Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chic Lit Out, Squawking...


Maybe it was Paperback Writer and her comment about meeting a famous writer dressed in "trailer park skank." It might have been caused by the vision of Konrath leaping from bookstore to bookstore this summer, croaking "pro-mote, pro-mote."
On the other hand, it might have been merely an extension of "what if-itis," I chided Forrest about.

Be that as it may, sometime when the night watch slid slowly off the dresser in the small hours, I sat bolt upright and muttered the famous female line:
What about clothes?

Men, now, can wear jeans, a top and a sports jacket, and looks reasonable, even decent, even sexy and attractive, almost anywhere.
Up, down. Only minor adjustments necessary, whether it's book signings, media interviews, or gladhanding. Casual is kool. They don't need five pairs of shoes, either.

Women, however, don't have that fortuitous freedom.
No matter how co-ordinated our track suits.
Our audience is apt to be more critical. Have certain expectations. Have other women.
It occurred to me, bleakly, that nowhere have I seen advice on proper dressage for future and various authorly events.
Oh, there's been the passing comment that we visit a hair salon and invest in a new wardrobe.
But nothing, nothing about what is considered the appropriate attire should that glad day ever come.
The first thing I thought, naturally, was business suits, w/either pants or skirts. You know, professional. It's a business.
But I really don't have a clue, having been reclusive and all that, about how far we can let our hair down.
Secretly fear I don't have a thing to wear.
Any experience, observations, ideas?
It's a vital subject.

34 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

Well, today I get to just watch. Not qualified.

Bernita said...

What would you like to see on a female, Erik, ....at a book signing/interview?...she added in haste.

Erik Ivan James said...

Aww, Bernita, dammit. Why do you want to throw me into the clothes hamper?

Carla said...

How about looking round female authors' websites for their photographs? Should give you some clues about the image they think is appropriate. Here's Elizabeth Chadwick, and photos from Philippa Gregory's US tour, and no doubt Google will turn up plenty more.

Bernita said...

Because men's opinions are important, Erik.

Very ladylike, Carla. Thank you.
Do like that pink thing of Ms. Gregory's. Very visible in a pleasing way.

Bernita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Savannah Jordan said...

Well, seeing as my hair is my best feature, I am leaving it down. :) Past that, my agent said dressy causual/business casual. I don't do dresses, so it will be a nice pant with a tailored blouse for BEA.

Afterward, well, I am having a black satin ball jacket made with the title on the back. Wicked awesome, too, handlettered by a caligrophyst. Looks great with jeans and a tank underneath.

Erik Ivan James said...

Okay, for you, I'll try.

I would think book signings are long tiring ordeals. So first suggestion would be, "be comfortable".

I'd say business-casual for most public signings would be appropriate. Quality slacks, ladies sports jacket, quality ladies shirt for the top. Jewerly for accent. Back to being "comfortable", both you and your fans being so with you. "A business/professional look without intimidation".

There.

Bernita said...

Well done, Erik.
Comfortable and not intimidating being important points.

Yes, I understand that one should let their hair down at Conventions, Savannah!

James Goodman said...

Yes, business casual is almost always a safe bet. Having said that, it also depends on the function. I went to a rather fanish convention, packed business and business casual attire and soon found myself in the gift shop buying a T-shirt. Cause, I was the only dummy in the place with a button down shirt and jacket.

Now, I do a little research before I commit to my convention wardrobe. Most cons will have pictures of past events posted on their website and that will give you a pretty accurate account for their attire.

At book signings, I would almost exclusively do business casual. You don't want to wear a power suit when you're sitting behind your pile of books or you will come off as pretentious. On the other hand, there will be pictures taken so you do want to look presentable.

Does that help or did I just use a lot of words to say that it is up to you? :D

Bernita said...

No, James, you help give the subject shape. Thank you.
Wonder if certain cities/venues are more uptight than others. Or if it matters.
Wonder if the type of book itself influence what one should wear.
I can see a non-fiction book on how to succeed in business not well-promoted by someone in ragged jeans. On the other hand, if one wrote on dumpster diving for fun, it might be more appropriate to be casual - but that slides over into a different angle.

Carla said...

Good point that it should suit the book. What would Damie wear?

Bernita said...

Probably something in the business casual with an elegant flair, I think.
Not quite Savannah-knock-em-dead and not quite the restrained Chadwick/Gregory.

Savannah Jordan said...

"Savannah knock-em-dead" OMG Bernita, I love it when you talk like that!

Bernita said...

I somehow doubt, Savannah, that your hair is your best -or only- asset.

archer said...

This is a nice thing about being a guy. Women want to look good. Guys just want to not look stupid.

Dennie McDonald said...

I have been told no denim (which of course, is my staple) for conferences but then you have your Keynote speaker wear a bluejean skirt and cowboy boots so.... (of course she DID get lambasted for it afterwards - maybe not to her face but EVERYone was talking about it)

Bernita said...

Guys don't even have to shave these days,either, Archer.
Guys can look semi-disreputable and some people will go "ooooh! He's so HOT!"
Women should only try that at home.

Bernita said...

Yes, thank you, Dennie.That's very interesting.
"other women...!!"

Bonnie Calhoun said...

hmmm, I had never thought about it...I live in jeans and t's..but not to church.

It would probably depend on the weather...ei. winter, sticky hot summer....business casual sounds good!

Gabriele C. said...

Since I wear somewhat elegant stuff even at home, my wardrobe is full of clothes I could wear to a book signing. Though US women would complain that I absolutely refuse to shave my legs. ;)

I can also imagine dressing up in period gear (provided I can afford it - I'm so not good at sewing myself).

Flood said...

Carol Shields (via Jack Clemens)refers to this in WD Feb/06:

"In her short story 'A Scarf' from the book Dressing Up for the Carnival, a first time novelist is plagued by self-doubt at her first book signing:

I handled the whole thing badly, was overly ebullient with the book buyers, too chatty, wanting them to love me as much as they said they loved my book, wanting them for best friends, you would think. ('Please just call me Reta, everyone does.')...I was ashamed of my red pantsuit, catalogue issue, and wondered if I'd remembered, waking up in the Writer's Suite, to apply deodorant."

Bernita said...

Probably safest, Bonnie.

Period gear would certainly attract the eye and interest, Gabriele.

Instructive, Flood.
I suppose excessive enthusiasm could be as off-putting as the morose sulks Konrath described yesterday.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Gabriele...sewing is my business...so I make all of my dress clothes...I've actually created quite a few period costumes...but I wouldn't recommend it unless the book signing was at a Star Trek convention or something like that...LOL!

ROFLOL...if I saw some guy with a sword...I'd run the other way!

Bernita said...

Well, darn, Bonnie.
And here I was wondering whether Gabriele would show best in an elegant toga behind a book-signing table or whether a breastplate and greaves would attract the most attention, or...

Gabriele C. said...

Och, you can wear anything in the UK provided the shoulders are covered and a hat goes with it.

A helmet should count.

Bernita said...

You would look magnificent no matter what you chose, Gabriele.

Gabriele C. said...

Bernita,
I should blush now. If I can figure out how to do it. ;)

ali said...

Of the two authors I've met, one wore a purple suit, and the other a black jumper and I think grey trousers, though I don't remember that as clearly as the purple suit :).

I think a toga sounds much more interesting! At least they'd remember you ;).

December Quinn said...

Sherrilyn Kenyon wore a kind-of-gothy black dress when I met her. It was nice.

I always figured I'd wear a skirt. And heels. Because I have great legs and I like really high heels, especially when I'm sitting down so people see how cute they are but I don't have to stand on them for too long.
Then probably something blousy to hide everything else. :-)

Dakota Knight said...

I think it would depend on the audience. If I'm going to a bookstore, maybe I'd wear jeans and a nice shirt and blazer, or maybe slacks. If I'm visiting a bookclub, I'd probably wear higher-end slacks and a shirt. For conferences, I'd wear a nice dress or skirt/shirt combo.

Bernita said...

Yup, December, the legs thing has me teetering towards skirts sometimes, with an anklet..

Audience is an important point, Dakota.A sensational top, so if they're more casual than you anticipate, one can always shrug off the jacket.

Candice Gilmer said...

When I was in Dallas a month ago, I, (being a hairdresser by trade, and accustomed to it), dressed from head to toe in black. Black is wonderful, it's slimming, it's flattering, and it both elegant (depending on the accessories) and professional.

I dressed it up with a silver necklace and a large black Kenneth Cole bag (no, I didn't buy it) to carry my pens and paper and business cards in. The hair, having magenta pink and a screaming violet, was about all my color, (minus, of course, the makeup to match the hair.)

What I saw at the convention was a lot of pants suits (not your formal, heavy suits, mind you), jackets, light, and some in bright colors. A lot of the looks were very business casual: a thin shirt, jacket or sweater, and slacks or a skirt. Vests and such were also common, and as for hair, I noticed "done" hair, but not formal, bunned hair or anythign like that.

I mean, I didn't see a lot of jeans and scrubby tee-shirts, but jeans were there, just dressed up with a pretty top.

At my first con, I wore a white shirt, gray slacks, and a gray blazer that zipped up the front, and was cut like a biker jacket without all the metal. It looked very pro, and it worked out well.

Oh, and the deoderant is a MUST... :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Candice.
I'm certain you looked tres elegant in both outfits and your hair provided the necessary contrast to relieve any severity.
Black and gray always look professional.