Suit of the Week: Banana Republic Factory

For busy working women, the suit is often the easiest outfit to throw on in the morning. In general, this feature is not about interview suits for women, which should be as classic and basic as you get — instead, this feature is about the slightly different suit that is fashionable, yet professional.

It feels like we’ve posted a ton of splurgey items lately, so when I saw all the great suits Banana Republic Factory has right now I thought, great! This “chambray melange” suit looks fabulous for summer, whether as separates or worn together. Blue suiting separates have always been some of my favorites — they pair well with white tops for work, as well as with darker colors like black and navy, and they do well with a pop of color like red, kelly green, or purple. The prices here are crazy — the blazer is marked down to $72, and the skirt is marked down to $41; matching pants (in three different fits) are $47. Many of the pieces have regular and petite sizes available up to 16. Nice!


  1. Anonymous :

    What side dishes do you make for dinner often, particularly if you’re feeding multiple kids? Trying to find something healthy and tasty and break out of my rut of “here’s a microwaved bag of rice…” (Anything freeze well?)

    • cat socks :

      I don’t have kids, but here are some ideas – In the summer, corn on the cob. I’ve also been baking or grilling zucchini. I cut it in think slices and brush with olive oil and garlic salt. Steamed broccoli. Roasted asparagus. Sometimes I will boil red potatoes and then finish them off in the oven with olive oil and some seasoned salt.

    • Horse Crazy :

      I love making cauliflower rice. I buy the frozen bags at Trader Joe’s…I usually make it into Mexican rice (, or just add some garlic ( It’s so good!

    • Not sure what state you’re in but my grocery store sells bags of frozen “vegetarian protein” sides of all types and flavors (usually with a quinoa or bean base with other tossed veggies and spices) that are perfect to go with the primary dish. Microwave or heat up on the stove.

    • Former Retail :

      I’m interested in ideas too. My usuals are boxed cous cous (usually Near East parmesan flavor), farro cooked in chicken or vegetable stock, roasted potatoes, whole wheat bow-tie pasta with butter/parmesan/black pepper, or marinara or prepared pesto sauce, baked potatoes made in the microwave or instant pot, and more than I’d like, stupid blue-box macaroni and cheese. This + a simple protein + a simple vegetable is my standard boring dinner.

    • Chopped frozen veggies, roasted. Don’t defrost them, just put them straight onto a roasting pan and into the oven. Sometimes roasted with oil and then served with a dressing (balsamic vinaigrette, pesto, tahini sauce), sometimes just roasted with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sometimes topped with cheese. This works well with, in my experience: carrots, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, peas. Softer veggies, eg chopped mixed peppers and onions, get mushy and it doesn’t work.

      • MagicUnicorn :

        Shelled frozen edamame are great this way, too.

      • This. And I’ve been obsessed with roasting green beans lately (though I find I prefer them roasted from fresh, not frozen). I toss with olive oil and then whatever seasoning–lemon juice, or celery salt and paprika, pepper, etc.

    • Anonymous :

      Roasted veggies are really easy and really yummy. Roast literally anything with olive oil and s&p.

    • I very often do a grain dressed in a herb vinaigrette. Last night I did Pearl Barley dressed in punchy vinaigrette of lots of dill, thyme, cilantro, and parlsey – add salt and pepper and the juice of one lime and one lemon, then shred some parmesan over it. I do this with rice, couscous, quinoa etc. I’ll add toasted pignoli or almonds if I have them. The Instant Pot is great for getting a grain on the table quickly and the risotto done in an IP is great. In addition to a grain, I usually do a big plate of crudités, a salad, and a steamed/roasted/grilled vegetable, as well. Last night we did the barley with grilled broccoli (cooked along side lemon Greek herb marinated chicken breasts I had prepped and frozen) on the grill, a big salad with Green Goddess Dressing and a plate of yellow peppers and cucumbers for the kids. Tonight we are doing hot dogs and fingerlings on the BBQ and a bagged south western flavoured chopped salad (it is my kids’ “treat” night and they beg for this salad) and steamed green beans. I will do another crudités plate.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I do steamed or roasted vegetables with olive oil or butter and salt (not super fun for kids, but healthy + tasty). Perhaps more interesting for kids: I like to make roasted potatoes where I parboil the potatoes beforehand and then toss them with oil and seasoning and roast them in a 450 degree oven. You can boil the potatoes a day or two in advance and keep them in the fridge – it cuts down on the roasting time and makes better roasted potatoes (in my opinion). Also, looking forward to summer corn!

    • Anonymous :

      Birds Eye has a new frozen “pasta” made from lentils and zucchini. It’s quite good and easy.

    • Make a fake / easy elote – grilled corn with butter, lime, and cheese on top. I cut it off of the cob for the kids.

    • Anonymous :

      Trader Joes’s has a good selection of frozen grain (or quinoa) mixes with vegetables. The quinoa duo with vegetable melange is a favorite as well as the melodious blend and multigrain blend with veggies.

    • joan wilder :

      This may not meet what you are looking for but I really like Melissa Clark’s recommendations for sheet pan dinners at NY Times cooking, which cook the protein and vegetable sides all together on one sheet (or sheet pan dinners in general). It forces me to eat a full meal without the extra effort.

    • I roast asparagus or sweet potato slices, both just with olive oil and sea salt.

      I also do roasted veggie mix (usually peppers celery carrots potatoes onions and garlic).

      I like the Uncle Ben’s wild rice side (where you cook it yourself, not the awful oil half-cooked instant kind).

      I make taboule too.

      In summer, my go-to is heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozz and balsamic and EVOO and sea salt.

  2. KS IT Chick :

    I bought a dress to wear to an indoor/outdoor wedding in July, and now I’m needing shoes.

    The dress:

    I’m thinking navy sandals, probably with a block heel. But, I’m having trouble finding anything that isn’t really casual or that isn’t $150+. (I’m cheap. I also can’t justify a huge amount for this.)

    Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous :

      Payless always seems to be the answer to things like this.

      I bought a throw-away (I thought) pair of flats and they are actually wonderful and I am still wearing them a year later. I may not get my preferred two years out of them, but for $30ish, they are much better than I expected and very comfy.

    • Anonymous :

      That’s adorable. I would probably do nude sandals.


    • Never too many shoes... :

      I would suggest a metallic sandal rather than navy as you will likely get way more wear out of them.

    • cat socks :

      Some ideas from Sole Society

    • cat socks :

      Are you open to something in yellow to pick up the color of the dress? Or a neutral? Some other ideas

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Cute dress!

      I would want to go a little retro:

    • The nude block sandals at Target. $25 or $30. Super comfy. They also have them in pale blue.

    • The dress is very cute.

  3. Oh, I like this as a suit!

  4. Anonymous :

    I work in an old government building and the indoor air is always stuffy and dusty. There is no central air. Opening the windows doesn’t seem to help – there’s been construction going on right outside my window for years, and the air coming in is just as dusty (except immediately after rain). I have a few plants but they don’t seem to help at all. Has anyone successfully used an air purifier of some sort? I’m just at my wit’s end with this.

    • I’ve used the Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier with great success. It is fairly quiet. I use it while I sleep and it is almost like a low white noise machine. On Amazon it is $90 but I got it for $75 last week, so maybe wait for the price to fluctuate downward.

    • Make sure it is a HEPA air filter. A search for “small air purifier” on Amazon gives a really good list, many with over a thousand reviews.

    • Anonymous :

      Is your complaint allergies or dust-related or just the stuffy, stale air? A mini fan set on low might help to keep it moving.

    • Asthma and allergy dork :

      I would check the latest Consumer Reports on HEPA air purifiers–that’s where I found my GE Whispure which gets great reviews. It only really works if you are in an enclosed office though, with your door shut. Still, I’ve had success using it a few times throughout the day and then opening my office door so I’m not a hermit. I have pretty severe dust allergies. Protip–you can use HSA/FSA funds for this if you get a doctor note for backup.

      If you have a window AC unit, make sure the filters are changed regularly and you can also add vent covers which filter the incoming air better. IME, really old buildings are just dust machines, and it’s very hard to be well when the air is bad if you have asthma or allergies. I lived in a historic dorm my sophomore year and was very ill the entire time due to really old vents, dusty carpet, etc. The problem only was solved when I moved out. GL!

  5. Anonymous :

    Has anyone tried Putting Me Together’s wardrobe challenge thingy? Is it worth the $40 or whatever?

  6. Anonymous :

    Does a group that meets once or twice a month have any standing to get upset that their reference materials were taken off the walls of a courthouse conference room? They came to me for replacements, and are crying “theft” and accusing janitorial staff, which seems really outrageous. Just looking for an opinion poll, because there’s nothing to be done at this point, especially from my position.

    • Anonymous :

      I vote no!

    • Making sure I understand: these are public conference rooms, which a particular group has reserved for occasional use, and this group put things on the walls? No, I don’t think they have any right to be upset. The walls of public conference rooms are not yours to decorate.

      • That is the situation, yes. I don’t think anyone was bothered by the stuff generally…until, I would assume, someone was, and therefore removed it?

        • Anonymous :

          I can see how a group could be upset when their materials disappeared with no notice and no way to get them back. (I’d be upset about that part, too.) It would have been better if whoever did it had left a note and a way to get the materials back, or some suggestions for other ways to display.

          But no, I wouldn’t expect that I could put stuff on the walls of a room that I used only once or twice a month. It’s not my room.

        • Blueberries :

          The people accusing the janitorial staff of theft are behaving very badly. It’s really wrong to leave their stuff in a public space for a long time and then accuse the people responsible for cleaning the place of theft. Particularly for something like reference materials, which aren’t exactly hot on the black market as far as I know.

          • Don’t worry, it is reflecting poorly on the ‘accusers’, not the janitors. As well it should.

  7. I get a weird sort of satisfaction out of being busy enough that I no longer overthink things like responses to emails – I just write exactly what I need to say and hit send, no time for anxiety or second-guessing.

    Although this does mean I’m in danger of slowly becoming the exec who always responds to long, painstakingly written emails with “OK.” or “Sounds good, thanks.”

    • Just don’t be the exec who responds to long, painstakingly written emails with a question that’s already directly addressed and answered in said email.

    • Anonymous :

      That’s still better than “Thx” which is what I always used to get from the execs at my old job.

    • BigLaw Sr Assoc :

      Meh – I often need to send long-ish emails to partners that lay out my plan of attack on something. Sometimes all I need as a “Sounds good, thanks” to get the go ahead. I’d much rather get that so I can get started rather than wait for some longer response.

    • My team and I have a code. They will bold any items that need a response, otherwise they just get a thanks/ok from me to acknowledge that i have read it.

    • Anonymous :

      My boss has started responding to emails with a thumbs-up emoji. I think it’s hilarious but actually don’t mind—I know how busy he is and approximately how many emails he gets in a day.

  8. Anonymous :

    Going off of this morning’s thread on trying not to drink a bottle of wine every Friday night: for those of you who are sober, did you ever find anything to replace the buzz of drinking? If anyone’s cut back substantially, how did you do it?

    • Tea, and mocktails. Flavored shrubs with club soda with fresh berries on top, muddled herbs, and/or fruit syrups really address that need to have something ‘fancy’. Trying new teas is also nice on nights where I want to hold something and sip it slowly. If you have a big pitcher maybe mix up a batch of fancy mocktails (oooh – like sangria?) and pour from that throughout the evening?
      Honestly I still much prefer wine, but there’s no ways to make the math work on multiple cocktails/glasses of wine when I’m trying to lose weight.

    • Anonymous :

      By staying late to finish up work in a quiet office or going for a swim and then forcing myself to just go straight to bed. I don’t day drink, so I’m not going to get up early and use that time to start drinking. I am single, so this works.

    • Anonymous :


    • Two things helped me cut back substantially since graduating from law school:

      -moving back to Houston where public transit is way worse and driving home, which of course requires sobriety, is generally required
      -my hangovers started getting significantly worse in my late twenties and these days getting hammered is just less appealing

    • Anonymous :

      I’m single, I live alone, and do not drink alone. I’ve also never consumed a bottle of wine by myself in a single evening.

      Other consideration – box wine, so you don’t feel compelled to finish the bottle?

      • Me too. I do NOT drink hardly at all, and never alone. Onley when I am at a busness event will I have a drink, sometimes wine, sometimes a Cape Cod, b/c the cranberry is good for my internal system, Grandma Leyeh says.

        I learned from my experence with my ex, Sheketovits, that drinking can be destructive, and all I have to do is look at what happened to him (and possibly me if I married him) b/c of his situeation. I would rather be single then have to deal with a drunk who would lay around the apartment all day and then want s-x when I got home after a long day in the office. The last thing I needed (and I suspect others in the hive feel the same), is to deal with a guy with stale alchohol on his breathe huffeing and puffeing on top of me as soon as I got home from work. FOOEY!

        I urge the rest of the hive to follow my lead and avoid men who do this to enhance their own ego at OUR expense. DOUBEL FOOEY!

        BTW, I wish Megan Markel and the Prince all the best now that they are MARRYING in Britain! YAY!!!!!!

    • I’m curious as well. I’ve been trying to cut back from around 12 drinks a week to more like 4 drinks a week because I don’t need the empty calories and I’m sure it’s not super healthy for me. I don’t have a habit of having alcohol alone, but I’m finding it’s surprisingly difficult to kick the habit of having alcohol while socializing. I go out for drinks and/or dinner for work or for fun almost every night, and I LIKE having a glass of wine or a cocktail, so it’s hard to make myself get seltzer instead.

      Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had stronger motivations like behavioral issues with alcohol or if I was overweight or had health problems. But I never drink too much, I’m happy with my weight although would like to lose 5 pounds, and I’m super healthy. So my motivations for cutting back are a bit more abstract like yes this would make my future self healthier.

      • Aunt Jamesina :

        This isn’t helpful if you’re either wanting to completely avoid alcohol and/or aren’t looking to cut back in areas aside from alcohol, but I’ve been intermittent fasting (so I only eat/consume calories between noon and 8 pm) for two weeks, and I’ve found that it’s great not only for my waistline, but also for alcohol consumption since I rarely have more than one drink by 8 pm! Having a cutoff time

        OP, I don’t think there’s anything that can really replace the buzz of drinking. This sounds ridiculous, but I do find the high I get after a good workout to be satisfying, as well as trying out completely new activities or traveling somewhere new. It… tickles my brain?

        • Aunt Jamesina :

          *that should read “Having a cutoff time takes the choice to have more off the table for me”!

      • Thistledown :

        Would it help to think about the cancer risk? Because 12 drinks a week is going to significantly affect your cancer risk. I’m wondering if it might help to have an automatic first drink when you’re out, so you don’t have to think too much. Something like club soda with bitters and a lime that will feel a bit special to you. Then, if you do order something alcoholic later, you’re more likely to stick to one drink for the evening.

      • In terms of drinking while out being social – can you alternate a glass of wine (or drink of choice) with a glass of seltzer? And then set a rule that you can’t order another glass of wine until you finish the glass of seltzer? I’ve done this once or twice myself, and usually ends up with me having maybe two alcoholic drinks instead of three or four.

    • I’m currently pregnant so not drinking at all, and if you can find it – Topo Chico sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime. It’s so fizzy and IMO, way better than the canned sparking flavored waters.

    • I drink POM juice. It’s easier to sip on it and it has a similar profile to wine.

  9. Nothing replaces the buzz of drinking wine, but the easiest way to transition away from drinking alcohol is to find something you really enjoy drinking. For me it’s iced tea, especially hibiscus tea. I sometimes also do fruit juice mixed with San pellegrino. I know a lot of people drink la croix instead of alcohol, but I’m not a fan. Or, if it’s more the activity of drinking wine that you enjoy, maybe come up with something that also feels like a treat. Like if you’re drinking wine on your patio, a walk around the neighborhood might be a good substitute.

  10. ... ... ... :

    What’s your passion? I’ve been thinking about this question and I haven’t decided how to answer. But I’m wondering if others can.

    • For me, it’s learning new things and stretching my brain, which encompasses so much more: trying new hobbies, reading the news, traveling, meeting new people and learning who they are and what they’re about, trying new recipes, reading fiction, etc. etc.

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