Professional Decorum

I realize that it has been a long time since I have had to pound the pavement searching for employment and that things have changed since I last looked over a decade ago.  As a result, the last three months have consisted of LOTS of time on the computer, LOTS of time driving to interviews (averaging 2-3/week since mid-July), and constant concern over what to wear to each interview in order to set the proper impression.

I realized today that I probably make a much bigger deal than needed over that last concern.

This morning, I went for an interview–my third one this week, so I’m right on schedule.  Like many companies do, the HR director set aside an entire day for interviews with the appointments staggered throughout the day.  For this particular company, there were actually two HR personnel taking appointments.  I had been instructed to come with a hard copy of my resume, a list of references, and to dress in professional attire.  Now, I don’t know if it was just my HR director that issued that edict, but if what I saw in the waiting room is any indication the definition of professional attire has changed drastically since I last looked for a job.

I was one of six women to pass through the reception area.  (Keep in mind that it was 60 degrees outside and rainy.)  When I first entered the Suite there were only two women waiting–a girl in jeans and a sweater who kept talking on her cell phone and a blond girl that was wearing black pants, a printed black sweater jacket, and a belly skimming sweater top.  Turns out that the jeans girl was simply waiting to give a ride to a very nattily dressed gentleman that was in an interview room, so that made sense as she was not there in a professional capacity.  Next, a very nicely dressed African American lady wearing black pants and a printed blouse entered.  She looked very put together, but when she sat down next to me it was all I could do to keep from moving as she had on so much perfume I was seeing stars.  Then came in two young girls at the same time.  One was very petite, hair in a ponytail, black skinny jeans, and a ribbed white top carrying a cell phone and keys.  Not really my idea of professional attire, but it was the other girl that changed my outlook on how to dress for an interview.

This girl was healthy (i.e., she had curves, people!) but not oversized.  She had on heavy makeup but it was very artfully done.  She had chin-length hair and wore a headband.  Now I don’t know about you, but when I wear a headband it is to pull my hair back away from my face.  The headband might be worn for decoration, but the essential function of it is the same.  This young woman had her headband sitting behind her ears–in other words, she had not pulled her hair back at all.  It looked like it was simply put on by slamming it down on the top of her head and not worrying about what hair got caught by the band.  As a result, her bangs were hanging in her face and she had these weird sprouts in front of her ears like the hair was almost being pushed forward by the accessory.  Then the HR recruiter (not the one I was seeing) called her to the back to fill out additional paperwork since she had not brought along her resume.

And that, my friends, is when I could fully appreciate the full outfit.

Skin-tight, low-rise black pants that were held on by a two-inch studded belt and a prayer.  One of those printed t-shirts that are meant to look French (because they have postcards, words, and an Eiffel Tower on them but they’re pink and abstract so you have to look at them carefully to figure out what it is) was being worn as a camisole of sorts.  A canvas-colored cropped jacket was worn over the ‘camisole’; the jacket hit at waist level, had metal blue jean style buttons, and all the edges had 1/2 inch frayed fringe (sleeves, hem, front, neck, etc).  She had on black platform sandals, despite the rain.  I’m all for lift in shoes (who doesn’t like to be tall, right?!) but the height in her shoes came from the two-inch platform and not from the heel, meaning she had to walk as if she was doing a runway diva stomp to keep from falling over.  But the ultimate accessory was the last one I noticed.  As she greeted the HR recruiter and walked (stomped) down the hall, it was clear that the camisole was not long enough to tuck into her pants, and her jacket was really too short . . . therefore they provided an excellent view of the green leopard print G-string thong she was wearing.

I am all for no panty lines, I get it.  I don’t understand a thong, and instead prefer Spanx or seamless panties or something that is designed to not show lines–but I certainly don’t wear a thong.  Especially a thong that only has a three inch triangle to cover my entire backside.  (I don’t care how skinny you are, no derriere is only three inches wide!)  And most especially not a thong that I am wearing at my natural waistline when my outer garments are not designed to cover said area and in fact leave a four-five inch gap to provide a clear view of the undergarment.

I must say, it was certainly an eye opening (no pun intended) sight.  Here I am wondering if my black dress pants and classy tunic top are too informal or–for some places–even too dressy, and this chick has on green leopard print undergarments.  Maybe she thought that the recruiter was going to be a male?  Maybe she thought that green leopard print went with faux-French screenprints?  Maybe she thought she was pulling up her pants and instead yanked the sides of her G-string up higher?

I guess there was one thing to be thankful for: there was no tramp stamp on the small of her back to compete with the fringe, pink print, green leopard, or studded belt.  That, I fear, would have just been tacky.

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