Business casual casualty


The first and only job interview I have ever had was in high school. I was late to my meeting at Blockbuster, and when the interviewer asked, “What quality would you most highly value in a manager?” I responded, “Someone who is totally understanding of my life, like today, when I was late.”

Needless to say, I never got a call-back. My “extra discount on previously-viewed VHS” dreams never came true.

Since that day, I have never had a formal job interview. As I previously stated here, I have never even had to apply for jobs – they have simply been handed to me by grown-ups who have taken a liking to me, for one reason or another. I’ve had positions created specifically for me. I’ve had some great jobs at some fun places that have allowed me to wear jeans to work. And I’ve rewarded their wardrobe-leniency by doing, if I may be so bold, a killer job at whatever task they’ve given me. We’ve had an understanding, my places of employment and me. It has been simple, easy, beautiful.

But all dreams must end. Every man, woman, and child will one day reach the moment when they must become an adult, and join the legions of grown-ups cloaked in what is known as “business casual.”

This morning, I had a job interview. You can imagine the panic that this threw me into, as I do not own anything that fits the bill of “business casual.” Not a pair of black pants. Not a single button-down shirt. No – I don’t know – what are they called? Loafers? Not a pair.

Tell me. In this great, vast megalopolis we call “The World,” is there a single button-down shirt that looks good on a woman? Anywhere? Because I scoured the city of Nashville, and tried on dozens of shirts, and they all left me looking like a dowdy, shapeless matron. HOW, pray tell, is one supposed to wear a button-down shirt and look good? I mean, I guess I could do this.

I couldn’t remember the rules. Hair pulled back, or hair down? Shirt tucked in, or out? Jewelry, or none? Painted fingernails, or bare? Look cute, or look conservative? Lipstick????

And those questions haven’t even addressed what I need to say in the interview. What do I need to know? How far back in the company’s history do I need to research? Do I need to have a statement prepared, telling them why I would be the very best person for the job? Or does that come across as arrogant?

Well, I went. I was interviewed by two men in suits, and I think they liked me. I should know sometime next week.

And just to ease my poor mother’s palpitating heart, I went with naked fingernails and covered cleavage. Everybody just calm down.


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  1. Greta on January 18, 2008 at 11:58 AM

    So glad it went well! I took a workshop on how to give a good interview, if you ever want to talk specifics. :) Honestly though, I feel like Annie Parsons is going to do just fine demonstrating compentence and charm.

    I like funky blazers for cute business casual. :) And for heavens sakes, yes on jewelry and accessories. Yes PLEASE…

  2. Laura on January 18, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Annie, I feel your pain. I refuse to spend money on “interview wear” so I went to the ARC thrift store several years ago, bought a button down shirt and black pants, and I’ve worn them to every interview since. I’ve gotten three jobs with that outfit. Good luck!

  3. Sarah Kate on January 18, 2008 at 4:53 PM

    I kind of love that you referenced old school Britney Spears in a blog about dressing appropriately.

  4. MJ on January 18, 2008 at 7:34 PM

    oh my word. WHERE was it? What are you going to do? I’m so interested in this…

  5. Megan on January 18, 2008 at 9:02 PM

    jcrew kathryn slim fit shirts – they’re perfect!

  6. Nicolas Frisby on January 19, 2008 at 1:23 AM

    How about this? Too casual?

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