“Comfortable Casual” for a Heat Wave

C&C California Bemberg-Sunburst Tie Dye Maxi Tank Dress2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on comfortable casual for a heat wave — but you may also want to check out our more recent post on summer work clothes or our brand new Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Womenicon

How do you dress professionally for a heat wave? I got an emergency email from a reader, who noted that given the heat wave here in NYC her BigLaw firm has told her she’s free to dress “comfortable casual” (but not in denim) for the duration of the week. Given that the firm is already “business casual,” she’s a bit perplexed.  (Pictured:  Cute, but probably not what the firm had in mind, despite the number of maxi dresses that Bloomingdale’s has on sale right now.  This one was $138, now marked to $82. C&C California Bemberg-Sunburst Tie Dye Maxi Tank Dress)

This is a new phrase to me, but here’s my advice to any woman told that this week: I would stay the course and wear your usual “business casual” to work until you see your female superiors dressing differently. My guess is that this email is intended for the men, who may now be able to include polo shirts, short-sleeved shirts, and khaki pants in the mix. (To any male summer associates who are reading this blog: I’d be shocked — shocked! — if this email was the firm’s way of encouraging you to wear shorts to work during the week.)

I’m curious to hear what the readers say about this, but my attitude is that if you’re dressing properly for summer (for “business casual”) that most women are already sitting pretty, whether it’s Hot or Very Very Hot. For example: [Read more…]

Open Thread: What Jewelry Do You Wear at the Office?

what-jewelry-to-wear-to-workAh, office jewelry… too much and you run the risk of looking like Tess, pre-makeover (from Working Girl). Today’s reader mail:

I adore jewelry, and I can pull of a bit chunkier necklace, but I hate wearing earrings or bracelets at the office. Bracelets always end up hurting my arm when I’m writing, as my watch goes on my left wrist and I’m right handed, and earrings always poke into my head when I’m on the phone. I’ve gotten around it by wearing only necklaces, or taking my earrings off when on the phone much like the ladies on Designing Women, but I’d love a more modern suggestion, and to know what jewelry others are wearing!

Perfect Huggie Hoops in Yellow Gold by Jude FrancesWe totally agree — it can be tricky. For our $.02, we’ve mentioned our dislike of bracelets before: bangles are too noisy and distracting, and even tennis bracelets dig into our wrists while typing. As for earrings, we haaate, hate, hate wearing post earrings for precisely that reason. Our solution has been to wear earrings with what we believe is called a “European” back — far more comfortable! — but it can be hard to find ones that are small enough to be acceptable for the office that are nice yet reasonably priced. We end up wearing a lot of “huggie” earrings (like the ones pictured at right), which hug the earlobe. (At right: Perfect Huggie Hoops in Yellow Gold by Jude Frances, available at Amazon.com for $480.) We would argue that earrings that dangle farther than half an inch from your earlobe are a bit too distracting for work, but maybe that’s us. [Read more…]

Poll: When does a messy office cross the line?

My messy office, originally uploaded to Flickr by pettishoo.This week’s poll is about an office space — if it’s your own, and you have a door that shuts and blocks it from view entirely, how clean do you keep it?  (We’ll also assume, for the purpose of this poll, that you don’t have frequent clients or superiors coming to your office.)  We have friends who keep their desks bare of all paper except the immediate project they’re working on — and we have friends who have files and boxes and loose papers and half-read magazines from the commute and pens and other things lying about on the desk and the floor, as well as spare shoes, spare clothes they keep at the office (suit jackets, more comfortable pants), and various food stuffs.  Then there are the people who have the truly messy offices — the “wall of paper” offices, where you wonder how they were able to stack the files so high without the pile falling over.  All this brings us to our question today: When does messy cross the line into unprofessional?  Is it worse for women, who are more prone to keeping personal items (shoes, jackets, low-fat food items, etc) in their office?


What’s the messiest your office has been — and what did you do about it?  Has anyone brought in professional organizers or bought office furniture to hide the mess?  What’s the messiest office you’ve ever seen (and whose was it — a superior’s? junior? college professor?)

Photo Credit.