The Hunt: Fit and Flare Dresses

tailored fit and flare dressesSure, we all know what basics 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.

We haven’t rounded up fit and flare dresses in almost a year, so I thought we’d take another look.  It’s such a popular silhouette that I’m going to focus this Hunt on not only work-appropriate ones but on solid, conservative ones that will be workhorses in a wardrobe.  Ladies, which are your favorite fit and flare dresses — and do you have any favorite accessories to wear with them (blazers, cardigans, shrugs, etc)?  

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Should You Ever Hire a Friend?

hiring-friendsHiring friends: yea or nay?  Does your answer vary if you’re hiring a friend to be a colleague/equal versus hiring an assistant?  We’ve talked about interviewing with friends, but not the reverse situation, hiring a friend. Reader M wonders…

I work at a small law firm. I’m pretty junior, but I have a considerable amount of input on decisions about the business. We don’t have an HR department or a formal hiring process. We’re getting pretty busy and I think it’s time to hire a new assistant to help us handle the work. A friend’s girlfriend recently moved to our city and has experience working as an assistant in a professional environment. I’m thinking of asking her if she’d be interested in the job – I know how hard it can be to find a good job in a new city and I know she’s qualified, so I’d be happy to help her and add some one likeable and competent to our staff in the process. Is it always a bad idea to hire a friend?

Interesting question, M.  There are two things that concern me about this situation.  First: she’s your friend’s girlfriend — not your friend.  You don’t know if/how things will end between them, or how awkward it’s going to be if you have to choose sides.  The second thing is that she’ll be an assistant — and being friends with staffers can get kind of murky, particularly for women.  In this situation there are two considerations here — first, if you and she are pals around the office, your superiors might start viewing you as “one of the girls,” which isn’t going to be good for your career.  Second, if you know this person enough to let your hair down around her, socially, it’s going to be a bit awkward giving her assignments and acting like a boss with her. (After all, you need to be respected, not liked.)  There needs to be some separation between work and life — and to me this is way too little space.

Readers, what are your thoughts — would you ever encourage a friend to apply to an administrative/secretarial position at your workplace?

Psst: we’ve talked before about using friends to network, as well as competing with friends for jobs.

Pictured: New Best Bitches set of friendship necklaces, available from Etsy seller guiltyeocrc for $4.50. 

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12 Easy Updos for the Office

2018 Update: We still stand by these easy office updos, but you may also want to check out our more recent post on 14 great YouTube tutorials for updos!

Hair is one of the key pieces to looking polished.  Perfecting a quick, sophisticated updo can be a simple way to have great work hair (and great interview hair!). Here are our favorite 12 easy office updos… whether for summertime, interviews, or beyond!easy office updos - collage for FB

Office-Appropriate Buns (and Variations)

Jean at ExtraPetite had a great tutorial a while ago about how to get a “voluminous puffy bun” if you feel like your head shape isn’t quite right for updos. (We’ve talked before about the sock bun, as well as the trick to making an updo more comfortable.)

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Five Ways to Improve Your Focus

improve-focus2016 Update: We still stand by the links and advice below, but you can also check out our most recent discussion on how to focus on work (when your thoughts are elsewhere).

Do you struggle with focus at work (or, hey, at home)? What tips and tricks have you found to improve your focus?  I am always looking for the best ways to improve my focus, but keep coming back to a few ideas…

  1. Eat that frog. I have yet to read the book of the same name by Brian Tracy, but I really like the idea: whatever you’re procrastinating on most — your “frog” — get it done first thing in the morning.  As in: eat the frog. (Half of the trick here is knowing what your frog is!)  Once the frog is out of the way, I find that my mental focus is a lot better — or, at least, I’m free to procrastinate on other things. [Read more…]

Where Did You Get That? How to Track Down a Mystery Piece of Clothing Without Asking

hunting-down-clothesHave you ever seen a random stranger wearing something — shoes, a coat, a blouse — that you really, really love but have no idea where to buy? Sure, you could try to ask her where she got it, but what if you don’t want to yell across the subway platform, or you don’t have time — or you just feel sort of awkward about asking? Aside from posting a Missed Connections ad on Craigslist (W4C?), how can you track down clothing or accessories that you happen to see on the street? Reader C wonders…

I was out to brunch a few weeks ago and saw a woman wearing a gorgeous cardigan — white with a pattern of bars in different shades of blue. I’m kicking myself for not going up to her to ask where she got it, and since then I’ve desperately been google image searching to no avail. Any suggestions for how to find this cardigan-that-got-away?

Interesting question, and I’m curious to hear readers’ responses about how to track down mystery pieces of clothing.  (For the record, I am sorry to say I have no idea which cardigan she saw!) Here are a few tips that come to mind:

  • Shopstyle.  Shopstyle.com can be a great way to find what you’re looking for — type in “purple plus-size wrap dresses,” for example, and you’ll see a bunch of options that are on the market right now.  For Reader C’s missed connection with the sweater, I would type in “cardigan” and then narrow by “blue.” If the woman was obviously plus-size or petite, put that in because it narrows the range considerably. If you can narrow the color of blue (ocean, cobalt, Tiffany blue, etc), give it a try. If you can think of a brand that has similar patterns (Missoni on the high end — Nic and Zoe on the more affordable end), that can help. If you can think of how the product might have been described — paintstripe! vertical stripes! brushstrokes! — that can help.   Polyvore is a similar option, as is Pinterest.

finding mystery clothes

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How to Cool Down in a Hot Office

Staying cool in a hot office -- seersucker dressSo you’ve switched from a freezing office to an office that’s too hot — and going sleeveless at work may not be an option. How can you stay cool and comfortable at work? Reader C wonders…

I’ve read a lot of your posts, and in my old office lived by your advice regarding staying warm in a freezing-cold office. However, my new building has the opposite problem. Much of the time, especially now as we approach summer, my area of the building is very warm. As in, I-wish-our-dress-code-permitted-swimsuits warm (we are unfortunately business casual with an emphasis on the casual, but sleeveless isn’t allowed). Some women, including higher-ups, wear sleeveless anyways. I’ve done this a few times, but feel awkward when I have to talking to our VPs (I do this fairly regularly) although nobody has ever said anything about my clothes. Any advice?

We feel for you, Reader C! It’s been about a year since we talked about how to look professional when it’s hot or professional clothes for summer; we’ve also answered readers’ questions about “comfortable casual” workwear in a heat wave and staying cool when the heat is blasting in the winter. More recently, we’ve talked about summer makeup and summer hairlightweight pants and lightweight blazers, and pantyhose in the summer.

To help Reader C, we’ve collected some helpful tips from Corporette readers on hot weather/hot offices — and added some of our own. We hope they’ll help you stay cool (well, cool-er, at least), even if you don’t go sleeveless.

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