Realizing my own adulthood while suit shopping

Conforming to the shackles of the black interview suit


When I came home for winter break, I, like most students, expected to have a nice time relaxing with family and friends. I had visions of taking my dog to the beach, trying new restaurants in San Francisco and sleeping in until 11 a.m. everyday. Little did I know that my winter break plans would be derailed by the quintessential female problem of “I have nothing to wear.”

See, I’d been looking for summer internship opportunities for the past few months and finally managed to schedule an interview with an insurance and risk management firm in L.A. over the break. When my parents asked me what I was going to wear, I explained that I’d “just figure something out.” My parents, horrified at my lack of knowledge regarding the business status-quo, informed me that in order to appear “respectful” I would have to wear a suit to the interview. However, at this point in time, I had never even tried on a suit in my life. And while this may seem like a rather mundane problem, it turned out to be my Everest.

While I started off convinced that finding an interview-appropriate suit would be an easy one-and-done shopping trip, I have now spent so much time in various locations of Banana Republic that I can comfortably and casually refer to it as just “Banana,” without feeling like a total poser.

It took about eight different sheath dresses before my mom and I finally figured out that I am vastly different sizes in tops and bottoms and hence, no sheath dress will ever fit me properly. Scrapping our original idea, we moved on to dresses that didn’t abide by the “sheath” silhouette and eventually, I found the perfect dress  — a tweed v-neck that made me feel like the effortlessly chic editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine in New York.

But when I brought it home, my dad very quickly dismissed it as “too fun,” and it was effectively shoved to the back of my closet. Back to square one. Or, alternatively, back to J. Crew.

After approximately 1,200 outfit changes and an obscene number of unforgiving dressing room mirrors  — I now believe lighting and mirrors that add 50 pounds should be considered a crime against humanity — we finally managed to put together a skirt-and-blazer combo that didn’t make me want to light myself on fire.

So, what did I learn from this experience? First of all, interview suits are some of the most unattractive and unfortunate things that a woman can wear, and the fact that we must conform to the strict rules of conservative business wear in order to get a job is truly tragic. The injustice of this entire situation is only compounded by the fact that men a) look good in suits and b) can purchase one suit that can be worn for everything from interviews to fraternity formals. Women, on the other hand, need a new outfit for seemingly every event they ever attend. I also realized that moms can be extremely effective personal shoppers, even in the most hopeless of situations. However, most of all, this eye-opening shopping endeavor made me realize that true adulthood is almost upon me.

I thought only people 23 and older had to wear suits — like real adults who pay for their own health insurance or have mortgages. But apparently, I’m now a suit-owner and, hence, close to being one of those people. And that makes me want to focus more on enjoying this upcoming semester.

The beauty of college is that it’s this sort of purgatory between teenagedom and actual adulthood, where you get all the freedom of an adult, but none of the responsibility. Realizing that one day soon I’ll be leaving that all behind in favor of a job where I potentially have to wear a suit everyday is kind of depressing.

But, for now, I’m free of the shackles of the black suit. So, let’s enjoy the perks of college. Let’s revel in the freedom of being able to roll to class at 9 a.m. in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, wear Uggs, tastefully pair our socks with sandals and commit other heinous crimes against fashion while we still can.

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