This is a post from Fraylie, my regular guest poster whose perspective I love. She has been sharing stories about finding herself waiting tables after receiving her degree, getting into grad school and deciding not to go, and then trying to get a job in the big city. Here’s an update from her in the form of a delightful little essay about trying on suits for a job interview:
During some point in the day, I stood in a tiny mirrored room with about two dozen garments dangling around my head. Skirts, pants, silk and wool – I was imagining Stacy London skulking around to rear her head and yelp you look ridiculous!
I was wearing a suit. Chic women kitten heeled around me, pulling at my waist and examining the lines forming on my skirt. They told me to sit down. They told me to stand up. I just need to see how it moves, darling. And when somebody announced that my skirt was a size six, my mother exhaled oh boy.
The best question was, what kind of job interview is this? I was inside the dressing room pulling on a navy skirt with too many buttons. Through the slats in the door, I heard voices conversing about my job prospects. After all, the design of the suit must reflect the desired industry. With one leg in the skirt, my heart crawled down to the floor. I didn’t have a desired industry.
What I had were lofty hopes to one day publish witty essays for smart people. But the other thing I had was an upcoming corporate interview concerning an unknown industry. One of those staffing places in Manhattan where I was told to dress professionally and bring two forms of ID. One of those places where it’s protocol for them to drop you like a fly. And then, when my mother told the sales girl she’s just looking for anything, all of these pants and jackets transformed into garish costumes from my childhood dress-up trunk.
The suits looked very unflattering. I was especially concerned about my hips. And until recently, I had no hips. Really. I looked like a teenage boy most of the way through college. And, in typical college fashion, (pun maybe intended) I hadn’t been shopping in real stores in quite a while. I preferred Goodwill and The Salvation Army because a shirt was the price of a burrito, and it jived with my fashion statement of wanting to look something between a 90’s J Crew catalog and Cape Cod grunge. But here I was in a tiny room, dealing with this supposedly desirable hourglass thing, draped in linen like curtains on a minivan.
Maybe it wasn’t that bad. But the shock of bodily self-consciousness faced with the reality of my vague not-so job prospects made me uneasy. Put a suit on that, and I felt like a clown. I didn’t know what else to do besides act apologetic. I’m sorry you have to keep bringing all this stuff out. Sorry, I really don’t know what I’m doing. Sorry as beautiful as your clothing is, I still feel like a box.
But for you, concerned citizens, I did end up with a suit by the end of the day. And it’s navy blue and fairly, dare I say, pretty. It came from a different store where nobody helped me pick it out. The anonymity was a beautiful thing.
Though, lesson learned: this is why shopping makes me uncomfortable. It’s the fluorescents, the filtered air and the expectant sales associates buzzing about what I’m supposed to look like that really irks me.
I kept telling everyone I wished to wear jeans to work. And I suppose that says something about my character: I’m probably not suited for the corporate world. (Pun definitely intended.) At some point in this undulating life, I’d like to work for myself, imposing my own fashion regulations. I’d probably enjoy the moment where I can do my work in my underwear with all the windows open. From the credit card’s perspective, it’s certainly the more comfortable and frugal option. But until then, I’ll be shopping alone in the future.
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Unroast: Today I liked how my legs looked in heels. Rue the day I encounter heels that don’t elongate my calves!