“Blouse” is such a gross word to me. It conjures up images of ill-fitting, non-breathable, printed polyester. It’s up there with “brassiere”, “panties”, “moist” and “Voldemort” as the top five words that should never be said.
I own one “blouse”, and it’s currently hanging in my closet. It’s a black, cotton-polyester blend (50%/50%, I checked), with dime-sized pink circles and black buttons. It looks dressy, but not too dressy. I think it says, “I made an effort, without making too much effort”. I keep it around for events where I want to look less like a thirty-something ragamuffin and more like a real adult.
I wore it to the last job interview I attended, in March 2011.
I selected my outfit the night before. I laid my “blouse”, black trousers, black cardigan, black socks, black “panties” and a black “brassiere” out on the bed. I put my black flat shoes right beside the bed on the floor and declared aloud that it was “good”.
The message I was trying to convey with my outfit was:
1. I’m taking this seriously.
2. I even color-coordinated my outfit.
3. I am the kind of girl that wears cardigans.
4. I need a job.
The morning of the interview I dried my hair straight, I applied make-up liberally, I spritzed perfume behind my knees and in the crook of my arm. Then I got dressed.
I don’t know whether my bust got larger, or whether my whole body circumference increased (that seems more likely), but the blouse felt a bit snug. I managed to get all the buttons done up and looked at myself in the mirror. My outfit really did say, “I made an effort, without making too much effort”. I put my cardigan on over the blouse, looked in the mirror to check my teeth for remnants, and was on my way.
I strode into the office reception; “moist” from the unseasonably warm, five-minute walk from the tube (my “blouse” isn’t super breathable). There were two people chatting at reception: a tall, tall man of about 30 flirting with a short, short woman of about 20. I cleared my throat. They both turned toward me.
“Hi, My name is Kim. I’m here to see…”
The short, short woman stopped me. “She’ll be right out.”
I nodded, turned toward the wall, applied lip-gloss, tucked my hair behind my ear, and rubbed my nervous teeth dry with my index finger. As I tried to catch a glimpse of my teeth in picture frame with reflective qualities, I felt a little gust of wind…
I looked down at my blouse, flapping in the air-conditioned breeze. Five (of seven total) buttons were undone. My “brassiere” was on full display.
“Yeah?” I looked over my shoulder, desperate to push at least three buttons back through their holes before I turned around.
A smartly-dressed young woman stood right behind me, her hand extended for a handshake. I fumbled with my buttons, but it was no use.
“Hi,” I said. I turned around.
At least I had color-coordinated my outfit.