Lasting Impressions: Lessons from a Men's Underwear Buyer

I know a lot about men's underwear.   It's true.   As a former retail buyer of men's furnishings, underwear was one of my categories.   Despite the seemingly odd nature of this job, I embraced it just like any other position I ™ve had and wanted to be the best men's underwear buyer around.

While I took this position very seriously and of course showed only professionalism on the job, my assistant and I used to find ourselves ROTF with laughter after yet another vendor launched into the benefits of a super absorbent front panel (you know what I ™m talking about).   We only did this after the vendor left the room, of course.   We had no intention of embarrassing anyone; it was just such a funny thing to discuss in the workplace.

And the unsolicited samples from vendors hoping to get their brand in our store!   Each came with a brochure, featuring super-hot models wearing the scanty undergarments.   Can you say Playgirl ?   Others could probably hear us down the hall, shrieking with laughter every time we opened a new box of samples.

I learned more than I ever thought I needed to know about men's underwear.   Briefs, boxers, boxer-briefs, silk boxers, low-rise, regular-rise, thread counts, seams “ whew! Little did I know that some underwear doesn't have a useable fly opening, although I ™m still not sure why underwear would have a fake fly.  It hardly seems like a worthwhile design element if it's not useable.   Of course that's my female POV.   Suffice it to say, there was and still is tons of information about men's underwear and I ™m still not sure that most men really care that much about the technical specifications of their underwear. After all, men basically enter a store on a mission when shopping – they just want to pick up a 3-pack and head out the door.

But that job was years ago, just a memory now.   In fact it was one of my first jobs out of grad school and it's been reduced to barely a line on my resume since my career has expanded so much.   I ™ve got more important things to talk about than super-absorbent panels.   In fact, many of my current friends have no idea that at one time I was an expert in the field of men's underwear.   It's pretty irrelevant at this point.

Or is it?

The topic of self-branding came up recently, and part of the discussion was the importance of leaving a lasting impression as you network and interview.   After all, there are a million MBA's running around now and we women have flooded the work force, so it's important to set yourself apart in order for people to remember you.   A former colleague was part of this discussion and brought up my skills as a men's underwear buyer, pointing out that this factoid was not included on my resume.   He suggested I incorporate that into my talking points during an interview.

It's actually a brilliant idea and I wish I ™d thought of it sooner.   It's the kind of fun fact that may help someone remember me over other candidates or people at a networking event.   Even if my lengthy Italian name doesn't make an impression, surely a healthy discussion of briefs vs. boxers will.  I hope it works. At least it will give people something to think about.