What the Well-Dressed Writer Is Wearing

Actually, the title for this post should be “What the well-dressed writer is wearing in public.” In private, while we writers are slaving over our manuscripts, I know what we wear – anything from running shorts to old jeans to pajamas and robes, and everything in between. When we’re lost among the words, who cares what we look like?

But once you become a published author, that changes. Suddenly, what you look like matters. You have to meet the public. You sit in bookstores, sign books, and attend events. You speak at luncheons and dinners. You do a television spot.

You need to rethink the old sweat pants that have seen you through your book’s creation. You need to glam up a little and give your readers your best side. They are, after all, rooting for you, and you want to do them proud. So, yes, it’s time for a writer’s make-over! (Cue the fanfare!)

Unfortunately, I’m lousy at make-overs (fanfare goes flat), so instead, I’ll just share with you what I’ve found works for me when it comes to making public appearances.

  1. Find a simple haircut/style that is flattering and stick with it. Shell out the money for an experienced stylist and ask him/her for suggestions and instructions. My hairdresser is a lifesaver; not only does she give me a great color and cut, but she shows me how to get different looks with it, so I always look fresh at events. It was her advice before my first book launch that continues to guide me: “Your fans deserve to see you at your best.”
  2. Put together one or two complete outfits that you can grab and wear at a moment’s notice. If you’re chic-challenged like me, get help. Go to that clothing store you drool over and ask for help in assembling a professional ensemble. Yes, it might cost a bit more than you’re used to spending, but to have one ‘go-to’ outfit for anything book-related that comes up will, in the end, save you money, time, and mental energy. I love my ‘go-to’ clothes; I know I look great in them, and that boost of confidence really comes in handy when I’m facing a roomful of strangers. Polyvore, a website often pinned on Pinterest, has some great ideas for various outfits, too.
  3. Use accessories! Okay, I sound like a women’s magazine, but I think this has made a big difference in my presentation. Normally, I don’t wear jewelry, scarves, or jackets, but when it comes to looking polished, they add the icing to the cake – especially when your accessories go with the outfit. (See #2 again.) My favorite goofy earrings? Not so much.
  4. You may want to consider dressing in ‘costume.’ A friend of mine writes several series under different pen names, and she dresses differently for each author persona: one is eccentric, another is business professional, and the third is romantic. She has a ‘go-to’ outfit for each, so her clothing reflects her brand, which means that her clothing is marketing.

What are you wearing?

9 Replies to “What the Well-Dressed Writer Is Wearing”

  1. I have to add to invest in some professional photos of you for your website and social media pages. And when purchasing clothes, try to pick classic pieces. Then you can update them according to season and trends with your accessories instead of buying a whole new wardrobe or outfit.

    1. Yes, Melissa – classic pieces are a life-saver as well as a cost-saver. I’ve used the same black wool pants for years now, and they continue to wear well with updated jackets and blouses. And the advice about the professional photo is spot-on – I think non-pro photos on an author’s website are disastrous when it comes to projecting the professional image you work so hard at. Thanks for adding to my recommendations!

  2. Nice reminders, Jan. I especially like the idea of having a go-to outfit ready at all times. What a great nudge. Though I’m not much of a shopper, I suddenly have the bug. 😀

  3. True, Melissa, a good photograph is essential! Jan – thanks for all the reminders to be at my best. It seems, at least we who are women, that we function best when we FEEL our best!

  4. In today’s visual, social media world, digital images are more important than ever. You only get once chance to make a first impression. Grainy, low resolution photos are distracting and don’t represent the author in a positive light. Great points, Jan!

    1. Thanks, Kim. The last thing anyone would expect of me would be to give good fashion advice, but it’s amazing the demands of writing!

  5. Thank you for the informative post. I hadn’t thought of clothes or my hair. As you said no one at home with me cares what I look like when I’m writing. God bless you.
    Glenda Parker

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