I’m not sure if I have mentioned that a year ago, I resigned my paid position and took some time off, for a few reasons which don’t matter in this tale. After a year, my job at home is almost done.
Last week, I attended a job interview, ready to get back into the workforce, and wow people with my skills. Well that was the plan, anyway. I agonised for two weeks about what I should wear, because horror of horrors, while I have been not working, I have gradually culled my wardrobe of old or ill-fitting items. Unfortunately, this included some of my work wear, and shoes.
In the end, on the morning of the interview, I raced into Myer at Chadstone (yes I know ‘raced’ and ‘Chadstone’ are mutually exclusive terms, rarely seen in the one sentence), found a suitable, stylish, not-like-everyone-else-has top, and wore it with my 5 year old navy slacks and my eldest daughter’s great shiny black flats (sorry honey, I think I mentioned that, didn’t I?). I took my usual black leather bag (too bad I only just noticed the unravelled zip and stitching on one side), which, now I think of it, is my only bag. In short, I was a bit cobbled together, but relatively OK with my look. The kind public servants who interviewed me didn’t wince or show any other signs of revulsion, so I guess it was all OK. I don’t think I got the job though…
Anyway, this aside is relevant, because it goes to my love-hate relationship with clothes. So, over the year, not having to dress for work, my standards have, I admit, fallen somewhat.
It started with the rationalisation that because I was out walking early most mornings, it was OK to go into my favourite coffee shop in my active wear, you know, runners, baggy trakkies and stretchy t-shirt, sometimes bra-less, and generally with unshaven legs as well. And over winter, I reasoned that it was OK to continue this habit, even on days I wasn’t out walking, and sometimes even past 10am, when the world and his wife were out in Oakleigh.
Once, I even wore Ugg boots down the street, just for a quick coffee grab, on a bitterly cold day. I was desperate.
As the weather warmed, I wore slightly less daggy knee length trakkies and even a new t-shirt. But then IT happened. On a particularly hot day in January, I travelled by public transport out to the wilds of Heidelberg, a trip which involved some walking, train, train and more walking, up a hill, on a 38 degree day. The trouble was, I was in my respectable, slightly stiff three quarter pants, which on this occasion chafed. Badly. So badly in fact, that as soon as I returned home, some sweaty and uncomfortable hours later, I ripped of the offending item, and my knickers, showered, then spent the rest of that day, and the next, ‘commando’, because I was sooo chafed.
And I liked it.
I haven’t gone commando for a very long time, probably 25 years, since that is the age of my eldest child, and who wants their little darlings describing their nether regions to the local kindy teacher (like the time 4y.o. told her teacher that my friend Linda and I always drank beer – we didn’t, but the kids couldn’t read the label on wine bottles at that age).
So there I was, 2 days commando, and having perfectly sensible conversations with my now grown-but-still-living-at-home children, trying not to laugh as I pictured their faces if I told them…oh, how I longed to!
With the job interview looming, I reigned in my base behaviour and tried to recall a more upmarket self, who shaved her legs, wore bras every day, and of course, always had knickers. I looked at myself more carefully in the mirror, made sure I had a good haircut, did my nails, and practised talking about something other than the latest Netflix series I had binged on. The interview came; I remembered to sit up straight, speak clearly and maintain eye contact, whilst wondering if I had taken the tag off my new top and done up my fly.
Then today, when I changed at the local pool, I realised that I had ‘forgotten’ my knickers. And of course, I still had to call in to get my coffee on the way home. Was this a Freudian slip? Have I crossed a line? Am I really descending into the slovenly grey-haired, saggy, baggy woman who shuffles round the shopping centre, looking into bins? (Because I have become more interested in recycling lately, strangely).
No, I will resist; when I get a job (please be soon), I will polish, preen and promise to wear all my clothes … at work.