It’s the Utility, Stupid

Yesterday, I was having a conversation about what makes this blog tick.  And I realized that one of the things that makes my blog different is an emphasis on utility.  From shoes to bags to under-eye concealer, the pieces you ladies want need to look great and work as hard as you do.

That got me thinking, which items in my own wardrobe represent utility.  The kind of piece that you can rely on to perform perfectly every time.  The work-horses, the daily drivers, the never fails.  Because if those must-have flats give you a blister every time you wear them, then they are must-have for someone else.  Here are the items that I turn to when I can’t stand to be disappointed.

Yes, this Mackage Rubie crossbody is small, thanks for noticing.  What drew me to the bag was the charming style.  I loved the arrow clasp, the fun color, and the structured shape.  What keeps me using it every week — for errands, pub crawls, travel, date night, etc. — is the ingenious construction.

The bag is divided into two compartments with a separate area to hold credit cards and cash.  I can fit my phone and lipgloss in one pocket, other small essentials (tampon, sunglasses, keys) in the other.  The long strap allows you to use the bag as a crossbody, but I like to use the handle to wear it on my wrist like a clutch.  This isn’t a work bag, unless you pack really light, but it’s a great everything else bag.

If you must have more space the Mackage Keeley bag is just a bit larger.  It also comes in black.

You’re standing in your closet.  It’s 8:25am.  You have no time.  Pick something, pick something, pick something.  Finally, you give up on creating something new, and you reach for this Karen Kane wrap dress. End scene.

So many mornings when I don’t know what to wear, I end up in this dress.  I add a white blazer (this longer style is a trendy choice) or a chunky tweed jacket.  It’s comfortable, great for travel, and very versatile.

The Third Love Classic 24/7 T-shirt bra is the best bra I’ve ever owned.  It’s supportive without constricting.  It provides just the right amount of lift.  And you really can wear it all day.

It comes in half-cup sizes for women who are in-between (30A – 40G), and a variety of naked hues for different skin colors.  If you’re looking for something prettier, try this lace racerback bra with smooth cups. These Third Love bras are the only wired bras I wear any more.  If you want a bra without wire, check out my True & Co review.

A utility jacket in a post about utility.  Well, that’s a bit on the nose.  But this LL Bean jacket has been my spring and fall go-to for a while.  It’s just fitted enough, warm enough (without being too warm), and sleek enough to pair with any outfit.  I wear it over a tunic and leggings, jeans and tees, or spring dresses.  It also comes in petite and plus sizes.

Sam Edelman Leah Toe Cap is the shoe you grab when nothing else will work.  Jeans and a blouse?  Leah.  Ankle pants and a spring sweater?  Leah.  Pencil skirt and a knit shirt?  Leah.  It’s one of those shoes you will wear out before it’s time simply because you wear it so often.

These shoes are a Chanel knock-off that hasn’t lost any of the feminine-chic that brand is known for.  But if they’re sold out in your size, try this Vaneli pair.

{image found here; this post contains affiliate links}




  1. Kristen Coia says:

    I have a few:
    1. Madewell transport tote. Talk about a sturdy, any situation bag. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I carry it pretty much every day, and I’m eternally shocked by the weight it can hold, the durability, and the utility of it.
    2. Madewell leather pouch. This has replaced my wallet, and can be pulled out to use as a clutch when I have a quick errand to run.
    3. Laura Mercier Translucent powder. Magic, and lasts FOREVER – I use every day that I wear makeup – so 5-7 days a week – and I’m still on the same jar. I don’t actually remember when I bought it…
    4. Black Frye knee high heeled boots. I can’t remember the style name, but I’ve had them for 5 years and wear most days of the week in the winter. I can walk in them for miles. I get them cleaned and resoled every year, and will probably have them for years to come.

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  2. Thank you! says:

    Yes, thank you! This–the emphasis on utility–is what has me coming back. That, and:
    1) You actually interact with your readers. When someone comments and asks you a direct question (about literally anything…tech glitch, recommendation, life), you show up and answer. There are other sites out there who seem to just post (without much homework…), collect their affiliate pay, and ignore the commenters’ questions/comments. Looking at you, Kat…
    2) Your readers are supportive and collegial, even when we don’t agree with each other, you, a recommendation, etc. Thank you for fostering that in point (1).
    3) You are real with us. Sad that it is so unusual, but boy, do I appreciate it.
    4) You are hustling in your regular life in a lot of ways and still make time for 1-3. Again, looking at other blog writers in a similar content niche….

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  3. Jenny says:

    I think that your blog’s utility and honest reviews set it apart from almost all other blogs which frequently contain paid partnerships full of glowing reviews. I also appreciate your willingness to show your vulnerability and witty writing. Thanks for being a great resource and keeping it real!

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  4. KRF says:

    I wanted to share a few items recommended by CHS/The Work Edit through honest reviews that I purchased over the years and continue to use or wear regularly:
    1) Madewell Transport Tote
    2) Tote bag insert (it might have been featured during word press days and I think I ordered on Amazon?)
    3) Mabelline Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer
    4) Items from Everlane and MMLaFleur (two brands introduced to me on this blog)
    5)Necklace (can’t remember the name but I think the blog featured the one with a compass and I purchased the turtle–this was several years ago…)
    6) Small ring with my initials on it (can’t remember the name from where it was purchased)

    *I purchased the Top Shop mauve bag featured on last week’s blog. It was well packaged, the color is really pretty and overall the quality is very good–so appreciate the recommendation! There is a small “nic” in it so I was on the fence about whether or keep or exchange for another so I have not used yet.

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  5. Gabby says:

    I have that same field jacket and I love it so much I got the flannel-lined version in navy for days when I need something a little warmer but not pea coat heavy

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  6. Kelly says:

    Just noticed that the Third Love bras have foam cups which is what I’ve been looking for. (My go-to brand was disappointing the last time around.)

    As for my own workhorse pieces: everything I’ve ever ordered from MM.LaFleur. My cost-per-wear is under $5 and still falling. Just bought another top since I was wearing the one I had at least once a week.

    May 2, 2018/Reply
  7. AmandaG says:

    I come back for your great recommendations and advice. I love your links to a wide variety of articles and functional but beautiful pieces. Also, I am kind of over the posed pictures you see elsewhere. Everyone poses the same! You keep it real. I love your blog!

    May 3, 2018/Reply
  8. SC MD2 says:

    I learned of Lo & Sons from this blog, and honestly I think my Lo & Sons Pearl crossbody bag in saffiano leather is among the best purchases I’ve ever made. I can fit so much into a small purse and the organization is phenomenal.

    May 3, 2018/Reply
  9. J says:

    My top utility items (many of which I found through this blog, in some form or fashion):

    – Lo & Sons Pearl Crossbody
    – Stell & Dot Rebel Pendant
    – Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirts (alas, they don’t seem to make the old version anymore)
    – Tony Moly Banana Sleeping Pack (not a wardrobe item, but considering it goes on my face every single night, seems worth mentioning)
    – Topshop Suede Loafers
    – Nic + Zoe Modern Blouse
    – MM LaFleur Foster Pants
    – Drybar blow dryer (maybe I’ve been totally suckered on this, but I truly believe it’s the only one that works well for my insanely thick hair)
    – Black Halo Jackie O. Three Quarter Sleeve Dress
    – Natori Feathers Bra

    May 3, 2018/Reply
  10. sara says:

    Love this!

    1) Gold studs from Seattle local artist hellotangerine.
    2) Kai perfume. The scent of gardenia is light enough for warm summer days and folx always ask me what I’m wearing.
    3) My bkr water bottle. I have a 1L that I keep at my desk at work, and a 500ml for the gym and while I’m on the go. I love that the glass bottle doesn’t taste like plastic, and it’s dishwasher safe.
    4) BB Dakota faux leather Peppin drapey jacket. I throw it over everything – it’ll instantly take my look from day-to-night, and it didn’t break the bank. The silhouette also pretty much goes with everything.

    May 3, 2018/Reply