Monday, September 17, 2012

How To Survive A Writers Conference in Style - Vol. 3


Let’s talk clothes.  Writing Conference clothes. 

When EMichels and I first decided we’d do a blog series on conference survival, we were all “…and clothes! Yay, we can do a post about clothes!”  The excitement was contagious, but then we had to decide what we’d say.

*Cue crickets*

The fact is, clothing is very individual – as it should be.  Everyone has their own style and it may change depending on the event or day of the week.  We aren’t fashion experts and we certainly aren’t going to tell anyone how they should dress.  This post is merely an attempt at helping you carry out a look you want, IF you want a look.

If you do, then here’s my one basic, fail safe rule and a few examples on how to make a look work.

Fashion Rule: Always give thought to what you’re going to wear and the message you intend to send.

I’m not saying you should plan out every outfit, including the Saturday trip to Wal-Mart. For me that consists of khaki shorts, t-shirt, little to no make-up, and flip flops. But I’ve still given it some thought. I thought: I want to be comfy. I’m a mommy on her weekly grocery trip with her toddler son. It’s Saturday, I’m casual and I’m not trying to impress anyone.

And that’s exactly the message I send.

I do not want to send this message at a writer’s conference. No one wants to project harried or overly casual, over-worked or fraying at the edges to a room of agents, editors, and other writers.  I think we all prefer for our better qualities to shine through at writer events.

So, the first thing you do is decide the message you want to send while networking at a writer’s conference.  Are you neat and down to business in your slacks and classic cardigan? Are you simple and chic in black? Are you powerful, motivated, and a bit of fun with your business suit and pop of color a la fuchsia scarf and statement jewelry?

These looks send messages. If the message is strong enough, it makes you memorable.

Let’s say you write quirky Steampunk novels that run high octane on the erotic meter.  If I were you, I wouldn’t wear a cardigan and pearls to a writer’s conference. I’d work my brand and go with a few pieces of Steampunk inspired jewelry and the occasional article of clothing. I’m not talking full costume – save that for Dragon Con (Woo Hoo!) – but a few signature pieces, like a type of blouse or boots. Last year I saw a gorgeous forest green corset on a writer.  She wore it over some type of blouse so as to not be too risqué for a conference.  She looked amazing and I still remember her and her outfit.  That’s a good thing!

Another example is a writer of women’s fiction, heavy on the literature, low on the fluff.  Her writing is serious and she wants to be taken seriously.  If I’m her, I’d choose flattering skirts and dresses, heels or heeled boots, reserved colors with a touch of flash (ie. Animal print or a swath of color) that hints at my creativity and sense of humor.

If I’m the M Shelf member that writes paranormal (not too dark, not too light) with humor, grit, and a sensual flare – I’d go for black mixed with bold colors. Red, Blue, a bit of sparkle and shine, tempered by urban mettle that reflects the writing. Leather boots, chunky metal jewelry, rockin’ hair.

If I’m the M Shelf member that writes sexy, sassy historical – I’d go for flirtatious and fun. Think pink with lots of skirts or dresses, plenty of flow and flowers, heavy on the sparkle and jewelry, with hair that takes up some space.

Finally, in order to carry out these looks when you go shopping (and not revert back to regular day to day attire), may I suggest Pinterest?  I knew the look I wanted, I knew the look EMichels wanted.  Over a few months I pinned outfits that said “McGovy” or “EMichels” to me. 

All of these random bits of inspiration were saved in one easy to find place, so when I hit the store it was easy to reference.  I didn’t want to buy something I’d wear to my 9 to 5, but that’s a tough habit to break.  Looking at the article of clothing in my hand and seeing if it fit with the looks on my page was an easy way to weed out the work clothes.  It also reminded me of the look I was going for when I was caught between two dresses! (Yes, I WILL be magical midnight princess at the Maggie’s party and that’s that!)

Good luck with your style, both in writing and every day.  Whatever it is, you should feel good about it and yourself. Now go work that look!


Elizabeth Michels said...

Flowers and sparkles!!! I'm so glad I write sexy, sassy historicals and not alien murder mysteries or something. LOL This is a great post! It's so important to present yourself well at a conference, and it's fun too!

Jeanette said...

Awesome advice. So what's the word on combat boots? (Like, seriously. I really want to wear black skirts and combat boots to M&M.)

Elizabeth Michels said...

Jeanette, stay tuned! I'm going to be talking all about shoes on Monday! But, just so you know, I'm voting hell yeah on the combat boots! They would suit you. *nods* :)

Heather McGovern said...

Jeanette, I cannot wait to see your DMs! I foresee many a posting of shoes only pics. =)

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