Thursday, 10 September 2015

Charity shopping to look smart

Last week I had an interview for a job in a library. This was my first one in nearly ten years, and seeing as I’ve not been in paid employment for over five years, I had a lot to think about. Mainly – what was I going to wear?!
I’ve not had to dress smartly in a long time. My last job was a librarian in an art gallery, anything went, in fact the more arty the better. I thought I could cobble together an outfit from my wardrobe, after all I still had the blouse and tank top from my last interview (though the city shorts are long gone) but thought it a good excuse to potter round the charity shops. So off I went and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. If I had been looking for a suit I would have had the choice of a few including a wool one from Kew and a green tweed one from Zara reduced to a pound. But I wasn’t. Although suits are usually a safe bet for interviews, I’ve never worn one in my line of work and think that if you turn up to an interview wearing one it looks like you don’t realise what the job entails. Also the tweed one would look as if I was trying too hard to be a librarian. I found some smart work dresses from Next, obviously donated by the same person, which would have been perfect had they not been a size too small. I tried them on and could squeeze into them, just, but sitting down would have been problematic. If I hadn’t thought that the first question would be “would you like a seat?” I may have chanced it. I may be rusty at interviews but I’m pretty sure “no” is the wrong answer.
So I came home empty handed but for some reason it pleased me to know that it is possible to dress smartly from charity shops.
So I rummaged around my wardrobe and found a cord pencil skirt (you know my love of cord by now) and a stripy shirt, both from the stall on the market that Ingrid and I have talked about before, therefore costing no more than three quid each. The shirt was actually my husband’s but it was a little snug on him and he later realised it was a woman’s, so now it’s this woman’s. I’ve got some yellow shoes which I’d always planned to wear as, surprisingly, yellow shoes go with everything. I read a book by Caitlin Moran in which she says this, and she’s right. The other thing she said that stuck with me is that “anything from Per Una makes you look a bit mental”. I’ve used this to justify throwing out a perfectly nice (but from Per Una) denim skirt which I never felt quite right in and I always hear it in my head when browsing labels in charity shops. I never bought it since.
So, I went off to my interview, nervous as anything and wearing nothing “new”, but feeling that even though I was wearing a bargain outfit, I’d pitched it right – smart, but not too formal and most importantly, not too librarian. My cardigan stayed at home.
Oh, and I must have looked ok as I got the job!

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