During my meeting with my hiring coach – that the Department of Employment and Economic Development grants through the Vocational Rehabilitation area – we were discussing the “hang-ups” I’ve been having in the interview process. I get the list of “commonly asked questions” during an interview and I’m given the assignment of coming up with a “rapid fire” answer so I look sharp. Then comes the questions of how I appear. That’s when I tell her that my attire has been paid for. She asks what WAS paid for.
One pair of blue slacks, a button down shirt, NO BLAZER, a pair of capri slacks, a less formal blouse, some underwear (they cover that) is what I list off.
Instantly, my job coach asked, “And did the woman who PAID for this realize you WERE NOT WORKING YET? You aren’t getting in the door with capri pants!”
I only groaned in frustration. And immediately an email was sent to my Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Then comes the “let’s go shopping” phone call.
“When do you need this by?” the secretary asks. Right now, it’s Friday afternoon.
“Tuesday,” I reply.
“We need to go on Monday. How’s 9:30 am at JCPenney sound?” she asks.
I’m now checking on the internet and, of course, everything is on sale. Good luck in having them HOLD anything, which is what I was told to do: shop, have items held so that on Monday, all she’d need to is whip out the credit card and “CHA-CHING” I’m now packed, stacked and ready to go for ANY interview. I agree to the time and then set up all of my transportation for THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. The groceries on Saturday then Sunday is clothes shopping. If it weren’t by bus, it would be a snap!
Sunday morning comes and I’m running a bit behind. I’ve GOT to eat something but the bus is set to arrive. A quick shower, air dry my hair – who’s going to care what I look like? – devour breakfast, grab my duffle with my walking shoes, wallet and umbrella in case it rains. Meanwhile, the bus is there at the curb when I rush outside. I hop on the bus and off to the shopping center I go; a 20 minute ride.
I’m among the first people inside JCPenney and they have the music blaring LOUD – I’m hearing Cyndi Lauper?!? Talk about throwback in time!
DEFINITELY not a look employers would not go for….
I decided to take a look around first – as I’m trying to find the “women’s” clothing – not just the “misses” section. That’s now translated as the “stick figure” section. I have “curves” now so that has to be taken into account. But I stopped in the Sephora area, the new fragrance and cosmetics area at JCPenney and discovered a beautiful fragrance and put a sample on one of the sample paper tags you can get. La Vie Est La Belle Lancome Paris – God, I can practically HEAR the woman say it on the commercials. Julia Roberts in Pink is there to sell you a once ounce bottle of cologne spray for $69 and eau de parfum spray for $90. I sure have expensive tastes! But when I work again, I’ll splurge – my “splurge” list is growing by the MINUTE so I need to watch out.
Out of that danger area and I find the “women’s” clothing area. Good thing I gave myself enough time so I could relax. I used to find this relaxing. I truly did. I’d try things on and toss it if I didn’t like it. Or, I’d just buy it and the cost would be buried on a credit card until “later.”
Then next month would come the bill. OUCH!
My digging for gold begins. One blazer and a pair of slacks shouldn’t be too tough, now can it? Question is, with me losing weight, what size AM I? I’m checking through the “women’s” area and finding blazers – some with a pattern on the inside so you can roll the sleeves UP and the more traditional lined blazers. Just on a whim I grab a size smaller than I normally would – the LOWEST for the “women’s” section. Now, it’s the pants that will be the real trick. Everything from the curviest pixie-size to the biggest size around in BLACK – key sticking point – BLACK. But NOT MY SIZE!
I’m not short or petite in the inseam. I’m not LONG in the inseam either. I’m that “unmarked” or NORMAL inseam. Call me picky.
Ok, found a nice top to set off the look that I don’t intend to purchase and some pants…into the dressing room I go.
And to my surprise, I made a discovery. I dropped my SECOND dress size! The top is smaller than the bottom but that’s due to the hernia. But it’s not far from being equal at all and I was especially proud of this discovery. Even if I found nothing I liked, it made the trip worth the effort just for that alone! I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in my weight loss goals as well as in my self-confidence. To be able to DO THIS AT ALL? Is a huge milestone for me. I’m coming back to “me” again.
But to be more comfortable with the pants, I thought I should go up a size and could not find that size up. So, this store’s excursion wasn’t a success for clothing but I gained a great deal of perspective about me and of where my body is right now – and more confidence.
Of course, I spent time looking around the store some more. I had the time for it, after all and I always LOVED adding that extra touch of “bling” to my attire.
Then, after seeing that the other stores had opened – it was 11 am – I decided to head to the equivalent of Mecca for those of us women with curves: Lane Bryant. That place is a godsend to those like us who have curves to spare.
A very cheery woman named Heidi came to me at the door and welcomed me inside – if I could only have such a cheerful voice for sales! She asked if she could help me and oh, did I give her a list, believe me! But she wasn’t fazed at all. Now I’m seeing all these adorable CASUAL outfits with jeans and T-shirts with patterns and designs – my style of dress normally. That’s not what I’m here for, unfortunately. And in a few moments, Heidi comes with blazer in hand and some tops – oh how I hate flouncy sleeves! – then comes the stacking of the pants: boot cut, straight leg, long inseam, normal inseam but all were at a lower size than I thought I could handle.
Pleasant surprise #1: I overestimated my size at JCPenney for the blazer. I went down ONE MORE size, after all! Mission accomplished there – on multiple fronts. Now, it’s up to the slacks. I grab a pair and immediately, I notice a problem….
But I have plenty to choose from thanks to my helpful partner, Heidi. PLENTY to choose from….
And those pairs of slacks above, including the long inseam slacks, did not fit. In a matter of moments, I now have MORE to choose from.
And a top or two….
The pants – NONE of them – worked so we did have to go up a size. There was another top I missed as it was not on a hanger and I tried that one on and liked how it felt under the blazer. Then I got the look together and asked Heidi to take a picture so I could show how it all came out. Now this is my “Sunday” hair – toss on a rainstorm so now my natural curly locks are out in full force. Grab some random shoes for the shot and TADA! Here I am!
Now the “look” is made, I changed my clothes, put things on hold for tomorrow’s excursion for Vocational Rehabilitation to handle from here forward. There might be one or two other things they may want to purchase but this was the end result of my trip. Not too shabby!
I learned a great deal about me in here – first that I used to LOVE to do this. I’m reclaiming that part of “me” again. I’m also learning to accept me as I am, curves and all – even the curves in the strange places (sure some are going to shrink after surgery but they will still be there). I am also becoming re-acquainted the professional side of me, at least in appearance. This is going to be a huge adjustment as I’ve been in jeans and tops for a while now. Now, it’s time to get that script in place so this suit has a place to go – such as a job? That would be a great thing.
But learning about myself along the way sure isn’t a bad thing, either.Shimmer