“Can you wear a skirt on a job interview?”
I send the text message about twenty minutes into a harried changing session, my bedroom littered with trousers (pleated and unpleated) and shirts (with sleeves and without), a handful of all-wrong shoes scattered around the floor. I, more often than not, write from home in my pajamas; I am not equipped for corporate job interviews. At least not ones where I am meant to look like a professional.
I settle on a boxy, structured shirt and a thigh-grazing skirt from the same designer. Paired with boots with men’s dress socks and a sturdy little bag, I look positively like a vaguely promiscuous schoolgirl. I take any hint of learnedness to be a good thing, especially when wanting to come off more intelligent than less so, and head out the door, my friend still not having yet responded to my text. I feel sort-of good, slightly confident, appropriately dressed for a day-date with a square… which is what job interviews sort of are, aren’t they?
The subway has just emerged from one side of the East River when I get “Yes! But not too short. Below the knees!” on the screen of my phone, a badly-timed response if ever there was one. It’s now too late to turn back; I am stuck with my bad decision. I look down at the long, pale stretch of overexposed legs beneath me before jamming my phone back in my purse, my head swimming in self-berating swear words.
There is something to be said for understanding the corporate world—playing the game, flying right. To both my benefit and detriment, I have avoided real working environments for the last decade. In my brief encounters with these formal, structured worlds, I often feel like an alien who has been dropped off on a foreign planet to observe alternative life forms. I note the way people dress differently, talk differently, sit differently. In the corporate world, it seems there is too much at stake to behave normally. Employers might give you a 401k and benefit, but at the expense of realness, of weirdness, of you. Ten years of rather lawless, unfettered dedication to “me-ness”—from wearing butt cheek-revealing hot pants at model castings to routinely eating meals cross-legged on floors like a teenager—has left me absolutely clueless as to how to behave as an adult and, needless to say, clueless as to how to dress.
Though my reckless naiveté and attitude that errs on the side of circumstantially blasé can perhaps come off as a breath of fresh air—a soul untainted from the years of living by book—I can assure you that when I sit down for my first meeting, which, unfortunately takes place on the sofa of a lobby with no table under which to hide my sartorial gaucherie, I can assure you that the literal feeling of too much air passing over too much exposed skin is almost too much for me to bear. I’ve got a lot to learn, if for no other purpose than to be able to act my own age when appropriate, a job interview being one of them.