Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You're Gonna Make it After All

Thank you to everyone who commented on Sunday's neurotic post. Yesterday evening, I got the call from my recruiter that I got the job. Since I didn't have a beret handy, I settled for giving the Merry Husband a high five as he ran down the staircase to congratulate me.

It's been over four months since I left my job, and although I desperately needed this break, it feels good to be heading back to work. I start on Tuesday, the day after I get back from a long weekend in L.A. to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday.

This is a contractor gig, so while the pay will be more than I'm used to, I'll only be there a few months. After that, I start this whole process over again. But I am happy that I will start the new year gainfully employed. For those keeping score at home, Goal #38 has been crossed off the list.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lament of the (Would Be) Working Girl

I used to work for a woman who loved to interview for new jobs. After a bad day at the office, she'd go home, fire up her laptop, and send her resume out to her broad network of contacts. She thrived in new environments, and her enthusiasm invariably dazzled her interviewers. Every couple of years, she moved on to a new job and new challenges. Just last week, she packed up and moved from Southern California to Alaska. She is fearless.

I, on the other hand, break out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of CareerBuilder. So you can imagine my terror when I was asked to come in for an interview on Friday, my first in over 10 years. In the days leading up, I worried myself into red, bumpy, painful hives that covered my neck (not a good look). At night, I dreamed about everything that could go wrong - getting lost on the way, flubbing interview questions, and (worst of all) realizing just as I was shaking hands with my potential colleagues that I was wearing faded jeans and a sloppy shirt.

This last subconscious worry seemed about to become a reality as I scoured my local malls for an Interview Suit. When I graduated from law school way back in 2001, you could cruise into any Ann Taylor and pick up a navy or gray skirt suit in acetate or viscose. Pair it with a cream-colored polyester shell, throw on some sensible black heels, a good watch, and some pearl studs, and you were done. Incidentally, we were instructed by Career Services to avoid black (too severe) and pants suits (unprofessional). It went without saying that we were to wear pantyhose, preferably Donna Karan. To paraphrase Melanie Griffith's Tess, you wanna be taken seriously, you need a serious suit.

Now admittedly, the Interview Suit was no one's favorite article of clothing. As soon as you signed your offer letter, the Interview Suit retreated to the dark recesses of your closet. Perhaps you wore its sibling on your first day or pulled it out occasionally for important meetings, but soon enough, business casual reigned triumphant. Eventually, your whole look devolved until, by the end, you were wearing flip-flops on Fridays. No? Okay, I guess it was just our office then.

So while I'm glad that many of us no longer have to wear suits on a daily basis, I was irritated when I realized that Brooks Brothers (of all places) does not stock navy or gray skirt suits. The saleswoman even called into the warehouse for me. Zip, zilch, nada. I made my way over to J Crew, where a salesman told me that the store had recently stopped stocking suits altogether, but that I could still order one online. Irritation gave way to panic. Giving up my dream of natural fibers, I visited Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Talbots, and Macy's. Still no Interview Suit.

In desperation, I tried Burberry and yet again came up empty handed. But here, an angel of a salesman whispered in his British accent, "Go to Lord & Taylor. Everything is on sale." And there, in the middle of the first floor, was an Interview Suit bonanza. Racks and racks of suits made by someone named Arthur S. Levine. Plain, no-nonsense suits in plain, no-nonsense colors. Let me tell you, relief feels like poly-blend.

Tahari Arthur Levine
Two Button Blazer

Tahari Arthur Levine
Tommy Pencil Skirt
All this has left me wondering if the Interview Suit is a dying breed. Perhaps the smaller stores needed to clear out boring basics this month to make room for their more exciting holiday offerings. Perhaps women have collectively decided that the old "rules" are nonsense, and that their education and experience should speak (rightfully) louder than a black pant suit. Or perhaps women aren't interviewing because of the poor job market. I just don't know.

I do know, however, that I'd really like a navy or gray suit in wool. If you have suggestions, please let me know. There is this one from Tahari, which I might be able to try on in Boston. Then again, maybe it's time to go custom with Moi-Meme.
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