For most of my life I’ve never had to wear make-up or dress any particular way. Most of my high school years were spent wearing jeans and T-shirts (unusual in Australia), which was also my uniform for pretty much every job I’ve ever had. For the last few years my working life has been spent wearing pyjamas. This means my wardrobe consists of lots and lots of pjs, a few jeans and T-shirts and some fun dressing-up clothes for party time (I do love to dress up), but bugger all in between.
Thing is of late I’ve needed some of that in-between clothing. Quite a few of my dressy clothes are way too much for school, library, book festival etc. appearances, but jeans and T-shirts are too casual (no, I don’t think so, but yes, I’ve had people say that to me) and Scott won’t let me wear pjs outside the flat, not even my fancy sushi ones (what’s that about, people?). So what are you supposed to wear to such events?
Look, I know most of us were not blessed with unbelievably good looks, and if we were, we would be on TV or in the movies, not writing books.
But you can at least groom yourself properly. I never thought I would quote Sylvester Stallone’s mom about anything, but she was right to be so outraged when Sean Penn and his then wife Madonna showed up at that awards ceremony that year looking all skanky and unwashed. It’s just rude!
And please do not go on about how we as a society are too preoccupied by physical appearance and ought to concentrate more on intellectual concerns. If your book won a literary award, would you show up at the award ceremony in your pajamas, with your hair looking all ratty, like you just rolled out of bed (and please do not bring up Lauren Hutton at this year’s Academy Awards)?
Well, a book signing is like an awards ceremony. People are rewarding you with their presence. So show a little respect for them, and try to look nice—even festive. Sparkles are never NOT appropriate (except at a funeral).
I’m not sure I’d go the full sparkle route—except perhaps on my shoes, but I gotta say I agree with Meg Cabot. I’ve seen authors at such events wearing stained clothes, kind of smelling, with scary green things still caught between their teeth. Not good. And, no, stuff like that won’t stop me reading their work, but it’ll definitely make me think twice about ever doing an event with them again.
But I’m totally cool with jeans and T-shirts and no make-up. (Except for John Scalzi—he should always wear make-up.) I’d be cool with pjs too. Just as long as they’re clean pjs. But I’m not big on offending folks what do not consider such clothes to be appropriate.
So what do you fellow authors wear to signings and the like? Do I really have to get a suit? Most of them are so ugly, though I would totally go a 1930s, 40s or 50s style one.
How do you expect an author to dress? What do you reckon are safe least-likely-to-offend-those-what-care outfits?