Interview prep – dressing professionally

As noted in my last post I have a few job interviews this week. Being a planner, I opened up my closets today so I have a plan on what to wear and found … those stuffed-with-clothes closets contain exactly one summer temperature appropriate professional skirt and blouse. After 10+ years of working in an extraordinarily casual industry and office, I have tons of jeans, khakis, shorts, casual dresses, jean skirts, and t-shirts. On the winter side I have several wool skirts and long-sleeved blouses and twinsets, or at least enough for a week of outfits as long as dry cleaning is relatively quick. Another curious fact – I do not have a single pair of business appropriate dress slacks. When I did work in corporate environments, I always wore a dress or skirt and blouse. Slacks were not something I sought out, because I could never find anything I felt was flattering.

What makes this feel so much worse is that I am between sizes and have lost/am losing weight. Oh so slowly, but the scale is mostly moving in the right direction.

So I have spent much of my day shopping. This is not sport shopping, either. This is hardcore, on a mission shopping. I hate it. Seriously. I hate it. So rather than go to the mall and be Ms. Cranky with unsuspecting clerks who absolutely insist upon asking to assist me, I decided to start online and bite the bullet with overnight shipping.

I purchase 6 different dresses from Nordstrom, but 4 of those in normal and smaller sizes. I have high hopes for keeping 2 of my Nordstrom purchases, because they are simple sheath styles that should be both business-like and flattering. I also called and pleaded my case with customer service, and she could not have been nicer about cutting down that big giant overnight shipping fee. Spend enough money in one purchase and they do these things for you, so it’s obviously not something I recommend. But everything was on sale, but the total made me flinch. I have resolved to keep only 2, assuming there are 2 in the lot that actually fit right, and return the rest. Fingers and toes crossed something works.

On the bright side, even if I get/accept none of these jobs I will have something nice to wear at weddings and funerals (4 of 6 are black, then a gorgeous red and a fabulous royal blue). I have plenty of pumps or sandals to wear, lots of nice handbags. Hopefully I can accessorize simply with jewelry and not look too plain without one of those scarf things that are so popular. For whatever reason I am scarf-challenged; my daughter, K can drape those puppies across their shoulders and around their necks and look like they stepped out of a display. For me it looks sloppy or like I’m trying to spontaneously strangle myself.

Hair should be okay as I just had it trimmed and low-lighted last week to cover the mass quantity of gray hair. Tomorrow I’ll go see my former waxing lady for a brow shaping and lip wax. She’s clear across town, but I’m light on deadline-driven work and therefore have room in the schedule to indulge myself.

Really, these are things I should have considered months ago and been building into my plans. But I’m focused on refreshing myself to look competent and professional now, so I will make it happen. It is as if I suddenly woke up and realize I have eduction and experience that qualify me for something more than a small and quirky firm. I am torn between exhilarated and excited about being referred by my former CPA firm employers or alarmed and afraid about being found lacking. It is certainly a weird place to be after 10 years with the same firm and doing a lot of the same thing and wrestling with almost the same problems, year after year.

4 thoughts on “Interview prep – dressing professionally

  1. Change can be frightening but also exhilarating! You’ve got the brains and now you’ve got the physical aspects of presenting you at your best handled.
    Go get ’em…..

    • Thanks Sluggy. I’ll just feel better about the process once I get there for the first one. It’s the advance time to worry about what could go wrong that gets me every time.

  2. Good deal on getting Nordstrom to ship to you – is there one nearby as well? And dresses are much easier to make work while your body shape is changing. But as your body is going to keep changing as you workout I suggest only buying outfits as needed. It is stressful but less expensive. In my job I work at home (in a very casual town) or I am at a client site – usually NYC/DC and need to dress much more professionally. Since my body has been changing a lot I have gotten in the habit of not buying new things till I need them – after first buying new stuff and then 4 weeks later it all being too big. Separates and dresses have been my friend as different areas have changed sizes.

    One thing to think about – and this may be more of an east coast thing – but a statement piece of jewelry if you are not someone who wears jewelry very much. Doesn’t have to be expensive and shouldn’t be super trendy. Pearls tend to work well – they are versatile, affordable, lots of sizes/styles/lengths – and substantial enough to focus the eye. I tend to wear long strands double looper or with a light knot in them – a friend wears more of a choker piece with three strands. Again – lots of options and it “finishes” your look (scarves are great for this too – but are tougher in many ways).

    And how is the makeup going? I’m super excited for you!

    • I am uber excited about my shipment arriving today, but I am keeping only the 2 that fit best right now. I love all 6 that I chose, but even if all fit me perfectly, I’m returning at least 4 of them. This is my way of coping with the changing body shape. These are also simple lines, classic styles, so as I do get smaller they would be more forgiving at first (i.e., they are not too fitted) or I can add a belt or even have them taken in/altered. But they should be adequate to get me through interviews this week and next. It would be simpler if I were in San Francisco to find business clothes, but I’m not so I’ll work with what I have around here.

      Surprisingly, I do have a few nice pieces of jewelry, from my prior corporate days. Pearls were my first thought, but I also have a couple of simple diamond solitaire type necklaces that would pair nicely with the necklines I’ve chosen. I do love the long strands of pearls – so versatile. Again, at my present job I rarely wear jewelry, so I’ll have to break out my box and test drive them.

      Make-up is probably going okay. I’m seeing my brow waxing lady today who does consultations. She does not sell products, but she has her favorites and will tell me if I should have more. Last we discussed this she said to just use tinted moisturizer and a light dusting of powder if I felt like I wanted/needed it, light mascara coating, and a nice neutral lip tint/gloss. When I have tried it I felt fine about it, but I may ask her to help me a bit more with my eyes. Lip tint/gloss I think is fine, tinted moisturizer is just right, but the eyes still seem a bit “light”. Maybe after she does my brows I’ll feel differently.

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