This week I have been running from one job interview to another and doing something that I never otherwise do – wearing a suit. Of course I now mean the womenswear version of a suit without the cool stuff like tie and pocket square. My “suit” includes black straight suit trousers from Mango, a well-fitting black single button blazer and a white shirt. Simple, but rather elegant. I can’t wear high heels day-to-day, especially when running around, but my black classy shoes with a tiny heel have been working fine. When I first put the suit on, I felt like I was wearing a costume. I thought going out looking like that would cause me to feel like I was trying to be someone I’m not. But you know what? I felt awesome!
It’s empowering wearing a suit, I get it now. I didn’t have anything against suits, I’ve just never had a job that required me to wear formal clothes nor have I ever chosen to wear a suit instead of a dress to a party. I’m going to start doing that after this week though. Also just for a weekday outfit, a suit is rather fun.
I noticed the following five things that changed when I suited up:
1. My confidence
I admit it, after brexit I’ve been keeping my head down. But catching the bus and seeing all eyes on me when I got on didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all, I actually caught myself smiling at the lady next to me. Walking down the street in Manchester city centre I noticed people smiling at me too, which I thought was peculiar. Then I realised that it might be me, walking with my head held high, feeling like I had grown a couple of extra inches and smiling at people as our eyes met. I realised that I never usually look at people when I walk outside, but now, for some reason, I didn’t mind looking at them and smiling. I blame the suit.
2. “Can I help you with anything?”
As I had some extra time at the centre I decided to take a look around the shops, check out the last of the sales. In every single store I walked in, fancy or not, the salesperson would immediately ask me if I was alright and let me know if I needed anything. It’s rather worrying how used I am to this not happening to me. I’m always saying how the customer service seems to be really bad in England, but the suit changed it. I’m not kidding. I just have to come to the conclusion that with a suit I look like a person who can afford things and I therefore deserves to have service. But this also brings a question in mind: what the hell do I usually look like then? A beggar?
3. General politness
In addition of getting better customer service, I also experienced polite behaviour. And yes, this is a rather new thing for me. In general, British are considered to be polite, at least more so than Finnish people are, and they are usually very willing to help you out with anything, but lets face it: they are also grumpy. But this week, for the first time since I moved to Manchester, the bus driver didn’t get annoyed with me, I got several “Good afternoon, young lady”‘s while walking around, people got the door for me and the most shocking thing of all: car drivers would let me CROSS THE ROAD. If you live in England, you know how big that is.
4. I was asked for advice
Doesn’t seem like a big thing, but I’ve been wondering if there’s something about the way I look that makes people think that I don’t know much, since other people, like my boyfriend, get asked for advice regularly when we go to places. Or maybe I don’t look easily approachable. But this week I’ve been asked for advice or directions more times than I can remember. Apparently the suit makes me seem like someone who knows about stuff.
My favourite encounter happened at M&S shoe department where I was resting my feet after a job interview that didn’t go so well (the interview was not for M&S though), when an elderly lady asked for my opinion on shoes she was trying on. She said she wanted to make sure they weren’t too “last season”, because even though she wasn’t young, she liked to keep up with the trends. I told her that I would wear them. “That settles it then,” she said, “because I would love to be as stylish as you.” That just made my heart melt and the memory of the horrible interview fade a little bit.
5. I got hit on
I mean, seriously hit on. For instance, a guy I walked past turned around and caught up on me, introduced himself and asked if he could buy me a lunch. As a Finnish person I was really taken aback by this, and my response was “why?”. He told me that he decided to try his luck, because he thought that I was beautiful and looked “so damn smart”. That’s why I can only assume it was the suit.
I apologised, told him I had a boyfriend and thanked him for brightening up my day. He was very sweet and polite about it and we continued different ways. I then texted my single friend that apparently the key to get a polite nice guy’s attention is to SUIT UP.
I love how clothing can change the way you feel about yourself, so I just wanted to share some quick observations I’ve had. But I’ll now continue my hunt for the perfect job while trying to survive in this concrete jungle. I hope you’re all doing great!
Featured image from Saint Laurent’s Fall 2013 Campaign. Pinterest.