While I have been uninvited to appear physically at work, I am, actually, on the payroll for a few more weeks. Therefore, I still have access to my employee discount card. At up to forty percent, you can imagine that little piece of cardboard is a bit of a golden handcuff, and undoubtedly, the majority of my wardrobe contains the same label. It’s a perk that’s about to end. I am grateful for the fact that in the face of losing my job, our immediate circumstances are better than many others. But, clearly, in this economic environment it’s not clever to spend on non-necessities while the real thundercloud of unemployment looms--and it's particulary discomfiting when it means supporting the business that unequivocally indicated they no longer need my services. But the unemployment piece is exactly why I went shopping yesterday, albeit to the outlet division of my still-but-soon-to-be-former retail employer (SBSTBF for short). While the only thing I wanted to do less than walk through those doors would be to say--fall through the ice on the frozen pond down the street--the clock is ticking on the discount card. In spite of my denial, which remains as thick as the holes in that pond where the ice fishermen hunkered this morning, it’s just possible that there could be interviews to deal with soon. So with an idea of investing in my future, I slid through the closing window of opportunity, and here lies the conundrum.
I’ve worked in a “casual dress” environment for the past few years, and the thought of pulling on a “structured woven” (AKA: a suit) for a job interview gives me the willies. Please sir, could I wear blue jeans? And while we are talking about it, do people even wear suits anymore? In my recent experiences on the other side of the interviewing desk, the male candidates wore fitted suits and impeccable broadcloth shirts that we never saw again once they were hired. It begs the question as to how many men fork out the dough necessary to purchase expensive clothing before a job interview, only to relegate it to the closet afterward. I know female job applicants spend the money and it’s usually for clothes from my SBSTBF because, angling for points, they always announced it to me.
Though employed by a woman’s apparel retailer, I had zero input into clothing style and even less knowledge. Even after 23 years of exposure, it is beyond me to “get” apparel trends. Consequently as I slid clothes from one side of the rack to the other during my shopping expedition, my eye twitched as I tried to figure out what to purchase. Casual? Business Casual? Professional? And that aside, what do I buy for future interviews if I don’t know what I am interviewing for? It was enough to make me want to run home, lock the doors, yank on my sweats and begin my new career as a hermit. Possibly though, my husband and daughter would take issue with that.
So here is where it ended up. I bought two cardigan sweaters and a pair of refined stripped pants suitable for a funeral--oh I’m sorry--I mean a job interview. Our cedar closet holds several cast-off blazers that will fit the bill if I need to go upscale. I procured a pair of cotton Capri pants that can be worn casually or dressed up with a fine gauge sweater in a work environment. And though I have no idea what my future holds, I’m going to an outplacement meeting this week. I’ll wear one of the outfits there, and figure the rest out as I go along.
As for the investment spending--well, the clothes I bought were significantly discounted—-the markdown was more than I receive with the discount card. Wouldn’t it just figure? I didn’t need it.