My interview at Haas is scheduled for December 16th. I was specifically told that "formal business attire" is considered appropriate. The closest thing I have to that is the summery, light suit that I wore in entomologist and flamingnerd's wedding. So, today I made an expedition into the terrifying world of the Department Store.
I really, really hate going shopping. Most of the time I feel like I don't know what I'm looking for, and I don't feel like anything looks right, and it just generally makes me unhappy. Xta came with me, for moral support, so I wouldn't end up just fleeing back to my cave. We grabbed my current suit from the closet (to have a model of Something that Fits) and my wine-red dress shirt (it's a good color for me, and I figured any suit that would match it would have that proper flair), and headed out to run some other random errands. We stopped for breakfast at University Cafe, then headed over to Stanford Shopping Center. (Digression: Why are people in parking lots so damn rude? I swear, people were cutting me off, running stop signs, trying to pull around me when I would slow down to let somebody walk by me to their car, etc, etc... I guess they're just getting into that American holiday spirit: "I'm going to get in there and get the best gifts, and nuts to anyone who gets in my way!" Grrrr.)
First stop was Bloomingdale's. Once we located the suit department (which was nontrivial, since the signage was rather poor), we kind of meandered around and looked at a few things. I was looking for something that would resemble the classic, conservative, dark-blue business suit, but still have a bit of flair, to match my personality and make an impression. There really was nothing there -- apparently blues are not currently in style; almost everything was charcoal-gray or black. The selection in general wasn't great, and after meandering around for 10-15 minutes looking things over, nobody had even bothered to come offer service. So, we ditched Bloomy's, and went over to Macy's Menswear -- they have a whole separate building from the regular Macy's.* That store also had poor signs (the signs at the escalator did not say that suits were on the third floor, as turned out to be; they said that "formal furnishings" were on the first floor). But, once we found the suit department, it was much nicer -- at least three or four times larger, so more selection, though still mostly grays and blacks (like I said, that seems to be what's in style). And a nice gentleman immediately turned up to offer some help.
While we were talking over what I was looking for, and he was measuring me, I spotted a jacket down one aisle that looked intriguing, striped with a mix of subtly-different shades of blue going from midnight (almost black, really) up through pinstripes of a shade like cobalt glass. When I discovered that the inner lining was shiny (silk? probably fake, but silk-y anyways) royal blue with sparklies, that settled things. There was exactly one remaining in my size, which sat very well on my frame. We got it marked up for alterations (let out the sleeves a bit, cuff the pants, take in the waist an inch -- hardly surprising, with me being all skinny and gangly), and I paid (taking the initial 25% discount from the rack, and an additional 20% for signing up for a Macy's Visa, it came out only slightly over $300, which is excellent for a nice Calvin Klein in a look I love; and I'll probably just cancel the card in six months *g*), and that was that. I'm supposed to come back and pick it up on the 14th (or, if they get it done earlier, they'll call). So, huzzah, I have a gorgeous suit to interview in. Relatively painless, really. If you're in the SBay and looking for a suit, check it out; if there's a tall gangly guy named Andy there (he wears the same suit size I do *g*) tell him the pony-tailed business-school applicant sent you. :-)
* BTW, does anyone else find it slightly amusing that Stanford Shopping Center's department stores are all classic New York stores? Specifically, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Neiman-Marcus. I didn't bother considering N-M -- they are specifically known for being outrageously overpriced; the only reason to shop there is to prove that you can. :-P
Random note: My suit had a "Made in Canada" tag in it! My summer-y suit was made in China; while I'm generally not anti-free-trade, I do still appreciate the idea of having a specifically business-oriented suit that is not from a Chinese sweatshop. Kinda like how I've always felt that upper management at companies that are pushing for pay and benefits cuts should be willing to sacrifice a bit themselves (rather than taking bonuses for "containing costs").