A good friend and former colleague once told me to always wear heels. You know, the old adage, “Dress for the job you want.” And I suppose, if I happen to someday be applying for a job that calls for a 5’1 woman in her twenties that could pass for a 16 year old, then I’ll scrap the heels. Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator decoy, perhaps? I’m practicing my “I just need to put away the laundry, have some iced tea,” lines right now. But sitting across from her, eating pastries from Le Pain in the middle of Bryant Park, it finally clicked: Clothing should be a manifestation of the person you want to be.
One gray and rather ordinary day, I was making my way to a city an hour and a half away from home. Jamming to the compilation of Top 40 bubble-gum pop on the radio, decked out in American Apparel leggings, a Zara vest and a Target blazer I plucked from my sister’s closet as an afterthought, I was feeling rather confident with my style choices. I suppose the absolute obliteration of my judgment as to appropriate “professional” attire has something to do with going to Barbie school and interning at numerous fashion companies. Like, I’m meeting fashion people, right? They’ll appreciate this.
But perhaps I should rewind to that morning, as I was trying to decide what shoes to wear.
Playing in my head was the advice I’d received from my friend a few months ago. Heels, heels, heels. While my lack of black shoes may come as a surprise to some, the unfortunate truth is that I do not own a sensible pair of black heels, especially not in the 4-inch+ range I was aiming for. I settled for my lace-up, Guess? Maeve boots. These are high, these will make me look tall, these will help me pass as an adult.
So here I am. Leggings and boots, and still wondering if I should put on that blazer.
I had a few moments to kill before I had to run off to meet with aforementioned fashion people, so I stopped to buy a new nose ring as mine had lost the rhinestone just the day before. We’ll have to chat sometime later about whether body piercings are appropriate when trying to be professional. Maybe when I figure out the answer, I will let you know. I’m still learning.
Sitting in a leather chair, changing out my nose ring and making sure any remnants of breakfast hadn’t lodged themselves between my teeth, a rather inconspicuous couple made their way to me. Before I could finish an exchange of hellos, the man asked me if I was there for the convention.
“Convention?” I asked.
“The Fetish Convention,” he answered. “I saw your boots, and thought you might be going.”
WHAT?! I LOOK LIKE I’M GOING TO A FETISH CONVENTION?
After he finished giving me his business cards, which I have torn to pieces and discarded into several trash cans, I began to panic. Do I really look like I’m going to a fetish convention? What are these boots saying about me? If he doesn’t get it, how am I so sure these fashiony people are going to get it? I’m not sure! This is not a manifestation of the person I want to be! I am not trying to manifest fetish convention attendee!
Must buy new shoes.
Yes. That is the exact train of thought that played through my mind. And it’s also rather telling evidence that I should attend shopaholics anonymous meetings. But that is neither here nor there.
I made my way to Nordstrom because 1) they’re so sweet and 2) they can look up your credit card when you don’t have it. No, really. Shopaholics Anonymous?
Six pairs of shoes and an amazing sales person later, I left with sensible non-fetish pumps, a dent in my almost paid off credit card and enough buyers remorse to spread thinly across the sales floor of the Nordstrom shoe department. But at least I didn’t look like I was going to the Fetish Convention.
So here is the lesson kids: Always think about what your clothing is saying about you, and whether or not that is what you want it to say. If you don’t, you might end up with a new pair of Elizabeth & James pumps you don’t need but keep trying on late at night in efforts to convince yourself you’d be a horrible person to return them.