They might tell you otherwise, but on the whole, being a student is easy. You’re expected to go out and get embarrassingly drunk, to eat leftover lasagna from a hollowed out bread loaf, to be late for coffee dates, to be broke, to be unreliable.
When you arrive at college in a neon-pink cropped bomber jacket and a fluffy My Little Pony jersey, no one bats an eyelid.
But what about when you finish your studies and enter what my lecturers so ominously refer to as ‘the real world’? You have to make some changes. You have to stop, collaborate and listen before updating your Facebook status at 3am after four double brandies; you have to start saving (yegh), being punctual, responsible and maybe, just maybe, relinquish wearing clothing emblazoned with characters from your 90s childhood.
All in all, I’m ready to make some adjustments. I plan on cutting down the amount of times I say ‘totes’; I plan get my driving license at last. Much, much harder for me will be to change my look.
Other than being with my mother, eating basil pesto and watching Masterchef Australia, there’s little else that gives me the same pleasure that picking out quirky garments does. My clothes are a huge part of who I am. Their tassels, plastic beads and studs say, “Make my day” — so I don’t have to. They get me second looks, compliments, and “where did you get that’s?!” They’re my sanctuary when I don’t feel like the day that lies ahead; they’re my badges, my armour, my comfort.
The prospect of having to replace them with navy blue blazers and visible-panty-line pencil skirts filled me with such fear that, in anguish, I turned to the Internet for help.
Much to the relief of my granny jerseys and soppy beanie collection, Google revealed that the women’s work wardrobe has evolved from the Margret Thatcher standard set back in the 70s and 80s. Back then, women were entering a space they had previously only visited when attending their husbands’ office parties. To avoid standing out as the ‘weaker sex’, women donned camouflages of pinstriped charcoal gray trousers and matching jackets, complete with ruffled blouses, big shoulder pads and even bigger hairdos.
Now, as more and more women move up the corporate food chain, we no longer have to disguise our femininity. We can look pretty in rosy pastels and flouncy skirts, while still putting the fear of God into our underlings.
This finding that I don’t have to wear a professional uniform has been a personal revelation. When I get my first job, I plan on walking in looking sweet in white lace, or flighty in florals; only to widen eyes when I open my mouth, gesturing and holding forth the same way a 6ft man in a matching salt and pepper suit would.
Of course, it goes without saying that I will be making a couple of necessary changes to my closet’s contents. I will no doubt refrain from sporting Iron Man T-shirts and paper-flower adorned headbands to client presentations. But if you should glance out of your office window and see a short blonde in an oversized shirt, scuffed Doc Martins and embossed denim jacket marching through the streets, it’ll be me baby.
On the morning of my first job interview, as I step out the creaky, rain-swollen door of my home in a pair of second-hand cream coloured platforms and a Mr. Price chiffon shirt tucked into high-waisted slim-fit trousers, I feel ready for the real world.
I feel like a woman of the 1980s arriving at her first day of work. Except I am not trying to conform in football player shoulder pads or a skirt that induces penguin-esque waddling. Rather, I am in clothes that make me feel like I have the power to get this job. Because as Edith Head says, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”