The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
When I got my first paralegal job, I wore suits, pantyhose and heels every day. The office manager wouldn’t even let the staff wear jeans on the day that the firm moved its offices to another building. I had spare pantyhose and clear nail polish in a desk drawer, and my favorite clerk at the local Ann Taylor store called me when they had size 2 styles she thought I’d like on the clearance rack. Combined with my petite frame, the required ‘80s big hair and shoulder pads, and a fondness for Ann Taylor’s snap-crotch body suits, some of my co-workers jokingly (I think) nicknamed me “90210” and “Minus One”.
Then I went to work for one of the few civil rights firms in the state at the time, in a small, informal office where we fought and won cool employment battles, like the one involving a ridiculously successful national corporation that offered a blind man a job and then refused to accommodate him with an inexpensive computer device. A friend once innocently asked, “Hey, don’t you work for, like, tree-hugging hippies?” Uh, no. We are all for trees but don’t hug them. My wardrobe got quite a bit more relaxed, except for court-related activities. I had to go out and buy “work jeans”. (I promise there will be a whole separate future blog entry on this subject.)
So nowadays I rarely wear a suit. Worse, I’ve lost some weight and can’t wear the suits in my closet. (The weight loss is currently a medical mystery. Like a hobbit, I never miss any meals or snacks, including tensies and elevensies). But I have some upcoming professional obligations in the next 30 days that require suiting, including a gig for a state professional association on Saturday. The volunteers received specific instructions to make the paralegal profession look good and NO jeans.
I’ve been suit hunting for a few weeks, but no luck. My 12 year old daughter has been shopping with me and has helpfully informed me that even in the smallest suits I have “baggy butt”. Our local Ann Taylor store closed, so I don’t have any insider leads on sale stuff no one else can wear. This afternoon was it – my last chance to get a suit before Saturday, so that I didn’t make the paralegal profession look like a tree-hugging hippie.
I desperately wandered into the Jones New York section of a major department store and was sticker-shocked down to my toes (and this was after I accidentally admired a pair of of those hip dominatrix-like strappy high-heeled bronze sandals that I knew would go with everything I own until I saw the $300.00 price tag). But I found a black pin-striped suit that was exactly the right balance of conservative and modern (and on sale), and tried it on in the big plush dressing room with the three-way mirror.
The suit looked pretty darn good. My daughter assured me that I didn’t have a completely baggy butt. I rolled the waist band once, and then bent all the way over to see if sitting would undo the temporary fix, which is how the gracious and helpful sales clerk found me – bent all the way over trying to check out my rear-end in the three-way. I immediately stood up and asked, “Can you tell from the back that I rolled the waist band of these pants?”
Her gentle response? “You should go to the Juniors’ Department. They might have your size there.” I was caught off guard and wailed, “The Juniors’ Department? I’m 46 years old! I need a GROWN-UP WOMAN’S suit!”
She agreed that you can’t tell the pants are rolled up at the waist from behind, and helped me get a nice discount on the suit. If you see me, I hope you’ll think I’m a credit to the paralegal profession.