Wednesday’s TPS Report: No. 2 pencil skirt in double-serge wool

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices. Many thanks to this week’s TPS guest poster, Stephanie from Adventures in the Stiletto Jungle.

No. 2 pencil skirt in double-serge woolI like to think of the past few years as the J.Crew renaissance. After a few years of ho-hum clothes, they are suddenly turning out styles so perfect that big name designer boutiques are now stocking capsule J.Crew lines. How crazy is that? Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s President and Executive Creative Director, deserves a retail gold medal.

And, really, we’re all the winners in J.Crew resurgence. The stylish, yet affordable, professional options from J.Crew just keep getting better. One of my absolute favorite pieces from the new Fall collection is the J.Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt. This skirt is so well thought out that it’s practically impossible to find a single style fault with it. The double-serge wool construction is substantial enough for winter wear and will smooth out little figure flaws without the aid of your trusty Spanx. The length is great for the office and exceptionally flattering. Plus, it comes in 6 of those rich, beautiful colors that J.Crew is known for — from basic black and acorn (a neutral beige) to vibrant flame and spicy gold.

I love the look of a well-made pencil skirt paired with a simple, solid color button down shirt. But, this iconic skirt shape also pairs well with sweaters, shells and blazers for the office. I’m sure many of you already have a go-to black pencil skirt, so why not pick up this skirt in a color to pair with neutral shirts and sweaters this Fall? The No. 2 Pencil Skirt is available for $120.00 at J.Crew. No. 2 pencil skirt in double-serge wool

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


  1. Funny – wearing this skirt for the first time today in the same color as on the model above! I absolutely love it, and it’s brightening a gray-ish morning in NYC. I had one of the double serge pencil skirts from a few seasons ago that I still wear, but I really like the recent redesign. I’m typically a 4/6 in J. Crew (more of a 4 lately, as I think they’ve done some vanity sizing). However, I got this in a 6, as I don’t like my pencil skirts too clingy and I like how it fits. Highly recommend to anyone who’s tempted!

    • Thanks! I almost skipped it becuase of the sloppy sweater they show it with. I’ll go take a look.

      • Always fascinated by other people’s opinions, including yours that the sweater looks sloppy. Curious why?

        • Always a NYer :

          I don’t know if I would call it sloppy, but I do think it is too casual for a skirt marketed as office wear. Pencil skirts are sleek to begin with and I prefer to see them styled with something equally sleek. The sweater is too baggy and the belt looks off for some reason. That sweater in a more fitted style would have looked much better, IMO.

          • another anon :

            Agreed. If it were more fitted, I think it would look much better and more put together. Baggy usually reads sloppy for me…it’s like you couldn’t be bothered to find something that fits right.

          • MaggieLizer :

            Agree that it’s a more casual look. This outfit looks like something my (very stylish and nice looking) high school drama teacher would have worn.

          • I wouldn’t call it “sloppy,” but I might call it “Irish grandfather.”

          • But is that skirt office wear? I don’t think so, mainly because of the color. To me certain colors would nevr be worn in skirts or pants. For the office, bright orange, bright yellow or gold, bright red, bright purple would be a few of those no-nos. Maybe electric blue, too. I work in a law office located in a “large” (for here) bank building and women who work in this building dress conservatively – and well. I would not want to look “different” from others.

          • I think you could easily wear something bright if you paired it with all neutrals. That’s the trick.

        • IMO, that type of chunky knit looks casual. Nice for apple picking on the weekend, but probably not for the office.

          • I love “apple picking on the weekend” as a style category. I couldn’t articulate why it looked sloppy, it just didn’t work with the skirt for me, but I love your take.

        • I like the outfit on the model, but I agree that the color of the skirt and the sweater would be too much for a conservative office.

          Otherwise, I loved the catalogue, which for some reason I haven’t received in years. It was in the mail today.

    • HI,

      I also have a couple of these skirts from a few years back that I absolutely love. The 2010 redesign didn’t fit me quite right those (I think it had a couple darts in the front?). What differences do you notice between this year’s version?

  2. I love these skirts! I want the flame color, but not sure what to wear it with. I look like a cadaver in beige, and black is too boring to match with it (I have been persuaded by the BBC What Not to Wear ladies on this issue). Any suggestions?

    • I would do a vibrant blue.

    • I am wearing the flame color today with a dark gray jersey top and greige-to-black ombre pumps. I think it works. I think RR’s suggestion of vibrant blue would look great since the skirt has an orange tone. I am also planning to wear it with a deep purple sweater (also from J. Crew- I love the fall stuff!), and I think that will work great. Professional, but in keeping with the color-blocking trend this fall.

    • WinterWhite :

      There is a peacock blue color that is sold out online but is divine and really versatile…check your local store to see if they have it. It is an inoffensive but bright color. I bought the skirt in the peacock blue and the eggplant purple.

  3. I just bought this skirt in purple. Love it so much I’m tempted to buy in camel as well. I also bought a size 6 (sized up) because I’m bottom heavy and didn’t want dress clinging!

    • SF Bay Associate :

      The Vibrant Purple, or whatever it was? Where??? It’s been sold out over here and online since right after it was posted. I’ve been hunting for it but gave up.

      I have this skirt in two colors. One of them is three years old, the other is from last year. I wear at least one of them a week, if not both. They are comfortable, look great, wear well, are fully lined, of an appropriate length, and are basically the best skirt ever.

      • If you can pull off petites (maybe one size up?) the purple is still available.

      • Have you heard of the Suddenlee website? Not sure if they deliver to SF, but they find things you can’t find online.

  4. Love this and love her shoes too.

  5. “This skirt is so well thought out that it’s practically impossible to find a single style fault with it.”

    Sounds like a challenge. ;)

    • Maybe not a style fault, but a JC fault: no tall sizes :(

      • Always a NYer :

        I was wondering that, too. Love the skirt but wondering where it will hit on my 5’11” frame =/

        • Depends on your individual build, but on my 5-8 frame, 23.5 inches is about an inch or two above the top of my kneecap standing and mid-thigh when I sit down.

        • I am 5’11” as well and have 2 J. Crew pencil skirts. I looked online at their measurments and they are 22 1/2″ and they are not too short at all (hits a smidge above my knees). This skirt actually has one more inch than the ones I have so I would venture to say this skirt would be long enough for us long legged women!

        • I am 5′ 11″, 35″ and these are plenty long for me. I have the black and charcoal and wore them a lot all winter–they are cozy and sleek looking. Love them!

          By the by, Jenna is over 6 feet tall, so it SUPER irks me that she (who works in fashion) doesn’t mind rocking the shorter skirts, and doesnt’ understand that a lot of JCrew shoppers 1) want lined tall pants and 2) want longer skirts!!!!

      • Co-sign ks. 23.5 inches is office-appropriate for many, but not all! I’d be all over this skirt if it were a few inches longer.

  6. Anon for this... :

    I just bought this in flame and acorn and have it in a few different colors from past seasons! I find that they run a bit big though and sized down. In my opinion they are far better quality than “the skirt” that so many gals love. It’s a perfect skirt.

    I wore the flame skirt with a black silk blouse and tortoise shell shoes.

    J. Crew has some amazing office wear this season.

    • Yes they do!

    • Always a NYer :

      Where did you get the tortoise shell shoes? They sound amazing for fall.

      • a passion for fashion :

        I have a pair of gucci tortoise shell wedges from maybe 2 seasons ago that I love. I’ve never seen another tortoise shell shoe though.

      • They are Stuart Weitzman and probably at least 6 years old. I bought them on sale at Saks while interning at a law firm in college. I remember hesitating to purchase them and my mom encouraged me – saying that I’d have them forever. She was right! They have been repaired multiple times but still look pretty good.

        • I have a Stuart Weitzman pair I got on Gilt 2 years ago. I always get compliments on them.

      • i have a pair of cole haan tortoise shell peep toe low wedges that i used to wear all the time, need to dig them out!

        • a passion for fashion :

          I just googled tortoise shell shoes and found all three of the above shoes on ebay! ok, back to work.

      • Baby DC Attorney :

        I just found these at Nordstrom:’kitten’_patent_leather_pump:352860&cm_pla=shoes:women:pumps&cm_ven=Froogle&mr:referralID=NA&mr:trackingCode=00117808-A9AE-E011-8116-001517B1882A

      • J Crew has some tortoise shell shoes this season.

      • a passion for fashion :

        in further follow up, i just found these totally gorgeous jimmy choo’s at nordstrom

        • These Manolos take the cake — elegant pump with an almond toe! Pitch-perfect for work or after-hours, any season.

  7. Oh how I love, love, love JCrew. I actually reviewed the JCrew Origami sheath dress over on my blog today.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Love the dress you blogged on. Sadly, not in my budget at this time. You live in my state! Will you be attending the Boston meet-up? If not we should try to meet up in NH sometime.

      • Sadly, it is too far for me to travel on a week night for a Boston meet-up, but I would absolutely be interested in having something in Manchester or Concord sometime!

  8. a passion for fashion :

    I’ve got to stop coming to this site. I buy something shown (or something else i find on the website where something is shown) like 2-3 days a week. I think I may have a shopping addiction.

    In any event, I love this skirt for a basic and could really use the tan color.

    • I so agree! I love, love, love clothes and this site is making it worse….however, not enough to make me stop reading everything and clicking on all of the links :)

    • Ugh, cosign.

      • Second. I’m really feeling out of control these days and I blame the Corporette good taste ;).

  9. Diana Barry :

    I got this skirt last year and it was AWESOME. However, I think they’ve shortened the length this year. My skirt is 26″ long, I’m almost positive.

  10. For those who have this skirt ~ is the waistband sewn down properly? Last season, the front part of the waistband on this same skirt was basically a piece of grosgrain that was sewn along the very top edge of the skirt, but not at the bottom of the grosgrain (say an inch down from the top of the waistband. It had a tendency to roll up and stick out of the top of the skirt after wearing it for more than 5 minutes.

    • I have a BR black label skirt that does the same thing. My tailor wouldn’t sew it down because it would show on the waistline. I have to resort to wearing it only when a cardi or jacket will ALWAYS be atop it and closed. It’s such a pain, because it’s a great skirt and I had a flouced hem added to spice it up … one row matte side, bottom row the shiny side of a length of satin. Yeah, in more a biz casual place. Wearing with Talbot’s purple tweed motorcycle jacket to tone down the biker vibe.

      Anyone have luck in fixing this problem with the waistbands?

      • Fashion Faux Pas :

        Would hemming tape work?

        • Hem tape, or some other fusible product might work. Ask the tailor. If you’re good with and iron, and brave enough, you could probably do it yourself. Don’t forget to use a press cloth between the iron and the garment.

        • I’d definitely try a do-it-yourself job on that – it sounds like tacking the ribbon down with thread or some kind of adhesive in a few places should solve the problem.

    • Wearing it now and definitely no issues. There is grosgrain ribbon on the inside of the waistband (a nice touch), but it’s sewn down on the top and bottom.

    • Why not cut it out? (Delicately, with a seam ripper.)

  11. MaggieLizer :

    Nordie’s PSA: I just received a Classiques blouse that I’d had my eye on for a while (339347). The price dropped to $44.90 and is still available in all sizes. It’s a lot darker and more muted than it looks in the picture, and it’s a cowl neckline not a V-neck. I’m wearing it today under a light gray suit.

  12. Complete threadjack — I have been working in a non-lawyer capacity at a corporate law firm for a few months, and I CAN’T STAND IT. I am sick of staying until close to midnight every night for weeks on end, when others in my position go home at 6:30. I have brought the inequitable distribution of work to the attention of the appropriate people, and I was very deftly “managed,” as in, told “something will be done about it, but nothing can really be done about it, also you seem to have a lot of other personal things going on, it should get better.” WTF. My personal things going on are that I haven’t had five minutes to myself in weeks, and I am being treated like a freaking slave, and that I am not paid NEARLY enough for the work and hours I am putting in.

    How on earth do all of you ladies stand corporate law? How? The attorneys I have worked with (particularly the female ones) are honestly huge a-holes. Are a-holes the only ones who can stand this career path? Or do people turn into a-holes while on this career path? Either way, I feel like I have to flush my dreams of law school down the drain, because I just can’t live this life, and I am also not going to live thirty years with loan payments over my head.

    So frustrated. I seriously dread going to work.

    • it’s tough. i’m assuming you’re in litigation, if you are, just remember that it ebbs and flows — a few weeks down the road you will be sitting around twiddling your thumbs

    • No suggestions, but I’m sending a lot of HUGS and sympathy your way.


    • Sending good vibes!

    • Sorry to hear that you are having a rough time.

      The thing with BigLaw/corporate law is, for most it is a really well paying but dead-end job. Very few will make it up the ranks to partner — most either voluntarily drop out in some way (go inhouse, go to a smaller/midsize firm, do something else) or are booted out. On some level, everyone knows this, although I have found that many many many are in denial about it. So they can be in a bad mood. Often.

      Corporate law is not a bad job (still doing it, and I think/hope I’m not an asshole). Do BigLaw for a few years to pay the bills (don’t forget to live cheap!), get that starry glossy BigFirm name on your resume, and get out. Those who do, in my experience, tend to be happier. Good luck.

      • Well put. I went the Gov lawyer route & watched my friends turn into bad mood stressed out maniacs who were so rude to the people (support staff and otherwise) around them. It was obvious to me that they weren’t making partner – though they were oblivious to the signs that were seemed obvious to me the outsider – they were shocked & FURIOUS – I guess if you are in that environment you think you earn it for giving them your life. This should be on every law school app. Ha.

        The Gov law conundrum is that others assistants (especially my MBA friends make twice as much as me – with 7 years less school and loans.

    • I think you work at a bad firm. Honestly. Some firms have mean lawyers. Some have nice lawyers. Look for one of the latter.

    • If you really want to be a lawyer, don’t let your current experience completely dissuade you. I’m in a specialty practice – I get to work on transactions, I actually really like the corporate teams I work with (you might be with just some not-nice people; or maybe just not used to the crazy high level of perfection demanded by law firm clients), and I don’t have to stay until midnight every night. Sure, I have to stay late some nights, 10:30-11ish, maybe even for a week or two. But then my piece of the overall transaction is pretty much resolved and I get to go home while the corporate guys stay up all night collecting signatures and whatever else it is that they do to magically make a deal close. It remains a mystery to me. And, the big secret is that specialty practice isn’t boring. The first few years are a huge learning curve, but once you get past that, it’s really interesting and IMO, fun. I’m a geek like that, though, ymmv.

    • How on earth do all of you ladies stand corporate law? How?

      Some people thrive on a fast-paced work environment. Other people thrive on making lots of money.

      The attorneys I have worked with (particularly the female ones) are honestly huge a-holes.

      Being yelled at all the time tends to make one yell at other people (just like how the abused kid kicks the dog). And support staff are usually at the bottom end of the totem pole and get the worst abuse. But not all firms are like this.

      Are a-holes the only ones who can stand this career path?

      They seem to thrive.

      Or do people turn into a-holes while on this career path?

      Many do.

      Either way, I feel like I have to flush my dreams of law school down the drain…

      Maybe you should just flush your dreams of practicing corporate law down the drain? There are plenty of happy, nice, friendly, well-adjusted lawyers working for the government, small firms, legal aid, etc.

    • This is biglaw. It’s not fair. Some people have a “golden pass” where they are not very helpful, efficient or pleasant and they get to work less, not work much, or just be awful to everyone, and management tolerates it. I promise if the associates or partners are being awful to you (I assume you are either a paralegal or secretary or an outside vendor helping with discovery/diligence) it’s because (i) they forget that you are not paid like them (ii) they don’t care you aren’t paid like them or (iii) they treat anyone who will stand it that way.

      If you are a non-exempt employee, start setting some boundaries. Do what you can with the project you have, and leave at a reasonable hour (and that isn’t like 5pm–make an effort to stay until 8 or 9). Don’t take on new assignments until you can tackle what you have without working ’round the clock. Realize that an associate or partner’s emergency isn’t necessarily yours. If you’re slammed, suggest that you have X, Y and Z on your plate and that they need to contact ABC person who may have more capacity. If you have a manager or an HR person, ask to have a meeting discussing your work hours. At that meeting, ask what can be done to reduce your hours to a more manageable amount, stressing that you have been working very hard, but that you cannot continue to work 90 hour weeks. Ask what concrete steps will be taken to improve the situation. Take notes at the meeting and follow up. Don’t leave the meeting until there is a “plan.”

      In biglaw, everyone is both necessary and expendable. Make yourself necessary, but be careful not to make yourself expendable. Be careful how you whine. It is not relevant that others are working less. It is only relevant that you “cannot continue at the current pace.”

      Biglaw moves slow. Expect this to take a few weeks or months to sort out. While that’s happening, block off at least one weekend day to do no work, not respond to your BB, etc. You are not an atty. The atty’s can handle what is happening. They are paid to be on call. You, in theory, are not.

      In the meantime, I second what other posters say–find a biglaw job where people are not awful. They do exist. Not all firms and biglaw people are awful. I swear. Look to learn as much as you can from this, and no more. don’t paint the whole experience as ‘all biglaw is awful.’ it’s usually much more ‘xyz team at qrst firm is awful.’

    • I’m sorry your job is so awful.

      A few observations:

      (1) If you are working more than your peers, try to figure out what they are doing to manage their workload and copy them. In my experience, the people who end up staying until midnight all of the time are usually either inefficient or martyrs about accepting help. If you think you are inefficient, try to work on that (maybe you are being too much of a perfectionist?). If you are being a martyr, just stop and let other people help you. If it’s neither of those things, try setting clearer boundaries for yourself over time (i.e., leave the building to eat lunch, don’t compulsively return every email or call the very second you get it despite your other obligations).

      (2) If you are the only one of your peers that seems to hate this job, I would not encourage you to go to law school. The firm atmosphere is worse for some people than others. If everyone seems equally miserable, then it’s probably firm specific and I would try to find another firm to test out and see if you like it better.

      (3) Only about half of the women at my firm are a-holes ;-)

    • I don’t think you can judge what it is like to be a lawyer from how you are treated as an administrative support person in a law firm. If you want to go to law school, GO! But it probably is good to choose your profession by the type of person that is in that profession and whether or not you relate to that personality type.

      • Thank you for all of the encouraging replies and advice. Just to clarify some of the points raised: I’m working long hours because I’ve been assigned more work to do. I like the work, I just can’t deal with the hours. And I don’t want to do corporate law as a career, but I assumed I would need to put in a few years, as law school is not a possibility for me without some way of paying off loans relatively quickly post-graduation. (Loan forgiveness programs usually require a very long-term commitment, and that scares me, because who am I to know what life can bring.)

        I think I am simply disillusioned, not so much with what the corporate legal world can look like (I am not that naive), but with my inability to cope with it. I know that I should try to keep things in perspective and remember that, as support staff, I’m on the bottom rung, but as some of you mentioned, I’m being kicked around by people also getting kicked around, or who were once kicked around and haven’t gotten over it.

        Have a lot of thinking to do this weekend, if I get a weekend. Thank you again for the comments.

        • 1) I agree with Nancy P — you work at a bad firm. They are not all like that, and you should find somewhere else. But …
          2) I also think that you might want to reconsider law school. I don’t know very many happy lawyers, even the ones in government. I met a woman last night who told me all about how she and her husband are both in government, and have three kids. Great, right? But the kids are in full time day care, AND they have a nanny every night who picks up the kids and takes them home so that she and husband can work late. Do you want those kinds of hours for yourself? I don’t, but I’ve got the $100,000 of debt hanging over my head. I’m a relatively happy lawyer, but take it from me: don’t go to law school if you have ANY doubts about the hours or the lifestyle.

    • I’ve often thought that it would have been helpful if I had worked at a biglaw firm before law school. I think I would have had a better understanding of what I was getting into. Honestly, if you hate it as much as you say (which I totally understand, because I hated it quite a bit as an attorney), don’t go to law school unless you can do so without taking on the kind of debt that requires you to take a biglaw job. I agree with others that not every firm is exactly the same, but many of the issues you describe will be present at every big firm.

      And I sympathize! So sorry for your stress. I have been there.

  13. I love the viridian green, but I think I’ll stick to The Skirt price point for now.

    Threadjack- we’ve been talking a lot about workload lately. When do people think it is too soon to start turning away work? I work with some temporary employees (hourly, no overtime) and it’s clear that one is just getting overloaded. I think for that situation even several months in, it’s fine to tell non-supervisory coworkers that your plate is full at the moment, but perhaps coworker X would be available. Someone else I work with thinks you have to be in a workplace a long time before you can turn down work like that. What do other people think?

    I tried pushing “Submit” slowly and it still gives me the “posting too quickly” message. Sigh. It’s taking 3-4 attempts at this point to post.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I think the posting too quickly message shows up not because the individual is posting too quickly but because 2 different people are trying to post at the same time. Not sure how it could be fixed, but I’d love it if something could be done about it!

      • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

        And when I get that message, I press refresh instead of back and then my post shows up.

    • I think, even if it’s your first week, if you can’t do everything by the deadline of Yesterday without quality suffering, then you should let your supervisors know that your plate is full.

      Sure, if you’re a new employee, then you shouldn’t come in with a prima donna attitude of “I can only work on one project at a time.”

      But I don’t think there’s a set minimum time for when you can tell someone that you’re too busy.

  14. Threadja-a-ack
    I just wanted to check in/follow up on the divorce situation I posted a couple weeks ago. I saw someone ask about me but I responded a day later so it may not have been seen.

    I’m miserable still but I can tell you that your advice is still helping. I am filling my calendar up with other people who I enjoy.
    I decided to stop seeing my soon-to-be-Ex because it just makes it worse when he leaves again. I swear there is sometimes an addiction component to relationships.

    Also, to the anon who posted about her breakup the other day, since I’m about two weeks ahead of her in this: here’s an odd thing that helped me. At my sister’s insistence I went to an online dating site and looked at profiles of guys in my city around my age. Not to find someone, but just to know that there are guys out there who I have a bunch of things in common with. And even though I set my status as in a relationship and only looking for friends, someone messaged me, we had coffee, and I now have a new intelligent interesting friend to hang out with.  

    I just have to figure out how/when to tell coworkers. Luckily, no name change is necessary.

    • Thanks for the update, Ses. I’ve been thinking about you! I’m glad you’re working through this, and that you have outside support from friends and family. I think you made a smart decision in not seeing your soon-to-be-ex.

      As for figuring out how/when to tell your coworkers, I think if you have a coworker or two who you are particularly close with, it might be a good idea to share the news with them and ask them to discreetly spread the word.

    • MaggieLizer :

      Glad to hear you’re hanging in there. The online dating site is a good idea; people always tell you that you’ll find someone else but it helps to see actual evidence that there are indeed smart, funny, attractive, single men in the world.

      I’m not sure how people usually handle telling coworkers about a divorce/break up and I’m sure it depends a lot on your work environment. When I left my long term boyfriend, I told a few people I was close to, took his pictures out of my office, and showed up at SO-appropriate work events by myself. People got the picture pretty quickly and I didn’t have to provide any awkward (and tear-inducing) explanations. However you decide to handle it, don’t feel pressured to tell anyone anything before you’re ready. Good luck; we’re all sending good thoughts your way.

      • karenpadi :

        This is exactly what I did. It works. When people casually ask how the now-ex is doing, I just say “oh we broke up a while ago. Did you see the article on xyz this afternoon?”

        I work mostly with men; they don’t ask for details.

    • Hi Ses – I am the Anon who wrote 2 days ago about a breakup. I agree with you about the addiction aspect of a relationship. This weekend is my Bday and my exBF wants to take me out to HH then dinner to celebrate. He says it is only fair b/c we had so much fun on his Bday. I haven’t responded yet. I am trying to see how I feel. I have been speaking to a close friend about it pretty much everyday. Whenever I have the urge to call/text/email him I just send her a msg and we get started in a convo that keeps me busy until the urge passes. I also put him in my phone as “you will regret it later”. So if he calls me or I am about to call him I see that and put the phone away! In the evenings we’ve been working late so there hasn’t been much interaction.

      Thanks for the good idea about seeing what is out there. I am not ready for that now. .. down the road I’m sure.

      Only good thing I have noticed from this breakup is that I’ve lost the extra 5-10 lbs I gained at summer parties :)

      • Anon, as someone who has had a similar experience, I respectfully suggest that you not take him up on this offer. If you feel like inviting him to a birthday celebration you’re having, maybe that’s ok, but basing the evening’s plans on one-on-one time with just him, after a breakup? If I did that, I wouldn’t feel I was moving on at all.

        Yes, he wants to return the gesture that you made by showing him a great time for his birthday. However, he has since hurt you. He doesn’t “get” to do things like this for you anymore–your friends and family do.

        Happy birthday! Also, love the cell phone alias. One of my friends has her ex-husband in her phone as “It’s Over.”

      • Don’t go to the happy hour!! Seriously I know how tempting it is and I have been there. But think of it as a power struggle. He honestly wants to know that he has the power to “make your day” Even if he is not a bad guy, he is getting a great feeling knowing that if he takes you out for your bday you will be happy, he still has the power to make you happy. Please please please dont go, go out with your girlfriends. I had a breakup just like this and he sent me flowers on my bday and wanted to take me out to dinner to and it was the best thing in the world to say “Oh, I actually already have other plans. “

        • I could not agree with this more if I tried. He thinks you won’t have fun on your birthday without him?? Pfft, you are better off alone in front of the TV on your special day than with this guy. I also respectfully encourage you to decline.

          • “you are better off alone in front of the TV on your special day than with this guy.”


            A website that helped me out a *ton* in my last breakup was She suggests a No Contact rule. She’s exactly right.

            Maybe some time in the future, you two can be friends again. But it’s certainly not right now.

          • My browser at work blocked your link, citing that the web category “p0rn” is not allowed. I opened it up on my phone and lo and behold, no p0rn whatsoever.

            I’m real curious as to what the IT dept thinks I’m looking at.

      • Happy (early) Birthday! Agree with Monday… do not take him up on the offer. It will be an emotional step backwards, in terms of your recovery.

        And, plus – maybe I’m just being nitpicky, but it’s “only fair” that he show you a good time on your birthday? That doesn’t sound like a genuine offer from the heart, it sounds like a way to alleviate his guilt.

      • I am stealing your idea of changing the phone name – that’s brilliant.

        I agree with others about avoiding the birthday celebration with him. I’d be tempted because it can be nice to make believe you’re still together, but it hurts a lot later.

        And…I hope you have a very Happy Birthday!

      • Happy Bday, Anon. I agree with the others – don’t go out one on one right now. You will not feel great afterwards, and on your bday you should be happy. Kudos on “you will regret it later” – that is brilliant.

      • I accepted the birthday invitation! :

        Dear Anon,

        This happened to me!

        I was in your position in 2003. In April, we broke up. In July (when my birthday is), he invited me to dinner. At his house. Cooked by his mother, who was visiting. With his parents.

        I accepted. What can I say? I was an idiot. So sue me.

        It was extremely uncomfortable, and not just because his parents were there. In fact, if anything, they cut the tension.

        Fast forward several years. I have re-partnered (we met in 2006) and have a relationship that I really never could have imagined. It is fulfilling and good in ways that I didn’t even know I was missing. I am actually extremely grateful that my previous relationship ended so that I could meet and be prepared to commit to my fiance.

        You WILL get through this. My suggestion re your birthday is that you plan something for yourself to distract yourself. Or, if that is beyond you these days (I recall days when getting out of bed was beyond me), ask your “text with me instead of calling him” friend to plan something for you. And you need plans not just for the evening when he invited you to dinner, but also for the daytime of both weekend days. Even if it’s just getting your nails done or going to a museum or reading a book in a coffee shop. I found that making a list of weekend activities so that I knew where I would be and what I would be doing on Friday night, Saturday day, Saturday night and Sunday day gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel like I belonged and had something to do and wasn’t a loser. (You’re not a loser, I’m just saying that’s how it made me feel.)

        Good luck.

      • If you don’t have plans yet, see if you can get a friend or two to do a mini trip out of town for the weekend, even if it’s just driving an hour or two away. Have drinks, get messages, whatever. A change of scene and some good girl convo usually helps bring things into perspective.

        His HH invite when he knows he’s hurt you is his way of alleviating some of his guilt (whether he’s conscious of it or not). Don’t give him the satisfaction.

      • OMG Anon. Don’t. Go. “Only fair” to whom, exactly? To you? Or to him? CW is right, it’s a way to alleviate his guilt.

        Yes, breakups totally suck. They totally suck even more when you’re all of a sudden faced w/ a birthday without him. But however much the birthday sucks, wouldn’t spending it with your ex, so soon after the breakup, suck more?

        Stay strong!

        • I keep trying to reply but keep getting “too quickly” msg.

          Thanks everyone. I needed that harsh reality that nothing positive can come from a night out together. 4 hours of that “warm” feeling, only to be faced with 4 weeks of getting over that night.

          Ughh – I thought women were supposed to be complicated? I think he is confused and in a little life crisis. He just turned 25 and I know that he feels like the world is flying by around him. He felt “tied down” in our relationship. Which I sympathize with. It is such a harsh reality when you’re a few years into your career. Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep – you all know the drill. But at the same time I don’t want to be dragged through it with him!

    • SES, thanks so much for checking back in! There has been more than one thread full of people asking about you and sending support. Sounds like you only saw one of them.

      After your original post, I wrote in to empathize since I, too, was “blindsided” after years, and had to start over. I am very glad to hear that it sounds like you’re moving ahead full speed. Also, good for you meeting someone else for coffee. One thing that I noticed after my own breakup was that I hadn’t thought, for a very long time, about what I wanted in a relationship. My mode was basically “it is what it is,” because I thought I was with _______ for good. Meeting new people (even as friends) was very illuminating in figuring out what I really wanted out of my next relationship, and very liberating because I started to see how my last one was not delivering.

      Take all the time and all the comfort you need. All your Corporettes are still with you!

    • I’ve been sort of lurking on these threads bc I recently ended a 9-year (NINE…YEAR) relationship. We never did get married; broke up a couple of times, but got back together; and finally, he was just acting in such an uncommitted way, and did something that made it so clear that he wasn’t on my team, I was able to break it off (feeling hurt and betrayed, but still, it was clear what had to happen). Right around the same time you first posted, Ses. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for everyone posting, this really is such a helpful and supportive community. And Ses, so inspiring to me that you have already put yourself out there a little bit. Time for me to do the same!

      And, he does keep texting and calling despite my asking him not to. I am going to immediately change his name in my phone. “You will regret it later” is hilarious, because it’s so true.

    • I will do a search on my name to find the other threads. I saved the advice on my first post and the thread I did see. It’s pretty basic but just re-reading all of your good vibes and smart advice makes the bad times a little easier.
      Anon 9-years and Anon: I’m so glad we can all benefit from the wisdom and kindness of our fellow ‘rettes. This is definitely one I’m going to “pay forward” to the next woman I know who goes through this.

  15. I’ve had my eye on this skirt style (and the pink and navy tweed skirts) for a little while… now that J Crew is here in Toronto, I should pay a visit to Yorkdale to check it out. I really need to learn to incorporate more colour into my outfits (hello grey, navy, black, purple, teal, you look familiar from ALL OF MY CLOTHES), so maybe this will be a start.

    Although – I don’t know if I would really describe J Crew as “affordable.”

    • i adore the pink tweed and went to the store to try on it–unfortunately j.crew typical sizing persists (and may be even more off than usual) and it doesn’t fit off the rack, the size 0 is too bootylicious and the size 2 is way-big in the waist. i hope it makes it to sale time so i can buy the size 2 and get it tailored down.

    • No sale rack yet at Yorkdale…

  16. Let’s talk office candy. I keep a bowl of candy in my office. Most people will take 1-2 pieces when they stop by to chat. But yesterday, a visitor scooped up an entire handful– 8-10 pieces. My delicate sensibilities were offended.* So tell me, Corporettes, what is acceptable candy bowl etiquette?

    *If this keeps up, I’ve decided that, rather than saying anything, I’ll just get a smaller container. Then handful will look proportionally larger compared to what’s left in the bowl. Hopefully, this will discourage any one individual from taking large quantities.

    • What kind of candy? If it’s by-the-handful candy like jelly beans or gummy bears, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to take a whole handful. If it’s bigger/fancier candy like mini candy bars or truffles, then one should only have one or two pieces.

      Also, I think that if you’re putting something out to share openly, you can’t begrudge others’ taking what they will. You’ll drive yourself crazy that way.

    • Ballerina Girl :

      Not the best etiquette!

    • S/he overstepped but must have been really hungry. I’d let it go. If you’re not willing to let people make pigs of themselves, you should probably just forget the candy dish.

    • Anonymous :

      Don’t keep a bowl of candy in your office anyway! Sends the wrong message, per NGDGTCO, etc.

      • LOL! I was waiting for someone to jump in with, “BUT NGDGTCO SAYS…!!!!!” Know your office culture. There are well-respected men in my company who have candy bowls, and our CEO is a notorious chocolate hound.

  17. This looks like a good work skirt. But overall, I think J.Crew has actually gone downhill over the last few years. They used to be a reliable source of good quality, classic apparel and now it seems like their suiting/work clothes are still okay, but so many of their pieces are trendy, more expensive, and far worse quality in terms of fabric and construction.

    • I agree. Thank you that I’m not the only one with this sentiment. I think everything J Crew has now is very trendy (meaning can’t wear over multiple years) and has poor construction. Case in point: the flap at the bottom of my pencil skirt has ripped at the seams in two places and I need to figure out how to patch it. I will shop J Crew at the outlet but not full price in store/online.

    • Yes, and many others regularly complain about this. “We’re all the winners” in this renaissance except for people who are incredibly tired of holes and pilling in brand new cashmere, unraveling hems on $50 tees, and ridiculously inconsistent sizing in jeans. I love J. Crew designs and am a huge customer of theirs, especially for workwear (agreed, that has stayed better than everything else). But I could write a very grumpy guest post about all the downsides! Please have a renaissance in quality, since your designs are so appealing!

    • Agreed. J. Crew’s prices have gone up and up and up, and their quality has gone down considerably. I’ve always loved their Super 120s suiting, but about a year ago, I noticed the fabric was much thinner and draped poorly. Most of my knitwear from J. Crew either pills or loses its shape quickly, and their cashmere and merino have gotten downright raggedy. But they DO have $500 silver sequined harem pants and ostrich feather skirts now, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. :)

    • Interesting. I’m still wearing J. Crew pieces I bought 4 years ago (although this doesn’t compare to the Club Monaco skirt I bought in 2005 and still wear). I don’t have problems with seams ripping, holes, or pilling. I wonder what accounts for our different experiences?

      • The J.Crew pieces I bought 4 (or more) years ago are still going strong. The J.Crew pieces I’ve bought in the past 1-2 years are variable (most casual pieces/button downs = no problem, all the cashmere looks tired).

        • I think my issue is that so many of their knit/cotton tops and sweaters are SO SHEER. Why can’t we make a shirt I can wear without having to put a camisole underneath it?

          • LadyEnginerd :

            This! Sometimes, I think the “perfect” tees are actually “perfect for a wet T-shirt contest.” If their logic is that I’ll buy even more of their sheer t-shirts for layering, they are sorely mistaken. I’ve had seams rip in their t-shirts after 1-2 wears because they’re so darn thin.

            I’d rather get knits from American Apparel or Forever 21. There. I said it.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            All places are like this now! I really want a white shirt that I don’t have to wear a cami underneath.

          • Little Lurker :

            “Sometimes, I think the “perfect” tees are actually “perfect for a wet T-shirt contest.”

            +50 Little Lurker points.

            Although I’d rather buy an expensive sheer shirt from J Crew than a cheap one from American Apparel.

          • Love the Ann Taylor perfect tee; they do not require a camisole.

      • The fact that your stuff is from 4 years ago, I suspect! This is my experience as well. The quality has been going downhill that quickly: the older your J. Crew clothing, the better condition it is in due to the old standards of quality that they have since lowered.

      • Yep – I’m still wearing Jackies and dresses that I bought in summer 2004. “Tired” is a good way of putting it w/r/t more recent purchases. I finally unsubscribed from all of their emails because I was worn out of being tempted to go look at the sale section and pick up a few things that were marked down, only to have them start falling apart on me after 3-4 (careful) washes.

    • Yes, I agree with this 100%. I worked at J.Crew in college (~10 years ago) and several of those pieces are still going strong, even casual things that I’m harder on. Pieces that I have purchased recently look terrible after a single season.

      That said… I do love this skirt, but am put off by the high price point for a non-suit piece. How does the fabric compare to The Skirt?

    • MissJackson :

      I refuse to buy their knits for this reason. Every knit sweater or t-shirt that I’ve purchased there in the last three years has: pilled horribly, stretched out, developed holes, lost buttons almost immediately, or come undone at the seams. I’m not especially hard on clothing, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at these purchases.

      It’s maddening because they are not at the “disposable” price point. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the last sweater that I purchased at H&M has held up better than the last sweater that I purchased at JCrew.

      I will say that I have had much better luck with the JCrew skirts and silk blouses, though. I bought this skirt in the pink tweed, but have only worn it once. So far so good, but time will tell.

    • So many of the cotton pieces are displayed wrinkled. It drives me crazy.

    • Geneticist :

      I agree!!! I have J.Crew turtlenecks from freshman year of college (8 years ago) that are in better shape than the sweaters I bought last spring.

      So…. what brands should I be looking at nowadays for quality, classic clothing that will last more than a season at a $100ish (for a single piece like a sweater, skirt, etc) price point? Any recommendations?

    • Agree completely. 90% of my work clothes are J. Crew, I am a little embarrassed to say. The suits are unlined now, the sweaters pill, and the prices have gone up. It’s tricky when I buy so much online, too — if I can’t inspect the quality, it’s hard to pull the trigger. But I am definitely exploring other “designers”/stores, because I can’t stand feeling ripped off.

      Also, to the Crew, please stop the vanity sizing. You are sizing some of your thinner customers right out of your clothes.

      • Amen! I am 5’8″ and 124 lbs, and I wear a zero in their suits. A zero? Are you kidding me? I have size 6 pants that I can still wear!

        I am thin, to be sure, but I am far from the smallest person I know.

  18. Threadjack with good news–

    I got offered my dream job today!! I felt immediately compelled to share this with Corporettes because you all have been so supportive to me surviving my current job. Now I’m well on my way to losing weight, have a dream job offer in hand, and I feel so happy and blessed that I may go to church Sunday despite not having gone to church in about 7 years since I became a seriously lapsed Catholic. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but sometimes you can be so down for so long that then you are up, it feels like a religious experience!

    The past few days there were a lot of comments from people who are having serious troubles or difficulties, and it makes me think of how not so long ago I was in the same boat (going through a break-up, hate my job, hate my body, bad relationship with my mom, fighting with a friend) and it felt to me like it all happened at once and it would never end (i.e. depression). But it did end, and I will end for those of you who are in the thick of it right now. When it does I hope you post to let us all know!

    Thanks again Corporettes!

    • Congratulations!!! Sounds like things are starting to really go well for you. I’m glad it’s turned around. Good luck in your new position.

    • Glad to hear you’re doing so well! Congratulations on the dream job offer!

      I had a similar “life turnaround” this spring, so I know exactly how you feel. After almost two years of consistently horrible dating luck and feeling stuck in a job that I enjoyed but had no potential for advancement, I a) interviewed for and was offered a dream position and b) met and started dating my incredible boyfriend in the same two week period! I seriously said (and still do say) more than a few “thank you” prayers a week. :)

    • Yay!!! Congrats!

    • Consultant in NoVA :

      Reminds me of this quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

      • I’m in a down time, and this quote just brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Made me smile :)

    • I am so happy for you!!! This is giving me hope for my life as I go through a really difficult time. Everything WILL be okay in the end.

  19. Ha, my previous comment is in moderation, I think because of the word murd3r. So let’s try again:

    NYC Corporettes, I inexplicably found myself at the Burlington at 23rd and 6th yesterday and I have to say, you ladies move FAST. No more Fossil bags left =). But just in case you find yourself there again like I did, may I suggest that you look at the variety of appropriate work dresses that I already own too much of? Or the fantastic array of shoes that my feet would murd3r me if I wore? Franco Sarto, Nine West, Guess, Sofft, take your pic, they’re all there, waiting to be bought at prices below reasonable. BCF should totally pay me for all this scouting that I’m doing.

  20. Equity's Darling :

    I’m totally in love with the Gallerist dress from J. Crew, but I don’t want to wait until my Christmas trip to my parents in Toronto to try on various sizes. I’d like to order online, but I don’t particularly want to outlay $1000 ordering three sizes to see which fits best, and then have to return the other sizes.

    Can anyone speak to the sizing of J.Crew as compared to…say BR or BB or Theory? I know my sizing in those brands (and how they run large/small in various parts of the body), but not for J. Crew.

    • To me, JCrew sizing runs a bit smaller than BR or BB. Similar to Theory but I am far less familiar with Theory. For reference, I take: JCrew – tops/dresses: 2P, 0Reg; bottoms: 0P, 00Reg. BR – tops/dresses: 0P, 00Reg; bottoms: 0P, 00Reg. BB shirts: 0P. Theory tops & bottoms: 0. JCrew seems less busty and tighter in bum/thigh area than BR too.

      • Equity's Darling :

        Darn, the bust is really my main concern, so perhaps I’ll lean towards ordering up a size, then tailoring if need be.

    • I disagree with AP on this one. I find JCrew to run bigger than any other comparable brand. I am a 0 in J.Crew tops and pants and a 00 in their pencil skirts and dresses. At BR I am a 0 in pencil skirts and probably a 2 in pants, though I never buy anything there because the proportions are always off. I would say that 90% of my wardrobe is J.Crew at this point, so I know their sizing fairly well.

      I will agree that J.Crew can run a little tight through the thigh in pants, but I have found that this is mostly true of their casual pants and that the suiting pants have adequate room in the thigh and run big in the upper bum area. I have found that the bust runs pretty TTS on most of their pieces.

    • Hi from Toronto, ED!
      The Crew store doesn’t have all styles all sizes so be ready for a bit of disappointment.

      • Equity's Darling :

        I wish there were more Canadian corporettes in close proximity, then we could have our own meet up, like the NY and DC, and many other cities do!

    • J. Crew has recently started to carry XXS in some items. I find that for pieces that are sized XS-XL, I wear a small. For the stuff that now comes in XXS, I’ve dropped down to an XS. I’m afraid to order anything online now because I don’t know what’s going on with the new sizing.

      • Interesting you mention this. I got a boatload of J. Crew stuff in the mail yesterday. All tops size XS, but even between tops of similar type (think cotton 3/4 sleeve; one might be boatneck, the other henley), they look completely different size-wise. Some of the XS shirts looks like they should be S, others look like the XS I’ve been buying for years. Annoying. I never would order an XXS, having figured that would fit a 12-year old but not me.

      • This is definitely true. I think I posted this already a week ago, but I ordered a bunch of stuff online and had to re-order everything in an XS. The sizing is getting crazy, I’ve not been an XS anywhere in anything since middle school. I think at least in sweaters / tops they’ve moved everything down one size (i.e., if you were a small, you’re now an XS). Also, in dresses and pants, I’d been a 6 and am now usually a 4 (or have to significantly tailor the 6). Kind of an annoying change for longtime customers who expect to be able to order online fairly reliably.

  21. Why are my comments being moderated???? Grrrrrr

    • Of course, this would show up. I’m going back to work. Bah.

      • I’m having a similar problem with a post that’s been moderated three times now. I e-mailed Kat about it because I absolutely cannot figure out what’s objectionable about it. Does anybody know if there are some written guidelines about what WordPress throws to moderation? I did some (albeit not extensive) poking around yesterday and didn’t find anything.

        • c–ktail will get you in moderation every time. So will use of punctuation that is also used in html, such as slashes, colons, parentheses, those triangly things, etc. If you post more than one link you’ll go to moderation and if you post a bunch of links it may not post at all.

  22. Millionaires :

    In all the talk about President Obama’s proposed “millioniare tax,” I heard a report on NPR that there are approximately 433,000 people in the US who earn (I assume either earned or passive income) over a million dollars/year.

    Is anyone else surprised that the number is so low?

    I’m not sure how many I would have expected there to be. But after spending so many years in BigLaw (I’m out now, but still have many friends there), I know that most partners at AmLaw 100 firms are earning that. Plus, unless they’ve been financial idiots, they should also have a fair amount of passive income. And that’s just law: what about high income earners in finance and entertainment and hi-tech.

    Any insights?

    • Yeah, it seems strange to me too. I know for a fact that all 5 partners at my small firm fall into that category. I knew they were over-achievers even among lawyers. But still.

    • I assumed a good accountant can make it seem like you only earn a very small amount per year.

      • This. That figure is not gross earnings, it’s taxable income. Huge difference.

        • Taxable income, both earned and passive? So is it AGI? Thanks for clarifying/helping me understand.

  23. Sadly, I entirely agree about J. Crew’s shoddy quality in the last two years. The styles have been beautiful, but I have had enough seams unravel or holes wear through after just a couple of wearings that I am now very hesitant to buy anything there.

  24. Can we revisit something that was raised a while back? How much work clothing do we feel we ‘need’?

    I’ve recently got rid of all the things in my wardrobe that weren’t right, and I’m shocked by how little I actually wear. I can legitimately buy some items but I’m not sure how much I ‘need’

    SO is lovely but not helpful with his ‘a couple of suits and two dozen shirts’ approach to dressing for work

    • I did this recently, too, threw out loads of stuff.

      The trouble I have with work clothing is that I get bored so so quickly, so the less I have, the more quickly I get bored, since I wear that stuff every day.

      I couldn’t say exactly, but off the cuff I would say I have about 7 work dresses, 7 skirts and 10-15 work tops/shirts/blouses, but not all of the tops go with all of the skirts. I have a couple of pairs of trousers but I wear them SO rarely.

      Writing it out like that, I actually have no idea if that maybe just isn’t very much seeing as I go to work 250ish days a year!

    • a passion for fashion :

      good topic, though im a horrible person to answer this question because i have two closets full of clothes and way, way more than I need. As you note, however, i am sometimes shocked by how little of it i actually wear regularly. I was also shocked this weeked to discover that I have 65 pairs of shoes, not counting things like flip flops and running shoes. (could be another interesting thread). Im wild about shoes and would have thought that number was much higher.

      • What are your criteria for getting rid of shoes?

        • For me, when they get too scuffed that the scuffing can’t be hidden with shoe polish/colour, if the heels are wobbly, if backs of heels are badly scuffed (this happens to me sometimes when heels get caught in grilles etc. and cobbler can’t fix them), usually it is a ‘these look so skanky that I would struggle to portray the image of a serious professional attorney’ test that makes the decision for work shoes. Less stringent for non-work shoes.

          FAOD all my stuff is going to charity when I ‘throw it out’.

        • a passion for fashion :

          the 65 pair are all in goood condition. i generally only throw shoes out when i cant wear them anymore, and i donate when i wont wear them anymore. I do tend to keep shoes for a long time now, even those i have not worn in a few years, because most of my shoes are high-end designer. But maybe thats also why i dont have as many pairs as i did when I was younger and purchased most of my shoes from payless shoe source! :)

          I also always donate my gently used work clothes to dress for success or bottomless closet (and non-work to salvation army) and usually do this about once a year or so.

    • Please consider donating to Dress for Success! Most cities have an affiliate.

    • I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of getting rid of anything that doesn’t work and I don’t think I need that many clothes. I think for work 4 pairs of dress pants, 4 pencil skirts (LOVE pencil skirts), 5 cardigans, 10 tops, and 3 dresses would probably be enough (and a suit or two, if necessary). I like to not be able to repeat entire outfits for at least three weeks.

    • I’m a brand new attorney, so I’m just getting started. We have to wear the “equivalent of a men’s suit” to work Mon-Thurs – if anyone has any interpretations on that description besides a women’s suit, I’d greatly appreciate it! But I think I have 5 suits, 3 blazers on the business casual side, 2 work dresses, 10 pencil skirts, 15-20 shirts/blouses, and 9 pairs of closed-toe shoes. Plus I can rotate some more casual pieces on Fridays by pairing them with the right work clothes. My biggest problem is buying items that are too similar – somehow I ended up with 5 purple shirts and 5 black pencil skirts! I feel like I’ve been making things work with this amount, but I’ll probably add a few dresses and blazers to keep myself from getting bored with suits. Would love to hear how much others have in their work wardrobes :-)

      • Equivalent to a men’s suit is an interesting standard. My guess is that it means that you must wear a jacket — but you could probably get away with non-suit jackets.

    • Ugh, I have too much stuff and I know it. I am trying to rationalize my closet and donate everything that I really don’t wear. My usual approach is to put everything that I am thinking of donating in a box in the basement. If it is still there a few months later and I haven’t missed it, out it goes.

      I also wear the same things again and again – mostly dresses and pencil skirts with knit tops. I’ve discovered in particular that I have a lot more tops than I need, especially as I went through a highly acquisitive “cheap and cheerful” phase a few years ago. I don’t wear them anymore because they do actually look cheap, and they are too cheerful for the professional image I want to convey. Not to say I want to be all grey and boring all the time, but my lime-green-with-pink-flowers silk shirt from Zara really isn’t getting much wear! (Really, it is much prettier than it sounds.)

      I don’t wear my suits very much these days but am keeping them all given my plan to return to BigLaw….

    • MissJackson :

      I certainly “need” a lot less than I have!

      About a year ago, I went through my closet and pulled out everything I hadn’t worn in awhile and donated it. I keep meaning to institute a one-in-one-out policy in my closet, but haven’t actually done so yet. Off the top of my head I can think of a dozen or so items that I should get rid of now.

      I want to be a quality-over-quantity dresser, but I too often allow myself to get dazzled by a “deal”. Complicating matters, I seem to be terrible at guessing which items will be rock stars in my wardrobe and which will rarely see the light of day.

      Practically everything that I thought about getting rid of last year but ultimately kept should probably go — there’s probably an important lesson there.

      • Backgrounder :

        THIS! I always under or over anticipate what the “rock stars” of my closet will be too. Pink cardigan from H&M? Rockstar. SM shooties? Dud. Dolce Vita suede knee high boots? Rockstar. And so forth. I can never tell what will be a staple until after I’ve bought it and worn it a few times.

  25. Ugh. I am in the middle of writing my ‘self-evaluation’ for the year. I hate doing these things, mostly because I can never come up with any good examples of anything I have done!

    Any good tips for these? Even if only just to aid me in the procrastination…

    • No good tips to help you right now, but a few suggestions to help you in the future.
      * Keep a Love Me folder — hard copy or in Outlook as appropriate. Every time I get a “good job,” compliments, or praise, I copy the e-mail to that Outlook folder. This helps you remember what work people valued / were impressed by. Also, if you’re feeling down, it can be a pick me up to look back through.

      * When I was at a law firm, I kept an e-mail in my drafts folder to track major developmental things I was doing. Not sure what profession you’re in, but for me it was important to track how many hearings I’d handled, depos I’d taken/defended, mediations I’d attended/handled, etc. I included enough information to jog my memory (typical entry under the depositions section might have been– “Date – Client Name / Matter Name – Deposition of Witness – Deposed plaintiff”). That way, when it came time for me to do my annual self-evaluation, I could say, “I’ve now taken more than 30 depositions.” Also helped me to answer questions about what areas I needed help developing. I could look at my list and say, okay, I’ve taken 30+ depositions, but I could use more hearing experience. Now that I’m in-house, I’m trying to figure out how to apply this situation to what I do currently. I don’t quite have it down yet, but I’ll get there.

      Good luck.

      • Thanks – I have been going through my time entries, but it is demonstrating certain strengths and weaknesses is perhaps more the issue than actual tasks. I mean I can easily find that I drafted X contract for Y deal, but then linking it specifically back to something is a lot harder. To say that implies good drafting skills only works if I can back it up with someone having said ‘this was a great piece of drafting.

        I like the ‘love me’ folder, which I have always meant to do, but never got around to. Certainly will be doing that from now on!

        @SCS yes I also agree it is a major exercise in wasting time.

        • So (at the risk of exposing yourself to the internet) – what are your strengths and weaknesses? Think of it as what do you feel confident with, and what do you shy back from?

          So for example I know a couple of my weaknesses are:
          hate asking for help or a favour (only for myself I’ll move the world for other people)
          I’m easily bored and if I’m not engaged/focused with something I can be a real distraction for those around me

          I also know the coping strategies I’ve put in place for these weaknesses.

        • You don’t need someone saying it was a great piece of drafting to make that claim yourself!! Brag on yourself!

          To be fair (and to brag), I was a really good BSer when it came to self-evaluations. But in addition to drafting – did you handle emergencies or fire drills, thereby successfully bringing (or assisting in bringing) the deal to a close? Did you work closely with the client, building rapport? Did you identify potential problems and offer solutions? … other corporettes who are transactional lawyers might be better at this than me.

          As for weaknesses, for the second reason described below, I always gave an answer but never really admitted to weaknesses. (I’m certain others will disagree with this approach.) What are my weaknesses related to ethical judgment? “I haven’t had to deal with complex ethical problems this year. As I continue to develop my practice, I anticipate that my ethical judgment will continue to develop as well.” Next.

          Also, don’t worry too much about it. First, depending on your level, the expectations may be fairly low for your self-evaluation because everybody knows you’re working on the basics and developing your skill set. Second, at least at my firm, the self-evaluations were an exercise in time-wasting because *nobody* actually read them unless it was time to ding you for partnership. And third, at least on ours, the questions were BS. Stuff like, rate yourself in judgment. Um, I didn’t get the firm sued for malpractice this year? I mean, how do you demonstrate that you’re developing judgment at an appropriate pace? So, check around with your peers to determine the importance of your self-evaluation, but if it’s anything like mine were, I wouldn’t devote a ton of time to it.

        • Lana Lang, I recently read Marcus Buckingham’s book about what the happiest women do differently (cannot remember the title), and he suggests something that never occurred to me before: strengths are things that make you feel strong, and weaknesses are things that make you feel weak. So, for example, I might be great at cleaning a mirror, but it’s not a strength because I get no joy from it, it doesn’t make me feel strong, etc. Maybe you could look back over the past couple of weeks and think on things that have made you feel strong, things you enjoyed doing, times when you were kicking tail, taking names and loving it. List those as your strengths, and perhaps if the self-evaluation is really evaluated, more of that work might come your way. Make sense?

        • I call it the “BooYah” folder.

      • a “love me folder” I love it! Genius idea; am doing it right now and moving items into it. I just try and remember stuff, but it doesn’t really help me buckle down.

    • If you have one start by looking at your job description (if not some companies put role descriptions on their websites to aid recruitment). That’s the stuff they expect you to do. Work out from there. Note the ‘above and beyond stuff’.

      Try and write it as situation (background), mission (what you needed to achieve), brief (what you did) and outcome (success, why it was, what you learnt/implemented next time). Keep it succinct but give enough concrete information (if you made savings how much? if you saved the company time how much?)

      Also, have a boast file (I email myself mine); keep the emails thanking you for your work in it. But also, email yourself if you do something new, or challenging or boast worthy. It makes reviews, interviews and applications easier

    • Thanks for all the tips – I really wish it was as simple as ‘nobody reads it’, but my firm has a system whereby compensation and bonuses is determined individually depending on your abilities, as opposed to e.g. ‘you are a mid-level associate, therefore you will earn the same as all the other mid-levels’. Hence it has to be at least a little good and hence I am trying to steer clear of the weaknesses part (thankfully it hasn’t got a specific section for that!)

      • Hah! So did mine. The firm abandoned lockstep a few years ago. Instead, associates were separated into 4 levels, and within each levels there were 3 bands of base compensation. Each tier had its own bonus amount for hitting 2000 and every 50 hours above 2,000 (e.g., Level 1 band 1, you get a $5k bonus for 2000 plus $1500 for every 50 hours thereafter; Level 3 band 3, you get a $20k bonus for 2000 plus $3000 for every 50 thereafter). The idea was to reward merit and place attorneys in tiers/bands commensurate with their experience and quality of work. In reality, it ended up being lockstep or slowing your progress altogether unless you had a major partner who would go to bat for you to get you moved up. And, as I said, it was a well-known fact that nobody read our self-evals unless the firm needed to ding someone for partnership. Here’s hoping yours actually make a difference / get read!

    • I hate those! Especially because at my company you do them then basically haggle over it with your manager. Mine are skill based, where they give you say “creativity” and you have to give examples of how you were creative and whether you met or exceeded expectations (or didn’t meet them). I work on a small number of large projects, so I tend to work backwards. I think of the big projects I’ve done, then come up with ways those exhibited the required skills.

    • Esquirette :

      I do something similar to Herbie. I keep a running table of stuff I’ve done during the year — basically a date column and a description column. I use Word but obv Excel works too. Our self-evaluations want you to describe all the ways you have “given” to the firm — skill development & work load, pro bono, community outreach, client development, CLE/seminar attendance, client development, professional development. Everything I do (if I remember) gets a line item. I also note where I’ve gotten particular praise for something — internally or from a client. Then when I write up my review, I just go through the list, group the “category” type line items, and decide where best to include each line in my answers. It makes things pretty easy. I didn’t do this my first year — so painful.

  26. After having the exact same problem for a couple of years (couldn’t remember anything I’d done), I started keeping a log on a legal pad in one of my drawers so I could pull it out for the annual horror of doing a self-evaluation. If you’re a lawyer, you can also go back through your time entries for the year to see what you did, although that’s a brutal process as well. What about checking your calendar for the past year? That should have the big events (deal closings, hearings, depos, etc.) you’d want to talk about. I think the self-evaluation is a major exercise in wasting time. Good luck.

  27. Is there ANY brand that hasn’t gone down in quality over recent years? I’ve heard this complaint about J. Crew, but also Ann Taylor, Banana, Gap, etc etc. I’m beginning to wonder–are there any high-quality mid-range clothes out there? Or does one have to shop only high-end brands to find quality clothes these days?

    • I have Old Navy sweater from a few years back that look new, I have things from Old Navy this year that didn’t last a single season.

      • To be fair, I think that’s always been the problem with Old Navy. It seems like I buy a few items a year that fall apart after 2-3 wears and others last ages.

        I’ve had pretty good luck with Antonio Melani stuff. It isn’t totally amazing quality, but it seems to hold up better than AT/BR stuff does.

    • MissJackson :

      Classiques Entier!

    • I think maybe Brooks Brothers has remained the same in quality. I agree with you about the other brands. When I first started practicing 10 years ago (yikes!), almost my entire ward robe came from Ann Taylor. Great quality and everything in my size fit great. Now the quality is much worse and the sizing seems totally random. Some things fit fine – others are vanity sized to the hilt.

    • Anonymous :


      When the price of cotton mega-multiplied, crunching quality at so many labels– everything needed to be tighter, shorter, and pricier, with lower quality staple that pills, plasticy poly blends, and lack of tailor-able seams and details– they came up with fab viscoses that convincingly fake high-quality cotton, and explored modals, expanded merinos.

    • L.L. Bean! But their stuff isn’t particularly stylish. More basics/staples.

  28. What are Corporettes’ experiences with backordered products from J Crew? There are so many things that are backordered until January (!!) that I can’t really justify buying them. Are the dates fairly accurate? And do these things really ultimately show up? Or do they do the later cancellation of unfulfillable orders?

    • I ordered something a couple of weeks ago that was backordered until I think the end of October and got it in a week. So no, not accurate at all.

  29. Clueless about bonuses :

    I was wondering how various people dealt with billable goals/requirements and how much the bonus figured into it, etc.

    This year will be my second full year as an associate in an AmLaw 100 firm. Last year I just squeaked by with firm’s “target” number of hours (under 1900), but didn’t make the informal practice group target (less than 100 more) and received the low tier bonus for my year (no complaints, wasn’t sure I’d get it given how close I was).

    The firm has the same target this year. Since my work flow has picked up considerably and I’ve had a few crazy months, barring any sort of major personal issue or massive economic downturn I should meet both the firm and practice group goals. Depending on how much work comes in and if I take a “real” vacation between now and the end of the year, I could even exceed the firm’s target by 100-200 hours.

    I’ve asked around a little about target billables and the bonus structure with a few more senior, but not too senior, associates in my group. But since 1) that’s a sum total of two people, 2) the last few years have just been weird for bonuses and billable requirements anyway, and 3) it seems like it’s a touchy/taboo subject.

    So, just wondering what the Corporette hive-mind thinks. I get the sense that it’s not really about the bonus ($/hour, it doesn’t seem worth it, and I’m quite happy with my base salary), but about making it clear you’re dedicated to this career (I’m not sure I am). My other concern is that the expectations will only increase and next year the powers that be will expect even more.

    Of course, I feel greedy and unappreciative just asking about this and wonder if a man would feel the same way.

    • Diana Barry :

      Exceeding the firm’s target by a round number of hours is where you get the bump-up in bonus, usually. Example – one year I billed 2080 hours. If I had billed 20 more hours during the year, I would have gotten to the next tier in bonuses.

      I would aim to exceed the target by 100 hours. That should put you at about 75% for bonuses – eg you should get more than the ‘average’ person but less than the gunners who are at work all the time for their hours. The firm should understand that work is variable, should you happen not to hit the same number next year.

      • Clueless about bonuses :


        That was the kind of sanity check I was hoping for. It makes sense that the bumps are a round number. Crossing my fingers that the first bump-up happens at 100 hours, not 200.

    • I would say aim to exceed your minimum hours (shows you’re a good firm citizen), but if the money isn’t that important to you, don’t bust your butt to reach a specific hour target for a bonus. When I was at a firm (in house now), I found that sometimes people compared your hours to your previous year’s hours (i.e., gee, you billed 2200 hours last year, why didn’t you do that this year?). But hitting your hourly goals and exceeding them even by a little bit seems pretty critical.

    • Don’t feel greedy or unappreciative. If you want to know how men feel about bonuses, go read any number of posts on ATL.

    • You don’t want a “photo finish” for the year, e.g. 2010 for a 2000 hour goal. On the other hand, you may want to consider what the typical bonus is for an extra 100 hours, look at it in net dollars, and decide if that hourly rate is worth working the extra hours. At my old firm, it worked out to less than minimum wage – I could make more at Starbucks! So the decision was easy. The goal is set for a reason – meet it and you’ve met their expectations of you. There will always be those who do way more – you can’t go chasing them if you want to live your own life.

  30. I. Love. This. Skirt. I am going to marry it and whisper sweet things to it. Honestly, this skirt always, always comes through for me.

  31. Ugh, I finally finshed the incredibly boring and tedious task I was slogging through at work…I promised myself a break and snack when I finished. But of course, just as a finish it up my boss wants to siit down and go over it. Sigh…nachos will have to wait!

  32. housecounsel :

    A couple of random comments:

    Re: the candy bowl: When I was a very young associate, I had a crush on a senior associate. I read in Cosmo magazine, yes, Cosmo, that a candy bowl was a good way to get eligible men in your office to come in and talk to you. So I got a candy bowl. The senior associate had a sweet tooth and came in all the time. That was 15 years and 3 kids ago. I am horrified that I did this (put out the candy bowl to catch the man – I am not at all horrified about the 15 years and the kids).

    Minimum billable hours: exceed it if your life circumstances allow you to do so. I think rather than creating unrealistic expectations, it creates credibility and trust. I was able to go part-time after having kids (and even made partner while working part-time), and I think it really helped that I had paid my dues with high billable hours.

    Expense report conversation from yesterday: Can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t turn in a lot that I could turn in.

    Was just reading “The Happiness Project,” and one of the points is that it is much easier to get dressed in the morning if you have fewer clothes. It’s easier to choose between two pairs of black pants than five!

  33. I tried this skirt on last week – the color is really fab and perfect for fall!! Would definitely pair it with royal blue, neutrals are so overrated.

  34. Anonymous :

    I have this skirt in black. It is perfect. I will be purchasing it in other colors – recommend 100%.

  35. Thank you for your wonderful post! Please see my post about how much I love my blue marine basket-weave No. 2 pencil skirt on

work fashion blog press mentions