Thursday’s TPS Report: Gibson Linen One-Button Blazer

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

Gibson Linen One-Button BlazerLook, look: a cute linen blazer, highly rated, available in 5 colors, AND it’s only $88! My favorite might be the cornflower blue, but I also really like the kelly green one. It’s $88 at Nordstrom. Gibson Linen One-Button Blazer

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]


  1. Spotted this morning: The Shorts Suit

    From far away it looked like a regular black skirt suit. Up close I realized the bottom was shorts. It was paired with black tights and black wedge booties.

    Ladies, The Shorts Suit is happening. It cannot be stopped.

    • The Shorts Suit :

      I’m coooommming for YOOOOUUUU too. But yours will be peach. With a pattern. And you will have to wear it with nude tights (and peep toes shoes!) Hahahahahahahhahaha.

    • Diana Barry :

      Oh dear.

      I cut out that page from Lucky this month that is a bunch of women at work, and one of them says “These shorts have sharks on them, but with tights and booties, they’re perfect for a client dinner!” It cracks me up every time I see it.

      I hope the shorts suit stays in the creative fields!!!

      • Diana, I actually transcribed that exact quotation for everyone here last week. As soon as I flipped to the page.

      • That sentence is like a bomb that keeps exploding. “Shorts have sharks on them” wah??? “with tight’s and booties” oh god. no. “to a client dinner” Nooooooooooo!

      • I totally saw that and was like, “Are your clients 7 year old boys?”

      • Those women featured work for a surf wear company, so of course they can wear shorts. I wish we could stop snarking on the women who don’t have the same wardrobe constraints that we have.

        • Okay…first off, these people were in a fashion magazine, at least on surface giving advice on fashion to others. They weren’t saying “look at what we can wear because of our industry, but don’t try this at home!” But secondly, most of the above ribbing is pretty good-hearted and acknowledges that in other fields this would be more acceptable. And its shark shorts…I mean, its kind of funny no matter the industry. If you can’t find a little humor in everyday life, then life is really, really hard.

      • lucy stone :

        If I could find a skirt with sharks embroidered on it, I’d probably wear it to work on a non-court day.

        • It’s kind of the perfect lawyer pattern, isn’t it? I think I’d like it on a scarf, or a tie for men.

          • I think I’d start with something a little more understated, like a shark scarf or bracelet or something. A skirt might be a bit much.

          • Look! An actually beautiful shark scarf.


          • TCFKAG, seriously, the google fu, it is blinding.

          • That’s awesome. Now I’ve got to figure out a way to wear a shark item to court.

          • You could tie it around your purse/briefcase ala Elle Woods. I think that’s probably the only way to make it court appropriate (I think having it tied around the neck kerchief style would just be too distracting to the judge or jury.)

          • I don’t know how understated a shark scarf is when it is styled with tights/hose and topless-ness! :)

          • That scarf is awesome, but the styling calls to mind a hijabi in a nudist colony. Where’s Ru when we need her?

          • Gail the Goldfish :

            I have a necklace shaped like a rattlesnake jawbone (google GoGo Jewelry rattlesnake jewelry) that my mother gave me because she “thought it was perfect for lawyers.”

            Thanks, mom. Not entirely sure what you’re saying about my chosen profession, there.

          • Is that a shark scarf… or a shark shirt? I prefer the latter. In court.

          • lucy stone :

            My fiance has a tie from J.Crew with sharks on it. It’s purple with little grey sharks. It makes me jealous every time he wears it.

    • That’s just frightening.

    • I had dinner with a very good non-lawyer, non-corporate in any way friend last week and she was saying how she really liked the shorts suit, and that while she might not nec. buy one, she was definitely going to wear shorts and a blazer this summer. Could not understand why I said I would never wear one to work. But it made me realize that some suits are just meant to be cute, not necessarily worn to the work ever. Maybe the lady you saw was going to lunch with her friends later. I know that, for me, having to wear a suit most days means I don’t even like wearing blazer with jeans on the weekends, but for women who don’t have to wear business dress to work, a shorts suit might just be something fun and new. Different strokes… (but I still want to see those shark shorts!)

      • Yeah, it seems along the same lines as wearing leather with lace – two things that appear to be the opposite of each other worn together to be stylish. I don’t care about people who wear shorts with jackets casually, but what worries me is that a lot of young women see that and they think it’s workwear (as evidenced by the number of interns and junior staff who have shown up in my office in shorts the past few summers). I think young women today don’t receive very good guidance on appropriate office attire, and fashion magazines do nothing to help.

        • I don’t disagree with you there. I really think that law schools need to have a seminar on dresscodes at some point for their students. I know some business schools require business casual dress, so I think there it’s at least a start but somehow it’s just assumed that law students will know how to dress. I still remember the girl in my school who wore a cocktail dress to a networking lunch.

          • My law school had several seminars. Including an “etiquette dinner” where a lady came in and critiqued our dress, table manners, etc…

            Even though I came from a family with two attorneys, it was helpful. Styles change and my mother, no matter how much I love her, learned how to dress in the 70s.

      • see, that’s the thing, I am fine w/ people wearing short suits if they want, but I just don’t *get* wearing a suit just to be cute! I only wear a suit if I absolutely have to, so I’m never going to choose to wear one outside of work….. I really am not snarking at women who wear them, they just boggle my mind… boggle… my mind is boggled…

      • I could see a pair of nice longish khaki shorts with a summer (seersucker?) blazer for the weekend. Similar to what those guys are wearing in that “Men’s short suits” link.

        But obviously, not in court. And it would be a casual look. But longer shorts with a jacket isn’t terrible.

    • call me out there but . . . :

      I actually think many short suits are really cute and wish that i worked in a field that would let me get away with such an outfit.

      • You said to call you it. (Some of them are cute, but so many of them trend Pretty Women that I can’t see past that.)

        • Anon for this :

          Gosh I was totally thinking of that coral-colored skirt suit she had on when reading this thread!

    • Totes McGotes :

      I actually saw a judge in a shorts suit once. It was adorable (she is late 30’s/early 40s, slim, and attractive), but at the same time I was sort of like, “Really?” But hey, she’s a judge.

  2. I love this jacket, and the color is awesome. Finally! (I think I like Kat’s picks about 20% of the time. Not a judgment, just a statistic!)

    • I really like the grass green. But I promised my hubby to take a shopping hiatus. Grarrrrr.

      • I was inspired by all the posters here who gave up shopping during Lent and I’ve decided to go on a self-imposed shopping ban until June 1.

        It’s not that I even need more clothes, nor that I even *love* certain items. I just want to curb my drive-by ClothesLust.

        • But…the interior lining of these blazers is polka dotted. That must count for something, right? ;-)

          • Don’t tempt me! :-)

            *mutters to self*: I am only “in like” with polka dots. It is not love. Repeat. It is not love. Will not buy. Will not buy. *mutter mutter*

          • Maybe you could sell it to the hubs that the blazer is reversible -haha. Would he fall for that? Then, you might have to wear it inside out…..

          • But we all need these… preferably in multiple colors


          • I ordered and returned this, and sadly must report that the lining is not polka dots, it’s flowers (for the blue at least — other colors have striped lining). Way too Anthro-cutesy for my office. I also found it to be boxy and not particularly flattering. Very sad, but good news for those on a shopping diet.

          • @ c2 – the “grass” color has polka dot lining. If only it came above a size 12 / 39″ bust…

          • How is the lining too cutesy for your office?

        • That’s such a good way to put it!

        • Ha. I’m just trying to get to May 7 without shopping – that’s when my credit card cycle ends/begins.

          I love Drive-By ClothesLust. So true!

      • viclawstudent :

        I also like the grass green, and the sunbaked. I also like that Nordstrom is telling me to “complete the look” with a pair of neon yellow-green skinny jeans.

        • Nordstroms be trollin’ yo. (Though that would be cute, if you happen to be one of the three people in the world who can pull of neon yellow-green skinny jeans.)

          • MaggieLizer :

            I’m not sure which confuses me more: the neon skinny jeans or the half tucked denim button down with the white blazer.

    • PharmaGirl :

      I love it too but wonder about the linen. Anyone have experience with a linen blazers? What’s the wrinkle factor?

      • I have a linen blazer for summer. It’s not bad. A little crinkle but I think that’s part of the “look.”

      • I’ve had some linen blazers that wrinkled like tissue paper, and some that weren’t so bad. I have a couple from Ralph Lauren that are a thicker weave, I’m not sure how to describe it, a herringbone look, but solid color. Well, one is solid, one is a black and cream herringbone. They do wrinkle some, but not bad. These look like they might wrinkle alot. But when it’s 99 degrees and 99% humidity, as it so often is here in the summer, and you have to wear a blazer to work, who cares.

      • I love the colors of these blazers but am too traumatized by prior experience with linen.

      • I have the petite version of this exact jacket in white. It is cute, but wrinkles like crazy. I don’t know how I’m going to get the wrinkles out so I can wear it again.

        • There was an article in the WSJ about a month ago regarding clothing care with a section on linen. I haven’t tried the linen tip yet (perhaps I will if I end up liking this blazer), but it could be worth a go.

    • I really like the cornflower blue and grass green, but I wish the sleeves were full length and still able to be rolled back to show off the lining (love polka dots).

      • New poster :

        I have this blazer in white and I really like it. I actually went to the Nordstrom site last night looking for info–the tag says “hand wash cold.” Do you think that is really a good idea? I just assumed it was a dry clean thing when I bought it, and I’m nervous that I will ruin it by trying to hand wash it (it has shoulder pads).

        BTW, it does wrinkle, but not terribly. It’s a nice thicker linen, so I think that helps. The white is also lined in thin stripes.

    • a passion for fashion :

      I usually like about 75% of her stuff, and I have purchased quite a few things she suggested. I think my shopping has dramatically increased since i started coming to this blog. In fact, I just ordered this blazer in 2 colors (the cornflower and the bright green — not kelly, the other one). I think these will be great to wear over the spring and summer.

  3. Grr, me too (husband-imposed online shopping hiatus). I’m totally loving the sunbaked. It would look great with navy or grey.

  4. Finally Employed :

    Alright ladies, I have been a lurker on this blog for about a year while I waited for a job to come through and it finally has! Now I know the office is thoroughly biz cas and I also know that most everyone has suggested waiting til I start work to pull together a wardrobe. However, I work in retail now (and all my friends work in retail) and I really really really want to take advantage of my discount at places like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic before I have to give it up. Can you ladies do some virtual shopping and let me know what “wardrobe staples” you’d buy from these places?

    PS. GOOD LUCK to anyone else waiting on a job. Pay it forward and all that.

    • What industry are we talking here? (Different industries have different standards of business casual). Also — how old are you? And what staples do you already have? And what do you prefer (can you wear pencil skirts, do you prefer pants, a-lines, heels vs. flats, etc.?)

      • Finally Employed :

        Industry: Government–and I know DC gov has a notoriously bad reputation when it comes to dress but I’d like to maintain some semblance of……maybe not fashionable but not UNfashionable.
        Age: I’m 22. So as a result, I need professional “take me seriously” clothing. Even though its biz cas I’d probably not do any bright colors or “out there” type styles (see suits with cropped leg pants). I also don’t do pastels bc it makes me look like I have yellow fever.
        Preferences: Pencil skirts, heels but low ones, I like pants as well and the BR ones seem to fit great. I wear between a 2 and a 4 and I own almost no staples except one really lovely Tahari pants suit that I can’t get enough of. If I could afford Elie Tahari suits (mine was from the Rack) I’d never wear anything else.

        • Personally, I think DC gets a bad rap on the fashion thing. I would certainly not say that it’s a fashion-forward city, but it’s not dowdy or dumpy–at least not in the young professional set. AT, BR, JCrew, etc. are highly prevalent.

          I would stock up on pencil skirts, slacks, and classic cardigans (something along the lines of the “Jackie” at J.Crew). If you spend good money on those things you can probably get away with swapping out more trendy tops/colored tops as you progress. When I was younger/newer I tried to dress conservatively and just use jewelry or shoes to make my outfits more interesting. And when I wore bright colors, I’d wear pearls and plain black heels. Kind of a balancing thing until I’d been there long enough to get away with more.

          • Finally Employed :

            This is pretty much exactly what I plan on doing re: dressing conservatively with just jewelry or shoes. Although, I did notice during my office visit that I was the only person in a skirt. Apparently, Government is very pants friendly.

          • With you KLG; was at an event last night in downtown and I thought everyone looked great. I was admiring so many of the outfits and I’m sure most people came straight from work.

          • I work in a business casual office (finance in the oil & gas industry) and I am management, so I like to dress on the business end of business casual, but my self imposed ‘uniform’ is a pencil skirt, top/blouse (sometimes just a t-shirt) and a cardi, or occasionally a blazer. Or a dress & cardi/blazer. Sometimes pants & (you guessed it) a blazer. Lately I’ve been wearing brighter colors (just sewed a kelly green pencil skirt, but haven’t worn it yet). And I usually wear heels of some type, but I’m in flats today.

      • Anyway, without knowing those things — here’s what I would do.

        Skirts: Shop around at Ann Taylor, Banana (wherever you have a discount) until you find your favorite pencil skirt and then buy it in black, grey, navy, and then whatever your favorite bright color on tap is. It should fit at about the knee or a little above or below, not a lot above (and too much below and you’ll have trouble walking). If you happen to get a discount at Nordstroms, the Halogen Seamed pencil skirt is awesome.

        Pants: Find the perfect, best fitting pair of pants (Ann Taylor Curvy is my favorite) and then get them in black and grey and maybe a lighter fabric (tan) for the summers.

        Shirts: I prefer silk, some prefer poly-blend, but a couple solid shells and a couple patterns that will match all the above bottoms (they’ll probably coordinate with whatever color skirt you picked).

        Cardigan — buy 2-3 — probably a white, a grey, and a black (maybe a navy).
        Blazer — Just get a black in a non-suiting fabric, and then maybe one other (you can always add to your blazer collection later.)

        Shoes — I’d start with just black, grey, and maybe nude shoes (with my above you don’t necessarily need brown).

        Any and all of the above can be edited down based on budget, but in almost any industry, a nice pencil skirt, a silk shell, and a fitted cardigan (not necessarily one of the big baggy ones) is going to pass muster as biz casual. If you’re worried that its more dressy then that, move the cardigan budget to blazers and get a few colors and different textures of blazers.

        • Finally Employed :

          OK, What is a non-suiting fabric? And does this mean that my lightweight wool blazer can’t really be matched with anything it’s pant/skirt counterpart?

          Other than that, Thanks! I now have a much better idea of where to start and will keep you all updated on things that work and don’t.

          Jcrew blazers fit awfully on me. I’m not sure if I just have a weird shape or what but it was terribad.

          • When I say a “non-suiting” fabric, I mean that sometimes black blazers that were meant to be worn originally as part of a suit (like my Ann Taylor suit blazer) just doesn’t look right when worn on its own. Whereas a blazer that’s meant to be worn as a separate (made of something like a lightweight tweed, or a velvet in winter, or a linen like today) just looks more intentional.

            But sometimes its also just the cut, a more shrunken blazer can work even if its in a more traditional suiting fabric. Like this Ann Taylor blazer for example, I think.

          • SoCal Gator :

            I own that Ann Taylor jacket you linked to and wore it yesterday. It’s amazing. It is short but hits at a flattering place. It’s made of polished cotton and very comfortable. Got many compliments on it. It has matching slim leg pants. I have both which can be worn as a suit but both work well as separates so is a perfect closet staple item.

        • TCFKAG, you've outdone yourself :

          TCFKAG –

          You are so awesome!

          I’m not even the original poster here, but I’m copying your list. And requesting advice as well. I’m moving to a new smaller law firm, business dress, men wear suits and I will be the only female attorney in this office, so I want to kick butt and look professional, but I would really like to find some highly professional dresses for wearing in the office. I’m transactional. I have been wearing suits for the past three years and would really, really like to incorporate dresses. It’s my fantasy to look like a powerful attorney yet not have to wear another freaking suit, and I think if I can pull it off right I can set the standard in this firm. So, any recommendations for super-professional dresses? I’ll be starting two days after my 30th birthday, and I’m short -definitely in the petite section.

          • If it were me, I’d start by getting a couple of suit-dresses (like the really nice one at Brooks Brothers this season) and then as you get more comfortable there, see if you can mix in some power dresses, like the more high end Diana von Furstenburg print dresses, that sort of thing. Try to dress like Kate Middleton basically, but you know, if she were dressing up as a lawyer.

          • Rose in Bloom :

            I’d look at sheath dresses. You can wear them under a blazer and still get the “suit” look but have the fun of wearing dresses. JCrew usually has a lot of nice ones under their suiting dresses section (and in fun colors too!).

          • Finally Employed :

            I think I might go ahead and pull the trigger on a sheath dress from heartmycloset on etsy as a “Congrats on getting the job. And screw all those people that said your liberal arts degree was a was never going to land you a job” present to myself :)

            If anyone has experiences with her btw I’d appreciate hearing it.

          • Someone did report back on heartmycloset a few weeks ago and said that the service was great, super responsive and the dress fit well and I believe was fully lined. However, I don’t think we ever got a report on fabric type/quality.

            TCFKAG, I am sure you are a fantastic lawyer, but seriously, you are in the wrong biz. You need to set up shop as a wardrobe consultant! I think we’d all go to you!

    • I would wear my Ann Taylor straight leg ponte pants every day of my life if I could get away with it. They are definitely one of my best staple purchases, and I wear them pretty frequently on the weekends too.

    • Is there a chance some of your friends in retail would let you use their discounts after you’ve started working? You could buy staples now and add a bit more once you know your office that way. I know there are typically limits about using them, but that could be a great way to go about it?

      • Finally Employed :

        I’ve thought of this but I’d rather use my own discount now than potentially put someone in an awkward situation later. I don’t think one or two pieces would be enough to get someone in trouble but I wouldn’t want to rely on them because it technically is against the rules to give your discount to someone else.

    • I’d say get a ton of shells and blouses.
      These are items you will not regret, you can wear them with a suit for that one-off business meeting, the rest of the time you can wear them with skinny pants, with all shapes of skirts.
      And on weekends, you can wear them with jeans or shorts.
      I think you can never have too many shells and blouses.

      The perfect pump by Ann Taylor is something nice to have in different colors.
      You can also buy belts and costume jewelry. I usually have a hard time paying full price for costume jewelry but with a discount it would be nice to spruce up your wardrobe.

      Extra petite (it’s a blog on petite fashion) has linked recently to some nice items to get from Jcrew and I love a big tote that she featured.

      • Agreed! And this season there are a lot of shells out with sleeves (even just cap sleeves) which is nice. So stock up now before they decide to go back to the days where everything had to be sleeveless all the time.

      • Love love love the Perfect Pump. I have it in 3 colors and it is my go-to work shoe. I also wear them for going out on the weekends. If you get them on sale, they are one of the best values around.

      • Anonymous :


        I am new to this site and love all the comments and advice that is given!!!! Would you mind giving examples of shells and blouses to buy? I am 27 and work in public accounting in San Francisco. Over the past year or so I have noticed I am in a solid-color sweater rut. I have several lightweight sweaters that I wear year round typically due to client offices being very cold. I recently went shopping to try and re-vamp my wardrobe but was getting really overwhelmed and found myself leaning towards more solid color sweaters. :(

        Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!

        • When I look for shells and blouses, I try to look for silk or silk-poly blends (though if that’s not your thing, there are some lovely non-wrinkle cottons out there). I prefer scoop neck or sort of a baggy button down, so the buttons don’t pull. I also try to either choose between a pattern or something interesting at the neck line. I also like sleeves or at least cap sleeves because I like to be able to take my cardigan off.

          One example of a really nice blouse/shell out there right now is this one from J-crew: (which has the added bonus of being long sleeved).

          Ann Taylor and Talbots also have some nice sleeveless ones right now.

    • First, congrats on your job!

      Don’t write off stylish prints and bright colors just yet. I’ve worked in a few gov business casual places around DC, and trust me: you really only need dark, neutral (navy, black or dark gray), complete suits for days that you have to brief Important People, attend interagency events, or otherwise be the face of your organization. Around the office, you can look much more interesting. DC is full of young professionals who like to look good, even though we’re sometimes out-numbered by our frumpier brethren. I’ve seen a cropped-leg pants with flats and a contrasting blazer over a pretty patterned shell on 20-something coworkers with your body type (I’m reading size 2-4 as slim), and with professional-looking hair, makeup and accessories, they look great and completely appropriate.

      If you look young and are worried about people taking you seriously, I suggest blazers over cardigans, and fitted cardigans over floppy boyfriend styles, but (*especially* since you are starting in the summer) you mostly you want to avoid being mistaken for an intern who adapted her going-out wardrobe for work. I’m sure you know this if you’ve been reading the site for a year, but nothing too tight or low cut, and no skirts more than an inch or two above the knee. No 5 inch and/or strappy heels. No thin straps on shirts.

      I would get a couple of suits (at least one in a dark color, bonus if you get skirt and pants for both), and maybe one or two other skirts and pairs of pants. A blazer in a neutral color that goes with your skirts and pants but doesn’t look like you mismatched a suit. A few cardigans in colors that coordinate with your skirts and pants, 1-2 button downs (more if you like them), and 3-4 shells/blouses. If you’ve lived in DC for any length of time, you know about the summers here, so keep in mind the heat and humidity when you choose cuts and fabrics. In fact… in light of heat and humidity, I would add 2-3 dresses, at least 1 a sheath in a neutral color to the list.

      Good luck!

      • Yes, you’re very young and starting in the summer. People are going to group you in with the intern crowd. Try your best to separate yourself. Nothing too tight, no flip flops, no tank tops without something over it, etc. Also, I suggest keeping the bottom desk of your drawer empty for your work shoes because in DC in the summer you’re just going to want to commute in flip flops and change when you get there, its brutal. And also…layers. Because its freezing inside and 90 and humid outside.

      • Finally Employed :

        I absolutely think you’re right about DC young folk and great fashion sense, however, I will be the youngest person in the office by about 4-5 yrs so I just want to hold off on anything super fun til I’ve established myself a bit. Although a bright green peplum dress is CALLING to me right now.

        I’ve copied and pasted your and TCFKAG’s list of advice into a document labeled “BUY THESE THINGS”.

      • I agree with stocking up on tops/shells/blouses while you have the discount. And I also agree you should get one nice suit while you have the discount. It is so great to have one in the closet, rather than having to run out and scramble if something comes up.

    • I’d buy several pencil skirts, several pairs of lined trousers, more than several silk tops or solid-colored work tees, several cardigans, one or two work dresses, and one or two conservative full suits. I think it’s a good idea to take advantage of that discount. All of the items I mentioned will serve you well in any work environment.

      • Also? Hate to say it, but at age 22 and with your first full-time office job, you’re probably going to gain a few pounds over the next year. buy things that will look good if you gain 5lbs.

        • But in DC she will walk a lot! Hopefully keep those 5 pounds away.

        • Finally Employed :

          Ha. I appreciate the concern…or snark, but I went from a size 12 to a size 2-4 in the past year. It took awhile but as a result I haven’t had that up and down yo-yo weight thing going on. As a result, I have tons of stuff from size 6 so I think I’ll be ok even if I do gain some.

          Also, I didn’t say I wasn’t working full time. I put in about 50 hours a week between my two part time jobs.

          • I think she thought you meant that you work retail, meaning you work on your feet presumably. A lot of people, when they start their first full-time desk job, gain weight because they snack too much and walk too little. I don’t think she meant it as snark and more as just a warning. It happens to many.

          • Nonny Makeover :

            I agree with Anony at 11:49 – it’s just something to watch out for, especially if you’ve lost weight over the past year. If possible, try to keep your meals consistent or have a plan of what you’ll eat when (lunch / snack) before you start the job. Congratulations!!

          • I didn’t read any snark there. It is so much easier to snack all day when you are sitting at a desk then when you work retail, at least IME. Props to you on the job and weight loss!

          • Yeah, I understood you work full time, but it sounds like your on your feet doing retail. You burn a lot more calories than you realize, and the first year of sitting down for 8+ hours a day can be a shock to your system and your diet.

          • Finally Employed :

            I should’ve been more clear. My one part time job is retail while the other is in a very typical office setting. I’m sure it’ll be different to up from 3 days a week to full time office sitting but I find it more than a little depressing to buy clothes now for “what if I gain 5-10”. If it happens, I’ll reassess then.

            Thanks for the congrats Nonny and rosie. I appreciate it.

          • Not snark….truth. I wish someone gave me this advice. Pretty much everyone I know, myself included, gained a few pounds when we started working a desk job.

    • D Train South :

      I’ll echo that TCFKAG’s list is an excellent start. I would add to it one or two dresses with sleeves. Extra points if they are washable. There is nothing better than knowing there is something in your closet that is a single piece outfit, esp. if you can wash it at home. And while at your age, in the environment you describe, a sleeveless sheath without a jacket is probably just fine, dresses with sleeves solve climate control and seasonal issues.

      • Finally Employed :

        I do love sheath dresses but, and I’m sure this is a problem tailoring could fix, they always seem to look….idk sexy? on me rather than professional. This might just be my body shape but I have a small waist with a rather large butt and a comfortable C cup. So if it fits in the mid section its always just a tad too tight around the hips and chest. If I size up, I lose any definition around my waist and it looks baggy.

        Anything A Line just makes my butt look bigger so I’m firmly in the pencil skirt camp.

        Why I’m considering treating myself to a custom etsy dress.

        • New poster :

          I’d probably wait on the etsy dress, for exactly the reason you just described. I have been contemplating ordering one of them, too, but if you are curvy (and I am similar to you) I am afraid they will look a little too Joan Holloway for work. This goes double when you are 22 and brand new (sorry to say)–you should err on the side of a little overly modest for the first few years until you cement your reputation. It’s not like you get the discount on the easy dress anyway, so I’d probably concentrate on getting the conservative basics first, and you can always order the etsy dress later once you’ve started the position and figured out whether you can get away with it (or for weekends).

          I wanted to also recommend the blog Capitol Hill Style if you aren’t already reading it. She posts some really cute outfits, often work appropriate, and obviously keyed to the climate you will be living in. I don’t live in DC, but I’ve gotten a lot of great outfit ideas/inspiration from her.

          Congrats on the job!

          • Finally Employed :

            Le Sigh. I knew I was waffling on a dress for a reason. Though I love Joan Holloway’s character and style on the show, even if its not too sexy, I don’t want to be mistaken for a secretary.

            As for Caphillstyle. I used to read it but the author’s tone just rubbed me the wrong way. I have since stuck to rette and am now exploring Extra Petite as well (thanks to whoever suggested that) though I will occasionally give it a once over to see if there’s anything interesting.

            Thanks to everyone for the congrats. It’s been a tough time but I’m glad to be past the trenches.

          • I would just say be conscious of how tight/revealing your clothes are. A lot of the younger women in my office wear things that are too tight, too short or made of insubstantial fabrics like jersey and it just does not give off a professional vibe.
            You want clothes that are somewhat structured and are obviously “work clothes”. The idea of having your own “uniform” is a good one. Mine is dresses or knee length skirts with blouses and medium heels. I am not looking particularly fashionable or cute but generally look professional.

  5. Styling/packing Hunt question for the road warriorettes.

    What weather proof outerwear would you recommand for a business trip ?
    I am back from a long business trip where I had packed everything perfectly.
    The one thing I missed was a rain/wind/cold proof jacket as I had 3 horrible rainy windy days where I had to layer 2 t-shirts, a cardigan and my spring-weight blazer.
    The male travellers around me all had some version of parka in navy, khaki, or tan. Also apparently they didn’t ming having a visible logo (think NorthFace) which I somehow dislike.
    I was wondering what a feminine equivalent would be to that ?
    Needs to not take a lot of space when rolled, look nice whether you’re in trousers or skirt or jeans and if at all possible not look like you’re going hiking. I don’t mind a logo if it is concealed or even removable.

    • How cold a climate? I usually pack a trench coat that has a zip-out wool lining. It’s comfortable anywhere from about 4 to 15 degrees C. Mine’s from London Fog and has no logos. You could also do a light parka, like the London Fog Gina (check out their website at londonfog dot com). If you’re going to be in the US, check out a Burlington Coat Factory if you can find one. They’ll have a lot of last season’s coats at a good discount.

      • Ooh, I really like this one from Lands End, too.;CM_MERCH=REC-_-FPPP-_-GGT-_-2-_-410486-_-410489 (It’s the modern rain swing coat.)

    • Lands End has a few options – no logo! I have one and it is very lightweight – can be rolled in a suitcase easily. Plus, they have lifetime guarantee & good prices.

    • I feel you! It seems like guys have it easier when it comes to finding jackets.

      I would recommend one of the raincoats by Travel Smith. They have a variety of lengths, colors, and weights, and most of them are supposed to be very small to pack. Pricing is reasonable as well. It doesn’t look like they have logos at all. (Not linking to avoid moderation.)

      I like the Waterproof Belted Trench in red the best :)

      • Hey Road warriorette, I have to say that I packed nicely because I semi-memorized most of your posts.
        Love your blog

    • I have something very similar to this jacket:

      It’s a nice weight, waterproof enough, and does a good job with windblocking. It has a slight feminine shape to it (in at the waist). It doesn’t wrinkle when packed. It does say REI on the bottom, but it’s not noticeable on mine (navy coat w/same color logo embossed, about 1” square).

    • Yes, how cold a climate? Was it like 35F and windy? Or are you cold at 65F?

      Honestly, I would pack more layers for underneath, and take a trench. Silk long johns are a lifesaver, and barely take up any room at all. Wear a cami under your blouse for more warmth.

      (Was this a surprise, or could you have checked the weather ahead of time?)

      • It was a bad surprise. The weather was sunny then all North Africa was hit by a cold depression coming from Europe. It was short and brutal.

  6. Trying to be learned :

    I recently (five months ago) got my absolute dream job – working for Canadian Foreign Affairs. It’s a secretarial/admin position – super entry level (but really hard to get! It’s an entry level job that no one who was actually entry level would be hired) and I want to move up, eventually. I know i need to network and socialize, etc, but I wanted to ask about getting extra education. I graduated with a BA from a top-tier university with…average grades. I’m currently taking a language course and advanced excel courses. Does anyone know of any degrees/qualifications/designations that would be a) useful and b) able to be done part time? I’m in the Ottawa region, but I am good at self-motivating and have done well in online courses. I don’t think I would get into an MBA program, unfortunately.

    • For foreign affairs, what about reading The Economist regularly?

      • Trying to be learned :

        Do that! It’s a hard slog to get through, to be honest. I try to read one work book a week – my current fun reading is ‘A Problem from Hell, America and the Age of Genocide.’ Fun! I also try to read HBR and the Foreign Service journal. I like working in a place with an on site library.

        • Hahaha we have similar reading tastes. I read ‘A Problem from Hell’ post-college for fun (can’t believe how much I didn’t know) and my goal is to read every nonfiction Pulitzer Prize winner. :)

    • Fellow public servant here – MPA MPA MPA – you’ll need some kind of Masters to get up the chain at some point, I’m an EC and its basically an essential. I don’t know how much you can do them part time – I think Carleton has the better program compared to Ottawa, but check out both options. I know Queen’s has a great program but doubt it would be part time doable.

      • You can indeed do it part time

      • Trying to be learned :

        I’ve actually never heard of that program before! This is my first government job, and I’m from the West, so I don’t really know a lot of people who work for the government. What do you think of the MPA vs. an MPP (which I also just learned about)?

        In regards to Carleton: I don’t want to sound awful, but I’ve heard that it’s not as highly regarded a school as U of O? Is there a stigma? Or is that outdated – I remember applying for university in high school, and it was inferred that Carleton was a good back up school (of course, I was UBC or bust, so even Harvard would have been a back up school for me.)

        • I’m not sure what the MPP is – I was in a policy development program and most of my colleagues had MPAs.
          I call Carleton Clown U (or where the K stands for Quality) with the rest of them but I think it is better perceived in the social sciences compared to Ottawa, which is the stronger engineering/science school. And everyone I know with a degree from there was quite happy (including my father).
          Queen’s is my alma mater so I would strongly suggest that but it would take longer and you wouldn’t get the benefits of living in Kingston if you do it from Ottawa.

          • Equity's Darling :

            Is living in Kingston a “benefit”? I’m not saying it wasn’t a fun school to visit friends at, but honestly…if you’re over the age of, oh…22, and you already have a degree, I don’t think living in Kingston is a benefit.

            Personally, doing the Queen’s program from Ottawa would be my #1 choice- Queen’s has a great reputation broadly, and so even if the MPA program isn’t necessarily #1, I’m certain it would be a solid choice.

            Outside of Queen’s, I think Master’s programs are a lot different than than the undergrad perception of schools sometimes…it might be worth doing your own research to figure out the difference in perception for an MPA from Carleton v. Ottawa (I don’t know, since I’m not in that field, otherwise I’d give you my opinion).

      • canadian anon :

        Yep, MPA for sure. Queen’s has a part-time program but I believe it’s over a period of 5 years. Definitely a great program with lots of good contacts, though. Ottawa’s program is fairly new. I suggest you go set up appointments with the program chairs/deans and “interview” them after you do some research. I found this very helpful when I was making my own decision.

    • I suggest reading Foreign Policy’s Passport blog daily, at least their daily news update post, and click through to the linked stories. That way you can stay up on current events and discuss them with colleagues.

      I don’t know about Canadian degree programs, but an MPA sounds like a good choice for someone in your situation.

  7. I’ve finally succumbed and hired a service to come and clean my apartment once a month. Just me, no pets, no kids, but I’m a housekeeping failure and I’m okay with that. The $90/month means less stress, cleaner place, and more time to do other responsible adult things. Plus, my mom is coming into town and I have had no time or energy to really clean my apartment.

    Anyway — I know there are numerous threads about this — but what do those of you who have a service do before they come? I picked up in general, but I do have various things on various surfaces.

    Do you stay at home when they come? I was there when they got there, but then went down to my apartment lobby.

    What about things like changing sheets/towels etc? I stripped my sheets and left a clean set on my bed.

    • A) You’re not a failure. In fact, I believe being financially fit enough to be able to hire help puts you firmly into the “success” column.

      B) There was an entire thread just about housekeeping where people talked a lot about what they do before they come and whether they stay or not (seems to vary).

      • Diana Barry :

        a. and b. ditto! :)

        I do try to put everything away in the kitchen. If they put things in a different drawer in the kitchen it will take me MONTHS (no joke) to find it and in the meantime I’ll be annoyed every time I look for it.

        Also, I ask my cleaners specifically not to move my stuff (papers, etc.), but to move it, clean under it, and move it back. They are very good about this (why I keep them! really!). If they don’t listen to you, find another cleaner.

        I usually stay at home but usually stay in a different area from where they are cleaning. I will also leave to run errands etc after they get there, and leave them their check.

      • Woods-comma-Elle :

        Totally not a failure – more a shrew business mind, the time you will save to have to spend on things that are actually interesting/fun/important to you makes up for it. This is not to say there is anything wrong with finding housekeeping interesting/fun/important, but clearly you are not one of those people which is why you have made a good choice!

        It totally depends on what you agree your housekeeper will do. The cleaner at my old place used to move things off surfaces, clean them, and then put the stuff back and tidy it, whereas the cleaner at my old place just cleans around my stuff, doesn’t do the little things and generally just does the bare minimum.

        I miss my old cleaner :(

      • Yes, it’s definitely a success.

        CoCo, you’ve succeeded in creating a job for someone who needs it. You’ve also succeeded in freeing up some time and energy that you could use on something you do enjoy.

        The economist in me also points out that it’s a matter of comparative advantage. You know how to wipe down the kitchen countertop, but a good housecleaner is going to be much better than you are at it, because it is his/her job and practice makes perfect.

        However, your housecleaner may not have the credentials needed to be a lawyer (or whatever your job is), so you are doing that instead. It makes more sense for you to pay the housecleaner, who’s better at housecleaning than you are, than for you to be doing that when you are far better at your job.

        • While I don’t think it should matter to anyone considering using a housekeeper, setting aside the job creation aspect, I don’t fully buy into the “it’s economically efficient for me, personally, to pay someone to do housework” theory (at least not at this stage of life). The time I spend cleaning the bathroom is not displacing time I would have been doing billable legal work – rather, it displaces time I might spend sleeping, or going to brunch, or watching TV. All of which are more pleasant than cleaning, but my bank account is a net positive from DIYing for now.

          • I will retreat to the last refuge of all economists. Positive externalities.

          • TCFKAG, I am by no means an economist, but you just made me google that – what about the positive externalities associated with paying off my law school loans this December and not contributing to the god-help-us-all loan bubble? :)

          • I guess it would depend on the mental value you place on not having to clean as thoroughly once per month vs. the mental value you place on paying $100 more per month towards your student loans. Since neither are really calculable…it’s kind of a personal thing. Sounds like OP hates to clean, but likes it clean. So…yeah.

          • I’m all about the positive externalities. I may even argue that it makes my life easier, and one less thing to worry about makes focusing on work easier.

            I’m sold, btw. But, I don’t think I would have done this before I was making as much as I’m making now — even though I could have afforded it in the past, the $90-$100/month would have been better spent in other ways.

    • I straighten things up – no dirty dishes, nothing scattered across my desk, no cat toys on the floor, etc – so that they can clean better and not reorganize my stuff for me. A few times I’ve forgotten to do this, and they wash the dishes and move my stuff around so I can clean (and then I spend a couple hours looking for stuff that they put in logical places). They will change my sheets for me if I leave clean ones out, but I don’t like them to. They come during the work day so I’m never home when they come.

      If there’s anything special I want, I leave them a note along with the check.

    • I put stuff away so all the surfaces are clear and can be cleaned. I also leave clean sheets out so she can change the beds. Our mornings are stressful every other Tuesday tidying up but it’s worth it every Tuesday when we come home.

    • Sweet as Soda Pop :

      Hiring cleaners is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my sanity. You will LOVE it.

      They come while I’m at work. I leave a key. I clean up any surface clutter and put things where they “belong.” if I don’t, I will never figure out where my ladies put them. They don’t do my sheets, but I think leaving a clean set out is fine. I’m not sure you even have to str*p the bed, unless yours won’t do laundry either.

    • I think it’s good to talk through expectations with the cleaners. We had one cleaning service that would do a list of tasks until their time was up, so they wanted to know what they should prioritize if they couldn’t get to everything. They wouldn’t clean a surface if it was cluttered. Our current cleaning service will “organize” clutter.

      I like for either my SO or I to be home the first time or two that a cleaning service comes in case they have questions and to build trust on our end, and then we give a key.

    • Thanks, ladies. I’m soooo much happier after reading your comments and coming back into my apartment. My nice clean apartment. Sure, there’s clutter on the surfaces, but it’s clean and it smells clean.

      They did rearrange everything on the surfaces, so it looks a little neater. It doesn’t look like they put anything away, which is fine, since there really isn’t any place to put it.

      Glad I started this. Knowing they will come once a month will force me to keep the place relatively presentable and organized, so they can actually come in and clean.

      Next step — decluttering my papers and my wardrobe to just get rid of all the extra stuff I have.

    • I have a weekly cleaner, so don’t feel bad. Best money I’ve ever spent. I don’t do anything special other than I put away anything I need to find — as others point out, cleaners tend to organize on you & it can be hard to find stuff later.

  8. TJ: I have long curly hair, and it’s been a little dull and lifeless lately. My mom commented that it doesn’t have the shine that it used to, and suggested switching to some nicer shampoo and conditioners. (fear not, my mom is more like a nice consultant or good friend in the beauty department, so her comments were not taken as an offense.)

    So, what shampoo and conditioner do the shiny-haired ladies wear? Have you had to switch to put the “pep” back into your hair? I know the sulfate-free products are the latest craze, but do they make a significant difference?

    • The only shampoo/conditioner that has worked miracles on my long curly hair is Renpure Organics sulfate-free (the green color, I get it from Amazon). It took about three weeks to notice a difference, but my hair is now the softest, unfrizzy, and shiny it has been in my entire life. It’s not that expensive, either. When my local store stopped carrying it, I switched to another sulfate-free brand and it didn’t work at all.

    • I really like Aveda Be Curly. I’ve also used the Redken Big Curls(?). Also, you may want to consider have your salon do a glaze or shine treatment.

    • mynameisluka :

      I have long, curly hair too and am in love with Bumble & Bumble’s Curl Conscious shampoo and conditioner. I thought it would be a ripoff (you just rinse it out, right! how great can it be?), but I’ve been really happy with it and find it worth the expense for smooth, shiny curls.

    • What does wonders for me–highly unpleasant but $0–is ice cold rinses. After my conditioner/moisturizer, I switch the shower to its coldest and rinse my hair. I actually do this twice, but my hair is exceptionally dry and brittle. (Yes, I did find that doing it twice is double the benefit of doing it once.)

      I have curly hair as well. I’m not a major devotee of any particular shampoo or conditioner, but I am convinced that this, plus no heat styling, is what has made my hair so shiny and healthy. Not for everyone though! :)

      • Oh man, cold rinse sounds terrible! You deserve the shiny, healthy hair for enduring that. I suppose I could try it, how long did it take for you to see results? I don’t heat-style at all, so that’s not a big factor. I think my hair is pretty healthy overall, it’s just lost a little bit of the umph that it had when I was younger.

        • Actually, I could see and feel a difference from the first time I did it. I was rehabbing from years of using a blow dryer and flat iron. The longer I go, including cutting off damaged ends, the better it looks. However, it sounds like you may not need such drastic action!

      • I’m a curly-haired cold-rinser as well, and I find much more shine and less frizz when I do. I flip my hair over my head and just stick my head under the cold water – not my whole body! I use DevaCurl’s No Poo cleanser (tough to get used to a non-lathering cleanser but I find when I give in to my husband’s luscious and frothy Aveda rosemary mint shampoo, it completely strips my hair) and One Condition conditioner, and Arc Angell gel (tough to apply to not have crunchy spots and dry spots, but once you get the hang of it it’s great). I use Carol’s Hair Milk for shine (a little goes a LONG WAY).

    • I have long, extremely curly hair, and I use the Devachan line of products (www dot devachan dot com).

    • Maybe you have some product buildup in your hair and that’s why it looks dull.
      You should try doing a clarifying shampoo to thoroughly clean the shaft of your hair, then deep condition: use a hair conditioner+ honey + olive oil, wrap your head for a couple hours and rinse.
      That should help your hair be shiny again.
      This works for my tightly curly hair.

    • For me, as a medium-length curly head, the shampoo and conditioner I use don’t matter nearly as much as the post-shower styling product. Ouidad Styling Gel, DevaCurl AnGel, and framesi identity “curl exalter” — each used on its own, I alternate the days I use each because I find the products work better if used on non-consecutive days — provide a natural hold and nice shine. Also, a good leave-in conditioner (I use mop’s leave-in) to be put on immediately after showering is clutch. Ymmv, of course, but those products are working well for me these days.

      • The alternating product suggestion is a possible culprit, I’ve been using the same gel FOREVER.

        Maybe Houda’s product build-up is a result of constantly using the same product. This is good stuff, but tells me that I need to be less lazy about my hair :)

        • It’s kind of a pain to alternate products, but oh my, how happy and shiny my hair looked when I started using a few in rotation. Also, products with silicon in them tend to be partcularly hard on hair with sustained use (I think it’s because they dry your hair out) but for some reason make my hair look amazing when I use them one day in the week, so I refuse to phase them out all together. The pricier stuff tends to be silicon free, so it’s possible to build a little collection of hair products that incudes high and low priced stuff.

          I realize I sound like a crazy hair dork, but my experiences with middle school frizziness were sufficiently scarring to make me a curly hair expert. As I’m sure most curly heads can understand.

    • I have curly hair just below my shoulders, and what has done wonders for me has been to seek out products that don’t have sulfates or silicones. (Don’t be fooled by price – some of the more expensive products still have sulfates or silicones in them — even Aveda — just with different chemical names.) For me I settled on a combination of the Kinky-Curly products and Living Proof products.

    • I like Trader Joe’s Nourish organic sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. It’s amazing, and costs $3. I have the same hair type as you and I get compliments on it all the time.

      I used to use B&B Curl Conscious, which is pretty good, but it has sulfates and in my opinion the TJ stuff makes my hair look and feel better.

      • Oh, to style I use B&B Curl Conscious creme for fine hair, and sometimes I add Aveda Brilliant oil to fight frizz (although if I ever run out of that – I’ve had it for 5+ years – I plan to get a cheaper bottle of argan oil).

        • AnotherLadyLawyer :

          I love the BB creme! Have you tried the BB Curl Conscious reactivating mist? It’s a lifesaver after a day at the office where I inevitably throw my hair into a ponytail/bun so that it stops touching my face. Few sprays of the reactivating mist and my hair looks curly and bouncy, as it should.

          • No, I’ve wondered if it’s worth the $30. Honestly I usually shower at night and wear my hair up, so it probably isn’t worth it for me, but now I’m really tempted… Thanks!

          • AnotherLadyLawyer :

            I’m morning shower, hair down until 2pm, so it’s right up my alley. For you, it may be worth it? It also lasts forever, since you don’t need that much.

    • AnotherLadyLawyer :

      Same sort of curls as the OP. Ditto the above suggestions about alternating products. I switch shampoos every couple of days, between BB Curl Conscious, Oiudad Clear and Gentle and One ‘n Only Argan Oil ( my favorite, which comes from Sally Beauty/the internet).

    • Just remember that if you go sulfate free, you also need to go dimethcone free, as dimethcone is a non-water soluble silicone and will build up on your hair over time without sulfates to wash it away.

      Even though I’m sulfate & ‘cone free every few months I use an old swimming trick & rinse my hair with club soda. It helps get rid of build up & leaves my hair shiny & soft. is a website with great message boards discussing all things relating to curly hair and the book ‘Curly Girl’ (which I have never read, but I’ve read the MBs lots).

      • Actually, some variations of dimethicone are water soluble–for example PEG-12 Dimethicone. I only know this after spending many hours on trying to figure out ‘cones, sulfates, etc. with respect to products I use/want to use. It can be a little overwhelming, but the site has some great intro/overview posts and you can delve deeper if necessary, especially if you have particular products/needs in mind.

    • OP here – thanks for all the suggestions! I’ve had curly hair since I was about 12, but once I got the right cut and products, it just stayed nice. However, I haven’t changed my routine since then, and I think I need to shake it up with the tips you’ve provided. So, off to buy some products and suck it up with a cold shower :)

      • I have thick wavy-to-curly hair (depends on how layered I have it as to level of curl) that is prone to frizz. If you aren’t taking vitamins, add in a good multi…beauty starts from the inside! It will help your nails, too. Ditto as to the argan oil and cold rinses, although I don’t do the very coldest setting. It doesn’t take long to get used to it and you can gradually wean yourself off the super-hot water. In fact now I kind of like the cold rinse, especially if I’ve been working out or the weather is hot.

  9. Has anyone tried the Minimizing Strapless Slip by Yummie Tummy (Talbots is selling it–link to follow)? I need a slip to wear with a strapless, jersey dress and would love it if I could do a slip + strapless bra in one garment. Once before I bought a “minimizing” type slip and it kept riding up–after wearing it twice, I gave it away.


    • I say go for it. I’ve used their camisoles and absolutely love them (hate the name though—sigh). I think their stuff is really well made. The cami doesn’t ride up, even when I wear it with a dress.

    • The fact that this is not sold in cup sizes makes me think that it’s just going to smoosh everything down.

  10. Any ‘rettes in their 40s, 50s or 60s who can bear to discuss the idea of retirement? I am not really talking about the nuts-and-bolts financial stuff of planning for retirement (comparing one fund to another) but the bigger picture of “Will I be able to retire?”

    I am 47 and have been putting 10 percent into my 401(k) for 25 years. I watched that money shrink by more than one-third during the Great Recession. I also managed to buy my home at the top of the market (July 2006) and, after putting a down payment of $30,000 and paying the mortgage for six years, I am still underwater. I am single, no kids, (which is actually fine) so my decisions are my own. I make middle-manager money – not as much as a lawyer, not at little as a social worker. And last night, I realized that I might well be working full-time until I am 70.

    Not looking for financial advice here, but I guess just insight or commiseration from others who suspect that all your 50s and 60s will be spent in an office.

    • You could be me – except that I don’t own a home. My employer puts in a percentage of my salary, and I do as well. I’ve lost a lot in the ups and downs of investing, but I’m trying to stay positive about the longer term and about my earning power going forward. Then again, that’s pretty much my default stance. Long term optimism while things might be falling apart around me.

    • I’m 55, divorced, 2 kids done with college (with no debt, thanks to me funding their tuition instead of my future retirement), own my own home, have a pitifully small 401(k) (@ $250k) and no other assets, earning in the low six figures … and yes, I think I’ll have to work until I’m 70, which is not making me happy! Problem is that I’d really like to stay in NYC for retirement — so easy to get around without a car, lots of interesting cultural activities — but I suspect I’ll have to move to a cottage in the country instead. What to do?!?

    • I am 45 1/2, and I find myself thinking about retirement planning constantly. (Not actually being retired as in “I hate working and can’t wait to retire?” but making sure that I *can* retire.)

      I left BigLaw when I was 39 and came to work for the government. I wish I had thought to “run the numbers” before making that move. If I had, I would have realized that one option was to stay in BigLaw for 3-5 more years and save everything I made. Instead, I moved after buying a modest house and saving a modest amount.

      Since coming to work at the government, I max out both my 403(b) and my 457(b) every year. No match because it is the government. I also have an old-fashioned defined benefit pension. I have already qualified for it because I have been here more than 5 years, but the amount I will get increases with each year I work here.

      Still, when I run the numbers and see what I will have to live on from all sources (pension, tax advantaged accounts, regular savings), I realize that it is still unclear how much I will have. I use one of those online calculators, and you can adjust different variables. So I play around with working until 60 or 65. And I play around with expecting a return of 2% or 5% or 7%. It just all seems so uncertain.

      I think that’s all I can really say: it seems so uncertain. We are both mid-40s. A lot can happen between now and retirement. Personally, you could win the lottery, fall in love with someone who has massive uninsured health issues, become disabled). More broadly, the economy could pick up, or your pension could go bust, or anything in between.

      I am fighting this uncertainty a lot these days.

    • Have you talked to a financial adviser or planner? That really helped me. I’m not close to retirement, but the calculator my financial planner had was very useful. They have all kinds of ways to estimate what you will need each year.

      • Actually, it was a session with my financial advisor that brought this on. It’s just hard to think about working fulltime for another 23 years. And I am someone who likes to work. But I just feel like the drudgery of being in an office every Monday through Friday wears me down.

    • I’m in denial. I feel like I am doing everything right (putting about $13K a year in the federal 401K equivalent), saving about 25% of my gross salary (including the 401K), I think I get some sort of pension (if a change in Administration doesn’t mean trying to hose federal employees some more), but I still don’t see how it will work out. I guess I could save more, but I sort of feel like, 25% of my salary isn’t enough?? I make in the quite low 6 figures. I am fortunate not to be tied to a house, or have kids, but I still wonder.

      And just think about all the people who AREN’T doing it right. Whether because they are underpaid, have greater financial demands on them, or are financially not so responsible, I know there are a lot of people in worse shape than me. It is interesting and terrifying to think about what life will be like for many Americans in 20-30 years.

      • Polly, something you said when you posted on another thread showed that you and I have similar situations, so I was hoping you would comment on this. I know what you mean — I feel lucky to have the option of saving, instead of scrambling to pay the rent. Now, in addition to thinking about working ’til 70, I am thinking about competing for jobs with others in their 60s. Arg.

    • 59 and counting :

      This. I too am single, no kids, paying a mortgage (although not underwater) in Long Island suburbs. Have socked away $$ in 401K since early 30s once I realized that I was unlikely to die soon in a nuclear blast – all that duck & cover stuff in elementary school had a profound effect on me! I’ve been in mid-level and senior management salaried positions and just started a one-year consulting contract that will pay a high hourly rate, but of course I have to pay everything myself, including medical (Cobra from my last job) and contributions to a retirement plan because I definitely don’t have enough.

      Have worked since 1974, but also have taken 6 mos – 1 year off ever 5-8 years, mostly because I run at 2 speeds: full on/type A and sloth. It’s not necessarily the smart thing to live off savings for months at a time, but it has kept me moderately sane and feeling in control to be able to walk away from a job that has sucked the life out of me for years.

      I did start using Mint about a year ago – I find it somewhat comforting to see all of my finances in one place and to see that my [to me, theoretical] net worth is significant. I have been successful at spending less most of the time, but still go on mini-binges from time to time. I am trying to keep positive about the economy in general on the premise that there’s not much I can do about it, so I need to focus on the things I can control.

      But I still think I will need to work until I am 65 or 66 and I dread it…on the other hand, I have some friends my age who have next to nothing in retirement savings so it could be much worse!

    • I’m 51, married to a low-earner and am also convinced that I will work until I’m 70 or 75. But I’m looking at it from a different angle. I am crafting an escape plan – escaping from the corporate world for a combination of self-employment avenues. It is something that I’m working on on the side now, which makes me less anxious and gives me a way to channel my energy on something positive. It’s also an insurance policy as corporate restructurings are oh-to-common. Working hard keeps me from having bag-lady dreams at night.

  11. Reposting because my comment is stuck in mod:
    Question for the road warriorettes.
    What weatherproof outerwear would you recommand for a business trip ?
    I am back from a long business trip where I had packed everything perfectly.
    The one thing I missed was a rain/wind/cold proof jacket as I had 3 horrible rainy windy days where I had to layer 2 t-shirts, a cardigan and my spring-weight blazer.
    The male travellers around me all had some version of parka in navy, khaki, or tan. Also apparently they didn’t mind having a visible logo (think NorthFace) which I somehow dislike.
    I was wondering what a feminine equivalent would be to that ?
    Needs to not take a lot of space when rolled, look nice whether you’re in trousers or skirt or jeans and if at all possible not look like you’re going hiking. I don’t mind a logo if it is concealed or even removable.

    • How about a lightweight trench coat? I just bought one in a great color, midthigh length so it works with pants and dresses, and waterproof if needed.

  12. Thanks so much for all the advice about projecting confidence at work! I really appreciated it.

  13. I don’t understand why my comment is stuck.. trying for the 3rd time:

    What weatherproof outerwear would you recommand for a business trip ?
    I am back from a long business trip where I packed a perfect carry on.
    The one thing I missed was a rain, wind and cold proof jacket as I had 3 horrible rainy windy days where I had to layer 2 t-shirts, a cardigan and my spring-weight blazer.
    I noticed the male business travelers around me all had some version of parka in navy, khaki, or tan.
    I was wondering what a feminine equivalent would be to that ?
    Needs to not take a lot of space when rolled, look nice whether you’re in trousers or skirt or jeans and if at all possible not look like you’re going hiking. I don’t mind a logo if it is concealed or even removable.

    • PharmaGirl :

      What about a trench with removable lining for warmth? You could wear the trench when traveling and keep the liner in your bag, just in case.

      • that’s what i take- black waterptoof trench-london fog from macys with removable liner
        can be a pain to carry, but worth it

    • Am posting a bit late but just in case you see this, Mackintosh is a good alternative to a trench coat, particularly if you are a petite person and at risk of being overwhelmed with the extra fabric and detail of a classic trench. They are still in production in the UK and there are some updated versions with a more modern fit but traditional details (I have an orange one bought in Japan and love it – somehow works as well with a navy suit as with jeans and very protective in wet weather).

      Check out the Mackintosh website for stores or just have a look at some of the designs for ideas if you chose not to spring for the original but want to shop around for a less expensive version. The classic version closes at the neck with a small collar, no belt.

      • great, I am planning on going to the UK in a few months so I might look for the store

  14. Any suggestions for work appropriate pants for women that are booty gifted? I am tired of wearinf wide leg pants and prefer something with a slim leg. I have had some luck with J Crew and Ted Baker. My biggest problem is that a 4 will “fit” but pull a little more than my liking around my hips but a 6 just looks big and baggy. I have tried buying sz 4 and taking it to a tailor but the results have been hit or miss.

    • Have you tried the Ann Taylor curvy fit? Its good for me, but YMMV.

    • booty gifted! I love it. I am booty gifted for a white girl (I hope that’s not offensive to anyone) and I have really good luck with the Martin fit at Banana Republic. And wide band Editor pants.

      I have some J Crew pants from years ago that fit well, but I tried on a ton of things in the store a couple weekends ago, and all the pants looked terrible on me – which cuts worked for you? Maybe I missed them.

      • Same here! Booty-gifted, and BR’s Martin pants provide about the only reliable fit for me. I’ve had issues getting tailors to take in pants properly, too – it’s not always a quick fix.

    • Diana Barry :

      I would get the 6 instead and have it tailored down. It is always easier to take something in than let it out, plus they can take it in in the waist and leg area so that it will fit you correctly. :)

      • I had a tailor take in some pants that were too big but the top of the leg near the seat of the pants looks baggy. Is that something that the tailor should have fixed or is that just the nature of taking pants in around the hips and seat? Maybe I need a new tailor…..

        • Diana Barry :

          Yes, they should be able to take in the leg as far down as you need it.

        • yeah, you need a new tailor. A good tailor can take in the pair that are a bit big, and make them fit correctly all the way down. They should have you put them on and then pin them until they look right, and they should be asking you how you want the fit/how wide you want the leg, etc, as they are pinning.

  15. I bought the silk Georgette skirt a few months ago –

    Then, last week, my loving husband threw it in the washing machine and dryer. It is no longer even remotely pleated…it looks like a flowy, wide, totally not work-appropriate skirt.

    Is there any chance of being able to save this skirt? I am thinking no…I have never had a pleated item before. In case I ever get another one – how do you keep the pleats in the skirt over time?

    • Rose in Bloom :

      Can you see the outlines of the pleats at all? If so, you may be able to iron them back in. You’d want to make sure that the iron is set on the correct setting for silk and maybe use a thin fabric as a protector (like a handkerchief) just to be extra safe.

      Every time DH does laundry he messes something up. And he wonders why I tell him not to do laundry (although I do appreciate the thought!).

    • If the fabric is okay and it’s just the pleats you need back, I would take it to a dry cleaner and make sure they know it’s a pleated skirt. For a few bucks, they will do what will take you an hour or more. Pleated skirts are high-maintenance.

    • Sorry – I’m not an expert here, but this is such a great find. Thanks for posting the link :) I love the skirt and it’s only 36.99 now. I’m ordering one :)

    • I love this skirt, too! In the picture, though, it doesn’t really look pleated so much as floaty. Are there actually sharp pleats in this skirt?

      As for your skirt, it may be unsaveable, but I’d try taking it to the dry cleaners and see what they can do.

      • It is both very pleated and somewhat floaty – I have worn it with a fine knit sweater on more casual days, and with a black blazer on more dress-up days. It works really, really well with a blazer and nude pumps. I have the dark red color. It’s a really nice skirt.

    • I would take it to a dry cleaner.

      I have this skirt in 2 colors- the maroon/brick color and the turquoise color. I wear both pretty frequently. I think the fit is floaty without being too a-line. I like to wear mine with more structured jackets. One of my favorite ways to wear the maroon skirt is with this brown wool Brooks Brothers utility sort of jacket I have that has a belt, a high neck, some buttoned pockets, and 3/4 sleeves.

    • A good dry cleaner should absolutely be able to restore your pleats. It’s just that it might cost close to the current price of the skirt, perhaps.

      I had two knife-pleated midi skirts in the late ’80s – early ’90s (one J. Crew and one from a catalog company whose name I cannot for the life of me remember). The pleats were about an inch apart and were pressed all the way to the hem, so never relaxed into floaty loose fabric. I had each skirt dry cleaned only every other year or so, because the dry cleaner charged per pleat! So it was $60 or so per skirt per dry cleaning . . . .

  16. Any suggestions for a salon in Chicago that specializes in or works well with curly hair?? I moved to Chicago a few months ago and I’m desperately in need of a hair cut, but my hair is reeeeeeally curly, so I’m a little gun shy based on many past bad experiences with stylists who just don’t know how to cut it.

    • I haven’t lived in Chicago in several years, so my information may be outdated, but –

      If he’s still there, ask for Eli at Royale of London (Lincoln Park, Broadway just north of Diversey). He’s great.

    • I see Kelly at the Asha location in Schaumburg. She’s been cutting my curly hair for almost 10 years and I she’s amazing; I literally only get my hair cut when I’m home on vacation because I cannot find anyone even remotely close to as good as she is. Asha has locations in the city if Schaumburg is too inconvenient for you, but I can’t vouch for any other stylists.

    • Art & Science in Lincoln Park. The stylists there work wonders on my wavy hair AND on my husband’s super-curly, super thick hair. Go to anyone. They are geniuses, for real.

    • has a section for rating hairstylists – that’s how I found my current stylist in my city & I really like how she cuts my hair. Wow. Second time I’ve recommended that site today!

  17. That looks awesome!

  18. Any suggestions for a dress to wear to an afternoon wedding in a small midwest town? I’ll be about 20 weeks pregnant at that point and showing early (2nd child), and I haaaaate maternity clothes in general. Anyone seen any forgiving, high-waisted dresses lately? And it would probably need to be online–I live in shopping purgatory where the nearest decent mall is 2 hours away. I’d like something that draws some attention away from tummy–something strappy and/or above the knee (but not too far) maybe. Oh, and I’m on a budget.

    • Soma has some cute summer dresses with room in the front and high-waisted. Have a look at their website.

    • Check Boden too; almost all their tops and dresses are empire waist.

    • You might be a perfect candidate for one of those Target Merona dresses that are empire waist or faux wrap.

  19. momentsofabsurdity :

    For those of you that have some meetings that could use some breaking up….

  20. Ann Taylor just started their friends and family days. 40% discount in stores (with coupon) or online with code FRIENDS. Ends Sunday 4/22.

  21. How should I play this?

    For the last year I have been applying for every suitable job on USAjobs without any luck. So I decided to change strategies and got myself a kick-ass litigation detail in another agency, which I think will really boost my resume. The detail starts this summer and will last for 6 months. After I get back to my home agency I’m obliged to stay here for another year.

    So of course I get called for an interview at a really good job at another agency today.

    Here’s my question: What should I tell them at this other agency? That I’m committed to my agency for the next year and half, but please keep my resume on file? Should I schedule the interview and tell them then (seems rude to waste their time, but I would make more of an impression)? Try to get contact information for the person doing the hiring and then contact that person when my period of indentured servitude is over to let them know I’m interested in anything that comes up?

    • Any way you could possibly change jobs before you start your detail and avoid the indentured servitude?

      Otherwise, I’d schedule the interview and let them know after the interview. You don’t have to disclose that you knew about this before the interview.

      • It’s possible but it seems unlikely. The detail is funded by my home agency, so I doubt this agency would really want to hire someone and then immediately pay for her to go on detail for 6 months.

        But I am thinking that it can’t hurt just to go on the interview and see what happens. At the point where it becomes necessary I could just say, “I was recently approved for this detail…”

        • Yeah, that seems like the best option. I wouldn’t pass up the interview. Congrats on the exciting detail!

        • If the detail is the DOJ thing that many agencies participate in, then I would interview for the new job and rank that as a higher priority. That particular detail is regularly available and something you can do in the future.

  22. Oil in Houston :

    anyone knows the fit on this one? I’m quite curvy, so I need a jacket that accomodates for that..

    • I’m a 34C, usually a 6 in blazers, and the medium was big. I could have taken a small no problem, but as I mentioned above I found the cut & button placement unflattering, and was disappointed that the lining was floral, not polka dot, so I gave up.

  23. Another Sarah :

    Quick rant:

    My department is looking for an intern. The work done in the internship is pretty substantial, more entry-level than intern-level. We posted listings at the colleges and universities around, and received a bunch of resumes. We picked our top five and set them up for interviews this week.

    And only one has even showed up. The others, no phone call, email, text, smoke signal, or ESP wavelength to say “Oh, sorry, not coming.” This is both from undergrads AND grad/professional students.

    This makes me so angry. I looked for a job for 18 months after law school before I found my job. Some of my friends are still looking for jobs/decent jobs. And these clowns don’t even call to say that they’re not coming. I checked the listings, and they all say our address, the main phone line, and our website, so it’s not like people are heading off into the ether. And the one that showed up (he’s not a very strong candidate, so meh) called me AND came to visit before we even called him for an interview, so I know the information is there. It just makes me so angry!

    It’s not a legal internship, otherwise one of my friends would be in here already. Sigh…

    • If they are still students, I’d honestly send an e-mail to their career services department letting them know what happened and ask that it be passed along how bad form it really is. I mean, its basically completely unacceptable.

      • Seconded – it could be pretty low key: “Just wanted to make sure that the internship recruitment cycle is still taking place because we have not had much interest”. They will give feedback to the students regarding their horrible manners, and may let you know of something else you can do to get this out to the top candidates.

      • Sweet as Soda Pop :

        This. The career services dept at my alma mater had a strict policy on this. There were repercussions for being late, so I can’t imagine what no-showing would have done.

        • Same here. Failure to show up for an interview could result in a suspension of future interview and job site privileges. It goes both ways, Career Services depend on this sort of feedback to help students appear more professional and you hopefully will receive better candidates in the future.

    • Given the economy, it seems REALLY odd that only 1 out of 5 candidates responded. I’d make sure that nothing went wrong on your end. Is it possible the interview email had hyperlinks or words that would have been snagged by a spam filter? Did the person who was supposed to send the interview notices accidentally forget to do so? Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is that for an unpaid internship the candidates may have been overqualified and blown your org off after getting paid opportunities.

    • That’s so weird. I assume you’re sure you told them the correct time and date. I agree with calling career services to complain; I’d be disinclined to interview students from that school again, frankly, and career services should know that.

    • In my experience, students don’t check email, flake out on appointments without calling, and have crazy outgoing messages on their voicemail that make me want to hang up. I have a grant project that pays a student pretty well and neither student who expressed interest showed up for an interview. I finally just snagged a student I know really well for the job. Don’t get me wrong. Love my students, but even the really good students can be pretty flaky.

    • Another Sarah :

      Thanks all for the replies; I’m definitely going to email the career services offices and tell them what’s what.

      The interviews were set up individually, over the phone. So even after the phone call that said, “Ok, great, see you on Wednesday at 11AM! Do you have our address? Ok, here it is! Thanks!” they were no-shows. It’s amazing, but not in a good way. :-(

    • Whaaaaaat?? Forget that school. Call their career services dept. But never hire from them again.

  24. I like this a lot. I’d buy it if it just had at least ONE MORE BUTTON. Gah. I hate single-button jackets.

    So I ran a search for “three-button” on the N*rdstrom site and came up with this, which is very pretty! (Three-button knit blazer in cornflower blue — or black — with white piping around the lapels and hem.)

    • MissJackson :

      I bought this in the blue this weekend! It is amazing. I am a little bit obsessed with knit blazers because they are super comfortable and flattering.

      In store, they also have a really pretty red with beige piping. I almost bought that color, too. Might go back for it :)

  25. Gift ideas please: for two girlfriends who are hosting my baby shower this weekend and more (giving me tons of baby stuff, helped sew maternity clothes fixes, etc.). They are both highly busy, unmaterialistic and laid back types so wouldn’t want stuff like gift certificates to a spa or anything pricey/fancy.. just trying to come up with a nice item that is more than wine or such. Blanking out. Thanks for any ideas. Really want to have a nice expression of gratitude, they have been lifesavers.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      Do you have time to take them out for a nice dinner to thank them for all their help? That’s what I’d do. Either that or some nice, classic jewelry if you want a step up from wine.

    • Take them out to brunch and give them a nice framed picture (or even a fun album) of pictures of the three of you together. Might take a little time but emphasizes how important they are to you.

    • I recently received a loaf of delicious (bakery-bought) bread & a bottle of olive oil & seasoning dip. It was awesome! My husband & I ate it for dinner that night. Seriously, the best hostess gift I have ever received. You could add wine to it if you want to bulk it up.

    • PharmaGirl :

      What baout an inexpensive piece of funky jewelry (<100)?

      • Thanks. Sadly none of us have time/ability to do another event together in near-term due to variety of factors (locations, insane schedules, my health being crap in late pregnancy, travel, kids…) so sounds like food-related or jewelry are good options. I am leery about picking out personal art-like stuff for others as I am picky so assume others are too, and my jewelry taste tends toward the pricey, but will check a local shop for options as it is now 2 days away. Food stuffs don’t feel like enough but people do love it. What about scarves- maybe a summery accent piece. They are an emerg room doctor resident and biologist- usually wearing stuff like scrubs or a diving wetsuit:) not east coast lawyer types- and naturally gorgeous with no makeup/air-dried hair, both of them.

        • You know, I had thought about scarves as an option when I read your message earlier. I have this scarf: in the gray and the brown and have worn them a lot this spring. They’re a great weight and not too pricey.

  26. This jacket is super cute – I have the blue one already! But it wrinkles BAD. Like, iron it, put it on and 5 minutes later it’s pretty wrinkled and by the end of the day it’s like you slept in it. I work in a really casual industry so it’s not a big concern for me (I generally wear it with a white tee, jeans and flats) but if you’re in a more dressy office (which it sounds like many people on this blog are) I don’t know if it would work for you as well on a weekday. Maybe cuter for the weekend in that case? The one thing I do love about it is the flower pattern that shows when you roll the cuffs, I think it’s a really sweet, spring-y touch.

  27. This may be a super dumb question – I don’t usually wear colored blazers for work (I wear sweaters when not wearing suit jackets) but suddenly find them to be super chic. How can I pair this? Will my formal pants in grays, navys, and blacks work with these kind of colored jackets? How about the texture? This jacket is linen, will it work with suit pants? Wil it look formal enough for an Inv Bank setting when I don’t have to meet any clients?

    • Am posting late but in case you’re still reading – I like bright colours with tan or white trousers and happily wear them in warmer weather, facing clients, at my financial services job (but I’m senior enough that my outfits don’t scare people).

      I wouldn’t try brights with dark dress trousers – to my eye, looks too much like a company-issued uniform (bank teller, aircrew etc).

  28. summer dresses :

    What kinds of dresses are appropriate to wear to work in the summer? (I know it depends on your office). I feel like anything made out of jersey is too casual and beach-y and anything with a fuller skirt says “garden party” more than work. I have a nice collection of dresses, mostly sheath dresses, in heavy fabrics that I wear with tights in the winter but am totally at a loss as to what dresses to wear in the summer.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I just bought the JCrew blouson dress in cerise and am wearing it to the office today! Definitely need a cardigan (spaghetti straps) but its really cute and (IMO) work appropriate.

  29. so tempted :

    This dress. In black. (meaning even with shipping, it’s $48) Do I pull the trigger? I work in a suit or fancy dress place. I think it would be perfect, but any thoughts on the neckline? And what about that rayon/nylon/spandex combination?

    And if yes, does anyone have any add’l coupons?


    • so tempted - :

      In spite of the fact that I just called my firm a “fancy dress place”, I am not a fourth-grader, but a real adult woman. Who is just very, very excited about this dress.

      • Seattleite :

        I think it’s a great dress. The man-made materials will make it less likely to wrinkle, and it will also hang better. (I refuse to wear silk to the office until I learn to stop spilling coffee.)

        Neckline will depend on your build. If the surplice isn’t stitched, get it stitched or use toupee tape to keep it closed. I’m boobalicious, so have accepted that I have to wear a cami under dresses like this. If that’s you, too, make sure they always look brand new, have a ‘dressy’ finish, and choose your colors carefully.

    • Gorgeous. Wear a cami underneath if you are concerned. I may be buying this for myself!

    • Looks great! I’m not sure about the material either though – it would be nice if it was a natural fabric with a touch of rayon/spandex to hang better. I like the peacock color. Hmm…tempted.

  30. New poster :

    Re-posting because I may have put this in the wrong place before:

    I have this blazer in white and I really like it. I actually went to the Nordstrom site last night looking for info–the tag says “hand wash cold.” Do you think that is really a good idea? I just assumed it was a dry clean thing when I bought it, and I’m nervous that I will ruin it by trying to hand wash it (it has shoulder pads).
    BTW, it does wrinkle, but not terribly. It’s a nice thicker linen, so I think that helps. The white is also lined in thin stripes.

    Read more:

    • Most things that say “dry clean only” really don’t need to be dry cleaned. If the tag says “hand wash”, then go for it. Linen can be handwashed with impunity – just be sure to hang it on a well-shaped hanger to dry it.

      • New poster :

        Hmm, thanks! I had no idea about linen, but now that I think about it, I think this jacket is the only linen piece I own right now.

  31. New poster :

    Re-posting because I may have put this in the wrong place before:
    I have this blazer in white and I really like it. I actually went to the Nordstrom site last night looking for info–the tag says “hand wash cold.” Do you think that is really a good idea? I just assumed it was a dry clean thing when I bought it, and I’m nervous that I will ruin it by trying to hand wash it (it has shoulder pads).
    BTW, it does wrinkle, but not terribly. It’s a nice thicker linen, so I think that helps. The white is also lined in thin stripes.

  32. Anonymous :

    Update on my micromanaging partner situation from yesterday:
    The client called my normal supervising partner today to complain that micromanager was too involved and that client did not want to pay for micromanager’s time to sit in on every. single. call. and to do associate-level work. That is all :)