Suit of the Week: Theory

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’s always interesting when Theory comes out with a new suit, because the Gabe and other suits have been so popular for so long. This one has a more modern look, although the straight-leg pants really don’t do it for me — I prefer the cropped pant look that’s also available. I like the sea blue, which is not quite navy and not quite royal blue (it also comes in black), and the one-button blazer as well. There’s also a matching sheath dress with a high, round neckline that looks like an update to the popular Betty dress. The jacket (Brince B Stretch Wool Jacket) is $435 at Nordstrom, and the pants (Hartsdale B Pants) are $285; there’s a matching pair of cropped pants and a dress as well.

Here are more affordable and plus-size options.

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  1. I’m going to Boston. Do you have recommendations for luxury skincare stores, like where I could buy more P50 or Santa Maria Novella? Also would love recs on discount luxury clothes. I loved the now defunct Filene’s Basement and never found a replacement. Thanks!

  2. Anon for this :

    I’m working with a summer associate who has high potential. Her work product is good and she writes well. Unfortunately, she speaks in a baby voice, not just to me but also to clients. She comes off as cutesy. If she lowered it an octave and projected more, she would come off with more authority. I am coming from a place of wanting her to succeed. I am also thinking that this is gendered and even though I have the best of intentions, I shouldn’t say anything to her (or anyone else at the firm about this), correct?

    • Anonymous :

      Hmm – it is gendered and the kind of thing that would offend most in the moment that they hear it even though it’s good for them long term. If you say anything to her directly I wouldn’t mention the baby voice specifically; I’d say something along the lines of – you need to project more authority/confidence and one way to do that is not use filler words, not sound like you’re asking a question when you’re stating a fact etc. I think that more general conversation can be handled more delicately along the lines of – you’ve done good work and if I could give you one thing to work on it would be [the above] . . . .

      • Except that she said she isn’t using filler words or ending her sentences in upspeak. She may just have a high voice. I have a high voice (naturally- I am a soprano). I don’t end in upspeak and the only times my voice is low is when I am sick, hoarse, or if I consciously try to lower it, which is difficult and will often end in a hoarse voice. Is her voice naturally high or does it get high when she is nervous?

        I know women with high voices, low voices, accented voices, loud voices, and soft voices and they are all capable and great at their jobs despite what they sound like. This is different than the words they choose to say.

        The only thing I can think that could help would be to ‘commiserate’ (unless your voice is naturally low, in which case people probably judge that, too) and say something like “yeah, when I get nervous, my voice gets high so I consciously try to lower it and project. It’s the only thing I can do to stop these men from interrupting me!” Also, consider that if she hasn’t heard it already, someone will probably tell her anyway in a rude way, in which case, you can commiserate and give her tips as a trusted adviser and not a critic.

        • Speaking voice doesn’t always follow singing voice. I’m a soprano, have been a singer my entire adult life and I have a low but resonant speaking voice. People often assume, from my speaking voice, that I’m a mezzo. My college voice teacher tried to get me to raise it but it felt very artificial.

          That said, I feel for this young woman. It’s hard to change your voice unless you are someone who thinks vocally, and I think it would be hard for her to do without a vocal or speech coach. It could be habit or it could be just her voice.

    • I think I would do it in terms of “It shouldn’t be this way, but people who are perceived to be a younger female are seen as having less authority. Since your voice is often read as “young female” you’re likely going to have to work harder to project authority. Some tips I’ve learned are X and Y, but obviously you need to decide if this is something you want to work on, and if so, how you want to do it.”

      I know everyone sings the praises of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, but we do default to “be more like a guy” as advice for women just starting out. It’s up to her on if she’s comfortable changing who she is, or if she wants to try for an Elle Woods type of success. You can let her know how unlikely that is, but she still gets to make the final call.

      • I agree with these above. It is worth experimenting with different tones- most times I don’t bother but when no one will listen to me in a group and I have something really important to convey, I pull out a deep, loud “Luke I am your father” voice and it’s astonishing to suddenly be heard effectively!

      • Elle Woods didn’t have a baby voice. I get that in most contexts, we shouldn’t say be more like a guy. But with the voice, a deeper voice, a louder voice, etc. is more likely to be heard both just physically (you can hear it better) and listened to.

      • Anonymous :

        Hey, don’t disparage “Elle Woods type of success” she was the valedictorian at Harvard Law! Everyone should want to be Elle Woods, male or female.

        • Sorry I wasn’t meaning to disparage it in the slightest, I think it was awesome! But by definition, not everyone can be valedictorian at Harvard Law so it’s already pretty rare. It’s also pretty rare in the corporate world for a younger female to be perceived as professional.

          Maybe this associate can be the first Supreme Court Justice with a baby voice, and that would be amazing and I would root for her all the way. I just meant she gets to choose if she wants to try to fight the battle by changing the way she speaks, or if she wants to do it with a baby voice. Neither way is easy.

          • Anonymous :

            Uh – I don’t think it’s *rare* for a young women to be perceived as professional.

            I do think young women are more often (and disproportionately) tagged with things that people say are “unprofessional”.

    • Anonymous :

      Is this something she does on purpose or just how her voice is? My SO just hired someone with a Minnie Mouse voice and during the interview, she addressed it directly which let him know that is just how she is and its not an affect. If that’s the case, please don’t police women for things that are out of their control, but the “projecting authority” convo is a good coaching move in that context.

    • young female attorney (and obviously this is just my perspective) :

      – I would absolutely want to be told this.

      it’s tough out there being a new attorney, being labeled as a millennial all the time, branded as ‘not skilled at XYZ’ or ‘not a good writer’ because of the judgment on our law school experiences or whatever. even though it sucks that white male attorneys harbor these prejudices, I want to know what I can do to combat them ( to start winning in their world!)

      I want these constructive criticisms even if they sting momentarily. I fully understand that some things I can change, some I can’t, but I would appreciate hearing it from another female attorney just so I could give it a try…

    • I have a naturally high voice. I’ve had the nickname squeaky in the past. It gets higher when I’m nervous and I also tend to speak faster when I’m nervous. I can control the speed and the pitch adjustment due to nervousness to some extent (or at least I can work on it) but there is nothing I can do to lower my voice. That said, you can still project and be heard with a high voice, its just harder. I think I would make the lesson about projecting and being aware that she has a higher voice so she may need to compensate in other ways to get the attention and respect her intellect deserve. For example, I take up space at the conference table, I try to sit in the middle rather than off to an end if its not impolite to do so. If its appropriate I will stand to talk and I move around strategically to help draw focus to me. I make a ton of eye contact when I’m speaking. All of these things seem to help, but sometimes it can still be a struggle.

    • Lorelai Gilmore :

      Tell her. You can work with vocal coaches on all of this stuff (and I’ve had associates do that and improve significantly at projecting authority.)

    • Grilled cheese :

      How is she at taking feedback? I think the projecting authority strategy is a good one (she may not be able to change the timbre of her voice, but she can work on other skills like posture and projection) but a) this should not be he first piece of major feedback you give her and b) I highly recommend the Radical Candor approach – you have to show her you care deeply about her career before delivering challenging feedback. If you’ve given her other feedback and she has seemed dismissive or defensive, you’ve got some work to do to lay a groundwork of trust first.

    • This is b/c your associate is young and is lookeing to get MARRIED to someone who can support her.. I have tried this, but there is NO ONE in my office that is eligibel to marry me; all are old guys (over 65) and I am NOT interested in just haveing s-x with men who will NOT leave thier wifes. FOOEY! I want a guy like Ed, not a schmoe like Sheketovits! Where are the decent guy’s?

    • Anonymous :

      One of my best friends has a baby voice. I think it serves her well as in her opposing counsel tend to underestimate her.

    • Eager Beaver :

      This post reminds me of an NPR story I heard a few years ago:

  3. To CapHillAnon :

    Thank you (and others, but your response stood out!) for understanding my frustration with the situation where the niece and nephew only acknowledge receipt of gifts when I ask if they were received.

    You hit the nail on the head — for their entire lives we’ve saved up money for their college funds, researched books with female heroines, learned the names of all of the American Girl dolls, re-read Harry Potter, etc. to find just the right gifts, paid for all the trips to Vermont because their parents won’t visit KC (“because it’s cheaper to travel when there are only two of you than when there are four” — fair, but not when it’s 2 trips/year+ for 13 years!). So to not even get a “hey, box came. Thanks” text/email/note/call/carrier pigeon is just exasperating. It has nothing to do with needing a 10 year old to perform circus tricks and everything to do with wanting to get a tiny sense that anything is appreciated. Thank you for understanding that.

    And thank you to everyone else who commented — I’m going to go through the routine for the August birthdays and then afterwards talk to my brother, because I don’t want him to feel I’m holding their birthdays hostage.

    — Auntie

    • Anonymous :

      Omg drama lama much? Call your brother now and use your big girl words and ask him to have the kids send a thank you card.

    • Anonymous :

      It sounds like you have a problem beyond a basic lack of appreciation for your gifts – you look down on your brother and his family for not having money and not being as considerate as you and your husband. Don’t punish the kids for your attitude, take it up with your brother.

    • AlsoHasABrother :

      I really like this plan! Consider telling your brother you’re sad you didn’t receive and acknowledgement for the August gifts, instead of bringing up the whole pattern. (I think it would be less likely to trigger a defensive reaction.)

      • Another thought – what about bringing it up in advance of sending the August gifts? “Brother, I’m thinking of giving kids xyz…what do you think? And by the way, any chance that kiddos could send a thank you email this year? I’ve spent a lot of time over the years picking out gifts for them, and I would feel a lot more valued by them if I just got a quick note in return.” That way he gets a chance to address it right away, rather than feeling bad about it for a year afterwards….

    • Shopaholic :

      FWIW, I want to do most of those things for my nieces (but there are kids of cousins, because my siblings don’t have kids yet). Especially for one in particular (because her mom is not the best and is trying to turn her into a doll) – I feel like she really needs a feminist influence in her life so I only buy her books with strong female heroines or toys that are more educational.

      I’m not saying this to shame you, but you seem so upset that you’re putting in all this effort for the kids and not getting gratitude back. I understand that, but it seems like a bigger issue with their parents – don’t take it out on the kids.

    • Anonymous :

      Seems like people are coming against you, OP, but I totally get it. It’s the emotional labor you’ve put in to be a good aunt. Thank you for doing that.

      • Thank you. Some of the comments made me sad — it seems like sometimes lately around here we look for the thing to jump on rather than looking for the question and how we can help. It’s one thing to offer another viewpoint — helpful! — but another to just pound on strangers looking for advice and (of course) offering up a snapshot of the situation. That’s why I wanted to thank CapHillAnon and the other helpful folks — wasn’t really looking to get the other stuff two days in a row. . . . I really appreciate the acknowledgement and validation.

        • I just read your posts as wanting acknowledgement for your gift buying ability. It’s your choice to buy for them.

    • Miz Swizz :

      This has made me realize that I should be better about sending thank you notes to the grandparents and thank you texts to the siblings who send me gifts for my birthday or Christmas. I tend to be lazy about that and seeing this makes me realize that being lazy is not the way to repay a kindness.

    • Anonymous :

      Side question – so many people commented that you don’t know whether the kids liked the gifts when you don’t receive a thank you note. I don’t get this. Wouldn’t the note say basically the same thing regardless of whether you liked or hated the gift??? I’m not going to write a thank you note that says “thanks for thinking of me but I hated the gift”?

      • Haha if only…! I would still expect a text/email/”note” in whatever form or call and that simply says “Little Myrtle received your gift today; thank you so much for thinking of her.” That’s it! I just want to know it got there. The second clause is optional of course but in the words of Sheldon Cooper, it is a ” non-optional social convention” in which generally considerate people engage.

    • Grilled cheese :

      Do you enjoy doing these things? Does it give you joy and satisfaction to give to others, or do you do it for recognition? I say this with love and think you should really think about it. I understand wanting to be appreciated for the emotional work you are putting in. But if you’re so upset by not getting recognition for it, that’s a flag to me that you’re not enjoying the process of gift giving enough to keep investing so much of your energy in it. My advice would be to stop. Send token gifts and a check for the college fund. Stop investing so much in The Perfect Gift if the enjoyment you get is equal to/can be erased by the lack of recognition. If you truly love gifting for its own sake, then text your brother and say, hey, I put the kids birthday gifts in the mail today, could you let me know when they’ve arrived safely? And leave it at that.

      • Interesting — thank you.

        • Grilled cheese :

          Other thought – if you truly want to know that your thoughtfully chosen gifts are loved, or for the feather in your cap but to share in their joy/excitement, text your brother and say, “I am so excited about the kids’ gifts this year. Could we set up a Skype date when we open them? I’d love to see their reactions.”

          • St. Louis meal delivery? :

            edit: should say “not for the feather in your cap” and “when they open them”

  4. suggestions for a daily SPF moisturizer for skin that is prone to being greasy/oily? looking to stay under $25

    • Anonymous :

      I like Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30

    • Anonymous :

      Biore Aqua Rich – the Japanese kind. Available on Amazon.

    • GirlFriday :

      I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing it, but PCA Skin weightless protection SPF 45. I am not a “get made up every day” kind of gal, but I still put this on every day. That’s how much I love it. I have oily/combo skin (I’m 31) and I live in a humid climate. This goes on and stays under any kind of makeup from BB cream to full-coverage liquid foundation. As long as I don’t use too much, rub it in, and let it dry for about 2 minutes, it doesn’t streak, cake, wash me out, or pill. It’s $43 (but well worth it, IMO) direct from PCA skin and the broad spectrum is $35 if you absolutely must have something cheaper. I didn’t check Amazon but maybe there’s a deal on there for less? If you find something under $25 that meets all these criteria I’m all ears. :)

    • The Yes To ___ in whichever formula is best. I like Yes to Grapefruit.

    • Neutrogena Clear Face

  5. Need advice on my hapless MIL from you smart women. I totally understand upfront that no one is giving legal advice here. Also, apologize for the novel upfront.

    MIL is 70 and deep in debt. She receives Social Security & a state pension (ex-teacher), and works part-time in retail. Those three sources of income combined do not meet her expenses. She declared bankruptcy a few years ago, but it didn’t clear her debts. DH & BIL have been trying to get a clear picture of her financial situation for years, but she hides information until a crisis hits.

    A crisis just hit.

    BIL is moving into MIL’s house to take over the mortgage so she can move to an apartment, saving ~$400/month. BIL is working on the house to fix it up to sell while he lives there, with an agreement that MIL will receive the current appraisal value when the house is sold, and BIL will get any profit beyond that as repayment for his investment and efforts. Today, MIL found that her bank account has been garnished by one of her creditors, and she won’t be able to pay her first month’s rent in August. Also, she just told BIL that she can’t get a lease on the apartment without a guarantor, even though she deposited a month’s rent about 3 weeks ago.

    Other salient points:
    – MIL & BIL live in Colorado
    – MIL can’t live in the house with BIL, because she’s toxic and starts fights
    – I think her retirement income is supposed to be exempt from garnishment, and is being garnished inappropriately
    – I have the highest, most stable income in the family, but I do not want to co-sign MIL’s lease because I do not trust her

    Advice, resources, and commiseration are all welcome. TIA.

    • Anonymous :

      This s*cks.

      If I were BIL, I’d stay away from that house. He doesn’t know that it won’t be foreclosed on when he is there. If you don’t trust MIL, he shouldn’t, either. That means no expectation that she’ll cooperate with listings / selling and no expectation of getting any $. For all you know, it’s horribly underwater or she dropped the insurance on it (or it is null since she has moved out and he has moved in). Something always goes wrong-er in situtations like this.

      I’d have her get her apt $ back, stay in the house, BIL doesn’t move in. MIL sells the house or it’s taken from her. If she’s a spendthrift and starts fights, let them be with her mortgage company and not you all.

      • Anon atty :

        In most states, foreclosure is a very long drawn out process. Even after the process is done, some banks wait years to actually evict the person if they are keeping up the house. I had an infuriating divorce case with this issue. Husband moved out and wanted to get name off mortgage/house sold. Wife stayed in house and wouldn’t pay mortgage and 5+ years of non-payment later the bank hadn’t done anything about it. I doubt you have 5 years but if the foreclosure process hasn’t started, you likely have at least a year to two.

      • One thing we do know that the house is not underwater. It was in 2008, and we tried to convince her to walk away from it then, but she would not leave it. She has some equity now, but the house is in horrible condition, as she has not been able to afford upkeep. She’s in a hot market, and I keep pushing selling now as plan B, even though a little work will make a huge difference in the selling price of the house.

    • Anonymous :

      I have no real advice but absolutely do not tie yourself financially to this situation. You’ll be on the hook when she can’t pay her rent.

    • Would you and your husband (and/or BIL) consider buying a condo for her and letting her live there rent free? It’s not the best investment but you’d hopefully get the money back in the end. I’m not sure if the issue is that she needs ongoing support (e.g., savings and income are insufficient) or that she’s really bad with money. A free condo would address the first problem, not the second.

      • Unfortunately, it’s b, she’s really bad with money. I’ve thought about that idea, but it would be a hardship to pay for it, and I don’t trust her to pay HOA fees or handle routine maintenance on a condo, so we would be at risk to not make back our investment.

      • +1 – we are probably facing a similar situation with my MIL, but instead of it being her choice as to where she lives, we’re getting an investment property we actually want and we will let her live there if it comes to that. Is there a vacation place/area where you might want to own a place with your brother? I’d consider buying something like that instead of a condo where she lives now (unless that’s a good investment but it didn’t sound like it). I see the vacay home where you want to be as a mid-point between “she made her bed, but we still need to care for her.”

    • This is not the question you asked, and may be way off base, but she likely has access to your DH’s social security number right? Does she have access to yours? I would recommend you both initiate credit freezes like immediately and run credit reports constantly to make sure a “toxic” MIL isn’t ruining your (financial) lives in addition to hers. And never ever share your kids’ SSNs with her. Ever. Hard stop.

      It sure sounds like she doesn’t want real help, so honestly I would just not help her. Hiding information and then putting out an alarm for a crisis sounds like a very manipulative move. DH should have a convo with BIL where they stop trying to help someone who doesn’t want help, and get themselves untangled with her financially. And probably get some kind of counseling or plan to ensure they haven’t unintentionally picked up any of her habits or practices, either in finances or in manipulation.

      I know life is harder than that, but I’d probably have a long talk with DH about that as a possibility.

      • Anonymous :


        Read the JustNoMIL subreddit. There are horror stories similar to OP’s situation.

      • Anonymous :

        +1,000 this is enabling her, not helping.

      • She absolutely does not have access to my SSN, and I doubt she has DH’s – she can’t even find her wifi login. No kids, so that’s safe, too. But I appreciate the words of warning.

        We really are trying to help her live on her income, without taking on financial responsibility for her. But it’s a clusterf*ck, and you’re right, she doesn’t always want the help. She has lived her life expecting a white knight to save her, and in recent years, she has looked to her sons to save her. They won’t, but don’t want her on the street, either. It’s tricky.

    • Hire a lawyer.

      Your BIL’s claim on the house is almost certainly secondary to those of a mortgagor, any monies owed in property taxes, and perhaps even liens placed against the house by creditors. If he wants to spend his own money fixing it up, fine.

      If she is deep in debt after declaring bankruptcy, she should know her options for declaring it again, and you should all figure out why it didn’t “clear her debts,” as very few are exempted from the process. (My suspicion is that she did not complete a chapter 13.)

      You also need to know what resources are and are not available for low-income (or low-asset) elderly people.

      You and the rest of the family also need to have a plan for taking care of her in a way that does not compromise the roof over your own heads.

      The liens on her house are public record. Her bankruptcy may be a public record. Get some handle on what her situation actually is, to the extent that you can.

      • +1 to hiring a lawyer

        Between the statement that the bankruptcy didn’t clear her debts and someone appears to be garnishing her retirement accounts, something doesn’t smell right here legally speaking and some issues need to be cleared up.

        As for what to do about her living situation, I totally get wanting to make sure she has a safe place to live despite not trusting her. The condo suggestion above doesn’t seem like a bad one to me. If you can take some of the money from the sale of her house in a few months or whenever that happens and put it that way, that might help.

        • Also, OP, just wanted to add, my sympathies. My mother is _terrible_ with money and I live in fear of something happening that will require me to support her financially. It’s a really tough situation and I wish you luck.

    • See if she qualifies for Colorado Legal Services ( have her call to try to do an intake; don’t try to figure out yourself whether she qualifies). Also if the garnishment really is improper there are consumer attorneys who will take the case on contingency if CLS can’t hp her. Find one on Nnational associAtion of consumer advocates website. Finally agree BIL should be cautious because MIL could be very far along in foreclosure process already.

    • Um, hi. If I had a married sibling (I’m an only), I’d say your MIL is my mom. My situation is the exact same, right down to the housing nonsense.

      Here’s the very hard thing the ladies here have taught me: my mother made her bed all on her own. She has chosen to be bad with money over and over and over again for the 71 years she’s been on this earth. And so long as she’s of sound mind, I am not responsible for her poor decisions. My relationship with my mother improved dramatically when I stopped trying to parent her.

      Your MIL is an adult who has the adult responsibility of figuring this out on her own. Her debts are her responsibility. Does she have enough money to put a roof over head and food on the table? Ok then. You have nothing else to concern yourself with here. Her debts are between her and her creditors. She makes the free choice every day to live beyond on her means. You do not need to be her savior.

  6. Anonymous :

    Based on a suggestion on the last thread, seeking any recommendations from the Hive for good, but not insanely expensive, hair/makeup services for my downtown Boston wedding. All of the quotes I’ve gotten so far have been $500+ for bridal services (and $250+ for bridesmaids). I’ve asked friends for recommendations, but the woman they all used is getting married on the same date as I am!

    • a millenial :

      we went to a salon (liquid) that the bride regularly got her hair cut at. we basically showed up 1.5 hrs before it opened, and they did hair + makeup for 6 bridesmaids + bride + MIL and ran into 1 hr where the salon was open and we shared with others. i think this made it cheaper and came out to be ~175/bridesmaid, 250 bride. i dont know exact numbers bc the brides MIL paid.

    • Why not ask that stylist for her recommendations (specifically citing the cost concerns)? Do you have a wedding planner? They are great resources. Your photographer probably has a few recommendations, too.

      (Also, I got married in another major city. I didn’t have a bridal party but paid for hair and makeup for me, my MIL, SIL, and mom and it was about $1k for all of it. Makeup was $125 for the bride and $100 for each other person. Hair was $600. Don’t forget tips! The cost can go up if they have to arrive before a certain time, if they have to pay for parking, if they have to bring another stylist to accommodate your party, and I’m sure you know that having them come to you is more expensive than going to them. Also some differentiate pricing for updos v. blowouts or eyelash extensions, etc.)

    • I had my makeup done at a Clinique counter (with an appointment) and bought some of the makeup after. I did a test run before and bought some makeup that time too. It came out amazing and it was just the cost of the makeup I purchased. My regular hair dresser did my hair for a regular up-do price. My bridesmaids did not get their hair professionally done. We all had our nails done before the rehearsal dinner at a regular walk in nail salon. We called ahead so they had plenty of staff to accommodate us.

    • Although not in the Boston area, if you follow Instagram, there are tons of makeup artists who are independent and will travel to your “get ready” spot and aren’t tied to a salon, so their prices are cheaper. There is a lot of good talent out there, so maybe take some time to research. Also $500 for makeup alone on bride is insane.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, I’m working on this (and totally agree on the insanity, though the $500+ quotes I’ve gotten are for hair and makeup). I was just hoping for some personal recommendations because there are a million and nobody lists pricing anywhere so it’s a lot of legwork.

        • Good idea! And OP, report back if you find someone great. I’m getting married in Newport next year.

    • Amy Sylvester

    • Anonymous :

      I used Erika Alvarez and loved my hair and my bridesmaid hair! I forget the exact amount but it was closer to 100 I think for bridesmaids (although in 2014)

      She may have makeup recommendations too- I used Julie at Oasis in Weymouth if you want to try calling there but I don’t know if she is doing that now.

  7. I’ve purchased Theory only secondhand so far, but I’m happy to see they are now offering straight leg pants. Not because it’s trendy, but because I think those look better on my petite frame than flare or bootcut or whatever you want to call it when the ankle is wider than the knee.

    • Anonymous :

      Agreed. I have their straight leg pants and they are super flattering on my taller frame too. They’re cut really well, I like them a lot better than the Max pants.

  8. Anonymous :

    Moving in to boyfriend’s house, and he’s giving me sort of free reign to completely make over the (very dated) place. Generally low budget and DIY. Plans are: paint living room and bathrooms; replace some light fixtures/curtains/furniture; and in time replace bathroom sink/counters. I have never done any of this before. Any suggestions of approachable, not overwhelming places to get ideas? Also, if I hadn’t started thinking about painting, I would never have realized how much it can make over a room – is there anything else like this I might be overlooking? Thanks!!

    • Anonymous :

      My favourite decorating blog is Apartment Therapy – great advice and ideas (even if you live in a house, not apartment).

      You seem to be on the right track. If all the light switches are old, replace them. You know the old yellow plastic switchplates? Shudder. New ones will make a great difference.

      Etsy is a wonderful source for decor and art that is unique and often inexpensive.

      • Anonymous :

        Oh, I hadn’t thought about switchplates. Also Apartment Therapy is a great idea. I used to read it years ago, realized I never had the time for anything, so I stopped. Now’s the time to return!

      • I would be careful about moving in with a guy. Once my ex moved in, I could NOT get rid of him and he was embarassing b/c he had no other place to go, other then home. You need a place to go h0me to if your boyfreind and you do NOT agree on something, and you do NOT want to be in a position of having no place to go and haveing to do stuff that you do NOT want to do b/c you have no place to go. FOOEY on that! When men know they have the upper hand, you have to do stuff you do NOT want to. It is NOT fair but we are subjugated by men who take advantage of us in this kind of situeation. Think about this very carefully b/f you give up your autonomy, dad says.

    • Anonymous :

      Emily Henderson’s blog can be good for ideas

    • Rainbow Hair :

      So exciting! I always say this but I’m happy to email endlessly about this ish if you’d like a partner in crime!

      Think about what you’re going to do with trim/molding too. Or if there isn’t any, adding it — like around windows and doors, in addition to at the floor/ceiling. Things look so much more finished with it.

      • Anonymous :

        Ooh, thank you!! I will keep you in mind. I’m interested in playing with trim/molding… I definitely want to add it to the ceilings at some point.

    • Depending on the type and quality of existing furniture, you may be able to rearrange things or re-paint the furniture itself to appear more “put together.” In my first apartment, everything was a hodge podge of stuff from curbside sales, free furniture from my parents, and discounted furniture from places even cheaper than IKEA/Walmart because I was just starting out. My bedframe was silver, my dresser was brown, my bedside table was blue(!), etc. If you can have everything be black or everything be brown, it pulls a room together so much better imo so that it looks intentional instead of “this was the cheapest thing I could afford in my early 20s.”

      Rearranging can also be an easy way to revive the place. You don’t have to have the conventional floorplan of couch and coffee table in the middle facing a TV if that doesn’t work for you. Try moving something into a corner or having an asymmetrical layout if makes more room for a comfy living space.

      • Anonymous :

        This is helpful! We definitely have a smattering right now… time to break out some furniture paint maybe? And yes to rearranging.

    • GirlFriday :

      I really like Houzz but it can be overwhelming. I started by only searching Houzz for specific items I needed. For example: I wanted subway tile in the kitchen (I liked it before it was cool guys, I swear!) so I just searched Houzz for kitchen photos with subway tile until I found what suited my style. Good luck! For a dated place with good bones, paint can get you 80% ofthe way to “omg this place looks amazing!” The other 20% is light fixtures, in my opinion. Second to reading Apartment Therapy and changing out light switch plates.

    • Miz Swizz :

      I’d focus on painting first, then lights and curtains. If you can get a fresh coat of paint on the wall, you can then buy (and return if needed!) curtains and try them out with your freshly painted walls. I think it took me 4 tries to get the right curtains for our living room and 3 for our bedroom.

      I’ve had good luck buying curtains at Burlington or TJ Maxx. Look at the hardware too, I realized we had some really ornate curtain rods and finials that I replaced and it looks so much better. Try to replace the light fixtures when it’s light out, it’s a lot easier to have natural light coming in than trying to use the light from another room or a bedside table (ask me how I know!) unless you have some sort of work lamp.

    • Kitchen Mission :

      I just had an amazing paint palette discovery after a paint disaster! (Cabinets coming tomorrow, husband painted the walls the color our designer and I chose and I HATE it, so I have today only to choose a new color and get it on the walls).

      Anyway: creates color palettes. If you put in the hex code of a paint (Sherwin Williams has theirs on their site but you can look up others easily) you can see what exact shades will look like together. It’s very intuitive. I’d start there and then use Houzz and to some degree Pinterest (which I think is a little twee but has some good ideas) for fixtures and other stuff. Step away from time to time to visualize what you want the end product to look like – it is easy to get bogged down in details.

      have fun!

    • I like Little Green Notebook and SFGirlbyBay – the former is good for actual renovation/how to do it ideas, and the latter has approachable style I like.

  9. SplashCycle :

    I just learned that there are aqua cycling classes in DC, and I’m super excited to try them out. Has anyone in the hive done one before (either at the SplashCycle in DC or elsewhere)? How is the workout? What do you wear? I go to regular spin classes all the time and this looks really fun, but I have no experience with it whatsoever.

    • Anonymous :

      I haven’t done it there, but I’ve aquacycled. Wear a bathing suit that you feel comfortable biking in – your top will be above the water part of the time. Sometimes I wear a sports bra or tank with built in bra in the pool because I don’t have any sporty bathing suits. Aquacycling is kind of weird, but fun to try. It’s literally a bunch of bikes in a pool. Depending on the studio they may ask you to shower before using the pool, so arrive early.

  10. I have big hips and skinny thighs. So anything that fits my hips looks really baggy and sloppy on my legs. I’ve had some luck at Loft, but can anyone recommend a good place to get big waist skinny leg casual pants? My hip area is like a size 8 and my legs are like a size 2. Or should I just give up on pants in general?

    • I just re-read that and I meant proportional to the rest of my body, my hips are big.

    • Anonymous :

      I used to buy them at Mango, not sure what they have these days but may be worth checking out. Casually, go with jeggings-type pants.

    • Anonymous :

      Can you take a couple pairs of pants the fit well thru the hips to a tailor to see if there is a relatively easy adjustment to take the fabric out of the legs?

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, tapering the legs is not wildly expensive. I had a couple of pairs done when I lost weight.

    • Anonymous :

      If you’re looking for work pants, you may want to try the Devin fit pants at Ann Taylor. Otherwise the Marisa at Loft has casual pants too.

  11. Sloan Sabbith :

    Another pants question.

    I love the look of bootcut pants on me- I’ve always thought they just look like what professional women wear. However, my butt is tiny. I wear a 6 or an 8 in the waist, but bootcut pants hang and make me look like I’m playing dress up. Any ideas for black bootcut pants that fit smaller butts? I don’t need them as part of a suit, more just to add into my rotation. Business casual office. I’m short, and would prefer not to have to get them hemmed. I loved the “skinny bootcut” look that was in for 30 seconds a few years ago, because they fit on my legs. My Zella bootcut yoga pants also look great, but obviously not good for work. Betabrand? I’ve heard they’re long, which, ugh.

    • Anonymous :

      Well, typically business-wear pants have been more about a trouser cut, where the it’s fitted thru the hips, but not thru the thighs like a boot cut is. Boot cut (generally) means fitted thru the thighs and hips, and the flares from the knee down. So while I wouldn’t say boot-cut is unprofessional, I wouldn’t say it is the default for professional cuts.

      Which may be why you are having a hard time finding something. Business-formal and business casual fabrics are more likely to be in a trouser cut than a bootcut.

    • Betabrand comes in lengths, so if yoga pants look good on your, the yoga pant dress pants are probably exactly what you want.

  12. slow week at the office :

    What are everyone’s favorite websites for browsing when things are slow at work? For news, I already read NYT and and can’t really handle much more on the political news front these days.

  13. Self-Care :

    I just got rejected over video-call for something I really wanted- appointment to the board.

    I knew it was kind of a long shot, but the call was absolutely by surprise. I reacted like you’re supposed to- I totally understand, thank you for considering me, etc. I tried to not look upset, although I am. And I do understand- my colleague got it and has more experience. I’m happy for him (and laughing because he only sort of wanted it…) But I feel surprisingly disappointed. Don’t really have time to deal right now, just wondering what nice things you do for yourself in this kind of scenario.

    • I hear you. What’s your poison, so to speak? A massage or facial, a mani-pedi, a treat from Starbucks… ?

    • GirlFriday :

      I usually go for a glass of wine in the bath, but I’m an introvert. :) Sometimes it cheers me up to go out to dinner or just drinks with a friend who is very “rah, rah, you’re the best! It’s their loss.”

  14. anonymous :

    I have an interview tomorrow morning for an in-house legal job at a fund that is my dream job. I’ve been told that my interview will last about 60-90 minutes and is with the person who would be my boss. I have only interviewed for one other in-house job and got through three rounds of interviews only to lose out at the end, and I am worried that this will end up the same.

    Any advice? I have been spending a lot of the day doing background research on the company, but I want to make sure I am selling myself well as a value-add.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Do you have a file (mental, physical, or digital) of times people thanked you for doing a great job? Can you go through that to get yourself hyped up? Also talking to friends who think you’re awesome?

      Basically, I want to squish the voice in your head that’s saying “well maybe this one will end with me not getting the job too.” I want you to feel confident! You ARE a huge value-add! They wouldn’t be wasting your potential-boss’s time if they didn’t think there was a good chance you are The One. Be your charming self – let your enthusiasm shine! Rah rah pompoms!

    • Anonymous :

      Try to convey your enthusiasm for the job and the mission of the institution, rather than why the job would be awesome for you in your career path. It’s sometimes hard to veer away from the latter because you are thinking about how to tell your story, but the interviewer wants to hear that you are psyched about his/her organization, and it doesn’t always come through.

    • Back when I was making the move from a firm to in-house somebody asked a similar question and I thought one of the responses was so good I saved it for myself (and still happened to have it buried in my gmail):

      Think about in-house counsel’s role in the company, and how it’s different from outside counsel. Depending on the specifics, there could be a significant shift in your goals as an attorney. For myself, moving from litigation to in-house, I really had to readjust my thinking from “how can we win” to “what is best for the big picture, long term?” which doesn’t always look like a “win” if you are just looking at the litigation perspective.

  15. NAS question :

    Hive, last year I thought Nordstrom opened up the NAS product pages in advance so you could see the full selection and wish list/save items, and be ready to order them when the sale went live. Did I make that up? I don’t see where that’s an option this year, and every year I loathe the catalog selection but find some great things in the full sale, so it would be nice to pre-shop a little bit instead of getting up in the middle of the night in my time zone or trying to do it at work on an already full day. Maybe I just missed the section of the website where cardholders can log in and do this?

  16. Home security system :

    Wondering if anyone has this, and if so, how did you make the decision?

    We just moved in to our first house and the previous owner had an ADT system. I’m debating whether we need this…

    • Anonymous :

      Good question; at least on my NextDoor, everyone is going to Ring and wireless cameras.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Ours gets us a discount on our homeowner’s insurance — not enough to cover the cost of the system, but it’s something.

      Ended up going for it because people kept getting burglarized nearby. I hate that it’s basically “how do I make my house less appealing to rob than my neighbors'” but that’s really the best we can do.

    • We moved into our first house three years ago. Last year we got SimpliSafe. The reason was that a ton of houses in our neighborhood were being burglarized during the day. Our system will alert the police if there is a break in. That has pluses and minuses, as I understand that the police in our city will fine you if they show up to a false alarm.

      If you want this kind of security system, you should consider how long of a contract you are going to be locked in for. SimpliSafe was some upfront cost and then a monthly charge, but can be cancelled at any time. ADT and others will require you to be locked in for a few years. I read terrible reviews of adt, but you might be able to get it cheaper since you already have all of the camera hardware inside your house.

      No expert but other considerations are whether you want photo video streaming to, say, your phone which might eat up a lot of bandwidth but obviously could be useful in identifying the bad guys. In this category I see the Nest system recommended very highly on my local nextdoor.

  17. Looking for recs for an engagement present for a close friend – mailing it to her. She is in her 30’s. TIA!

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