Friday, June 09, 2006

Too Cool for an Interview

I am not in to shopping- not for food, not for clothes, not for presents. When I enter a store, I find that I am actually entering a time warp. Hours pass unnoticed. I think maybe the issue I have is that I spend my entire day thinking of other people's needs and wants and it is only when I am shopping for myself that I start to consider what I want. Clotheswise, I generally know what I want. The problem is that I have a difficult time finding what I want. I generally prefer to order off the internet where I can buy what I want when I want. For me to walk into a brick and mortar, I want something within my own mental time constraint.

In my late teens and early twenties, I LOVED JCPenney's. The clothes seemed fresh, young and classy. I also liked Thalhimer's where the clothes were classic, conservative and I could get an employee discount. I barely remember shopping for me from my mid-twenties - early thirties. I was too busy getting married, and having kids. Now, in my mid-thirties, I'm back to focusing on what I want and what I need. What I want and need are department stores as they were in my early twenties!

I really believe that casual Friday's led to the demise of taste. When I first started working for my current employer in 1995, I had to dress up every day. After a few years casual Friday was introduced...then casual Mondays, too. The next thing I know we were given a casual summer. The second summer that happened, casualness was made a permanent fixture. The dress code has diminished ever since. Once you've gone that far, what's so wrong with going to work showing your belly button and wearing thongs - err, I mean flip flops.

Three months ago, on a whim, I decided to refresh my wardrobe. I drove to JCPenney's on my lunch hour. It was not MY JCPenney's anymore. What I saw was young, hip and casual. Nothing reeked of classic classiness to me. In desperation, I did get a couple items that I had to do some in-depth scanning to find. I am OK with never going back there.

Today I began to panic. I have an interview in DC on Thursday. Even though I have clothes that will be just fine, I got it in my head that I had absolutely nothing to wear. A new blouse would give me that little extra boost I need- right? WRONG! I knew better than to go to where then? Dillards? No, not Dillards. The last time I went to Dillards - three hours passed unnoticed just because I had been invited to a little party in Savannah. So, I went to Belk's. My mother-in-law practically lives there and she is classy. It turned out not to be a good idea. Yes, Belk's does have suits and formal dresses. I have suits, but I wanted a new blouse to wear under one of the suits - is that too much to ask? Obviously it was. Everything was just too cool for an interview. I wandered in disbelief thinking there had to be something and I was willing to pay a little more for that something. Where were the silks, or linens, or comfortable fabric with a collar?

I imagine this is what culture shock must be like - the constant looking for normalcy in chaos. (Sigh!) Would I have faired better sticking with the internet and paying for express shipping? Or should I have gone to Dillards?

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