Shopped ’til I dropped.

I went to H.R. to fill out paperwork and take a drug test for my new job this afternoon. (Random observation: The girl who helped me with the H.R. stuff totally reminded me of my friend Lulu from Chicago.)

When I got done with the drug test, I went to the mall to buy some responsible-grownup costumes. All my clothes look like something an unemployed journalist would wear. Go figure….

Thanks to the magic of store credit cards, I hit a sale at New York and Company and came home with three nice button-up shirts, a knit top, two short-sleeved sweaters, a blazer, and a skirt, all for less than $200. I picked up another top at Penney’s for $19.99, marked down from $30. The blazer — which is kind of a goldish tan color — makes me look vaguely like a Century 21 agent, but at least it looks more professional than those stained-up Tulsa World T-shirts and Croc knockoffs I’d been wearing.

I generally hate the mall, but I don’t mind shopping at NY&Co. It’s like the “For Better or For Worse” of clothing stores: It’s aged along with its fan base. When I first started shopping there in the late ’80s, NY&Co. — which was called “Lerner” at the time — was decorated with neon signs and flashy displays and carried a lot of ankle-cut, acid-washed jeans and baggy sweaters in junior sizes like 12-year-old girls were fond of wearing back then. By the time we all outgrew our training bras and got over the cute boy in third hour, Lerner had morphed into the more understated “Lerner New York” and had started carrying fitted jeans in grownup sizes and a good selection of upscale-casual outfits suitable for internships and the occasional job interview. Now that we’re all grown women with careers and responsibilities, the store — which changed its name to “New York and Company” a few years ago — is full of outfits that are cut to forgive our ever-expanding hips and make us look professional at the office.

It’s like instead of saying, “We’re going to target teenyboppers,” and then trying to keep up with every middle-school trend, the marketing people said, “We’re going to target this particular group of teenyboppers, and when they’re not teenyboppers any more, we’re going to keep targeting them with age-appropriate products so they’ll keep shopping with us for the rest of their lives.”

I personally think it’s brilliant marketing — especially since I have a lot more disposable income now than I did when I was a 13-year-old relying on a $4-a-week allowance and a $15-a-week babysitting gig to finance my wardrobe upgrades.

Emily