“Dress for the job you want!” was advice I heard from an early age.
I took that advice to heart. I was working a modest job in a government office while applying for jobs at companies in the city. I had never worked in commerce, but had a freshly redeemed business degree, so I bought suits and showed up to work every day (answering the same annoying questions on the phone) 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 pants and a striped blouse. It wasn’t one of my dressiest outfits, but it was still considerably dressier than anyone else in the office except for my boss.
“I know the notice is short…” said the voice on the other end of my phone, “but could you come for an interview at 5:00?”
Since I left work a little after four, changing my wardrobe was out of the question. During my lunch break, I bought a small dragonfly pin and pinned it to the lapel of my lavender jacket. I arrived early for 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.
It was many years ago. My approach to dressing has remained more or less the same. Almost all the clothes I buy are second-hand, and once I choose a set, I wear the same thing day after day.
When I went back to school to get a degree in writing, the degree was paid for by teaching classes. Since I had never taught before, I figured I had better dress like a teacher at least. I chose a variety of loose skirts and matching scarves.
I didn’t notice their similarity until one of my students said to me, “We call you ‘the green lady’ because you wear green every day.
But green is a good color for new beginnings, and that’s what I was doing. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about dressing like a teacher anyway. I was so much older than my classmates in the program that everyone assumed I knew more than them. I do not have.
During the pandemic, I nailed my “writing suit,” a set consisting of stretchy black 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 always wear my writer’s costume. Today my shirt is black.
But I’m starting to wonder if a change might be in order.
My husband, Peter, and I recently returned from Mexico, and spending a long time in a different place made me feel different. I returned to a closet full of clothes I barely recognize and have no desire to wear. The clothes in my closet look bland. The clothes in my closet seem to think I’m an older person than me, no matter what my driver’s license says.
I thought about my old mantra about dressing for the job I want. What would I wear if I was dressed for the life I want right now?
Honestly, I do not know. But I wear 13 bracelets all in different shades of blue, left over from my time in Mexico. They are impractical and a bit silly and they make me very happy. It might be a start.
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