How to Wear Culottes to Work (And: CAN You Wear Culottes to Work?)

how to wear culottes to workSeveral years ago, when culottes started to come out from major workwear brands like Theory and Ann Taylor, I’ll admit my first reaction was HELL NO… followed by “my eyes, my eyes!” In short: not a fan. Several years later, brands are still trying to make culottes happen, and what’s worse: my eyes have started to become accustomed to them as an option for casual offices or casual days at conservative offices. So, ladies, it’s time to discuss: CAN you wear culottes to a conservative workplace? What are your best tips for HOW to wear culottes to work? What styling tips make culottes more professional vs more weekend?

The answer here is going to vary by office, I think — so know yours! For my $.02, I think these factors make a world of difference if you’re wondering how to wear culottes to work:

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Designer Bags, Purse Budgets, and Investments

designer bags and purse budgetsLadies, how often do you buy purses and bags? Do you prefer to make one big purchase and buy a quality, name bag — or do you prefer to make more frequent, smaller purchases? Does having a trendy bag matter to you, or do you want a classic style? 

I’ve been thinking about this recently because I’ve been helping a friend look for her first big bag purchase in a while — she’s finally out of the diaper bag phase of her life, has almost 2 of her 3 kids in school, is settled into her “forever” house, etc. Accordingly, she and I have been trolling resale sites like Tradesy and The Real Real, as well as discount sites like Last Call and Rue La La. She’s inclined to make one big bag purchase, and carry the bag everywhere — and she’d like to find a designer bag for around $500.  (We’ve yet to find the perfect bag at that price point — I’ve suggested she look at discounted but new Furla bags for quality, stylish bags, as well as lightly used bags like Mulberry, Ferragamo, and Saint Laurent.

In the past I’ve gone the other way, buying bags frequently but at lower price points. In my lawyering days before kids, there was a steady stream of discounted bags that I paid between $150-$350 for, all with original MSRPs of $500-$700. (You can see a lot of them pictured/discussed in this older post on purse budgets.)  They were all quality, leather bags — lots of Cole Haan, Furla, Botkier, Dooney & Bourke, with the occasional Coach or Kate Spade thrown in — but none of them really qualified as “designer” bags on the same level as my friends with Chloe, YSL, Prada, Chanel, Bottega, etc.  So I’ve wondered over the years — should I have just saved the money up and spent my “purse budget” on a single designer purse each year, instead of four or five little ones? Would that be a better “investment”?

Here’s the interesting thing I’m finding while looking for a purse for my friend: a lot of the designer bags I’m seeing seem incredibly dated to me.  Much, much more so than the fun, sometimes offbeat bags my closet is filled with.  Some of the bags I see are particularly tied to very old memories, such as:

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Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Belted cotton cardigan

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

matthew williamson belted cotton cardiganHappy Monday!  I’m liking the cheerful colors of this belted cotton cardigan from Matthew Williamson.  Because the colors aren’t exactly conservative, the rest of the outfit has to be — so I’d wear it with gray trousers or a pencil skirt, simple black pumps, and a white silk shell beneath.  I like the look of it with a scarf (as it’s styled in another of the pictures) , but think it also might look nice accessorized with a long silver chain.  It’s $595 at Net-a-Porter. Matthew Williamson Belted cotton cardigan


Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Tuesday’s TPS Report: Stretch Wool Military Blazer

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

elizabeth james military blazerI’m not normally into the military trend, but something about this blazer just looks fabulous. Love the bit of lining sticking out on the cuffs, placket, and hem (is that satin? silk?) and the color and shape seem flattering and sophisticated. (I suspect it’s on sale because the model’s pose does such a poor job of showing the blazer!)  Was $425, now $255 at Bloomingdale’s Winter Sale & Clearance (sizes 0-8 still left). Elizabeth and James Stretch Wool Military Blazer


Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Draped-front silk blouse

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Stella McCartney Draped-front silk blouseFirst, Net-a-Porter is having some lovely sales right now. This silk blouse is not among those sales — but it’s interesting because, at least according to Net-a-Porter, this pale blush pink is going to be the hot color next season. I like this blouse in any event — the sleeves are draped artfully, the pleat at the neck/placket is interesting but not fussy, and the simple neckline is nice. I’d wear it with a white camisole, layered beneath a gray suit. It’s $545 at Net-a-Porter. Stella McCartney Draped-front silk blouse


Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Poll of the Day: Will You Wear a Peep-Toe Bootie to Work?

So I have been seeing the peep-toe bootie every.where this season, usually styled with skirts or cropped pants.  And I always think the same thing — “Cute!  But definitely in that ‘I’m-so-hip-I-don’t-need-to-wear-flattering-clothes way.'”  You know, like harem pants and those huuuge 80s-ish glasses that some kids wear.  The peep-toe bootie trend also strikes me as completely inappropriate for the conservative office, at least when worn with skirts.  (Pictured:  Sam Edelman ‘Wakefield’ Wedge Bootie, available at Nordstrom for $199.95.)

But then I started wondering — is my gut reaction shared by others? After all, peep toes have come a long way, baby… [Read more…]