Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Shift Dress

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

This fine Monday morning, we’re digging this simple shift dress — love the bold colors and abstract geometric pattern; also love the fact that it’s silk and fully lined.  We’d pair it with a black blazer for the office, and perhaps a long gold chain.  It’s $350 at Anne Klein.  Shift Dress

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

(P.S. If you’re a lucky size 6, check out this Fitted Top Stitch Dress dress also from Anne Klein– was $450, now $179. Looks gorgeous!)



  1. I like this, but shifts just don’t work with my body type — I need a defined waist or else I look refrigeratoresque.

    I almost jumped on the Top Stitch dress, but it looks rather low-cut for the office. Has anyone tried it on?

  2. I have to say, I really hate the silky dress + blazer combo that I constantly see recommended. It looks a mismatched pile, not an office-appropriate outfit. Silky dress + blazer =/= office style. YMMV and all that, but when I see it on someone else at the office, my first reaction is “how odd,” not “how cute.”

    It’s a cute dress, and I would wear it out to something at night, but its not an office dress. The end.

    • I would not wear this to the office either. Not sure where I would wear it, frankly, because the print is kind of jarring to my eye, but definitely not to work.

    • Agreed! Adding a jacket to something doesn’t automatically make it office appropriate…. Usually, it just makes it look like you’re trying to make something work that doesn’t.

    • It depends. I often wear print dresses with a blazer over – I have a few that look nice with any dress or skirt, it seems. It may just be that my style is different from yours, but I think that if you have the right blazer to go over the dress, it looks nice. See, e.g., Kat’s JCPenney video, where she is wearing a dress with blazer over it and looks GREAT (imo).

      That said, I’m not sure what kind of jacket would work over this dress. Maybe bc it’s not an allover print – it kind of needs to stand on its own.

      • Oh, I think the look can work with SOME dresses – just not with silky large-printed shift dresses.

    • Yes – the heavy stiff fabric of most blazers is disconcerting with a silky, flimsy dress… A softer, less structured jacket or cardigan would be a better choice.

      • Agreed. When I see blazers with flimsy or skimpy dresses, I always hear my mother’s voice in my head. In high school, she would recommend I add a blazer (not that I had blazers then–it was her idea of a joke) to any dress she thought showed too much skin. Now when I see this look, I just think someone is trying to make an inappropriate dress look appropriate. Not that I haven’t been guilty, but it usually looks better with certain types of dresses as other posters have noted.

    • I see it working brilliantly at an after-hours function.
      I get a lot of these and would love to change from the black dress look (which I find nice but get tired of)

  3. Like the dress, but honestly, a blazer would throw off the vibe of this dress. And a long gold chain would just compete with the vertical stripes–I would just stick with a cuff bracelet like the one in the pic.

    I could see a couple of the women in my office pulling this off, but I’d more than likely wear it to a jazz lounge or an art gallery opening.

  4. Not a fan. The shape and the stripes aren’t all that flattering. My first thought was Project Runway, what can you do with a garbage bag and colored electrical tape.

  5. To me the dress is ugly – I envision a lot of band-aids. Speaking of band-aid, I agee that throwing on a jacket or sweater does not camouflage a problem dress. In this part of the country, this dress would not “fly” for work.

    • You reference “your part of the country” often, and make sweeping statements about whether an item is work appropriate or not. I am curious where you are — no need to out yourself, just south, PNW, midwest, et cetera.

  6. Link to the other dress isn’t working…is it already sold out?

    • I think this is the right link:


      Love that dress, but hate the top stitch.

  7. I think this dress is beautiful and would look great with a boyfriend blazer thrown over it. Obviously would not work in the most corporate of offices, but I think it would work in mine and in many law offices in NYC. Just my two cents.

  8. I love this dress, and think the right black jacket would it make it work (except in the most conservative offices). I have been watching to see if it goes on sale, the design is quite memorable, so it isn’t something you can wear too often.

  9. Question for Splurge Monday:

    How many of you splurge? In many of the coffee threads there seem to be a lot of people who really like Theory, BR, AT, etc. Myself…I hate them. I hate the material and the construction. Am I the only one? Along the same lines, I know someone whose favorite suit was a custom order Loro Piana or Kiton (can’t remember). Now THAT is a splurge, along with the $990 Derek Lam blouse that would totally look fabulous under any one of a number of suits I own.

    • I’m a little confused by your question. Theory and BR/AT are such different price ranges that for someone like me who usually shops at BR/AT, Theory is a splurge (and usually bought on ebay/outlets, not full price). Loro Piana I’ve heard is great but that’s beyond a splurge for me. But if you don’t buy your suits at Theory/BR/AT, where do you get them? I’m seriously curious, I love to discover new good suit makers since I love them.

      • Ditto. I shop at Banana a lot – since I am a luxe card holder and it also fits me well, plus I buy a lot of kid stuff at Gap and old navy, and I like athleta too, so I get more reward points etc. Jcrew is becoming more of an on-sale only for me, since their prices keep creeping up. Theory would definitely be a splurge (have only tried on, never bought). Ditto Brooks brothers.

        • AnneCatherine :

          Seconded. Those would be splurges for me. Where are your suits from (I’m honestly curious)?

      • legalicious07 :

        Ditto everything LawDJ said!

      • I am a huge fan of Brooks Brothers, because they eliminate the whole fit problem. Everything fits, because it is all tailored. The can do everything except enlarge the armholes and move the buttonholes. It’s great. They do all reweaving, too, if you need it, years later.

        The basics of my suit wardrobe are St. John, because I have an unholy addiction to knits.

        I always associated Theory with BR and AT, although it is a bit more expensive, it is still a jump away from, say Armani.

        • BR/AT have suit jackets at around $200, Theory is more like $450. AT/BR also often have 20%-30% off sales, Theory not so much. Definitely not Armani, but I guess something in between.

          Brooks Brothers will retailor entire jackets? I have not heard of this before. I have to shop petite sizes and they hardly ever have anything I like in petite so I’m really curious about this, are you saying they have free alterations of such magnitude as shortening sleeves of jackets and the like? I had no idea! The reweaving is also included?

          • Another Sarah :

            You have to pay for alterations at BBros, but I think it’s cheaper than taking it elsewhere. And they will definitely tailor anything except the armholes and buttonholes.

          • The reweaving was extra, but considering that the hole appeared more than 5 years after I bought the suit, it was nice to know that they keep extra materials on hand for their basics so that fixing them is no problem at all.

            Unfortunately, BB doesn’t tailor women’s clothing for free, but they are able to shorten sleeves, take in waists, eliminate shoulder bulk, etc. Really, they tailor the suit to fit, and the cost of the alterations weren’t outrageous, or I wouldn’t have done it. The store in Philadelphia operated more like a boutique and “my” salesgirl would charge me the sale price of items, give me discounts for no apparent purpose, etc., so that the cost of the alterations were really minimized. So, to me, the higher price of the BB suit even with the alterations are a much better buy than a suit from AT or BR. I really think it is an under-tapped resource for little Corporettes starting out and need a quality basic.

          • I have never had to pay for having pants hemmed, so long as I am paying full price for the pants. If they are on sale, I think it is like $10 or something. Which IMO, is totally reasonable (I think my tailor charges $12 or $15?). Have never had more extensive alterations done at BB though.

        • Thank you EM. I had no idea BB did alterations. I don’t shop there because I am a petite. Now I will take a look at the clothes as I have always liked their quality.

          • They have lots of petite, FYI.

          • Some of their alterations are free. I just had them shorten the sleeves on one jacket and close up the slit on a skirt and I didn’t have to pay a cent.

          • North Shore :

            I’ve never seen petite sizes at the BB outlet near me. I try often, and they always say “no petites.”

          • @ Northshore — I have seen petites in store & at the outlets (NY based). They also have a lot of petites stuff online, inc. in clearance. Note: the petites are slightly smaller than the reg. corresponding size, but really wonderful for stuff I would never normally buy b/c it’d be too much of a hassle to tailor (e.g., button down shirts where sleeves are sometimes too long, etc.).

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Wow, BB can do that? I picked up a suit at the outlet over the weekend, but the jacket is really a size too big. If they can fix it… that would be worth another $100+ in tailoring considering the ridiculous deal on the suit.

          • Another Sarah :

            The outlet may not do it, but if you take the jacket to a BB store, they should do it for you.

          • SF Bay Associate :

            Just experienced jaw-droppingly good service from Brooks Brothers outlet. I called to see if they could track down the jacket in the size I needed – no problem, happy to help. He found it, same price, with $9 shipping from a very far location. And it all can be returned to a much-closer retail BB store.

            It’s service like that which makes me come back again and again to BB and Nordstroms. I’m truly grateful I can afford to shop there.

            And word to all – get thee to Brooks Brothers outlet. I bought a gorgeous dark gray with pale pink pinstripe jacket for $91 (originally $230) and pencil skirt for $47 (originally $119). The pants are gone, but cest la vie. There was also a lovely navy with cream pinstripe version. I also saw a black suit, but I need another black suit like a hole in the head.

            If you know your BB sizes, it really might be worth just calling an outlet and ordering it suiting separates in your sizes through the phone and shipped to you for $9 (flat rate, even if they find the pieces you need at different stores), which you can return to a local BB store, instead of trekking out to the outlets. Most of the store was 60% off, including sweater sets, wovens, and suits. Also, a ton of stuff for men, including my SO’s favorite polos – for $35!

            Must figure out how to go to the other kinda-close BB outlet location this weekend…

        • J.Crew tailors full price items for free (at least hems, and the like).

      • Agreed on your definition! Your described price point seems like the “average” one for this blog (or at least, for the commenters on this blog), although obviously average doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous readers who skew lower or higher.

        I splurge on things that are (1) timeless, (2) very well-constructed of materials that will hold up to repeated dry-cleaning/washing and (3) I LOVE LOVE LOVE after numerous try-ons, web-site views, etc. My splurges are far more thought-out than my random “oh, its a shirt on sale at Banana in my size which I know will fit, BUY NOW” purchses.

    • I really don’t splurge much, and my definition of splurge is probably way different than your definition (and Kat’s). My very limited splurging is a function of my life right now. I work out of the house, and am a stay-at-home mom most of the time. Unless I have a meeting, I’m in shorts/capris and a t-shirt. Most everything I buy now is on sale and I think long and hard before I purchase it. Very rarely will I pay more than $100 for an item.

      My last splurge were a pair of Born boots at the Nordstrom Anniverary sale…


      • This. I only work part-time so I just don’t need that much, period. The recession hit our savings and investments hard and now we’re playing catch-up so we don’t retire at 78. To me, $350 on one dress or $450 on a suit is a splurge – honestly, an out-of-reach one. That might as well be $1,000, for me. I will say – we spend way more than the “household average” $1800 a year on clothes and accessories (I’d say between me, my husband and our son it’s closer to $5,000) but I rarely spend more than $100 on any one item and if I spend $350 at one time, it’s at Talbots at the end of the Red Sale where I can get 10 things for $350. I have $450 suits, but I spent less than $125 for them on sale. I think even if I had the money, my inner frugalista would have a hard time plunking down $500 for one item, when I know I can get it cheaper waiting for a sale or for it to show up at a discounter (and pretty much everything does, whether we’re talking TJ Maxx, Filene’s or eBay).

    • AnneCatherine :

      Okay, I know YOU didn’t say that YOUR splurge was from Piana or Kiton, and, instead, that was your friend’s (though I’m still wondering where you get suits from; I’m honestly just curious, because I’d never heard of, e.g., Pendleton, till I read this site). But, here I am to be a big b-word. I checked out Piana at Neiman’s website. There is just no need for a $1,850 pencil skirt. Hey, is there a market? Maybe. Can some people afford it? Undoubtedly. Do I begrudge them one? Not a bit. But considering Theory a splurge is not déclassé; I’d say considering Piana a splurge is, rather, decadent but that’s just me. As for Kiton, I couldn’t find a good website, but I did find this (to me) amusing article online: http://pinkslipblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/higher-than-kiton.html

      • Anonymous :

        Yeah, I mean, I can appreciate that a suit handmade in Italy of the finest wool available probably is 100 times better than a BR suit, but in reality, who really needs a suit that is 100 times better than a BR one?

    • Another Sarah :

      I also don’t like Theory, Banana, or Ann Taylor for suits. Theory and Banana don’t fit me correctly (I’m a size 10-12, but Theory’s suits stop at TheorySize12, which doesn’t help me; Banana is very nice and denies that I have a butt). Ann Taylor’s material feels blech. I own one Banana suit that I bought because it was cotton and I wanted a cotton suit for the Bar. I’ve bought the rest of my suits at BBros (outlet and on super-sale), Jones New York, and a couple suits that I bought at Macy’s.

      In terms of splurging, I don’t usually buy a suit unless it’s on mondo sale. Even the BBros suits I have, I’ve bought them for less than $200. So BBros is still a splurge if it’s not on the clearance rack at the outlet or something. So, basically, if I have to pay full price for a suit, it’s a splurge. Doesn’t matter where it’s from.

      • I don’t like Theory period, and don’t like BR or Ann Taylor suits either. I buy all of my suits at Nordstrom, Classiques line. The suits are a big splurge for me, but I always buy on sale and I love them so much that it’s worth it. I have bought suits (on sale) for about $300 – $350. I guess plenty of others would not find this to be a splurge, but I just can’t fathom paying $1000 for a suit. I too am curious where you buy your clothes!

        • Shhhh….Ebay and consignment shops, where my retail $1200 suits cost less than $300. Don’t tell.

          • That’s a great deal! I am too chicken to buy on Ebay because of the no returns policy, but am definitely open to consignment shops.

          • A lot of sellers on eBay will take returns, you just have to find the right ones. Or ask, if they don’t have a return policy in the listing.

    • I think your question is a bit disingenuous – probably most, if not all of us splurge, but it’s all relative. Your splurge may be a $990 blouse, someone else’s may be a $90 blouse (or a $40 one for that matter). Is your question, “who else spends as much as I do on a splurge”?

      • That’s how I read it too. Look — I have the money for a $990 blouse, and if you do too and that’s what important to you, be my guest. But for me, and my family, wearing a $150 blouse and putting $840 in the bank for our retirement, our children’s college, or (god forbid) someone’s devastating illness, just makes tons more sense.

        • I wouldn’t spend $900 on a blouse, either. I guess I was wondering if there are career women who would.

          So if a splurge is relative, what is the term for an item that one would never dream of buying, even if one had the money? And, is an item really a splurge if the cost-per-wear comes out to be mere cents?

          • I think the answer to your first question is “a fantasy.” I’m guessing for the vast majority of women who read this blog, Monday is more of a fantasy than a splurge. Which definitely has its place. Frankly, often, on Monday, I think to myself — oh, good, I don’t feel so badly about not buying $2000 dresses, since they don’t look that great to me. Though occasionally …

          • While the cost-per-wear concept makes sense, I think you have to account for your own habits…it’s possible that I could wear a designer dress so much that it’s pennies per use, but I love having a variety of different colors and styles of dresses – and rarely does a favorite emerge until long after I’ve made the purchase. So for me, it just doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on any one item – much better to scour for many treasures and enjoy them all equally (without having to take the inevitable stain or tear too seriously).

          • In relation to Anon 11:41, Monday is always a fantasy for me — though a 350 dress, if it was PERFECT (which this is not, to me) I might think about. I think of Monday as trend watch, or idea time. The Chloe pants that were featured a few months ago are a perfect example. NO WAY would I spend that much on pants, or for that matter sometime so high fashion a cut, but it did get me thinking about fall, about maybe wanting a wide leg tweed pant to wear, etc. etc. etc. So fantasy, but fun fantasy, and depending on what’s being featured, a fantasy that I can apply to my style-sense. In some ways I like the Monday post to be way over the top, so that it’s thought provoking for me, but YMMV.

    • I cannot afford to splurge on all my wardrobe. I definitely appreciate quality but my budget doesn’t necessarily follow.
      I have invested in a very nice clutch which I wear at every function. It simply “upgrades” any outfit I wear, from jeans to silk dresses.
      I have splurged on a BCBG maxazria suit because this is what I would like to wear when I finally graduate from grad school. It is my incentive to finish the thesis.
      When I finally do finish the never-ending thesis, I will splurge on a symbolic piece of jewelry (think charm of grad hat and tassle).
      My splurges make me feel special and I smile each time I look at them or wear them.
      Other than that, straight out of college I filled my closet with mid-range office-appropriate clothes.

      • Houda, if I were you, I wouldn’t splurge on a charm of a grad hat and tassel for your celebratory piece of jewelry, because I don’t think you’ll get much use out of it and it may shortly feel too young. (Unless you’re talking about a charm as in charm bracelet that you’ve collected many charms for and know you will continue to wear, as I know many women do, although it’s never been my thing.)

        If you don’t already have jewelry basics, I’d get something classic. When I graduated from law school, my parents gave me diamond studs, and I bought myself a nice set of pearls to celebrate my first year practicing. I definitely remember what the jewelry symbolizes and think about it every time I wear them, even though it isn’t overt to anyone but me, but they are also basic, classic, and won’t ever feel dated.

        • Thanks MOR, this is a very valid point…I always thought I should commemorate my graduation with something graduation-themed. Now that you mention it I always wanted to have “real” pearls and diamond studs. I think I will go for it and get myself my first diamond studs.
          I believe I worked hard to pay for tuition and keep a full time job and buy an apartment. I am tired of making the wise choices (sacrifices) I want to celebrate at least once, so definitely this will be my BIG splurge. Thanks so much MOR!

        • Great advice and well stated!

        • Really great advice. For my grad school graduation I bought myself a beautiful and expensive watch. Every time I look at it I love it and feel great about both the watch and myself. At the time it was a big splurge but it turned out to be very much worth it.

    • What I like about the Splurge posts is that even though I have no intention of ever buying any of these outrageously expensive items, now I am familiar with what is and is not a high end designer/style so that if I see a Derek Lam shirt or a Theory dress on a rack in TJ Maxx or Marshall’s for $40 I know that I’ve found a great deal (and yes, this has happened in the past)

    • I used to spend $2500 for the right jacket, when I found it. $600 for a pair of pants. I shopped rarely, always high end unless I was buying tees or button front shirts. But I was by that point in my late 40’s-early 50’s. Empty nest. Had worked my veritable butt off for years and saw my retirement mostly funded. There comes a point when spending one’s money this way or that way is a neutral act with regards to virtue.

    • I have one $400 Cole Haan bag and that’s it. That’s the biggest splurge of my life (and it was worth every penny). Once a year or so I splurge on something like $100+ shoes that I haven’t been able to find on sale, but these are usually running shoes or highly functional everyday shoes, nothing trendy. I expect that I will get a minimum of one wear out of every item of clothing I buy (formalwear excepted) for every dollar of the price. I do think it’s worth it to pay for quality, because in the long run one classic $400 Cole Haan bag that I’ll carry every day for at least 5 years (so roughly $0.22 per carry) is a better deal than a $40 Nine West bag that lasts for 3 months ($0.44 per carry) and doesn’t look nearly as nice.

      Spending more than $100 all at once is a splurge for me, let alone $100 on a single item. I’d never in a million years be able to afford any of the Monday splurges listed on this site.

    • I do! But then again I am not the thriftiest person around:)

  10. Suggestion – can we have a “basics” day? While I like many of the more interesting pieces featured (not this dress though), I’d love to see more basics highlighted – including interview suits, neutral work dresses, “boring” shoes – especially for those of us still trying to build our wardrobes…

    • I second this :) I’d also vote for a “jewelry” day of some kind.

      • lawDJ: Speaking of “jewelry” day–this morning I received a necklace I ordered from French Kande and I love, love, love it. It’s a relatively new (and surprisingly affordable) line of handmade necklaces featuring vintage French medallions. Loads of pearls, along with some very cool chain and stone pieces. My only issue was deciding which one I wanted.

        Here’s the link: www.frenchkande.com

    • Great idea!

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      I agree that would be great, especially if there could be pictures or descriptions of different ways to wear the same basic for different looks.

    • I am going to ask again for more pants, especially now that the Jackson Fit has left BR. I’d love to see other pants that are good for a similar shape.

      • Backtowork :

        Oh, how I miss the Jackson fit! Thank goodness I got a closet full of them before they disappeared from BR.

    • So, maybe playing off my thread from above, Kat should do:

      Splurge Monday, where the items are basic investment pieces, ie cashmere sweaters, Armani suits, Jimmy Choo 24-7 black pumps;

      Tuesday To-Dos, which features accessories;

      Wardrobe Wednesday, which features a basic piece accessorized 3 or 4 different ways;

      True Thursday, which show basics in a more reasonable price range;

      Fabulous Friday, which showcases the outrageous splurges like the velvet Carolina Herrera cocktail dress from a few weeks ago; and

      Weekend Wear, ’nuff said.

      • Or you can develop/start up your own blog and that way you can have everything exactly the way you want it.

      • On a non-snarky note, if you do decide to start a blog that goes something like what you just described, or start contributing to this one, I would totally read it.

        • Really no snark intended. If she has a good idea, why doesn’t she run with it herself, instead of instructing Kat on how she should meet her needs?

    • legalicious07 :

      OOOOOH! Great idea! I’d like to see a “basics” feature as well. It’d be great if, where appropriate, Kat could show the basic at three different price points (all in one post).

    • I love your idea D. This is particularly helpful for us renewing wardrobe. There was a series of posts lately about reaching the point where you have to reconsider your wardrobe entirely. A post on basic would be a good follow up.

    • Second, third or fourth the request for highlighting of more basics!

  11. I vote no on this one. It’s a little to retro as to the design and colors. I second the suggestion as to a “basics” day and jewelry suggestions. Great ideas!

  12. Really? Reminds me of the lights going past the car if someone else is driving, it’s late at night, and I have had one to many to drink.

  13. AnneCatherine :

    Me no likey for work. I guess, on someone else, tall and willowy of build, with no blazer on, accessorized correctly, it could look nice at a party. Those are a lot of ifs/conditions, however.

    I do really like the look of the size-6 black dress. Can’t buy it—I mean, I could, to stare at or something—but I like it.

  14. I am in a part of the U.S. that lies somewhere between Salt Lake City and San Francisco and in which people dress somewhat conservatively and not very expensively. Which suits me to a T.

    • Uhhhh . . . Reno? Sacramento? That’s pretty much all I remember seeing on my S.F. to SLC drives during law school. ;)

      • I didn’t read this as “along a straight line between SF and SLC” but rather anywhere between W112 and W124 longitude. Spokane. Phoenix. Las Vegas. Portland. Santa Barbara. Vancouver. Many lovely, stylish cities in that swath.

        • Though having lived in two of those and spent extensive time in a couple of others, traditionally conservative is the last thing that comes to mind when I think of the clothing.

        • I know, I was just kidding around because “between Salt Lake City and San Francisco” brought back loads of memories of the most-boring-drive ever.

    • divaliscious11 :

      Explains a lot….

      • Snark unnecessary. Give 75 a break.

        • But, why, when she never responds in kind? ;)

          • Anonymous :

            This is becoming way to much like high school where the popular kids start picking on someone that demonstrates different ideas and style choices.

          • Agreed w/Anonymous @ 2:16.
            You are free to ignore the comments of any0ne you do not find constructive. Snark def. unnecessary.

          • Usually I’d agree with a no snark policy but 75 is just cruel and degrading in many comments, so much less like the cool kids picking on someone defenseless

  15. I love this, though maybe not for work. I’d love to keep it in my closet though for gallery events (not that I really go to those) or art auction previews (which I have in fact attended from time to time).

  16. Question: I don’t often wear suits or blazers, but when I do I can never figure out what to do with the buttons. One-button suits are easy, but for two or three-button suits or blazers, should I be buttoning all or only some of the buttons, and which one(s)? Is there some “rule” that I should know but don’t (that’s usually how it goes for me)?

    • All or none. All if you are in a formal setting (interview), none if it is more casual (office where you have to wear a suit every day). None also if you have a gained a few pounds since you bought the suit :)

      Jackets are not like blouses – as far as I know, there is no “leave the top button undone” kind of option.

      • For men there is. In a 3-button suit men never button the bottom button. I think the same applies to a 2-button but not 100% sure. I don’t think there is such a rule for women so I do follow the all or none since that looks best on me.

        • Thank you! I knew men had button rules (but had no idea what precisely they were), and was wondering about women.

        • LegallyBlonde :

          “None also if you have a gained a few pounds since you bought the suit :)”

          And this would be why all of my blazers are worn open these days. I hope to switch back to a buttoned look soon :).

          • yet another sarah (really) :

            I had no idea of this rule until my fiance was so adamant about it…

    • I follow the Clinton and Stacey rule for women with large busts. Lock and load. 3 button jacket buttoned. If I didn’t button it, the jacket would fall away from my chest in an odd way.

      • I struggle with the lock and load advice. I get it, but usually I find it just makes my bosom look even bigger. Since I have a slim waist, if I tailor jackets to fit perfectly, it looks a little too vavavoom for work. I usually go with unbuttoned instead.

      • Do they have any particular advice for those with not much bust to speak of? Maybe I need to start watching television…

      • Big(gish) bust and slim(mish) waist here, too. I follow the men’s rule, leaving the bottom button undone on a 2- or 3-button jacket. I think it’s reasonably flattering, bringing the jacket in a little closer to my torso below the bust but without too much va-voom. Also, buttoning all the buttons looks… stewardessy to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a flight attendant, of course! And — final thought — the men(including most partners and most judges) know the men’s rule. They probably don’t know the women’s rule. I don’t know of any women who’d get super-judgmental on this issue: it’s not like visible bra straps or showing off your tramp stamp or something. So I think it’s actually a safer course of action to follow the men’s rule.

        • I think it depends more on the style of the jacket. If it looks more like menswear, then the jacket will lend itself better to leaving one button undone. I think a lot of the feminine styles are designed to be fully open or buttoned all the way and it just doesn’t look right when you leave one button done and the other open.

      • I prefer unbuttoned because that way at least from the side, I don’t look like a pinup.

      • Clinton and Stacey say that the buttons must be *able* to button, not that you have to fasten them. Thanks goodness – I hate that look.

      • I don’t wear 3 button jackets for that reason. I’ve found that 2 is perfect for me. If I have 3 buttons, and button all of them, I feel constricted and it makes my chest look huge with all the fabric.

        Same with turtlenecks– I don’t need all the fabric up there. And just to vent, I absolutely can’t find button down shirts that fit. I am plus sized so the specialty retailer that advertises on this blog won’t work for me. I’d love to find a button-down that didn’t gap at the braline and also fit in the waist. Any button-down that fits at the bust is huge at the waist.

  17. I love this dress! I wouldn’t wear it to work, but I can think of a thousand other occasions where I’d wear it.

  18. Strangely enough, I find myself needing more and more shift dresses like the suggested ones. Two years ago, I would have never looked at such a piece of apparel, now I am specifically looking for them. It must have something to do with me becoming more involved in “adulthood” (as in becoming responsible, mature Vs carefree college student).
    I think the colors are a statement by themselves so very self-sufficient dress.
    Definitely something I would like to own (at a much lower price tag)

  19. This is too retro for my taste, but could see it on the right body type at a gallery event on a 20/early 30 something, but not if you are older than that.

  20. Threadjack.
    A friend of mine died last week. It wasn’t unexpected; he had bone cancer. But he had only found out at the end of June – it was extremely widespread at diagnosis and he went very fast (word to the wise, don’t ignore bad fatigue, joint pain and sudden unexplained weight loss). I went to the funeral this weekend, and talked about him with my family and mutual friends. But I just can’t seem to get my brain in gear today. I keep thinking about him and how it doesn’t seem fair. He was only 45, way too young to die. He was in really terrible pain until they finally put him on what they call “twilight sedation” so he died basically unconscious and unable to communicate. He had a wife and a little girl about my son’s age, so she basically won’t remember much about him, if anything. Which is a shame because she was the light of his life. The whole thing is just a sack full of crap; however, there’s nothing I can do about it now. But for some reason I can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t focus on anything else. Is there any fix for this that doesn’t involve bourbon, which I can’t consume at work? Help appreciated.

    • Sorry for your loss. Since you are thinking of your friend anyway, maybe you could write a letter about him to the daughter? Give it to the mother for safekeeping, for when daughter is older and asking questions about her dad. Tell her how you met, what he was like as a person, why you will miss him, how he acted as a father, and (if you know) what he would have hoped for his daughter. Maybe you could get some other friends to do the same.

      • this was my thought too.

        also, see below re: gym helping. for my own recent loss, krispy kremes helped too, but i don’t really recommend that route, unless used in combination with the gym!

      • I think this is a lovely idea.

        Also, can you take a personal day today?

      • This is a great idea. Perhaps you could also plan to do something to “give back” – to your community, a charity, etc. Even if it’s unconnected to your friend’s interests, by doing something to help others as a way to honor his memory, you’ll have something to focus on and your friend’s life can have continued meaning.

    • legalicious07 :

      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It’s okay to take some time to grieve. Don’t feel as though you have to immediately “snap out” of your sadness and pain. Life is precious, and the loss of a meaningful relationship much too soon really hurts — and so it should.

      As for me, I am comforted by my faith in times like these. I believe that death is not truly the end of life, but rather a transition to a different kind of life. One that never ends. Thus, I grieve — but never as one who has no hope. Life isn’t always fair. But death is not a final victor either.

      I don’t know much else to tell you right now other than to allow yourself a chance to feel all that you do feel. I also hope that you have someone in your life — a spouse, a friend, or perhaps even your friend’s widow in time — who can mourn with you. I’m a firm believer that true friends laugh with each other…and mourn with each other. Whatever the test or trial or season, we must be with one another through the ups and downs of life. It may also help you to read the poignant, powerful words of some others who’ve dealt with a seeming unsurmountable grief. I immediately thought of the book, A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. Stop by the library and pick up a copy or read it online for free here — http://books.google.com/books?id=j8h-WFrnJ4IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=A+Grief+Observed&hl=en&ei=2ytgTOTqBoP_8Aa3nbn5AQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Consistently rated five stars by its readers of all faiths, backgrounds, and persuasions, I think it would offer some hope and encouragement to you in this difficult time. I wish you the best, Amy, and I know that sunny days will come again for you soon.

    • If you are into exercise, perhaps hit the gym or go through a run. I don’t know why this helps, but it just does.

    • I lost a couple of very close relatives in 2008 to cancer very quickly – one in six weeks, the other in 9 days. I’m yet to find a fix, but I did find – and continue to find – that channeling the anger I felt into something that was important to them made me feel less… bad? sad? horrible? Consider whether you can take on volunteering with a group or cause that he found important, or if his wife would appreciate your having their daughter over to play once a week or something similar… I wish you well in the journey back from this misery…

    • AnneCatherine :

      I’m sorry about this. Something similar, but far less close to me, has happened to me. My advice as far as getting through work for the next week, say, is just to be present, but don’t expect much out of yourself. Maybe get the word out to one trusted person, say, your secretary, so that no one else expects much, either, e.g., if they see you staring at your desk calendar or out the window, or talking on the phone to a friend, they won’t be like, “what is UP with her lately?” It will get better, but, right now, being at work probably feels pointless and odd. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    • Deep sympathy at your loss. I love the idea of writing a letter to his daughter, it might help you process the grief you have every right to feel.

      On a more practical matter, if you are at work, and you need to be there (a personal day may be in order) are there mindless tasks you can work out today, so that you are being “productive” but let your thoughts roam as you do them. Alternatively — if you need to make things normal again — phone calls to business associates, etc may take your mind off things.

      Life is incredibly unfair. Many of us have suffered the pain that you are feeling, and I teared up, thinking about your situation. I have no easy solution, but allow yourself to feel what you feel.

      • I love the idea of a letter to his daughter, that is something she will always cherish.

    • Thanks for the advice and support, everyone.
      I can’t take a personal day; we had a bunch of people in here working over the weekend on something and I skipped that to go to the service, so I need to be here today.
      I love the idea of a letter to his daughter. I will definitely do that when I am not at work and can cry all I want when writing it. My friend’s wife and daughter are moving back to the mom’s hometown; this weekend we were trying to talk to her about waiting a little while (since this all happened so fast) but my friend’s wife is adamant and since they don’t have a ton of family support here, I see her point. Part of my sense of loss, I think, is that I lost my friend and now I am losing his family as well. I was at the hospital when their daughter was born and they came when my son was born; our kids have played together since before they could roll over, and now that’s all gone.
      I think a big part of it is I am in the “anger” stage of grieving but being at work, my only outlet for anger is crying which I don’t want to do either. I am sure people who have been through this understand: grief makes people uncomfortable. People are either avoiding me or being extra-super-nice and both things are making me want to cry.
      I made a donation to the ACS and I am thinking about trying to find something else productive to do.
      “right now, being at work probably feels pointless and odd.”
      This pretty much nails it; I feel like over the last three days I have been through a war, complete with casualties, and now I am sitting at work like nothing is different. But I am the type that I’m not sure being away from work and having too much time to think about this (any more than I already am) would be good for me.
      I appreciate the good thoughts. It means a lot in ways I can’t really express. Please pray for my friend’s family, if you are the praying kind.

      • I’m very sorry for your loss. There’s nothing that can be said that can really do any of it justice.
        But I just wanted to chime in to say what a great idea writing a letter will be.
        One of my father’s friends wrote a long, very personal eulogy of sorts when my dad died that he read at his funeral. He gave it to me after he read it. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. I cry every time I read it (or even think about it) and I am so very glad I have it.

      • I am so sorry for your loss. It is rotten and unfair.

        I would add to the above advice to put a little note in your calendar to contact the wife and daughter specifically on his birthday, their wedding anniversary, and a year from now. I have read a lot of advice that says those important milestones are incredibly difficult for the family, and having friends recognize the dates can be very comforting. When I have taken the time to do so, the outpouring of gratitude has been amazing. A simple, “I’m thinking about Bob on his birthday, and remember him fondly” is fine.

        I know that doesn’t really help YOU right now, but perhaps knowing that you can help THEM in the future can be a small act of kindness that gives you a little comfort.

        Again, I’m so sorry. Your sadness speaks volumes to the type of good person your friend must have been.

    • Anonymous :

      My cousin died of cancer in her late 20s a couple of years ago. Take the day off and have a bourbon. It is, indeed, a sack of crap.

  21. It doesn’t knock it down to the “affordable” price range for me, but ebates offers 2.5% cash back from Anne Klein’s website (http://tinyurl.com/22sw6u6), and they offer free shipping for $75 + purchases…

  22. Legally Brunette :

    Thread hijack – I found my new brand for casual T-shirts to wear on the weekend: Three Dots. Just bought a bunch of shirts and LOVE them all. In this cut, I bought the yellow and it’s really beautiful, flattering, and comfortable. Definitely go up one size or even two if you don’t like your tops really snug. I’m usually an XS and bought a small and it fits well, and I might even buy a medium next time to give myself a little more room.

    The colors are very bright and saturated, which might not work for some skin colors, but I love them. A bunch of the tops are on sale too.


    • Nice! I really like the boat neck. If I hadn’t just stocked up on a similar tee from JCP, I would buy all three colors. I live in long sleeve tees in the spring and autumn.

  23. What do folks think of this dress? Office appropriate for BigLaw DC? I just bought it. I love the color but am wondering if it’s too bright. It looks good on me though.


    • Honestly, I would hesitate to wear this in such a bright color. Also, keep in mind that body type may matter here — this kind of jersey from this particular manufacturer happens to be somewhat clingy, in my experience. So it may look less conservative on some than others. That plus the super bright color would make me think twice. But I’m in NY so maybe just brainwashed by all the black and gray around me. You would definitely stand out here.

    • Anonymous :

      I’d wear it in NYC if it looked good on me. I agree with AIMS that it’s more about fit/body type than anything else.

    • I’ve tried this dress on and would not recommend it for work. The material is just too clingy for BigLaw. It is a great going out dress though.

    • Thanks all for the comments. I have a really small bust so I don’t think the fit is overtly sexy, but it is form fitting for sure and that combined with the bright color might make it too much for work.

    • In my experience, jersey dresses like that leave NOTHING to the imagination and I mean nothing. If you get it, make sure to wear a slip and try not to walk into the wind. I’m dead serious. I’ve seen far too many women on the streets of DC who have no idea just how much they’re revealing to everyone walking toward them.

  24. AnneCatherine :

    Talbots just sent me an email that they have women’s size dresses. I don’t know whether this is new, but I think I’ve read on here before that they didn’t make e.g. 14W dresses just 14 or 14P. Well, now they claim to have some women’s sizes, may be worth checking out.

    • Anonymous :

      They’ve had women’s sizes for a while, actually–though now that I think about it, it might only be at the “Talbots Woman” outlet.

      Interestingly, they also have a “Woman Petite” line, which just confuses me.

      • Why confusing? “Petite” in stores generally refers to women under 5’4. So you can be plus size and short, thus a woman petite.

        • This is what I thought too. What’s confusing to me is what the difference is between 14 and 14W!

          • AnneCatherine :

            For me, the W dresses I’ve worn have had more room in the bust and hips, and been cut more to an hourglass shape, i.e, the larger bust does not necessarily mean a larger waist than the straight misses size in those cuts, if you can understand my sort of garbled explanation there, e.g., if a 14 “missy” were a 32-inch waist, the W one would also have a 32 inch waist, but also allow that sometimes crucial extra inch or two in the bust . My experience, so far.

          • W sizes are usually cut for a different overall body shape. There are measurement charts on Talbots’ website that are usually pretty accurate. It’s nice if you’re kind of in-between plus and regular sizes because sometimes if you can’t find something in, say, a 14, they’ll still have a 12W that fits you.

          • Ah, got it. Thanks. I’d always thought the W just specified plus size.

        • Anonymous :

          Oh, that is a good point–clearly I’m not thinking straight. I always think of “petite” as both short and skinny, not just short. Petite clothes always look so TINY!

          To be fair, though, I tend to tower over most women with my already generous height and love of heels, so everyone looks pretty skinny and short in comparison!

    • Talbots has plus sizes– I wear a 22w and their 3x fits me pretty well. I would caution you to watch the shirt length– they aren’t always cut very long, so if you have a bigger bust, it pulls the shirt up too high. (if you have this problem, you’ll know what I mean.)

      On the website, “regular” (not plus) sizes are listed as Apparel. Women= plus sizes. Talbots used to have a “women’s” store in a local mall, as well as a separate petites store, so I think they’ve been selling women’s sizes for a long time.

      In terms of the W, a 14 and a 14W are cut very differently. W is more generously cut, and so fits most plus sizes much better. A 22W is much roomier than a 22 misses.

  25. Question for those of you on shopping bans. How do you do it? I have just bought a suit and dress, and another dress, and now I don’t need anything at all and should go on a shopping ban for a couple of months. Recommendations? Should I stay away from corporette too? :(

    • I have just been thinking about going on a shopping ban as well. In the last week, I have bought three dresses and a slew of tops. It’s getting out of control! Fortunately, I end up returning a lot of the stuff that I buy, but I’m still spending more than I normally would. I would love some advice.

      • Anonymous :

        The way I did it was to clean out my closet of things that will never fit or that I will never wear (and donate these items!). I then got rid of the extra hangers too… and now I’m only allowed to buy something new if I can replace something that is already hanging. It made it pretty hard to buy new stuff since I didn’t want to replace the stuff I already owned and loved!

    • Anonymous :

      Unsubscribe from every email list you’re on! I have to remove the temptation. I’ve never bought anything listed on Corporette but if you find yourself tempted, stop visiting here too.

      • Anonymous :

        Oh, also, telling my father that I was putting myself on a shopping ban helped. He checks up on me and believe me, I don’t want to have to explain to him that I “needed” another pair of shoes.

    • My to-do list for shopping bans:

      1. Stop entering clothing stores.
      2. Avoid driving/walking routes that take me past favorite stores.
      3. Create email filters to automatically trash advertisements. (If I don’t know about the 30% off sale, it isn’t happening.)
      4. Delete my credit card information from e-commerce sites. (It won’t stop you buying something you absolutely need, but it’ll sure slow you down!)
      5. Reorganize my closet, setting aside anything that needs discarding, tailoring, laundering, or repair. Whenever I get the urge to shop, I have a “clothing to-do list” to distract myself with instead.

      • These are fab rules. Thank you!!!!!

        I guess my kids won’t reap the benefits of any of the sales either. LOL!!!! :)

        • Ha, kids are a complicating factor. I don’t have any myself, but my parents always coped by making a strict list of the things we needed, then hitting the sales in tactical ops fashion (“We have 30 minutes to find white tennis shoes! Go, go, go!”). Maybe that could work? It’s the browsing that I find I really have to avoid.

      • My clothing budget it $200/month. Once I exceed it in a particular month, no more shopping until the First of the next month.

        Ok, I do exceed it in some months. Unless the splurge was well-justified (interview suit, new handbag when old one broke, replacement coat etc.), I spend less the next month to make up for it.

        I still end up going over budget overall, but not by too much.

        I think this is a pretty healthy way of thinking about it: set yourself a yearly budget, divide by 12, and then track your spending. That way you don’t need shopping bans.

        • Oh, I budget too! The shopping ban comes into play when, for example, my yearly budget is $1500 (125/month), but six months into the year, I’ve already spent $900. (Oops.) Anytime I’m more than $125 over budget for the year at the beginning of a month, that month becomes a No Shopping month. Harsh, perhaps, but it works for me psychologically.

  26. I don’t get this. At all. Here are a bunch of women in corporate formal-dress environments, who talk about the importance of projecting personal power, who talk about not being able to “get away” with things that the rest of corporate America has been wearing for the last 10 years, OMG peep-toes and dark nail polish and all. And yet dresses that are clearly intended for evening / dinners out are then touted as appropriate for the office. Just because something’s formal or dressy doesn’t make it office-appropriate. This is a great dress for evening, but there is zero personal power associated with it, and throwing a blazer over it is absolutely no solution. A great blazer, jacket or cardigan with a great shell or blouse and terrific pants and great shoes is SO much more office-appropriate and powerful than this type of outfit, which says “I don’t know the difference between a personal event and a work event.” I don’t know what it is, but there’s like some mental blinder that if it’s a skirt / dress, it must be office appropriate.

    • Thanks, Sharon! Now I really know I should not have worn the dress I wore today (and it’s no where near the one featured). ; )

    • Your post reminds me that it’s not just about wearing clothing that is appropriate for the workplace, but that is also empowering. Lots of clothing can technically “pass” in the office but that doesn’t mean that will lend personal power. Thanks for the reminder.

    • legalicious07 :

      Interesting point!

    • You’re confusing Kat’s posting with the commenters’ reactions. Kat never said “no dark nail polish” or “no peeptoes”–she simply asked our opinion and many people said they weren’t appropriate. Kat has now posted this dress and skimming through the comments, it appears that most people find this dress inappropriate as well. So, there is no disconnect, only people expressing different opinions.

  27. I do so agree with Sharon, who says it much better than I ever could. If we watch Mad Men, we see someone’s conception of what women wore in the office in the early 60’s, which may be approximately correct. Do we really want a replay of that? I think not. I think the fun challenge is trying to really dress right for the job, while expressing one’s own personality. For myself, I do think that if even one person at work such as a client or another attorney thinks something I am wearing is wacko, I have really lost a round in the game.

    I am sure that others will agree.

  28. Was just looking at the Marc Jacobs collection online, and I see that this dress is a take on one of his. One big difference though is that his is a strapless dress, not a sleeveless dress, and that somehow make the proportions look just right. I think there was a belted waistline as well, as I recall.

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