I Don’t Own a Suit, or What in God’s Name am I Going to Wear to My Interview?

Going to the Opera? Come on, challenge me! There's a dress for that.

For only the second time in my life, I don’t know what to wear. What to don on a first date? No problem — got a top that hugs (and plunges) in all the right places. Gallery opening? Come on! Challenge me. Opera? There’s a dress for that. Job interview? Umm… (cue Jeopardy countdown music).

I probably should have asked for a suit for Christmas.

Every morning at 6:30AM, my mother would get ready for work. Hot rollers, St. John’s suits, and Farragamo pumps. I hated the St. John’s suits. Woolly, itchy, boxy garments that I associated with the things that took my mother away from me. Suits made you overweight. Suits made you come home at midnight and travel on weekends. Suits made you late to the talent show. I swore I’d never ever, ever own a suit.

20 years later, and I’ve stuck to the promise I made to myself. No suits. Plenty of dress pants, a cadre of jackets, but none designed to be worn together.

Is the Kate Spade dress with the color-blocking trim too much whimsy for a corporate marketing gig?

Which brings me to my dilemma. I have several interviews scheduled over the next two weeks and Nina Garcia says a “chic, modern take on the classic suit” is the way to go for  interviews. Eeeeek! I’ve never been at a loss when it comes to getting dressed, but given what my wardrobe surely lacks, what in god’s name am I wearing to meet prospective bosses?

The jobs I’ve gotten callbacks for are in a variety of fields — the art world, the corporate world, the non-profit sector — and the question I have to ask myself as I prepare for each meeting is: what version of “me” do I want to present?

Obviously, the goal of each outfit is to come off as professional, but is there more room for whimsy in an art job than in a corporate marketing job? Or would a marketing firm prefer someone with a bit of flair? Is the Kate Spade knit dress with the Mickey Mouse-esque buttons and red accents appropriate for an interview with a PR company? Should I stick to pants and a jacket? Can I wear pants without a jacket? How high a heel is too high? It’s winter still — do I wear the understated wine-colored coat or the show-stopping Diane Von Furstenberg green-gray-black mottled cashmere coat? Do I bring a handbag or a brief case? Which handbag — are navy and silver sequins too much?

My mother voted I wear the outfit on the left to my interview. Fashionista Nina Garcia, the one on the right. I chose a hybrid.

In some ways, I’ve shot myself in my farragamo-clad foot by making deciding what to wear to an interview more nerve-wracking than the interview itself. I know what I’ve done in the workforce, I know my education, I know my career goals, but gosh darn it, I don’t know if “individual,” “fashionable,” and “professional” can coexist in one outfit.

If you walked into my bedroom right now, you’d think they had just finished filming “Twister” in there. After an hour of trying-on and re-trying on, I finally settled on an ensemble. Since I have three interviews left this week and can’t get to the stores before the weekend, I just have to believe individual, fashionable and professional exist in the form of brown high-waist pants (a la Katherine Hepburn) and a tweed motorcycle jacket.

The pants and jacket only narrowly defeated the magenta bra and black tuxedo pants my mother suggested I wear when she saw me standing at the top of the stairs in a panic.

“That looks good. Why don’t you just go with that.”

“Mom, I’m not auditioning to be one of Madonna’s back-up dancers.”

I’m not entirely convinced she was joking, but if by next week none of these interviews have turned into offers, magenta bra and black tuxedo pants it is.

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My Father Always Told Me to Keep My Alternative Job Skills Honed

Our resumes get lost at sea, our cover letters messages in a digital human resouces bottle.

I’ve come to accept that the job hunt is a long and arduous process. Sometimes, you’re lucky to have a  family member or fairy godmother who can make a call and throw a little pixie dust into the air so that in the morning you wake up with a job, a book deal and a pony.

Most of us lack pixie dust. Instead, we rely on resilience, patience and padded resumes.

In one day,  I churned out 5 cover letters requesting to be considered for recent postings in a variety of fields:

  • Auction House Junior Specialist
  • Gallery Coordinator
  • Culture blogger for an online edition of a magazine
  • Documentary film researcher
  • Professional Wingwoman

The Professional Wingwoman was my father’s idea.

He has lots of ideas about what I could be doing for work: running a gourmet hot dog shop in our home town, hosting a “fresh baked farm bread” stand in upstate New York, working as a barista in my own NYC cafe. Very few of his suggestions are practical or have to do with art history, though he’ll argue a cafe is a great place to hang paintings.

I've had years of experience in the job. I'd be a natural professional wingwoman

The wingwoman option struck him while he was watching Rachel Ray (!?!). The founder of wingwomen.com, a dating service for men who lack game — the only thing they can pick up at a bar is their own tab, and only if it’s very short — was a guest. My father thought it was a natural fit given that my college years were spent mostly in the company of sporty guys with ivy-league degrees and monosyllabic names. Indeed, I had 4+ years of wingwoman training.

Figuring it was better to have more lines in the sea, I took my father’s suggestion and went fishing again. I updated my CV, uploaded a photo and submitted an application.

I’ve only just started to receive interview requests on job applications that went out in November. Who knows if I’ll hear back from wingwomen.com. But maybe, just maybe, in May instead of “art historian,” I’ll have a new career teaching another art form — the art of the pick-up.

How Blogging About Dating Suddenly Made Me a Desirable Date

Successful Relationship blogger? What do I tell him? Deny thy blog or confess its fame?

“You may not want to lead with the fact you have a blog about dating,” my friend Jake kindly advised me as we sipped lattes and commiserated over our recent dating droughts.

He had just brought to light an interesting dilemma: When you’ve made something of a name for yourself writing about love and its aftermath, do you deny thy blog, or confess its fame? Will guys think you’re clever or dub you as trouble?

“On the other hand,” he continued, “this whole blogging thing might just be the making of your love life. I’m worried that with your recent success, you won’t stay on the market long enough to keep They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband going. Seems now it’s a sooner, rather than a later, that you’ll land your Mr. Big.”

A recent slew of “Can I take you out for a drink?” messages from They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband’s male readership helped me make up my mind and lent a modicum of credibility to Jake’s alternative forecast.

Who would have thought that blogging about dating would make me a hot date ticket?

“What do you do?” — It’s a question we’re always asked when we meet someone and a question I always answer with caution.

“I consider myself a writer on the verge of landing a paying day job.”

“What do you write about?” The inevitable follow up question.

“Dating and relationships… I have a blog.”

Their eyes open wide, an eyebrow rises, a half-smirk curls upon their lips and they lean in a little closer.

“What’s it called? Maybe I’ve read it,” they coo.

“They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband.”

Usually, the next thing the guy will do is take a sip of his drink and pause. “So, do you want to be that Millionaire Matchmaker lady?”

“No…no, I don’t really care about other people finding rich husbands. ‘Find a rich husband‘ — that’s what people tell me to do. I’m the only person I’m really interested in. Blogging is a selfish business”

Pause.

“So does that make you a real-life Carrie Bradshaw?”

We ladies all think we're Carries chasing our Mr. Bigs. Turns out, guys are out there chasing their Carries.

Carrie Bradshaw — she’s the shadow-casting pop-culture icon we who write about dating in New York can never escape. As I chuckle and shrug, part in acceptance, part in denial, his next move is typically to put a hand on the small of my back to pull me in closer. The look in his eyes is telling. He sees his pseudonym in print.

“Carrie wrote a column called ‘Sex and the City,'” I’ve been known to reply. “I moved north of the city a few months ago. If I turned my blog into a column, eventually I’d have to call it ‘Celibacy and the Suburbs.'”

“Well, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we?” Before I have a chance to process or respond, his hand is up the back of my shirt and his tongue is searching for my tonsils. Hold your horses there, Cowboy!

“When you write about me tomorrow, make sure to call me ‘Mr. Hottie,'” more than one guy has said. If they only knew…

Apparently, the prospect of being the subject of next week’s post can be something of a turn on. Thank you, Carrie Bradshaw for making dating columnists sexy. Before you, we might have been considered raging feminists, and a dating no-go. It would just be nice if the men in this city didn’t conflate you with your side-kick, nymphomaniac Samantha Jones… because, as their roaming hands and steaming eyes make evident, it seems they always do.

Mind the Gap: Love at First Sight On the 1 Train

Waiting on the platform = Waiting for Love?

A future President is about to be sworn in, his parents smile proudly from the audience, and we’re quickly sent on a journey back through the years to the beginning. A man stands on a platform in a train station. In an instant, he locks eyes with the woman surely destined to be the love of his life. The one problem? She’s on another train and it’s about to leave the station. He changes his ticket on his nifty smart phone and before the 30 second clip is over, he’s seated next to her on the train. Life happens.

So goes the  AT&T commercial that inevitably produces a sigh whenever I see it.

In the neat fantasy world of 30-second advertisements, instant connections made in Penn Station or the JFK terminal are never missed. In 30 seconds or less, everyone lives happily ever after.

In the real world, we need Craigslist. If our smart phone fails us on the platform, Craigslist offers us a second chance. Of course, the catch is that our missed connection has to log on and tune in to our broadcast. Isn’t there always a catch in the game of love?

About a year ago, I started reading “Missed Connections” every night before bed. There’s no secret hope that Mr. Right had spied me on the 1 train and tried to reach out through the interweb to find me. Rather, the habit stems from the same inner romantic who religiously peruses the Sunday NYTimes Wedding Announcements. I bask in the possibility that two people can find each other in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Stars collide. Life happens. The cynic in me loves the good giggle some posts inevitably inspire.

An MC post can take one of many guises. Sometimes it’s a digital catcall — a wooowooo directed at a leggy, busty blond walking past a guy on a street corner. Sometimes, it’s a desperate, if not beautiful, attempt at capturing a fleeting electric connection with another human being.

If I were to sit and do a survey, I’d say the number 1 location for a missed connection is the subway. The A train. The 1 line. The B, C, and F. Sometimes the 2/3. Perhaps, in a city like New York, that’s not a surprise. We New Yorkers spend as much time on the move as we do in our offices or out on the town — why shouldn’t we run into the loves of our lives on our morning commute? My parents met one morning in an elevator en route to their respective laboratories at University of Toronto. Perhaps my child’s parents will have met on the 6-train.

Connections are made. Connections are missed. Someone posts an add on Craigslist.

Life happens… in 30 seconds or less.

People passing in by in NYC's Grand Central Station. A missed connection every second

The Further Education of a T.W.i.T (Trophy Wife in Training)

Not so long ago, John Paul told me that to be a proper Trophy Wife I needed to tote around a yoga mat and have a nice ass.

In the last week, I’ve been to 3 yoga classes. Yesterday, I subscribed to Yoga Today on iTunes. Before the end of the Memorial Day weekend, I will have sweated, downward-facing-dogged, and Omed my way through 2 more hatha classes. I have a mat and I carry it to and from class. Thanks to a decade as a competitive fencer, I have a “perfect” Warrior II pose. There is a semblance of legitimacy in my demeanor.

But as for my ass, well, I can’t be a fair judge — in that respect, I’m a typical female who is very good at finding cellulite that may or may not actually be there.

Tight ass or not, the main thing, ladies and gentlemen, is that this T.W.i.T is a girl with a mission: to master the Fire-Fly Pose.

My recent obsession with yoga has little to do with John Paul’s advice or my Trophy Wife “aspirations.” Since January, I’ve been a full-time athlete. The travel, the competitions, and 6-day a week training/cross-training regiment have taken its toll on my joints and well-being. So far, Yoga has done a better job of keeping my knees functional than my physiotherapist.

It seems that I’ve been spending a lot of time in classes these days. 8 weeks ago, I started taking German at NYU. I have two classes left and then I can translate newspapers for you and tell potential employers that in addition to French, I “have” German.

So the yoga classes are supposed to bring me one step closer to both incredible flexibility and a tight ass (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) while the German classes are supposed to help me land a coveted curatorial gig at a mega-NYC museum.

Watch out Stepford — there’ a new girl in town… and she speaks German while holding a picture-perfect Chaturanga Dandasana (sort of).