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Some years ago my friend Leonard and I were browsing through some racks at American Apparel.  Leonard is a fashion whore.  Every 2 months or so he’s talking about needing  a new suit.  Because to say that you want a new suit is less legitimate than to say you need one.  Leonard has needs, not wants.      

“I think I need a new fleece,” I thought out loud.

“Oh, right.  You wear fleece,” said Leonard.  

After this, hoping to blend in among the fashionably competent, I’ve limited wearing my fleece around town.  But seriously, dressing better than the crowd was not hard to do in a college town where sweatpants from Victoria’s Secret with UGG boots are acceptable Sunday brunch wear.  Paris, I fear, will be another story.  Isn’t it adorable how I keep deluding myself that I’ll actually be living in Paris (not 45 minutes away by train and sans time or money to actually go to Paris)?

For the past few weeks I’ve been searching for a skirt suit to wear to the tens of rounds of interviews that are a favorite pastime of any INSEAD student, and I’m going slightly nuts.  I’ve now exhausted the options of everything below $500.  From Theory (slutty) to Banana Republic (hideousness) to Sisley (awful quality).  And it’s not even that I have a weird body type or hang-ups about my body image!  I’m perfectly proportional for my height.  Unfortunately for my wallet, everything at Anthropologie was made with me in mind.   

I stopped by Barney’s outlet store to find the men’s side chock full of suits, and the women’s side full of frivolous, frilly suits for walking poodles on the Upper East Side but nothing for interviews or board meetings.  Next door, Kaspar offered hideously colorful suits for middle-aged secretaries and real estate agents in size 8 and up.  How is it that after 60 years since women entered the work force in numbers, major labels like Boss still don’t design suits for women?  Oh, right, women don’t get to play in the boardroom.  I think I wrote something about that for my scholarship applications.  Speaking of… the INSEAD scholarship selection committee is about a month late getting back with the response.  But that’s another rant.  

The other day I stopped by a store in town center where my father has bought some of his suits.  The only options for women were bespoke suits for around $1700.  The sales associate there tried shifting the attention away from his ignorance of differences between European and American styles by rebuking me for worrying about fashion and buying a suit with an expiration date of 1.5 years.  

When I tried on a model of one of the styles, he said, “that’s a great Hillary Clinton look.”  WHAT?  Now, I admire and respect Hillary Clinton, and resent the fact that the media found her pantsuits worthy of more attention than her healthcare proposals.  And I’ll be lucky to look that good in bright orange when I’m 65, but that’s like 35 years from now!  

I put on my fleece and left in a huff.

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