Tuesday’s TPS Report: Origami sheath dress in wool crepe

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

origami dressToday I’m loving this origami sheath dress in one of J.Crew’s suiting materials, wool crepe. The slight A-line skirt — the cap sleeves — the high neckline — the beautiful folds at the neck — it all seems really lovely. It’s available in four colors (charcoal, pictured, as well as a light gray “cool dusk,” a beige “morning fog,” and a “decadent red”) at J.Crew for $188. Origami Sheath Dress

(N.B.: You can take 30% off sale items and get free shipping on $150+ with code MUSTHAVE.)

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  1. Love it but I think it’s too sexy-chic for work…IMO

    • Corporate Tool :

      I agree, I think it would be a lovely piece for a more casual or fashion-y office than mine.

    • I agree. Also, I wonder if it would just draw more attention to a larger chest.

      • I have a Paige Black Label dress in a gorgeous dark grey color that is very similar to this (although not wool). I used to wear it all the time, but lately, I’ve been feeling like its too sexy for work. I am starting to feel like its more appropriate non-work events (although its still “business-like” so I’m not positive what types of events . . . too bad I’m not a “lady who lunches”)

        • This is the Paige dress:


          • lostintranslation :

            Your dress is really pretty. Maybe if you wear a bib-type necklace you’ll feel a little more covered up. Also if you wear low heels, that would tone things down too.

            Apropos the sexy-business dress code: I just clicked on the jcrew dresses -> “wear to work” link and thought woah! “Excuse me but I’m here to network with that very important older man,” but then I realized that those are all pretty dresses from the bridesmaids line.

          • hah, yea, only two on the “wear to work” actually are. I wonder if they just messed up the website accidentally. One of those is definitely my bridesmaid’s dress for a wedding next month.

          • I definitely think they’ve accidentally messed up the website. My definition of work-appropriate and J.Crew’s definition don’t always match up, but I don’t think they are seriously recommending a strapless dress for the office :)

          • Judging by the interns in D.C., a lot of people think strapless dresses are office-appropriate if paired with a cardigan.

        • I think that’s fine for work with a blazer.

    • S in Chicago :

      I think it looks a little tight on the model. That’s not helping the va va voom effect.

      • The tighter the look, the more attractive she will seem to others. I am a size 2 and this would look great on me, but it is to expensive. I cannot spend more then $39 on a dress, and I can get something like this @ Target for that price.

        • im very confused by this apparent attempt to be a troll.

        • I haven’t seen anything in wool in Target. I think Target may have similar dresses in jersey but the jersey is what would make a dress like this inappropriate for most offices, and take it into going out category. Whereas, in a suiting fabric, the dress would be perfectly fine if it was a just half size larger on the model. Especially with a blazer or cardigan. But even without.

          The Paige dress above strikes me as much more inappropriate for work. It’s pretty but much too low cut. Especially on a someone who is not a 32B like the model. I would save it for fall/winter and wear it with a tissue thin black slouchy turtleneck. With either flat boots, flats, or chunky-ish heels.

          • For the record, when I have worn the Paige dress to work, it is with a tissue thin long sleeve shirt (crew-neck, not turtlneck). I’ve never worn it without the shirt underneath, but even with the shirt, I haven’t worn it in ages.

    • I own this dress in the dark grey color and its actually lovely on – a very high neckline, and the inverted pleats make it not too tight. I wouldn’t get it in a petite size for work (I’m only 5’5 and in a 4P it was about an inch or two too high above the knee for work) but in red I’m seriously tempted!

    • LOVE the dress, but it says “cocktail party” not “office”.

  2. Anyone have a coupon code for Ann Taylor? I need some tops and, of course, the ones I want aren’t included in the 40% off sale :(

    Thanks in advance!

  3. In a moment of persnickety accuracy, let me just say I do not see the “origami” in this dress:).

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Please comment more! I’ve missed your wit in the past few posts :).

      • Hi Lisa,
        I think the orgami is the fold-y part at the neck of the dress. I have this dress from J.Crew. Got it on sale th is past spring for $80, I think. I had to buy one size up because that’s all they had. I must say, there’s no “getting my sexy back” when I wear this; I look & feel schoolmarm-ish, actually. I think some alterations are in order to sex it up a little. ;=D

    • I’m with you Lisa. This trend among fashion marketers of calling anything with a fold “origami” is annoying.

  4. I have this dress in two colors and have worn it all fall/winter and now they grey color in the spring. It is very slimming and very comfortable. As for sexy … if you wear a blazer over it, it does look feminine, but not “sexy”, and I’ve never had any negative comments about it when I wear it (to my face or reports of behind my back).

    It could be that I don’t wear it skin-tight like the JCrew model and I certainly don’t go around my office posing like that …

    • I agree with you. I think this reads sexy in the picture because 1) it’s a half size too small for the model and 2) she’s posing “sexy”

      It’s one of the few j crew dresses that I’ve really liked — enough to go into the store and try it on and then probably be disappointed it doesn’t fit right (I have never found anything from j. crew that fits me right).

      • you should try it, I have it, it’s a great dress, especially if you have hips or are curvy. J crew dresses usually don’t fit me either.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Really?? A J.Crew dress with hip space?! I’ve got to go try this on!

          The J.Crew Aficionadas report that one may need to size up in the dress, and it runs short for the long-legged, but they like it. “cs that the length (of the skirt) is 19.75 for the regular and 18.75 for petite.” http://jcrewaficionada.blogspot.com/2010/10/darlings-is-it-time-for-coupon-code.html

          A search of the blog reveals a few more reviews:
          I ordered the wool origami sheath dress in my usual petite size 4 and found that the top half fit like a dream, exactly like it does in all the product and model shots, very flattering and interesting neckline. Also thought the length was great for me, but the bottom was a bit clingy. I’m a bit of a pear and take one size larger for bottoms than tops at J.Crew, so I already suspected I would have this issue and I did. If I had scored the heather elm color, I would have taken it to a tailor to see if it could be saved, but I was only able to get the dark charcoal color which I didn’t like as much. I thought it was great and seemed really well constructed. Wish it had been a shirt instead of a dress.

          And another:
          Wool origami sheath dress – LOVE! It is pretty light weight and the neckline has some interest without being revealing. As I am shorter the length was fantastic and would most certainly be office appropriate.

          And from Gigi’s Gone Shopping;
          I got this in a regular 6 in heather elm and love it. Love it. I meant to order 4, but the 6 fits better. It’s fitted and not too tight.

          Size 2 – Chest = 35.25″, Waist = 29.25″, Hip = 39.25″, Waistband to hem = 19.75″
          Size 4 – Chest = 36.25″, Waist = 30.25″, Hip = 40.25″, Waistband to hem = 20″

    • Legally Brunette :

      Wow, I am drooling over this dress, and I NEVER buy anything from J.Crew. Can anyone comment on whether there is enough of a hem at the bottom to let out? Most Jcrew skirts are too short for me. I’m 5’5, and I like my dresses to end right on top of my kneecap.

      Does anyone have this in the red? Is it a bright red or more of a burgundy?

      It sounds like this is a good dress for pear shapes. For those of you with hips, did you have to alter the top part at all?

      • Diana Barry :

        I have 2 J crew dresses, and the tailor told me he could let out 1″ in the hem for each of them. Call them and ask for the center back and waistband to hem measurement in your size, and then you can probably guess whether it will be long enough for you.

      • I am 5’4″ and this dress hits just above my knee. I find that in this dress there is more room in the bottom than the top – not something J Crew usually does – which is why I bought two.

      • Great, so at 5’8″ there is noooo hope. :(

        • Pretty much. I haven’t been able to buy a J.Crew work dress in a couple of years. Tall dresses, please!

        • Legally Brunette :

          I talked to the Jcrew person, and evidently there is 2 inches to let out at the hem.

          • Has anyone had success letting out dresses/skirts? The one time I tried (it was a JCrew pencil skirt) there was always a permanent line from the “old” hem length that was now 2 inches above the new hem. Like a mini crease all the way around the skirt. Drove me nuts – I ended up getting rid of the skirt.

            Was it just a bad tailor, or is this common?

          • Yes, but (as is also true of most J.Crew dresses), letting out the hem doesn’t solve anything for those of us who are longer-waisted.

          • My tailor refused to even try to let out the hem on a BR dress not too long ago (luckily I could still take it back). Said that with the cheaper-made dresses of BR and Jcrew, it would never look right – something about the fabric and the machine stitching they use. That being said, it was one of their more casual dresses – I feel like the suiting lines tend to be higher quality.

      • If you look at the description it says “slight a-line skirt” – in my experience this means it will fit my hourglass/slightly pear-shaped body perfectly but I can go down one or even two sizes. I normally wear an 8 in jcrew dresses but I have some 4s and 6s in dresses listed as “slightly a-line”. Of course, at 5’8″ the 4s are too short for work…

  5. That’s really cute. I’d order it, but it doesn’t ship until late August. Rats.

  6. Anyone finding cute short sleeved cardigans for the summer? I got some Loft ones, which are surviving oh, about two washes before pilling.

    • I just got this from BR in two colorways. Very cute.


      • I have this one, too – so useful. I’ve worn it several times already and no noticeable wear and tear so far.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I found a few nice ones at the Gap Outlet not too long ago. I know they all carry different things, but all of them tend to carry the staples.

    • Try Boden…I just got two long sleeved, but like their items. I got the one in pink/orange and the other in blue/navy mixes but surely they will only appear in casual days at the office, with solid color/blocking for the tank and skirts. I recall I had a hard time finding long sleeved ones so I wish you good luck and happy hunting through their many short sleeved sweaters.

    • These cardigans from nordstrom’s are 3/4 sleeve and are on sale for only $17. http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/bp-three-quarter-sleeve-jersey-cardigan-juniors/3178008?origin=category&resultback=640
      They’re from the juniors department so go up a size.

  7. I got this dress last week (my order also initially had an August ship date, but it came early…) I got the charcoal gray and wear it with light gray colored pearls and matching studs, with black closed toe pumps.

    It is a fabulous dress and I am considering buying it in other colors. Very flattering, and cut with enough room in the hips — sometimes this is a problem with sheath dresses. I’d say it runs perhaps a half or a quarter size large.

    I think its very work appropriate, so long as you are not headed to court to making a big presentation. Assuming you don’t wear it skin tight, it is fitted but not in a way that reads sexy. I love that it has sleeves, and the neckline is interesting but doesn’t show cleavage. On me (5’4″) its knee length.

  8. Interview Wear Advice :

    I’m interviewing for a part time (fun) job today with Anthro’s new wedding store BHLDN. Obviously Anthro’s aesthetic doesn’t lend itself much to suits, so I opted to wear a pencil skirt in a bright color, a neutral top, and a navy blazer today to work, after which I’ll go to the interview. But now I’m second guessing myself, as my business background means interview = suit. Because my job is business casual, I only have one suit, a navy pantsuit. I don’t really want to wear it since I’m in Houston and it is HOT. But if you Corporettes tell me to, I will!

    So, should I suck it up and put on a suit? TIA!

    • Nah, no suit – I think the outfit you described with the pencil skirt sounded perfect!! You’ll do great. Good luck!

    • Legally Brunette :

      I have never worked in retail, but I would think it might look a little odd to wear a formal suit to an Anthro interview. What you planned to wear seems a lot more appropriate. If you want to look even more dressy, perhaps consider wearing a pencil skirt in a gray or a more neutral color. Good luck!!

    • SF Bay Associate :

      (Sorry to be all over this thread)

      I worked in retail for years. Absolutely do not wear a suit. Wear something from Anthro or Anthro-like. My manager’s favorite was when the candidate either wore something old and something new from our company (shows a long time fan and ability to mix seasons), or something current-ish from our company mixed with higher-end merchandise (shows ability to get the customer to see how their wardrobe works with our line). They want to see that you “get” their “look” and fit in well with it, and will be able to happily and enthusiastically evangelize and sell Anthro merchandise.

      • This.

      • Absolutely. Do not wear a suit or something Ann Taylor-like to an interview for Anthro. Mix-match patterns, go for something vintage and/or statement accessories. Go ape-s*&% with funky heels. Basically, this is a situation where you absolutely WANT them to comment on something you’re wearing. BE the brand.

        Basically, emulate their catalog looks, but more covered up with a jacket or cardigan, and you cannot go wrong. (So be the brand, not the model, if that makes sense.) I work in a retail corporate office, and even though we are not as funky as Anthro, this look would go over really well for positions in many/most of our departments. The closer to Marketing or Merchandising, the more funky. People in Finance/Accounting typically dress more basic.

    • somewherecold :

      Definitely no suit. I agree that you should wear something that will fit in with their look. I worked in a sporting goods/running store, and I interviewed for that in cords and a sweater. Good luck!

    • Interview Wear Advice :

      Thank you all so much! I appreciate your help! You’re the best!

    • I’d wear a fun necklace too to fit in with their aesthetic.

  9. Threadjack! I have a wedding in Vermont next month. I don’t know many people going and I don’t want to be over (or under) dressed. The bridesmaids are wearing yellow anthropologie dresses. My sisters (who are teenagers are wearing Lilly Pullitzer). Do you think this dress is appropriate?

    Oh — church is at 4 PM, cocktails at 5 PM, dinner at 6 PM and dancing begins at 8 PM. Thoughts?


    • Diana Barry :

      Looks great to me! My wedding was in VT and one of my husband’s aunts wore a sweatshirt. I would have been happy with any guest coming in that dress. :)

    • Bring a cardigan or wrap! Vermont can be chilly, even in July.

    • Corporate Tool :

      Gorgeous dress! I think you should be fine, and I second the recommendation for a cardigan or wrap.

    • Definitely fine for a VT wedding! (Beautiful color, too!) I second the wrap comment … I live in NH and it is chilly in the evening, even in the summer.

    • That’s a very pretty dress.

  10. I’m pretty sure this Rachel Roy dress was featured on here a while ago. It’s now on sale, only size 4 left, if anyone is interested.


    • South of Houston :

      Also, P.S.A – Rachel Roy is on Hautelook today… I bought a great hot pink tropical wool three-quarter sleeve sheath dress for over 50% off (I’m mixed race, so hot pink is actually not too much for me in my business casual office). Love the fit of her dresses and find that they’re typically long enough for us taller girls.

  11. Wow, this dress is already sold out????!!!!

  12. Interview Tomorrow :

    Need advice for an interview situation. Biglaw junior associate here, just got back from vacation (South of France! Highly recommended in June — the way to do it is share a villa with a bunch of friends).

    I am looking to lateral, and will be a third year this fall. I am unhappy at my current job for reasons not associated with Biglaw (personality conflict with an associate who is badmouthing me to everyone, sexual harassment from a partner, and somehow not being able to work on anything but one particular client which is not the type of law that I want to do).

    The day before I left for vacation, one of my recruiters called me as I was about ready to leave for the airport; another big law firm in the city really wants me, and wanted to set up an interview as soon as I got back from vacation. I got back last night, and the interview is set for tomorrow, and I am in the office trying to get my head on straight today, so I don’t have much time to prep.

    So my question is, what are some things that I can ask given that I didn’t have any prep time for this interview? How should I approach it?

    Additionally, I heard from both my recruiter and an associate at a very well respected midsizedfirm in the city is planning to hire someone in the summer to start in the fall. This midsized firm would probably be my #1 choice for where to work in the city, and my recuiter says that my resume would get their attention. If I had my way, I would choose the midsized firm hands down over where I currently work and the other firm who is interviewing me. How should I play this? It seems like the other big firm wants someone ASAP (given that they wouldn’t wait to interview me until next week), but I don’t want to lose my chances with the midsized firm that I would pick in a heartbeat. The associate that I know is a midlevel who has only been there about a year, so wouldn’t have enough pull to get my foot in the door or even speed things up with them.

    So what should I do? I’m jetlagged and overwhelmed and don’t know how to go about making these decisions right now!

    • I would ask either your friend or the recruiter to ask their hiring person at the mid sized firm about this opportunity, saying they know someone who would be interested. Assuming your friend is in good standing at the firm, even if she has only been there a little while, the firm would probably look more at someone recommended by her. I would get your resume in to them either through your friend or through the recruiter.

      Also, the other big firm with whom you are interviewing tomorrow may not move as quickly as you think…people go on vacation, plus you’ll have 2 interviews I would guess, so it would be another month before you would be hired by them, and hopefully you would be able to have an interview at the mid sized firm before then.

      Good luck getting out of your current (horrible-sounding) job!

      • This. One of my previous searches was w/ a firm that was “very eager” to hire, but when push came to shove, it was one week for the initial interview, a 2nd week for the call back (and offer), a 3rd week for the schmooze lunch (come work for us!), and then actually a whole ‘nother 3 wks over negotiations! Since you are so clearly more interested in the midsize firm, I agree that you should push that angle quickly. If you get call-back interest from the big firm, you can even use this – have the recruiter tell the mid-size firm that she has the perfect candidate and that if they don’t interview you now, they may lose you to a biglaw firm. Nothing will light a fire under firms/people more than being told that they can’t have something.

    • If they ask why you want to leave your current employer, don’t badmouth your firm or talk about the conflict.

  13. Thank you to the ladies who offered advice re: my troubled friend. I met with her last night. I discovered that I agreed with her about a few external forces causing her sadness and stress. I gently asked if she thought perhaps she was depressed. She agreed that she needed to speak with a doctor about her overwhelming feelings of sadness and guilt about things that normally would not effect her that way. She said that she cried in the middle of the day at work yesterday and knew something was wrong. I am so glad that I talked to her about it. She sent me a heartfelt email this morning thanking me for being a good listener and a supportive friend. She said that she is afraid to get on medication because she and her H are trying to get pregnant. Does anyone know anything about this? Are there natural things one can take that would not be harmful to a pregnancy?

    • Diana Barry :

      I have friends who have been on meds while pregnant. There are things she can take – she should talk to her doctor about it. Perhaps a specialized OB who knows about meds and interactions.

    • She should talk to her doctor or a good psychiatrist about it. They can also advise her about other coping mechanisms that don’t involve meds (therapy, having a set schedule, exercising, eating right, etc.)

    • Italian Tomato :

      This is probably unpopular but there are a lot of doctors that think a mom with an untreated disease is more harmful to a fetus than the risk from a medication. In some instances, doctors will have patients continue taking anti-anxiety or anti-depressants if it is too dangerous to their health to go off it. Untreated depression + preganancy hormones can be a scary thing. She could also put off TTT for a few months while she sees how much the medications help her or not. If it is negligible than she should feel more comfortable going unmedicated while pregnant.

      I take a daily medication for a non-psychological condition that is unclear whether it is safe w/ pregnancy. If I do end up having children I will take this medication while pregnant. Without it, I would get so sick I would likely miscarry anyway. I wouldn’t be a very good new mom if I was in the hospital for my underlying medical condition the first 4 months of the kids life.

      • Italian Tomato :

        Just to clarify – I am not suggesting that doctors lie to patients and that she should be worried. I am saying that her doctor may advise her it is better to take the risk of the medication than the risk of being unmedicated. It is something that she should at least consider.

    • You’re a good friend, first off.

      It’s true that many anti-depressants are contraindicated in pregnancy. Unfortunately, it’s not known if St. John’s Wort, which is a common herbal anti-depressant, is safe for pregnant women. There is some evidence that fish oil has an anti-depressant effect, although I don’t think it’s generally thought to be sufficient to replace an anti-depressant.

      However, medication might not be her only option – a good doctor will have a lot of behavioral suggestions as well. People often get angry when doctors advise things like sleep and exercise for depression (because they think that it minimizes the problem), but the truth is that there’s a clear relationship between mood and certain behavioral changes. In addition, depending on the nature of her problem, regular talk therapy or CBT might also help a lot.

      • I second this.
        Also want to chime in to reiterate what many others have said here already – she may be safer with meds on board even during a pregnancy; both to herself and the unborn fetus.
        Untreated depression can get much worse in the postpartum period (shortly after delivery).
        A good doctor / psychiatrist could assess her and then discuss the options with her. I seriously doubt anyone would force her on meds.

    • She should say this to her doctor. As others have said, some meds are ok and some are not. No one will force her to take a medication, and it would be grossly unethical for her doctor to lie to her about side-effects. It would be a shame if her desire to have children interfered with at least talking to her doctor.

    • I encouraged her in my reply email today to talk to her doctor about what she can and cannot take and what might be some alternatives to meds. (I suggested exercise as an example.)
      I have the worry that it might not be the best plan to TTT while she may or may not be clinically depressed, but she is concerned about her age, and her work schedule semi-dictates when she should TTT. Additionally, I believe that one possible source of the potential depression is that she and her H haven’t gotten pregnant yet, despite trying for some time. (Though not trying with any regularity.) I can’t force her to go to the doctor and bringing it up again may drive us apart and prevent me from being the support system that she needs, so I am hoping that she will decide to go on her own, and, barring that, that the realization that she might be depressed has made her more conscious of making behavioral changes that will get her healthy again.

      • As a follow-up: She is going to the doctor at three today to discuss how she has been feeling lately, trying to conceive and what her options are. I feel so much better for her and about the situation today!

      • Sorry! I didn’t mean to imply that you should force her to go to her doctor, or that doctors would act so paternalistically as to lie. I’m really frustrated with my mother right now, who won’t discuss things with her doctor because she sees doctors’ recommendations as commands. I’m afraid you’re bearing the brunt of it.

      • Oh, sc! I didn’t think you were implying that at all! I just made my comment that way because now that I’ve shared my concern with her, I am afraid that’s all the action I can take without making things contentious between us. Fortunately, she has a great OB and I have no doubt he will offer her great advice and options. For her sake, I hope that she deals with this before she and her H TTC because, as I pointed out in my post yesterday, she externalizes the reasons for her sadness and guilt and it would be so sad to see her go through a pregnancy and new motherhood feeling depressed and associating her sadness with those things.

    • dress fanatic :

      I’ve lived through this. Went about half way through my pregnancy unmedicated for my depression because of concerns for the baby. I ended up in a very bad place and my doctors and I decided to go back on meds. There is some research that indicates that moms who are treated for their depression while pregnant have children who are less likely to have depression as opposed to untreated depressed pregnant women. She needs to talk with all of her doctors before things get too bad.

      • I was on an antidepressant during my last pregnancy. For me, the “risks” (which are fairly low, otherwise my very risk-adverse doctor never would have written the script) were wildly outweighed by my symptoms. When I gave birth to my very healthy baby girl, I was able to truly enjoy her. I firmly believe that would not have been the case if I hadn’t been on Zoloft. (Now that very healthy baby is a very healthy – and happy – three year old!)

    • I have depression and treat it with talk and cognitive behavioral therapy. Not everyone with depression needs meds. I have found that regular exercise, therapy, and getting enough sleep alleviate my symptoms greatly. She should not let fear of taking meds stop her from making the initial steps to seek treatment.

      • I think this would be really great for her, honestly. I want her to hear from a doctor that she doesn’t need to be on meds, necessarily, just that she needs to seek treatment. It’s good to hear that your treatment is successful, and doesn’t include medication.

        • I also would add that not everyone sees a doctor for depression. My therapist is a licensed clinical social worker. I found her via a friend’s recommendation. Therapists may be doctors (either PhDs or, in some cases, MDs, although most MDs are psychiatrists and don’t focus on therapy but rather pharmaceutical treatment), but they may also have degrees in nursing, social work, divinity/ministry, counseling, or other fields. The website Psychology Today has listings and they let you use search criteria to find someone who accepts your insurance and meets your other needs. For instance, she could search for a therapist who works with patients struggling with infertility and depression. I also suggest asking friends for recommendations; in my case, I had several friends in therapy, and one thought her therapist would be a good fit for me (she was right). I also would make sure your friend understands that finding a good therapist can be a bit like dating – if after a few sessions you don’t click with the therapist, there’s nothing wrong with moving on and asking for recs for a new one.

  14. Anyone have any tips for negotiating rents down? Our landlord is raising our rent by 20% for our renewal, which just seems absurd, especially given we’re in an apartment that’s probably hard to rent (3 bedroom. Not terribly popular in New York is my sense)

    • We just did this and negotiated down from about a 20% increase to about 3%. First, check to see if there are any rules about rent increases in your area. I live in Maryland, and there is a “suggested” limit on rent increases at 3% — arm yourself with any such data you can find. If you have time, you can also scope out some comparable buildings’ rents as well and use those as justification if you need to.

      Then just go in and say, “I’ve had a good experience renting here and would prefer not to leave, but this rent increase is not possible for me. For x y and z reason, I believe you may have difficulty re-renting the apartment at this price; I hope we can reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial.” My x y and z reasons were a construction site next to my building that makes an ungodly amount of noise from 7am-8pm 6+ days a week, and that the finished structure will obstruct my view, plus that there are about 4 comparable buildings within a half mile that all rent for significantly less than the increase was asking, but be creative with whatever you have to deal with.

      If you pay extra for parking or “pet rent,” and they’re not willing to budge on the actual rent price, see if you can get the extras eliminated to keep the overall cost down– sometimes there is more leeway there.

      My guess is the landlord knows that increase is ridiculous, he/she is just asking for the moon because some people won’t bother to argue. Good luck!

      • I think we might be neighbors, I am also in Maryland and have all these things. However, when I tried to negotiate with my incompetent landlord, a 4 hour negotiation ended in “The company’s policy is not to negotiate rent increases.” Sadly, I can’t afford to move right now and just had to suck it up… which is what they’re all hoping for in the end. We’re out of here AS SOON AS I graduate law school.

    • Equity's Darling :

      20%! Aren’t there limits on how much rent can be raised each year? I ask because solid portion of Canadian provinces include limits on rent increases- generally no more than 2.5%/year, with most being closer to .7/.8%.

      Do you know what’s going on with the other tenants? Are all rents being increased? What about other buildings in the area? Maybe just meet with the landlord to discuss, and perhaps you can reach a middle ground? Conversely, if you really like the place, maybe try to negotiate some other perks? Otherwise, it might be time to start looking.

    • I’ve had really good luck with the “I hope we can come to a mutual agreement, I would rather not move, but 20% just will not work”. I was facing a similar situation and got it down to 10 (corporate landlord and it needed manager consent etc.) Also remember that you have a track record as a good tenant(assuming you do), but every new tenant is a gamble.

    • TheOtherCoast :

      I suspect your landlord is banking on the fact that you do not want to move, and whether she rents the place to someone new at the current rate or at 20% higher doesn’t much matter to her, but she has a better shot of getting the extra 20% out of you since moving is a PITA. That being said, can you negotiate by offering to sign a longer lease? As a reluctant landlord myself, I would give significant discounts to people who signed a lease for more than a year. But if this is a management company as opposed to a private party you might not have a lot of luck.

    • South of Houston :

      kz- Sorry, that’s so frustrating! As a first step, I would just point out that you’re a great tenant and try to negotiate down. If that doesn’t work and if you can afford to pay some rent up front (maybe 3-6 months?), you may be able to negotiate the landlord back down… I was able to get almost 10% off of my renewal rent a year ago by doing something like this . It takes away a significant amount of uncertainty for the landlord and I think if you have the cash, the potential rent discount can provide a much higher return on your cash than anything else in the market at the moment. I’m not sure if it will work these days given that the market seems to have come back a bit since last year, but it’s worth a try. Hope something works out!

    • I would make some appointments to go see comparable 3-BR apartments in your neighborhood. Get a sense of the going rate for apartments of your size and quality. Then get in touch with your landlord and say “We found another 3BR two blocks away with a renovated kitchen for $X. This apartment does not have a renovated kitchen, but we are willing to renew the lease for $Y because we enjoy living here. As you know, we are excellent tenants who pay our rent on time every month and keep the apartment meticulously clean. Let us know if you are willing to renew at $Y.” And if they’re not willing to meet your request, seriously consider moving if you found another apartment that you like just as much for less money.

    • Perhaps show him the cost of similar rentals in the area if they’re lower than what he’s asking for.

    • I would look in craigslist for similar apts in your neighborhood so you know what is fair. We negotiated a 20% increase down to a 10% increase but decided that, unfortunately, a 10% increase was fair compared to other apts nearby listed on craigslist.

    • I agree to look at comporables in the area so that you are informed about the market as it is now. Rentals are doing quite well in NY and summer is a “hot” time to rent because so many new grads will be moving here post-college.

      I disagree that a 3 bdrm apt in NYC would be hard to rent — 3 bdrms is actually great in NYC because so many people are looking to share (students, grads, etc.).

      What I would recommend is what worked for me: figure out comporables, and then point out to your landlord that if you move out, that means they have to paint and all that etc., which costs money, plus the apartment is going to be vacant for at least one month, while they paint and look for a new tenant. T/f, even if they get the extra 20%, they’re still losing at least one month’s rent, all with no guaranty that the apt. will rent in just 1 month or that the next tenant will not give them trouble. I would do the math of what the increase for the year would be if you minus one month of rent and, depending on whether that’s acceptable to you or not, make that either your offer or your ceiling in terms of what you are willing to pay to stay. Maybe minus the cost of painting, etc., which probably won’t be all that much if your LL has a lot of tenants and does this sort of thing regularly.

    • The NYT recently had a story on advice websites for NYC rentals.


      I’d particularly recommend reading this: http://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2010/10/confessions_of_an_on_site_leasing_agent

    • Sadly, there is no cap on rent increases in NYC unless you live in a rent-controlled apartment (which are like a gift from god). I’ve done a quick scope out of the area and it seems that 3 bedrooms vary pretty wildly. I think the pain of them finding a new tenant may be our best argument (I know they had a three bedroom that sat on the market for a few months, because it kept being their “rent special”). The frustrating part is we effectively have about 12 days to do this because we have to give 60 days notice if we’re moving out, and the management company refused to give out renewal info until exactly 72 days before our lease is up (Yea, our company is intentionally evil. Maybe we should move…) Thanks for all the tips! I’ll post back about how the negotiations go…

  15. Threadjack. There’s this guy I’m really interested in. But he’s my kid’s pediatrician. I want to ask him out, but there’s this little thing called a hippocratic oath that’s getting in the way, and also, I don’t know if he’s dating anyone. Do you know what the protocol is here? And how in the world do I ask him out? I’ve never done this before. I can’t stop thinking about him. :(

    • govt lawyer :

      Really confused, what does the hippocratic oath have to do with going out with him? Lawyers aren’t supposed to date their clients, but doctors don’t have that rule. I am assuming you’re single and if he doesn’t have a ring on his finger or you don’t otherwise know he’s married (maybe ask a receptionist), I would just straight up ask him out to coffee/dinner.

    • Betty White :

      Doctors can’t date their patients…but what about their patients’ mothers? I’m not sure how to go about it, but maybe doctors know what the rules are?

    • I think you should just ask him out – not during your kids’ appointment, but call him up or email him if you have his contact info. Yes, you’ll have to be bold about it. He’ll never, ever ask you out first because for him to hit on a patients’ mother would run the risk of him being accused of harassment or an ethics violation. You, on the other hand, are free to hit on him and ask him out.

    • Does he work in a practice with other physicians? Could your kid get a different doctor there with no interruptions in care?

  16. SF Bay Associate – On your recommendation, I purchased the Tory Burch Vanessa dress in black. Do you wear anything under it? Camisole? Spanx? Trying to decide if I should keep it… : )

  17. Love that dress and would totally wear it to work. I have spent a lot on clothes lately, so it’s currently out of the budget though. :(

  18. Hi all- first ever threadjack:

    Any good recommendations for work bags? I know this topic has been done and I am thinking of the Fossil Executive Zip that many people recommended. Before I pull the trigger, just wondering if anyone has any other great recommendations. I like the size, price point and zip pockets of the Fossil Executive, but I’d love it if I could find something just a little cuter- maybe in a slightly more modern color (not black, brown or red)- perhaps olive? Alternatively, something with more modern detail or a slightly more modern (yet still highly functional) shape?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I love love love the Brooks Brothers Crocodile Tote Bag. It’s not an interesting color, but it’s fantastic. It has two pockets just the right size for my smartphone and work blackberry and a zipped pocket on the other side. It fits notebooks nicely, perfect for my iPad, etc. And it’s half off!


      • This bag is seriously gorgeous in person!

      • Wow,
        I was going to chime in and recommend Jack Georges work bags, as they are super sturdy and come in very feminine shapes and colors.

        But now I want to buy that Brooks Brothers bag! What a great deal!

        • Thanks, all! I might check out the BB bag. It’s a little more classic than I wanted but looks perfect otherwise and the reviews are fantastic. Thanks for all the suggestions!

    • Kat posted a Cole Haan bag a few weeks ago that was just beautiful.

    • I purchased, and returned, the Fossil Executive Zip last year (in the red). It was a very nice bag, had plenty of room, etc., but it just wasn’t comfortable to carry on my shoulder. I think it was a combo of the structure of the bag, its depth, and the shoulder straps (which were rounded — not flat)… it just didn’t “fit” me well, and I knew it would drive me crazy.

      Wilson’s Leather might be another option if you haven’t looked there. They have outlets in almost every outlet mall, and a pretty wide variety.

  19. Anon for this one ladies . . . . I am in the midst of what I hope is just some ridiculous overthinking, and I hope you all can talk me down.

    I am a fourth year litigation associate at a Biglaw firm in a major west coast city. I really dislike my job — the hours are crushing to me (even though my hours are not horrible by big firm standards) and the work is not particularly my cup of tea. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I landed my dream job. It could not be more perfect for me — great work, great hours, great people, and (for public interest work) a great salary, starting around 100K.

    Despite all this, recently I have started to panic about the paycut. I’m the breadwinner in my family — my husband is an artist, and while he does well considering, the economy has hit him hard, and we will be lucky in the next few years if he can pull in $35K annually. We live in an incredibly expensive city, and I’m starting to panic about whether we can afford to keep living here on my new salary. And we don’t even have kids yet, which adds a whole other level of panic. I still have over $100K in law school loans to go . . . .

    I guess I am just looking for reassurance that I should take my dream job and never look back. But I am starting to have cold feet. I’ve been wondering whether I should stick it out here for a couple of more years, save up a little more money, and then move. But of course, no guarantee amazing job will be there then . . . . Ugh. Anyone gone through the same transition? What can I do to get over these fears?

    • I think one thing that is helpful is to look at the median income in your city – subtract your annual loan payments from it. I bet you’ll still be significantly above it. You may not be as well of as your peers in BigLaw, but on an absolute level, you’ll probably still be doing fine.

      In addition, once you’re no longer working zillion hour weeks, you can generally save a lot of money on things like eating out (you won’t be too tired to cook) and shopping (time to look for bargains; no expectation that you have expensive accessories, etc.). There are savings to be made there as well.

    • Only you and your husband know what you can handle but I just left my firm job and could not be happier. Sure I won’t be buying any new clothes anytime soon and we’ll probably be taking a “staycation” this year, but hey, at least I can finally have a non-working vacation, right? There are tradeoffs to everything and at the end of the day, for me, the job with fewer hours and a smaller paycheck was the right choice. I also found that it was easier to be frugal with more time on my hands, YMMV.

    • Run the numbers. The only way to ease this kind of stress is to feel more control over the situation by drawing up a realistic budget (what you really spend) and see how that matches up with what your household take-home will be in the new gig. Do a simple spreadsheet and play with the numbers to get to a point where you can take the dream job and still feel okay about doing so. I took a huge pay cut in the last year to have more family time and be closer to aging parents.

    • Dealing with something similar on a smaller scale than you. Make 75k plus bonus at midlaw. Firm doesn’t have enough work, job isn’t stable, I don’t love the other attorneys, the work is boring, my time gets cut all the time, etc.

      I am a finalist for a job at smaller law. I gather that the offer will include a lower salary than I am currently making. I still pay $1300/month in student loans. I’m not sure how much less I can accept but I know I want to do anything I can to take the job because (I’m hoping) my quality of life will be much better and my job will be more secure.

      Money isn’t everything. You find a way to get by with less and with more you just find a way to spend more. Take the job and don’t look back.

      Now – I’d love to hear negotiating tips while I keep my fingers crossed for this offer!

    • Take the dream job! Take the dream job!

      I had the exact same decision to make about a year ago. I took a 30% paycut to get out of Biglaw and go to a small firm. I am SO happy now and I seriously haven’t even noticed the difference in pay. You would be surprised by how much money you waste because of the Biglaw lifestyle. For example, I have more time in the evenings now so I cook dinner instead of ordering $35 worth of Vietnamese food on Seamless web every night. I can plan my weekends away in advance so I don’t have to buy last minute plane tickets. I also dropped into a lower tax bracket, so there were some savings there as well. You might have an adjustment period for a few months where you consciously cut back on spending, but the happiness improvements are so worth it. Take the job and don’t look back. =)

      • Thanks all. I think I just need to run our numbers again to reassure me. Or maybe have just one more hellish week at work to remind me why I want to leave so badly :)

    • Take the job. I think a family of 2 can live easily on $135 K, even with student loan debt, anywhere in the country. I say this as a public interest lawyer making 65K in DC and paying $1,100/mo in student loans. You’ll have to retool your budget and downsize, but you can do it.

      If you develop a budget and you really can’t figure out how to make it work, perhaps your husband should get a part-time job to earn a bit extra. It sounds like he has his dream job already and surely he’d be willing to take on a bit more work so that you can have your dream job too.

    • anonymous :

      Take the job. That is a very good salary for any “normal” profession. You will be fine and you will be happy and healthy. Take the job.

    • Another Anonymous :

      My parents live on a combined salary of approximately $100k/year, and they raised two of us, paid their own college loans off, put us through college, and still take vacations. And they live in Los Angeles county, one of the most expensive in the country! They don’t wear designer clothes, live on the beach, or have fancy cars, but they are two of the happiest people I have ever met. So it’s doable. They made a lot of sacrifices along the way, but the combined salaries were even lower when we were growing up–so I think you will be just fine.

    • I agree you should take the job. $135K is a great income by most standards. You can always look inoto moving slightly outside the super expensive city if things get too expensive. Your happiness is worth the pay cut.

  20. Threadjack –

    How do you tell a boss you’re leaving when he takes everything personally? Here’s my situation. I’m working as an office administrator for a busy HVAC company. I started working there as an office assistant four years ago. They hired me right after I graduated high school and I worked part-time while attending college. I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Information Systems. Two years ago my company promoted me to office administrator while I was still in school, and they were very accomodating with my course schedule. I basically run the office – I do all the bookkeeping, human resources, management, and administrative tasks. Now that I have my degree, I have secured employment with an accounting/business consulting firm in September. My goal is to get my MBA and my new firm has a great tuition reimbursement program for those who wish to obtain a master’s degree.

    I want to tell my boss I’m leaving relatively soon so that they have enough time to replace me. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to train my replacement because no one else in the office knows how to do my job (it’s always a struggle when we have to replace someone because no one really knows what everyone else does, even the bosses don’t know). If one day I (or anyone else for that matter) got hit by a bus, the office would be in shambles. Not the most effective way to run a business, I know.I’ve been keeping a folder on my computer filled with instructions on how to do everything just in case.

    Anyway, my boss takes everything very personally. He doesn’t believe that business and personal lives should be seperate, and he makes it a point to get involved with everybody’s lives. He knows that I’m interested in a career in finance and accounting, but he believes that it won’t be until the distant future. The company is getting busier and he’s always talking about my growth within the organization. He gets upset when people quit and doesn’t like people who appear to take their job for granted. The other thing is that he has been SO generous with me (and others) with raises, tuition assistance, and use of a company car. I believe he will feel that I didn’t appreciate any of this if I tell him I am leaving. He was angry at the employees who chose not to attend the company’s annual Spring BBQ Luncheon. It was on a Saturday and if someone told him they had plans, he told them they should change their plans. That should tell you something about the type of boss I have…

    So, I’m at a loss at what to do. Should I tell him I’m leaving now, or should I wait until my start date at the new firm draws closer (it will be in September). If I tell him now, can he fire me or will he have to keep me on until I leave? What is my responsibility to the company to ensure a smooth transition from me to my replacement? How do I deal with him on a personal level given that he’s such a strange boss?

    Please help!!

    • First, Congrats on graduating and landing a new job! Second, is your boss Michael Scott? (Sorry if you miss The Office reference).

      Seriously, though, I don’t think there’s much you can do to smooth things over –if he chooses to take it personally that you don’t want to stay in a job that you have outgrown, that’s his problem. Be as gracious as you can, say you appreciated the opportunities and experience your work there has offered you, and keep in touch if you find it appropriate.

      Since it sounds like you are fairly indispensible around the office, you should probably give more than the bare minimum 2 weeks notice that you will be leaving (maybe a month), but telling him in June that you’re leaving in September will set you up for 2+ uncomfortable months in the best case, and worst case, yes, he could fire you before that.

      • Haha, The Office is one of my favorite shows. Some of my co-workers and I joke that we work for Michael Scott because our boss’s behavior is so crazy sometimes.

        Thank you for the advice :)

    • Tell him sooner rather than later. He’ll take it a lot more personally if you resign with short notice and leave him in the lurch. Yes, he could fire you, but it sounds like that’d be cutting off his nose to spite his face. When you tell him, have a detailed plan for how you’ll prepare for the transition and help him recruit your replacement. And honestly – if he’s not an idiot he probably expects you to leave now that you finished your degree. He can’t expect you to stay in an entry-level position forever.

    • I would absolutely not tell them you’re leaving now. In fact, I’d probably just give a standard 2 weeks notice. Your boss’s craziness should not be rewarded with additional notice, especially given the likelihood he’s going to take the news poorly.

      It is not your fault management does not find it prudent to have any back up for you. You sound like you’ve done a good job detailing the procedures you follow, and that is sufficient.

      Finally, while it would be useful to leave on a positive note for the purpose of a b-school recommendation, given what you’ve said about your boss, extra long notice is unlikely to help and could even hurt as he comes in every day and thinks about how you’re taking his generosity for granted (once you’re gone, it will probably be easier to get to the out of sight, out of mind or even nostalgia phase).

      At the end of the day though, you’re going into a new field and could probably get away with never relying on this person again. I’m not saying to burn bridges, but frankly, what some muckity muck in a disorganized HVAC office thinks about you will be easy to put behind you if it’s of no use.

      • Thank you all for the advice! I really enjoy this community. Everyone is so helpful :)

    • Having worked for bosses who take everything personally I say you should wait until August to tell him. He probably will ask you to leave immediately even if it is a bad move for the company because you hurt his feelings. If you do want to tell him now because of all the nice things he has done for you be prepared to be unemployed for the summer, and probably unable to collect unemployment (although I could be wrong about that).

      On a side note my husband just left HVAC and he worked for people with the same personality, and all the other companies in the area were run by people like that too!

      • This. If he’s the kind who takes things personally, there’s always the possibility that he will get mad and make you leave immediately or make your last month/few weeks awful. Can you afford to live without a month of salary, if he says “thanks for the notice, now LEAVE”?

    • Seattleite :

      Whenever you tell him, be sure to be effusive in your thanks for the opportunities you’ve had there. The approach you want is “of course you’ll be excited for me, because you’ve always been so interested in what’s best for me.” Essentially, shaming him into better behavior. May not work, but you DON’T want to give him any hint that you think you’re doing A Bad Thing by moving on.

      • That’s actually along the lines of what I was thinking. I figured it would be helpful to thank him for all he’s done, let him know I appreciate everything, etc.

  21. Threadjack re: Anne Taylor Loft. I walked into a store the other day and they have lots of basics for summer on “Final Sale”. It’s always completely random what you find in their sale racks, but at this one there were tons of casual, canvas-style jackets (for less than $5) and work-appropriate tanks (for $10).

  22. I think if it’s a simple shoe in a basic color (and if it is closed-toe), then wear it. The red sole is just a stylish detail.

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