The Cost of Looking Professional During the Summer

Gabriella Horowitz catalogs everything she bought to look professional at a summer work conference.

Yesterday, Meghan wrote about the frustration of buying a bathing suit for yourself:

How Much is Your Dignity Worth?

I buy one bathing suit every 4–5 years; this is my own passive form of protest against the entire swimsuit industry, which mass produces ill-fitting and poorly-made pieces of spandex and then tries to charge women $100+ for the pleasure of being ogled and/or body-shamed. In addition, if you have a chest that doesn’t fall within the bounds of “normal,” you have to pay more money for the extra inch of fabric it takes to keep your breasts something close to covered and yes, I have strong feelings about this.

Today, let’s look at what happens when you have to buy a bathing suit for work.

Gabriella Horowitz writes about the cost of attending an industry-related conference at which she was asked to pack both “something white” and “something colorful,” not to mention a swimsuit for any networking and team-building that might happen around the pool.

Why Looking ‘Professional’ Is So Much More Expensive for Women

I don’t want to admit how much money I have spent preparing for this conference. I want to challenge anybody who gasps at this three-digit number that begins with a 4 to tell me which expenses were superfluous. (Confession: if you include the haircut, then the three-digit number begins with a 5.) Besides the manicure, what could I have foregone to bring down this shameful total? I need to wear white. My old sandals are falling apart. My other one-piece shows six inches of cleavage. Hairs are never allowed to peek out of one’s bikini area. What would you have done differently?

There’s so much delicious and all-too-true detail in this essay, from the part where Horowitz realizes that her aesthetician’s payment swipe app sets the minimum tip option at 18 percent, to the discussion of how many items of special-occasion clothing she’s had to buy in her lifetime while her husband gets to wear the same outfits everywhere he goes.

The last two paragraphs of Horowitz’s essay are perfect:

I arrive in Hawaii and hastily rip off the tag that still hangs on the white lace blouse, hiding it in the trash while my roommate is in the bathroom. Then I notice that my roommate has hung three new white dresses with price tags still attached to them in our closet. This makes me feel better about myself. Further respite arrives when I see that all the other women have recently painted nails and newly trimmed hair. That manicure was not superfluous.

I am not financially irresponsible or frivolous; I am merely a woman following the rules. I look average.

Read the whole thing and let us know how much you’ve paid on work-related special-occasion clothing. Have you ever bought a swimsuit just because you were going to a conference and knew your coworkers might want to hit the hotel pool?

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