The Hunt: Comfortable Work Heels

comfortable work heelsSure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Today we’re hunting classic, comfortable work heels — perfect for interviews, a starter work wardrobe, keeping at your office, and more. A few things to note at the get-go:

  • of course you don’t have to wear heels to work — check out our recent roundup of cute flats for the office
  • a note on comfort: comfort/walking with confidence is the top thing to look for — e.g., if you feel uncomfortable walking in 4″ heels don’t get 4″ heels! — you should feel comfortable standing in your heels for at least an hour (such as at a networking event) and feel comfortable walking at least three blocks (such as to go to a restaurant near the office with clients). You can change into your commuting shoes for longer treks or other more specialized situations, of course
  • don’t forget you can wear black with navy
  • take care of your shoes — scuffs, scraped leather, and more can be taken care of pretty quickly either by yourself or by a shoe professional — you can also replace heel tips and even the soles of your shoe with rubber portions to increase the comfort (here’s our post on how to make your shoes last longer if this is a big problem for you!)

Ladies, let’s hear from you — what are your most comfortable work heels? Are you Team Block Heel, Team Kitten Heel, or Team Stiletto? How long on average do your work heels last for you?

Before we get started, here are a few of the heels in our Hall of Fame category:

Pictured, row 1 (all under $100): one / two three
Pictured, row 2 ($99-$600): four / five / six

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Where to Find Stylish Plus-Size Suits for Work

where to find stylish plus-size suits for workHere’s a topic we haven’t addressed in a while that seems apt since we just did our big roundup of the best women’s suits in 2018: where to find stylish plus-size suits for work? Plus-size readers, please chime in — which are your favorite stores to buy plus-size workwear, from dresses to blazers to suits? (We’re actually working on a story on plus-size splurges and investment shopping — please share any favorites if you have them!) We haven’t talked about this since we did our last roundup of plus-size suits and more (including business maternity suits, petite suits, and suits for tall women) or the best workwear for plus sizes.

(If you are interested in plus size workwear, please sign up for CorporettePlus, our newsletter, for plus-size news as well as workwear picks in plus sizes! Signing up helps us gauge interest in the project, and we promise not to blast your email more than once a week at most. (Right now it’s more like once a month.))

Wondering where to find stylish plus-size suits for work? These are some of the top spots we know of, in alphabetical order — your best bets for conservative interview suits are in bold…

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Stylish Tops for Under Suits

stylish tops for under suitsWe try to keep our major shopping guides updated regularly, but sometimes they need a major overhaul — that’s been the case for our Guide to the Best Tops for Under Women’s Suits for a while now.stylish tops for under women's suits - stock photo of a young woman wearing a bow blouse under a suit I’m proud to say we’ve finally done it — you can check it out here. In the meantime, ladies, let’s talk: what are your favorite, most stylish tops for under suits?

For my $.02: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’ve always been a fan of wearing slightly fancy t-shirts under suits whenever possible, provided they’re easy to launder — I particularly like that a sleeved bottom layer means that my suit blazer can go longer without being laundered. I’d say my next favorite option is the popover blouse, like many readers have noted — much less problems with gaping! On the flip side, a cowl top is one of my least favorite things to wear under suits — they never seem to lay properly with the lapels. Similarly, wrap tops can sometimes fight the line of the lapels — and for me anything that’s too high-necked (like a crew neck or turtleneck) is usually not flattering, and requires extra thought to “lower the neckline” with a pearl necklace or something. The secretary blouse, as pictured here, has never been one of my favorites — too hard to get the tie just right — but it can be a great look (and it’s one of Selina Meyer’s favorite looks!).  Ladies, let’s hear from you — what are your favorite stylish tops for under suits? Is there anything you definitely wouldn’t wear under suits? Do you prefer to layer different tops under jardigans or cardigans, or can your closet do double duty?

Pictured: Deposit Photos / CITAlliance

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The Best Women’s Suits of 2018: Affordable, Designer, and Everything In Between

Whether you're looking for a stylish interview outfit, courtroom attire, or an investment suit with that "corner office chic" look, check out our roundup of the best women's suits of 2018. We're also asking the readers what their power suits are, as well as what their favorite interview suit or work outfit is! Which are the best women’s suits of 2018, whether for a stylish interview outfit, a power suit, or some other major career event? (Or, hey: a simple, chic suit often makes a great work outfit all by itself!) We’ve recently updated The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits, but we haven’t talked about the best suits for women in ages (aww, here was one of our first discussions on suiting basics for women!) so I thought we’d do a roundup. (We’ll also be updating our guide to plus size suits, petite suits, tall suits, and more in the coming weeks as well!) Readers, which are your favorite interview suits right now? What do you consider to be your “power suit”? What are you looking for in a suit in 2018?

(June 2018 Update: Check out where to find stylish plus-size suits for work! Looking for petites? Check out our roundup for where to find stylish petite suits for women.)

First, some general tips on what to look for in a great suit:

  • Confidence is the key to interview attire and power dressing. The goal of any interview suit or other suit like this is to let your brain do the talking and let your fashion sense take a back seat — so if you feel best in a pants suit, or flats, go for that. You don’t want to be that “baby giraffe” trying to walk in uncomfortable heels that are too high for you and sitting awkwardly in your interview fussing with your jacket. Really: whatever makes you feel like a polished professional is what’s going to make you the most confident. So take the rest of these tips with a grain of salt, BUT for my $.02, here are some shopping, styling, and budget tips: 
    • If you’re hunting for a budget-friendly interview suit: go for a
      black skirt suit rather than a pants suit
      , because pants fit is by far the hardest thing to get right. In my experience a $60 skirt suit looks OK but a $60 pants suit makes you look like you come from Planet Frump. Furthermore, the skirt suit will go farther — you can wear the pencil skirt as a basic bottom in your wardrobe (but always dryclean all pieces of a suit together!), plus if you have a “dressed up” occasion, a skirt suit is always going to be the more formal option. Another pro for a simple pencil skirt: you completely avoid the issue of what length/type pants to get, which really does feel like we’re in a period of flux — for a while all you could find were ankle pants, even though they were too trendy to wear to most conservative workplaces — now that flared pants and bootcut trousers are coming back I feel like the ankle pants will look outdated pretty quickly. Other trends I’ve seen with suits: jumpsuits! culottes! short suits! You want 1) a pencil skirt + hip length jacket or 2) a fitted sheath dress + hip length jacket — these combos have been in for years and probably will be for years to come. (Here’s our guide to pantyhose, which yes, if you want to be “safe,” you should probably wear for any interview if you’re junior, particularly in more conservative areas — but go back to our first point on confidence/comfort and factor that in.)
    • If you’re shopping online, look for words such as: seasonless wool, stretch wool, tropical wool, gabardine, triacetate. Avoid words like sateen, shimmer, linen. Crepe can be really tricky — sometimes it means a polyester drapey blend for suiting and sometimes it means a bridesmaid’s dress/MOB type thing.
    • If you’re busty: traditional wisdom here is that you want more buttons on your blazer, not fewer. I’m plenty busty and have had some favorite one-button jackets over the years, though, so your mileage may vary here. Depending on trends you can sometimes find suits with as many as four or five buttons. Check out this post for more workwear style tips for busty women.
  • Treasure hunting for a suit (where you MAY or may not find something good): T.J. Maxx, Yoox, ASOS, OFF5TH, and Nordstrom Rack
  • Consider taking your suit to the tailor.  Common suiting alterations include shortening sleeves, adjusting the waist. Note that the blazer (specifically the shoulder/arms) are the hardest part to tailor, so focus on that fit when you’re shopping.
  • Please don’t forget to cut your Xs, always dryclean suiting pieces together, and — if you’re wearing the suit somewhere Very Important like an interview, make sure you use the mirror trick.
  • For other tips on buying a basic interview suit (including considerations on colors, care, accessories, layering, and more), please check out The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits. (We’re in the midst of updating our guide to what tops to wear under suits!)

Looking for older versions of this post? Here’s our roundup in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, and (aww) 2008.

We’ll put a few handy pins at the bottom of this post for you with general prices for suiting alterations and general advice for what to wear on interviews. But first: on to our roundup of the best women’s suits of 2018!

Affordable Suits For Women

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Can You Wear Interesting Suits to Court?

Can Lawyers Wear Interesting Suits to Court?Can you wear “interesting” suits to court — colorful, patterned, fanciful, haute? (You know, kind of like in our weekly Suit of the Week feature?) Reader E asks — specifically wondering about this teal LK Bennett suit that Kate Middleton is wearing here and here — and I think it’s a great question for all the women lawyers:

This is a lawyer-specific question – can you wear interesting suits to court if it’s still a suit? I agree with previous suggestions here that a dress/blazer combo, unless its meant to be a suit, is not formal enough for court. But, my question is, what about things that are true suit sets but are more interesting – like an AT tweed suit, or the LK Bennett dark teal dress and jacket suit set that Kate Mid. has? Or do you think court suits have to be black/grey/navy and totally plain? Thx!

I can’t wait to hear what the readers say here.  For my $.02, I always think of my reaction to an article years ago about a young public defender who wore Balmain (at the time, their blazers had super pointy shoulders) and other couture suits to court.  The impression it left on me was a bad one — it seemed like she was not showing any respect for her clients or the fact that she was there to represent THEM, in life-altering matters, before stodgy judges and juries who may or may not have approved of her fashion choices (or her designer budget). Plus, as readers have pointed out in the past, wearing ostensibly designer, moneyed things in front of juries can be a bad move, particularly if you’re a public defender.

NOW: A crazy/trendy Balmain suit is one thing — a dark teal LK Bennett dress and jacket is another.  But where is the line? And are there different rules for “first appearance before the court” and “day 30 of a 6-month trial”? For my $.02:

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Suiting Brands for Women: Plus Size Suits, Petite Suits, Tall Suits and More

plus size suits2018 Update: We still think this is a nice roundup of plus size suits and more, and links have been updated below — but you can also check out our updated post on where to find stylish plus-size suits for work (as well as where to find the best women’s suits of 2018). Looking for petites? Check out our roundup for where to find stylish petite suits for women.

In case you missed it, we did a major round up of the best suiting brands for women a few weeks ago, from the budget brands to the boss brands. As promised, we’re back with a focus on specialty suiting brands for women — if you’re looking for plus size suits, petite suits, tall suits, or even suits from independent/specialty boutiques, this round-up is for you.

Ladies, if you’re on the hunt for one of these types of suits, which are your favorite brands and styles? Where do you shop the most, and what kind of sales have you found? 

The Best Plus Size Suits For Women

(Links have been updated as of 2018 — you can also see our latest roundup of where to find stylish plus-size suits for work!)

plus size suits

  • Amazon – Jessica London, Kasper, Le Suit, Tahari
  • Bloomingdale’s – City Chic, Lafayette 148 New York, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Marina Rinaldi, Nic+Zoe, and Vince Camuto
  • Dillards – Calvin Klein, Investments, Kasper, Lauren Ralph Lauren – Pictured
  • Eloquii – Lots of fun suits for work, with a few 9-to-5 Essential” options
  • Full Beauty – Nice collection of brands including ellos, Jessica London, Roaman’s, and Ulla Popken
  • Jessica London*
  • JCPenney – Evan-Piccone, Liz Claiborne, and Worthington
  • Kohl’s – Alfred Dunner, Apt. 9, Simply Vera
  • H&M*
  • Lands End (particularly their washable wool suiting)
  • Lane Bryant*
  • Last Call – Good selection of Lafayette 148 New York on sale, including suiting
  • Lord & Taylor – Calvin Klein, Nipon Boutique, Tahari – (also check out Gravitas dresses at L&T) – Pictured
  • Macy’s – Alfani, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Kasper, Nine West, and Tahari
  • Moi Même – Bespoke/custom sizes
  • Navabi – Lots of blazers in their own house line, as well as foreign brands such as Adia, Elvi, Frapp, Hermann Lange, Jo & Julia, Manon Baptiste, Nör, and Zizzi (free shipping over $399)
  • Nordstrom Lafayette 148 New York, Louben, Sejour, Vicky Vi, Vince Camuto,
  • Off Fifth – Basler, Calvin Klein, Lafayette 148 New York, Max Mara
  • Simply Be – A few more traditional suiting options like this or this
  • Sumissura – Bespoke/custom suiting
  • Talbots (particularly their seasonless wool suiting
  • Saks Fifth Avenue* – Lafayette 148 New York, Marina Rinaldi, Nic + Zoe, Stizzoli – Pictured
  • Finally: If you are interested in plus size workwear, please sign up for CorporettePlus, our newsletter! Signing up helps us gauge interest in the project, and we promise not to blast your email more than once a week at most. (Right now it’s more like once a month.) In keeping with our Privacy Policy, we’ll never sell your email address.

Awesome Options for Tall Suits for Women

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