Thursday’s TPS Report: Ruched Sleeve Dress

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

Ellen Tracy Dress, Ruched SleeveDo not adjust your screens: yes, wow, that is a really bright pink dress. But let’s focus, instead, on the fact that the dress comes in a subdued blue “midnight” as well as a black color. Reader R wrote in to recommend the dress in midnight, noting “I’m wearing it today with black tights and booties. The dress is really soft and is cut really well. The belt that came with it is actually nice enough to use with other outfits as well. I look for 3 things in a dress – sleeves, machine washable, and pockets. This is two out of the three (no pockets), but at this price, I’m REALLY happy.” For my $.02, I like the boatneck and the fact that the sleeves are almost elbow length, which is difficult to find in a dress. It was $119.50, but is now marked to $59.99 at Macy’s. Ellen Tracy Dress, Ruched Sleeve

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


  1. I love this! Elbow length sleeves are my absolute favorite in dresses since I don’t like showing my arms (but I also don’t want to wear a cardigan that covers up the cute dress!)

    I may be buying this…

  2. Anyone with kids have an HSA health plan? We have a new option this year, and I am thinking about taking the plunge. I have a toddler and will likely have another child, but not this year. Pluses and minuses?

    • Keep in mind that if you add your kids to your deductible, you will either have a separate deductible of at least $1,500 for each family member, or have a “family” deductible of $3,000 or more. Having said that, the premiums for your kids will be much lower than the premiums would be with a traditional health plan. If you know you can afford the deductible every year, I think it’s a good choice. For my family, the tax benefits have far outweighed the cost of the deductible, and I won’t go back to a regular plan.

      • That very first “deductible” should be “plan” – I shouldn’t type before coffee.

      • Thanks. My family deductible is $3K, and my employer will place $2K in our HSA, so it definitely won’t be a problem for us to afford the extra $1k deductible. I guess I have two main worries: (1) I have no idea how much it costs to go to the doctor without a copay and (2) I don’t plan to become pregnant, but what if I do? Maternity coverage is tricky enough. Luckily the company has contracted for a financial company to help us do an analysis. I have been trying to figure out the math on my own, but hopefully they will be better at than I am!

        • Also know that with a HDHP family coverage plan, you can put up to $6150 (ish – check the current amount for 2012) in the HSA during the year, which will also help with costs. If you have questions about maternity coverage and typical costs, I would really urge you to talk to your company’s HR dept, who should be able to put you in contact with an insurance rep, or talk to the health insurance customer service department.

    • My understanding of an HSA plan is that the benefit is that if you have a major health event, such as having a baby, or major surgery, and it happens relatively early in the year, then it is great, because then you meet your deductible with one event and then (almost) everything is covered 100% after that. If you don’t have a major health event, then I don’t know if it’s worth it. I am single with no kids and it was not a benefit for me at all and I had to pay the “full” amount for doctor’s visits each time since no per-visit deductible applies. It was terrible for me. Perhaps it may be worth it for you.

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    I really like the look of this dress but the ties on the sleeves would drive me crazy.

    Thank you to the woman who stopped me on the street this morning to tell me something was stuck to my skirt. I really appreciated it even though it had fallen off in the time in took you to tell me. By the way, if you are actually reading this, I really liked your tights!

  4. It looks like one of my friends failed the NY bar. She graduated without a job, and I suspect this is a really big blow to her. Do I reach out, or do I wait for her to get in touch to commiserate? She has been offline since yesterday, and I only know she failed because the results are now public and I searched for her name (i.e., she may not want to be in touch with people right now). Also, if anyone has advice as to what say (or, more importantly, what not to say), I would be happy to hear it.

    • I would not reach out. It seems (not from personal experience, but not in judgment of those with that experience) that a primary emotion from failing the bar is embarrassment. If you reach out, she may feel THE ENTIRE WORLD KNOWS – not a good feeling.

      If she reaches out to you, I’d just offer yourself as a career and lifestyle sounding board. And remind her plenty of smart people have failed the bar.

    • People are very different in what would help them in such situations. If I were you I would text her something very open, such as “Thinking of you today.” This does not convey that you know she failed, nor does it require any response from her. It’s just an expression of friendship, which might be what she needs. If she responds, you take it from there. If not, no harm done.

      • I think if you failed and got that from someone, you’d know they knew since the results in NY come out to the public a day or so after they go out to the test takers. I think it’s just better for the friend to reach out, because right now she might not want to have to fact the fact that most people know she failed.

        That said, I had a classmate who did not show up on a pass list and did end up passing, so sometimes there is some error. I’m not sure whether it was because he had an issue with C&F (this was another state) or what, but it would have been awkward to mention something and then have him respond “Oh I passed, it was just a mistake on the site!”

    • I would reach out and not mention the bar. Just call her up and invite her for drinks. She probably needs a friend right now, but doesn’t want to talk about the bar.

      If she brings it up, then feel free to commiserate.

      • Second this idea: reach out to her as a person you haven’t seen in a while, not as a person who failed the bar.

      • I disagree with this. This puts her in the uncomfortable position of having to respond, “I just found out I failed the bar and feel like ****, but I’m sure you already knew that because the results are public and most people check them if they know someone who took it. Thanks for asking.” (Obviously she would not likely use this language, but this might be between the lines.)

        I passed the bar on the first try, so I have not had personal experience with this, but I think the more sympathetic and honest approach would be like this, “I saw the bar results and didn’t see your name. I’m so sorry, and would love to buy you a drink if you are up for it. I’m here for you.”

    • I wouldn’t reach out. similar to a break up or not getting a job or something, wait for the person to bring it up.

      • On the flip side to this question, I have a friend (who I have not been in contact with in a while) who failed at least twice that I know of. Based on this post, I looked her up and I saw that she passed. Should I send her a congratulatory note, or just let it be.

        • I think you should send a note.

        • Tired Squared :

          Definitely send a note! I failed my state a few weeks ago, and when I pass next time around, I hope to receive those types of notes!

    • I would reach out. Maybe not today, but early next week, if you haven’t heard from her. I recently had drinks with a friend who did not pass the first time around. She was hurt by all her “friends” who deserted her after the results came out.

      While we may be sitting here thinking it’s more sensitive to not mention it, a kind note I think is a much better option.

    • I had a friend who didn’t appear on the list but passed. It turned out that there was some problem with her MBE paperwork (she took the MBE in another state). She had to wait weeks for that to be sorted out before she found out that she passed. She was horrified that people would conclude that not seeing her name on the list meant that she failed.

      With that in mind, I would wait for her to reach out to you. It might not be as bad as it seems.

    • If she is a friend you usually talk to, don’t go radio silence on her. It’s no fun dwelling on disappointment alone, thinking everyone’s ignoring you because you are such a loser.

      If it was me, and she was a good friend that I would otherwise being congratulating on passing, I would call to make plans to do something in the next day or two. It gives you an excuse to talk to her without asking directly about the bar, but gives her a chance to say something then and there if she wants. Otherwise, when you see her (per the plans you made) you can say “hey, I didn’t hear about the bar. How’d it go?” It gives her a couple of days to come to terms with the result (if it was indeed bad), but doesn’t feel like you are ignoring her because she didn’t pass.

      As for what to say – “You didn’t pass? That sucks. It’s not the end of the world, but it is a bummer. What’s your next step?” Acknowledge the reality, skip the meaningless platitudes, and look to the future.

      Obviously, this depends on how well you know the friend, and your knowledge of how she handles disappointment.

      • How about the truth? “I saw the bar results came out, I didn’t see your name. I am hoping its a mistake or I overlooked it? If not, I would love to buy you a drink – I am so sorry…”

        • Aww.. the truth – that’s a good one too. :) I like that one, too. A lot of the other approaches felt too much like enforcing that failure = pariah, and that only success is worth acknowledging.

        • Anon at 2:58 pm — love your approach.

  5. Here’s a play on the “what are you wearing today” (especially those on the East Coast): What type of coat have you been wearing this week to work? I always struggle with this in the fall. It was upper 30’s to low 40’s when I left my house this morning, and while I don’t spend time outside–only the walk from the parking lot to my building entrance–I feel silly not wearing a coat, but am not ready to pull out my wool winter coats–even the “car length” ones. My trench coats don’t feel right either since it isn’t rainy. Thoughts/suggestions?

    • I’ve been wearing a short wool plum colored motorcycle style jacket from target. it is wool, but not as warm as a peacoat. i also struggle with the fall coat conundrum and it took me a while to find this. i’ll also wear a thin quilted nylon french connection jacket with more casual attire.

      Are trench coats only appropriate for wet weather? I use it for transitional weather, but wear it more in the spring than the fall, and my (male) boss said something one day when i was wearing it that it’s not raining outside!

      • I’ve been wearing my trench coat; got it from Zara and people always complement me on.

      • Midwest here. And I’ve been wearing a black, knee-length “trench-like” (no belt, but fabric similar to a trench) coat from Land’s End. It may be a rain coat, but as long as it is cool enough for a coat I wear it. I don’t think there is a no trench coat unless it’s raining rule.
        If there is such a rule I’m not breaking it today at least. It’s pouring here today.

        • I also wear a raincoat. Too chilly for just a jacket, not cold enough for a winter coat here.
          Perfectly fine because the weather cannot be relied on.

    • I’ve been alternating between an unlined cream pea coat, and a shorter, unlined black belted boil wool coat. Not bulky and not too warm.

    • Dark brown leather scuba jacket. Probably too casual for my office, but I love it and haven’t had enough off days lately to get much wear out of it otherwise.

      I’ve been alternating with just wearing a blazer on the days when it’s in the upper 40’s in the morning.

    • Alternating between a down vest and a mid length wool coat. (Upper Midwest)

      Unless your trench coat really looks more like a rain coat (plastic-y slicker type), then I wouldn’t worry about wearing it during the transitional weather. I’ve never really considered mine as limited to rainy weather… and it seems like it would be right weight for your need at the moment. Or don’t wear a coat at all – if you don’t get cold enough during that walk, don’t feel like you need to. I would keep one in your car or office, though, on the off chance you’ll need to be outside longer than that walk to and from the car.

      • Diana Barry :

        I have been wearing my trench coat. I would usually wear a lightweight wool coat (like those from Tulle) but those don’t fit over my pregnant tummy and my trench coat is more roomy (unbelted!).

        Tulle has a bunch of jackets that are nice for this weather, though. Size up bc it is more like junior sizing (sim to Forever 21), particularly if you want to wear a blazer underneath.

    • I’ve been wearing a cranberry-colored quilted Calvin Klein jacket. It’s waist-length. And a grey cashmere printed scarf.

      It’s working so far. I’m just not ready to pull out my winter coat.

    • Always a NYer :

      I’ve been wearing a brown leather bomber jacket. It’s really warm and I don’t quite feel ready to pull out my longer wool coats. As far as when to wear trench coats, I don’t think they’re only for rainy weather. I wear a trench coat when I want a longer coat that isn’t going to be too warm, regardless of rain.

    • I’ve been wearing my long tan wool coat (which I wear all winter) — but its been pretty cold in Boston! Later in the winter I add a hat and gloves and scarf.

      • Agreed! I’ve been in my winter coat, too, though that is in part because I took it out for a trip to NH on Saturday (i.e. the day of way too much snow for October), so now it’s just handy when I am reaching for my coat in the morning.

      • Yup, winter coat for me too, though not my ankle length down coat, which I save for the sub zero days.

      • Winter coat here, too, along with gloves and a scarf this morning to scrap ice off the windshield. It’s a heathered green long wool coat with a flared skirt. Wearing it almost makes winter worth it!

    • Since when are trench coats only for rainy weather? I think they’re a classic fall look. I’ve been alternating between my trench and a quilted jacket.

    • Since when are trench coats only for rainy weather? I think they’re a classic fall look. I’ve been alternating between my trench and a quilted jacket.

      (trying again because my initial attempt at commenting just disappeared)

    • Brown leather knee-length coat – perfect for this weather (NYC). I’ve had it forever and every fall I’m glad I have it.

    • I’m still wearing my trench coat but zipped in the wool liner.

    • Not so brr... :

      I have a coworker who wears questionable outfits- today’s outfit (for a outside meeting) was a shrunken blazer, long boyfriend cardigan the same color as the blazer, and skinny pants. ???????????? This seems a bit odd as a dressy business casual outfit.

    • I’ve been wearing my North Face fleece. It’s heavy enough to keep me warm in the mornings but it’s still not too heavy to wear home in the evening. I also only have to walk from my car through the parking lot to my office.

    • A beige car length linen-viscose blend car coat with cotton lining, but I don’t think it looks like linen (it doesn’t wrinkle like linen and isn’t the same waffle-y texture). With a scarf and hat, I think it’s a perfect weight for the spring/fall transition periods.

    • I’ve been wearing my light blue puffer vest in the mornings, since it’s the only jacket I have other than a really casual fleece that is appropriate for this kind of weather. I feel sort of silly and unprofessional wearing it into the office, but usually no one sees me, and the other day when my boss saw it slung over my chair, he actually complimented me on it and we got into a discussion of how it’s hard to find jackets for this kind of weather. So, I figure I’m fine. It’s also nice to know I have a boss who understands clothing difficulties.

    • I wear a fleece on the weekend, but imo it’s too casual for work. I’ve been wearing my trench coat during the week, but it’s not quite warm enough. I would love a quilted Burberry coat for this weather (someday!).

    • I have a light weight black wool gabardine trench coat that I wear all the time in this weather. It can also be worn in the rain, so long as it’s not a downpour, but I don’t think it’s limited to rainy days.

    • I’ve been wearing a shiny black Michael Kors knee-length trench coat that has a removable lining. It’s the perfect transitional coat for fall.

      • Wearing a black trench with (removable) wool liner or dark brown leather jacket in the Midwest.

  6. In the vein of sweater dresses, does anyone have experience wearing “sweater skirts?” I see a couple of ones that look cute online, but not sure how it would appear in person (or whether they would be work-appropriate). Also worried about static cling!

    • I have no idea – but I did see a puffer down mini – skirt at REI the other day. Probably not for the professional office.

      • I saw something like that in my last Athleta catalog. If I could lose 20 years and 20 pounds before this winter, these would so be my weekend wear. And though one can ditch the weight, I am, alas, well beyond my miniskirt years. (And yes, that’s ‘my’ miniskirt years. I understand that others’ miniskirt years may well go up to their “where’s my walker and my Centrum Silver” years. To each her own according to what makes her happy….)

      • Those ones from REI are meant to be worn over pants. They’re like an extra coat for your thighs when you’re outside. They are wonderful.

        • Really … that might make more sense. But so not the way it was styled on the mannequin.

    • I have a great maroon sweater skirt that I love. It’s warm, cute and comfy and makes me soooooo happy. But, that said, I don’t know if I would wear it to work. It’s just below knee length and not too clingy, but it’s definitely got a non-work vibe to it. Maybe it’s because I am used to wearing it with slouchy boots and a slouchy sweater, plus belt, for a very 70s, Faye Dunaway vibe. I do think some of the “sweater skirts” at places like Brooks Brothers would be entirely appropriate for the office, at least on a “non-suit day.” I also see that many older women, inc. women judges, love to rock the sweater suit in the fall/winter. So it can’t be totally inappropriate, right?

      • that sounds like an awesome outfit. i aspire to being that put together yet comfortable on the weekend.

        • Thanks! It’s amazingly comfortable so I always feel like I am secretly wearing sweats ;)

    • Definitely wear a slip (you should wear one under a sweater dress too). They cling like mad if you don’t, and you’d be showing off a bit too much for work.

      I don’t think they’re per se inappropriate for work so long as they’re not too clingy.

    • I just got a black sweater skirt from Talbot’s. I wore it to work with wool tights, black knee-high high heel boots, and a slip, and had no issues with static cling. Insanely comfortable, as it has no “real” waistband – just different ribbing at the waist. I wore it on a cold Friday, which suited my office just fine, and will be pairing it with cashmere turtlenecks or nice cardigans throughout the winter – anything that covers the lack of “real” waistband and thereby prevents everyone from knowing that I feel like I’m in my jammies!

    • I’m wearing one today. Its midi length and black. Its the most comfortable thing, ever. Its basically like wearing a blanket. Its an a-line shape, so not clingy at all.

      • This sounds like a great choice for days when you feel bloated or have abdominal pain!

        • If a person feels bloated or has abdominal pain, they should see a doctor – putting on a stretchy sweater skirt is not the answer.

          • Seriously? Many of us have these symptoms once a month, no doctor required. I didn’t see this as a cure, rather a comfy clothing suggestion for a certain time of the month.

          • Yes, I am going to go to a doctor every month when I have PMS symptoms. I am envious of those women lucky enough not to have any symptoms.

          • Yeah I don’t need a doctor to tell me I shouldn’t drink beer or eat cheese, and i’ll still indulge in them when I feel like it even though I know the consequences.

          • I don’t have any bloating or abdominal pain. Just a woman that likes feeling like she’s wearing a cozy blanket on some days.


          • Anonymous :

            Nevadan is the strangest troll…

          • Oh good, I wasn’t the only one getting troll vibes.

  7. I have made the sad realization that I need to start skewing my work wardrobe away from pencil skirt and cardigan to pencil skirt and blazer. That said, I have been a total fail at finding cute, relatively affordable (ideally less than $150) blazers.

    I think part of the issue is that I am not quite sure what to look for in a blazer. Would the ponte one from yesterday be professional enough for a business casual wardrobe that I am trying to skew a little more business and a little less casual? Any links to other types of blazers people would recommend would be much appreciated!

    • My office is business casual, too. I’ve been wearing this a lot (both as outerwear and to just dress up my look):

    • I think the pencil skirt + cardigan is fine in a standard business casual workplace that’s a little dressier. Nordstrom Rack often has a lot of reasonably priced Classiques and Halogen blazers on sale in the $60-90 range.

      • Ramblewood :

        I bought a very inexpensive ($30ish) wool gray blazer from Nordstrom Rack about 2 years ago, and I wear it to work quite often. Not sure what brand, though.

      • Thanks! Yes, I need to gird myself up for another nordstrom rack visit. I am usually way too lazy to shop in person so I don’t go that often. Glass of wine and the click of the mouse is much more my shopping speed.

    • Opposite: I need more cardigans, and I am having trouble finding warm, structured, non-crappy ones. My BR ones from earlier this fall are super-thin and pilling, and the one I got from AT last week is thin and shapeless. Does anyone have recommendations for good, decently-priced cardigans that will last at least a few seasons?

      • My cardigans come from all over: Target, J Crew, and Lilly Pulitzer come to mind. I stopped buying AT ones. Do you live near an outlet center? I usually find a ton of great cardigans there and that’s when I stock up.

      • Time machine to buy AT cardigans from 5 years ago? :) I’m in the same boat — I have a few older AT cashmere cardigans from c. 2007 which are holding up great and I still wear the heck out of, but the new stuff I’ve bought falls apart or looks shapeless almost immediately.

      • Brooks Brothers. I used to also love Talb0ts but they’re very hit or miss lately — many more miss than hit. High end department store brands also seem to still maintain their quality – I am a big fan of the Saks brand cashmere, which you can get very inexpensively at their Off Fifth stores.
        Also really love my theory cardigans and sweaters as they don’t really pill, and manage to hold their shape and color, etc. Jcrew also works for me more often than not. Club Monaco, too, though their selection is more limited.
        But I have to say that I have been so disappointed in the quality of everything lately that I refuse to buy any sweater that is not on sale. Period.

      • Second Brooks Brothers. There’s nothing great in their sale section now online but keep checking. Lord and Taylor cashmere cardigans hold up well too.

      • Third BB. The average cost over time is going to be a win. I have a black BB merino wool cardigan that is at least six years old and it looks great. No pilling. No stretching. Dry clean it, but only when it genuinely needs it. Land’s End may do at a lesser cost point. I can only speak to the summer cotton ones, which are on their second year and still look good.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        Fourth Brooks Brothers. I’m stunned at how well their sweaters have held up over the years. And they are available in actual 100% merino wool, which I am having a hard time finding elsewhere. As someone else said, cost per wear ends up being quite low, and possibly even cheaper than the inexpensive ones from other stores. BB has great after-Christmas sales, too.

        • MissJackson :

          Fifth. I usually wait for a sale, but even at full price I’ve come to believe that BB sweaters are worth it. I have sweaters that are five years old that still look brand new. I cannot say the same for other brands, and I’d rather spend a little extra upfront for great quality.

          For “cheap” cardigans, I like August Silk which you can find at Nordstrom Rack, TJMaxx, Macys, etc. for around $20. They hold up well, but are not as warm as the BB merino sweaters.

      • Lands End/Lands End Canvas. I guess I’m not quite sure what you mean by a structured cardigan, but LE/Canvas have several cuts, with some weight, in several colors, and usually for a decent price. They usually do a variety of fiber content – cotton, wool, cashmere, etc. There is some argument for the cut being boxy on the Lands End side, but both sides are making an effort to be more youth in cut and styling.

      • I am a huge fan of the J Crew Jackie sweaters that I buy periodically from their outlet for like $20. They’re cotton, machine washable, hit at a good place on my hips/waiste, and come in a million colors. Also, since they aren’t a million bucks and I don’t feel bad about replacing them periodically when my pen explodes, that cup of coffee I spilled all over myself just isn’t coming out.

      • I like Merino wool for maintaining structure. I like the styles that are knit a little thicker than the typical fine-gauge cardigans. Eileen Fisher and Talbots and maybe Land’s End come to mind. I think Macy’s store brand makes a pretty good knit too, Charter Club maybe?

      • I like the Target Merona brand ones. I won’t say they last forever, but at $20 bucks a pop they’re worth it. I got some last year and they’ve held up very well so. No major pilling so far.

    • Blazers are just the hardest. If you wear them a lot, I really think you need to branch out from the standard black and gray ones. Of course, you still need those colors, but you don’t want to wear them every day. Boden has some cute colored ones, including some that have great contrasting stitching, but they are pretty pricey. I guess watch for a sale? As discussed above, Nordstrom Rack is a great suggestion (I wish I could make it there more often!), and TJ Maxx or Marshalls will have good choices every once in a while. I just got a bright pink Rebecca Taylor one for $50, which is a great price (usually around $350, I think). I have also gotten a couple of REALLY cute ones from Pink Tartan when it comes on Rue La La. That brand is really pricey, and they are even a bit of a splurge on RLL, but they are AWESOME. Great details – fabulous pleatings, buttons, fabric, etc. Anyway, I think blazers are just something you have to buy one at a time when you see them. They’re hard to find when you’re shopping with a purpose.

      • Diana Barry :

        Boden, Tulle (sometimes, not always), and BCBG always have a variety of novelty blazers that look great and aren’t too expensive (hit the BCBG outlet).

      • Thanks. I have been eyeing some nice jackets from Boden (waiting for a sale) but am not quite sure if they’re too coat-ish and not blazer-ish.

        Would either of these look weird being worn with a pencil skirt and boots inside?

        • I think those are both gorgeous blazers, and would look great with a pencil skirt and boots.

          Unfortunately, I can’t wear wool — it just itches me to death, even through my blouse or top — and I even avoid wool blends and cashmere. I love black, but of all things I haven’t found a good black blazer or cardigan that doesn’t have wool in it. Any good suggestions?

          • WestCoast Lawyer :

            Ooh – I never post, but I just got the grey herringbone blazer from Boden and am wearing it today. I’m wearing mine with pants but think it would look great with a pencil skirt and it feels really well made (and is lined in silk and velvet, so no itching)!

    • Blonde Laywer :

      I have several from AT Loft (shrunken) and Nordstrom’s Rack (regular). I have a blue CK from Marshalls. I have a plain black and plain tan from Kohls.

      • Just checked out AT Loft. They have several promising candidates! Thanks. Now just to wait for their next sale.

    • I have had some luck finding cheap blazers in unexpected places recently. I got a khaki one from Forever 21, a dark purple 3/4 sleeve peplum from Charlotte Rousse, and a marled dark grey one with some detail at the waist from Kohls. All were $20-30. My office is casual, so I generally wear these with jeans, but they could worn with pencil skirts just as easily. These are probably cheaper than you were imagining, but they get the job done and don’t require dry cleaning. In fact, based on what you described, I would stay away from very fancy jackets so as to avoid looking out of place.

    • For a ponte blazer, check out the Nordstrom sale. In early fall, I bought a great 3/4 length black one. The brand is Olive Moon, I think. Anyway, I noticed that they have the same blazer in camel on sale. The blazer fits great, is washable and maintains its shape. Sizing is probably a little generous. I wear a 10 on top, and the medium fits perfectly.

      • I also have a ponte knit blazer I got from Nordstrom, and I love it. I would wear it every day if I didn’t think people would notice. Can’t remember who makes it right now, but it has held its shape nicely.

  8. Random question: How much do your work-out clothes match? I really matched the other day (bright blue and green patterned shorts with a bright blue top, and my running shoes happen to be green/yellow/bright blue), and I felt like a big dork. But most of my stuff is bright, so if it doesn’t match, it means I am wearing a bright pink top with blue shorts, or some such thing. I know this is a really silly question, but I’m kind of stumped.

    • Mine don’t typically match at all, except when I’m wearing black shorts that go with everything. I wouldn’t worry about it — the important thing is that you are working out!

    • I just aim not to clash.

      • AnonInfinity :

        Sometimes I like to clash! I feel like I can’t wear 4 different, bright colors in any other context, so anyone who is out early enough to see me running always gets a good laugh, I’m sure.

    • I try to wear brightly colored tops with black/gray bottoms and brightly colored bottoms with black/gray/white tops. But I only have 1 pair of non-black workout bottoms!

    • I only buy black bottoms to avoid clashing. Normally my tops are brightly colored and my bras (which tend to be at least partially visible) are either black or white. My Vibrams are blue, but I figure your shoes don’t have to match. If I wear a headband, I either wear a black one or one that matches my shirt.

    • Grrr. Posting too quickly.

      I like for my outfits to coordinate, but not match. However, one day this week when I hadn’t done laundry, I had to wear my pink shorts and a differnt toned pink top. My running buddy asked why I was sporting my Strawberry Shortcake look after Halloween.

    • I don’t bother attempting to match.

      • word. that’s a bridge too far for me at 6am. “clean” is really the only standard I have for workout clothes.

      • I don’t bother to workout.

        Sort of kidding– it’s hard enough to get motivated to work out, if I began to care about wearing coordinated workout ensembles, I’d exercise even less than I already do. :-)

    • anonx1000 :

      I try to aim for not clashing, but as I now run in these obnoxiously colored minimalist running shoes (aside: why are all the brands making these shoes in such awful colors?!), “clean” is my actual standard.

    • They are both clean. That is all.

  9. I was recently wrongly passed over for a promotion (long story). Even though I know it had nothing to do with my work performance and was about office politics, my self-esteem took a hit and now I don’t know how to bounce back and can’t get anything done. Other than sulking for a while, how do I get past this?

    • I’ve been in your shoes. Sorry no advice here but just to say chin up. I gave myself a year where I worked my a$$ off, and when nothing changed, found a new job where I’m much happier.

      • I am actually reading “Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It” by Marshall Goldsmith right now.
        I’ve only at “how to get it” part, so can’t report any results yet. But you gotta agree the title is catchy!

    • Ugh – you have my sympathy. I recently went through something similar, and I know just how you feel. I think that, unfortunately, you just have to give it time. My situation involved actually losing my job due to some really awful office politics. I really liked the work I was doing there and it was a very hard hit for me. I ended up going through a period of some pretty deep self-reflection for about three months, and I learned a few things about myself and came to better understand my values and priorities, as well as my own strengths and (gulp) shortcomings. It wasn’t the most fun period of my life, but I think the end result will be that I will be able to make some better choices in the future. In the short term, try to spend time with friends and family who will be really affirming with respect to your talents, abilities, value, etc. There are times in life when you need to call upon your personal cheerleaders, and this sounds like one of them. And be kind to yourself, in whatever way works for you – massages, yoga classes, going to the movies, etc. I wish you the best of luck.

    • I agree with what everyone else is saying. Sulk for a bit, focus on yourself for a while, and start looking for a new job. It’s hard to be very motivated and productive when you feel under employed or unappreciated. Granted, there’s not a whole lot of open opportunities out there (I don’t know what your field you’re in) but you never know what doors may open!

  10. Jules' Law :

    Question for the hive: Does anyone use a financial planner? I’m in a position where my company 401k does not match and my husband works in a non-traditional field and gets no benefits, including savings vehicles so he has no retirement fund or life insurance policies of any kind. Finances scare me. What I really need is some objective advice about what savings vehicles make sense for me but it seems everyone is just trying to sell you something. And while my income has increased significantly in the past year such that I can start thinking about saving for retirement, the amount of money I can put away is not huge. Do you think it would be worthwhile to look for a financial planner/advisor or should I just go with the firm 401k plan and go it alone? Thoughts?

    • In addition to financial planner :

      You will get lots of responses about how to find and use one. I want to say that, in addition to a financial planner, consider the following:

      * get a subscription to SmartMoney or Kiplinger’s magazine. They are both monthly (so not too overwhelming) and have easy to understand practical articles that will help you think about what you want and how to talk to yourself, your husband and your advisor about it.

      * start reading the NYT personal finance blog: bucksDOTblogsDOTnytimesDOTcom. Ditto. And it is really interesting.

      * I also like spousonomicsDOTcom, but it is not particularly practical.

    • I really liked the Personal Finance for Dummies and Investing for Dummies book. Having said that, if you choose to hire a financial planner, hire one who works on a fee and not on a commission for selling you things. I think it’s best to hire one based on the recommendation of a friend, rather than just looking one up online. My company actually has a financial planner service that they recommend, and I think the initial meeting is free to employees. Your company might have a similar deal.

      • I just bought Personal Finance for Dummies on your recommendation! Thanks!

        I do have a financial planner, but I think it would be much more useful to have some basic knowledge before you start talking to him or her. He gives us what I think is good advice, but I really have no idea what he’s even talking about. That’s why I bought the above-mentioned book.

        FWIW, I found out about him through my church. He works for AXA Advisors on a fee, not a commission.

        • I hope it’s as helpful for you as it was for me! I just needed an orientation to the basics when I started in the working world – my mom was never good with finances and I didn’t want to end up like her, with no savings at age 60, but didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice.

    • I’ve always thought PWM advisers and the like were usually sleazeballs. Good luck.

    • I recommend taking a few sessions with a financial planner who is NOT compensated based on what he or she sells you.

      However, I think what might be even more helpful are these two books– “Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich” by Lois Frankel (sequel to Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office), and “Women and Money” by Suze Orman. I am a giant finance nerd and have read tons of these type books, and I think these two are the best for women who are intimidated by finance. They both help you look at why you find it intimidating, while breaking down the subject into easily approachable pieces of good basic financial advice. Suze gets a little bit more in depth, and goes into things like making a will, and power of attorney, which is very useful information that is not always presented in finance books.

    • I have a financial planner but studied up before hiring him so we could have intelligent discussions. I liked Smart Women Finish Rich for an overview of the financial world. If you do get a planner, definitely get one that isn’t paid to sell you certain things. My planner gets a percentage of what he makes for me so he’s motivated to make sound investments.

    • My family has been using Edward Jones for years. When I needed someone, I called them up.

      They have local offices all over the country with Financial Advisers who are your neighbors. I have been with my current adviser for probably 5 years now. I never feel pressured to buy anything, and trust her 100% with my money. I now have two IRAs with her and a separate investment account. She has seen me through starting my own business and buying a home. She explains everything in language I can understand.

      I would recommend looking up local Edward Jones branches in your area, and pick a woman. That’s what I did. If you have a meeting with her, and don’t like what you hear, then move on.

      • Oh, and Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich is also a great book. Second/third that recommendation.

    • I’d say talk to an advisor, but also read up on your own so that you know when the advisor’s just out for a sale/commission or spouting rubbish.

      The New Coffeehouse Investor is a good book to start with. I don’t particularly enjoy the writing style or tone, but think that the ideas are simple and sound.

  11. another SF :

    PSA: Endless is having a friends and family sale today. 20% off all orders of $100 or more. Code is NOVEVENT

  12. Any thoughts on this Forbes piece entitled “Why Most Women Will Never Become CEO”?

    • Diana Barry :

      Ugh. I saw that. Very depressing. I think that the solution is to adopt Netherlands-style policies so that parents are treated equally (whether a mother or a father), including paid parental leave. But good luck getting paid parental leave passed in this country!

    • AnonInfinity :

      I agree that this is depressing. I read stuff like this and feel so powerless.

    • I find the tone annoying and don’t think it’s very well written. (Appropriately enough, I have seen this analysis presented much more concisely by female writers!) However, I actually appreciate a man admitting in print that he shirks household/parenting responsibilities onto his wife, that he thinks women should prioritize family over career, and that sexist standards perpetuated by men are still a major problem in the workplace.

    • Blonde Laywer :

      I agree with Monday’s second sentence. My issue with articles like this is it restates the problems that we all know too well but doesn’t offer any solutions aside from don’t have kids which would only solve one of the many problems he pointed out.

      I disagree with some of his points about attractiveness. I think attractiveness is an important quality in male leaders just as much as it is for females. Men that we view as dynamic, charming, go-getters are often very attractive. Attractiveness can be an intimidating quality for either sex to possess.

      I do agree that the double edged sword of attractiveness is more of an issue for women then men though. I don’t think one automatically assumes a man is dumb just because he’s hot.

      • Blonde Laywer :

        But, I will admit to being totally distracted once by a hot male attorney and having trouble focusing on what he was saying. It happens to both sexes.

        • MaggieLizer :

          That’s happened to me too. I wanted to ask for advice on how to deal with a hot deponent on an open thread a while ago, but I was embarrassed and afraid I’d be called a troll. Thanks for this!

      • I agree with you on the attractiveness points. Tall, attractive men do tend to be more successful at obtaining executive leadership positions, and there have been many studies over the years to document this. I think being good looking for a man can have some negative implications. We had an attractive guy start here and a coworker knew him from afar and had given him a really demeaning nickname. She referred to him by this nickname in the weeks before he started and everyone thought he was going to be hot, but very very stupid. Needless to say, he is incredibly bright, but I think that nickname stuck with him.

        • Yes – it can work both ways. When an attractive guy was hired at my old job, one of the women that was supposed to work with him kept calling him “eye candy.” He was a great worker, but never really got over that barrier. He was fired a few months later.

    • Without reading the article, I would like to point out that most men don’t become CEO, either. My company has an employee/CEO ratio of about 1,250/1. There’s a whole hell of a lot more besides my X chromosomes that’s keeping me from taking over the world.

    • karenpadi :

      I think it’s a rehash of what we already know. I don’t think family pressures are the primary problem though.

      It’s really about latent sexism that rears its ugly head when a woman speaks up or disagrees. Is she a b!tch? Or is she being assertive?

  13. PSA: I found a pair of commuting snow boots for the winter that aren’t fugly. With the 40% off promotion, they’re now about $30.
    I have a feeling it’s going to be a rough winter.

    • Wow, thanks! I just ordered those. :) I don’t live in the snow, but we visit it, so I’m taking your recommendation for what works.

    • Sadly only water resistant, so not too good for the shoulder season :( Why do companies find it so hard to make shoes both practical and stylish?

      • Hopefully water resistant will be enough for me. I just want to make it to the metro without falling on my a**.

    • love it, thanks!

  14. Love this dress and would love to buy it, but I would look terrible in it. I’m tall (5’10) and relatively slender (about 145-150 lbs). But any dress with a belt makes my hips look really wide. Skinny belts, fat belts, doesn’t matter. Same problem with shirts and sweaters that wrap at the waist.

    Anyone else have this problem? Any solutions?

    • Honestly, you probably look beautiful in belts, its just not a silhouette you’re used to seeing on yourself. I think lots of these trends (like skinny jeans!) just take a leap of faith and a deep breath the first time you wear them out.

      I really enjoy(ed) academichic for the thoughtful conversations behind body image and fashion.

    • I wonder if the belts or wraps are hitting you in the wrong place. I’m about the same size as you (6′ and 155) and most things with a waist are way too high on me. I don’t know whether this would make your hips look wide though because I’m pretty boy-shaped, but does the same thing happen if you put a belt on a dress or cardigan that doesn’t have belt loops so you can make sure it’s in the right spot for your body?

    • Take a picture of yourself with this belted look, and crop your head out of the photo. Do you think it looks good now that you don’t recognize that it’s yourself?

    • i feel exactly the same way and i’ve finally just accepted it. i’ve finally just concluded that something about my body needs an unbroken silhouette or it just looks chunky and choppy – perhaps because i’m long-waisted?

    • Thanks, guys. I will try the picture approach and will then put on one of these dresses and ask a couple friends (honest friends) how it looks. Maybe I do just need to take the plunge!

      • I have the same issue and have had it at every weight. I think it deopends on how high your hip is. I have a high hip and I feel like if I belt at the waist, my body juts straight out right after the edge of the belt.

        Random observation – I noticed Meryl Streep has the same issue.

    • I have the same problem. I’m not as tall as you, but I’m certainly used to seeing a smooth curve outlining my figure, not a sharper one when I belt things. I’m 5’7″ and 165.

      Maybe it is that I look too va-va-voom for my own taste? I have tried a skinny belt, and a thicker belt, and everything just seems to accentuate the curves in the wrong places (like my belly).

    • I have almost the exact same height/weight that you do. I’m very short waisted & belts don’t do me any favors either. The only ones that sort of worked were dresses belted just below the bust (sort of empire waist style).

      Also, I have a couple of dresses with ruching/gathering on one side – quite flattering & waist defining, and look much better than belted dresses.

      I have large hips as well, and now go almost exclusively with a-line/flared skirts & dresses.

  15. SAlit-a-gator :

    Threadjack: I just bought a beautiful pair of cognac knee high boots. I’m have a couple of things in mind for an outfit (purple sheath dress, brown tweed skirt, black wool dress, jeans), but open to suggestions. What would you wear cognac boots with? Have you seen any office appropriate dresses or skirts that would work with cognac boots? What about tunics for the weekend?

    • SAlit-a-gator :

      Posting link separately so I won’t get stuck in moderation. I got the tan brown leather ones: Fisher%26sp%3D1%26spc%3D10%26ruleId%3D69%26slotId%3D3

    • anon for this :

      I dont’ wear mine to work that often except on Fridays, but I’ll wear them with a mallard dress, printed dresses with some tan/brown in them, burgundy, dark green, red, mustard, purple, navy. pretty much any warm or dark color. i don’t wear grey with them, but my coworker has the same pair I have and she wears them with black all the time and they look great!

    • I wear my cognac boots with EVERYTHING. Really. I have a gorgeous pair of brown boots, a gorgeous pair of black flat boots, black heeled boots, and gray OTK boots, and all I ever wear is my cognac boots. + Jeans + black wool coat is beautiful, really everything though. They look better with every outfit I have, than any other shoes I have.

      • Wow, you are making me want a pair. :)

        • Do ittt. Great thing to own.
          Disclaimer: I’m in law school after a couple years on the job, so I don’t have to wear work clothes. I don’t think they look as dressy as black boots for a super-professional environment.
          I got these: I’ve had several strangers stop me to tell me how much they like them. They’re not expensive, and although not the best quality leather (not comparable to Frye boots, or the Cole Haans I have), they look nice and have held up well so far.

      • Echoing EVERYTHING. I have a cognac bag. It goes with brown, black, gray, yellow, navy, whatever. Gorgeous. Treat it as a neutral.

    • I love to wear cognac boots with an otherwise all black or mostly black outfit. It breaks up the somberness of the black and gives a more casual, chic feel to it.

  16. anon for this :

    I’m looking for some advice about job searching when you want to work in a specific practice area. I’ve been out of law school almost a year and I currently work on the industry side of the type of law I want to do.

    I interviewed with the 3 firms in my geographic area that specialize in this type of law. Two said they loved me and my experience blah blah blah but they’re not currently hiring at my level, but things may change. The third, I’m waiting to hear back from, probably after they have their year end numbers. Coincidentally, the third was also my favorite of the three, geographically and working environment wise.

    So my question is do I keep applying for any legal job I would possibly take if I had no other options, or wait it out for 2 months? There are other practice areas I’m interested in if I can’t work in my first choice. I make more than most associates in small firms in my current job, so I don’t really want to leave it to take any associate job. I feel like its not fair to apply for jobs and waste people’s time interviewing for jobs I don’t really want, if I had better options, but I also feel like being out of law school for almost a year and not having a job makes it seem like the time, money and effort of law school and the bar exam was a waste.

    I put a lot of effort into individualizing my cover letters so I do find applying for jobs to be quite a hassle!

    • Perhaps I’m reading too much into the tone of your email, but here are a few questions/comments that come to mind as I read your post:
      1. Don’t sit around waiting for anybody, anytime, anywhere. The two firms were polite, loved you, blah, blah, blah; you haven’t even heard back from the third. You may be special, then again you may not be special. You can’t pin your hopes on “maybe’s.” You should be applying to any and all jobs you might be interested in – if a lawyer is what you really want to be. See next question.
      2. You have to decide which is more important – working as a lawyer in one or another of your stated interest areas, or just making more money. You seem to say that the money is more important than taking just any old associate’s job, yet you complain about not being a lawyer. What’s driving this? Financial need, status, interest in a given field, something else? Be honest with yourself.
      3. I was a little taken aback by your comment that applying for jobs is “a hassle.” Yes, it’s an effort, but “a hassle?” How else did you expect to get the job? This sounds – and this is where the tone thing comes in – like some serious entitlement thinking going on here. First (and second, third, etc.) job hunting can be very difficult, even during rosy economic times. Very few people end up in their dream job right out of the chute, because basically you don’t know enough at that point to know what you really want to do or what you’re good at.

      Few people have their life’s work handed to them on a silver platter – realize you will likely have to do some real work, over a series of good and not-so-good jobs to get there.

      • anon for this :

        Thanks for the insight!

        I prob do sound a bit entitled, meaning I expected to make more after law school than I would make if I never went, and am going to be picky about what type of law I do, but there are quite few fields I would like to do. That being said, I have been looking for about a year and applied to about 100 jobs, most of which had individualized cover letters, so yes it is a hassle, it’s frustrating, it’s timeconsuming and I’m feeling like my efforts are futile. I did have one offer, but the working environment, pay and job responsibilities were not ideal for me, all of which are issues you brought up thinking about what I really want financially and career wise.

        One firm (not first choice) I had two interviews with, met all the partners and was wined and dined twice, so I think that was more than being polite. And I have heard from the first choice firm; I had two interviews there with multiple people of different levels and they called afterwards saying they want to make an offer but aren’t ready to yet.

        If you are a lawyer, as some career planning advice (this is probably the point of my first post, input on this question) do you think it would be better if I take any legal job to get legal experience, or stay on the industry side until I can get a job in this practice area?

        • I know how you feel about jobhunting being a hassle. I don’t really think it has anything to do with entitlement. I just think it’s a pain to spend all this time and effort into applying to jobs and then the firms/organizations of interest don’t even have the common courtesy to send a rejection letter after you’ve interviewed. If I’m going to take the time out of my day to interview, I don’t think it smacks of entitlement to expect at least a mail merge rejection letter.

          I think you may need to take a pay cut to get some experience. In this economy, you can’t be too picky, even if you do already have a job. You do have the luxury of being able to avoid the really awful jobs and apply to jobs that are interesting. The reality is you may not end up liking your practice area from a legal standpoint, so I’d recommend applying to all practice areas of interest now and see where it leads.

          • anon for this :

            Thanks! As far as the money, I make enough to live on but not a whole lot more. It would be a kick in the face to have worked full time and went to law school at night all those years to make less.

            Maybe I can ask, what is the minimum people would entertain to take an associate position in a fairly expensive east coast area near major cities?

        • OK, new information re: working in the industry and going to law school @ night, but wanting to stay in the same field. Here’s the deal from my view – you may have been somewhat experienced in your field (although you don’t mention how long you worked in the field), and hence command a better-than-starting-out salary. Understood. But you’ve never worked as a lawyer before and now you must start over. You don’t get to pass go and collect $200. You must start at the bottom, like all the other baby lawyers and you will likely have to take a pay cut to start. But keep in mind that over the long haul, your investment in your law degree should enable your salary to grow at a faster pace than your industry position. I’m hoping you did that research and did that calculus before going to law school and incurring the pain that went along with it. In the long run, I would imagine having your industry background would benefit your practice of law in that area, should you be fortunate enough to find an opportunity in that area. But, as other posters have pointed out, you may need to start out somewhere else in a different area if you really want to be a lawyer. In that case, your previous experience (and higher salary) won’t likely make any difference in your starting salary – you’ll be starting at the bottom like everyone else. Tough decisions, but you need to take a long term view of this situation.

      • In this economy, you just can’t expect to graduate from law school and land a job paying more than your previous one did. Sorry.

        If you’re expecting to get that without putting a lot of hard work in, keep dreaming.

        • anon for this :

          The range of starting salaries for graduates of my law school in private practice is $35k to $160k (some graduated do get into NYC biglaw.) The Median is $65k. The median is more than I make now, so I don’t think I’m dreaming to expect to make more than I’m making now.

    • re: ks. Eh, I’m not seeing the tone issues/sense of entitlement in this post. Job hunting is frustrating, period, and working in a position you don’t want to be in, where you’re not using your shiny expensive advanced degree, is doubly so.

      Sorry, anon for this, can’t speak to the specifics of your situation b/c I’m not a lawyer, but I do suggest that you keep applying to other places even though they’re not your top choices. A “maybe” is not a “yes.”

      • No advice to offer except have patience and faith and keep putting yourself out there and applying to jobs that seem promising. You may have to pace yourself in order to avoid excessive frustration. I wish you luck! You’ve worked very hard and I hope it pays off for you soon.

        • anon for this :

          Thanks everyone! I think for the next two months (when I should have a definite answer from the job I really want) I’m only going to only apply to jobs that relate to my background/industry that I would actually accept, rather than go crazy applying to every possible position (like someone said, pace myself). The crappy jobs will be there in two months. I also hear December is not a big hiring month for law firms anyway.

          For the jobs I really want though, the employer will be benefiting from my experience. I’ve been doing some per diem work for an attorney, and a lot of what I do for him comes solely from my industry knowledge, not from law school. Granted, I have a lot to learn about practicing law and I understand that, but I feel that a lot of employers are taking advantage of the “baby lawyers.” I’m not about to occupy wall street or anything, but I find it absurd that in the area I live in that new associates are making about $25/hour, while the partners bill that time out at $250+/hour and drive to their beach houses in their new Jaguars. I know everyone has to pay their dues, but that’s a huge disparity.

          • The Bad Wife :

            So, I have to flag that the more follow ups you post, the more entitled you sound. You’ve been out of law school almost a year, so it’s a bit early to start worrying about being underpaid as compared to a partner.

            Also, don’t be this guy: No offense but you read similarly. Lots (?) of previous experience but unwilling to work from the bottom up. And you say you are underpaid at a firm, so it couldn’t be a biglaw firm? That means a non t-14 school? I think you need to be grateful for the opportunity to learn how to practice law, which is what the firm is trying to train you to do. I would do this instead of resenting people 10 years later in their career than you are, who’ve (whether you recognize it or not) poured thousands of hours of toil into creating the firm you see today.

          • And the people said “Amen.”

          • anon for this :

            to the bad wife (I couldn’t directly respond to you post). Not biglaw, but high paying field, expensive part of the country. Not t-14 school but top tier. I know I’ll need to determine my own deadline to get out of my current position and the lowest offer I would accept.

            Lots of people keep posting on my sense of entitlement, but no one is answering this question:

            If I wanted to work in highly technical niche practice would I be better off staying on the industry side until I find a job in that practice (while staying current on issues, attending relevent CLE’s etc), or would I be better off taking a really crappy legal job anywhere just get some legal experience?

            I know the legal experience is important, but kind of like dating, is it fair to either party to take the job I don’t want just to pass time?

  17. Would you wear in black to a holiday party? How styled?

    • You mean the featured dress? Think it depends on whether you are asking for work or friends, day or evening.

      Work/evening – probably no. I think the ties on the sleeves make it a little too casual.

      Work/day – think it would be ok. I’d pair it with black tights and black heels or wedges, with a colorful cardigan or scarf and maybe a jeweled pin or opera length necklace.

      Friends/evening – would do a sequined cardigan over (or if not sequined, maybe dangly earrings), again with black tights and, if I had the legs for them, booties or other trendier shoes.

      Friends/day – statement necklace, patterned tights and flat boots.

  18. Can some of you ladies who buy clothes for your husbands/grown sons suggest where to buy dress clothes for my 19 y/o son? I need to get him something to wear to my nephew’s wedding, either a suit or blazer/dress pants, and he generally lives in baggy jeans and t-shirts. He actually has a nice navy blazer and white dress shirt, thought about getting some nice wool gray dress slacks to wear with the blazer, and a tie, or is a suit really necessary? It’s a late afternoon wedding, and I have no idea about men’s fashion rules. I’m happy to get him a suit, if he should wear one. But don’t want to spend a fortune, since he’s only 19, and may never wear it again (not sure he’s done growing – my nephew grew another 4 inches during college). Is Joseph A Banks a decent place to get suits? Some days I really wish my ex was a little more of a male role model for him, but that’s just the way things are.

    • My brothers and husband (age range 19-30) have bought from JCPenney and the Rack. Their best suits have come from the rack- they’ve gotten some really great deals. As with everything there though, you have to be ready to hunt.

    • Try Banana Republic. He could potentially use it for any interviews/college visits or other formal occasions as well.

    • If you have a Burlington Coat Factory near you, I have found that to be a surprisingly great place to get extremely reasonably priced men’s suits (better quality than Jos. A. Banks, in my opinion).

    • I don’t know how the quality is lately, but you could try Banana Republic for gray wool trousers. I’ve bought my husband several pairs of wool pants there, but not in the last 2 years or so.

      I would also try Brooks Brothers for nice pants. They make them in different cuts, so he can wear a style that suits his age. Better yet, if you are near a Brooks Brothers outlet, look there. During law school, my husband bought a great looking charcoal gray suit there. He wear it for every special occasion, and it looks great.

    • I definitely think the navy blazer and white shirt worn with dress pants will be fine. He doesn’t need to have a suit for an afternoon wedding, unless he’s in the wedding party. I would even say nice khaki pants (traditional fit, not baggy and well pressed) would be fine.

      • I garee. Khakhi’s and a blue blazer are standard gear for most young men at weddings, and even for the bridal party in many cases.

    • I think it would be a good idea to get him a suit since, as a family member, he’ll probably be featured in photos. I’d get him a classic suit (gray or navy pinstripe would be nice) that he could also wear for job interviews over the next couple of years.

      I don’t know about Jos. A. Banks, but based on my experience,Men’s Wearhouse is actually not a bad place to buy suits on a budget. If you can spend a bit more and want to get something a bit snappier, I second the recommendation for Banana Republic. And of course, you could always take him to the men’s department at Nordstrom’s; you’d be in good hands with the sales associate or personal shopper.

    • Seattleite :

      Honestly? Men’s Wearhouse. It’s our first stop when looking for dress clothes for my 18 year-old son. We’ve never had to look elsewhere. Tailors on duty all the time, quick turnaround, good selection. I don’t drop a fortune on clothes that may fit for only six months, and yet they hold up surprisingly well – my son never changes out of his church clothes before eating lunch, so the washable slacks DO get washed frequently. No pilling or other signs of wear.

      • karenpadi :

        Second mens warehouse. I don’t have a guy to shop for but many of my college friends bought suits at mens warehouse. The free tailoring came in handy after a few years of frat-house living.

        • Jos.A.Banks is perfect for what you are seeking. good quality, my husband gets most of his suits there and even has a Tux from there. Dont pay full price for anything though, they are always having “sales”.

    • Anon Prof :

      Sorry for late post, but maybe you’re getting them emailed to you. Check out Target–they have some basic men’s suiting, and it would be hard to beat their prices.

  19. Just my two cents, but I would think dress slacks with a blazer and tie sounds fine on a young man for an afternoon wedding, as long as the venue isn’t too fancy.

    If you look at Joseph A Banks, know that there is no reason to ever buy something there at full price. They regularly have sales. (My husband just took advantage of the buy one suit, get two suits free sale – three suits for the price of one.) They also do have suit separates, so if you took in his blazer, you might be able to find him some coordinating slacks.

    If you really want him in a suit and you really don’t want to pay a lot because he’ll wear it one time, JC Penneys might be an option. My husband once bought an “emergency” suit there. It’s not the best suit he’s ever worn, but it was completely serviceable for the situation.

    • Emily I – how’s the quality at Joseph A.Banks? My husband is really intrigued by 3 for 1 deal, but I am wary.

      • Just chiming in to say that my husband’s work shirts are exclusively Jos. A. Banks now (they used to be Brooks Brothers but the sales at JAB are just much better and he’s cheap as can be) and they’ve held up wonderfully for the past few years. He probably has 10-12 shirts that he rotates on a regular basis (oh! to be a man). We don’t dry clean them – wash in cold water each weekend, dry, and iron. I haven’t noticed any pilling, tears, or other quality issues yet. I’d say the quality for these is definitely comparable to Brooks Brothers.

        • PT lawyer :

          Ditto — my husband wears JosABanks suits and shirts all the time (investment bank). So far, so good…. and yes, there is always a sale.

          • In my experience, JOA and MW, have a pretty wide range of suits. Some are on the cheap side, some are on the quality side. I think that for the OP with the 19 y.o. son, either would do, as would BR. For BR, I would say to look for one of those everything is 40% off coupons that come up almost every week and get a nice basic suit that can be repurposed for interviews, internships, and other formal occasions.

  20. Anonymous :

    Two OMGs in a week:


  21. Ugh, you know you don’t feel well when you find a fairly big mistake (forgot to delete some words from a previous sentence) in an email you send office-wide. Thankfully, its about a charity event, but I feel like an a**. Here’s hoping I wrap up early today and can go home and hit the Nyquil and bed!!

  22. About the featured skirt – website says Polyester/Spandex, though from the close-up it almost looked like a t-shirt dress. I hesitate to buy a Polyester dress, even though it’s inexpensive! Second concern – the dress looks short on the model. Any comments from someone who has seen it in person?

    • I recommended the dress – it is polyester/spandex, but it’s lined – it doesn’t feel anything like a t-shirt. the fabric has a nice weight to it so that it falls nicely. I’m 5’7″ and it hit me maybe an inch above the knee when standing, which is 100% fine in my business casual office.

  23. Clothing steamer? :

    I seem to recall a discussion in the comments a little while ago about clothing steamers that people liked/didn’t like but I can’t seem to find it. Does anyone remember where it was? Alternatively, any suggestions for ones you like? I find myself sending things to the dry cleaner cause they’re wrinkly and I’m afraid of ironing them. Thanks!

    • Maybe its this one?

      or this one?

    • I posted links to the discussions, but since they are still in moderation, check on these dates:

      9/28/2011 – the TPS report post
      5/18/2009 – Reader Mail post

      both discussions discussed steamers to a degree

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