I swear on my life, this is the last time I’m going to allow myself to be seduced by the blouses in a J. Crew catalog. Either that, or I’m going to have to get a breast reduction.
I made two mistakes this past week:
First, I violated my strict rule against oxford-style shirts by ordering a J. Crew chambray popover.
Second, I decided to wear said blouse to work. That’s how deluded I was by its bewitching powers, which beckoned from the body of a model who clearly never had to deal with the nightmares of puberty.
That day, as if on cue, my office phone rang with an internal call early in the morning. It was a partner that I despise more than anyone in the world because of his near-sociopathic mixture of insecurity, sadism, legal talent and a bad temper. He demanded that I meet him in a conference room to discuss a “small research assignment.”
I said a couple of Hail Marys, braced myself for his demonic powers and pushed open the conference room door. Immediately, I noticed him staring at my chest like a sixth-grade boy who found his father’s porn stash.
I instinctively glanced down at myself. The conservative blouse suddenly looked insanely provocative, pulled tight across my chest. I was struck with the fear that I looked like I was begging for an impromptu wet oxford contest. When I had a chance, I unbuttoned an extra button in an effort to loosen the blouse, which, of course, only made me look like I was trying to titillate him further.
Much to my chagrin—and thanks to the blouse’s unwitting display of my breasts—he ended up installing me as a permanent fixture on his case. Without ever making even one instance of eye contact with me during our 45 minutes together in the conference room. I suspect he took the blouse as a tacit indication that I found his sadistic qualities irresistible and wanted to commence sex immediately—a sensation that isn’t altogether unfamiliar.
He’s since dropped by my office unannounced and without good reason each day—stomping in with his gaze fixed downward 45-degrees. And for four days in a row, I’ve witnessed his dissatisfaction in discovering yet another full-coverage cardigan. If I’m lucky, maybe he’ll conclude that I’m a tease and spring me from the case.
But in the meantime, I’m utterly stuck with him and his nasty lechery. Since I can’t take my frustration directly out on him, I’m focusing my pent-up rage instead on the entity most deserving of the blame for this tragedy: J. Effing Crew.
After years of blowing a serious portion of my salary at Neiman Marcus and Saks on the work attire of my lawyerly dreams, I finally realized the frivolity of devoting money to a business wardrobe that’s largely wasted on legions of tasteless, mouth-breathing lawyers within an office that has about as much glamour as a crypt.
So, I turned to J. Crew—the one retailer that is supposed to allow me to maintain my predilection for professional style without squandering the entirety of my checking account. The fashion cretins at my firm certainly don’t know the difference between Theory and J. Crew, which means I can devote the money saved to more amusing vices. Like vodka.
I’ve relied on their Jackie cardigan as my unofficial daily uniform for a while now. I own about 14 of the cute, feminine (and largely un-provocative) sweaters in a variety of colors. But then I got tired of being nagged about my almost OCD-like devotion to the same cardigan. The question I hear most at the office—other than, “When will you have that done?”—is, “Don’t you own anything other than those cardigans?” So I decided to try out a few J. Crew new-arrival blouses.
Which brings me to a fact that all female lawyers and law students must understand. And the fact is this: Women, like me, who are thin but have large breasts, look utterly ridiculous in oxford shirts. It’s either oversized frumpy or undersized slutty. There’s nothing in between. Yet I allowed myself to believe in J. Crew’s infallibility, which has ended with me becoming a full-time underling to a partner I hate.
It should have been obvious, as I re-flip through the catalog. At first glance, all of the blouses looked irresistibly appealing and of-the-moment. But it’s now clear that the willowy models, all of whom are built like Keira Knightley, are the reason that the button-down shirts look so seductively perfect. These are not women who sit in ergonomic desk chairs every waking hours. Sure, they’re all as pale as I am, but that’s where the comparison ends. I suddenly realized that in 70 pages, there wasn’t a single breast, curvy thigh, or hip to be found.
The attributes of the oxford did not evolve with the female form in mind. They are, first and foremost, shirts for men. And with the obvious exception of 38% of the men in my office, the male form for which they were originally intended does not have breasts. So it’s no real surprise that oxford shirts look best on women with small chests.
Unfortunately, I don’t work for Anna Wintour. I work in a depressing law firm. Nor do I have time midday to seek out macrobiotic foods and Equinox ellipticals. Even if I did, I still couldn’t change the architecture of my body that much. That thanks goes to the Italian genes that endowed me with hips and boobs in the fourth grade. My grandfather and my dad have C cups, for Christ’s sake.
I lied to myself by thinking I found a way to look as waspy-ishly beguiling as the women in my J. Crew catalog. Instead, I became Jennifer Love Hewitt, J.D.
There was a time when I believed that my natural assets might supplement my impeccable work ethic and intelligence. That ship has sailed. The Corri Fetmans of the world can have at it. I want none of the extra billable hours that Mad Men-style curves can attract. So shouldn’t a place as benign as J. Crew be able to provide the wardrobe for this new chapter in my career?