As an undergraduate, I had a conversation with one of my mentors about preparing for what at the time was one of the most stressful interviews of my life, an interview for the Rhodes Scholarship. I spent a lot of time worrying about what I was going to wear, which might seem ridiculous to a lot of people. My mentor understood. She said that getting dressed for a stressful event, an interview, a presentation was like preparing for battle. Your clothes, your makeup, your appearance, that was your armor, the face you put forth for you enemies. Looking collected and confident is essential for making a first impression, and this is impossible if you do not feel confident in yourself. Personally, feeling confident in myself usually involves in some part feeling confident about the way I look. I don't have to be beautiful, model perfect, I just have to feel I am putting forth one of the best possible representations of myself.
There is a certain zen in outfitting oneself for battle. The details, the intricacies of the appearance I want to manufacture distracts me from the butterflies in my stomach. I imagine the process I go through is a miniature version of what a movie star might do for a premier, I try to incorporate relaxing rituals throughout to help sooth my nerves.
My preparations usually begin a day or two before the event with a manicure and a pedicure, which I usually do myself, as I like my fingernails short for serious events, something manicurists can't seem to understand.This is often accomplished on the floor, sitting in front of the television watching a feel good movie like The Devil Wears Prada or the Thomas Crown Affair.
The morning of, if time allows, I take a bath for about a half an hour. I shave my legs. I deep condition my hair. I exfoliate. I moisturize after with a very subtly scented lotion. I listen to Frou Frou to calm my nerves.
Next comes hair, I have some seriously difficult curly hair. Lately I've been going with the mantra "straight hair is serious hair." So, I take the time to blow dry and flat iron my hair into smooth perfection. Sometimes I leave my hair down, sometimes I put it up...depends on the occasion. I listen to NPR while I straighten my hair.
The sound track switches again, for the last time, to empowering, kick butt kind of music. I will listen to these songs right up until I have to stop, first in my house, then on my iPod. My current playlist:
- "The Girls Attractive" by Diamond Nights
- "Always a Woman" by Billy Joel
- "Lights On" by the Pierces
- "Piece of Me" by Britney Spears
- "Eyes on Fire" by Blue Foundation
- "Bittersweet Faith" by Bitter:Sweet
- "Stripper" by Sohodolls
- "You know I'm no Good" by Amy Winehouse
- "Sour Cherry" by The Kills
- "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes
- "Conquest" by The White Stripes
- "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins
- "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie
- "Dancing with Myself" by The Donnas
- "One way or another" by Blondie
- "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven
- "Hit me with your best shot" by Pat Benatar
- "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon" by Neil Diamond
- "Superhero" by Jane's Addiction
The night before the big day I always lay out my clothing. I inevitably choose to wear a skirt and dark stockings with a blouse or collared shirt and jacket. I often buy a new outfit, something I search for for weeks, if I don't feel I have exactly the right thing in my closet. I wear very short heels, usually from Clarks if it is going to be a long day. And, while it may seem silly, I always wear a matched set of underwear.
After getting dressed its time for my war paint, my makeup. I always do a full face, with brown eyeliner and a subtle shimmery nude eyeshadow. My lipstick is fairly neutral, but with a hint of pink. I curl my eyelashes.
As a final touch I put on a pearl necklace and white pearl studs, because at heart, I really am that old school conservative. I give myself a once over and I head out the door. One my way over to my interview/presentation/etc. I try to calm myself by doing breathing exercises I learned from yoga and concentrating on the song lyrics coming from my kick butt iPod playlist. I hide behind a massive pair of sunglasses so that no one can see the look of concentration and focus in my eyes, and so that no one will talk to me and break my focus, especially if I am on public transportation.
After all this preperation I feel awesome, my face is a mask of confidence, it says don't mess with me today if you want to survive. Its go time!