Friday, April 27, 2012

Nepotism: alive, well and shopping

Here's something awkward: when somebody calls you about a job as an intern, and you talk to them while you're at your current job, and you have to keep putting them on hold over and over. I was sure he was going to hang up. He didn't. I guess if you're offering someone an interview as a favor, you don't really pay attention or care if the person's a screw-up.

Laurie told me that when you interview at an accounting job you wear what you'd wear if you work there. Josh told me Laurie cried after I called to ask if she could come with me to buy an interview outfit. I told her my budget was $100. It took three hours and two phone calls to accept spending that much money on an outfit for an internship that might not even lead to a job at all, would be okay. Laurie told me to add a zero.

We met up at Loehman's. Then we went to Century 21. When I noticed each time Laurie finished touching something she'd wipe her hand on her pants, I asked if this was the first time she'd been to these stores. She claimed no, but I am not sure.

Here is what I am sure of: (I love punctuation today) Suits for accounting offices are matronly and ugly and depressing. Why are the skirts so long? In my entire life I've never worn a skirt this close to my knees. I kept feeling like I was going to trip. Business suits are boxy and ugly. Why is this the accounting uniform? Who decided this was the way to dress? And what were they wearing when they decided it?

When I mentioned this to Laurie she offered that I could get a dark gray or navy blue suit instead of black. That'd be even worse! Alex had told me to have Laurie help me get a french blue shirt with a black skirt suit. How does she know this shit? Alex is the weirdest kid ever. I never even heard of a french blue shirt. Laurie agreed that would look perfect. Alex would probably make a better ... well, she'd be better at being me when I have to deal with Josh's family than I am.

I look like I'm going to court. I look like I'm playing dress-up in somebody's mom's closet (not mine, because she never had clothes like this). When we got home Josh had me try on the whole contraption, and he swore I looked right. How does he know? How many accounting offices has he hung out in? I am very worried. This is all happening very fast.

This keeps making me think about my mom. I wonder if I went shopping with her, if I'd have come home with an outfit like this. I wonder if we'd go shopping together. I want to try my outfit on for her to see what she thinks. It's like if she told me it looks right, then fine - I'll happily skip off into the accounting sunset with this prairie skirt and boxy blazer.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on taking another step closer to becoming a grownup! I'm assuming that part of the reason you're getting a college degree is so that you have more earning power. Maybe you can just think of the suit as just one more way to do that. Places where you have to wear business suits generally pay more money than those where you don't.

My mom didn't wear clothes like that either but she would have told me I looked nice. I'll bet yours would have too. I think you can trust Laurie and Josh that you look right, even if it doesn't feel right yet. You can still wear what you like when you're not working. It's admirable that you're taking this big step out of your comfort zone.

LOL. When I was your age I swore I would NEVER EVER wear flat shoes, elastic waistbands or drive a Suburban. Don't ask.

Just Me said...

I hate business wear. You're right that most suits are ugly and non-feminine. The only business suits I like come from Victoria's Secret, etc. But probably would really be appropriate anywhere.

I swear I would turn down a job that required I dress like that, purely because of the dress code. If I can't wear my nice cargo pants and decorated tees and sketcher's flip flops on days when I want to, it's not a job for me.

However, financial security is a good thing, and if a couple suits are what it takes and you're willing to do that, then good for you. You are an overachiever, and will do great at whatever you set your mind to doing.

TKD said...

I have a more casual occupation (engineering) and live in a more casual location (Denver, CO), but if it's any consolation... I wore a suit to all my interviews and haven't touched it since. I can't even think of a time when I'll need it in my current job, but it's the type of thing you're supposed to have just in case. I don't think you'll wear a full suit everyday to work...

Also, if you ever need another suit, the only one I ever feel even remotely cute or comfortable in is the one I have from Banana Republic.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

My husband works at a financial services firm that has a very explicit dress code, for both men and women--women may not wear sandals or peep-toed shoes, must wear skirts within 2 inches of the knee, must not show cleavage, may not have bare arms, and must wear pantyhose if wearing a skirt. These rules apply even on "casual Fridays". On casual Fridays my husband wears a suit without the tie.

I would not last long there.

However, its true, places where you wear suits generally pay alot more than places where you wear a nametag.

You can find nice, affordable suits ($150-200ish) at Macys and Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor, especially if you are the same size top and bottom. Separates usually cost more, but Ann Taylor has some cute, trendier stuff. (Or they used to five years when I used to wear suits.)

OTRgirl said...

It does sound like the right outfit. Bummer, right? I'm not a fan of the suit myself, but conservative and accounting go hand-in-hand culturally. So also in the medical world. I've had my husband ask me to change my outfit for one of his social events. I was in my typical flamboyant, designer-friendly garb and he wanted me to be less obtrusive. Since it was a first-impression event for him at his new job, I was ok with that, but it was a reminder of the world he now 'lives' in.

My first real job was between high school and college. I worked at a Credit Union for the summer. I DID actually raid my Mom's closet. Felt frumpy and fit right in.

You'll be great. And I'm sure you look WAY sexier than you feel.

Anonymous said...

plenty of suits at ann taylor and banana!

Anonymous said...

Most places consider a pants suit to be acceptable for a woman, and you may find that easier. (If they don't, they may be too sexist to work for.) I work in a male-dominated profession where the last thing I want is colleagues looking at my body (and I have a nice build); I want to draw attention to my brains. I'd far rather wear fun, sexy clothes where I can choose my companions!

Nina said...

I think the suggestion for pantsuits is good if you're not loving the longer skirt length. I bought my first interview suit from Banana Republic - simple black, but the cut was more narrow and flattering rather than the boxy cuts that a lot of suits have. I also like J.Crew suits, but they're a little pricier. But yeah, not much you can do about the skirt length.

Anonymous said...

You always have to get a dig in about Josh's family. Wiping her hands on her pants. Why do you that???? They have been so kind to you.

Anonymous said...

Wearing suits can actually become kinda fun once you find a style that fits your personality & surroundings. ( I swear, really! BTDT)
To do so, though, one has to become a shopper to find the deals, what fits and what is acceptable. This will be another transition for you.
If you are too uncomfortable with Laurie and the differing economics, take Alex.
Your Mom would say "You look different. You look awesome (or whatever other Mom word she would use). And I am very very proud of you."

Anonymous said...

LOL - it is all those catalogs that Alex pours over that came up with French Blue. Oh yeah, and don't be surprised when you get the cool briefcase as a gift. Those can be fun too. Welcome to a new and different world.

Anonymous said...

(You are into grammar today. Let me know if this was correct.)
re: "I am very worried. This is all happening very fast. "
You know, since you have experienced it, life comes at you very fast.
And for reassurance, after years of reading your blog, one thing we all know is that you are more than capable at dealing with life coming at you very fast.

Mizasiwa said...

Must say that even here in SA the conservative suit is the uniform of all accounting/financial institutions. (I worked for a bank for 8 years and felt like a fraud every day, the only nice part was that I didnt have to think about what to wear every day...) Here if you spend anything under R500 you will look frumpy - expensive suites always look better and are better cut so look better and they last longer. (I dont know but I thought that $100 was a lot of money??) I also think you probably look awsome!!Also pant suits are more user friendly becouse you dont have to worry about what shoes you are wearing as long as the pants cover the shoes - thats what I do but im really short so its not normally intentional. Skirt suits usualy mean heals are needed and i dont know how you feel about heels (or ifthis is the case in the US)

Mizasiwa said...

ditto on the Alex - she may be young but it must be all the catelogues she reads - my youngest sister is also really good with what looks good on all of us (she is a bit of a crazy person about it if you dont wear what she likes ;-) i think its nice that you asked Laurie but if you cant or dont want to do that I would take Alex if you think you could handle her at the mall.