Unfortunately, I do not have any such trust in prospective employers. I feel obliged to accommodate their tastes instead of expecting them to accommodate mine. This is a dynamic I'm extremely unused to.
My mail-order skirt suits still haven't arrived, and I got tired of waiting. So I went shopping, first on Monday and then again yesterday, farther away. There's a dinky mall about a 20-minute drive from us, with a J C Penney and a Gottschalks and a B. Dalton bookstore and not much else. I went there on Monday. I've generally had better luck finding clothes at J C Penney than anywhere else, but I couldn't find anything at this one. So yesterday I drove to Roseville, which is about an hour away from us and is sort of a suburb of Sacramento, although it's not in Sacramento County. It's a bigger city than anywhere closer, anyway. It contains the nearest Barnes & Noble and Macy's and those sorts of places, and also another J C Penney. I walked through the entire mall, even the Nordstrom, despite never having bought anything from Nordstrom in my entire life. (Okay, so I did buy shoes and a coat from a Nordstrom Outlet last year when Susan talked me into going there, but I've still never bought anything from a regular Nordstrom store.) I ended up back at J C Penney again, because they were the only place that had anything even close. I tried on a pantsuit, which merely confirmed for me that there is no way in hell I could ever do a job interview in a pantsuit. The person in the mirror who was wearing the pantsuit was not me. It didn't look a thing like me. It was a total stranger and my brain completely refused to process it as being any relation to me. So no pantsuits for me.
I wanted a skirt suit with a matching top and bottom and long sleeves, because I think those look the most formal. Both the ones I ordered by mail (that really should have arrived by now!) were like that. But the only skirt suits in the entire mall that had matching tops and bottoms were all grey or black. Grey and black are pretty much the most hideous colors for me in the entire universe. They make me look like a corpse. (My skin is just so pale, and my eyes so pale, and the only relatively dark contrast is my medium reddish-brown hair. Any clothes that are even a little bit darker than my hair tend to make me look like a corpse, because the contrasts between the dark and light of my skin and hair are completely overwhelmed by the even darker clothes. Sometimes a highly saturated royal purple or royal blue can work, but definitely not neutral shades like black or grey.) So in desperation, I resigned myself to skirt suits with brightly colored jackets and black skirts. I wanted to try on one with a long-sleeved red jacket, but it was hanging from a bar far above my head, so I had to find someone who would get it down for me. The lady I found happened to work in the store's hair salon. She asked me what event I was shopping for, exclaimed that red is supposed to be good for job interviews, and then, almost in the same breath, exclaimed, "But you have to do something about your hair! You need a haircut right away! I can style it for you if you come over here to the salon! Here, I'll give you a coupon for $5 off my salon services!"
This was disconcerting. I do not want my hair done; I do not trust other people with scissors anywhere near my hair. However, I do probably need to make more effort at fixing my own hair for the interview. Great, another thing to worry about. Anyway, I thanked her for getting down the skirt suit for me, and escaped to the dressing room to try it on. Alas - red can look good on me, but only certain shades of red. Bright, maraschino cherry red looks great on me. Dark, maroon red makes me look like a corpse again. This red looked borderline on the hanger, but in the mirror it became clear that this red was too dark. I looked like a corpse again.
That left only the skirt suits that didn't have a matching top and bottom or long sleeves. I tried on a black skirt with a pale chartreuse jacket with three-quarter-length sleeves. I think I may be the only person in the entire world who looks good in chartreuse, because every time I wear it, people come up to me and exclaim, "I would look violently ill if I wore chartreuse! How can you look so good in it?" Or do I just happen to hang around with a lot of people who look unusually bad in chartreuse? Anyway, I look good in it. And I looked good in the chartreuse skirt suit, too. So I bought it. It's not as formal as I wanted, but at least it makes me look alive and well. Note to any fashion designers who might read this: A whole lot of people have been laid off lately, and a whole lot of us are shopping for new job interview outfits. You really might want to provide more choices for those of us who don't look good in grey or black.