Something on your mind? Chat about it here.
Our casual recommendation for this weekend is this gorgeous halter dress, which is part of ShopBop’s 70% off sale — in our minds this will be perfect for that vacation we keep planning to take. We love subtle yellow and pink swirls throughout the pattern. It’s $179 (was $595) at ShopBop. ADAM Long Halter Dress
I’ve been waiting for this post! I am going for a lunch at a big government building in DC, not for a chance at a job but it is definitely a good networking opportunity. Is this a suit occasion? The lunch will be in the cafeteria, but I got the feeling that this is a unique opportunity as members of the public can’t just walk in.
Details please! Is this lunch with a friend? Lunch with a mentor? Lunch with someone you sent your resume to?
I don’t think you ever go wrong with a suit, in DC, in a government building, for a professional meeting.
From EM to EM: Can you take me, too? :)
Haha EM :) wish I could! It’s a friend of a my fathers cousin, who has been very kind through email and is helping me with my job search.
Definitely a suit, with a non-tank top underneath that will be fine if you remove the jacket. Good luck and have fun! Lots of federal government cafeterias are pretty tasty!
I’m going to disagree on the suit. Dress nicely, but don’t wear an actual full suit. My agency, as well as many others, are business casual. Any people you will be meeting will be dressed that way. I would wear a twinset with nice slacks, maybe a blazer over nice slacks or a skirt — better than business casual but not a full suit. There are a few more formal agencies (DOJ, possibly State). Can you say which one it is?
And the cafeterias are also generally pretty casual (you’ll be carrying a tray, like in high school!). Anyone wearing a jacket probably left it in their office when they headed down. So if you really want to wear a suit, make sure you are wearing something under it that would allow for the jacket to be removed.
Why not? You can always take off your jacket if you’re feeling too formal. There always seems to be a good mix of people in full suits v. business casual milling around town, but if your purpose is to network, a suit you feel comfortable in is your best bet to make a good first impression. Don’t forget business cards and a pen/notebook for notes if a meeting suddenly turns into an “informational interview.” You might as well have a couple copies of your resume at hand *just in case* someone asks. I’d just bring one good bag because you don’t want to be juggling a suit jacket, purse, notebook, etc., especially in a cafeteria.
Definitely pare down the bags… in a city where you can wind up on a subway or any other kind of public transportation you don’t want to be seen as being slowed down – or slowing someone else down
Has anyone tried the Carissa Rose shirts? I just noticed the ad (to the right on this page), and clicked on the web page. Looks intriguing.
I have tried the Carissa Rose shirts and liked them a lot. The first two shirts I received to review on my blog, but I liked them enough I bought more. I am between sizes right now and losign weight, but as soon as my weight stabilizes, I am so investing in more of those shirts. They are truly lovely. Good quality and the fit is genius. Also, if you have questions about sizing, email Carissa – she was super responsive, and really great about helping me find the right size.
I purchased two of them in March 2009 and have pasted links to my two reviews below. She was also in the “Ask Adam” section of the February ’10 issue of Oprah Magazine. I’m pleased she’s adding a simple princess seamed shirt w/o the empire waist. If you try it, please let us know how you like it. I’m also curious if anyone has tried http://www.cast-woman.com from England.
I can’t wear stuff like this anymore because it looks too much like a maternity dress. I spent way too long in maternity clothes to wear something like this.
anon - chi
A friend of mine calls this an “eating dress,” as in, I could eat a horse and still look great and feel comfortable while wearing this dress. And who doesn’t need one of those? :-)
Wow, this is beautiful. I would be too short for it, of course. But I think it is fabulous.
I love the look of maxi dresses, but I feel you have to be 6 feet tall and 120 pounds to carry it off.
Ok Weekend open thread-ers, here’s an unusual ‘what to wear’ for you. I am an attorney practicing in an urban, NE city. I am flying to a very small town in a very rural area of the deep south to meet with some potential clients, all of whom live at or significantly below the poverty-level. It’s a town that likely doesn’t see a lot of ‘outsiders,’ and even fewer lawyers, particularly female ones. I’ve ruled out a suit. But beyond that, I’m stumped. Thoughts?
southern lawyer women I know tend to wear colored or slightly decorated jackets (shiny buttons, etc) or dresses. the navy/black/grey uniform of the NE would probably reinforce your otherness.
this is the original anon again — I guess I must be wrong. Thinking about it, the southern women lawyers I know are older, the type that find themselves arguing in court in major nationwide litigation. And I certainly didn’t see it as an insult — frankly, sometimes I get bored wearing a navy skirt suit, and wish I could branch out too.
Anon — I think I get sensitive to comments about southerners, partially because a lot of people, including a few of the northerners I work with (who, ironically, are employed by a SOUTHERN business in the SOUTH) often insinuate that people from here are all stupid, backward, or redneck-y. After dealing with those comments, I definitely don’t want anyone insulting my fashion sense!
me again. in fact, i grew up in the deep south, and I am royally annoyed when people express shock to find that out. as though it would be remarkable for a highly-educated, articulate person to come from there. i do get it.
I don’t think you can go wrong with slacks and a twin-set. Professional, yet not as intimidating as a suit. Maybe skip the heels?
Okay, southern female lawyer here. I don’t think I own a colored or bedazzled jacket. I grew up in a rural area. If I were going to meet such an individual client informally to talk to them, I wouldn’t wear a suit. A twinset or blouse and a pair of slacks is probably fine.
I think a button down shirt and a not too dressy/not too casual pair of pants would work. I think twin set doesn’t really convey lawyer but will still make you stand out (in fact, I hate to say this but to me a twin set in this scenario just says “wife of visiting politician.”
I think a simple button down conveys authority and trustworthy-ness without being too much.
I second that. I am a southern female lawyer and would never wear a “colored or slightly decorated jacket,” nor would any of my colleagues.
I’m a southern woman who isn’t a lawyer quite yet. The only people I see wearing colored or bedazzled jackets haven’t updated their wardrobes in a very long time, just like anywhere else.
Button up or other blouse with slacks and flats should be good.
Same here – southern woman, thisclose to being a lawyer. I’m not really sure what kind of women or what part of the south considers bedazzled jackets fashionable. Stick w/ khakis and a light sweater or blouse.
When I work with people in the less educated/lower income demographic, I find it’s better to dress in a way that is more informal in order to make them relate to me better. Often they see someone in a suit or business attire as an authority and will either feel hostile to you, or accept what you say and not tell you what their thoughts or needs are. I’d dress nicely, but I think slacks and a sweater or twinset are fine. If it’s warm out, a button-down or blouse is fine. I’d wear comfortable shoes. I would opt for carrying a non-leather bag.
I’m a DC attorney that had to make a couple of trips to meet clients in a somewhat rural area of the deep south. I went once in July, and wore a lightweight khaki suit with a crisp white blouse to my client meeting. Since then, I’ve been back and wore pants and sweaters.
I work for a public interest organization, so I have a good amount of experience working with people who are at or below the poverty level. I actually think that my clients appreciate the fact that I dress “like a lawyer” instead of treating them like they are less of a client merely because they don’t pay.
That said, since you aren’t in court there doesn’t seem to be a reason to wear a full-on suit. Maybe a pair of pants with a blazer, with a shirt underneath where you can take off the blazer, with whatever bag you have that coordinates and whatever shoes you are comfortable with.
Basically, what I mean to say is don’t overthink it – just because they are poor doesn’t mean you should change your appearance. It’s not an issue of getting them to “relate” to you – it’s a matter of appearing approachable but still conveying enough authority that they have confidence in your abilities. I’d stick with business casual and you will be fine.
Same Erin from above
Really? I also work for a public interest organization, and I find that if I look like a lawyer the people I work with, especially people with less education, tend to be a little bit cowed, as though every time they’ve been around someone in a suit/heels/briefcase that person has been the authority and has just been telling them what to do. If I look like an authority figure, I find it hard to get clients to open up to me about their legal issues and their needs and opinions, instead of just telling me what they think I want to hear or asking my opinion. And there’s also been the odd person who’s got an authority problem of some sort and extends it to me if I look too much like an authority figure. A lot of times the way people got into legal trouble in the first place was by trusting or listening to an educated person in a suit, so I try to be sensitive to that.
I’m not saying I’d wear jeans and a t-shirt to meet clients, although plenty of them wear that to meet me, but I tend to dress more like a teacher or social worker might dress – less structured clothes, comfortable shoes, more color or patterns. Left on my own I’d be more of a heels and leather bag type of dresser, but I tend to leave that for weekends.
I don’t work for a public interest org, but I do a very substantial amount of pro bono work with low-income people, typically in immigration court. I’ve had this same experience–my clients seemed to have greater confidence in me when I was more formally dressed.
I do dress more casually when I’m meeting with my unaccompanied-child asylum/refugee clients, though, because they seem to be more comfortable if I do.
I have a feeling that maxi dresses were so very summer 2009 (and 2008 in Australia), and coming into this summer season, it may look… last season.
No, maxi dresses were all over the Spring 2010 and even Fall 2010 runways, especially in tribal and graphic prints. It’s going to be on-trend for a while.
They remind me of Uli’s designs, fromProject Runway, circa Season 3.
Agreed… but not in a good way – maxi dresses scream sloppy weekend comfort wear – the dress equivalent of sweatpants
Totally random question, but I know I can’t be the only one who does this. I have pretty oily skin and whenever I go to the bathroom, I use a toilet seat cover to blot the oil from my face. Sounds gross, but it totally works! Now after having done it about 100 times, I’m wondering whether there are yucky chemicals on these seat covers that I perhaps should not be putting near my face. Does anyone have any idea?
Why not just buy the special cosmetic blotters they sell in drugstores/cosmetic stores? I’m sure they sell all-natural or organic versions if chemicals are a concern.
anon - chi
Yes, but toilet seat covers are delightfully free!
Clerky, I doubt there are any awful chemicals involved since the seat covers are designed to come into contact with your skin anyway.
Yes exactly, I’m cheap. Seems like the verdict is that it’s safe, but if anyone else has heard otherwise, let me know. Thanks ladies!
I use the oil blotting sheets (or similar name) from J&J/Clean and Clear or whatever drugstore brand is easiest to pick up. And they’re cheap.
I doubt that they spend the money to add any chemicals – it’s probably the same paper they use to make the fancy blotters.
You’re totally fine! This has been a “tip” on a number of fashion related websites and is a well known trick among the road warriors. Those seat covers really are just super thin paper, so blot away!
You are awesome for sharing that remarkable tidbit. If we are going to be sharing slightly embarrassing “tips” — if I notice that my shirt/sweater has a wrinkle in it while at work, I go into the bathroom, pull my shirt as tightly as possible across my stomach, sprinkle a good dose of water across the front (while sticking out my stomach and leaning back to keep it tight/non-wrinkly), and then use the hand-dryer on it. My version of ironing on the go and the wrinkles are usually gone in a minute or two.
They are meant to come into contact with skin as it is, so I can’t imagine manufacturers would put any chemicals into them. If it’s free and works for you, I’d say go for it. No reason to spend huge amounts of money on cosmetic versions that are probably the same thing in flashier packaging!
I do this too. It’s just paper – no chemicals that I know of.
I also do this. In a pinch, I’ve found that single-ply toilet paper or those awful brown paper towels work nearly as well.
I’m certain that the paper in those seat covers is no more chemical-laden than Kleenex or paper towels.
However, keep in mind that if you are pulling one out of a dispenser in a public restroom, you have no idea how clean it is. The person before you may have reached in with truly filthy hands to pull the previous cover out. Sometimes you need to kind of scratch at them to get the next one out. I know this is disgusting, but I’ve seen feces smeared on the dispensers.
While I wouldn’t freak out over putting the germs that MAY be present on clean LOOKING papers on my rear end via a seat cover, I would seriously think twice about putting the paper on my face.
Just $0.02 from someone who travels extensively and uses more public restrooms than she prefers…
And sorry again for the gross imagery.
I think people go too far in fearing germs. Yes, if I walk into a stall that looks filthy- be it on the toilet seat or anywhere in the stall- I will walk out and go next door. However, I am not going to spend my life freaking out about possible bacteria and other germs I can’t see. You’re just as much at risk from taking toilet paper from the roll (if not more at risk since people take paper after they’ve used the toilet) or paper towels from the dispenser.
I don’t fear germs, I just personally draw different line between what my butt touches and what my face touches! :-)
I agree Louise! That was the first thing that came to my mind!
I remember reading about a study (which of course I can’t find a link to now), but they took samples from various office surfaces and tested them for germs. The cleanest, by far, was the toilet seat! Basically, you are better off eating your lunch off your toilet seat then off your desk! ‘
(OK – this is a different story than the one I remember, butt basically the same report:
I don’t know…at least the germs on my desk are mine.
If you are concerned you could just use the inner side that’s folded and hasn’t touched another seat cover.
I’ve been doing this for at least 7 years and have never had any sort of skin problems, so I doubt there’s much bacteria on it.
Toilet seat covers have been my secret oily-skin weapon for years! So far, no strange conditiosn as a result!
Squeaking in the City
So, I got dressed today to go to my morning hearing and put on this new pair of kick-butt new pumps I just bought and was really excited about my day… until, I got to the courthouse and realized that my shoes did that crazy squeaky thing when I walked on real floors! Very embarrassing.
Does anyone know of any quick fixes for that problem that I could do discretely in a women’s restroom the next time that comes up? And, is there a more long term fix that can be done at shoe-repair place? Any insight is appreciated because these shoes are fantastic except for that darn squeak when I walk… And that’s a big problem.
I just get mine rubber-soled after I buy shoes. Especially the heel.
I had a pair of boots that did this and someone suggested that I put baby powder on the inside of the shoes and have them sit overnight. It actually worked, and the squeaking is gone!!
If it’s the bottoms that are the problem, try using fine grained sandpaper on the bottoms
Is this style of dress appropriate for a wedding? I am actually going to a wedding this weekend–I am in Southern California and it is on the beach–and I was considering wearing a maxi dress I bought last year. (I don’t care if it’s out of style – just wondering whether people think it’s appropriate for a beach wedding.) Thanks! :)
Oh and I would be planning to layer a cardigan over it. The beach wind gets chilly!
totally perfect for a beach wedding. as long as *yours* isn’t white like the one above!
I think that the dress featured would work as there are some other colors in a pattern and not a solid white. But I would do a nice wrap instead of a cardigan.
My thoughts exactly! So. Cal is cold on the beach. I live in San Diego and as often as not, I end up in a sweatshirt on the beach!
On a recent weekend in FL, I got a bad sunburn on my face (raccoon eyes) and chest (bad enough that I can’t wear anything other than a button up shirt to work). I know, I know . . . I should have used more sunscreen. I am from the Midwest, so the weather won’t be nice enough any time soon to fix this naturally. Anyone have any recommendations for a good self-tanner (something that is reasonably priced and won’t make me look orange)? Or any other suggestions?
suggestion: aloe vera and then a loofah to exfoliate once you start to peel. had the same thing happen on a 2 week ago vacation, and i’m back to normal already (and was bright red at first.) powder on your face to tone down the bright bits.
Yes and advil to reduce swelling. You might want to try ice-ing too.
I got a horrible sunburn on my face last week despite using sunblock- these things happen. I put lotion on my face a few times a day, took Advil to reduce the pain/swelling, and exfoliated once I started to peel. Now 9 days later, I look fairly normal. My face is a little darker than usual, but there’s no obvious raccoon eye look.
Put your bottle of aloe vera in the refrigerator. Yes, it’s going to feel like you’re wiping your sunburn with Antarctica when you apply, but it cools down the sunburn wicked fast. Depending on the sunburn, keep re-applying every 3 hours or so. Personally, I would stay away from self-tanner (and make-up) because it may irritate your sunburn, just making it hurt worse (and last longer). Yes, this will perpetuate the “Yes, I got a bad sunburn on my face, thankyouverymuch” look, but then you won’t have an irritated sunburn to worry about.
Two fixes to get out the heat: run the shower on your face as hot and as long as you can take it (yes, it dries out the skin, but it draws out the heat) and mustard. I find either draw out the heat and make the change to tan fairly quickly. I wouldn’t go for self tanner for the raccoon eyes, but maybe some extra blending with a tinted moisturizer and concealer. Good luck, and I hope it feels better soon!
Just a PSA. C has featured Martin & Osa clothing on her site and a few followers mentioned that they liked the clothing. I just read that they will be closing their stores, so I am assuming that there will be some markdowns on their existing inventory.
First, a big thank you to everyone who helped me out last weekend with tips for my phone interview. The interview went very well and I am flying out next week to meet in person with the department. Which brings me to this weekend’s questions:
1) Unfortunately, due to MA thesis writing induced stress eating I have gained weight recently, mostly around my middle, and the skirt from my black suit no longer quite does up all the way. I do have a lovely brown suit that fits me perfectly that I’d rather wear, but I know that the consensus is to wear a black or navy suit for job interviews. Does it make a difference that the position is with the government rather than in the private sector? Can I get away with the brown suit?
2) What do I need to bring with me when I interview? I will be spending all day meeting with various people at the department. I am planning on bringing extra copies of my resume, references, and writing samples. Is there anything else I should have on hand?
3) I am flying in the night before, meeting with people all day, then flying back out that night. In fact, I’m probably spending twice as much time traveling as I will at the interview itself. Any tips to ease the travel experience? There is also a 3 hour time difference, so any jet-lag tips would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance for all your brilliant advice!
I’m afraid I’m useless as far as advice goes…. but just wanted to say good luck!!!
I would think a brown suit would be fine, especially if it’s dark brown. It’s still a nice, normal neutral. However, I might be biased–I prefer brown over navy and black because I happen to think it looks much, much better with my skin tone/hair color. But if it fits you the best, then I say definitely wear it.
Brown is perfectly fine for an interview. Interview suits should stick to dark-colored neutrals – black, navy, gray or brown are all good choices. I wore a brown suit to the first interview for my (conservative office) current position and obviously that worked out fine.
If you’re a student maybe bring copies of your transcript. I recall being asked for that. Everything else you’re bringing sounds good.
For jet lag, I assume that you’re flying to a later time zone (i.e. it will be 8pm in your hometown when it’s 11pm at the interview site and thus you’ll have trouble falling asleep and subsequently trouble waking up). I travel a lot for work, although usually with much greater time differences. I do my best to arrive around bedtime, so I can immediately go to sleep (although usually after traveling for over 24 hours, so this is easier). Whatever you do, avoid napping on the plane so you won’t be wide awake at bedtime. I would not advise you to take a sleeping pill if you do not normally take them, because it could have side effects or leave you groggy. Go to bed at bedtime according to the time zone where your interview is located, and do whatever you normally do to help yourself sleep (get warm milk from room service if need be, or pack some essential oils, earplugs or an eye mask).
For travel tips, I find that I get quite dehydrated on flights, even short ones. I always use a nasal saline spray on the plane and follow up with a nasal rinse (neti) before bed to prevent congestion or dryness. I also use eyedrops and put on moisturizer mid-flight. And drink lots of water – buy a liter at the airport to take on the plane. If you’re in need of entertainment, I’m a big fan of This American Life podcasts. Wear comfortable shoes and move around a bit so your ankles don’t swell.
Finally, if you’re flying to Washington – if you have spring allergies, be forewarned that spring has sprung here and you should bring whatever your usual allergy meds are. Also, if it’s Washington, wear pantyhose with your skirt suit (in case you had any doubt about that).
Best of luck!
Brown suit, definitely. And sheer hose.
I always think adjusting when flying east is harder — because you’re not as tired as the clock says you should be when you land, and if you have a definite time for waking up the next day, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep! If you can, fake being on a time zone in between for a day or two (maybe pretend daylight savings isn’t happening for you — then the east coast will effectively be only 2 hours different?) and wake up extra early the day you’re flying to help you get to sleep that night. Also agreeing with the tips to stay hydrated and move around as much as you can during the flight to ease puffiness.
You’re not kidding! When I go home to the east coast from central time, I’m EXHAUSTED. Even a single hour kills me…
Yeah, I am a little concerned with falling asleep the night I get there. Not only will I be worried and excited for the interview the next day, but my body will be on West Coast time. I want to stay away from sleeping pills but am thinking of trying melatonin. My friend swears by it and insists that it results in absolutely no grogginess the next day, but I’m not sure I want to risk her being wrong. I’m going to try it out tonight and see how I feel tomorrow.
Melatonin is great, I’m a big fan. Works very fast, it’s all natural, and there truly is no grogginess. But do try it out before you really need it, just in case.
Just as a warning on melatonin, definitely try it before using it the night before your interview. A (very) small segment of the population is actually allergic to certain encapsulated melatonin and gets crazy nightmares from it. You don’t want to be fighting those the night before your interview!
You may want to start taking melatnonin before you go, adjusting the time you take it gradually so that the night before you go, you take it at “bedtime” of the place you’re going. Melatonin isn’t a sleeping pill, but it releases the hormones that your body releases when it’s time to sleep, so some think it helps reset your internal “clock.” I never notice grogginess from it.
I actually just did something similar last week, only I flew in the morning of the interview.
1) I agree with everyone else. Brown in fine!
2) I brought a portfolio folder with a notepad, business cards, resumes, etc. Search Amazon for ‘portfolio folder’ and then take a look at the leather ones. That’s basically what I brought. It was perfect. Also, I would recommend sticking a granola or nutri-grain bar in your bag. Usually these interviews include lunch and the interviewee rarely gets enough time to actually eat because she is so consumed with answering questions.
3) For traveling… I brought a pair a leggings & a sweater-tunic & flip-flops that I changed into for the flight back. It was perfect! I was able to stuff them into my bag for the trip there, and then before I changed got a large plastic bag at the airport (from a clerk when I bought a soda) and put my suit and heels in the large plastic bag. It seriously made SUCH a difference on the flight home. Old Navy has some good tunics that are pretty inexpensive right now.
SRS: Hi! Government attorney here… First of all, congratulations on the successful phone interview!!
To your first question, if your suit is dark brown, I believe you’ll be fine. It’s far more important to have a suit that fits your present shape well, and in which you feel fantastic, than it is to stick with the “black/navy” rule. Our office has been interviewing quite a lot lately, and I’ve seen everything from tan suits to gray pants/black jacket to dresses. These applicants did, in fact, receive offers. What you DON’T want to look like is someone who doesn’t know what size she ought to be wearing.
Additional item I’d suggest having on hand: water bottle.
I have followed the threads on Corporette that deal with hosiery vs. no hosiery, nude vs. non-nude, etc., but I wanted to mention that, in the context of interviewing for federal government positions, hose are considered by everyone I know to be an absolute must, and I see nude most often. My $0.02.
Drink plenty of water in the 2-3 days before (and certainly, the day of) your flight. Dehydration and resulting puffiness is my biggest problem when I fly.
Go get’em!! Let us know how it goes!!
Just wanted to second the idea that hosery is a *must* for at least some federal government jobs. When women came in to interview with bare legs at my old workplace, it was something that people commented on after they left (even in the summertime).
It may be a weather thing, but it would never even occur to me that it would be an option to go to work/court/client meeting in a skirt and bare legs. Even in the summer it is just a little tacky… the fact that this is even a question for debate whether someone should appear at an interview bare-legged really baffles me!
I am definitely wearing nylons. In fact I bought 2 pairs in 2 different shades of sheer hose yesterday. The institutional climate of Ottawa is slightly different than that of Washington, but the same basic principles hold true up here. Plus, I just checked the weather forecast and it is still fairly cold out.
It was good to see the reminders to drink lots of water. That is something I do tend to forget.
Every year we have interns show up in skirt suits, pumps and no hose, and every year I wonder why their mothers never taught them how to get dressed.
Dear interns: It is very hot in DC. There is a solution if hose is too hot for you: summerweight pants suits. Or even carry the hose in your bag and slip it on when you get to the office. But please, dress like an adult with a professional job if you want to be treated like an adult with a professional job.
I assume that many interns come from areas where pantyhose are no longer considered to be part of the professional wardrobe. In Florida it’s certainly not expected that women will wear pantyhose with suits except in some courtroom situations.
I don’t know, hose really seem to be out of the norm here in NYC, so maybe they’re just coming in with a different perspective. That said, I would still wear it to an interview just in case.
Hmmm . . . perhaps the culture at your agency is different than the one that I have been practicing before for the past eight years or maybe your advice is specific to interns who are, in effect, participating in an extended job interview, but I wouldn’t say that hose is mandatory in order to be “treated like an adult with a professional job.” I work at private law firm in DC, and hose on anyone under 35 (who is not or doesn’t appear to be attending court or going on an interview) always looks a little off to me, frankly. If they’re younger and wearing hose that’s not their actual skin tone–ugh.
@mm – We don’t wear full suits and hose every day, but when interns come for interviews or go to court with a lawyer, they definitely should be wearing hose if they wear a skirt suit. Same goes for lawyers. On the odd occasion a new young lawyer has gone barelegged, I’m pretty sure someone has mentioned it to her because I don’t usually notice someone doing it twice. I do think it’s mandatory to observe the appropriate professional attire to be treated like a professional, and in my case if one wears a skirt suit, hose is the appropriate professional attire. At least pants suits are also acceptable where I practice, which seems to not be the case everywhere.
Hi, I’m a fairly young (<5 years) attorney who's having some problems dealing with the first secretary who's assigned to work specifically for me and am wondering if you ladies have any advice.
The previous attorney that this secretary worked for apparently found a very low (read: almost non-existent) standard of work acceptable, and I find myself spending more time fixing mistakes than if I had actually done the task myself. Eg. fixing the alignment of documents, correcting typos, re-filing documents which have ended up in the wrong place. Instructions that I give for recurring tasks are forgotten in a matter of days.
My worry is not that she *cannot* improve, but that she will not make the effort because she has previously been told or given the impression that her work is okay. Hiring another secretary is probably an option, but I really would prefer not to fire someone. She is very young, and this appears to be her first clerical/secretarial job.
Does anyone have any ideas on what I should say to her? I have tried setting out specific expectations and instructions for common tasks, but as mentioned, it doesn't seem to have helped.
Are you her direct supervisor and responsible for her performance reviews?
If yes, I think you should set aside time, scheduled with her in advance, for a meeting to discuss performance issues well prior to her formal performance review. Come prepared with a list of issues for your reference. Address them calmly and in a constructive manner – don’t give harsh criticism or get worked up even if you’re talking about something that really annoys you. She might get upset, but you need to remain calm and focused on the issues at hand. Also mention at least one or two good things about her work or, if her work is really that bad, about her personality, etc. Let her know that these issues will affect her performance review and continued employment if she does not begin working to resolve them immediately. Tell her what your specific expectations for every aspect of her job are, and let her know that she needs to meet, and ideally exceed, minimum expectations if she wants a future at your firm. If she seems disorganized, suggest resources she could turn to to improve her organizational skills (so she doesn’t misfile things or forget recurring tasks, for example). Then meet with her again at least once before her formal review so there are no surprises at the review.
Also, when you meet with her, make sure you give her an opportunity to air any issues she wants to discuss. Don’t take her side, even if she is upset, but do listen to her and let her know you value her input even though you’re her supervisor and she has to do learn to do things the way you want her to. And if you do think she is making a good point about an issue, consider accomodating her (not instantly, but consider it for a few days).
In my experience, if a young employee is not doing a good job it’s because she isn’t used to working hard, doesn’t know what’s expected of her and doesn’t know what she can get away with. If you let her know exactly what’s expected to her and what she cannot get away with, things should improve. If they don’t improve in six months, and you’ve discussed her performance with her more than twice, I’d fire her.
I should also add that if her poor performance is affecting your future with the company – for instance, if her poor formatting of documents has caused you to get in trouble at court or to miss a filing deadline because your’e fixing her work – I’d fire her much sooner than six months. I probably would only give her one more chance if she messed up badly enough that I got in trouble with a judge, client or partner.
I once read a book called “Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do” that said another reason is they don’t know why they should do it. After reading that book, I have started to include a spiel in my lectures to underperforming juniors about how our clients (Biglaw) pay a fortune for my time, and they are willing to do so on the expectation that I will spend that time doing things that require a lot of legal expertise and that I will delegate to others whatever can be delegated. I tell them that it’s not fair to the client for me to be doing work (or re-doing work) that could be done by someone without a law degree/with less experience. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like this de-personalizes it a bit – it’s not “I want you to do this and I’m annoyed that you don’t,” but “this is how Biglaw practice works and what our clients expect from us.” Also, at my Biglaw firm the responsibilities of admins and legal assistants are not well defined at all, so I sometimes get resistance at the idea that they’re expected to do anything. This helps me not feel guilty, at least, about giving them an unexpected responsibility.
I’d plan to have a sit-down meeting, behind closed doors, to discuss her job performance. I know you’ve set out specific instructions in the past, but a more formal meeting should impress upon her how critical it is that her performance improves. It might be overwhelming to hit her with a huge number of performance deficiencies at once, so I’d take the time to categorize the problems you’re having into 3-4 broad groups (e.g., attention to detail, following directions, formatting documents). Be prepared to provide specific examples of the problems and clear direction on what she should do to improve. Be sure she understands how her work fits into the larger picture of handling matters and the problems that result from her errors. Also, does your firm have designated HR personnel, or even a staff person who serves as a “lead” for the secretarial support team? If so, I’d talk with this person about the nature of the problems you’re having, before you meet with your secretary. That way, you will be beginning to create a record, and you might get valuable information about your secretary’s performance history or available resources to help her improve. For example, does your firm offer computer training that might help? Would it be possible to have a more experienced staff person assigned to serve as a mentor and provide some on-the-job training? Finally, document your discussion and, if applicable, provide a copy to HR. This can be as simple as an email to HR explaining what was discussed. This way, if the problems continue, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you gave her fair warning and an opportunity to improve. That’s really all anyone can ask. Good luck!
Agree — and don’t make it personal – Try to stay away from words like “never” and “always” so she focuses on the important message, not whether you “like” her or how “unfair” you are
just fyi on the dress featured in this post’s picture- i’m in vacation in miami right now and everyone is wearing these type of long dresses. living in seattle, had no idea full-length summer dresses were back.
I just had a fun day. It’s raining here in DC so I went out to the mall and just tried on clothes. I knew I wouldn’t buy anything, so I felt free to experiment. I found work appropriate outfits and tried them on. Suits, jackets, skirts, pants, dresses. Colors I normally wouldn’t wear. Styles that I had always stayed away from. It gave me new ideas for when I can afford to buy.
My only gripe: what is with all the polyester? If I am going to spend my hard earned money, it better be mostly natural fibers. Polyester look and feels cheap, but they don’t charge cheap.
What a great idea! Can you tell us what styles/colors you didn’t wear before that you thought looked good on you on your experimental day?
Every once in a while I like to try on the latest over-the-top trendy styles at teeny-bopper mall stores. Always good for a laugh, but occasionally convinces me to change something a little bit. I moved from boxy to more fitted tops, and to lower-waisted pants that way. Not in the hippest patterns, though, just in my own solid colors.
I tried on sleeveless sheath dresses. I never though they looked good on me. But, you know, they weren’t bad. With a jacket, I can wear it to court, then take the jacket off when out to lunch or just traveling. I also tried on the dark pink pink sheath that Talbot’s has. I never have been a big fan of pink, and as a winter cool it is not a recommended color. But, the dark pink, almost dusty rose actually looked okay. I had fun in Lord & Taylor’s where I had never shopped before. Also hit Macy’s, J.C.Penny (too much polyester) and Sears (which had nice, inexpensive cotton dress pants).
Next time, I am bringing a friend. That way I have another opinion. You know, to avoid the tendency of “this look hideous because I am wearing it.”
Thanks for your answer. I agree about JCP clothes, but prices are good in their lingerie department.
You could also bring a digital camera and take photos in the dressing room mirror. Looking at them later distances you from the “oh, that’s me” and lets you focus on “attractive color/style” aspect.
Agree — why would I spend more than $50 on a polyester suit.
I am just going to say that I travel a lot for work, and I only pack polyester suits because they don’t wrinkle and if you spill you can spot-clean with soap and water without worrying about damaging the suit. IMO they’re also better in hot summers, where everything tends to get sweaty and wrinkly on the commute. I don’t really understand what’s better about natural fibers.
Wool crepe rarely wrinkles. Polyester doesn’t really breathe. Also, I’ve noticed some polyester suits tend to get very smudgy. It’s just kind of gross, IMO. I’d much rather wear a wool or cotton twill suit.
Hi! I just got a job offer in DC and am super excited to move there. However, does anyone have suggestions as to good neighborhoods to live? I’m single and in my early 30s. I would like to live in a safe place with nice bars and restaurants but nothing too crazy. I’ll be working in downtown DC so something with an easy commute there would be great. Thanks in advance!
Georgetown is lovely but expensive. Not too familiar otherwise.
Georgetown is, however, an incredibly annoying place to commute from. No Metro, not a lot of bus routes.
You can also consider Arlington. Clarendon/Courthouse area is nice, metro accessible.
It also depends on whether you are planning to have a car. Dupont Circle is lovely, but in my experience, it is difficult to keep a car there (unless you have a garage/parking space).
I think it depends on what you are looking for and what your ideal budget is. Utilitarian living (Rosslyn), suburbs (Nova/Md), bar scene/restaurants/street life (Clarendon, Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Capital Hill, Gtown)? Ditto on the parking recommendation above. DC recently changed their street parking system (more meters, 2 hour time limits), so you will likely need a garage/allocated spot.
Dupont or Logan Circle, walk to work downtown. You sound like exactly my demographic, and I live in Dupont Circle.
Chinatown and the Massachusetts Ave corridor between Logan Circle and Chinatown are also good choices if you want to walk to work.
Try Dupont, Logan’s Circle or Kalorama Triangle (and points in between those three).
While a summer associate, I lived in Adams Morgan and loved it. It’s an easy commute, although you’ll have to take the bus, and you can walk home on nicer evenings. For the first five years I lived in DC permanently, I loved living in the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market neighborhood–also a super easy commute because you’re near both the red and blue/orange lines. I live in downtown Bethesda now and have a similarly easy commute, plus am close to two movie theaters, a bookstore, and lots of restaurants.
I live in the Chinatown area, its nice but expensive. But easy to get to everything. Georgetown is very expensive, and is a pain to commute. Try looking near eastern market, there are great townhouses in that area. Dupont is a great area, and easy to commute from.
I second the Eastern Market (or Union Station) recommendation if L doesn’t mind a longer commute. Walking to work downtown from Chinatown/Dupont/Logan Circle is great, but living on the Hill is also great if you don’t mind having to take Metro to work.
^^ Jealous. :-D Congrats!!
I agree with Arlington!
Loving my apartment in Old Town, Alexandria by the King Street metro – it’s charming and tranquil, a short walk from adorable shops and great restaurants, yet only a twenty-minute metro ride from my DC law firm.
Thanks everyone for all the responses! I’m hoping to go down soon to look for a place and you guys really helped narrow down my search, which seemed quite daunting before. Thanks again!
Where exactly in downtown will you be working? What’s the closest Metro stop? Do you want to walk to work, drive or take a train? IME, the best Metro commute is the one that involves only one train. If you have to switch lines, it has the potential of adding lots of time if one line is delayed. If you have to go bus to train, well — yikes.
If you’re on the Red Line, look around DuPont Circle, Cleveland Park or up to Bethesda if you need to save $$. If on Blue/Yellow, look in Arlington, Clarendon, etc. I agree on Georgetown — too much of a hassle if you’re relying on Metro to get to work. To a lesser extent, the same goes for Capitol Hill. Look for a place close to a station. I work in NoMa (behind Union Station) and frankly, although the area has improved a lot lately, I still don’t like walking around after 7 pm.
BTW, I would not recommend driving to work unless you have designated parking on both ends.
Anyone have advice for yellow pit stains on white shirts? Yes, I know this is gross. No, I don’t put my shirts in the dryer — but after about 10 washes, the pits start turning yellow.
I am not willing to change to a more natural deodorant (I NEED the clinical strength antiperspirants). But I am wondering if anyone successfully pretreats the stains caused by the deodorant with any products before putting it in the wash?
I just do a thorough rinse (you don’t have to get the whole shirt) immediately after wearing and that seems to help a bit. I find that the longer I wait to wash a shirt, the more likely it is to develop the stains.
You might find something like Napisan (I’m in the UK so not sure if it’s a known brand in the US) will help. In case you aren’t familiar it’s a product used to soak/clean cloth nappies in. I’ve chucked it in with a load of white t-shirts and shirts every few washes to extend the length of time they keep that crisp white look. However I tend to buy fairly cheap (not rock bottom prices but more high street then designer) t-shirts and replace them as they look grubby, so perhaps read the box before using it on anything expensive.
I soak all whites (incl cheap t shirts + expensive dress shirts) in Napisan for a bit, before chucking them in the machine. Works!
Oxiclean works for me. Spray it on when the stain is fresh, not just before washing.
I use OxiClean as well, but I have found that I have had to soak the shirts in a tub of hot water and OxiClean for a 48+ hours. This got out stains that had been in the shirt for years. I have done this a few times on multiple white shirts, and every time the shirt looks like new. Plus, it saves you the hassle of having to clean the shirt after every time you wash it.
An Oxyclean soak works for me too.
hi all, I have a question re the acetate suiting line at Ann Taylor. My suits are usually wool gab or crepe. I love the drape of the acetate collection and the jackets feel less heavy. Also, the wrinkles just fall out when you hang the pieces. And they are a nice change from the same-old for me.
So, does this line constitute “yuk – polyester”? Do you guys where this AT collection? Do people categorize it as “cheap”?
Why do people hate polyester? I genuinely don’t get it.
Personally, I don’t like polyester because it doesn’t breathe. So, after a long day my pants especially smell kinda funny. Which makes me clean them more often, so they wear out faster. I can also see the difference between a polyester and a wool suit. The fabric looks different in the light, and the weave is different. I try not to notice these things, because it’s not nice to play fashion police (and I obviously don’t say anything if I do notice), but I still do. I haven’t found that the wrinkles fall out any faster than hanging up a wool suit.
My problem with them is not the look or the feel but the noise. When I wear my acetate suit with any silk shell (or really anything more slippery than wool), it makes that terrible “swish” noise, to the point that I have to try not to swing my arms at all when I walk. I’ve even noticed it on my pant cuffs when I wear boots. It just has an aura of cheapness or rubbing thighs, neither of which are appealing.
I really like my acetate suit from AT and have had it for a good 7+ years, it is just now starting to get “worn” looking. It was the perfect cut and I am going to be sad to retire it. And I found that it didn’t get as wrinkly as the “natural” suits…and I always got a lot of compliments on it! :)
I was recently admitted to law school and I will be attending an award luncheon a few students were invited to attend. The venue is nice and has a “business casual” dress code. At the moment I have a simple black skirt but I am unsure what else to wear. I don’t want to dress like a lawyer (I haven’t even started school yet) but I want to look appropriate. Any advice? Thank you!
Black skirt and twinset or sweater with tights (if it’s cold) or a blouse and low heels will be fine. If you have pretty but simple jewelry like pearl studs or a simple pendant necklace that’s a nice touch too.
Congratulations on your admission!
Depending on the weather, I’d do the skirt with a button up under a sweater (if you like that look) or if it’s not cold enough for that, a pretty blouse. Definitely do some jewelry. I also like the look of a skirth with a non-matching blazer if you have one.
The above suggestions and simple pumps would be fine. Either black or coordinating in the color you wear on top. But not necessarily 3-4in. heels, 3 or less would be ok. Business cas =/= vamp.
Thank you so much!