Dress for success


I almost forgot how to be a grown-up.

I get the gist of it. The buying of groceries. The paying of bills. The yelling at random kids to get off my lawn and, for the love of god, stop leaving the lights on people. That I can do.

It’s the other stuff. The showing up with your hair combed and in decent clothing every day for like five days in a row that initially had me stressing out.

Lounge wear

I “retired” from the 9-5 life when our first child was born. At home, I worked the midnight to midnight shift and while the hours were tough, the wardrobe was easy.

I renovated a house, built a family, fed the dogs, mowed the lawn (maybe once), worked for our local community in a job which I love, and wrote a lot about all of that while wearing yoga pants. That’s technically like wearing pajamas all day unless you actually go to yoga. Which I do not.

Recently, I applied for a short-term office job, that I had no intention of actually getting, just to see if I could.

I haven’t had to interview for anything in over a decade. Why not give it a whirl?

I dusted off my least stretched out sweater, added a skirt, that almost matched, and went to the interview fully expecting never to hear from those nice people again. Then I did. And I love it.

Now all of the sudden I am in the “making a good impression” phase of life where they expect you to comb your hair and put on real pants every single day.

My new colleagues are lovely and were quick to inform, trying-entirely-too-hard, me that on casual Fridays jeans are permitted.

It’s so sweet of them to keep me in the loop like that. On the other hand, as someone who has experienced “casual Friday” seven days a week for nearly 17 years, the new still hasn’t worn off dressing decently for me.

I’m kind of enjoying my newfound love of “slacks.”

Ironically the word for dressier pants is one that implies relaxation. They should not be called “slacks.” They should be called “Stand Up a Little Straighter Pants.”


It is interesting to note that the very week I was rediscovering that clothing does, in some instances, make the woman, I was called into our high school when my daughter was disciplined on a dress code violation. Her wearing a large belted tunic top over long leggings with boots is not acceptable to one member of the high school faculty.

It is important to note that higher ups felt it was an appropriate outfit, and no one said a whit about the barely there tiny skirts being sported by other students. Is it a skirt or a belt with aspirations? Who can really say?

Nonetheless, “tunic length” is not a hill I am willing to die on.

I dutifully took our daughter home to change. I’m a lover of education, not a fighter.

In explaining to GirlWonder why we were not going to fight the good fight on her right to push the issue and wear this particular shirt over those particular pants, I decided to come clean with a universal truth of grown up life. Sometimes — many times — we have to do things we do not want to do.

As long as they are legal, and ethical, we do them. It’s called “being a grown up.”
See also: “Work.”

When I walked into the school yesterday, I was wearing a pair of gray “slacks” and a nice blouse with a scarf. This is not the outfit I would have chosen had I just had the day to myself.

The principal was wearing a smart suit comprised of slacks (again with that word!) and matching jacket.

I’m going to guess that in her private life she, like me, is a little bit more comfortable.
Both of us looked like what we were — professionals. I believe that fighting with the school about clothing sends the wrong message to students.

In the real world, your employer may one day decide he or she just isn’t impressed with that particular item of clothing and ask you not to wear it again.

In the real world, you can fight to the end — usually the unemployment line where I imagine they let you wear whatever you want.

Or, you suck it up, change clothes, and save that particular outfit for the weekend and days off.

One other universal truth still holds true for me, too. Wearing workout clothes everyday only works if you are, in fact, a fitness instructor.

In the real world when people say “put on your big girl pants and deal with it,” I’m pretty sure they mean slacks.


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