Reader Question

Reader Question: Back in the workforce and nothing to wear

A stay-at-home dad goes back to the office

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Oct 13 2016

A reader asks:

I have been a stay-at-home dad for the past eight years, so my wardrobe has been almost exclusively jeans and a black or white t-shirt (depending on if I’m cooking). I have been using a small nylon Prada messenger bag (less than 1′ by 1′) to tote around my wallet, checkbook, pen, etc. since it leaves me two hands with which to grab the kids.

My question is- next week I have an interview and I have to don a suit. Can I still wear the nylon Prada bag, or is this a fashion faux-pas? The strap is made so that it is meant to be worn across the chest (usually left shoulder, bag on right). If this is not good, then what is the best way to carry around my credit cards, cash, ID, etc.?

Very pragmatic on the black/white t-shirt call. I like it. Fashionable and functional.

Your question is a good one. Heading back to the (outside the home) workforce can be tricky waters to navigate. I’m sure the Prada bag is very minimal and understated, great for running around in the neighborhood. But sporting it with a suit? I couldn’t really picture it, so I Googled, “men wearing nylon messenger bags with suits” to get some help in the visualization department.

And, well, the results weren’t pretty. There’s a few things at play here. The somewhat shiny black nylon of the classic Prada bags may not look put dressed up enough with a suit, and the cross-the-body structure could unnecessarily wrinkle your suit.

Moreover, I feel like the dimensions you described aren’t really big enough to hold everything you need to tote to an interview. Presumably you’ll be bringing some kind of resume, right? Or a laptop on which your portfolio is at the ready to flip open? That small bag won’t be big enough to fit a resume binder or a laptop.

If you can afford it, I suggest buying a new briefcase before your interview. If this is your first foray back into the working world, I can promise it would help boost your confidence to show up with a brand spanking new bag with no Gogurt smeared on the front, or cheerios hidden in its folds. For a great city look, I love the nylon canvas briefcases from Jack Spade. Because a man who means business shows up with a bag that means the same.