During a phone interview today I ended up saying “No, this wouldn’t work” because their corporate dress code is Business Professional, defined as suits or suit-like combinations; ties for men; no athletic shoes allowed. Refusing to dress up every day for work isn’t all that uncommon a stance for a software person to take in Seattle, but my reasons are a bit different.
You see, in the past 10 years I have found ONE standard Business Professional suit jacket that fits me. It’s a medium “business” blue, which I pair with black slacks for interviews. Size? 34W.
Do you know how common suits are in size 34W? Heck, in anything bigger than size 28? (Hint: They’re not.) I could get away some coordinating jackets and slacks. Even if I’m just focusing on blazers, though, they’re hard to find. Oh, and I usually need to go up a size in pants/skirt size than top/jacket, and 34W is really a ballpark; sometimes I can wear a 32W, sometimes I need a 36W.
So, it’s not just that I would have to buy a totally new wardrobe for this job. I have the money in savings, if I felt the job was worth the cost. It’s that I would have to FIND the appropriate clothing IN MY SIZE for this job.
Yes, some catalogs carry suits in size 34W or 36W. Making It Big has some suit-like separates, and Plus Woman will make a custom blazer (and skirt and pants to match). That’s assuming the time lag of ordering, delivery, trying on, arranging alterations, and/or returning clothes that don’t fit doesn’t cause problems.
But what I’d actually want, for that sort of job would be this suit, or possibly this jacket or this one. None of which are made in my size. Possibly Rochester Big & Tall could make some serious alterations to a man’s suit … or I’d have to have suits made for me, either by Plus Woman or someone local.
Then there’s shoes. I wear “walking shoes” because they’re comfortable and supportive. I only own a couple pairs of dress shoes, and I don’t want to wear them daily.
Fortunately? Most software jobs in Seattle are strongly influenced by Microsoft. ”Business casual” is often regarded as dressing up. But if I weren’t in software? This could be a serious drawback to getting work.
Update: I had previously posted about what I usually wear to work here.