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Friday, November 6, 2009

All Dressed up and Someplace to Go

Once in my previous position, I interviewed a woman who wore a stunning ivory lace blouse that flowed to her knees and wide silk pants that swayed from side to side above stiletto heels. She looked lovely, but in my hiring role, I had to determine not only if she had the skills for the job, but also if she demonstrated the appropriate professionalism.

The outfit was gorgeous, but in that it wasn’t a suit, was it suitable? Gee wiz, you weren’t going to be able to tell by me. I am what they call, ah, fashion impaired. My employer was an apparel retailer, and pinstripe-suit-rules were often broken, but this time I was at a loss, though, not all together dumb. Before the end of our meeting, I manufactured an excuse to step out of the office, snagged a woman who had clothing sense, and requested she watch my applicant exit to give me a clue as to whether the outfit was fitting. The candidate got two thumbs up, but beyond mainstream wardrobe professionalism, my knowledge in this regard never improved.

So imagine this. My husband and I have a wedding to go to tomorrow evening. I don't know the bride (my husband’s coworker), the groom, or anyone else going to this event. My standard, “What are you wearing to the wedding?” question dissipated into thin air because there’s no one to ask. Oh and just try suggesting to a man that he ask his female coworkers what they are wearing and see how far you get.

Since we were casual at work for a few years before my job disappeared, nothing left in the closet is wedding suitable. On top of that gravity is starting to exert its pull and I’m not keen on spending money these days for something that’s not comfortable or that I can’t wear, again and again. What’s a walking fashion faux pas like me to do, you ask? Well, turn to the clearance racks, of course, and not just any clearance racks, the discount store clearance racks.

Here’s the good news. Our current economic climate has resulted in deep markdowns. Here’s the bad news. There is still a rule about six items or less allowed in the dressing room. Will someone explain to me why six is the Holy Grail number, not seven, or nine, or seventeen? This, my friends, was an all out search. I had two hours and wasn’t leaving the store without something to wear, and that meant I needed a whole lot more than six items in the dressing room at one time. In fact, perhaps more than one dressing room would have come in handy too.

But noooo, the twenty-something dressing room Nazi took one look at my arms full of clothes and simpered, “My, what a lot of good choices you have here." Counting out a measly six, she added: "I’ll put this group over to the side for when you are ready,” grabbing a pile about the size of say, Mount Everest. Six items later I shuffled back to her in my stocking feet and traded six rejects for six more. Six items after that, I wandered out for four more and she giggled at me. Seriously.

It seemed like a lot of effort for one black tunic I can wear with my dressy black pants, some costume jewelry to jazz it all up and my high heels that I will long to kick off half way though the evening. My daughter looked at me horrified when I said, “I chose this one, because without the jewelry, I can wear it to funerals too.”


Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

Liz, I think the 6-item limit has something to do with how many hangers the clerk can count and how many items they figure you can stick in your purse and sneak out the door. Or maybe, after someone camped out with 50 items the stores said, "That's it!" and passed the rule. Either way, I feel your pain in the what-to-wear department.

Thank heavens black is now okay to wear to weddings! Now that I'm away from the working world my wardrobe focus is black, denim, and khaki. I have probably ten pairs of black pants but each one is different . . . in size, style, and fabric. Summer, winter, size 6, size 10. I'm covered.

Ginger B.

Tabitha Bird said...

LOL Liza! You crack me up girl. And yes, what is it about the magic number six? !!! And clearly with tow hours to shop you needed the whole shopping centre to yourself, not just an extra change room. The least they could have done was let you in with extra clothes:)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would have gone for the velour track suit--in black. That way you would be comfortable and you could wear it to a wedding, funeral or bed.

Helen Ginger said...

I sooo identify with your last statement. You always have to think of multiple uses for outfits. And, you're right, you can't ask a man. My husband will inform me of some event we need to go to and I'll ask what the dress is. He looks at me with a blank look. I'll ask him to find out and he'll come back with, so-and-so says it's dressy casual. What the heck does that mean???

Straight From Hel