run?
    Any and all advice is welcome!

    • Anonymous :

      It would be worth it to me just for the sanity! Commuting 2 hours a day is still a lot though. You will probably save some money with less commuting (you could figure that out to see how much that would contribute to the 10K salary cut). Could you ask for flexible work options after a probationary period (6 months?). Like flexible hours, work from home, etc…more PTO?

    • DisenchantedinDC :

      I guess the real question is what is that 10k worth to you? For me, at 60k, 10k would be a tough pill to swallow – but still one I would consider for quality of life. But I have a friend who went from making 250-300k+ as a BigLaw associate to ~125k as a government attorney who seems pretty happy with his choice, despite losing close to 50% of his total compensation.

      • I think this is an important point. The value of $10K is highly correlated to where you are starting from.

        I posted above about being laid off from my toxic workplace, and I should add to that I was commuting almost 3 hours RT to essentially hang out in my personal h3ll everyday. Cutting down on your commute sounds great, but you should also consider whether 2 hours of commuting is really going to make your life radically different or whether it might be worth continuing to look for an even better lifestyle match. In my own case, I’m being pretty picky about lifestyle (and for the time being running my own consulting firm from my house). We lost a very substantial amount of income (low-mid six figures), but being home (and near home) more has taught me how much a long commute was costing us as a family.

        • Thank you all for the input. I really appreciate it. I would like to continue my job search and find a better fit, but I’ve been looking for the past year or so. I can absorb the 10k hit financially, but I guess I’m annoyed at needing to consider a downgrade in salary when I’m not switching industries. Sigh.

  19. DisenchantedinDC :

    Structured flats recommendations?

    So, I’ve been wearing my Tory Burch flats to death but they are uncomfortable and I’m a little over them, certainly over wearing them every day. But the biggest problem I have with flats is a somewhat wide forefoot, so nice soft flats “spill over” and rub on the ground. I’ve ruined several pairs of more ballet-slipper like shoes with the rubbing on the outside of the forefoot. Anybody know if Tieks are more structured, or if they also do this?

    Ideally looking to be around $100, will go up to $200, need something durable (okay with having them resoled) and preferably comfortable.

    • I don’t have specific recommendations, but I’m a flats-only person and I find brooks brothers and kate spade flats incredibly comfortable and also durable. I’ve been wearing both of these a couple of days per week for over a year and they look brand new. I have also found Anthropologie flats to be surprisingly good quality. All of these should be within your price range, and definitely so with a modest sale.

    • AGL! AGL! AGL!

      • YES! YES! YES!

        Seriously, they are the best. And you can often find them on sale at Nordstrom.

      • third the AGL recommendation! i also have wider feet and the AGLs fit great – they basically hug your feet. They can be pricey but look out for sales from nordstrom; you can usually find them for around $200 on sale.

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