“Dress for the job you want!” was advice I heard from an early age.
I took this advice to heart. I was working a lowly job in a government office while applying for jobs in businesses around town. I had never worked in business, but I had a freshly-minted business degree, so I bought some suits and, every day, I showed up for my job (answering the same boring questions on the telephone) dressed for the job I wanted rather than the one I had.
The day I got the call for an interview, I clearly remember I was wearing a lavender jacket with gray slacks and a striped blouse. It was not one of my dressier outfits, but it was still considerably dressier than what anyone else in the office was wearing — other than my boss.
“I know this is short notice …” the voice at the other end of my phone said, “but could you come in for an interview at 5:00?”
Since I got out of work a little past four, a change in wardrobe was out of the question. On my lunch break, I bought a little dragonfly pin and pinned it to the lapel of my lavender jacket. I arrived early to my interview with my dragonfly pin.
I got the job. I decided that dressing for the job you want was advice with some merit after all.
That was many years ago. My approach to dressing has remained more or less the same. Almost all the clothes I buy are used and, once I settle on an ensemble, I wear the same thing day in and day out.
When I went back to school for a degree in writing, the degree was paid for by teaching classes. Since I had never taught before, I figured I had better at least dress like a teacher. I chose a variety of full skirts and matching scarves.
I didn’t notice their similarity until one of my students said, “We call you ‘the green lady’ because you wear green every day.”
But green is a good color for new beginnings, and that was what I was doing. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry about dressing like a teacher anyway. I was so much older than my peers in the program that everyone assumed I knew more than they did. I did not.
During the pandemic, I nailed my “writing costume,” an ensemble that consisted of black stretch pants and the same shirt in a variety of colors.
One day I’m in teal, the next in purple, but the shirt is exactly the same. I’m still wearing my writing costume. Today my shirt is black.
But I’m starting to wonder if a change might not be in order.
My husband, Peter, and I recently returned from Mexico, and spending an extended time in a different place has made me feel different. I returned to a closet full of clothes that I hardly recognize and have no desire to wear.
The clothes in my closet look stodgy. The clothes in my closet seem to think I’m an older person than I am — no matter what my driver’s license might say.
I thought of my old mantra about dressing for the job I want. What would I wear if I were dressed for the life I wanted right now?
I honestly don’t know. But I’m wearing 13 bracelets all in various shades of blue, a leftover from my time in Mexico. They are impractical and a little silly and they are making me very happy. Maybe that’s a start.
Till next time, Carrie