I bought a new purse tonight. Guess which one's the new one?
With all the job interviews I've been going on, the subject of what to wear has been a common topic of conversation with my family. It's an interesting study in class and gender roles. There are specific "rules" in place for men that don't exist for women, and I'm confused.
I even ordered a suit from a catalog that was on clearance for only $20. It was black, single breasted, with pants. After being on back order for two months, I finally tried it on for the family. Aaron's brothers said I looked like Giovanni from Pokemon. I sent the suit back.
Since my first interview in March, Mom keeps saying if anything is making me look unprofessional, it's my purse. It's dirty and the bunny's chewed on it. I agree that I could use another one, but I don't think it's that big of a deal, especially when it comes to job interviews.
Tonight I finally got one at Target. It took me close to an hour to pick one out. I even took a bunch to the fitting rooms and asked for a mirror to "try them on."
I've been resisting getting a new purse for a while, even though (as Mom kept telling me) there's lots of cheap ones that are professional enough at department stores. The reasons are complicated. Here are some of the causes of my procrastinating:
1. For me, a purse is like a car. Personally, I don't have tons of purses. I have a little evening bag that I've had since high school. It's too sparkly for an interview. I have a small purse that's sort of like a small backpack. It's made of a similar material and has lots of zippers and pockets. I use it for traveling, theme parks and similar situations. It's more secure for going on roller coasters or being dragged through the airport, and it's lighter if I'm going to be doing a lot of walking. But it's too casual for interviews.
And then I have the one gets used constantly. That's the "car." It usually only gets replaced if it "breaks" (like the time my strap broke and I kept having to staple it together) or I see a new that's perfect. I don't switch out much, and I don't want to. I'm reluctant to buy a purse either based on job interview standards alone. And I don't want to rush the purse buying process since it'll be constant companion for a couple of years.
2. I'm really proud of myself for getting rid of so much stuff, and I can't bring myself to have another purse sitting in my closet. I've never been the type to buy lots of purses, but I have a bought a couple here and there because I liked them. I also kept old and "broken" purses for that "someday" that never seems to come. I got rid of most of those. I don't want to hold on to another purse, even if it is my "job interview" purse. And I don't want to spend money on a purse to use once and give away.
3. I want to buy a quality handmade one or make one myself. This is a big one. Anyone else suffer from the I-don't-want-to-buy-one-I-want-to-make-my-own Syndrome? I usually only wear one scarf at a time part of the year, but I would really use one good knitted or crocheted purse. But then it's hard to decide, and for one that's really functional I would need lining and a zipper.
I'd also like a purse made by someone else from Etsy or a craft show. The problem is it's more expensive. While it's understandable that it would cost more, and it would be worth the investment, I'm unemployed and can't spend more than $20 or $25 right now.
4. Picking out a purse requires me to reflect on who I am and where I am at life. Here's where sociology comes in. Walking through Target, I deemed some purses too young, some too old, some too professional, some not professional enough, some too shallow, some too dull, some too sexy, some too conservative and on and on and on. Materials, silhouettes, colors, patterns and size all evoke certain ideas and personalities in my mind. Big "hobo bags" remind me of fashionistas and soccer moms. Neutral colors seem bland. Purses with big logos on them seem shallow (even if no one's ever heard of the brand.) Straps made out of chains seem like something sexy, like you'd wear to a club. And the little envelope purses with fun prints and pictures (the ones that appeal to me the most) look like they're for teens and college students (not a good look for a job interview.)
I'm not sure how many of these ideas apply to our culture in general, but I'm sure they're there. That makes me want a "special" purse even more.
5. I feel like a shallow person for believing everything I wrote in number four. I can only hide behind sociological pondering so much. I do care about how I look and how people judge me.
6. Purses that match the image I want to convey don't match what appeals to me aesthetically. Shiny! Sequins! Eye Bleeding Colors! Prints! Cute Animals! Unicorns! Glitter! Rainbows! Weird Shapes!... usually don't make for very professional purses.
7. When it comes to purses, I still have some baggage. (Pun intended.) It took me a while to embrace the concept of carrying a purse. The feminist in me felt like I should be able to get by without one. I finally decided not to feel ashamed for having a purse. My gender is lucky to be able to carry a small bag with them and fit the social norm, rather than trying to shove everything in our pockets or carrying a full size backpack or laptop bag everywhere. Except for one item on that list, I think those are items both men and women need. I like to have my wallet, checkbook, keys, inhaler, medication, pens, chap stick, tampons and eye drops with me. Recently I've been carrying a big tape measure because I've been looking for storage ideas for my apartment. I think women have the right idea.
Yet I still have this lingering idea that purses mean weakness. So I tend to avoid buying them.
8. There's functional things to consider. There's size of course. I bought a cloth covered purse even though it will be harder to clean. I prefer one big pocket to five smaller ones. A zipper is essential. I put back one purse based on lack of zipper alone.
Because my headache seems to be related to neck and shoulder pain, I thought a lot about how it would affect my posture. As much time as I spend carrying my purse, this is a big deal. Instead of the one long strap I've been using, I got one with two short straps that hold the purse right under my armpit. I figured using different muscles would help.
9. My purse really *shouldn't* factor into my job interview at all. The car analogy alone is proof of this. You don't try to but a car to match your outfits, or buy one just for interviews. Think about luggage too. You don't worry about carrying a black suitcase while you're wearing brown shoes. I wonder thought, when men buy briefcases, do they consider how they will look with their clothes?
10. The more your parents bug you to do something, the less you want to do it. 'Nuff Said.
I'll leave you with an example of how my purse got so messed up in the first place. I took this picture while I was writing this entry.